Because of a big fat load of medical bills, I’ve taken on some extra writing work, which morphed into editing work. Let me tell you something about editing–if your writer stinks, editing stinks. It’s far easier to write something yourself than it is to edit stinkiness. On the other hand (the happy hand with the cookie in it), editing the work of writers who know how to get their point across well is an absolute delight. I find myself thanking those writers out loud for giving me gold and letting me shine it up a little, as opposed to giving me a lump of coal and thinking it should shine like the top of the Chrysler Building when I give it back. Why do I tell you this?
We recently received a classy black canvas bag filled with all sorts of goodies which combine to make up the Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric (complete program). It came from a company that I had never heard of called Roman Roads Media. Their goal, in brief, is to make me a happy editor. Explain, please, Christy.
One thing you need to know about editors is that we never stop editing, even when there are no words to look at. Sermons, conversations, interviews–nothing is sacred. So while I am consciously listening to your story about the sale on grapes at Aldi, I am subconsciously and entirely unintentionally editing. I can’t help it. Believe me–it’s a curse. I’m editing the grammar, the sentence structure, the logic of the arguments (if indeed there is an Aldi grape argument), and the way the ideas are presented. I look forward to returning to my roots as a humble writer, but until then, we all suffer.
Speaking of the way things are presented, what’s my point? My point is that Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric teaches rhetoric (stay with me here) via practical lessons that hold true to the longstanding and effective traditions of classical education, and that makes me one happy editor.
Let’s break this down into something comprehensible, shall we? Brilliant idea.
First, what is rhetoric anyway, and why does it even matter?
Rhetoric in the sense of a skill is the fine, valuable, immeasurably wonderful art of persuasive writing and speaking.
Let me summarize everything I’ve said so far:
Fitting Words makes my ears stop ringing in agony.
Hey, I’m not alone in this:
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” ~Proverbs 25:11
And regarding why it matters, this is straight from the book:
“If we want to love our neighbor, engage in cultural critique, hear and understand God’s Word, persuade the lost to be found, convince the unfaithful to return, and have the tools to assess where we and others may be going verbally wrong–in short, if we want to be faithful and maturiting Christians–then studying rhetoric is not an option; it is not an elective. It is a necessity.” (Fitting Words, p xv-xvi)
I want this for my children. I want this for myself. I want this for all Christians. Even more important than not hurting my editor ears is the ability to defend our faith.
What does the classy black canvas bag containing the complete course actually contain…specifically?
I like bulleted lists. Do you like bulleted lists? Let’s use a bulleted list:
- Videos on DVD–no confusion for me with technology stuff
- Text book
- Student workbook–this is consumable (not edible), so every student needs one.
- An answer key
- An exam packet
I’m going to talk about each of these separately, including our opinions. If my comments totally sound obvious, like the exam packet is a packet of exams, please forgive me.
Step one to each lesson is checking the schedule for the day, but overall the first step will be watching a video. Each lesson has one teaching video in which the instructor leads you through the lessons, essentially teaching the class, and one application video which guides the student through expectations of the workbook. There are also nine videos that prepare the student for the exams. (There are nine exams. Remember what I said about forgiving me for being obvious?)
My girls (we’ll call them Elisabeth and Emily, since those are their names) found the videos to be interesting and very easy to listen to and understand. I was grateful for that! Ironically, they were slightly distracted by the amount of time their speech teacher spent reading his notes instead of making “camera contact” or eye contact. We love a good irony! That was the only negative I’ve heard about the program at all, and they decided they could just get used to it.
The hard cover textbook reinforces what was taught in the videos. Because this is a self-study course, the text speaks directly to the student.
Each chapter in the book includes the following, which I shall once again display in this lovely bulleted list:
- the lesson
- thinking deeper questions
- additional reading
- memory builders
The textbook uses the key concepts of classical rhetoric and examples from The Greats (doesn’t that just feel like it should be capitalized?) to teach the students a new skill or concept or build on a previously taught concept in each lesson.
The appendices contain speeches. The first is 34 pages of famous orators, and the second is entitled “Every Speech in the Bible.” The second appendix doesn’t reprint all the speeches, but gives the location in Scripture for each speech. Isn’t that the neatest thing? I mean, not neater than giving birth or being able to fly, but we all love how Scripture-focused this book is, and that just takes it one step further…or is it farther?
I have to tell you that we all thought the information in the course looks super deep and intense. In a way, it really is. This course surpasses many (Dare I say all?) of the communication classes I had in college. But each lesson, while packed with valuable information and insight and filled with deep options for additional reading, is not difficult to grasp. The lessons are deep, but short. They are intense in the depth of skill you will achieve, but completely doable. It’s a great combination. My girls understood everything well so far.
The spiral bound student workbook coincides exactly with the videos and the textbook–duh. The activities require the student to put into practice what she has learned. The student will be reading from Scripture and studying the speaker as an emotional being, not a figure on paper only. They analyze what historical speeches that not only reinforce the skills learned, but fill their heads with great ideas.
Here is a sample page from exercise 4 in lesson 4 which is learned at the end of week 3 in the one-year schedule (see Answer Key for more info about the scheduling).
Please note how the lessons draw in the great speakers of many different eras in time. This lesson uses Socrates. Others use Abraham Lincoln, Plato, Patrick Henry, and so many more!
e workbook, they will learn to apply what they are learning through activities that ask them to read Bible passages and identify the emotions of the speakers in those passages, look at historical documents and explain the methods the authors used in writing those documents, identify figures of speech in well-known writings, and have opportunities to give speeches of their own for specific purposes such as soliciting specific emotions from their audience, give a speech appropriate for a ceremony, and mo
As the course progresses, the students will be giving speeches. The speeches are assessed using speech assessment forms. This is where Mom and Dad come in. I mention this here, because the student workbook also contains the assessment forms so the student knows what she’s in for…I mean precisely what is expected of her.
The paper back answer key includes a course schedule for one year (one lesson a week for 30 weeks) or two years (one lesson every two weeks for 60 weeks). I did math just now–did you see that?
The answer key also contains all of the answers to the student workbook. In fact, it includes everything (as far as I saw) from the student notebook. Convenient!
There are a series of exams after nine of the lessons, but not when a speech is required. The videos help prep the students for the exam. I’m getting redundant. We are just to the first exam, so I can only tell you that my E-twins are very prepared for the exams by this point. Answers are in the answer key–that’s another duh, isn’t it?
The exams are loose leaf and three-hole punched.
How are we using Fitting Words?
We have a senior and a sophomore in college. They are both taking this course.
We have been attempting to follow the one year schedule, which is doable for you normal folks. We’re slowing it down to our regular schedule, which is called “do this when you can.” Yes, roadschoolers are craaaaaazy people–scary free spirit types. Wink wink. And now we’re learning persuasive speech, so look out!
With the reading further selections, we will definitely be extending the schedule. That’s just us though. We have strange lives.
The course is recommended for grades 10-12. I don’t recommend this for ages much younger than that at all. I would hate to see someone struggle in this course and consequently give up. It’s better when they have achieved the developmental stage appropriate for classical rhetoric. Plus, the discussions some of these lessons will lead to can give you great insight in to your young adult’s mind.
My girls are not struggling–they’re 15 and 17. They did find themselves moving a little more slowly through the readings than the schedule recommended at first, but they are comprehending well.
In all seriousness…
Our faith is attacked from every side almost daily. We have family members who think we’re abusing our children because we raise them as Christians. We have people attacking us personally through our blogs and social media for our faith. The world is filled with “your truth is truth and my truth is truth and we can all be happy with there not being one ultimate truth.” And how many times are we called “intolerant” for having Christian values and morals? That’s a rhetorical question. (By the way, Jesus isn’t tolerant about anti-Christian morals either: “Go and sin no more.”) That is the world we are launching our future or current adults into.
Prepare them! Prepare them by building their faith, and prepare them by equipping them with the tools to defend their faith. This is not an option; this is a necessity.
The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned. ~Isaiah 50:4
Other reviewers have gone through a few lessons of Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric with their high school students as well. Others have tested out subscriptions to two of their online programs, Picta Dicta Natural World and Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder. You can read about them at the links above, and you can read the Crew reviews at this link right here.
Think about the value of this program, and get to know Roman Roads a little better by following them on social media:
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