Andrew Pudewa – for what it's worth

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  • Rebekahy

    Another post mentioned him and it sparked a thread that I had been meaning to bring up here… as I’ve been searching for some formal writing curriculum I had been asking lots of questions about IEW because it is expensive and something didn’t feel quite right about it to me when I borrowed it from a friend.

    Andrew Pudewa is a charasmatic speaker and though I don’t mean to try to discredit him, I DID find this information valuable where he and his writing curriculum are concerned and hope it might be helpful to others.  I was suprised to learn that he does not have a college degree (not that a college degree is the end all-be all, but it is worth something to ME when you’re paying hundreds of dollars for a curriculum), he is not a published author of any significant work other than his own curriculum, and does not have any background in education (such as formal teaching experience as Mr. Demme does).  I would welcome correction to these assertations as I have searched the web for this information including asking IEW directly.  While I do not think that a homeschool curriculum creator needs to have ALL of these things, to me it IS important that an author would have at least ONE of them, if not a combination.  I’d like to see some demonstarted real world experience in writing, if a program is claiming to be able to teach my child how to be a proficient writer.

    I know many use his program and really enjoy it, but as I’ve done more research about writing, I’ve learned that if a student continues to stick to a “form” style of writing they will be scored no higher than a 2 on the ACT writing portion.  So, I don’t want to stir a pot or upset anyone, but I came across this information quite by chance and tried to find out FROM IEW how exactly Mr. Pudewa came up with his writing program, but was just referred to his very sparse bio on their website.

    Again, I truly hope that this is helpful to others and don’t want to upset anyone.  I have CLOSE friends that are using this program in spite of the above information after I have discussed it with them, but it did help them to know a little bit more about their curriculum and it’s possible shortfalls, depending on your  children’s goals and your expectations for a writing program.



    This was helpful.  I had wondered about these same things.  


    Have had similar thoughts and concerns, even after previewing some of the materials, Rebekahy.  Using this curriculum, most kids will write . . . exactly like Andrew Pudewa.  You can decide for yourself if this is a good thing or not.  


    Thanks for letting us all know this info, Rebekahy. Mr. Pudewa came to our curriculum fair several years ago and he *is* a charismatic speaker, I agree. I think his ideas are definitely spot on, but I’m not using his curriculum now (kids are too young), nor am I likely to use it in the future. The main reason I am not interested in his products has little to do with what you’ve mentioned, but instead is simply because I truly feel that I have a much better grasp on writing than any curriculum I’ve seen (as evidenced by my frequent typos and misspellings! haha). Once my dc are middle school aged, I will get tools to help with the nuts-and-bolts of grammar, but having a set curriculum seems stifling to me, even if IEW isn’t really set up that way (I can’t say one way or the other).

    Now, all that said, I am not a published author nor a professional charismatic speaker. I do have degrees in Secondary English Ed and in Outdoor Recreation/Education, but aside from teaching my own children, I really haven’t ever put these (old) degrees to use.

    Similarly, I think if we applied this standard (having a college degree and/or having appreciable experience in the field) to many other curriculum manufacturers, we’d discover many of them cannot meet those two criteria. This applies even to products that the majority of us find near and dear to our schools.

    So while these are certainly worthwhile attributes (in some subjects more than others), I humbly suggest they shouldn’t be the ‘end all – be all’ deciding factor.

    Finally, please pardon me if this is not cohesive or seems argumentative. I’m on the run and couldn’t edit as thoroughly as I normally do…. no offense intended!




    Jenni – Definitely no offense taken and I understand what you’re saying about the criteria.  I never had criteria prior to this “revelation” outside of recommendations from other homeschoolers.  BUT Upon learning this about Mr. Pudewa, I HAVE started looking more deeply into the backgrounds of the authors of the curriculum we use, because I started wondering if it WAS important for certain subjects.   What I discovered was that the authors of the curriculum we have selected do “fit” at least one if not two or all three of the criteria I cited above.  Others I have NOT looked into, for example – Simply Charlotte Mason guides – I haven’t looked into Sonya’s background simply because the majority of the material that she provides does not come out of nowhere – other sources and texts are being used AND because I KNOW that Sonya is a STUDENT of Charlotte Mason’s techniques and methods and teachings – so without knowing if she has a degree, assuming she has never published a work on CM outside of what is sold on this website, and without knowing if she has any formal teaching experience outside of her own children (and all the great seminars she does) – I DO know how she was able to develop her curriculum, I am able to trace the sources of where she derived her information – two things that I am not able to do with IEW. 

    The final factor being cost.  I think the cost of IEW is outrageously expenisve and with the price tag should come with some type of pedigree or at least an explanation of where his method came from – where did Mr. Pudewa come up with this curriculum?  How does he know that using “ly” words is beneficial or appropriate for formal writing?  I just feel like something is missing and that I almost missed it because I was captivated by two things – the expensive pricetag (it MUST be the BEST if it costs that much, right?) and the neat little check-list that is so appealing to a busy homeschool mom.  Not all are taken in by those things, but they did lull me to a sense of confidence in the outcome of the product that I think was misplaced.  AND writing is a grave concern of mine because I teach at a high school co-op and am extremely disappointed by the quality of writing I see, compounded with having many friends in the business world lamenting the poor writing skills of potential applicants.  I’m concerned about writing for my own children and for homeschooled children on the whole and I just want moms to be more savy in selecting a writing curriculum as opposed to being “sold” something because of the personality behind it, ease of use, or luxury pricetag.

    And I’m sure you’ll do just GREAT teaching your kids writing!  Great readers have the best potential to become great writers and I know that’s what we’re all striving for with our living books.





    I think those are some good questions to ask about a program. Here is some information I read that might help answer your question as to where his program comes from, it does not appear that Mr. Pudewa just made it up.

    “None of the materials I read mentioned whether Mr. Pudewa held a college degree in writing or a related major. This was not a requirement for me to use a curriculum, but since the program takes the student all the way through high school and presumably prepares them for college essay writing, it was a fact that would have some relevance to me.

    Here is the e-mail I sent:

    “Does the developer of the program, Mr. Pudewa, hold any college degrees? In which subjects? Thank you.”

    Here is the response I received:

    “Nope, Andrew Pudewa does not hold any college degrees.

    However, the original author of the Structure & Style in Composition method, James B. Webster, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of History, Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS) and holds degrees in Education from University of British Columbia and a Doctorate in African History from London University, U.K. He is the real developer of the program Mr. Pudewa teaches.

    Andrew just got very good at teaching and presenting the program. His only claim to higher education is having graduated from the Talent Education Institute (Matsumoto, Japan) with the “certification” of “Suzuki Violin Teacher.” He just kind of stumbled into this business of teaching writing, but has had amazing success. Hope that helps.


    I have heard Mr. Pudewa speak and once took my dss to a morning writing class that he gave to our homeschool support group. It was excellent. My undergraduate degree is in English and I wish that some of my college professors had been able to communicate as well as Mr. Pudewa does. Come to think of it, I can say the same thing about some of the professors I had in law school.

    I think that at some levels, in some subjects, specialization and credentials are important, but for many things they are not. I get the impression that Mr. Pudewa found a great writing program for his own children, got excited about it, wanted to share it with the homeschool community and found/developed a business opportunity to boot. I find this inspiring because if he could learn a method to teach something he has little or no background in, then those homeschool moms who lack writing experience can do the same.”

    Good luck to you as you continue your research for a writing program. I hope you find what you are looking for.


    I just wanted to mention that IEW is the program recommended for students with dyslexia doing the Barton Reading System. I think the program should be measured by the success of those using it. I understand that certain jobs require a degree, but if someone without a degree develops a program that can help some students excel, I would not discredit that program. For me, knowing that Susan Barton recommends the program, makes me comfortable using it with my daughter when the time comes to begin a formal writing program. I heard Andrew Pudewa speak several years ago on spelling. I was impressed by what he said. God can give knowledge and understanding without a formal education. I haven’t looked at the price. That may not thrill me. Otherwise, I’m looking forward to using IEW:)


    Andream – thank you, that answer is helpful.  His Teaching Writing curriculum lists him as the sole author, so I never would have guessed (nor did I get an indication from anything I saw in the guide I borrowed) that it was someone else’s program that he had adapted.  I wish they would have given me that thorough of an answer when I had asked about his education! 

    And again, my goal is not to discredit his program, but to help others weigh it’s true value in terms of their own family’s goals and also the expense to their budget.  (And to hopefully challenge moms to do a little more digging so that curriculum companies are held to high standards.)


    Hi, I’m a newbie on here, but this thread intrigued me, and I felt compelled to respond.  I have been acquainted with the IEW program for a few years now, and have met Mr. Pudewa in person a couple of times.  My degree is in English Literature and Creative Writing.  The moms in my community who introduced me to the IEW curriculum are very bright, highly educated, and also married to men who teach at our local university.  Their interest in the IEW approach caused me to look into it myself, and once we tried the curriculum in a co-op class, I could see the benefit of the method.  The earlier poster is correct:  Mr. Pudewa is not the sole developer of this curriculum, and as I understand it, the people from whom it originated have had much success with it many years before IEW was even thought of.

    I have come to feel that Mr. Pudewa is spot on with his approach to learning.  I have listened to many of his talks on mp3 files and I go to them again and again for inspiration.  He is a “man for the hour”, in my opinion, because he tells it like it is and he has a heart for our world and the success of young people.  I am not disagreeing with your concern (would that more parents showed that kind of concern for where our curriculum comes from!), but just wanted to put in my 2 cents for a guy who puts his heart and soul into what he does, and who I think has a genuine brilliance that comes not from a higher degree but from witnessing and experiencing life.  I would encourage anyone to grab a few of his mp3 files and listen to them.  I especially enjoy “Nature Deficit Disorder”, “Nurturing Competent Communicators”, “Freedomship Education”, and “The Four Language Arts”.  He has been a somewhat eclectic homeschooler over the years, as near as i can tell, but seems to value the CM approach very much overall.

    I hope it was okay to post this.  I think it’s always good to look into what we are buying and using, so I appreciate the thread.  And some will like IEW, some will not.  It IS pricey if you buy the Teacher Training DVDs and manual, but then again, it’s all there — everything you need to train yourself to teach your children throughout, plus choosing from the many student guides offered for writing exercises.  So it’s an investment spread over several years I think.  We are just still in the early stages, but so far this is the program that I find most intriguing at our house and the one my daughter most enjoys, so that of course helps in my assessment of it as well!  : )  

    This got long — sorry! : (    Thank you for these forums!  I’ve enjoying ‘lurking’ on here for awhile! 


    I cannot speak about Mr. Pudewa’s personal credentials. I can tell you that much of what is sold by IEW is written by, or based on the suggestions of those who do have the credentials you are seeking. Dr. James B. Webster (University Prof.-Canada,) Mrs. Anna Ingham (primary educator-Canada,) and other educators including Lori Verstegen are among the teachers who’ve authored IEW resources. Many other formally credentialed teachers and school districts use and extend IEW’s Structure and Style in their homes and classrooms. 

    I’ve been using IEW for quite some time (hence my positive bias  ;0) ) with my own children and in our Homeschool co-op. Several students and their parents have learned to write well as a result of being part of this class. I’d like to share an example with you that may diminish your requirement that a degreed person must be the author and promoter of a program in order for it to be successful. 

    During the past school year, I taught a class using IEW’s Medieval theme based writing lessons. Mothers (we haven’t had any fathers attend the class) are required to attend each class if they have no prior experience with IEW. I do this because I find that many Homeschool parents (even with college credits) find writing intimidating. They are fearful of making a mistake, yet the mistake most frequently made is putting off learning to develop their own writing skills in order to share this with their children. 

    One mother learned along with her 10 year old daughter this year. Her 17 year old son was dual enrolled at the community college in a writing course at the time. She tried to give him pointers on his first paper based on what she had been learning. He commented that it wasn’t necessary. (You should know his only exposure to writing was through Switched on Schoolhouse software to this point.) He did not alter his paper and received a grade that did not meet passing standards. Willing to then receive guidance from his mother, he did quite well on his remaining papers for the semester. 

    As a degreed educator, I will confess that my true credentials should have been bestowed upon me after my college graduation was years behind me. My true education has come through my own non-tuition based research while educating my children at home. If a resource, booklist, or course of study works well for my family, I don’t fret over whether a degree was involved during authorship or publication. If a loving parent without a high school education shares a well laid plan with me, I’m willing to use it when other very expensive, research based curricula written by experts has already failed in our home. Guess what!  At times, I am pleased to say, we’ve had better results with using the DIY type resources. 

    I feel like the best way to determine whether a book, curriculum, course of study, or philosophy produces fruit is to use it, not prejudge it. You might find someone in your area that actually uses it and ask for a personal opinion, or a demonstration. I’d be happy to share samples from those I’ve taught while using various IEW resources. 

    I am actually having to eat some of my own words here. I questioned the necessity of a possible future CMO feature, but don’t currently use the CMO to be able to comment on something from which others might benefit. 🙁  How can I possibly be a credible witness to it’s current or future use  without employing it’s current capabilities?

    You might be interested to know that IEW does have a

    full money back guarantee, regardless of how long you’ve had the product…even if your reason for returning it is due to not using it at all. It’s a “no questions asked” policy. They are certainly helpful, and offer an encouraging yahoo group that boasts many teachers, tutors, and home educators who share explanations openly and come alongside each user in order to provide successful experiences. 

    Keep in mind, there are home educators who use no curriculum whatsoever to instruct their children in the area of writing. These parents may not even have credentials themselves. The very requirement that parents be degreed professionals is a parental rights issue that currently lands on top of the hot topics list on most Homeschool forums. Consider the danger of requirements carefully. 

    You are right in sharing your thoughts on a possible trouble spot. I know you’re trying to help by passing along what you feel is important information for others to consider. However, as you requested, I am offering up points I see as important to keep in mind before writing off this excellent program.

    My own children are equipped for a future filled with exceptional communication skills, which include both writing and speaking capabilities. While I’d love to tell you that I was able to patiently guide them to this point through the CM methods of copywork, narration, and dictation alone, I wanted a curriculum to use for finishing this race at home. Along with a myriad other home educators, teachers, and co-ops/schools, my children’s skills were honed through IEW suggestions. I will continue to suggest that it is worth full price because of the support and guarantees alone, yet do help others find it used when finances require a lower cost. (Start with Homeschool Classifieds and eBay.)

    If my accolades are insufficient to calm the concerns of others who might be nervous based on your assessment, the following three promoters may be sources to contact for further opinion. 

    Barton Reading System 

    Classical Conversations

    College Plus

    Blessings for fruitful learning pursuits,


    (an admittedly passionate “18 page girl”)


    This link may calm fears over entrance exam grading concerns.

    Alicia Hart

    Okay, now I am confused….TailorMade, are you saying that you add IEW to the CM methods of teaching language arts? Or maybe, his products are CM style?

    Would you not consider yourself a CM purist in that area?

    I looked at IEW’s website and was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of products and the price for the Deluxe Teacher/Student Combo Package Level A was $300!!!

    Wow. That’s a lot. What is it about this product that makes it worth that much?

    If it is worth it, I can pay that much……but I would love to hear from someone who has used this product. Would love feedback.


    Shellyjl – It is definitely ok to post, I love that this post sparked you into participating with us.  Thanks for your thoughtful comments and experiences – so glad to hear from you!

    And Becca – I always appreciate your posts too!  Though I don’t agree that you have to use a product to be able to evaluate the merits for your own family.  I often read reviews of things on Amazon – like my vaccuum cleaner and am able to assess from the differing reviews whether or not a complaint is going to be relevant to me – for instance, some people didn’t like my vaccuum and scored it poorly because it didn’t pick up pet hair well – we don’t have any pets, so that didn’t affect my desire to purchase this particular vaccuum, but for a person who DOES have a very hairy dog, they could probably decide pretty quickly without having to buy and use the vaccuum that there might be other options availble to them that will better serve their needs.  Make sense?

    And just to reiterate as it seems to be boiling down to a degree – that’s really not important to me as a sole criteria and I don’t think it should be to others, but having a degree certainly helps me to understand that what has been offered as curriculum didn’t come out of thin air (and I realize that IEW didn’t come out of thin air, but prior to Andream’s personal response from IEW, everything I had seen of the program made it appear that this was a program that Mr. Pudewa created on his own…. though I still have trouble understanding why it’s not a little easier to find that he developed this program based off of someone else’s ideas, but I digress as the wife of a lawyer and a recovering over-zealous “citer” I am very particular about orgins of ideas and properly – or perhaps in an abundance of caution –  crediting them.)

    That said, we’re using IEW’s Medieval Writing Program this fall because my oldest daughter is doing Essentials for Classical Conversations, though I won’t be using the check list to ensure she’s met all the criteria.  Instead I’ll be looking for the typical flow and conversational style that has been a result of narrating great literature – and I’m sure I’ll be the thorn in the side of our Essentials tutor who will keep wondering why each of my daughter’s paragraphs don’t have 3 “ly” words and sometimes use banned adjectives and rarely stick to exactly three words per line on the key word outlines.  I like living on the edge.  LOL Wink



    Lishie – It is not, nor does IEW claim to be, CM in style, it is just very popular among homeschoolers in general.



    Well, I’d love to call myself a CM purist, but, while I mainly stick to CM methods, I’ve found beneficial learning strategies in other philosophies of education over the years and use them depending on each child’s needs. I do feel IEW is a fairly nice extension of CM language arts suggestions. It’s similar to Suzuki violin instruction. This method reminds me of CM habit training and simple language arts activities….IEW does not claim to be a CM resource as far as I know. 

    In the early stages of learning at home, we have use CM style copywork, dictation, and narration to build a foundation for future writing skills. I found IEW years ago while searching for more structure for my older children. At the time, TWSS was $199 (I believe.). I did not purchase SIC levels A, B, or C. TWSS is basically a teacher training tool designed to help teachers teach the writing process as presented by IEW. I do not require families in our co-op to purchase it. They view it during a Q&A time in order to discern whether they’d like to join co-op, or not.  It can be found for half the cost through various sites. 

    The theme based writing units, again IMO (not suggested by IEW,) are written well enough that using the student/teacher combo is sufficient without purchasing the TWSS program. Some moms in our co-op have said they felt much better about using the TBWLs because they viewed TWSS first. It’s an individual issue. (Tbwl’s run $49/subject, less used.)  They are what we will normally use in co-op for our writing class. If you are familiar with CC, you’d recognize them as a mandatory resource used in the Essentials program. 

    This year, our co-op focus will be Texas history. IEW does not offer this topic, so I’m writing the lessons. The only required IEW resource for the year is the Student Resource Notebook. Those who have it from previous  use do not have to purchase it. It is a free download with many other products. Those new to co-op/IEW will spend $19 or less depending on new spiral bound, older spiral bound, or download version choice. 

    I’ve used TWSS as a tool long enough that I don’t feel the need for a TBWL at home. But, parents in our co-op find security in holding onto a published curriculum for the most part. And, it gives the benchmarks throughout the week/semester/year for assignment management. 

    SCM suggestions for grammar and composition are found here:

    And, by searching through grade level suggestions on the newer guide here:

    They are certainly valuable and inexpensive choices. 

    Neither  the SCM suggestions, nor my own are necessary for success in the area of grammar and writing. My head could easily be turned by the Beyond the Book report that has been shared on this forum. ;0) That said, I have IEW, have found it easy for me to implement at home and in co-op, so I’m not looking for another resource. For those reasons, I’m fine with what I’ve spent on the resources I’ve purchased from IEW. I’m sold. 🙂

    The reason for my previous post and this one is to make sure that IEW is not overlooked because of Mr. Pudewa’s credentials, or lack thereof. Costs are prohibitive if only purchased from IEW, but the guarantee alone makes it worth trying. If it’s not a fit, your money is returned to you. If it works for you and your children, you will be singing it’s praises along with those of us who use it and have found it to be an enormous blessing. 


    Individual evaluation is important when making a choice for your family. I’ll even agree that reviews are helpful in the process. However, I’m not in agreement that we should steer others away from a product that hasn’t been tested by the reviewer. I realized this in the recent CMO discussion when what I wrote came across as the suggestion that a tweak in the program was unnecessary.  I regret that I upset others unintentionally when I thought I was giving a helpful option to consider in case the tweak would be a long time in coming. 

    I would like to encourage you to reconsider being “a thorn in the side” of your daughter’s Essentials Tutor this coming year. 🙂 CC Tutors are serving an entire Community of parents and their children. Offer thanks and encouragement to her in order to help secure success for everyone in the class. 

    You may not have considered how any negative comments might be frustrating and may cause her to waiver in her role as Tutor. While the checklists seem ridiculous to you, your daughter might find them helpful. Allowing her to fully utilize all that will be at her disposal will give her plenty of options from which to choose to use, or not as needed later down the road. 

    I hope you both find the Medieval lessons to be a fun experience. The families in our co-op this year had a blast using them and are all returning this year. Turns out, the overwhelming favorite in the vocabulary department was “fetid.”  ;0) Based on these children’s strides in writing, even more families have joined for this coming school year which is evidence enough to me that many are truly blessed by IEW. 

    Hopeful this helps,


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