A Creative Approach to the Classical Progymnasmata—Think of the progymnasmata as a step-by-step apprenticeship in the art of writing and rhetoric. What is an apprentice? It is a young person who is learning a skill from a master teacher. Our students will serve as apprentices to the great writers and great stories of history.
Students are often expected to write with no clear model before them. Modern composition scolds traditional writing instruction as rote and unimaginative. It takes imitation to task for a lack of freedom and personal expression. And yet, effective communication from writer to reader always requires some sort of form and structure. Many of history’s greatest writers learned by imitation. In other words, writing takes the same kind of determined study as ballet or diving. Creativity uses conventional form as a stage or a springboard from which to launch grand jetés and somersaults. Too often students are expected to tackle complex writing assignments without learning the necessary intermediate steps. The assumption is that because most everyone can speak English well enough to be understood, and form letters with a pencil, that everyone should be able to write well. Yet how many of us would expect a child to sit at a piano, without piano lessons, and play a concerto? Writing is never automatic.
The Writing & Rhetoric series method employs fluent reading, careful listening, models for imitation, and progressive steps. It assumes that students learn best by reading excellent, whole-story examples of literature and by growing their skills through imitation. Each exercise is intended to impart a skill (or tool) that can be employed in all kinds of writing and speaking. The exercises are arranged from simple to more complex. What’s more, the exercises are cumulative, meaning that later exercises incorporate the skills acquired in preceding exercises. This series is a step-by-step apprenticeship in the art of writing and rhetoric. Fable is the first in a series of 12 books that will train students over 6 years, starting in grades 3 or 4 and up.
Full program includes:
- Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable (consumable student edition) This book teaches students the practice of close reading and comprehension, summarizing a story aloud and in writing, and amplification of a story through description and dialogue. Students learn how to identify different kinds of stories; determine the beginning, middle, and end of stories; recognize point of view; and see analogous situations, among other essential tools. Lessons include:
- Narration/telling it back (creating a natural sense of outline/sequence)
- Analogy—learning how this story is like/different from other stories
- Sentence play/word play
- Rewriting (gaining a sense of internal structure of a piece of writing)
- Rewriting given stories
- Speak It—experiencing the story from your own mouth (orally) with an audience for a different point of contact, often with some sort of change than the first time you heard it.
- Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable Teacher’s Edition This teacher’s edition includes the complete student text, as well as answer keys, teacher’s notes, and explanations. For every writing assignment, this edition also supplies descriptions and examples of what excellent student writing should look like, providing the teacher with meaningful and concrete guidance.
- Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable Audio Files These audio files allow students to engage their sense of hearing and their listening intelligence as Dr. Christopher Perrin, along with the Writing and Rhetoric series editor, Christine Perrin, deliver the fables aloud in a thoughtful manner.
See the Support tab above for suggested schedule and rubrics.
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“We are really enjoying your recently released Writing & Rhetoric program. Besides being very visually appealing, it hits just the right balance for us in terms of age-appropriate instruction and lively fun activities. Even my 7-year-old wants to join in sometimes. This is our most successful writing program so far and I am looking forward to continuing with this series.” —Elissa, homeschool mom
“I just wanted to tell you that we are all enjoying W&R Book 2 very much. Today we are finishing lesson 2. This is the only program in 6 years my 6th-grade son has not cried and he even said today that he likes it. I like the pace and understanding it is teaching. My 4th-grade daughter is doing great too. Thank you!” —Monite, homeschool mom
“I am working through Writing and Rhetoric Book 1: Fable with my 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. My daughter asks every day to get started on her writing! My son, who was constantly saying ‘I don’t know’ and ‘But it’s too hard,’ is absolutely amazing me with his creativity. No whining!! It is restful learning! 🙂 Thank you!!” —Keri, homeschool mom
“I am currently using your Writing and Rhetoric. I LOVE that you maintain the positive elements of classical education without requiring the tedious repetition and copious problems that so many classical curriculum models fall prey too. When a child is so preoccupied with getting quantity done, he has no time left to ingest, process and assimilate concepts. Your books manage to accomplish this so I always look forward to seeing what else you have published. Thank you for the value you add to homeschooling!” —Wendy, homeschool mom
“We started using the Writing and Rhetoric books this year. WOW. My kids no longer complain about writing. It’s something they look forward to doing. Thank you!!” —Victoria, homeschool mom
“I wanted to thank you all for putting your Writing & Rhetoric curriculum together. My fifth and third grader have just finished up Narrative 1 and I am impressed with how painlessly their writing has improved. I’m also impressed with how they have naturally taken on the voice of the stories they’re imitating and how they have merged stories together. My youngest three will definitely be using it all the way through. I wish it had been around for my older kids. It’s been awhile since I’ve been so pleased with a curriculum.” —Brandie, homeschool mom
“Since my nine-year-old completed the first two books in Writing & Rhetoric a few weeks before the official end of our school year, his lessons I’m assigning are now lighter without the CAP program. While my son claims to hate writing, this is what he shared with me today: ‘I’m actually kind of bored without the Writing & Rhetoric. I enjoyed working on those stories.’ Wow! I am a former public school teacher and searched long and hard for a high-quality writing curriculum that would inspire my son to be creative while also teaching him structure. I wanted something different than the dull formulaic programs I was accustomed to in the public system, but didn’t want to neglect the process by choosing something that focused solely on creativity. Since writing has been the subject he’s struggled with the most, I searched for a program that would spark his interest and not dampen the spirits. As I’ve shared with many friends, I’m impressed with CAP and it’s working well for my son.” —Amy, homeschool mom and former public school teacher
“My dream writing program!” —Chelli, The Planted Trees blog
“My [students] love this book. The stories are wonderful and engaging and we have had so much fun with it. They are making great progress and have moved from dreading their writing assignments to eagerly anticipating them each week.” —Teren, Cottage School director
“Your Writing & Rhetoric program has inspired my 9-year-old son! Before beginning Book 1: Fable, he had been a very reluctant writer. After only the first lesson, he wrote an outstanding original story completely on his own. My husband and I were amazed, and humbled, at how much was stored up in that little mind of his, just waiting to come out. I knew that the progymnasmata would provide for the needs of our classically trained children, but was completely intimidated by the few resources available to teach those exercises. Thank you, Classical Academic Press, for this program. Please continue the good work of providing excellent classical materials that are manageable for home educators.” —Tricia, homeschool mom
“I just want to say THANK YOU for the Writing & Rhetoric program. After dabbling for years in [other] programs . . . I have never been satisfied with how I was approaching writing (and I’m a writing instructor for high school and college students by trade!). These programs were too boring or dry or complicated; they sucked the life out of the subject and my kids were bored. I have two kids in Fable and two kids in Chreia, and they LOVE our time in these books each day. The tone is conversational, but the information is complex; the exercises are creative, yet rigorous. I love how they are introducing cultural literacy and logic while teaching writing. THANK YOU for this series of books. With 10 children (and one on the way), I’m so glad to finally find a language arts track that is satisfying; I’m anxious to use this with all my future students!” —Kristin, homeschool mom and writing instructor
“This is a very well-thought-out, creatively constructed, effective writing program. Not only did I see my kids really thinking and improving their writing skills, they actually enjoyed it along the way!” —Cassandra, owner/writer at The Unplugged Family
“This is such a well-designed series of books and I have been so impressed to see how the curriculum builds from Book 1 to where my children are currently, in Book 6. I love both the content and method of this curriculum. The method and design provides students with enough guidance and skills practice to ward away writer’s block, and yet offers each student plenty of room to flex their creativity and find their own voice. Regarding content, the readings that lay the foundation and provide inspiration for each lesson are wonderfully rich and thought-provoking. Many interesting discussions have stemmed from the readings, essay assignments and formal discussion topics. The thought has occurred to me many times that experiences like these are exactly the reason I love the freedom of homeschooling.” —Brandi, homeschool mom
“Our homeschool program has been using Writing & Rhetoric in our Language Arts program going into our 3rd year. First, I can tell you that I LOVE this program. . . .[it] has created the richest writing by students than I’ve ever experienced. (In my own humble opinion!)
And as an added bonus—it’s EASIER!!! I can go on and on about my own two children, who have thrived using W&R: my son, who is a struggling reader/writer at age 13, doesn’t cry anymore about writing essays; and my 14-year-old daughter, who is a typical girl who likes to read and write, finds the program challenging enough to write well—and she is proud of her work!” —Kristi, ROCK Academy director
“I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for offering such amazing products and classes. I have a previously reluctant academic writer who started Writing & Rhetoric Book 3 this term, and I am amazed at how much she loves it. We had completed all the writing activities in the third lesson, so I told her she didn’t need to write her own fable if she felt like it was too much. She begged me to do it and worked through three revisions of it without a single complaint! (She does love to write outside of school, but it has always been hard to get her to write for school, so this is such a victory!) Not only that, but I LOVE to teach from the Teacher’s Manual. It is easy to implement, interesting, and just enough work to challenge but not frustrate. I’m so thrilled to have found it!” —Christine, homeschool mom
Paul Kortepeter currently serves as curriculum director and eighth-grade teacher at The Oaks Academy, a private K–12 classical school in Indianapolis. His passion for helping students write effectively and speak persuasively led him to write the Writing & Rhetoric series, a step-by-step program for young writers based on the classical progymnasmata. Paul has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Earlham College and a master of fine arts degree in cinema production from the University of Southern California. While a student at USC, he edited a documentary film on the homeless that was nominated for an Academy Award. He spent the next six years in Los Angeles developing made-for-TV movies for popular performers such as Jane Seymour, Pierce Brosnan, Walter Matthau, and Isabella Rossellini. More recently, he worked as senior editor for Sunrise Publications, now a division of Hallmark Cards. While at Sunrise, he met artist Susan Wheeler and the two collaborated in creating picture books for Dutton Children’s Books and gift books for Harvest House Publishers.
Grade Level: Grades 3-4
Course Length: Semester
- Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable (Student Edition)
- Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable Teacher’s Edition
- Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable MP3 Audio Files