Introduction to Literature and Composition: The Hero’s Journey – From Oak Meadow School’s Product Reviews

Introduction to Literature and Composition: The Hero’s Journey
From Oak Meadow School and Curriculum
Ages Teen

Oak Meadow has been offering homeschoolers experiential, interdisciplinary distance learning for 40 years. Many homeschoolers use Oak Meadow’s complete curriculum for their child’s education, while others use Oak Meadow courses as supplemental material. There are many options, depending on your family’s needs, including enrollment, which provides all of the benefits of learning at home with teacher support and full academic credit.

The Oak Meadow courses include 36 weekly lessons and they come with a variety of assignments, activities, readings, a teacher’s manual (when available), and any supplementary materials required for the course. You may order the entire course, or choose to order only the elements you need. Again, there are many options, depending on your family’s needs. I appreciate the flexibility.

I reviewed the High School course entitled Introduction to Literature and Composition: The Hero’s Journey. The course explores the question, What does it mean to be a hero? and features literature in which ordinary people find themselves in circumstances that require extraordinary acts. These extraordinary acts are examined in relation to the archetypal hero and the archetypal hero’s journey.

The course book (pictured) contains a year’s worth of lessons. Each lesson represents one week of study (approximately 5 hours of work), and contains the following —

  • An Assignment Summary—so students can see at a glance what to expect/what is required
  • Digging Deeper—this section of the lesson gives students background info that helps them interpret the literature within its historical and cultural context
  • Along the Way—this section helps students identify core themes and concepts
  • The section What Do You Think gives students an opportunity to discuss with another their thoughts and opinions about their reading
  • Definitions—of unusual words
  • Writing Tip—to help students improve their writing skills

In addition to the course book, the following books are included when the entire course is purchased:

  • The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer
  • Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  • Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
  • Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • House of Light, by Mary Oliver
  • A Pocket Style Manual, by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers
  • Write It Right: A Handbook for Student Writers (Oak Meadow Books)
  • Two blank journals to be used as main lesson books (one for each semester)

You can check out a sample/example of the course curriculum here.

Another example of the curriculum – Lesson 18. It’s entitled The Diary of a Young Girl, The Young Girl as Hero, and is centered around Anne Frank. Students are directed to choose from one of the following lessons to complete—

  1. Research your ancestral ties to emigration caused by the Nazi uprising during WWII. Talk to relatives and search your family tree to determine which relatives may have been affected in this way, and describe their experience in words, pictures, interviews, a scrapbook, etc. Use your best effort to tell their story accurately and with sensitivity.
  2. Read The Wave by Todd Strasser and discuss your thoughts about what happened. This book is based on an actual event that took place in a high school in the 1960s. When students studying the Holocaust couldn’t understand how Hitler could have risen to power, the teacher proposed an experiment on the power of the group mentality, and the results shocked everyone. Present your thoughts on this experiment and what it teaches us about human nature. Express your thoughts in any way you’d like—visually, in writing, in a multimedia presentation, etc.
  3. Watch a film that takes place during the Holocaust, such as Life is Beautiful, Island on Bird Street, The Last Days, or Jakob the Liar. Describe the impact the movie has on you. You can choose any of the creative options listed above to express your thoughts.

As a teacher, I want to complete these assignments—ALL of them—not just one! And as a teacher, I also want to add additional options (which I can), such as –

  • Read about

The Remember Me? Project. Listen to a 1945 BBC radio broadcast seeking relatives of displaced children. View the gallery and find pertinent videos on Youtube. Express your thoughts in any way you’d like. OR, maybe

  • Research who in your family fought in WWII. How did the war impact your own family?

Document these family stories so they aren’t lost.

Really, I could spend months on Lesson 18 alone!

In addition to the thought-provoking assignments, this course requires students to make their own lesson book—a blank journal they fill with their thoughts, questions, ideas, sketches, etc., all about their readings. To quote William Faulkner, “I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.” This journal helps kids think about things, while also helping improve their writing skills.

Think how interesting it would be to teach this course–learn alongside your student–to read his/her class journal throughout the course (maybe make your own too!). You’d both be learning English, writing, history, and more.

Plus, who doesn’t want to learn about every day heroes, and to be inspired by them?

Interested in other unique courses? Oak Meadow has them– including Healthy Living from the Start, Religions of the World, The Modern Middle East, and more.