Mainspring of Human Progress Course Reading, Study Guide and Schedule

Books or activities:

  • The Mainstream of Human Progress– the primary text.  The page numbers I share may not match the page-numbers in your edition.  Basically, just read about one chapter per week.
  • Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week.   You may choose another biography of Frederick the Great. (Younger students may enjoy this Henty book on the Seven Years War, but it’s not a history book).
  • Student will keep a scrapbook of articles which illustrate concepts in the readings. The scrapbook may be online or in a real book.
  • The Wool-Pack (begins in week 7) (optional, but really fun read)
  • What Went Wrong by Bernard Lewis (optional)
  • The movie Longitude, with Jeremy Irons and Gemma Jones (week 14 or 15) (optional, alternatives are Lost at Sea, the Search for Longitude, or The Longitude Prize book by Dava Sobel, which would be read spread out over the school year).
  • Access to dictionary and encyclopedia, online or hard copy.
  • Primary government documents: Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the US, The Magna Charta
  • timeline, century book, and map-work as usual in a Charlotte Mason course of study.

At the conclusion, consider this worth at least a high school credit in history, economics, and/or world government.

Week One:

  • Day 1: Read the ‘the author and his book’ section and either tell me what you remember, or write it in a paragraph.  If you don’t know them already, look up these words in the dictionary: Mainspring, polemicist, paean, materialist, ingenuity, exemplar, capitalism.   Either tell me what they mean, or write down their definitions and use each word in a sentence.
  • Day 2: Look up Karl Marx and Adam Smith (encyclopedia, infogalactic.com or wikipedia.com, and tell me something about who they were (or write it down if you prefer).
  • Day 3: Read the introduction, pages ix to xx, and as you read make a list of movie titles mentioned. When you finish reading, narrate.
  • Days 4 and 5, read pages in your other books (Evening in the Palace of Reason, Short History of Prussia, or another  biography of Frederick the Great)
  • Weekend: Watch one or two of the movies mentioned, and review it (in writing or orally), include your observations of how businessmen are portrayed.

Week 2

  •  If you don’t already know them, look up initiative and monopoly in the dictionary. Write down a definition in your own words or tell me what they mean.
  • Read chapter 1  Narrate orally or in writing.
  •  Write or tell me the answers to these questions: 1. What does it take for a natural resource to be useful? 2. How do freedom and responsibility go together?  How do authority and responsibility go together  (you’ll have to think about this one, I don’t think it was answered in the book, at least not directly)?
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.

Week 3

  • Look up tenacity and inducement in the dictionary, unless you already know them (tell me what they mean). Write a definition in your own words on an index card you use to bookmark the book.
  • Read chapter 2 and narrate it aloud or in writing.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.

Week 4

  • Tell me the meanings of the following words, or look them up in a dictionary if you need to: network, equitable, coercion, despot, rationalization, write a definition for each of them in your own words.
  • Read chapter 3- narrate
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.

Week 5

  • Look up automatons in the dictionary and write a definition in your own words. Read chapter 4, The Pagan View, narrate.
  • This week look at the newspaper every day and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook. Continue to do this every week.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.

Week 6

  • Dictionary: socialism, attrition, foment, collectivism, proletariat, write down definitions.
  • Read chapter 5, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.

Week 7:

  • Look up these words in the dictionary: Demoralize, degenerate, pernicious, fascism communism. Write your own definition and use the words in a sentence.
  • Read chapter 6. Write a test on this chapter, with five questions.  You will give the test to me to take and then you will score it.
  • Dictionary: fallacious, degradation, ascetic, economic, monopoly,  tyrant, aristocrat
  • Encyclopedia: Magna Charta- write these words down along with a definition or explanation.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.

Week 8

  • Read 4 chapters in the book The Wool Pack (one each day), narrating each reading.
  • Read chapter seven of the Mainstream of Human Progress, page 58 to 63- write down ten key points
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.
  • .

Week 9

  • Read four more chapters of The Wool Pack, Narrate, and tell me why I had you read this book now.
  • Finish chapter seven of Mainstream, writing down ten more key points.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.

Week 10

  • Read four more chapters of The Wool-Pack
  • Look up Abraham and Terah in the concordance of your Bible. Read the story very carefully.  Write down a list of 20 things one could learn from this story.
  • Read the first two pages of chapter eight, explain why the author believes Abraham’s theologocial concept of monotheism laid the foundation for science.
  • Read to page 76,  narrate (What’s wrong with this? Is the first commandment REALLY about recognizing your OWN worth?)
  • Complete chapter eight. Do you agree or disagree with his points?  Why or why not?
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.

Week 11

  • Read the Declaration of Independence.
  • Read the Constitution and the first ten amendments.
  • Dictionary: define democracy, republic, authoritarian, equitable, axiom, feudal,
  • Read page 81-88 of Mainstream, narrate.
  • Read Our Island Story, the chapter on the Magna Charta, for review.  Narrate.
  • Read pages 88-92 of Mainstream. narrate.
  • Read four more chapters of The Wool-pack. Narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.

Week 12

  • For chapter ten, you are going to keep a timeline of events listed in the chapter, so get out a couple pieces of paper, turn them sideways (landscape orientation), and draw a horizontal line across the middle from left to right. Label the beginning 570, and the end 1215. Use a ruler and mark the inches, and at every inch add another 30 years (570AD, 600 AD, 630 AD, on the timeline.  Read pages 93, 94 and put the main character at the beginning of your timeline.
  • Read pages 94-99, narrate
  • Read pages 99-104, narrate
  • Read more in the Wool-pack (and go ahead and read more every week, narrating afterward, until done.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

  • Read to page 139 in Mainstream. Find locations on map. Narrate.
  • Finish chapter, find places on map, narrate.
  • Watch The Longitude Prize
  • Look up: eleemosynary, utopia.
  • Read pages 143-153, Narrate
  • Finish chapter.
  • Read half a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 16

  • Chapter 13; Look up blockade, smuggling, prohibition, read to page 164, narrate.
  • Look up Despot, read from page 165-169
  • Read to end of chapter (page 175).   Add something to timeline from reading.
  • Read half a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.
  • Wool-Pack

Week 17

  • Chapter 14, read to page 179, narrate.
  • Read to page 182, narrate.
  • Read 182 to 185, narrate.
  • Finish chapter, narrate.
  • Add something or somebody to your timeline.
  • Read half a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 18

 

  • Read chapter 15, summarize each section in just one or two sentences (hint: the bold headers should help)
  • Read  a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 19

  • Chapter 16: Look up decentralized, grassroots, astroturfing,
  • Read first section, narrate
  • Read second section, narrate
  • Read third section, narrate
  • Read half a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.  Add to your timeline.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 20

  • Chapter 17, look up mercenary.   Narrate.  Find places on map.  Add events or people to timeline.
  • Read half a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.  Add to your timeline.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 21

  • Read to page 216 of chapter 18, summarizing each section with a sentence or two.
  • Read to page 225, summarizing each section with a sentence or two.
  • Read to end of chapter, summarizing each section with a sentence or two.
  • Add people, or events to timeline and find places on map.
  • Read half a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.  Add to your timeline.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 22

  • Read to page 240 of chapter 19, summarizing each section with a sentence or two.
  • Read to page 246, summarizing each section with a sentence or two.
  • Finish chapter, summarizing each section with a sentence or two.
  • Add people, or events to timeline and find places on map.
  • Read half a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.  Add to your timeline.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 23

  • Read chapter 20, summarizing each section in a sentence or two.
  • Add people, or events to timeline and find places on map.
  • Read a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.  Add to your timeline.
  • Wool-pack?

Week 24

  • Read Chapter 21, narrate.
  • Write a book review of this book- one or two paragraphs telling somebody else what they can expect to learn about from reading this book, how well written it is or is not, good things about it, and not so good things about it.
  • Read a chapter of What Went Wrong, narrate.
  • READ: Evening in the Palace of Reason (for 16 and up) Read 16 or 17 pages per week.   OR A Short HIstory of Prussia, by John Abbot, read about 13 pages a week OR another related book of your choice.  Narrate.
  •  Look at the news and find articles that illustrate concepts in this, or any previous chapters and put them in a scrapbook.
  • Look up any relevant places on a map.  Add to your timeline.
  • Wool-pack?

Continue reading (at a regular, steady pace)  and narrating any of the above books until they have been completed.

When all the books are completed, the student may write a book-review of each one, or the parent may ask the student to answer an essay question of the parent’s choice for each one.

 

You may use this for your own personal use. You may not republish it in any form.  If you do use it, I’d love to hear how it worked for you, and if you find the perfect Biography or other supplemental book to go with this course, please let me know.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted July 1, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    AWE. SOME.

    This is just awesome. I will report back later on how it worked for us! 🙂

  2. Posted August 16, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Just a note for anyone else who may try this course:

    1. It is stellar. I am so excited about what he is already learning/how he is learning!

    2. In case your copy of Mainspring does not contain an introduction (ours does not, nor does the online version I found), for Week 1 Day 3 the introduction (with movie titles) can be found here: https://fee.org/articles/henry-grady-weavers-classic-vision-of-freedom/

    3. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Headmistress
      Posted August 16, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the feedback!!

      • Posted September 11, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        We are on Week Five of school this year. I just wanted to let you know that this post of yours sparked something in me when I read it. My oldest is in tenth grade, and there are 11 after him (8 that are school-age). I read this post, was excited, read it again, gathered some resources, started plotting our year, and we have had the best first month of school we’ve ever had (all of my children agree). I do not know exactly WHAT it was that was the spark, but I do know it is contained in your post!

        I have been homeschooling for 11 years, and FINALLY, this year, it feels like we are doing something worthwhile and meaningful. The conversations with my oldest have been huge! Just so insightful! and this method, while being “simple” in the sense that there are not a lot of scattered readings/projects, is proving to be much more effective already than anything we’ve done before. I have now implemented the same strategies (reading real books, narration, discussion…) with our other children/classes, and our family feels so much more positive and cohesive and the progress in their understanding is unbelievable.

        I *thought* we were doing Charlotte Mason style before, but this is much superior to what we were doing!

        Thank you so much. I’m so glad you write!

        • Headmistress
          Posted September 11, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          Awww, you totally made my week! Thank-you so much for your kind words!!

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