Land of Hope
This informative, theme-driven course surveys US history, inviting students to engage in “the Great American Story.” Propelled by historical patterns and themes (including successes and failures), this course focuses on the nation’s formation, government, and development to present day. Students will process and discuss, with the aim at building responsible citizens. The Land of Hope materials shine with versatility. Use the text alone as an informative US history analysis; use the student text, student workbook, and teacher’s guide in combo for a straightforward, 1-credit high school course. Or, add to the three texts an optional, free, online, lecture-based course available directly from Hillsdale College for enhanced depth (registration required). The author, Wilfred McClay is a personable lecturer. Each of the 25 almost 30-minute videos (with additional, shorter, supplemental videos) provides “in-class” experience, helping students process concepts. Note that this video course, according to Hillsdale, “runs contrary to the prevailing academic view of America as irredeemably racist, sexist, and unjust.” This viewpoint, however, seems muted in the textual materials.
The textbook (458 pgs, pb with a few illustrations, maps, additional reading list, and index) is written with a premise that no culture is void of influences. The text fleshes out main themes such as the American ideas of self-rule, the “common man,” the lingering effects of reconstruction, and more. While no writing is devoid of the author’s perspective, this text conveys events and movements with a focus on historical significance, maintaining that a nation’s condition and values are the aggregate of all that’s come before. In addition, rather than promoting religious influences or completely ignoring them, McClay discusses, when appropriate, how religions have shaped our country’s development. Although leaning more conservative, the text assumes a fairly balanced political presentation (particularly evident in chapter 25, which elaborates on both political parties’ strengths and failings). Printed just before the 2020 national elections, the text ends with cautions about current national divisiveness. While an engaging read, don’t worry if you’re not able to read along with your student. The teacher’s guide (395 pgs, pb) provides student book chapter summaries and a copy of the primary-source readings. In addition, you’ll find succinct answers to all subjective questions, objective answers to primary source reading study questions, and four Special Units (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the two-party system). For each of the 21 chapters, the student workbook (334 pgs, pb) provides study and objective questions, with one or two primary-source documents (such as The Northwest Ordinance, songs of American slavery, or Woodrow Wilson’s speech, “What is Progress”). Questions range from objective (often fill-in-the-blank) to open-ended short answer or discussion-focused questions. Since this is a consumable text, you may want to write more in-depth answers in a separate notebook. ~ Ruth