Review: Teaching the Classics from Institute for Excellence in Writing


Literature, BOOKS, stories, other worlds, I just LOVE that stuff and fortunately my passion for all things in the world of literature has spilled over onto my children.  It’s difficult to get books OUT of their hands at times.  I want them to get as much from their reading as I can.  When I saw the opportunity to review Teaching the Classics: A Socratic Method for Literary Education from the Institute for Excellence in Writing I was thrilled.  Here is my experience.

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 I admit, I do not remember much about the things I was taught about Literature Analysis way back in my highschool days.  Something tells me that at the time I would viewed it as rather boring and not really practicle.  I bet you anything I just wanted to be left alone to read the story already!  Of course, in my day, Literature Analysis meant memorizing a bunch of terms and filling out worksheets with the correct answers.  It didn’t mean lively exciting discussions about the books, the characters, the plot, the setting, and the author’s message.  I want lively meaningful thought provoking discussion with my children… not boring worksheets.  I had hoped   Teaching the Classics: A Socratic Method for Literary Education from the Institute for Excellence in Writing would teach me just how to make that happen in our homeschool.

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I’m sure there are some great college courses or workshops that I could take to refresh my brain on all things Literature Analysis, but who has the time… or the money?  That’s where Adam and Missy Andrews come in.  These have set out to create a great seminar that is geared toward you, the teacher. For the cost of $89.00 you receive all 6 sessions from a live recording of Andrew teaching the seminar himself on 4 DVDs as well a workbook to use throughout the lessons. The glory of this is that you can view this, all 5 hours and 37 minutes of it, at your own convenience.  PLUS you can go back to review it any time you wish!  Adam Andrews has a great smooth and engaging style that was relatively entertaining which made viewing the DVD’s pretty fun!

Mr. Andrews teaches us how to move away from your basic unit study when reading any piece of literature.  Instead asking basic questions such as… What happens to Mr. X in chapter 3? Or having the children memorize and answer vocabulary questions and comprehension questions we engage the children into an unearthing and discussion of important story elements such as: Plot and Conflict, Setting, Character and Theme.  Through the videos and the accompanying spiral bound workbook Mr Andrews gives you all of the tools you need to begin this rich type of dialogue with even your youngest children and their picture books.

Included within the videos are a couple of great readings of fantastic works of fiction by Beatrix Potter followed by a hands-on demonstration by Mr. Andrews and the live class walking through the process of the literature analysis.  The spiral bound book comes complete with clean handouts that can be photocopied for use in your homeschool.

As a teacher you will learn how to apply everything Mr. Andrews teaches with your own students. In the Appendix of the notebook you are provided The Socratic List.  This is a list of questions you can use with your students to engage them in conversation about the literature you read together.  Also provided are extensive reading lists, a list of important literary terms and their definitions, lesson plans, and a blank story chart.  Really you are given absolutely everything you need to develop your own curriculum for literature.

I intend to casually start talking about these concepts with all of my children, even my preschooler, as we read books together.  As we all become more confident and comfortable with the discussion and the terms I’ll continue to up the anti so to speak encouraging deeper levels analysis and conversation.  I have cabinets full of wonderful picture books that I think might be a great starting point for our family.

If you are interested in bringing more depth to your literature studies then Teaching the Classics: A Socratic Method for Literary Education from the Institute for Excellence in Writing is an absolute must for you!


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  1. Isn’t it a great tool?! I’m loving it!

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