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January 7, 2010

How We Use Tapestry of Grace, and Will We Continue?

My sig line at The Well-Trained Mind forums states that we use Tapestry of Grace, as well as Classical Writing and a general curriculum that follows, more or less, the LCC philosophy - all of which are teacher-intensive and take up a great deal of time.

Lately I've received a slew of questions, asking me how I can possibly manage all that? Specifically, people want to know how I can use Tapestry of Grace and everything else?

I feel almost guilty answering, because I'm not sure that my answer will help anyone. The short answer is that we only use the parts of TOG (or any curriculum) that serve us. We don't use it as fully as it is intended to be used, and so the way we use it may not be cost-effective for many.

TOG is meant to be a full-service curriculum: history, literature, worldview, geography, philosophy, government, and even some fine arts. In fact, the reason it is so popular is because it is an all-in-one program. If you use TOG, all you have to do is add in some science, math, and a foreign language, and you're done! But we use it for the history, and some of the literature and geography. And that's it.

I have one student in TOG's Dialectic level, and one in the Upper Grammar level. Our process is the same for both: I assign them the readings, they read them, and then we discuss. I use TOG's teacher notes and discussion questions/answers, and our discussions are excellent. Occasionally, I will have them write out the answers to the history questions on the Dialectic Student Activity Page.

And that's it. It's a small part of our day, which is largely taken up with Latin, math, Greek, and reading.

I know that many people spend hours of their day on TOG. It's certainly meaty enough to do so. However, I just needed a solid dialectic history schedule, one that held my hand through discussions. TOG serves that purpose well. We have very much enjoyed our TOG history.

Will we continue to use it? I don't yet know. This year we are studying modern history, which means that next year it's back to ancients. TOG Year 1, which covers ancient history, will not work for us. Year 1 is overtly, inescapably religious, with a full 14 weeks out of the year spent in reading only the Bible for history. While I do plan on giving my poor heathen children some Bible literacy, that's a little much for us.

Next year is also our first year of high school. For high school, we plan to try The Well-Trained Mind's plan of doing a Great Books study, combining history and literature. If that goes well, we will probably just continue in that vein throughout high school. History is Connor's favorite subject, so I am willing to largely leave the decision-making up to him. He has many options - returning to TOG for the rhetoric level, continuing with Great Books, sampling community college courses, or creating his own course.

For my younger students, we'll go back to our tried and true Story of the World. They will also get Classical Studies through our wonderful co-op, which dovetails nicely.

For my rising 7th grader? I don't yet know. Stay tuned.

Posted by lynx at 10:03 PM