Yesterday we began the Arrangement portion of the essay cycle. This is where the student plugs the appropriate words, phrases and sentences into a perfunctory outline. I tend to want to flee the curriculum at this point and search for something less likely to stifle creativity. But I stay, perhaps because I know Arrangement is only one-third of this particular writing program. We did get a whole week on Invention, after all.
The kids' issues are very different from each other. One is a question of life-or-death in a legendary context (very black and white!) and the other is an area of Christian liberty-- whether to study a subject at home or enroll in an outside class. We talked about the difficulty of evaluating arguments in the latter case. We also discovered that the way an issue is worded may limit the satisfaction a person gets from arguing it to a logical (and moral) conclusion. (I know that's cryptic, but I guess that's all you're getting for now...)
The girls produced their outlines lickety split. So far this program has not been difficult. In fact, they rolled their eyes when I began the review portion of the lesson-- they already knew that stuff. First the teacher is to teach the lesson, then the kids do the equivalent of narration, then they apply, then the teacher asks questions for review. It was the ask-questions-for-review part. The girls weren't disrespectful, but they sort of looked at me like, "We have a lot to do today. Do we REALLY need to go over this a fourth time?" So I think I will respect that, assuming they continue to understand the directions as easily as they have so far.
Their homework is to produce a rudimentary persuasive essay outline for their practice essays. The practice essay is going to span the entire year and be changed over and over again as we learn new skills. Mr. Kern says it will resemble an old, barnacle-covered ship by the end of the year. :)