Questions and Answers

Gratias maximas iterum to those friends of Tres Columnae who have been commenting and asking questions about the project!  I want to answer a few “big-picture” questions today and possibly pose some others.

Several readers have wondered whether their students would be able to participate.  The answer (assuming that it’s OK with their parents) is “Of course!”  Tres Columnae will welcome everyone, provided that they are willing to abide by the norms of our Joyful Learning Community.

A question for readers: What do you think those norms should be?  There are obvious areas we will need to formalize (COPPA issues, for example).  To what extent should Tres Columnae participants be encouraged (or able) to socialize online … within the confines of the project?  Outside of the project??  I both need and welcome your thoughts!

One alert reader wanted to know whether the first version of Tres Columnae would only be open to beginning Latin learners, or whether there would be a place for intermediate and advanced students, too.  She uses a popular, reading-method-based Latin textbook, and her students are in the middle of the second-year book.

Here’s my response:

<quote> We’ll be working with everybody – in fact, it would be great to have some more-advanced learners from the beginning!  “Tres Columnae” will be presenting grammatical features in a slightly different order from [your textbook] or any other textbook (for example, we’ll learn genitive case forms and infinitives earlier, so that participants can use a “real” Latin dictionary if they need or want to).  I think it’s a logical order, and I really don’t want the project to come across as a “clone” of anything that already exists.

Your students will probably “know” all the grammatical features in Cursus Primus, so they’d be able to do a couple of neat things:

1) do extensive, rapid reading of the existing stories and
2) really enjoy creating additional stories.

Then, by the time Cursus Secundus and Cursus Tertius are ready to roll, they can have fun with those, too.

The more I think about the possibility of a fairly advanced group working with “TC” from the beginning, the more exciting it is!  How many students do you have in that class?

I’m also excited to know that you’re taking a Trivium approach with [that textbook].  I know a lot of Classical homeschoolers, Christian and otherwise, are skeptical of reading-method textbooks.  So it’s good to know that at least one person out there has had success with the Trivium and a reading-method approach.  How have you enjoyed your experience? <end quote>

Later this week I’ll have more to say about the “Scope and Sequence” or “Order of Instruction” for Tres Columnae.  For you non-educators, that means the order in which concepts are presented.  I have some passionate beliefs about that, but I’ll save them for another post.

Coming up next … how Tres Columnae attempts to be a “Third Alternative” (to borrow Stephen Covey’s marvelous phrase) in the “pedagogical wars.”  In other words, where do we fall in the debates over

  • inductive vs. deductive teaching approaches?
  • “grammar-translation” vs. “reading method” vs. “oral-aural” Latin teaching?

Even if it’s not etymologically possible (since alter, the Latin root word of alternative, really means “one of two”), is it practically possible for Tres Columnae to provide a “third alternative,” a synthesis of these apparent opposites?  Tune in tomorrow to find out! 🙂

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Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 12:42 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. Hi Justin, I am really looking forward to seeing how you will arrange things here. I think for me, the way you are describing the trifold approach would correspond to my goals of: Grammar – Composition – Sharing. I see grammar as the basic elements we need to work with, composition as the work itself (with reading to provide models), and then sharing as that higher level learning where each person’s creativity expands and extends the learning world of other people in their learning group. One thing I believe strongly about Latin is that composition can begin on Day One of the class, which is why I have been collecting mottoes that are just one or two or three words long: a single adverb can be a motto! two adjectives conjoined with “et” can be a motto! the word semper combined with a verb form can be a motto (first person singular, semper disco – or plural, semper discimus – or the infinitive: sempere discere). So, I hope the tiny mottoes and proverbs I have been collecting can find a happy home here where they can provide models to inspire Latin students and teachers to explore their creativity in Latin, even if they are beginning on the very first day! As I understand more of your project, I think I see my goal as sorting through the grammatical features of my materials to match your order of presentation… hopefully I will find good mottoes and proverbs to accompany the project right from the start. 🙂

    • Laura,
      I love your three goals! Yes, I think they’re a natural fit with Tres Columnae’s three-fold approach. I also love your motto idea and would welcome your collection. It’s always better when you can approach a big goal from multiple perspectives!

      I’ll talk more about the order of presentation later this week. Thanks again for everything! 🙂


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