An “Ooops!” Story from A Tapestry Advisor
Here is an “Ooops!” story shared with us by Melody, one of our Tapestry Advisors. She found herself at a crossroads in her educational choices and took a turn that turned out to be not what she wanted. Melody says that such “Ooops!” moments are training sessions for her as a teacher, so we hope that her story will be useful to you as well.
I couldn’t have been more wrong when I decided to replace rhetoric level Literature with an intensive poetry study guide.
You might ask, “Why even consider replacing the rhetoric Literature?” The decision-making process went something like this. I asked myself, “What are my top priorities for this year for my beginning rhetoric student, given that Socratic discussion is absolutely a foreign language to me?” I chose to start with rhetoric history, church history, government, and philosophy in that order of priority. That left Literature, which still needed to be covered with only 30 minutes a week of my time available. I didn’t think I would have time to do rhetoric Literature as written, so I chose a Literature study guide on poetry from a company I liked, whose guides had been a good fit over the upper grammar years.
Fast forward one semester to evaluation time. I discovered that I now had an hour and a half of my time available (as opposed to the half-hour I thought I would have each week) because my younger students became more independent in some things. Also, other rhetoric subjects are taking less time for me. On the other hand, my rhetoric student was now having trouble completing poetry analysis without assistance. . . for the last 3 weeks. The cost/benefit ratio was not what I wanted.
OK, plan B: attempt rhetoric Literature, beginning light and gentle. At the three-week assessment point, I found that the cost/ benefit ratio was great! My student now spent one-and-a-half to two hours a week on it, but gained double or triple the understanding because of the teacher-led discussions, vs. my student’s previous three or four hours per week spent on independent poetry study guide but gaining very little understanding.
How do I measure “understanding”? Well, for example, my rhetoric Literature student and I are discussing swings in Literature from realistic to Romantic in relation to swings in Christian history. Then my student initiates pulling up top 10 box office movies of several decades and discusses what percentage were Romantic compared to trends in Christianity! Wow! Thank you, Lord, for Tapestry.
My mistake was in attempting to compare the poetry study guide, a known program that I was familiar with, to an unknown program like Tapestry rhetoric Literature. In hind sight, I should have made a trial run of the rhetoric level Literature before choosing to replace it. Lesson learned: Beware the sometimes false “security” of the known when intimidated (perhaps unnecessarily) by the look of the unknown!
What I love about this story is that even though Melody is humbly and humorously sharing about an error, she had a wise system in place which helped her catch her mistake quickly.
- First, she asked herself “What are my goals? What kind of cost/benefit ratio do I want?” and made decisions about curriculum which she thought would meet those goals. She turned out to be wrong in her guess about whether the curriculum would fit her goal, but if she hadn’t identified what her goal was in the first place, she would have had no basis to evaluate whether the program she tried was meeting it.
- Second, she attempted to realistically assess what amount of time she thought she would have. This also turned out to be wrong, but if she hadn’t stopped to think about it up front, she probably wouldn’t have noticed later that she had more time than she expected.
- Third and perhaps most importantly, she reevaluated at intervals. If she hadn’t stopped to check her guess at the end of the first semester, she might never have realized that her goals were not being met, or that she had more time than originally expected. Then, after making what she thought was a good fix, she double-checked after three weeks. Excellent!
Because Melody 1) identified her goals, 2) thought about her time, and 3) checked progress to see if (a) her goals were being met and (b) her time commitments had changed, she was able to see when she had picked a wrong road for her destination, then choose another route. That’s terrific, and that’s why I’m so glad that Melody is one of our Advisors. I believe she will be able to help other Tapestry mothers ask the same kinds of questions about their goals and time, and help them reevaluate their progress throughout the journey!