World Literature by James Stobaugh Review
World Literature: Cultural Influences of Early to Contemporary Voices by James P. Stobaugh is a very complete literature course but it is not for everyone. It is designed to help students “Think Critically, Write Articulately, and Live Biblically.” It counts as two full High School level credits (both writing and literature) and uses a Classical Education and Whole Book approach with a biblical worldview. There is a World History course by Stobaugh published by Master Books that is designed to be easily combined with this one for a third credit.
It is divided into 34 chapters having 5 daily lessons each. You will spend 1 week each covering worldview formation and discernment, Japanese Literature, Indian Literature, Persian and Arabic Literature, and Chinese Literature. There are two weeks set aside for studying Sumerian, Egyptian, and Hebrew Literature together as well as seven for Ancient Greece, two each for Ancient Rome and Romanticism, three each for Early Church History and the Middle Ages, four for Realism, and six for the Modern Age. The Introduction to each chapter (called a first thought), chapter learning objectives, and daily assignments are printed in both the teacher and student texts. A typical week’s assignments go as follows: a warm-up discussion, concept builder assignment, and reading (or reviewing what has already been read) what will be discussed the next day every day; an essay every week, Monday you choose the essay from a list and possibly do a short discussion of those you didn’t choose, Tuesday an outline, Wednesday a rough draft, Thursday rewrite the teacher corrected rough draft to turn in Friday; Friday take the Chapter test (most of which are short essays).
The Teachers book is loose paper already punched to fit in a three ring binder. It includes the chapter tests at the back of the book and you are given permission to make copies of them for your homeschooling family or small classroom. In addition to the Student and Teachers books you will need (in this order through the year) The Iliad and The Odyssey both by Homer, The Aenid by Virgil, Confessions by Augustine, Faust by Goethe, War and Peace by Tolstoy, Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, and Cry, the Beloved Country by Paton. All other readings are included in the Student’s Text (but not in the Teacher’s Manual). The book recommends that you have your student read all or part of this list the summer before they start the course. As the book points out all of these are available at libraries and even in inexpensive or free versions online.
I found the course very thorough and really liked the way the biblical worldview was incorporated all the way through and not just when discussing the Bible as literature. I liked the fact that it required very little planning on the teachers part. I also liked the flexibility of more than one essay topic to choose from for each lesson and that the book laid out a couple of different grading options. The chapter learning objectives don’t take very long but are varied, thought provoking and educational.
The student will definitely earn two credits if they do the entire course as written. This will be good practice for some college bound students but some kids (and some parents) may find it very overwhelming. One of my teens is a slow reader and either couldn’t keep up with all this reading or didn’t have time for much else. My other teen found putting his thoughts into words for the essays and discussions difficult at times. Personally I liked the reading and discussions but don’t consider myself an English expert and found grading this many essays nerve wracking (especially quickly so they could do a rewrite). I also wish the readings had been included in the teacher’s manual so I could read them without stealing my kid’s book and have them to refer to during discussions.
If your teens enjoy the kinds of books featured in it and writing essays, if they are planning to go to a highly competitive college or be a humanities major at college, or if you as a teacher like a program that you don’t have to do a lot of planning and feel comfortable with lots of essay grading or discussions I highly recommend this product. If however you and your teens do better with more free form assignments, neither of you have any plans for your teens to attend college, your students hates writing essays and are unlikely to need the skill, or your teens would rather have all their teeth pulled than do this much reading (especially of these kinds of books), you will probably want to purchase something else.
Master Books provided these books free for review. I was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review. In order to post a timely review we did not complete the entire course. I read all the way through the book,s skimming over some of the reading selections, and my teens and I did the course work for a few of the chapters.