I had the pleasure of attending two short lectures hosted by Andrew Pudewa, of Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)
fame. The titles of the lectures Pudewa offered through a local homeschool cooperative were:
- Writing in the Different Disciplines
- The Effects of Music on Life
- Competent Communication
I attended Writing in the Different Disciplines
and Competent Communication
. I missed The Effects of Music on Life
The seminars I attended were $15 each, or $40 for all three; they to
ok place over a two-day period.
It is my opinion, as a professional writer and a writing tutor, that IEW
is a program that can be applied to writing in all the disciplines, and this is what Pudewa explained in his first lecture. Pudewa describes IEW
as a writing process, not a writing program. IEW
teaches students to think about writing, so that they become trained in learning to think before learning to write about what they think or believe.
In the early stages, students learn how to imitate and repeat other writing styles and ideas, and grow into creative, essay, and thematic writing. This is similar to Charlotte Mason's method of doing copywork and narration first before going into deeper areas of communication.
He highly recommended that all parents read the book A Thomas Jefferson Education
. He spoke about the ideas in this book for quite a while (he discussed the differences between various education methods).
He went over some of the highlights of IEW
, which included the following points:
The purpose of writing is to:
- Clarify our understanding
- Demonstrate our knowledge
- Communicate knowledge to others
- Preserve ideas and truth
The ultimate goals of teaching writing are:
- Academic success (competency)
- Vocational success (competency)
- Ability to change the world (leadership)
How you teach writing:
- Reading - to gather ideas
- Talking - to discuss ideas
- Writing - to clarify thoughts, first thoughts of others, then ultimately your own thoughts
From my perspective, Pudewa believes that creative writing is a component of writing, but is further down the list than people often believe. He believes that first, children should learn to imitate writing (in the same way they can learn to imitate artists) in order to teach them HOW to think (or create). They are less able, at a younger age, to come up with their own ideas in a creative way, so they need to be guided in that area.
In the second lecture I attended, Pudewa discussed how to teach children to think and communicate clearly. He had two methods to use with children, to encourage them in this process:
Read aloud to children even as they grow older. LISTENING to good literature is often more important than READING it because in reading, readers often skim or skip pieces of information, especially as a younger student who doesn't understand vocabulary. When you read aloud, you can explain words, etc. and you also HEAR the words as you SPEAK them. He stressed this point several times. Additionally, consider allowing children to listen to audiotapes of books and stories when a reader is unavailable. He also encouraged parents to get grandparents to tape books for children, so they can listen to familiar voices and connect with them.
Teach your children to recite poetry, and continue to recite early pieces while learning new ones. Build from one poem to another, similar to the Suzuki method.
As a student of Shinichi Suzuki, Pudewa offered many interesting ideas about teaching children to enjoy literature and poetry, in the same manner they learn to play an instrument using the Suzuki method. He gave some great examples of how he learned Japanese while living in Japan and studying with Suzuki - mainly the immersion method - but also learning a story from our culture (Jack and the Beanstalk) in Japanese. It helped him integrate the literal language with the more ethereal concepts of the language..
All in all, it was a great discussion! I would recommend that anyone who can go hear Pudewa speak. I found him entertaining, enlightening, and inspirational.
For information on IEW products, check out the web site at www.writing-edu.com. IEW materials range in price from $89 for an IEW starter set to $299 for a Student Writing Intensive (SWI) workshop tape or DVD. Additionally, Pudewa's schedule is listed at www.writing-edu.com/schedule/. Seminar costs vary, but are usually in the $49 to $59/day range for an IEW course. For information on prices, contact the organizations on the schedule site.