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TBG Community: Q & A on the Work, Joy, and Feast




Festive handcraft for the attendees in Peoria!
The Truth, Beauty, Goodness Community teachers recently traveled to Peoria, IL to present an Awakening immersion at The Field Before Us.  This is an all-day session where we model an actual meeting of our Charlotte Mason community with the attendees participating as the students.  Then in the afternoon, we talk through each subject and answer any questions. Usually, we present these near our homes in Windom, MN, but it just happened to work out that each of us could take a little road trip.  We were all blessed by the entire weekend, especially the new relationships that were fostered.

During the course of the weekend, it became clear to me that there are a few misconceptions about our co-op model, which we have been practicing for nine wonderful years.  I thought I would address those here today.

students narrating during picture study

       1. Why would you do all the fine arts in a CM education on one day?

First, the question assumes that we are a fine arts co-op. We’re not. We do Geography, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Current Events, Nature Study and other subjects that aren’t in the fine arts category. Second, the “all on one day” is a puzzling phrase.  That makes it sound like all the subjects we do are done on that day and we don’t participate in them during the rest of the week. Our meetings are a support and scaffolding for the work that is done in the homes between meetings. 

For instance, I introduced Philopoemen as the new Plutarch biography for the term.  I shared some proper nouns and important geography, as well as a statue that I knew would pique the interest of the students.  I then read parts of the first reading and had the students narrate. Their assignment was to read and narrate the next lesson at home, as well as discuss certain thought questions as a family.  When we meet again, we would continue the conversation and I would scaffold the next lesson.

For Composer study,  Sally prepared a lesson in which she read some of The Arabian Nights and asked for narration, leaving us all breathless as to what would happen next.  This was the background for Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade Symphonic Suite for Orchestra.   She then suggested a few things to listen for and we enjoyed about 3 minutes of the 1st movement. The work to be done at home was to be still and listen carefully to the entire 1st movement a few times before we meet again.

 students working at a local greenhouse.

              2. Mason staggered the types of lessons. Doing a day of only inspirational subjects would not be true to her model, right?

Right!  Which is why we do Shakespeare and then sing.  It’s why we do Picture Study and then Geography.  We vary the lesson types as prescribed, the same as we do at home.  But this brings up another interesting point. While I acknowledge and vary the lesson types, we have never participated in this type of dualism that is showing up of late in Mason circles.  By that, I mean the teasing out of “extras” or “fine arts” or whatever you would like to call the more inspirational subjects. We have never viewed these things as separate, different, or less foundational than science, math, or literature. They have always been part and parcel of the whole scheme in a Mason paradigm.

The point of our group is learning in community and allowing the mother to spread the feast to her children without having to plan every single subject and lesson, which can lead to burnout.  I began this group years ago so that I would be able to really do some of these things with excellence, preparing only some of the lessons in detail and letting the gifts of other like-minded mothers shine brightly in other subjects areas, thereby multiplying the work, the joy, and the feast for the students. When approached carefully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is a beautiful thing.

Grace and Peace,

Nancy

P.S. - For further information on our community, see the TBG Co-op tab at the top of the page.

TBG Teens (The Hive) experiencing rotational inertia for Physics.
fun handcraft!

16 comments:

  1. Interesting and good points to consider when we do our community group and also in our homes. I will have to pray and ponder if there are areas I can shift and change up a bit! Thank you, as always. <3

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    1. Amy,
      Praying and pondering...that's the key! My blog wouldn't be the same without a comment from you, dear friend.

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  2. This is wonderful, Nancy! I love how you love to share and teach others. Thank you for the explanations and clarifications of how you do things in your coop.

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    1. I'm glad you found something helpful here, Lori!

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  3. I agree; you have a great way of explaining things. These were some misconceptions I had as well. I like how you spoke of how you don't "tease out" the extras but they are all equal and important in a CM education. If I could get that through my thick skull!! Thank you for the reminders.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Shelley!

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  4. Oh, how I would love to experience this immersion in the flesh, Nancy. What wonderful inspiration it would be! Our local community is in the early stages and involves primarily Form I students at the moment, but we eagerly look forward to adding in Shakespeare and Plutarch as our children grow older. Some of our students are now Form II age so that day is closer now than it once was - and it is exciting.
    Our current format does focus on primarily inspirational subjects, due in part to the age and partly to time restrictions. However, we do not approach our day together as a time when we're going to be able to check these subjects off of a list; rather, they are a way to experience something true and good and beautiful in a community setting and it is absolutely life-giving. I adore it, and the children seem to be thriving in each other's company. It is truly a gift.
    You wrote:
    "While I acknowledge and vary the lesson types, we have never participated in this type of dualism that is showing up of late in Mason circles. By that, I mean the teasing out of “extras” or “fine arts” or whatever you would like to call the more inspirational subjects. We have never viewed these things as separate, different, or less foundational than science, math, or literature. They have always been part and parcel of the whole scheme in a Mason paradigm."
    Is this really a current thing? That is unfortunate, and is missing the boat. I realize that seems a bit odd considering what I just wrote about our own format above, but the spirit is entirely different, as I hope I articulated properly. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Wendi Capehart of the AO Advisory speak on this issue and found it incredibly inspiring. She speaks of what others often refer to as "riches" or "extras" as the leavening that is necessary to make all of the other subjects effective. They are, in fact, the core of our studies. I wholeheartedly agree. Without these inspirational subjects our school days - even attempting to follow a CM paradigm (if we can call it doing so without including these subjects) - are little more than drudgery.
    Thanks, as always, for inspiring me with a peak into the TBG community. It is an excellent model to aspire to.

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    1. Great thoughts, Dawn. Thank you! I hope no one thinks that our model is the correct model as I was just wanting to clarify some things I have been hearing of late. And I love reading about other co-op models that have been formed in different ways, holding fast to the principles and practices of a CM paradigm.

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    2. While there may be more than one "correct" model to follow the TBG community is certainly the model we most aspire to emulate Nancy. I'm looking forward to the other moms being inspired by you in the flesh when you head our way for the In a Large Room retreat in February. Thanks again!

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  5. Hi Nancy, just wondering what you meant by'teasing out'? Enjoyed a look into your co-op :)

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    1. Hi, Carol!
      I meant to extract out from the rest of the curriculum. So, to do ONLY these items, for instance. Does that make sense?
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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    2. Yes it does. Thanks, Nancy.

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  6. I'm so thankful for the example you set! It has helped our group so much! :)

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    1. I'm so glad, Catie! I hope your group continues to be a blessing for years to come as the Lord wills.

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  7. Nancy,
    I'm so thankful that you have written this article, and for the other articles that you have shared related to your co-op in the past. In my scheduling class, I challenge parents to be responsible for the daily and weekly rhythm of their school days, which means having discernment about outside activities. Co-ops can be a blessing, but they can also be a negative addition to a family's schedule for a variety of reason. I always encourage parents who are in charge of a co-op to consider how they can be a blessing to a CM family, instead of a draw, and what you have outlined here is a very real way to make that possible. Diving into some of the harder subjects, sharing the effort of lesson planning for subjects that benefit greatly from them, building confidence and accountability to continue the feast during the rest of the week. Truth, beauty, and goodness, indeed!
    ~Nicole

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Nicole! It was great to see you last weekend.

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