“Justin – “I realized that I’ve been coaching the students at District Q and District Y for growth, but they’ve also been coaching me. That kind of reciprocity is an important part of a joyful learning community” is beautiful – how about a blog post on it?” asked Jackie, in a Google+ comment on a thread about my post inspired by her post about coaching for a growth mindset. I promised that I would write one, and I thought I’d write it on Tuesday.
But Tuesday came and went without a blog post from me … and that’s unusual these days. I rarely “miss a day,” but I was unexpectedly tired yesterday. Was it the change in the weather, as Fall definitely arrives in These Parts? Was it One Thing And Another that kept me awake Monday night? Was it just that I needed more time and more examples of how we’ve been coaching each other?
It was probably some of each … but I’m glad I waited until today to write about coaching each other because T, who’s in the upper-level class at District Q, “just happened” to provide a great example and a new twist on a Latin Family favorite. “Maybe we can read about a mystery,” she said, “or make one up in class.”
If you’ve read the Tres Columnae Project stories, you know there are lots of mysteries, and many of them are still unsolved. Creating stories that resolve them or deepen them is a thing we’ve “always” done … but as I read T’s suggestion, I realized she was asking for even more. What if we made different groups, I thought, and had each group focus on a different unsolved mystery? And what if they incorporated the new characters they’ve been creating in the mysteries somehow … and then shared their mysteries with each other to see if they could solve them?
It was a powerful moment … almost as powerful, I realize as I’m writing, as that comment years and years ago from E, B, and the others, the one about how “textbooks are flat and dead” that catalyzed this whole adventure. I don’t have incoming video from District Q, but I could feel the electricity and the energy as I shared T’s idea, gave her the credit, and revealed the three initial and interconnecting mysteries:
- Some of us may want to focus on the mystery of why Casina got sick and why her master treats her so well. After all, Roman law “forbids” punishing a sick slave for being sick, but how would that law be enforced?
For this mystery, you’ll be reading the stories in Lectio XX http://tconline.trescolumnae.com/index.php/stories/99-lectio-xx
and Lectio XXI http://tconline.trescolumnae.com/index.php/stories/100-lectio-xxi
- Some of us may want to focus on the mystery of why the Vipsanius family, who are really wealthy and powerful, would allow their (only) son to marry an eques like Valeria. It’s not illegal for senators to marry equites, but it’s a bit odd.
For this mystery, you’ll be reading the stories in Lectio XIV et semis http://tconline.trescolumnae.com/index.php/extras/133-xiv-et-semis
and Lectio XXVI
- Some of us may want to focus on the mystery of Lucius and the Impossible Girl. Valerius’ son grows up and, unsurprisingly, has a crush on a girl he knows … but why is it impossible? And what is the secret behind her secret identity?
For this mystery, you’ll be reading the stories in Lectio XXIII http://tconline.trescolumnae.com/index.php/stories/102-lectio-xxiii
and Lectio XXIV Fabula Longa IV http://tconline.trescolumnae.com/index.php/stories/103-lectio-xxiv/385-vicesimaquarta-quarta
and Lectio XXVI Fabula Longa I
Somehow or other, all of these mysteries are connected with the one we’ll explore next, the one that’s revealed, partially solved, and partially deepened in the relatively new story sequence called “Lectio XXVII et semis.” Secret identities. Mysterious villains. Mysterious attacks, and sudden changes of social status. And somehow, I realize, the Caelius family’s mystery, the unexplained death of their older son, is connected with all of it, too.
I love solving mysteries, but I really love solving them with, not for a joyful learning community. Reading a mystery novel? Sometimes I enjoy that, but I get tired of trying to solve the mystery by myself … and I don’t care for the kinds of mysteries where the solution is obvious and quick. The Boy, The Girl, and I have been watching some crime-solving shows on Netflix recently, and as we watch them together, I’m reminded that I love exploring mysteries together.
Apparently the District Q Latin Family does, too. I’m going to ask their counterparts at District Y and see what they think; maybe we can exchange mysteries from time to time in the months ahead. An authentic, external audience is powerful, especially when you’re working on polishing a story and making it as comprehensible and as grammatically accurate as possible.
Of course there are other ways we’ve been coaching each other, but the mystery creation idea from T has really grabbed my attention. It’s so very much in keeping with the spirit of a joyful learning community that builds meaningful things together! I’ve known T and her classmates for less than a month, and we don’t see each other every day, but they’ve grasped the essence of the Tres Columnae approach, and they’re taking it in powerful new directions as their ownership deepens.
I wonder what else we’ll discover together in the days and weeks ahead!