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    CM-ing the Progym: Do I Need to Buy Curriculum?

    February 3, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]A[/dropcap]s an AmblesideOnline mom, I’m not really accustomed to buying curriculum. In fact, I’m kind of averse to it. If it can be done with a book rather than a curriculum, that is how I prefer to do it.

    However, comma.

    In order to teach the progym, I bought curriculum: the Classical Composition Fable Stage Teacher Guide as well as the Classical Composition Narrative Stage Teacher Guide. I bought the teacher guides instead of the student books because I knew that I was going to be adapting this for CM, and I didn’t want my student wading through distracting material that I considered unnecessary. Also, the purpose of buying the curriculum was not for my student.

    It was for me.

    I needed to learn how the progym worked, and buying curriculum was the easiest route I could think of.

    Truly, I don’t regret buying it one bit. It served its purpose, and I’ll probably reference it when I start my next student on the progym.

    The teacher guides are such that I can see what is in the student books, and so I’m also very glad I didn’t buy the student books. In the Charlotte Mason approach, we don’t spend much time defining vocabulary, and when we do, we do it before a reading, not after. I would have skipped all the exercises involving synonyms. I wanted to do this in the organic way that Charlotte Mason did this.

    Wait.

    Charlotte Mason did this?

    Ahem.

    Well, I don’t exactly have positive proof, but I do have a couple pieces of what I think of as evidence. First, Miss Mason was educated before the progymnasmata was removed from schools, so chances are good that she, as well as many of her teachers, had experienced the progym first hand. They didn’t have to buy curriculum and learn it the way I’ve done because they already knew what it was and how it worked. Second, a number of the exam question are basically requests for something similar to  progym variations.

    For example:

    Write a letter in the manner of Gray on any Modern Topic. {Vol. 6, p. 203}

    Sketch a scene between a “Mr. Woodhouse” of to-day and a neighbour of his. {Vol. 6, p. 206}

    Give some account, as far as you can in the style of Carlyle, of the Procession of May 4th. {Vol. 3, p. 298}

    To say nothing of all the lines of verse!

    These are not exactly the variations of the progym, but I would consider them an application of the progym.

    But we cannot apply what we do not know, which brings me full circle to curriculum. I bought curriculum, and I’m glad I did. You? You may or may not need to buy curriculum. For me, it was very helpful.

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