I can’t remember the last time I took two consecutive days off from blogging! When I woke up Wednesday morning, I was feeling sick and tired and busy; Thursday brought better health but a large number of important tasks. And now it’s Friday afternoon, and there is much to celebrate from the last few days.
The Gifted Homeschoolers group and I had a remarkable class on Tuesday afternoon. In my face-to-face teaching days at Former School, the stories at the end of Lectio IV about Ridiculus the mouse, Ferox and Medusa the dogs, and Sabina the weasel were often very difficult for the Latin Family to understand. “This is hard,” they would moan. “There are new words, and mice can’t really talk.” To be fair, many Latin Family members understood and enjoyed the stories, but there were always a few who “just didn’t get it” … and I was never sure exactly why they struggled so much. Had Ms. X and Mr. Y, with all those years of exactly as I tell you, starved their imaginations and stunted their interpretive skills? Was it just that they were teenagers, “too cool” for animal stories? I wasn’t sure, but the (much younger) Gifted Homeschoolers had no problem with this story sequence at all. They loved it, and they could easily see the parallels to the patron-client relationship that I’d asked them to look into before we met.
Wednesday brought work time for Minor Assessments at District Y for the intermediate and advanced groups, and the end of Lectio III Fabula Longa for the beginners. How would they respond to Cnaeus’ tears of frustration, I wondered? Their counterparts at Former School often dismissed him as a “whiny little crybaby” who “deserved it” when his sisters (and even his nutrix) laughed at him. And the District Y Latin Family could see that side of things, but they also could see Prima and Secunda’s cruelty to their little brother. “Why are they so mean to him?” someone asked. “Can we have more stories like this?” begged C and L. “I would want to get emancipated, if that was possible for a Roman!” said N today, when we created a follow-up story together … a story in which Vipsania, initially angry at Prima and Secunda, turns her anger on Cnaeus and throws him out the window!
“Onto some spikes!” begged C and L, but we decided that was too much. And was it a dream, or did it really happen? We aren’t sure yet, but I have my suspicions based on some stories they haven’t yet read.
“What’s wrong with this family?” they asked … and of course I can’t tell them yet, but there is a dark, hidden secret in the Caelius family, as longtime Tres Columnae Project participants have discovered.
Speaking of secrets, the District Q Latin Family has been exploring secrets and creating great mystery stories this week; I saw the almost-final versions on Thursday morning and was overwhelmed with both the quality and the creativity of what they have already accomplished. Thursday afternoon brought some amazing work from the advanced group at District Y, and this afternoon concluded with great Minor Assessment presentations from both the beginning and the intermediate group at District Y.
Some of them are almost good enough to publish already! I’ll let you know when they are … assuming that the Latin Family (and their families) agree.
And no one at District Y had any difficulty with our “Derivative Quest Challenge,” in which we used the Online Etymology Dictionary to find as many derivatives as possible for Latin words we’d been working with recently. At Former School, for reasons still unclear to me, that was always a conceptual difficult for many students. Somehow or other, they’d missed the critical idea of root words at some point along the way … perhaps because Ms. X and Mr. Y spent their time yelling about how “you should already know this,” or maybe because it “wasn’t tested very much” the year they were “supposed to” learn it? I’m not sure, but I do know that I was worried about One Group in One Class at District Y, several of whom had told me early on that they have reading difficulties in English.
No need to worry, though. They clearly understood the concept, and they all found lots of derivatives in the time window I provided them.
So there was much to celebrate by the end of the day. I “just happened” to make a connection with Someone Not That Far Away who is working on a passion- and interest-based “non-school” model, too. And I got some other potential good news that’s too tentative and too distant to talk about yet.
Much has changed since I woke up Wednesday morning feeling too sick and tired and busy to write anything! Looking back, I think my sense of tired and busy came in part because I was too focused on “I” … because I had half-forgotten that in a joyful learning community, nobody “has to be” at Absolute Best all the time. If I am sick, or tired, or busy, you will probably step in and do what needs to be done; if you are busy, sick, or tired, I will take my turn, or they will. Poor A had been sick for a week, but when he got back, he was able to pick up more or less where he’d left off; his group members welcomed him, supported him, and worked with him just as the Latin Family does at its best.
There was so much to celebrate, but that might just have been the most important thing of all.
As we continue to build and expand and deepen our joyful learning community, and as we build meaningful things together and share them with the world, we’ll have much to celebrate … and I wonder what else we’ll discover and build together next!