salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Today we’ll attempt to wrap up the themes of this week’s posts, which have included
- new birth and new beginnings in the stories of little Quartus’ impending arrival and birth;
- changing practice in the story of Paulla the obstētrīx, in our discussion of differentiation, and of course in the ways that the Tres Columnae Project differs from a more-conventional Latin textbook; and
- distinctions between fairness and equality, to use Rick Wormeli’s memorable contrast, implied in our discussion of differentiation and in Paulla’s decision to help Maccia despite the debt Lollius owes her.
As I made this list, I realized that everything related, somehow or other, to the theme of new birth and new beginnings. Changes in practice are obviously a kind of new birth, especially when teachers adapt or even eliminate practices that we’ve used for years or decades. Paulla’s decision and the lesson structure I described in Thursday’s post are also, in very different ways, examples of a major change and a new beginning. Even though I created the character of Paulla, I realize I don’t know why she decides to go and help. Does she feel some responsibility for the death of Tertius? Is she moved by Lollia’s pleas? Is she just glad to get some money from Lollius? Does she have a sense of professional obligation that overrules her economic calculations? Did she, perhaps, lose a child of her own? Does she identify with Maccia for some other reasons? We don’t know; we just know that she does, in fact, go and help with the delivery … and she seems to be a lot happier than her typical dour, cynical self as a result.
Perhaps that’s a message for all of us about the importance of giving back when you feel down and discouraged, as Paulla definitely is at the start of this story. Like many teachers, I love the summer months, but the lack of structure for my days and weeks can sometimes take a toll on me – even though I’m careful to set up other, self-imposed structures and tasks. This summer, of course, those tasks have largely related to the Tres Columnae Project. It’s really helped to know that we’re creating something that Latin teachers all over the world can freely use, and it’s an even greater help to know that we’re building a community of learners as well as a set of learning materials. So, to all of you lectōrēs fidēlissimī who are part of the Tres Columnae community, grātiās maximās iterum!
Of course, the Tres Columnae Project is by no means the only way to learn Latin. There are all kinds of textbooks and other materials out there, and depending on your needs, you might find one of them to be a better fit for you, your students, or your learning goals. For example, check out this Latin-BestPractices post for a venerable and highly successful programmed-learning approach available both in book form and on CD-ROM.
As I think about the wider community of Latin teachers and learners, I’m always impressed by the thoughtfulness and generosity we tend to show each other. But one thing has been bothering me this week – especially when I read and reflect on the thoughtful things that Latin teachers say to each other on the various lists I subscribe to. For the most part, our hard-won professional knowledge is locked up in our own heads and in our own classrooms. Yes, we share our ideas, strategies, and materials freely when asked, and we ask, quite vocally, when we need help. But still, a new teacher joining our world has so little access to the “tricks of the trade”! Things are certainly better now than they were before the advent of the Internet; at least a young, overwhelmed teacher can now look for help from colleagues online! And if that young teacher knows where to look, there’s even a consensus about what beginning teachers ought to know and be able to do by the end of their first few years of practice. There are, of course, some wonderful books for beginning teachers: Harry Wong’s First Days of School, Fred Jones’s Tools for Teaching, Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion, just to name a few. (These are actually for all teachers, young or “young at heart” – but they’d be especially useful for young teachers who are struggling to survive.) Unfortunately, though, there’s not a collection of content-specific daily survival strategies – things like how to implement differentiated lessons in a Latin class, as Magistrastein noted on Wednesday, or how to reconcile the anti-homework movement with a concern that language learners need more practice than class time allows, as Magistrastein mentions in this blog post. Not that there’s a single right answer for any of these! But there are a lot of good, hard-won answers … and new teachers don’t usually have access to them.
I’ve often said in this space that you can’t directly transfer Understandings, but you can help learners (including new teachers) develop them – and you can definitely help them develop their teaching Knowledge and Skills. I’ve been trying to figure out how the Tres Columnae Project might help with that, but I’m really not sure. quid mihi suādētis, lectōrēs cārissimī?
So much to think about, and so much on the horizon! But sometimes that leaves us in a “hurry up and wait” state. So perhaps it’s fitting that we close the week with this story, which you can now find here on the Tres Columnae Version Alpha Wiki site if you’d like. Little Quartus, of course, has to wait the requisite eight days to be named; his brother Caius had to wait to see him; and there’s a lot of other waiting that goes on, as you’ll see:
quārtō diē post Quārtum nātum, familia Valeria Herculāneum regreditur. Cāius laetus ad cēnāculum currit. “quam mīrābilis est urbs Mediolānum!” exclāmat. Cāius cēnāculum ingreditur et, “heus! quid est? num īnfāns iam adest?” attonitus rogat. Maccia Quārtum īnfantem tollit et “ecce frāter tuus!” inquit. Cāius attonitus et laetissimus ōsculum īnfantī summā cum cūrā dat. tum grātiās maximās dīs omnibus agit et “heus!” exclāmat, “mihi ad domum Valeriī statim regrediendum est! nōnne patrōnus noster hunc nūntium optimum audīre dēbet?”
familia Valeria quoque laetātur, et Valerius ipse Lolliō epistulam mittit. “mī cliēns cārissime,” inquit, “tē decet diem lustricum nōbīscum celebrāre. nōlī timēre; mē decet omnia parāre, quod familia tua mihi cordī est.”
nōnā diē post Quārtum nātum, diem lustricum celebrat familia Lollia. Lollius cum Cāiō Lolliāque scālīs dēscendit et per viās ad domum Valeriī celeriter contendit. Maccia Quārtum īnfantem manibus fert. Lollius iānuam domūs pulsat et Milphiō per faucēs festīnat iānuam apertum.
in ātriō domūs tōta familia Valeria cum augure adventum Lolliōrum exspectat. Valerius ipse Lollium amplectitur et, “nōnne Fortūna tibi favet?” laetus exclāmat. tum omnēs ad peristylium prōgrediuntur. Maccia Quārtum in mediō peristyliō dēpōnit. Lollius ipse crepundia collō pōnit et pompam dūcit. tum bullam quoque collō pōnit et omnēs vehementer plaudunt. “fēlīciter! fēlīciter!” exclāmant omnēs. Lollius sacrificia rīte offert, et omnēs vōta precēsque dīs omnibus offerunt.
tum augur caelum spectat ōmina cognitum. “heus!” exclāmat, “nōnne aquila ad dextram nunc iam volat! ōmina optima dī fīliō tuō dant!” Lollius augurī grātiās maximās agit et sacculum pecūniā plēnum trādit.
tum Gallicus ē culīnā, “nōnne epulae optimae sunt parātae?” exclāmat. omnēs laetī ad triclīnium festīnant epulās optimās ēsum. Lollius manūs Valeriō prēnsat et, “ō mī patrōne,” inquit, “laetissimus tibi grātiās maximās agō, quod tantō honōre familiam meam afficis!”
quid respondētis, amīcī?
Tune in on Monday, when we’ll shift gears yet again and look at an entirely different part of the Tres Columnae Project. But we may find a few recurring themes as so many new things continue to be born. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.