The Vanguard Edition of the Implications of the Short Story series is a "Treasury of Short Stories for High School Students." It is intended to be a one-year literature and language arts curriculum for eleventh or twelfth grade. (There is a separate edition, the Pathfinder Edition, for grades 9-10.) The course includes a softcover student textbook and a softcover Teacher's Edition, each with 443 pages. The Teacher's Edition includes the entire student textbook in a page-by-page, inset format. It also includes answers to questions from the Student Edition, including CheckQuizzes, Literary Critique, Writing Workshop, Journal Workshop, and Vocabulary Workshop, along with Exercises at the end of each short story. The book's seven sections are titled Conscience, Egoism, Prejudice, Satire, Solitude, Fantasy, and Perseverance. Each section poses a question in the title and offers literary works to stimulate discussion and thought. "Carefully selected for their lasting literary value, academic challenges, and ethical, healthy, balanced decision-making options, these stories will fascinate, stimulate, and educate." The book concludes with a Handbook of Literary Terms, a Glossary, and Indexes for Writing Tasks, Focal Themes, and Authors and Literary Works.
This textbook contains a wealth of information about the 15 short stories that are included. Each literary work begins with a "Before You Read" portion that includes sections titled "About the Author," "Connecting" (varied information to enhance understanding of the piece), "About the Selection," and "Helpful Definitions" as necessary. "Relevant and Related" sections are also scattered throughout, offering quotes from a broad spectrum of people. Discussion questions are found in the margins throughout the Student Edition, and the Teacher's Edition expounds upon the questions, offering additional information for the teacher to pass to the student. "Historical Highlights," "FYI," and "A Closer Look" boxes offer additional information and increase the educational value of the textbook. Homeschools that are comfortable with textbook use will find this to be an excellent selection of high school-level literary works. The included exercises offer multiple choice, discussion, writing opportunities, journal entries, literary critique, and a CheckQuiz for each piece, allowing students with various learning styles to express the knowledge gained.
The page layout of the Teacher's Edition is easy to use, with notes, questions, and pertinent information conveniently located in the margins next to the reduced textbook pages. The CheckQuizzes with answers are listed in the margins. Notes are also included on the bottom of the pages, stressing points of interest for the teacher to comment about or to use to initiate discussion. Our family chose to use the CheckQuiz questions as an oral activity and discussion, which also gives us the opportunity to connect more thoroughly with our students during these very important high school years. We read aloud together for several of the stories and found that having the dual copies was ideal. At roughly 6 x 9 inches, the Student Edition is a handy smaller size for carrying along. Families will be able to pass the books down through several students without difficulty as the books are not consumable, although parent-teachers may wish to keep a journal of notes pertaining to memorable discussions. Positive character traits and self-improvement are stressed throughout. The "Relevant and Related" quotes pertain to many Christian principles, and although they are not specified as such, they offer opportunity for resourceful parents to incorporate Biblical references with just a few minutes of preparation before class work begins. We found the helps to be tremendously thorough. If a Writing Workshop requests specific examples of foreshadowing or irony, a list of the many possible answers is provided.
As a book lover, I much prefer hardcover books, especially for textbooks as I desire many years of use from any given book. Even though softcover texts are less expensive, I still would have preferred hardcover for this course. We found no comment on God as our creator or the value of life from a Christian perspective, and there are disappointingly vague quotes such as, "And that's what life is about, after all -- a human response to a human experience, and the lessons learned in the process." There are many references to our "human experience" and the importance of living with good character. While this positive moral tone is good for a secular text, it would have been even better with God at the center of the curriculum.
That being said, Implications of the Short Story: Vanguard Edition is a wonderful collection of short stories and a very well done course. I urge parents to read all of the short stories ahead of time to determine if there is any material that you would prefer to discuss beforehand or avoid altogether. Exposure is an integral part of the education during high school years, but we believe parenting is as well. We recommend this course for homeschoolers who appreciate a good textbook and desire a broad range of short stories from around the world.