Monday, May 5, 2014

Composition 1

That futility is the extraction of original composition from schoolboys and schoolgirls.

Last week, my public school 4th graders were required to compose multi-paragraph stories or informative essays (it was random as to who got assigned which genre) to a confusing prompt, in a very limited amount of time. Not at all Charlotte Mason.

Mason wrote that children under age 9 shouldn't be taught composition.  Contrast that with Common Core standards:

*In kindergarten, children must "use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose" opinion pieces, informative texts, and narratives. For example, if a student writes about a field trip to the zoo, she must "tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened." This is a paragraph!!! At age five! When students are just learning to form letters! When some students have not yet developed the fine motor strength necessary to write!

*In fourth grade (age 9), children must write multi-paragraph opinion pieces, informative texts, and narratives (real and imagined). They must be able to "type a minimum of one page in a single sitting."


Why is it necessary for a 9 year-old to write an essay about which is a better pet - a dog or a cat*?
*the fatuous prompt they were given a couple of months ago

Mason believed children's "composition" in grades 1 through 4 should be in the form of narration, both oral and written. Also, she allowed children to write part of a narration; much can be ascertained about a child's skill at composition from a small amount of writing.

She also believed that children's assignments should be limited to what they know.

-the whole account of a walk they have taken, 
-a lesson they have studied, 
-or of some simple matter that they know. 

Fourth graders should not be made to write "imagined" narratives.  Good fiction can only be written by someone who has read a lot of good fiction.

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