I have a kid who is flying through books like wildfire. And I don’t just mean casual novels. He has read things like Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and sections of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Ovid is for school work. Kafka is for fun. He is 15, a freshman in high school, and has flown through all the usual high school literature. So what do I now? I mean, he obviously loves this stuff, so I want to feed him more. But most high school literature courses and going to be too slow, and not nearly rich enough, to feed his particular mind.
This is why I was excited when I had the opportunity to review English IV: Literature and Philosophy, which is designed for high school seniors. This course is by Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum which provides text and workbook materials for high schoolers.
How we used English IV: Literature and Philosophy
I am using this product with the wrong age and grade level kid. But that is one of the great things about Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. They do not label the courses with a grade level. Although most people would want to work through the English courses in order, you can certainly pick and choose the courses your child needs to complete. Even more than that, you can purchase just certain sections of courses as well.
My son started on this course in the middle of his many other books. It took him about three hours to complete a lesson. The suggested schedule is to complete a lesson a day. You can see that this would not work if you are trying to use this for a typical hour-per-day-per subject high school plain. Since we are using this on top of a lot of other books, (reading and writing), my son finished a lesson a week instead of a lesson a day.
There are about 60 questions to answer in each lesson, some of them are quick answers, but others are designed to be answered in full paragraph form. My son read through text, then went back and answered questions, rereading the text as needed for answers.
The Structure of Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum
This brings us to the structure of these courses. Although a lesson a day may be too much for some kids to complete, it is designed for students to be able to focus intensely and complete courses quickly.
So instead of taking a year a student can be done much sooner. This course is divided into 4 chapters with 15 lessons in each chapter. That makes a total of 60 lessons to complete the course. Most students complete 60 school days in about a 3-month time span. What this means is that if your student enjoys diving deep into a subject and can manage to concentrate for several hours on one subject, they can complete a PAC course in a quarter instead of year.
But what if your student can’t work that way? Honestly, mine probably could, but he is also doing other courses. I have another high school student who would just about die if I told him to complete one of these lessons every day. So for some students you may want to have them complete 3 lessons in one week, and then during the next week they complete two more and take the quiz. This would work out roughly to a semester of work and I think would be doable for most kids. Of course, you can break it down further and spread it out over a year if needed.
Personally, we do plan to spread it over a year, because my son has another literature, writing, and history curriculum that he is working through as well. Plus, he is a freshman, so we are not looking at any time crunch. (He chooses to double up on these subjects because he wants to, I promise, I am not arbitaritly making him do double work!)
What my High School Student Thinks About this Homeschool Literature Curriculum
He likes it. Which is a relief to me, as I have to try and keep this voracious reader busy for three more years of high school. He wants to keep using the course. He enjoys the reading selections and the way concepts are taught within the text.
He did say there were a few questions that he was not sure how to answer. I had him point some of those out. I think those questions required a bit of abstract thinking, and he did answer them, and answered them well, so I think he was just unsure of them, because they were a bit more open-ended. I would consider this a strength of the curriculum as high school is a time when students are starting to be able to think more abstractly and it is good to encourage that skill.
What I Think About English IV: Literature and Philosophy for High School
One of the things that is very crucial to the learning process is asking good questions. A great question forces the student to think about meaning. Questions are especially important if you are concerned with the art of teaching your kid to think. I have to say; I think Paradigm Accelerated Education did an excellent job with the questions. They help the student focus on the information to be learned and also lead them into thinking about the meaning of the concepts being taught.
The presentation is simple and straightforward. I think a lot of high schoolers are ready for this format of learning, where they read text and answer questions. One of the biggest problems with this common format, is not the format itself, but the quality of the text. A textbook is only boring because it is written that way, not because textbooks have to be boring.
This text is engaging. I read several selections from different chapters myself and it is very well written. Combining the topics of Literature and Philosophy also makes the text richer and more deeply meaningful to the students. This text does not have ‘filler’ words that are just there to make it look like you have a big textbook (know what I mean?). Instead, the text is rich with meaning.
I think some students might find it easier to work through this with the included audio option, but we did not download that since mine was fine just reading it out of the booklet.
Overall, I am impressed with the material. Part of me thinks there are too many questions. But my student did not complain about the number of questions. He did say that he could not imagine completing an entire lesson every day. This is high quality, dense, rich, meaningful material. I think trying to absorb everything presented in one lesson in a day would be a challenge. Although, if a student was only working through one of these at a time, it might not seem so overwhelming. (Meaning they would only be doing maybe one or two other school related things for the day, at the most.)
One last note I need to make is about the secular nature of this program. Although it is secular, they put an emphasis on moral principles. Some of these seem very Christian in origin. Also, this particular course does have a fair amount of Biblical references and selections. It covers these are part of important literature that has been written throughout history. I know some secular homeschoolers would be comfortable with this curriculum, but honestly, I know others who would not. So please, if you are secular, do a little research in that area first. I think most Christians would be comfortable with this course.
If you decide to try out a Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum course I encourage you to keep in mind that you may need to adjust the pace that your student works through the course.
I am curious to try other courses by Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum and excited that I found a great option to keep my avid reader busy for another year.
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