Word Magic (Key Stage 3): Study the Progymnasmata with Leon Conrad (Creative Writing, Key stage 3)

This course launches on demand

10 lessons × 60 min.

Request this course


The final price will depend on the size of the group taking the on-demand online course.

You will be able to select the price you can pay. Our site will start the course at the lowest possible price (largest group). If more students join, you will pay less and we will refund you the difference.

Final group size Price / lesson / student
1 £57.20
2 £36
3 £26.80
4 £21.60
5 £18.50
6+ £16.40
On-demand online course

The Progymnasmata are a set of exercises designed to encourage spoken language and deep thinking that date back to classical Greece. They were used throughout the classical period, through Medieval times and well into the Renaissance. The Progymnasmata were intended to help students develop the thinking and speaking skills they needed to engage in oratory and public speaking later on in life.

This word magic course draws on this rich cultural heritage of the Progymnasmata, bringing the exercises up to date and making them relevant to the contemporary age without losing any of their original vitality.

On this course you will cover the following traditional Progymnasmata tasks:

  • How to write a fable - explore classic Aesopic fables, find out why Leonardo and Michelangelo wrote fables of their own, and explore some modern examples before composing or retelling your own.
  • How to expand an anecdote or chreia - explore different points of view, narrative voice, sentence types, and modes of interaction to bring characters to life and put famous sayings and actions in their historic context and link their relevance to the world in which we live today.
  • How to tell a story - explore different structures and evaluate fictional and non-fictional forms, drawing respectfully on a rich range of cultural sources to find out for yourself why telling stories can teach us so much.
  • How to compose maxims (memorable proverbs or sayings) 
  • How to argue from different perspectives - whether refuting an argument by presenting a truer one, or showing that an argument holds because its contrary cannot be true, thus confirming it.
  • How to compose an effective speech of praise or encomium and an effective tirade or invective against injustice in relation to commonplace topics.

In addition

  • We will explore the function of the Dissoi Logoi, a collection of topics arranged from different perspectives as sources of inspiration, looking at the structure of the work and its role as well as drawing on the content of the work.
  • Students will be encouraged to keep a commonplace book and assessed on the content and range of entries at the end of the course.

This course differs from other Progymnasmata courses on offer. It is both more creative and, I believe, truer to the spirit of the original - which was much more closely related to storytelling and the culture of oral transmission and dialogue than our modern society is today - and something we need to recover in an age where texting and messaging threaten to predominate.

Leon is a teacher steeped in the wonder and wisdom of the traditional integrated and integrative classical liberal arts, and is a keen supporter of living traditions, including living traditions of oral storytelling. He is author of several books including Aesop The Storyteller (Aladdin's Cave Press, 2008), a collection of 12 versified Aesopic fables, and History Riddles (Liberalis Books, 2013).


Group size is limited to a maximum of 8 students.


Students will need a notebook or basic sketchbook with at least 200 pages in - ideally hardback, bound - lined or blank, A4 or A5 size, standard stationery supplies, EITHER a digital shared workplace OR a hard copy A4 ring-file binder with dividers. In both cases, they will need facilities to upload clear scans or pictures of homework tasks. All courses will be taught on line in a specialised learning environment - a fast broadband connection is advisable.


The course is open to students at KS3 level and content will be adapted to individual levels and interests as much as possible. Special needs students can be provided for (please contact the tutor to discuss before enrolling) and assessments can be handed in via video rather than in written format, with videos uploaded to YouTube and shared via private link.

NOTE The course set to start on 14 April 2018 will not run on consecutive Saturdays - there will be some gaps to allow for more extended HW (and existing tutor commitments). For instance, sessions planned for Saturday 5 May and Sunday 27 May fall within Bank Holiday weekend - but can be postponed to the end of the sequence. We'll work it out.


Highest degree: PGCE, MA
Experience: 20 years
United Kingdom

A traditional tutor who puts learning before teaching

I help students develop their understanding of what they learn about the world around them, encouraging them to seek original answers and solutions to problems, through a thorough connection with the basics of how words, numbers, and thoughts work - for them.

I'm a highly experienced tutor, specialising in foundational skills - language (communication, composition, comprehension, creative writing), numeracy (mathematics, geometry, algebra, and specialist dyscalculia support), logic, and critical thinking skills. 

I teach English at all ages, up to degree level; Maths up to GCSE and creative thinking for 11+ upwards (younger for gifted and talented students on a case by case basis).

I am a published author and innovator in educational practice. I am co-author of Odyssey: Dynamic Learning System, and author of History Riddles (Liberalis Books).

I have published poetry and in 2007 was poet-in-residence at the first Edinburgh Food Festival and was invited back to be poet-in-residence at the Pleasance Dome the following year. I have written and produced shows combining traditional storytelling and performance poetry which have been performed in Edinburgh and London, the most recent being “Under The Arabian Moon”, a retelling of stories from The Arabian Nights at The Roundhouse in 2009.

Born in London, educated in a bi-lingual school in Alexandria, Egypt, I am fluent in five languages (English, French, Italian, Russian and Arabic). I have published several articles in academic journals and trade magazines on the subject of effective communication, and liberal arts education and have been interviewed on BBC Breakfast television as an expert in the subject. In 2012, I co-hosted ‘The Talking Shop’, a series of radio shows with Giles Abbott, about different aspects of storytelling.

I am passionate about reviving the integrated approach to teaching the liberal arts, in particular the Trivium of logic, grammar and rhetoric.

I hold a Master’s Degree in the History of Design and Material Culture of the Renaissance from the Royal College of Art / V&A Museum, and a graduate degree from the Trinity College of Music in London. I am a City and Guilds Adult and Further Education Qualified Trainer, co-founder of The Academy of Oratory, a specialist voice-centred communication skills consultancy, and a Teaching Associate at The Negotiation Lab, specialising in effective communication techniques for negotiation.

Since March 2013, I have been exploring the links between mathematics, language and logic with Professor George Spencer-Brown, and have developed an innovative way of teaching classical logic based on his work that is quicker, more intuitive and easier to use than all other methods, and particularly suitable for secondary school students.

I have taught praxic, dyspraxic and dyslexic children and children with dyscalculia, and have also worked with gifted and talented students to release their potential and encourage them to develop holistically. On both sides of the SEN spectrum, I encourage students to be creative as well as more self-aware. 

“What you achieved with Zoe was brilliant. I’m really pleased. She’s really opened up.” Parent of SEN student.

"We just got the fantastic news that Max has done very well on his Winchester entrance and is fully accepted. Thank you for helping him improve so much." Parent of G&T student at 13+ level.

"Simon has been offered [a place at] Emanuel, Kingston Grammar, and Sutton Grammar ... We are absolutely delighted ... He put a massive effort in and we are extremely proud ... Thanks!" Parent of student at 11+ level.

Check out the free on-line course I have put up on YouTube taking readers through George Spencer-Brown's ground-breaking book, 'Laws of Form' - a book Heinz von Foerster said 'should be in the hands of all young people - no lower age limit required.' Put your mind to the test here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLoK3NtWr5NbqEOdjQrWaq1sDweF7NJ5NB



11+ Exam Preparation

I have found everyone at Edurouter to be incredibly helpful and flexible when getting our routine going, and my daughter's tutor Leon is wonderfully fresh, enthusiastic, and lateral in the way that he makes each lesson work to keep her enthused, whatever the ups and downs. I am looking forward to working with them over the next year as she reaches the end of primary school.

13 Jun 2016

11+ Exam Preparation

Leon is a wonderful tutor - encouraging deep thought, and the kind of engaged learning that leads to original thinking. Our daughter has been privileged to work with him so far.

14 Jul 2016

11+ Exam Preparation

Just to thank Edurouter very much for helping us to find a wonderful tutor. I would like you to know how delighted we have been with Leon who has provided Skype tuition to my son in English and Maths and has made a tremendous difference to his confidence. We are grateful to him and would recommend Leon without hesitation. Leon let my son to believe himself academically and helped him get a grip with comprehension in a way he couldn’t at school. My son is going from strength to strength and his enjoyment of the subject is increasing all the time, due to Leon’s flexibility and dedication. We are grateful for his support and will continue with Leon in the next school year.

22 Nov 2018
Lali and Alex

Creative Writing

I loved this course. I liked to learn progymnasmata and about nature; so much so I was sad to see the course end. I have enough materials to last me over the summer and I am looking forward to submitting them as Leon (the amazing tutor) has kindly agreed to look at these... Have you got any other courses I could have a look at? I loved this one! Thanks, Leon and all at Edurouter. 10/10!!!!

14 Jul 2018
Anna and Nathan

English Literature

Had a top experience using this company. After 'kissing a few frogs,' and going utterly insane, I then remembered this organisation. My only regret was that we didn't think of them sooner. My son needed last minute help to nail an A* in English Lit. So many promised they could help but simply did not know the text as promised, or certainly not to the depth that we needed. They took my requirements seriously and connected my son to Leon, the most awesome tutor ever. His knowledge was simply profound. We had huge doubts about the whole online thing but were so late in the day we had to run with it. This transpired to be a zero barrier to the session, however. My son was worried about bringing in an A* for this one. We are awaiting the results, but let's just say, on the day, he then found the whole thing a breeze. Thank you, Leon, you're tops.

01 Jun 2017