Pursuing wisdom and virtue are lofty goals. Developing the learning tools of grammar, logic, rhetoric and the mathematical arts are noble skills and disciplines. But how do we actually teach our children? How do these ideas translate into our day to day lives of learning, living, and working with our children? It is easy to become lost amongst all these great ideas.
Jennifer Dow at Expanding Wisdom shares a very helpful overview on how to teach. She has taken the time to introduce to us to the three modes of teaching (Narration, Mimetic, Socratic), with ideas and examples of how we can begin this journey into teaching classically. I have been referring to her ebook A Guide To Teaching Classically frequently the past 6 months while I work on implementing the ideas I am learning. The scholars in my Wisdom Group don't know this yet, but they are teaching me how to teach.
We have begun with the simplest mode - Narration. Jennifer Dow describes this as 'the expression of an experience'. The expression can be in the form of oral retelling, written retelling, creative expression and illustration. Narration requires us to take in the information, observation or story we experience, wrestle with the ideas and knowledge found there, until we can name it and express it with words of our own. Charlotte Mason, of course, has a wealth of ideas and experiences with utilising narration for learning and teaching, and her works are a gold mine as we seek to understand narration.
The Lost Tools Of Writing program is providing us with experience in the Mimetic mode of teaching and learning. Through LTW we are learning to write through the mimetic teaching sequence (invitation, presentation, comparison, explanation, application). This process is new to me and proving to be a large learning curve.
Socratic instruction, I believe, could be the most difficult mode of teaching to master. Or even to begin. Partially because it is the least quantifiable and partially because it is a tailor made teaching and co-inquiry moment for particular situations and students. It requires the teacher to be fully available in the moment, it requires the student to be fully ready to think, respond and ask questions, and it requires others in the group to be willing to listen and think. Socratic instruction is never a planned lesson. I imagine that as we continue journeying together as a group, as we learn to listen to each other and ask questions, we will become aware of these moments as they arise and inquire together to search for truth.
Each week as I prepare for our group time I prepare my heart and seek to know my material. It has been said that the place to begin teaching in this way is the place of humility. The first thing is to pray. God will give insight and open the doors. The second thing is to do and grow.