Teacher Training Conference Daily Blog: Day 3

So, I might be wearing down a bit because I didn't take as many notes yesterday (see the end of this article for links to my notes from the other days). I still sat in on some great lectures and have good bits to share.  Please note: this is the last day I'm attending the teacher training. Today needs to be a family day. However, I am planning on two followup posts containing some questions and observations, not necessarily on the event itself but on the topics presented at the training and on the general movement of Classical Education.

Speaking of the the teacher training, it has just been excellent. Everyone has been so hospitable and the teaching is top notch. I've had a lot of good conversations as well, with the faculty of Rockbridge and the teachers I've met from other schools.

To start with here's a great piece of advice I heard in conversation, from J.D. Head a literature teacher at Rockbridge:
An argument against reading too many books in literature, history, or Omnibus class: Asking a student to read 200 pages a week in a class is like asking a 6 year old to bench press 200 pounds. Not only will they not be able to do it, but they'll resent you for it. In other words, we don't need to put unnecessary burdens on our kids

Here are the talks I enjoyed the most:
The Wonder Years: Seeing Christ in All Things Grammar
Assessment at the Dialectic/Rhetoric Level—History and Literature
Logic Instruction in the Classical Christian School

And here's what I gathered from those talks:
The Wonder Years: Seeing Christ in All Things Grammar
We can't apply the Trivium rigidly in the classroom. We have to allow room for our students to be filled with wonder, to ask their curious questions, and to be drawn back to loving and being loved by God and reveling in his great creation.

Creating wonder in the classroom entices them to learn all the more.

Teach in such a way that it produces a longing for Christ, so that they can see there's something incomplete in themselves, that they need something more, that in the words of C.S. Lewis they come to realize they were “made for another world.”

Assessment at the Dialectic/Rhetoric Level—History and Literature
--This course was taught by Daron Lawing, who I had a great conversation with today about teaching history. One ancient work he recommends for history teachers is Polybius' Anacyclosis

Assuming our main goal in Classical Christian Education is to form and send out followers of Christ, the other main goal(s) is to cultivate young minds giving them knowledge, understanding, and wisdom and to train them to think well, write well, and speak well. 

I've heard this over and over again this week: ReviewReviewReview: review at the beginning and end of each class. Connect older lessons to the current lesson.

What makes us Classical? The default setting, at least at the Logic/Rhetoric stages, is to have engaged long discussions. The idea is that the student has come to class having read the work or about the event and are then ready to discuss back and forth with their colleagues

Logic Instruction in the Classical Christian School
--Don't be put off by this topic. There are actually a few practical examples of ways teachers of younger kids can start implementing logic into their classroom.

We can easily start teaching our kids logic early on without them even knowing it, using simple premise and conclusion statements.
Be intentional about using “premise” and “conclusion” statements, as well as inferential indicators such as “for” and “therefore.”

In late Grammar stage, you can start asking more premise-seeking questions, especially when discussing the literature books we read:
--”How did he know?”
--”Did he have a good reason to...?”
--”What is your proof this happened?”

Here's a great logic game for preschoolers/kindergartners:
Analogy game: give them 3 choices and ask them which 2 are most alike.
--an apple, a mouse, and a mango?
--a car, a book, and a tree?
--honesty, compassion, and courage?
The last one isn't realistic for the really young ones but there are basically endless options we can come up with in this game.

Arguing is good, quarreling is bad
--the speaker contends Logic classes should really be called “Argument” Class, because we're essentially teaching them how to argue. We're teaching them logic in everything we do in school

What is goal of argument?
1. Proving—showing others a conclusion is true
2. Persuading—moving others to accept the conclusion

We argue because something matters and we're motivated to know the truth and make others know the truth. But as followers of Christ we are to do it gently and respectfully.

Three tests for evaluating arguments:
Semantic: what to the terms means?
Inferential: does the conclusion follow?
Evidential: Are the premises true?

We teach them premise and conclusion indicators through statements that begin and end like this:

Always be reasoning with your students, not just barreling through material. Dialogue with them making sure they actually are getting the concepts. Students usually want to come to quick conclusions, saying “XYZ is THAT fallacy”, but we need to help them with nuance, to make nuanced arguments.
Related Posts:
Teacher's Conference Introduction
Teacher's Conference Day 1
Teacher's Conference Day 2
Planning the First Weeks of School

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