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  1. It has been summer holidays here, so I have been reading, reading, reading about writing. I have read 3 of the 4 recommendations from SWB for rhetoric: Corbett's Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student (re-read this one, and really studied it) DeAngelo's Composition in the Classical Tradition (yes, the examples are as bad as she says) They Say, I Say: Moves that Matter in Academic Writing I have also read Webster's Student Writing Handbook Lively Art of Writing And I have read the following curriculum (some I actually read like LtoW, CW and WWS; others I really just skimmed to understand what they were doing like Killgallon and WWE): Killgallon Sentence Composing (middle and high school levels) Lost Tools of Writing (LtoW, levels 1 and 2) Classical Composition's Fable Classical Writing's (CW) Homer, Maxim, and Chreia, (and soon Herodotus as it just arrived today) MCT's Island, Town and Voyage levels Writing with Skill (WWS) Writing with Ease (WWE levels 1,2,3) IEW's Structure and Style (luckily got these DVDs from the Homeschool library). Yes, as you can see, I have also spent a lot of money. But I see things so clearly now and I wanted to share my understanding. I hope this helps someone..... I also don't mind answering questions. I have found that Corbett is the best overview of the scope of writing, and would recommend it as a must read for anyone interested in teaching writing to her children up through high school. Corbett sorts classical writing into the 3 canons: Invention, Arrangement, and Elocution, and I have found that organization perfect to sort the different curriculum into. Invention: by far the best curriculum I have read to improve a student's invention is Lost Tools of Writing. It uses the exact same list of Common Topics found in Corbett. However, when I read Corbett, I just could not understand how to get from the list of topics to putting them into an essay. And in WWS and CW I was spoon fed too much, so I could not really see the forest through the trees and implement it on my own. LtoW teaches the student how to ask questions based on the Common Topics and then how to arrange them into an argument. Also, LtoW and CW are the only curriculum that give any attention to the Special Topics associated with judicial, deliberative, and ceremonial discourse. The Lively Art of Writing has 2 excellent chapters on how to create a thesis statement. WWS (as planned for grades 5-8) studies half of the Common Topics listed in Corbett, I assume she will cover the rest in her high school curriculum WWStyle. Arrangement: Different curriculum attacked this in different ways. IEW does the best job in teaching kids the traditional paragraph structure, story structure, 5 paragraph essay. But also does this is a very formulaic manner. I have not seen IEW's more advanced materials. LtoW is also formulaic, but at the essay level. They Say/ I Say is unique in its discussion of arrangement. It focuses on the persuasive essay at the highest level and how to incorporate your ideas into the ongoing Great Discussion of books, essays, and ideas. This is the kind of arrangement I needed to write my dissertation. WWS's discussion of arrangement is not based on an standard outline, but rather on imitation of great writers – imitating how they describe and narrate historical and scientific topics (for level 1, haven't obviously seen the other levels) Elocution: Killgallon and Classical Writing tie IMHO for the best instruction on style of the sentences. They both have you play with sentences, change them around, evaluate how the new sentence augments certain aspects of an idea. LtoW teaches some extremely advanced stylistic features that are covered in Corbett. However, it does not spend enough time on each of these features for the student to actually be able to use them effectively. IEW teaches more formulaic style including a certain number of features for each paragraph, but it does not actually teach you HOW to change a sentence around. WWS so far has a fairly limited approach to style. Critical Reading: Both WWS and CW require students to analyze classic writers to help them understand what makes writing effective. CW does this somewhat better than WWS. MCT has you read classic essays but does not spend much time guiding the student through them. Classical Curriculum using the Progymnasmata. Corbett does not discuss this at all and has a somewhat condescending attitude towards it. The progym is a series of exercises that teaches you how to create different paragraphs and discuss different set topics, It uses Corbett's rhetorical ideas in a restricted and controlled manner. DeAngelo explains the purpose of all of the exercises very well, but his writing examples are as bad as SWB said. I actually could not finish the book, and the examples tarnished my feeling towards the progym. Classical Composition is a progym course which you would finish by 8th grade and then move to rhetorical writing. CW is more than just progym. It stretches the progym out to cover up to 12th grade (although the additional books are not out yet). By stretching out the progym exercies, it mutates some of them to make them truly rhetoric, meaning persuasive essays. The initial idea of the progym is that it happened before rhetoric – a student learned how to write and think using the exercises and then used this understanding to construct persuasive arguments. CW merges the two at the higher levels. Classical Curriculum not using the progym: LtoW follows Corbett's text but does not use the progym exercises. It is an early Rhetoric curriculum that teaches persuasive writing. WWS also follows Corbett's text but does not use the progym exercises. However, in contrast to LtoW, WWS does not teach students about persuasive writing. Instead, it teaches each of the Common Topics (well, half of the Topics) that will be used later to construct a complete argument in a rhetorical composition. Classical vs Modern writing: I have seen some discussion of this, and was confused for a while. But all this reading has cleared it up. In Ancient times there was a lot of time spent on ceremonial and judicial speech, to praise the fallen and to defend oneself (you acted as your own lawyer). These types of writing are not really done now, more of an ancient style. Also, many of the progym exercises use essay starters (like maxims etc) that are not commonly found today. WWS definitely uses more modern styles of writing than CW for example. What I will be using: For 5th through 8th, we will use WWS with Killgallon to shore up the lack of style in WWS. I like the modern writing style in WWS. 9th and 10th LtoW, I may even compact levels 1 and 2 into 1 year. This is early rhetoric. 11th -12th : Rhetoric. We will be writing across the curriculum without a curriculum. For an overview of rhetoric, Ds will read Corbett both years; for critical reading, we will apply Corbett to essays; for arrangement, we will use They Say/ I Say; and for style we will continue with Killgallon. I like CW, I really do, but I am concerned about the focus on non-modern writing styles. I think I will be creating my own CW by using the above books. I disagree with SWB about how difficult Corbett was to read. If you skip the part on logic, the rest of the text is straight forward and relatively easy to read. I found his examples and very lengthy discussion of them to be excellent, just excellent. And after studying all the topics, I think that I could now guide my son to analyze other's essay writing (like MLK or Rachel Carson) using my knowledge of the topics. Very very useful text, and I will definitely have my son read it twice in both 11th and 12th grades. Well, that is about it!! Hope you enjoyed it!:001_smile: Ruth in NZ
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