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Teaching and Learning in a Classical Classroom

Vanessa LamoureuxIn addition to their required public school observation, liberal studies students have the opportunity to observe an alternative school with a classical education curriculum. Overseen by Professor Russell Swanagon, Liberal Studies 380 Subject Matter Apprenticeship: English gives students hands-on experience in the classroom at the San Luis Obispo Classical Academy (SLOCA). They also meet as a group to discuss their experiences and prominent issues in the teaching profession. 

Below, junior Vanessa Lamoureux describes her experience in LS 380.

SLOCA provides a unique learning environment for homeschooled children. SLOCA’s students come to class two times a week with the option to take Friday classes as well. 

Their curriculum focuses on classical concepts such as Greek and Roman mythology and Latin language. Students re-learn concepts every four years, going into greater detail each time. For example, students in third and fourth grades learn about Gregor Mendel and are given a brief overview of why children look like their parents. These same students revisit the concept of heredity in eighth grade, diving deeper into the details of genetics and traits. 

Above all, SLOCA’s mission is to establish a community that “forges character, fosters wisdom, and nurtures a lifelong passion for learning.” 
Each liberal studies student’s experience at SLOCA is different. While I never taught class or planned lessons, I assisted students who had questions or needed help understanding a particular concept. Because of this, I got to know all the students in my class — by far my favorite part of LS 380. I also learned how to meet students where they are in their learning and encourage them to dive deeper into the concepts and ideas they are discussing in class. 
LS 380 is an incredibly beneficial class to any liberal studies student. Not only does it allow us to spend quality time in a classroom but it also provides us with the opportunity to learn from a teacher who truly loves her job. In addition, LS 380 students are exposed to a unique learning environment that is not found in public schools. 

This class’s biggest impact comes from the weekly meetings with our classmates. During this time future teachers consider how they hope their own classrooms will look and function, share how they feel about the teaching profession, and discuss controversial and reoccurring concerns within the realm of teaching. LS 380 takes students deep into the teaching profession with a combination of first-hand experience and time to think about how we want our future classrooms to run and what we want every single one of our students to learn.

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