Monday, January 23, 2012

Teaching Composition and Feeding Souls

I am still thinking about writing programs.  Some folks from the LTW mentor list have taken time to email privately, giving me tremendous help toward understanding progym-- what it is, what it is not, how it compares with other things.

I'm getting sort of geeked up about progym.  I do not like writing programs as a general rule, so this is different for me.  (LTW was the first exception.  I still like it a lot.  I just wonder if something beforehand mightn't be amiss.)  I think Charlotte's audience must have already known about teaching composition, so she didn't give a lot of details... the way she didn't say much about math...  I don't know.  I did a search through Volumes 3 and 6 to confirm that I wasn't missing anything... either I don't get it, or she didn't go much beyond narration, copywork and dictation.  I may not understand what she meant by those terms.  Or maybe as a teacher I get in the way.  Or maybe life holds too many distractions for my kids.  I don't know.  I have one that is a natural writer and still struggles with argument and form.  I can't teach that without a practical map.  As a writer, I was poorly educated, and I can't find a practical map for middle/high school level composition in the CM Volumes.  If I am missing it, someone please point it out.  (I already know about the writing handbooks recommended at AO.  I have all of them.  They didn't help as much as I would have liked.  It is possible I did not use them properly.)

Beneath the thrill of possibly finding the 'answer', quotes like these keep me cautious:

"...these men... can read and write, think perversely, and follow an argument, though they are unable to detect a fallacy...why do so many... seem incapable of generous impulse, of reasoned patriotism, of seeing beyond the circle of their own interests...? These are the marks of educated persons... Why then are not these persons educated, and what have we given them in lieu of education?”  (CM Vol. 6)

What is education?  What is knowledge?

"Knowledge... is passed, like the light of a torch, from mind to mind, and the flame can be kindled at original minds only. Thought, we know, breeds thought; it is as vital thought touches our minds that our ideas are vitalized, and out of our ideas comes our conduct of life." (CM Vol. 6)

It is about more than discipline, more than form.

"...let us be careful that our disciplinary devices, and our mechanical devices to secure and tabulate the substance of knowledge, do not come between the children and that which is the soul of the book, the living thought it contains."  (CM Vol. 3)

Oh, criminy.  I wish someone would just tell me what to do.


Javamom said...

Oh, wait!! Remember my post from a few years back called "Beyond Narration...?"

I can't tell you what to do next, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts now, after some personal guidance from LTW ppl!


Katie said...

Thanks for the reminder, Javamom! I went over and reread your post... I guess I had forgotten about it.

My 5th grader is learning (from a workbook) different ways to outline this year, and I have her using some of those as she narrates her schoolbooks.

You know, it seems I am *doing* all the right things, but it doesn't feel right. Something is off.

I wonder if it has to do with my own looking-over of the things to be done. The kids are so independent now. It's difficult to allow them that initiative while still staying involved. I don't look over the books the way I used to.

Javamom said...

It is a weird transition time, trusting them...knowing how much to trust and making sure they've "got it." We know that we know they won't 'get' everything (and we give grace for that), but there still needs to be a balance of what we oversee and check and what they take in and absorb forever.

I honestly think that balance will be in a difference place with each child and within each family! Another good reason to remember not to compare ours to others' families/kids...and another good reason to remember when to hold ourselves more accoutable and also when to (simply) let ourselves off the hook. How to know? We need to stay intuitive. Can't quantify that!


Yours affectionately,