The Law of the Farm, IV

For the past few days, my Latin II classes have been so much more fruitful and enjoyable for everyone!  Why?  Because most of us have grasped the notion of choices and consequences, how our actions build up or destroy things we value.  On Wednesday, at last, every class felt like a learning community.  The Latin II classes began with a “Match the Sentence” activity – and everyone participated, saw the pattern, learned the new hand signal for plusquamperfecti verbs.  Since Tres Columnae Lectiō XXIV focuses on the theater, we did choral reading of the Vicipaedia “Theatrum” article – with many comments of “how easy” and “how understandable.”  We read Fabella Prima together, with lots of Quaestiones Latinae and Responsa … and for the first time in a long while, almost everybody in the mid-morning class stayed involved.  We did Paired Reading of the first Fabula Longa, where poor Cnaeus is compelled to tell the story of the “cow incident” … and even N and E were engaged and excited.  C, who’d been distracted by D, S, and K, was laser-focused during large-group activities.  Even D – who used all kinds of distracting behaviors in his desperate bid for attention – begins to believe he can get positive attention from positive participation.  We weren’t perfectly focused during the small-group question-generation task, but more of us were, more of the time.  For the first time in weeks, I heard a productive hum, not a distracting buzz.

In his book The Different Drum, M. Scott Peck talks about how despair or emptiness factors into community building.  I was there a week ago!  You have to be convinced, he says, that your efforts will fail completely – that community will never form among these people, in this place.  And right after you reach that point, community almost always does form.  Is that what’s been happening in the Latin II classes?

The proverb tradition says yes: a watched pot never boils.  As a small child, I impatiently hated that saying; as an adult –  a teacher in a time of constant, pot-watching testing – I appreciate the wisdom.   Some forms of assessment can help the pot boil, I think, when they draw learners’ attention away from my thought processes and toward what I’ve already accomplished.  But in the current climate, with its focus on “mastery” and “achievement,” the more frequently tests are given, the more students label themselves as effortlessly smart (sad, impossible goal) or bad and lazy.  A learning community focuses attention very differently.

Speaking of attention, Debbie said,

I always find it interesting when someone says, “They are just doing that for attention” and then refuse to give the child attention. But ….. you just identified that the child is need of attention. Why on earth would we withhold something from a child and add to the self-esteem issue?


Anyway, re: natural/unnatural learning: my grandson is 22 months old and loves words, letters, and numbers. He loves using the computer games to explore the symbols and other concepts. The games are probably doing a better job of teaching this information than I could. But what I can do better is provide the opportunities to apply the knowledge, to explore it, and to take it from digital to practical – turning the knowledge into wisdom. (Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom)

I love that equation!  So did Mark, who added that

If you teach or are an administrator in a school, you probably feel like your responsibility is to offer up knowledge for students to learn. Teachers, parents, and students, each group of participants in the education process quantify the end result of learning with terms like I passed 7th grade or I have this degree. When measured on a daily or weekly time frame you hear terms like I passed that test or I got an x on that homework assignment….

When we zoom back out to the system level, curriculum is quantity and pedagogy is how to.

For teachers, pedagogy is loosely defined as The art or science of teaching. This is how they are going to do what they do. When teachers are constantly providing opportunities to explore and then apply knowledge on a personal level, they are producing the art Seth Godin writes about.


Once the college process of acquiring knowledge is complete, the unit of measure is no longer homework and test grades or even course grades. Now the official measure is demonstrated with a diploma which is often framed and then hung on a painted wall.

In the example of teachers and their education process, knowledge is like buckets of paint. Teachers use or apply their buckets of knowledge just like we use paint to cover walls in a room….

When we paint a room or even if we hire someone to paint a room for us, after fresh paint is applied to the walls of a room we are inspired to add to the value of the paint job by moving furniture around and possibly even buy more furniture or other decorating items. Application and success creates a desire to learn more, and this cycle of success and continued self improvement is what we all are in search of….

In instances where students have yet to discover what it is they want to do for a career, buckets of learning are just like paint being collected for a future use. The real value of paint is in the application.

Stored knowledge like stored paint has little value as it sits waiting to be applied. When paint sits on a shelf for an extended time period it goes bad eliminating the chance for any possible application….

Here’s another formula that when applied and solved as early as possible for each individual student, will result in a better education outcome. Discovery + Doing = Desire

So how will we move from the factory-model of learning equations and algorithms, by rote, for the test to the learning-community approach of applying these equations in our living?

Published in: on April 25, 2013 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  

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