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Writing & Rhetoric: Book 6: Commonplace Review by Jacquelin Caffey

Paul Kortepeter
Classical Academic Press
2151 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Writing tends to strike fear in me during our homeschool day. I have a reluctant writer who avoids writing at all costs. We have tried a myriad of writing curriculums over the last seven years of homeschooling trying to find one that does not make writing such a chore for my girl.

For the last two months my 7th grader and I have been working through Writing & Rhetoric: Book 6: Commonplace trying to get a grasp of the writing process. This book sets to take your child on a step-by-step apprenticeship and learn how to compose a well thought out, six paragraph persuasive essay, called a commonplace essay.

We received the softcover book set that included a Teacher’s Edition and a Student Book, with access to a MP3 Audio download. During the course of your child’s apprenticeship your child will learn to write:

~ a six-paragraph essay
~ outline
~ creative and supportive thesis statements that support the thesis throughout the whole essay
~ using direct quotes to support the argument
~ and to learn how to deliver the finished writing project orally.

The Commonplace book set is ideally suited for children in grades 5-6, and is the second half to the grade 5-6 series. This book is the 6th book in a set of 12. Its primary focus for learning is to develop and support an argument in your thesis. Like I stated earlier, my 7th grader used this book over the course of the review period. The progymnasmata way of writing takes on a classical approach to learning as in the days of great philosophers. Students and families who learn towards a classical style of education will surely appreciate this book.

As classical homeschoolers, I appreciated the progymnasmata approach to learning writing. The material is presented in a straight forward, easy approach and you can jump right into teaching and learning starting on day one of receiving your books. Lessons are presented around readings of historical readings with narration and composition exercises, along with discussion questions.

Personally, I liked this program and the way it is laid out and taught. My daughter had a bit of trouble, especially in the beginning, but she has made great strides in her writings since starting this curriculum. The stories were engaging and the lessons were not too long as to make the assignment tedious and long. 

I think many classical homeschoolers would enjoy this book and find it extremely helpful in aiding the parent/teacher in teaching the proper way of writing in the progymnasmata style. My daughter has learned so much over the last few weeks and she is a little bit more comfortable come writing time. This two book set has taken the anxiety away from her and me as we tackle the subject of writing and has made it a little less tedious.

—Product review by Jacquelin Caffey, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2016