Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 4 (6)


After lunch, The Essentials Guide begins to pull students from the memorization stage into the discovery or dialectic stage of learning. Now that the students have a lot of grammar in their heads from the Foundations memory work, the Essentials program shows them how to use it by asking lots of questions.

The approach is rooted in the catechetical model. Ask questions of the memorized answers, and then move to a new application in short, easy steps. Students are shown first how to question what they know and then how to use it to discover a new answer. A lot of grammar is still involved, but now the families are thinking really hard.

None of the material requires students to sit down and write or be totally quiet. They are constantly engaged in activities and shouting out words and working on parsing sentences together. They can work on solitary activities at home. Now is the time to work together and enjoy learning as a community.

Instead of pop culture words presented in fun games at a youth retreat, they participate in similar activities that require academic knowledge to be shared.

Parents attend weekly academic seminars with their children so they can be trained in classical teaching techniques alongside their children. Education is a family endeavor, supported by, and not usurped by the local church.

This model requires minimal facilities and a few trained tutors paid by the attending families through a small tuition. The subject content is grounded in biblical theology and the training system for tutors and parents is free and already developed.

Because the parents participate, there are always plenty of adults to keep students on track. Students with learning difficulties can do very well in this environment because of the constant repetition and the encouragement to participate as a group. Wrong answers are always met with a joyful, “Good job, try again!” But in our programs, there are wrong answers. Self-esteem comes from a job well done, not from a false ‘hurrah.’

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved.

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