Because of their academic backgrounds, Adam Andrews and his wife Missy were asked to explain to some home school parents (in just four weeks!) how to teach their kids to analyze literature. A crazy idea, they thought, but the persistent neighbors kept asking until they agreed to try, and Teaching the Classics was born.
We heard of this program early in 2006, ordered a copy, and were intrigued enough by it that we took it home for more careful review. My wife and I spent a week of evenings watching the DVDs and reading through the syllabus, and we are now convinced of the usefulness of the material. It is not for students, but for parents. It teaches you how to lead discussions about literature discussing the five major elements of a story (conflict, plot, setting, characters, and theme) using the "Socratic method" (more on this in a moment). And it does this very simply, using children's tales to bring these elements out.
The syllabus offers a tidy chart for diagramming the elements, definitions of important literary terms, a helpful book list for kids of all ages, and the neatest part of all—the "Socratic List." Socrates, of course, was a Greek philosopher famous for his technique of asking questions to help his students develop their ideas. The Socratic List is a tool to help you do the same thing. Appendix A gives you twenty-one basic questions to ask your students about any story's elements. Each of these questions offers five to seventeen sub-questions, in order from simple to complex, so that you can engage all levels of students with the same yarn.
The four DVDs follow Mr. Andrews as he walks you through the syllabus. In five lessons and a practice session, he introduces the approach, shows you how to analyze literature using six short stories, and then gives you instructions in how to use it with your family or classroom.
Adam Andrews and his wife are home school parents; they understand your life is busy, and have developed this tool with that in mind. Without adding another whole curriculum to your schedule, Teaching the Classics will help you teach your children how to analyze literature in a memorable and engaging way. We are quite impressed, and plan on using this method for our own children.