Playing With Essays

I had hoped to introduce essays to Emma during her Grade 10 year; technically it is still her Gr. 10 year but we don’t have too much of it left. I have decided to smoosh as many essays as I can into the remainder of her year and see how it goes. We started with G.K.Chesterton essays from Tremendous Trifles. As with all of these endeavors, I am including the younger two as well as discussion is more animated when there are a larger number (around here 4 is a large number.) My plans included reading the essay, discussing it, outlining it, going on any rabbit trails that the essay might provide and then write an imitation of the essay itself. Now, when I say write an imitation, I mean imitating the structure and the style of the essay, not imitating the content.

We haven’t had many full days of school this week due to outside commitments but, so far, we have read the essay ‘A Piece of Chalk.’ We discussed if animals can, indeed, have souls and why Chesterton chose purple and silver to color the cow’s soul. Emma noticed that there was an allusion to the book of Revelations. We also talked about why brown paper is better to draw on that white paper. We also made mention of Chesterton’s stream of consciousness style of writing. We had great fun drawing with chalk on brown paper. Tessa has developed a taste for this art form and has continued drawing in the manner all week. We have decided that drawing on brown paper is more delightful than drawing on plain old white paper. Yesterday I gave the kids the subject of ‘chalk’ and told them to freewrite on that topic. I was trying to get some good old stream of consciousness writing started. It was successful! Even Emma, my reluctant writer, enjoyed freewriting and asked to do more later on in the day. Today we are going to outline Chesterton’s essay and then use our freewrite to imitate his essay.

We won’t be doing this kind of writing all of the time. I think I will alternate between writing a persuasive essay using Lost Tools of Writing and imitating the essays of ‘the masters.’ This way we won’t get dragged down too far into one method of learning.

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