Sunday, November 11, 2007

November is for Composition

I let my learning goals lapse for a while, I realize. I think it was the chickenpox, then Alaska, and the football, that derailed me. Come to think of it, I should have devoted a month to Athletic Games and one to Medical/Therapy, since those are certainly ongoing themes in my family. I just updated the goals accordingly. I also added a Domestic Church category, which falls nicely into December -- this will be the month to focus on the liturgical year, continuing old traditions and planning enrichment/development for the future.

This month, November, has quite naturally evolved towards a language arts focus. Specifically, the progymnasmata is the focus (here are some posts on planning the progym on my other blog). It is not Charlotte Mason -- rather more classical -- but I do think that Charlotte Mason must have used/revived some elements of former progym theory in her ideas about copywork, dictation, and narration.

Penny Gardner's site has some quotes from CM about reading and writing for older children:

He must generalize, classify, infer, judge, visualize, discriminate, labor in one way or another, with that capable mind of his, until the substance of his book is assimilated or rejected, according as he shall determine.” -- School Education, p. 179

“But this [narration] is only one way to use books: others are to enumerate the statements in a given paragraph or chapter; to analyse a chapter, to divide it into paragraphs under proper headings, to tabulate and classify series; to trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause; to discern character and perceive how character and circumstance interact; to get lessons of life and conduct, or the living knowledge which makes for science, out of books; all this is possible for school boys and girls, and until they have begun to use books for themselves in such ways, they can hardly be said to have begun their education.” --School Education, p. 180

Here are some notes from Lynn's CMason High School page: on the Junior High School English Transition. Here is one passage:

Now, the written narration vary in style. In the beginning you will allow him to write in any way he pleases, and you should expect they will be very similar to his oral narration style (though shorter). He does write on whatever he is reading, in every area. For example, in History he might be reading Virgil, and would write to you about one of the battles. However, at this point you begin to select HOW he writes. For example, you might assign him to write everything this week in the style of a newspaper reporter, if you had studied reporting in composition. Next week they might be Encyclopedia articles, or as though he were one of the participants describing the event to his grandchild. For composition he might take a passage (even one of his own narrations) and re-write it into a different style. When he learns essay format you would show him how to take three selections from the reading passage as examples to answer the question, instead of telling you everything he knows about the topic. He is learning discernment, choosing what is needed.

Some of this is quite similar to what the ancients called copia: learning written verbal fluency and range through practice.

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