Alexander the Great: Brilliance and Brutality

History with Heart of Dakota

Who was Alexander the Great? 

Conqueror, explorer, leader, and visionary. These are just a few of the words that describe Alexander the Great. Born the son of legendary warrior-king Philip II of Macedonia, Alexander went on to outshine his father.  Philip transformed Macedonia from an unremarkable country to a ruling power in Greece; Alexander made Macedonia the ruling power in the entire known world. His conquests would stretch the Macedonian empire from the mountains of his homeland, to the sands of Egypt, to the expanses of Persia, all the way to the banks of the River Beas in India.

Personality of a Genius 

Alexander was a genius in more ways than one. First, his grasp of military tactics was unequaled in his day. He perfected the use of the phalanx – a tactic which his father had introduced. The phalanx was an infantry formation where soldiers grouped tightly together with each man’s shield protecting himself and his neighbor. In addition to this, each man also carried an 18-20 foot pike which he would thrust outwards from the shield wall. (Wasson) In a time where armies usually fought in a haphazard manner depending on sheer force of numbers to win, the phalanx gave Alexander’s soldiers a huge advantage. Oftentimes, enemy soldiers would simply break off his phalanxes like water off a rock. In addition to this, Alexander had distinct knack for sensing his enemy’s weakest position and massing his men to exploit it. Therefore, when his phalanxes came crashing through there was usually no stopping them.

Second, Alexander was a genius when it came to leading his men. He routinely made a point of leading the charge in battle rather than staying back in safety. Initially, he also insisted on sharing his men’s hardships. For instance, while marching his troops through the desert, according to biographer Peter Green, “…when a helmetful [sic] of muddy water had been found for him in some nearby gully – but no more was to be had – he laughed, thanked the donor, and then tipped the water out into the sand. So extraordinary was the effect of this action that the water wasted by Alexander was as good as a drink from every man in the army.” (434) Alexander lead by example, as all great leaders do. When his men saw him facing and overcoming the same challenges they faced, it inspired greatness in them as well.

Fatal Flaws

Nonetheless, Alexander was far from perfect. “Like many brilliant men,” historian John Gunther writes, “he was unstable…he ran from one extreme to another…” (46) While he could be caring and understanding, he also could be irrational and violent. He had a burning temper which resulted in him murdering some of his most faithful soldiers, such as Clitus and Parmenion. Also, during his final years he firmly believed himself to be descended from the Greek god Zeus. Those who did not acknowledge this were executed. (Gunther 138-139) Sadly, with no god to serve except himself, Alexander – once great – ended his life in drunkenness and confusion.

Lasting Impressions

Even though Alexander’s life was dramatically short (he only lived to be 32!) what he accomplished in that time has had repercussions that affect us to this day. His use of soldiers as disciplined units formed the gold standard in military tactics for hundreds of years afterward. In addition, by bringing many different countries under one empire, he spread the use of a universal language – Greek. Many scholars believe this was instrumental in spreading the Gospel 400 years later. He also founded many different cities – some of which remain to this day. (Many of these he named Alexandria, after himself.) Ultimately, much like God had used prior civilizations and kings to carry out His purpose in history, God used Alexander the Great to mold the world according to His own plan.

Which HOD guides can you find Alexander the Great in? 

Alexander the Great can be encountered in several of Heart of Dakota’s guides! You can find him in Little Hearts, Preparing Hearts, Creation to Christ, World Geography, and World History. You can also find a more in-depth study of him in John Gunther’s book Alexander the Great, which students can read in the extension package for Creation to Christ.


Green, P. Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. (University of California Press, 2013).

Gunther, J. Alexander the Great. (Sterling Publishing, 2007).

Wasson, D.L. The Army of Alexander the Great. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2014). 

Is getting the World Geography guide early for science worth missing the package savings?

Dear Carrie

Is getting the World Geography guide early for the IPC science worth missing the package savings?

I will be using Heart of Dakota’s Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) for my son’s first year of high school. However, my son will use the science from the World Geography guide. My question is: will I need the World Geography guide to do the science? My plan is to use Heart of Dakota (HOD) all the way through graduation, but I would rather wait and buy the guide when I buy the rest of the World Geography Economy Package the next year. I love the package savings – $72!  Wow! So, I am just wondering if I can do the World Geography science without the guide. Thanks so much!


“Ms. Is Getting the World Geography Guide for the Science Worth Missing Out on the Economy Package Savings”

Dear “Ms. Is Getting the World Geography Guide for the Science Is Worth Missing Out on the Economy Package Savings,”

I wish I could tell you that you didn’t need to have the World Geography guide for the science portion, since you’re using it with MTMM. While you could certainly do the readings and follow-ups for science without the guide, you’d still have to figure out how to pace them to finish on time. Another factor to consider is the labs. While you can do the labs on your own schedule as well, in order to know when to do them to match the readings you’d need to have the guide.

It would be more cohesive and balanced to have the labs match the text.

Also, there are 36 labs, which means that even if you forego matching the text, and just did the labs independent from the text, you’d still need to determine how to get the labs in while balancing that with the readings in the text. With this in mind, from my perspective, it would be much more cohesive and balanced to do the science with our plans as written in the World Geography guide. I think it is always better to have the labs match the text, and these two programs actually ended up going very well together, once I was able to figure it all out for the plans.

You can still take advantage of the package savings the next year.

So, as you ponder what you want to do, I will share that if you do decide to purchase the World Geography guide for the science portion of the plans, then the following year, you can still order the Economy Package for World Geography and receive the discounted price and receive money back for your guide! Simply include in your “Ordering Instructions” box at checkout that you purchased the World Geography guide the previous year for the science plans, and now you’re ordering the rest and won’t need the guide. My husband will then credit you back the entire price of the World Geography guide as well as giving you the package discount! So, it is like we are loaning you the guide for a year, and then you receive all of your money back for it as part of your package purchase the next year.


Follow-Up Reply:

Thank you, Carrie!!! I am already so thankful for the curriculum you produce! Now I know your customer service is the best too! I already ordered and received my things from HOD. My son loved unpacking his things. I am SO THANKFUL to have the World Geography guide alongside the IPC plans. So worth it! Thanks!

Expedition Journal: How is it used in World Geography?

Dear Carrie

Can you explain the use of the World Geography Expedition Journal?

I’m a mom of five children, and we have loved using Heart of Dakota since 2010! I have a quick question about the World Geography Expedition Journal. I’m wondering what sorts of things my children will record in the Expedition Journal? Though I may have to economize for this guide, I want to make 100% sure that I have all the materials that I’ll need to have my children complete the notebooking pages in their entirety. Our state requires us to meet with a supervisor, so I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the Expedition Journal! Oh, and how about the World Religion and Culture’s Notebook too? Thanks in advance!


“Ms. Please Explain the Use of the World Geography Expedition Journal”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain the Use of the World Geography Expedition Journal,”

Thank you for using Heart of Dakota with your children these many years! In answer to your question, you definitely need the World Geography Expedition Journal pages for the plans. There are some primary source documents in them, many maps that the students need to refer to, shade, label, etc., and places to write written narrations, take notes, outline, etc. The guide actually won’t function without the Expedition Journal.

The World Religion and Culture’s Notebook

The World Religions and Cultures Notebook is also very necessary. It is filled with graphic organizers specifically designed for the assignments in the World Religions & Cultures study. We pondered long and hard about whether specific notebook pages would be needed in high school (because they are so time consuming and costly for us to make as they need a graphic designer to design and lay out each page). But, we have found that the pages are a necessary tool, because I need them in order to customize our plans to truly match what the kiddos are reading and studying each day. There is truly no way to write the guides the way I desire without them!

Supervisors are impressed with the notebooks as an assessment.

I want to encourage you, we actually have found that principals and supervising teachers are very impressed by both the look and the content of the notebooks and that this helps validate the student’s work by providing an organized, visually appealing portfolio as one means of assessment. This saves you time in having to create a portfolio later and provides a chronological record of your student’s work that can be shown at any moment as needed. The Expedition Journal has been well received too, so we hope you enjoy it!


Is Bible history covered in World History?

Dear Carrie

Is Bible history covered in World History?

Is there mostly a secular historical focus in the Heart of Dakota’s World History guide? Or, is there a good amount of content on Israel and the Hebrews? My 13 year-old daughter is finishing Missions to Modern Marvels. She really feels sad that she can’t remember much about Creation to Christ (CTC) years ago. I was contemplating going back and reviewing all of this with her. Or, will she hit it again in World History? For example, she doesn’t remember much about the 12 Tribes, the destruction of the temple, their exile, etc. It wouldn’t be hard to go through each page of her CTC notebook to refresh her memory. However, it might give her peace knowing that it will come up again in a couple of years. Come to think of it, does Heart of Dakota’s World Geography cover that material at all? Thanks!


“Ms. Wondering If Bible History Is Covered in World History”

Dear “Ms. Wondering If Bible History Is Covered in World History,”

The Archaeology Book covers ancient Biblical civilizations, especially the geography of the Bible Lands, in the World Geography Guide quite well. There is also coverage of the Hebrew nation and the Twelve Tribes integrated within that. The World History Guide goes deeper into Biblical history. It definitely studies the fuller history of the Hebrew nation and the rise of Israel. Several resources focus on Old and New Testament history, albeit in the scope of a one-year tour through World History. When combined with the Old Testament Bible Survey course in the World History Guide, excellent coverage of Old Testament History is provided.

With the Biblical content in each of the guides, there is no way the high school guides could be viewed as secular.

Of course, there is also coverage of New Testament history in the World History Guide as well, with the pinnacle leading to the resurrection of Christ. Additionally, a New Testament Survey course is planned for the American History Guide the following year to more deeply study the New Testament. With the Biblical content contained in each of the guides, there is no way that either of the high school guides could be viewed as secular guides. In fact, I make a point when writing the guides to be sure that they are steeped in God’s Word and contain Biblical history as much as possible!

Together, the World Geography and the World History guides give a wonderful foundation in the geography and history of the Bible.

I share this to give you a fuller picture of what is ahead, and pray that your child will be as richly blessed by the upcoming guides as our own boys have – and are being blessed. You can easily wait to cover the areas you mentioned once you get to the World Geography and World History Guide if desired. Together, the high school guides give a wonderful foundation in the geography and history of the Bible. I agree that these topics are too important to be missed, or to be passed over lightly! That is why they come around again and are given a deeper look as the kiddos get older! This was a great question to ask! Thank you for asking it!



Follow-Up Response from “Ms. Wondering If Bible History Is Covered in World History”

Thank you for your response! This really helps me in thinking through our next few years! It gives me a peace about covering this important time once again. I think I might have learned (and retained) more than my daughter with our first pass through Ancients, since she was so young. I am thankful and excited to spend more time in that period of history! Since the high school guide is written for high school credit, I was a little concerned that the history might have more of a secular slant. Thank you for working so hard to intertwine secular with Biblical history throughout high school!


Help with How to Correct the Total Health Chapter Reviews

Dear Carrie

Help with How to Correct the Total Health Chapter Reviews

We are using Heart of Dakota’s World History high school guide for 10th grade. My son is enjoying it – especially the Charlotte Mason living books for Living Library! We are both glad these are a part of my son’s high school years. I have a question about Total Health. The Chapter Reviews are part of the grading, but I don’t see an answer key. Am I looking the wrong place? Or, do you have tips for how to correct the chapter reviews? Thanks in advance.


“Ms. Please Help Me Correct the Total Health Chapter Reviews”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Correct the Total Health Chapter Reviews,” 

When putting together the resources needed for each HOD High School guide, we try to be as mindful as possible of which resources are truly needed to complete each guide. If we included all available ancillary guides for each subject areas, the overall price tag for a year of high school would quickly spin out of control. The Total Health Teacher’s Guide does contain the answers to the chapter reviews, however with that being the only purpose we would need the guide for and with a price of over $70 for that guide, we found it easier and more economical to refer to the student text for the answers to the chapter reviews.

We scheduled only a few chapter review questions each day, and the answers are found in order in the short reading assignment that day.

Each Total Health chapter is broken up in our Heart of Dakota guide so that the answers for the few questions scheduled from the chapter review each day are actually found within the reading pages scheduled for that same day. We did this purposefully so that the parent must do very little searching to locate the answers.

Total Health also encourages personal application with open-ended questions.

Having done Total Health two different years now with two different students, I didn’t seem to have difficulty with that part of the correcting. Often, we were scheduled to discuss things within the chapter that I had the book in hand for anyway.   Plus, depending on the question, the boys’ answers weren’t always the same.

We do carry the Total Health: Test and Quiz Master Book, which includes answers for the cumulative chapter tests.

I did appreciate having the answers for the Total Health tests though, as those were cumulative for each chapter (and would require scouring the entire chapter for answers to correct without an answer key). This is why we do carry the Total Health: Test and Quiz Master Book within our packages, as it contains both tests and an answer key.