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Homeschool Curriculum Review:
The Basic Cozy Grammar Course

Homeschool Curriculum Review by
Michael Leppert

The Link homeschool newspaper The Link Magazine

I cannot recommend this basic grammar course highly enough! I thoroughly enjoy watching a well-done video presenting material I care about and I love grammar as well as English in all its forms and all things "language". (Of course that is my adult opinion!) I consider the skill of language, written and oral, to be among the greatest achievements Man has wrought - as mysterious as algebra, but far more useful! Marshall McLuhan, the great analyst of media, said that the content of the medium of speech and of writing, both, is thought. However, one who has not developed the ability to speak and write well, may have difficulty convincing anyone that he/she possesses any thought! Nothing aids in developing the dual skills of speaking and writing like grammar. Yes, that hated and feared topic that we all had to sweat through as part of our elementary English (or any other language) skills. Now, as homeschooling parents, we are once more confronted with this "toothed beast" of English and have to find a way to impart it to our children so that they can speak and write to the world, revealing the intellectual light we parents know shines within. Help is here!!

Conservative homeschooling parents will cheer mightily at Ms. Rackham's approach and her assertion that discipline does not stifle creativity! I am among their number! I do not believe that discipline stifles creativity - one only need look to some of the greatest artists who ever lived to prove this truth: Bach, Beethoven, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Dali, Milton, Tolkien, Lewis, and many, many more, have been noted for their powerful discipline in the development of the technique of their art. The only element that seems to affect creativity is the presence or absence of creativity. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Marie Rackham calls grammar "the technique of English" and she demonstrates that a skilled development of grammar will enable one to speak and write clearly, intelligently and comfortably enough to communicate one's thoughts so that others wish to hear and/or read them. She mentions these uses for good grammatical writing and speaking skills: Resumes, job interviews, presentations, master's theses, e-mail that may be read by any number of people beyond the writer's knowledge and formal letters. In any of these cases, the writer/speaker has one " shot" to make a favorable impression of his intellectual skill. Considering the stakes, such an impression had better be the best possible.

The setting for the videos is Marie's home in British Columbia, a cozy, knotty pine sort of house on the ocean that looks the perfect refuge from a wintry rainstorm. Here, she illustrates and demonstrates each lesson with actions of varying sorts: Pouring tea, chopping wood, riding (or not riding) on an exercise bike, discussing the seagulls that populate the beach, etc. In this way, she has skillfully developed a way to teach grammar that satisfies any learning style a student may have. Watching Ms. Rackham move throughout her home and its grounds, creates an ever-changing atmosphere that makes for more interesting viewing than simply a "talking head" lecture approach in a static setting and her movements coinciding with the grammar material keeps the observer attentive and the information flowing! Ms. Rackham warns that this is an elementary course and that there are many excellent materials available to carry the study of grammar to the highest levels. However, because this set is so informative, clearly-written, comfortable to watch and remain attentive to, I wish she would consider quickly producing the necessary sequels to "Cozy Grammar" that she could recommend her own advanced courses, instead! I need a grammar review every so often!

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