The Great American Story: A Land of Hope

The Great American Story: A Land of Hope

I reviewed Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, a textbook by Wilfred M. McClay for United States History when it was first published. At that time, there were no supplemental resources to make it easy to use as a complete course. Since then, Hillsdale College has created a free, online course based on Land of Hope. Students will still need the printed textbook.

The course has 25 lectures that each run about 26 minutes. After an introductory video by Dr. Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, the rest of the lectures are presented by the textbook's author, Wilfred McClay. The videos primarily show McClay lecturing in a casual fashion, but some of them include film footage and other images as illustrations.

The lectures roughly follow the chapter breakdown of the book, although some lectures are renamed, and the content of some chapters is split into two lectures. There are also 14 supplemental videos that run only a few minutes each. These short videos address pertinent topics within the lessons to which they are linked. For example, a short lecture on heroes of the American Revolution accompanies the lecture about the founding of our country.

Online quizzes with five, multiple-choice questions are included for most of the lectures, and there's a final online quiz after the last lecture. The quizzes are scored and tracked by the course.

A free online study guide gives a reading assignment in the book for each lecture so there is no confusion over differences between the layout of the book and the lectures. The study guide also highlights key passages in the book and presents two or three questions. Students can discuss the questions if that's practical, or they can write out answers as short essays. For example, for the fourth lecture, one question asks, "How were the Articles of Confederation deficient?" There are no answer keys for these questions. However, the style of the questions requires that students have a clear understanding of the material in order to compose a response. A group class meeting weekly to watch a lecture and discuss questions could be worthwhile. The study guide also allows students to type notes directly into the program where they are compiled and saved for the student.

This is an excellent course. Using all of the course components might not provide 180 hours of course material, so you might have students write a research paper or do further reading from McClay's "For Additional Reading" list near the back of the textbook.

Hillsdale College's free course now makes Land of Hope a very practical choice for homeschooled high school students.

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Instant Key

  • Need For Parent/Teacher Instruction: low to moderate
  • Grade Level: grades 9-12
  • Suitable For: independent study plus discussion
  • Religious Perspective: secular but Christian friendly
  • Political Perspective: conservative
  • Educational Approaches: classical, eclectic, traditional, worldview
  • Educational Methods: critical thinking, discussion
  • Technology: online, supplemental digital content, video

Publisher's Info

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