Sure, most high school students can read. But can they really read? Janice Campbell hopes to ensure that they can with her American Literature and British Literature books for college-bound students. Using key works from significant literary eras she guides eleventh and twelfth graders through the art of literary reading and analytic composition.
How Do These Work?
Both courses are divided into nine four-week units, each covering an important literary movement as exemplified by a particular work or author. The program is student-directed, though the parent/teacher will have to grade written work. Assignments are clearly explained and defined, and students are guided through each step.
You could use this independently of other IEW materials, though it is suggested by the author you first complete Teaching the Classics, The Elegant Essay, and Windows to the World: Introduction to Literary Analysis. While aspects of each of these programs are included here, a fuller knowledge of these fundamental concerns will free the student to apply what they know directly to the literature without being distracted by simultaneously learning methodology.
Janice Campbell is a Christian, and there are faith-based elements to this course, but it isn't a specifically Christian-based literature program. Christian worldview elements are dealt with mainly in the resource materials and in the suggested prerequisite programs.
Because this is intended as a college-prep course, much more is required of students than in a typical literature curriculum. Students are expected to do extensive outside research (resources are suggested, though the lists are by no means comprehensive), write high-quality analysis essays, and in general display the skills requisite for a successful college career.
While there should be no confusion as to what is expected, the author doesn't simply hold kids' hands, expecting them instead to take initiative on their own. For instance, no reading timeframe is provided; at the end of the first week the reading assignments need to be completed, and it is up to students to get them done however they can. This teaches responsibility and good study habits.
Extensive sections at the back of each book provide information on how to format papers, a glossary of terms, sample poem explications, etc. Everything you need for the course is here, other than the texts themselves and supplementary research material. It is suggested you buy the source texts rather than get them from the library so students can write notes and commentary in the margins.
By the end of this course students should be ready to enter a college literature course, or to take a literature-based CLEP test for college credit. Not only will they learn a lot about literature itself, they will learn how to analyze everything they read and how to present their own thoughts cogently and concisely in written work.
Our Honest Opinion:
The proper study of literature is an invaluable skill whether you devote your life to it or not. Learning to decode and interpret an author's message will aid study of the Bible, study of any of the humanities, and will even help improve interpersonal communication.
This is a solid program. It isn't flashy or gimmicky, but it will help your students get a good grasp on some of the classics of British and American literature, as well as how to interpret them. A good book to have them read first is Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book.
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