Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A TOS Review: Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization

Y’all have to know how I feel about Andrew Pudewa. I am that crazy stalker at homeschool conventions. He speaks the language of busy boys (and their siblings) and I have always gotten great encouragement out of any and all his talks.

Of course, Mr. Pudewa is the founder of  Institute of Excellence in Writing. We have blessed to review many of IEW’s products in the past. When word got out that we were going to able to review  LinguisticDevelopment through Poetry Memorization I did a little jig. Not only am I a huge fan of IEW, but I am a lover of all things poetry.

Doubtless, many of you are questioning the need for poetry memorization. After all, memorization is what die-hard classical educators do. Or Laura Ingalls Wilder who recited the whole history of the United States at a school exhibition in “Little Town on the Prairie.”

Is memorization outdated and unnecessary?  And how will memorizing poetry (of all things) do anybody any good?

Before I give you my interpretation of the whole matter, I need to tell you what I got in the mail. I received a lovely box containing the Teachers Manual, an audio set of CD’s of Mr. Pudewa reciting the poems and speeches, a DVD of the workshop Nurturing Competent Communicators with Andrew Pudewa. The set also comes with a downloadable copy of the Student Manual (PDF) and 7 MP3s of extra goodies to download.

Shew! If that wasn’t enough IEW graciously sent me a hard copy of the Student Manual for the purpose of my review. I do need to tell you that the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization comes with the PDF version of the Student Manual. If you want a paper copy you can order it from the IEW site.

When first glancing through all of the poetry that is included in the program it can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, it is intended to last a few years. The first thing I did was watch the Nurturing Component Communicators. In this workshop, Mr. Pudewa gives convincing reasons why memorization poetry can be a positive tool in a student’s language development overall. The Teacher’s manual also contains excellent information on memorization, rhythm and rhyme, mastery learning and more.

Did you know that up until 60 years ago, recitation and memorization was an important teaching tool in the local classroom?  And the quality of the work being memorized and recited was stellar. Today, children get much of their linguistic input from media, peers and unsophisticated literature. I think we all can think of some unsophisticated literature of the top of our heads…not to mention the lyrics of those catchy pop tunes.

By memorizing beautiful and cleverly crafted works of poetry we are wiring their brains for equally beautiful and clever vocabulary and speech.

Personally, I love poetry. This wasn’t such a hard sell on my part. I have always exposed Josiah to poetry, but as he has gotten older I haven’t made memorization a priority.

Honestly, the thought of hours of memorizing The Charge of the Light Brigade made my head swim.

However, Linguistic Development is the easiest product you will ever use. Using the Student Manual and the CD, we simply listened and recited. We took it in the car and listened on the way to swim team. We listened during our afternoon tea and quoted “Ooey Gooey Was a Worm” to everyone who would appreciate it.

I do have a favorite memory of when I first stuck the CD in the player and Andrew Pudewa’s voice began to recite Ooey Gooey. Josiah’s eyes shone with understanding. His first comments weren’t about the quirky little poem; they were about Andrew Pudewa. “Mom! That’s the writing teacher.”

See. He speaks the language of busy boys.

I do need to say just a bit about the poetry and speeches that are included in the curriculum. They are fabulous. This curriculum is intended for grades K-12 (or in my opinion, kids of all ages).

The curriculum is divided up into 5 Levels, but everyone, regardless of your age or grade, begins with Level One.

I mentioned the above Ooey Gooey. And who can forget There Was an Old Person Whose Habits by the delightful (yet decidedly strange) Edward Lear.

Some of my favorites by Christina Rossetti and Robert Louis Stevenson are also included in Level One. Josiah memorized The Swing when he was quite a bit younger.

Each Poem in the book is provided with a list of Lesson Enhancements provided in one of the Appendices in the back of the Teacher’s Manual. For example, There Was an Old Person Whose Habits encourages us to further explore limericks, read about Edward Lear and learn about hyperbole.

There is also plenty of space on each page to illustrate the poem.

Level Two introduces us to a few more serious poems, such as The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. We haven’t begun Level Two as of yet, but you can guarantee I had to look ahead to Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably by Hilaire Belloc. Besides of the unfortunate spelling of her name (mine is spelled Rebekah), Rebecca had some rough luck brought about by her own nasty habit of slamming doors. 

Level Three contains the great Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. While Level Four includes the beautiful Lochnivar by Sir Walter Scott. That being said there are a lot of poetry included in this curriculum.

I have yet to mention Level Five. Level Five does not include poetry for memorization. It is made up of speeches; either from history or from popular works of fiction.  In Level Five we will memorize Give Me Liberty by Patrick Henry, part of the Declaration of Independence and the opening lines from a Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

I’m most excited about having Josiah memorize We Shall Fight on the Beaches by Winston Churchill. I’m thinking he can be the entertainment at Thanksgiving this year.

Okay. So I’ve blathered on enough. Surely you can see how awesome this product truly is. You can download samples to see it action. I tried to talk Josiah into letting me record him reciting Celery by Ogden Nash.


So to my earlier question. Does all this matter? I think it does. I know my son has entirety of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’s dialogue committed to memory. He has memorized the entire NFL playbook and the lyrics to numerous jingles on television.  I would much rather have the words of exquisitely crafted poetry and speeches shape his language and vocabulary.  

You can connect with IEW via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

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