I have been using Tapestry for four years and have one rhetoric, one dialectic/almost rhetoric, one upper-grammar and one lower-grammar student. The first year we used Tapestry, my oldest son was in 7th grade. Just getting my head around Tapestry and History itself was challenging enough for me, because I had a public school education and had learned almost nothing about the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. For that reason – that is, to save myself the time and anguish of having to prepare for dialectic-level discussions without having had the background myself, and while I had three other children to worry about – I enrolled my oldest son in an LLC class (Lampstand Learning Center, the online once-a-week class offerings of Tapestry taught by experienced Tapestry moms).
As I have progressed through the four years of the curriculum first at a dialectic level and then at a rhetoric level with my children, I have forced myself to spend as much time as possible actually reading their upper-level resources and making sure I at least skim, if not read thoroughly, the Teachers’ Notes for the dialectic and and rhetoric levels. I have not been perfect at this, but I have learned a LOT and developed a well-rounded knowledge of history along the way.
Two years ago, I saw a note here on TOG LooseThreads advertising an opening in a virtual co-op, and I responded. At the time we were just going to begin the rhetoric level with my oldest son, and I felt the need for support, encouragement and challenge in our rhetoric History studies. My son was taking Literature at the LLC that year, but doing history alone at home with me. Having a sit-down discussion with just one student, having to follow the script because I still didn’t know the material that well myself (it was still our first time through), seemed like it would be uncomfortable and forced, and I didn’t have a child who loved history enough to come and ASK me to just discuss it with him at random times. It was going to have to be structured, or it was not going to happen at all.All that is to say that the virtual co-op has been a huge blessing to us, and I have gained so much from the relationships I’ve developed with the other moms there, and the accountability has kept us moving at times when it would have been hard to stay motivated to keep up on our own.
But do you HAVE to have group discussions or be part of a local or virtual co-op to make Tapestry work for your family? The answer is certainly not. The Teacher’s Notes are written very carefully and are provided so that they can educate you, the parent, and allow you to teach your student(s), whether they consist of just one or many.
I have found it to be a blessing not to have to prepare for discussion every week, so in that way, it has been easier belonging to a co-op. If I were going to do it on my own, with just my one or two dialectic- and rhetoric-level students, what I do would look a lot different.
As it is, they get to benefit from another’s effort and dedication to study the week’s TNs and prepare a power point presentation that includes relevant pictures, notes, etc, and from their fellow students’ efforts and insights. It helps my math-and-science child understand that he’s not the only one who has to study history, and some kids even put a lot of work into it and really do well at it. I think that’s good for him to see.
I would say the major difference is that, if you are not part of an outside group, then you will need to create the accountability structure for your child yourself (as far as scheduling, testing or not, being prepared for discussions, etc.), and additionally, more of the quality of the education your child ultimately receives will be dependent on you.
Are you already a great student of history and feel comfortable with many topics? Or are you willing to invest the time to learn along the way? Then it can work out fine.
If you are planning to be hands-off and just allow your student to do the reading, answer questions, and maybe take a few weekly or unit evaluations to see what he’s getting out of it, that could probably work. But your student will be missing a key component that would help to develop his understanding. Some people actually learn by having to articulate their understanding in words.
I think it depends greatly on what type of individual you are, what type of student you have, and how much time you as a teacher can put into it.
I hope this has been helpful. Tapestry definitely gives you ALL you need to succeed. The question is simply, can you make it work for your family on your own. Only you can answer that!