Growing up, I dreamed of being a poet. Well, it was actually tied for second with becoming an architect; right behind my real dream of being an undercover CIA operative in the USSR. Big dreams don’t die! I still love poetry and write some on occasion, just not as a profession! So, I must admit that I was much more excited than my children about being offered Memoria Press’ Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Set.
We have used Memoria Press products in the past. Every spring I look forward to their beautiful magalog to arrive in my mailbox! So, I am thankful for this opportunity! I chose book three because it contained some of my favorite poets. However, I realized after it arrived, that we should have started with a lower level.
The Memoria Press Difference
As always, Memoria Press did a phenomenal job putting this program together. It is not only well curated, but beautifully illustrated. The set is rated for grade 8+ however, it is plenty meaty enough for a high school course. In fact, I was surprised by the level of work included. So, I would recommend beginning with a lower level course, perhaps Poetry for the Grammar Stage if you child is in later middle school and you have not done poetry analysis before.
That being said, the teacher’s guide is one of the best I have seen. Even though we had to do some catching up to be ready for the work, the student book taught us all we needed to know. The steps needed to study and truly understand literature and poetry are outlined in the beginning section of the Student Book. This may be my favorite part of the study set. It is so well laid out and explained. I couldn’t wait to keep reading.
Classical Education at its Best
Another feature of this program the struck and impressed me is the attention to students working at their own pace and acheiving mastery before moving on. The lessons are laid out in a way that draws the student in to progressively more diffiult and thought provoking assignments. A solid groundwork is laid before the poem is even read.
I felt that the vocabulary study epitomizes this approach to study. The students are asked to define a set of words based on their use in provided sentences. After this, they are to read the poem and see how many more they can define in the context of the poem. Finally, the student uses a dictionary to define the remaining words. There is not a strict time table, there is more than one way to get the answers. In fact, unlike most homeschool curriculum sets, there are no lesson plans with a timetable for assignment completion. This is how real education works!
To Mark the Book or Not to Mark the Book
One of the study skills taught, before the poetry study begins, is how to mark a book. Writing in book is one of those things that I really struggle with, but after getting over that, I could see the value in poems (or any book) being marked by a student to reflect his understanding and personal questions to be answered.
Each lesson has a “Pre-Grammar” preparation section which sets the stage for study. While this program is definitely challenging, it easily leads the student through the course of study. Next come the “Grammar” portion of the lesson, which contains reading notes and comprehension questions. After that is the “Logic” section with Socratic questions to discuss. Lastly, come the “Rhetoric” section which asks the student to synthesize what he has learned, define the “One Main Idea” and produce written work. These steps mirror classical education completely and make this so much more than a poetry book.
For Homeschool Use
This program works best in a group, I feel. However, that does not mean it did not work well in our homeschool. If you choose to use it, though, the parents should be involved in the upper “levels” of studying. Socratic questions beg to part of a discussion, not just read. This isn’t required, but I am thankful that I did not treat this as a regular textbook.
The Student Book is well laid out and meaty, without being full of busy work. Everything has a purpose beyond just being something to do. I so appreciate this. I admit that I am hesitant about using programs with multiple books because they are usually just filled with things to do for the sake of doing things. Doing more doesn’t make an education better.
Likewise, I tend to skip or not really use the teacher’s manual much. However, the teacher’s manual for this may be my favorite one ever. It was so useful, and again, not merely fluff.
I highly recommend this program!! Our school year is coming to a close, soon, however, I look forward to diving deeper into this poetry study come the end of summer. I’ve also been purusing Memoria Press’ other literature programs.
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