I decided to go for it, y’all! Starting right now, you can buy a copy of our Year One high school curriculum, a liberal arts program that incorporates history, science, philosophy, literature, Latin, and composition into a cohesive program that emphasizes critical thinking, reading, and writing.
Originally, I planned to recreate the first year of our curriculum and offer the Classics Year, but now that I am actually in the thick of it, I am finding it much easier to write the curriculum as I work, so we’re making Year One European history instead. That means fourteen glorious weeks of the Enlightenment for the first semester — Newton! Rousseau! Swift! Pope! And even a little Kant! — and fourteen magical weeks of the Victorians in the second semester, including Dickens, Browning, Carlyle, Mill, Darwin, and more. We’ll read some of the classics, but we’ll also explore the woman question, interrogate issues of slavery and racism, and dig into some of the meatier questions these periods of unprecedented social, political, and literary change raise. It’s going to be great.
In science, this is our biology year — how could we not hone in on biology when we can read Darwin with it? We’ll alternate a comprehensive traditional biology program (complete with labs), with primary readings chronicling the history of biology that connect to our history, literature, and philosophy readings. Our emphasis in science is on understanding and applying the scientific method and on ensuring that we establish a solid framework based on the current best scientific understanding of the natural world.
I’m so excited about this program and thrilled to get to share it beyond the ten students who get to use it at my husband’s hybrid high school. I’ve put together some sample pages that you can download right here — I think they give you a good idea of what the curriculum would actually be like to use, though they are not final pages since the curriculum is still a work in progress. I am committed to completing it by August 5, 2018 for those of you who want to start using it in the fall. (And if you want to use it but you need more specifics to start your planning, please email me, and I am happy to help!)
If you are a high school parent who might be interested in this curriculum, I hope you’ll consider supporting it with a pre-order. I’ve taken 30% off the cost of the print edition and 20% off the cost of the digital edition for everyone who pre-orders before June 15 (the price is reflected in the store). And as a special thank-you bonus, if you pre-order the curriculum before July 15, you can choose one student essay from each subject in this program when you use it to send me, and I will give your student individual feedback. (This may not seem like a great bonus, but my essay feedback is legendary at Jason’s school. I consistently see significant writing improvement from students who apply my — admittedly copious — essay feedback.) I definitely want to show my appreciation to the people who offer early support to this project, which is big and challenging and time-consuming.
[Edited: The curriculum is 10% off digital and print editions through August 1.]
On to all the details you could possibly want:
Included in This Curriculum
Full 28-week curriculum, including lectures, assignments, and readings for:
- History: Our first semester focuses on Europe from roughly 1688 (when William and Mary took the throne of England in the Glorious Revolution) to the French Revolution in 1789-1799. In the second semester, we’ll turn to the Victorian era, which begins with Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne in 1837 and continues through her death in 1901. Students will read a variety of primary and secondary sources and write comparative, analytical, and DBQ essays during each semester.
- Literature: During the first semester, we’ll focus on the wide variety of literature made possible by improved printing techniques (and looser printing regulations) during the Enlightenment, including journalism and non-fiction, poetry, drama, so much satire, and the beginning of the novel. In addition to selections of all of the above, we’ll be reading Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and another novel (chosen by the student from a list of options) in their entirety. In the second semester, our focus will be Victorian literature, specifically the fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry that served as a link between the Romantics and the modern writers of the 20th century. In addition to shorter selections, students will read Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and another novel (chosen from a list of options). Students will explore specific works and the broader generic (as in genre-specific, not the more common definition of not specific) connections and implications of each period. Written output includes critical, comparative, and rhetorical essays in addition to frequent timed free response essays.
- Philosophy: With so many impassioned essays and reasoned arguments to explore, philosophy this year will concentrate on evaluating arguments, including recognizing biases, fallacies, rhetorical appeals, and more. In addition to considering history and literature readings through this lens, we’ll also be reading selections from Immanuel Kant (in the fall) and John Stuart Mill (in the spring) as philosophical representatives of their times.
- Composition: Our focus in composition this year will be on writing better essays, so we’ll be working through major essay forms, including comparative, analytical, rhetorical, narrative, and argumentative essays. We’ll also focus on building a toolkit for self-evaluation and revision so that students can develop and improve first-draft essays.
- Latin: We’ll be using the Ecce Romani 1 textbook as a resource for improving English grammar skills while learning the fundamentals of Latin grammar and vocabulary.
- Biology: Our biology year uses Miller & Levine Biology to explore cells, energy, reproduction, genetics, human systems, and of course evolution—as biologist Ernst Mayr says, “there is not a single Why? question in biology that can be answered adequately without a consideration of evolution.” In addition to labs (designed to be done at home with minimal equipment, with additional options for students who want to use more sophisticated lab tools), students will engage in projects and activities to develop understanding of concepts and ideas. Students will also read primary sources that connect to the history, literature, and philosophy of the Enlightenment and Victorian age.
(These are optional units that you may use for summer learning, independent projects, or enrichment. They're included with the curriculum — we treat them as Friday enrichment at Jason's school.)
- Film Studies (A nine-week introduction to film history that focuses on the tools and techniques needed to read movies as a text)
- The Ramayana (A five-week investigation into the history, art, literature, and significance of India’s great epic poem)
- Music Appreciation (A 14-week study of the music of the Enlightenment and Victorian periods)
- Book Club (A six-month guide with discussion topics, mini lectures, and and reading guides, focused on modern African literature)
- History: Enlightenment
- History: Victorians
- Literature: Enlightenment
- Literature: Victorians
- Philosophy: Building and Evaluating Arguments
- Composition: The Essay
- Latin: Year 1 (Includes English Grammar)
- Biology: Lesson Guide
- Biology: Lab Notebook
- Parent’s Guide to the European History Year
- Audio Lectures for All Subjects
Provided by You:
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (at the library, free ebook, or—my favorite—the Norton Critical edition)
- Great Expectations (at the library, free ebook, or—my favorite—the Norton Critical Edition)
- Secondary novels (student choice)
- Miller & Levine Biology (available used on Amazon)
- Ecce Romani 1 (available used on Amazon)
- Films for Film Studies, optional (available to rent on Amazon)
- Music for Music Appreciation, optional (available to stream on Amazon)
- The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic by Ramesh Menon, optional (available on Amazon)
- Book Club Books (all available on Amazon)
- Math curriculum
- This curriculum was designed to cover two 14-week semesters, for a total of 28 weeks of structured academic time. Because of the short time span, it’s a very focused, rigorous curriculum—you could definitely slow down and spread it across more time if you wanted to.
- This is a reading- and writing-intensive curriculum. While you could definitely modify it to make it less so, critical reading and writing are such essential parts of it that if you hate those things, this curriculum might not be the best fit for you.
- All of the information in this curriculum was reviewed by and created by or in close collaboration with people with advanced degrees in the subject area.
- This is a secular curriculum, and it’s our biology year. There is a lot of information about evolution in this curriculum.
- This sample does not include complete lessons and is only a sample—the completed curriculum may differ from what you see here.
- I love the idea of publishing this curriculum if people can use it, but I will be using advance sales as an indication of interest. If there is enough interest, I will ship the completed curriculum by August 5, 2018. If there is not enough interest, I will issue full refunds by July 31, 2018.
- You can order a digital or a print edition of the curriculum. Each subject comes as its own file or book so that you can work through them at the speed you prefer.