To ancient and medieval educators, teaching was inspired conversation: communion of mind and heart through skillful discussions, with young children as well as highschoolers. Much like the art of painting or sculpture, these discussions required a host of skills which were taught and practiced routinely over the course of years. Today, most classical schools expect upper school students to participate in intense discussions about complicated ideas. But just as we only ask students to pen their senior theses after years of cultivating their writing skills and love of language arts, we need to foster a similar delight and skill in discussion starting with conversation-centered pedagogy in our grammar schools. This workshop will share the tools our school is developing to hone the skills of excellent discussions and build conversation- centered classrooms. Come with ideas, questions, observations, and best practices of your own to share as well.
After homeschooling through highschool, Jenny Rallens earned her B.A. in 2008 from New St. Andrews College and then joined The Ambrose School faculty in Boise, Idaho to teach, direct nine (mostly Shakespeare) plays, and develop a pedagogy based on four pillars: incarnational student-teacher relationships, story, socratic discussion, and liturgy. In addition to teaching, Jenny is currently working on her master’s degree at Oxford in Literature and Arts, particularly investigating the roles literature, liturgy and material culture play in forming a community’s theological imagination.