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Saved post on the apprenticeship

Camille, one of the apprentices, sent me this today. She said I could post it so I am:

I just got back from North Carolina, another apprenticeship retreat, and I think I can safely say we all had a blast. Our gang has more fun than anyone else. Some think of teacher training as boring, unproductive, time-wasting, or irrelevant. The CiRCE brand of teacher training is none of those things. We have our souls refreshed, our bodies feasted, our minds filled with new ideas, new humor, and new memories of fellowship, fun, and refreshment.

We pray, we talk, we question, we debate, we laugh, we listen, we learn, we teach, we coach, we change. At the meetings we listen to Andrew make some presentations and we discuss all the ideas that come up. We watch Andrew teach, and we watch each other teach. Our teaching is assessed, corrected, and improved by the group. It is coached by the other teachers and by Andrew. That part was a little nerve-wracking at first, but we’ve learned that we’re all here to help and encourage each other, not to jump on someone who leaves out some part of a lesson!

The guidance we receive pertains to teaching, learning, leading a school, choosing curriculum, understanding the purpose and goals of education, and many more things – we talk about whatever we need to talk about, whatever our challenges are. We discuss how to help students with unusual problems, and with the usual ones. After we leave, our conversation spills over into our Apprentice e-mail loop at home. We continue to discuss ideas, to ask for and receive help when we need it.

My knowledge expands, my understanding deepens, my skills grow. When I get back home my classes fill more quickly and my students become more motivated. I’m better equipped to serve the students and the parents that I work with. I’ve been able to meet with parents to squelch some anxieties about their children’s education and to help them too gain a vision of what a Christian Classical education can do for the hearts, minds, and souls of our children. We love these children, and this education can help to fill their deepest needs and help them to fulfill their callings.

The teaching mode that we learn helps us to teach anything. I now find it easier to teach arithmetic to my daughter. So you don’t have to be a writing teacher to benefit from this training! We’re learning what we term “the didactic mode of instruction” but it has other names too and means that we teach in accordance with the way a person learns, the nature of learning. I’m even getting better at explaining my ideas to my husband. )

The part of our study that deals with the Lost Tools of Writing has helped me immensely. I have learned to think and to communicate in a way I never could before. I have been equipped to teach that to my students too, and have seen their writing abilities grow enormously even if they’ve had no background in writing, and even though they take small easy steps to do their work. Sometimes they think they’re not doing enough because their work comes one step at a time and is so objective that they don’t struggle the way they have in the past. They learn to make judgements. I love to watch them ponder and I love to see their moments of epiphany. I loved it this year when one student (Jill) told me I’d ruined her life because now, after writing like this, she wonders and thinks about everything – no more coasting through life without giving it a thought!

Lately I’ve heard discussion in a couple of different places about the difference between learning from a book and learning from a person. I still don’t completely understand the whole idea of that, but I do know I’ve always learned best by imitating a person rather than taking a manual and trying to translate the idea from a text to an action. It’s easier to see the idea in action and to emulate that. Imagine trying to learn to ride a bicycle by reading a manual on it! With computers, it’s even worse!! I believe that teaching may be the same way. We need a teacher to show us how to be a good teacher. Even more valuable is having that teacher watch us ride the bike, grip the racket, or teach the lesson, and help us make adjustments. (Andrew does that very graciously; if he didn’t I think we’d all leave!) We must have lost a great deal on this earth by losing the apprenticeship model that the Middle Ages allowed. I know I don’t understand the idea well enough to explain it here as fully as I’d like, I just understand it well enough to see some instances of where it works! And I think the CiRCE Apprenticeship for teachers is one of those instances.

We apprentices are travelers together on the road to a Christian Classical education. We will never arrive, as the Apostle Paul stated. But we can travel together on the quest for wisdom and virtue. We can refresh each other, encourage each other, teach each other, exhort each other, equip each other, and support each other. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to travel this road with these brothers and sisters, and to have Andrew as our fearless leader. They help me to be all I can be, so that I in turn can pour out all these blessings into my students so they can be better equipped to bear the image of Christ in their families and churches. My dream is that we all can walk worthy of the high calling of Christ, that we can honor Him who has given us every good gift, who is all in all unto ages of ages.

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NB This post was saved from last May

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