Joy in the Journey

Friends who used to live Quite Far Away, but now live Somewhat Closer, had been encouraging me to come and visit them for several weeks.  “When  you have a free weekend, and you aren’t too busy, you should come,” they said.  But then school started, and busy happened, and weekends kept not being free … and then I came down with That Cold, and it seemed that the visit would have to wait.

But by last Wednesday, the cold was starting to improve.  And my weekend schedule was surprisingly clear.  I asked my friend and colleague Mr. N for advice.  “Take some nighttime cough medicine, the old-fashioned kind,” he told me on Thursday, “and get a lot of sleep.  You should go.”

I’ve learned to listen to Mr. N … so I took the cough medicine and woke up Friday morning feeling not perfect, but certainly much better.  And around 6:00 Friday evening, I left for my weekend adventure.

These Friends now live in Northern Virginia, which isn’t a terribly long drive from These Parts.  All you really do is get onto Interstate 95, head north, and exit about 6 hours later.  And Mr. N was right: I needed to go.  It was a joyful journey and a weekend of amazing, delightful connections and reconnections.  I even heard a sermon on Sunday about what it means to be deeply connected with God.

But Friday, before I left, was a joyful journey too.  The upper-level class was finally ready (or almost ready) to play a new variation of an old, favorite Latin Family game that we now call “MVSCAS CAPTATE.”  The first step is for everyone to read a particular story or set of stories, aiming to understand the main idea and details as Intermediate Low-to-Mid readers will.  Then, in groups of 3 or 4, we’re assigned (or choose) a section of the text to create Latin or English questions about – with multiple-choice answers.  The questions are written and given to a Question Leader, who stays with the questions and the MVSCAE: 4 clip-art flies labeled A, B, C, and D to correspond with the question choices.  Everyone else rotates around the room, visiting the other groups’ Question Leaders.   Question Leaders ask the questions and present the answer choices, and then – depending on the group and the day – you can either agree on an answer or have each person choose his or her own answer.  You indicate your answer by slapping the  MVSCA with the letter of your choice.  In a formal game, there’s a Scorekeeper, and if you use the game as a proficiency assessment, you can have students track their accuracy rates.

Even D was active, happy, and engaged.  His group’s questions weren’t of the highest quality, but they were able to answer the other groups’ questions pretty well.

Then, after lunch, we started looking at the first of Pliny’s two letters about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius; we’ll be comparing the thoughts, words, actions, feelings, and attitudes of Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Pliny’s mother, or the unnamed friend with those of a similar character in Tres Columnae Lectio XXX for our first Minor Assessment of the new reporting period this week.  Meanwhile, the Latin I classes were also working on reading (at the Novice Low to Mid level) and question creation at their level.

When I was younger, I think I got so focused on the destination – and on measuring how far we still had to go, or fretting about unexpected delays or detours – that I missed the joyful journey more often than not.  That was true of physical journeys, where I’d fret about getting lost or being late, and of metaphorical ones like the journey language learners take from Novice to Advanced.  It was easy to do that, too, with a 20th-century mindset and 20th-century tools.  There was a static, printed map (or a textbook for the class), and you tried to follow it as best you could – but if a road was closed, or if there was road construction, or if students didn’t grasp the concept after you’d done all of the available exercises and worksheets with them, it was easy to get lost and frustrated.  GPS technology – even the rather old unit that came with the Current Car – helps reduce that feeling when you’re physically traveling; it re-routes you when you take a wrong term, which is easy to do in an unfamiliar place, and it tells you approximately how long it will take until you reach your destination.  The tools for teaching and learning aren’t quite that sophisticated yet, but as teacher or learner you can still get a good sense of how things are going – and what you need to work on – if you put down the static, outdated map and look closely at the ever-changing territory of learners and learning environment.

I’ll have more to say about the trip – and the learning journey, too – in the days to come; I hadn’t realized how powerful the metaphor of joyful journey would be for me until I was driving home yesterday, on a gloriously beautiful fall afternoon.  As builders and sustainers of joyful community, I realized, we need to be attentive to the journey and to our companions, to see the actual trip as more real – and more important – than the map.

How will we live out that understanding today?

Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 10:34 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a wonderful challenge: the joyful journey. Love it.

    • Thanks, Maureen! I hope this year is a joyful journey for you as well.

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