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Newsletter – 23rd September, 2010

You are viewing:  News > Newsletters > Newsletter – 23rd September, 2010


Posted on: 09/23/2010


The MCT Language Arts Curriculum Is Complete

A great achievement in the history of American pedagogy

With the publication of Academic Writing Volume 3 and his collected grading comments, Opus 40, Michael Clay Thompson has completed his acclaimed Language Arts curriculum. After three decades of continuous development, each part of the grammar, vocabulary, poetics and writing program is now available for all six levels.


The Special This Weekend

We will celebrate the completion of the Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts Curriculum with a special price on our website on this, the first weekend of autumn.

You can order Opus 40 complete with its CD, at half price: $15.00 rather than $30.00, from today until 8.00 am EST Monday 27th. On Monday morning this price will be gone for good.

View sample pages in our new, page-turning, viewing format.


Opus 40

We have chosen this final, 191-page, book to celebrate the completion of the curriculum because we want to focus a special light on it. This is the volume publisher, Dr. Tom Kemnitz, wanted Michael to produce before any of the writing books because he saw it as especially important to teachers and homeschooling parents: As ever, Michael ignored what his publisher wanted and produced the archive last. Had he done what his publisher wanted, he would have revised the book at the end, and Royal Fireworks would have ended up throwing away all the unsold copies of the first edition.

Opus 40 is so named because it is the fruit of forty and more years of grading student research papers in Michael’s teaching career. It has the full archive of his comments, his approach to teaching students how to write formal papers, his effective method for grading student papers, and his reflections on the comments he has written. It is a sine qua non for grading academic papers, and it will prove as useful to seasoned teachers as it will to homeschoolers coping with the issues for the first time.

The core of the book is the computerized archive of grading comments, a radically important innovation capable of changing student and parent expectations of feedback on papers. It sets the bar very high – right where professionals want to see it. And it has the potential to alter students’ attitudes and approaches to writing papers for those teachers who use the archive. In short, it can produce a dramatic increase in performance on both sides of the equation. The CD contains all the comments for teachers and parents to use themselves when assessing student papers.

Michael Clay Thompson began writing this language arts curriculum thirty years ago. Year after year, volume by volume, he has created at an increasingly high level. More than sixty books on grammar, vocabulary, poetics and writing have appeared. Many of them have been substantially revised as he found ways to make them better after using them for a year or two. He has never been content with a book simply because it has been published; he strives to improve every book – just as he strives to make every presentation better than the one before it.

Publisher, Dr Tom Kemnitz: “This is a great achievement in the history of American pedagogy. Begin with genius, mix in a sensitive understanding of children and how they learn, add persistence and commitment, top it with a determined drive for perfection, and the result is a superior curriculum. There is nothing else like it; for a start other publishers do not have the patience to wait for three decades. They put together committees of authors, and they write curriculum to state standards. And what they produce is good enough for people who are satisfied with good enough. MCT and Royal Fireworks are not.

The MCT curriculum is now so widely used for teaching gifted children and for homeschooling that it is becoming the 21st Century equivalent of the McGuffey reader of the 19th Century.”


Academic Writing Volume 3

Advanced Academic Writing Volume 3 not only requires longer, more complex, and more deeply documented papers of students, it also provides extensive explorations of intellectually advanced attitudes and understandings that differentiate the most mature and outstanding students, teaching students the excitement of aggressive library research and the pleasure of participating in a scholarly tradition that has ennobled research for centuries.

The Future: Literature

As well as revising some parts of the curriculum, Michael has now sent to Royal Fireworks the first in a new series on teaching literature. This is eagerly anticipated by many teachers and homeschoolers and will be the subject of a later newsletter.


The full MCT Language Arts Curriculum consists of six levels of Grammar, Vocabulary, Poetry, Writing and Practice books.


Michael Clay Thompson:

on the value of teaching Advanced Academic Writing to gifted students:

“Although there are numerous valuable genres of writing, few are central to gifted children’s academic success. Advanced academic writing, the kind required on research papers in most subjects, is a life-or-death genre; gifted children must be able to write academically if they are to succeed in most honors high school and college courses.”

on teaching Grammar:

“My approach to four-level grammar analysis transforms the subject.into an inquiring, investigative experience that gives gifted children a permanent fascination with the border zone, where what we know about language trails off, and its mysteries begin.”


Book Michael Clay Thompson

He is an empowering practitioner and presenter, a font of practical ideas and inspiration. Conference organizers, school administrators and teachers are advised to contact us well in advance to make booking arrangements for workshops and presentations.