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LIFEPAC: American Literature Review by Dr. Heather Allen

Alpha Omega Publications
300 North McKemy Avenue
Chandler, AZ 85226-2618

The LIFEPAC American Literature study for grades seven through twelve, a supplement to the LIFEPAC Language Arts curriculum, includes a Home Teacher's Guide, 5 full-color LIFEPAC student workbooks, tests, answer keys and test keys, and tips on managing your homeschool.

There are five program objectives of this study:

1. The student will gain a general overview of the development of American literature and thought from Puritanism to Postmodernism.

2. The student will learn to critique the philosophy of each author from a Christian perspective.

3. The student will become aware of the philosophies and religious beliefs that influenced the authors in each period of history.

4. The student will gain knowledge of the historical and biographical background of each author and period.

5. The student will appreciate literature as a reflection of the thought and life of the times.

The specific areas of study include: Early American Literature 1600-1800, the Romantic Period 1800-1840, American Renaissance 1840-1855, War and Reconciliation 1855-1865, Realism and naturalism 1865-1915, Modern Age 1915-1946, and Modern To Postmodern 1946-present.

As I reviewed this LIFEPAC American Literature study, I found the Home Teacher's Guide interesting and useful for more than just this course, and the reading materials presented in the student workbooks appealing. My thoughts as I was reading and studying, though, seemed to keep focusing on two areas: The teacher's organizational skills and the student's manner of learning.

In terms of the teacher's organizational sills, I believe that an organized individual would be best geared for this approach to a literature study. This is a fairly intense overview of literature, and much is expected of the teacher and much is expected of the student. Further, the LIFEPAC materials are designed to be presented in a fairly regimented manner and learned similarly. If the teacher is disorganized, and not a "by-the-book" type of person, I really don't think this is the type of study he or she would be happy with.

As far as the student's manner of learning, this study is a fill-in-the blank, after reading the material, type of approach. I found the questions uninspiring in that they weren't thought provoking, but rather truly a "fill-in-the-blank" with the right word or words. In essence, there wasn't much creativity.

Taking the other side, though, this is a study that a highly motivated student, who likes this type of approach, might excel at, even without the intervention of the teacher. One could truly pick this material up, jump in, and begin to learn.

My suggestion is to attempt to find a copy of a LIFEPAC study to see if the approach is appropriate for your schoolroom. If you can't find a copy, search on the internet as there are several sites that offer a chance to look at sections of the material. This might be just the study for you.

-- Product Review by: Dr. Heather Allen, TOS Senior Analytical Consultant, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine