salvēte, amīcī (Hello, friends)!  For the moment, this is my “special” blog for the EdStartup 101 MOOC (August – September 2012).  I’ve taught Latin and worn many other “hats” in southeastern North Carolina since 1992, and I’ve slowly begun to move from working on the existing structures of education to contemplate “walking out and walking on” to build an entirely new set of structures.  You may have run into me on Twitter (@TresColumnae) or on Google+ or LinkedIn.  I love conversations about language pedagogy, structural changes to factory-model education, and alternative school models.  But through EdStartup 101, I hope to move from talking about change to doing something to make change happen.

So I’m hoping this blog will be more than just a record of my responses to the EdStartup 101 assignments.  In fact, I’m hoping for a lot more.  I hope (and believe) it will also be a record of the actual startup and progression of three projects that are dear to my heart:

  1. The Tres Columnae Project, which I’ve chronicled on my primary blog, is designed to be the 21st-century alternative to the 20th-century foreign language textbook.  Unlike a static, pre-processed textbook, Tres Columnae is a joyful learning community whose participants build something meaningful together.  As they learn languages (starting with Latin, but expanding to other languages soon) through story and interaction, they get to use the language to create and share their own stories and interactions.  We’ve been slowly building Tres Columnae since 2009 or so, and we hope to have paid subscriptions available soon.
  2. Building on the model of joyful learning communities that build something meaningful together, I hope to start a passion-based after-school program for middle-school and high-school-aged students in my face-to-face teaching world here in southeastern North Carolina.  We don’t have a name for the program yet (any suggestions?) but I do have a vision of the “perfect” customer: a bright, but not necessarily “school-smart” student who would much rather do meaningful things than the meaningless paperwork and memorization that his/her 20th-century factory-model school still assigns.  For a few hours a week, we’ll help him/her catch up with any lagging skills and do meaningful, exciting things in an authentic community of like-minded friends.  Please let me know if you know anybody who’d be interested – or who’d like to replicate the program or who has started something like this.
  3. By fall of 2013, we hope to build the after-school program into a full-time joyful learning community tentatively known as the Three Column School of the Sandhills.  Here’s a vision statement I wrote back in 2011.  Tears come to my eyes when I think about the need … in fact, I was so convinced of the need that I seriously considered trying to start the school in 2012.  But I’ve realized that I need to run to TCS (and so do our initial student and parent members), not run from difficulties in my face-to-face teaching environment.  So I’m taking this school year to do some serious design work, to build a community … and to see if design thinking and community-building in a very good 20th-century-style school can help change the paradigm there, too.

Thanks for coming along on my journey!  cūrā ut valeās (take care) and stay in touch!


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