- Instructor: Rachel Ku
- Course Title: The Lost Tools of Writing Level 1 M
- Course Length: Two Semesters
- Type of Class: Group Class through HEART Academy
- When: Fridays, 12:25-1:40 pm
- Class Fee Payable to Mentor/Teacher: $75 / month
- Materials Fee: $20 one time only
- Credit Classification: 5 Credits
- Questions: Email Rachel Ku
Recommendation / Prerequisites: I recommend that the students fall between 7-9th grades as this is the stage for beginning to argue and think persuasively. Also, to optimize their use of Lost Tools of Writing: Level One, students need to know the basics of grammar, including parts of speech, punctuation, and sentence construction. A course such as IEW is a good foundation before using LTW.
The Lost Tools of Writing is a curriculum published by the Circe Institute, a non-profit organization that exists to promote and support classical education in the school and in the home. In the classical tradition, the teacher/mentor focuses on the thinking that leads to good writing. Andrew Pudewa, who wrote the IEW writing curriculum recommends The Lost Tools of Writing as the logical next step after IEW. He travels with Andrew Kern from Circe to speak about the transition from writing with IEW to writing with The Lost Tools of Writing. In these talks, Andrew Kern explains the three universal problems of writing and how to solve them using the tools that Aristotle and the great classical educators mastered. This curriculum guides the student, one step at a time, from simply reporting facts to supporting an opinion of his own.
The Lost Tools of Writing is a course in classical rhetoric. The instructor will strive to gently introduce students to the language of the classical tradition so that when they read great books by authors like Aristotle, Shakespeare, etc. there is no language barrier. The Lost Tools of Writing lays foundations for every kind of writing and even speech in the persuasive essay. Writers who internalize the tools in Level One spend the rest of their lives applying and adapting them to different contexts, essay forms, poems, stories, or any specific instructor’s requirements. Students learn stylistic techniques that they apply to reading and writing poetry; they cultivate a narrative sense to help them write stories; they practice gathering and evaluating testimony, the root of every form of research. Classical Rhetoric consists of five Canons, and the first three define the writing process. They answer the main challenges of writing: 1) Coming up with ideas, 2) Putting the ideas in order, 3) Expressing the ideas appropriately. “Solving these challenges was the goal of classical rhetoricians like Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. They noticed that people overcome them by working through three stages, one for each challenge.” These stages are: Invention- what to write, Arrangement- ordering, outlining, Elocution- expressing your ideas, style. In our class we will read a new story or book every three weeks, practice these Canons (Invention, Arrangement, and Elocution) in order, one per week, finally putting them together in a persuasive essay. For each essay written during the year, the student acquires new tools to add to each Canon. The stories and books are chosen based on the ease with which we can analyze the decisions of the characters in the story. Our discussions in class use a series of questions that the students will learn to ask themselves when thinking of what to write. These include: Should character X have made that decision? How do I define character X ? What other terms in this situation can I define? How does X compare with/to Y? What are the circumstances surrounding X? What’s going on at the same time in another place than where X is? What do others say about X? Etc… This will produce a long list of why X should and should not have made the decision. For his outline, the student picks one of these sides and arranges the ideas from his detailed lists. Finally, his outline is easily transformed into an essay on which he will begin to add a variety of style techniques.
While learning to think and reason clearly, seeking truth, goodness, and beauty, are the worthy goals of a classical student, the higher goal is that we can think through and evaluate all the decisions in our life before our Savior. Looking deeply at the choices and consequences of the characters in these well crafted stories will begin to inform and affect the student’s own decisions and give us as parents and mentors the vocabulary to talk to our kids about their decisions.
Required Text: The Lost Tools of Writing Level One – Student Workbook ($39) available through the website here: https://www.circeinstitute.org/products?term_node_tid_depth%5B0%5D=44 For more information on the curriculum and what’s included with your purchase (such as online videos) go to: https://www.circeinstitute.org/lost-tools-writing
Class Expectations: Please be in class on time and ready to work. The richness of our class time together is greatly dependent on all students being ready to participate with their ideas. Please let the instructor know if you have a planned absence. You should bring to every class both the Lost Tools of Writing Workbook and the piece of literature that we are discussing/analyzing that week. As your instructor, I am committed to modeling well this entire process of thinking through and expressing our ideas well. Sometimes this will be with games and other activities, and I want to make sure that whatever we practice in class is something that you can replicate at home.
Assessment: Grading a Lost Tools of Writing Assignment is very straightforward. There is a checklist with every lesson that shows what you must include in the assignment. I will collect your Brainstorming chart (called an ANI), the outline, and the essay for each book/story at the end of every 3 week period, and check for all the elements. The parent can then follow up with the grade as Incomplete/Acceptable or a letter grade if needed for credit. If the student is already in high school, I calculate this course to be worth 5 credits for the year, based on the number of hours of coursework completed in a year.
Contacting the Teacher: If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me.