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Classical Composition vs. Classical Writing


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  • 2 weeks later...

My dd is using Classical Writing (Diogenese level) and I have reviewed Classical Composition. I wrote a detailed comparison a loooooong time ago but with this new site I cannot find it. I did, however, find an old e-mail where another mom and I had been comparing the two so I will cut and paste some of it here:


"They are both excellent and I don't see anywhere where they are particularly weak, but there are some small areas where I prefer one to the other.


I really like CC's layout. It is straightforward and easy and has a vastly smaller learning curve than CW in regards to implementation. So far, CW has not introduced any of CC's 18 figures of description. I like the focus CC puts on this but I'm not so sure I like how they ask the student to use them, but more about this later. I really like the way CC gently introduces the student to higher concepts but on a level that they can handle. CW doesn't do this as well early on. It seems that there is a large jump between Aesop and Homer; I think students are able to handle the jump but it would be a little gentler if concepts were introduced earlier.


As for what is similar with the two programs, I'll focus on Homer/Narrative, as that's what you are going into. They both have word copia, both deal with the six components (CW calls it Theon's Six Components) and both concentrate on outlines. Yet even though both programs cover these areas, they cover them in different ways. While copia is more or less the same in both, in regard to the 6 components, Homer seems to go into much more depth. There are a variety of questions for each component and even though the narrative may only answer a few of them, the student is made familiar with the questions to know what to look for. The description the student is expected to produce for each component is more detailed in Homer. In regard to outlining, in CC the six components cover the complete story, but with CW eventually you are encouraged to use the six components for each "scene" within the story and by doing this, it turns out to be a type of outline. CC appears to use a basic outline (as in the sample) but CW skips the basic outline (although they say you can use a basic outline in Aesop if the student needs it to remember the story), goes on to summarizing paragraphs as a type of outline, and then goes to multi-level outlines. With the multi-level outlines, they get the student to identify the "Acts" in the narrative and then break it down further and identify the "Scenes", just like a play. This process IMO, makes the outlining much easier.


I do really like the parsing in CW, which CC doesn't have because it doesn't include the grammar component. By parsing, my dd is learning how words function in a sentence. Words are becoming more fluid for her, rather than fixed, and she is beginning to notice things like prepositional phrases, participles, etc. in her everyday reading in a very natural way.


There were only a few things that made me a little uncomfortable with CC. The first one goes back to when I said I didn't like how they implemented the use of the 18 figures of description. When they ask the student to use one, or two, or three of the FoD, it is almost getting them to implement it as a formula (it reminded me of IEW with their dress-ups). Where the student chooses to add these descriptions in the story is important, as they could choose to add it in a place where it actually detracts from the story, or makes the story awkward. Now, that I've criticized it, I don't have a better idea but if I was using CC Fable I would be certain to be there when the child was writing to discuss how their choices affect the story. I mean, I wouldn't continually criticize and I wouldn't make them re-write, but just bring to their attention when perhaps, for example, a description actually distracted the reader from the story. I have to think more about this....... While I LOVE the 18 FoD, perhaps they might be best used at an older age when the student is more able to use them intuitively .....??? The Teaching Procedures in the Narrative kind of addresses this concern in #9, but if the student has been practicing using them indiscriminately for 2 years at the Fable level, is it easy to suddenly be precise about where to put description ....??? I don't know .....??? The Teaching procedure #8 puts me off a little when they say "Unlike the Fable stage, students may not change any of the six components of the individual narrative ......" Are they allowing the students to do this (again for 2 years) at the Fable stage and then are all of a sudden saying that they can't do it anymore?? This somehow does not seem wise; it's like allowing a student to spell words however he wants and then suddenly require him to spell everything properly. Unless I'm somehow not understanding this ..........???


So overall, if I had it to do over again (and having used CW and knowing how it works), I would have used CC Fable for the first two years, but I would have been careful how I used it and probably would have added some elements from Homer. Then I would switch to Homer and go from there with CW. From reviewing what you gave me, it appears that Homer goes more into depth and draws them into learning to write in a very subtle and natural way. Not that CC doesn't do this but I really like the flow of CW. I do think it will be more work than CC though. ....... "


I still pretty much agree with what I wrote then. Certain aspects of Homer I found overkill but I have a good writer so another person may have a different experience.


If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask! :001_smile:

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