Friday, November 09, 2007

Thinking about the Progym

My tentative thought is to have both the boys start with Classical Writing: Aesop, but of course Sean can use more complicated narratives. I will try to move Sean more quickly into longer narratives a la Homer. By the end of the year Sean can do some of Diogenes or some version thereof, to get him used to high school level analysis and writing.

Kieron can stay in CW Aesop but just keep steepening the length and complexity of the narratives he uses for models. I'm skipping the early fable section because we already did this section a couple of years back and in my experience, boys this age (11) just love to parody fables. I don't want to deal with this at the beginning of the year so I am going straight to narratives and then maybe the Jakarta tales (which aren't as familiar to him) towards the end of the year.

I will start with Baldwin then do some of the Bible stories and saints' legends. I also have hopes of pulling out narratives from the books they are reading.

Another thing that occurs to me is to have the models be part of a mini-unit or theme. I think this will be less artificial than the way we did it last time, where the models were done completely in isolation from everything else. For example, Kieron was interested in Constantine, so we could do a narrative of Constantine and the Cross and have a more detailed study of him along with timeline, maps etc. This wouldn't have worked with Brendan and Clare but Kieron actually enjoys delving into things with a bit of direction -- it doesn't "ruin it" for him. He is more like Liam that way. ... a social/interactive learner.

I am falling back in love with the progym, for sure. I just love the analysis and imitation concepts. BY the way, there is a perfectly wonderful article on The Method of Teaching (Ignatian method, that is) by a Jesuit teacher, Robert Schwickerath. It is compatible with Classical Writing because the early Jesuits were heavily influenced by Quintilian, who was an early educational writer.

So that is the brainstorming part of the plan. I hope to get a spreadsheet laid out with specific models, subject to variation, as always.

For now, while we have so much going on, my object is to get Sean particularly more used to writing things out. So I have him doing regular copywork and daily learner's journal/notes narration. This gives me a better idea of where he is at. These can gradually evolve into a commonplace book for Diogenes.

Also, since he is 14 I hope to pull in primary sources and teach him to analyze and interpret in context. More on all this later. I'm just trying to get the basic ideas out. The reading-study lends itself easily to research and study skills and beginning literary analysis.

Kieron is a different story. He will want to interact on the story telling. I really like the idea of having the model in the context of a brief unit. Another idea is to use picture books as models. I hope to have him read, say, George and the Dragon (just an example) in a "real" book, like the book of Virtues, and then print out another version to use as the model. This will lend itself to natural comparison/contrast.

I would also like to use some graphic-organizer type things for the story discussions.

Another possibility is to have them work together in some, though not all, weeks of the progym. I used to work with them together but it makes more sense now to have them more separate. Still, I can overlap on the planning and on some of the models.

This month will be mostly devoted to "notes narrations" or outlining type things, and verbal presentations of study. Probably the next month too, since it is already December. But since I am in a bit of a rush with Sean he will probably start writing some papers in December. I can go slower with Kieron.


  1. How do you use the models? Do you have them read the model first, then rewrite it in their own words (a form of narration)? Is it more like copywork? Or are you trying to get them to emulate style or certain literary devices in the models?

  2. Sounds great Willa. I ditto the question from the comment prior to mine?

    I am going to dig up my old printed Aesop, and have a glance at the Homer stuff I have (if I am feeling relaxed first- otherwise it makes my head spin). Your post didn't make my head spin- it made it seem totally doable.

    I am going to look at the university library here in the city and see if they have the D'Angelo book as well.