Any other use constitutes fraud. The workbook is provided in the electronic form and with varying levels of evaluation services available from www.writingassessment.com . All contents, unless otherwise noted
In the fall of 1998 Wes Callihan asked if I could offer essay evaluation for students in his Great Books 1 and 2 courses for Schola Tutorials, and about thirty eventually enrolled with Writing Assessment Services. Over the course of the year I gathered many typical and outstanding student samples, and here I have gathered and reorganized the best of the material, expanded to include a bit from other tutorials and work through 2004. Originally this document was for the exclusive use of my Paper Evaluation Package, or “P.E.P.,” clients. In the years since, students in other Great Books, rhetoric, and related tutorials or independent study have made use of P.E.P. Talk, and I hope you, too, will find it useful as I want to make it available to all students of the Great Books who visit my website to download it. Of course I hope this document will encourage you to order evaluations if you have not already.
In Fall 2005, for the first time, I offered a “Writing Prep Workshop for Great Books Papers” that used this document as a guide. That course is continuing still. Over the course of four weeks beginning in September, students interact with me and with each other as we discuss this document and try some exercises designed to give everyone confidence as they begin writing the papers for the year. You may visit my website for more information.
Online tutorial students are privileged members of the homeschool community, their parents having recognized and invested in the value of a high-level education at home. Most Great Books students are well prepared, studious, and a delight to work with, and I count it a privilege to serve them.
Wes Callihan could not have done better than to advise students to follow the Escondido Tutorial Service and Oxford Tutorials Great Books paper guides (http://www.gbt.org/guides.html and http://www.oxfordtutorials.com ). Fritz Hinrichs’ and Norm Lund’s instructions are thorough and compact, and students can turn out reasonably solid essays with only those guidelines and attention to the source material. (Do note that tutors’ assignments vary from year to year!) As R.L. Dabney said that we can do no more than pray until we have prayed, a Great Books student can do no more than follow the basic instructions until he has followed the basic instructions. Read the guides!
Please consider ordering Evaluations for the year for your Great Books papers. As I evaluate student work, I point out weaknesses in “Standard Written English,” show where an exposition begins to wander off topic, and, most important, ask good questions. Most of my comments anticipate a revision of the essay, and I encourage students to revise whenever possible. (You may arrange separately for evaluation of your revision essays.) Revising “goes the extra mile” for the online tutorial but just begins the journey toward excellence in writing.
You can use prescriptive guidelines, and then evaluations after the fact, but you may well benefit from seeing bits of other students’ essays as you labor over your own. Writing Assessment Services P.E.P. Talk is a convenient tool to help you garner some of the advantages of revision during the composition stage. Think of it as one strategy in your continuum toward excellence:
Know the material (readings and tutorial meetings)
Know the assignment (paper guides online)
Know the pitfalls and secrets of success (this document)
Know you’ve done your best (the paper itself)
Know how to respond to criticism (the evaluation)
Know when and where to move on (revision or next paper)
NOTE: Student work is excerpted here without correction, so you will find typographical errors, grammar errors, and thinking errors. Be charitable in your private thoughts, and don’t make these mistakes yourself!