Joy in the Journey with Delights to Discover

May 06, 2020 | Posted by Jennifer


Over the years, Andrew Pudewa has often shared how important it is for educators and parents to take time to fill themselves as they seek to instruct their students. When you take time to learn something new, it models for your students that learning isn’t for a season but that it’s for a lifetime. Some people may embrace learning a new hobby such as knitting or quilting. Others may decide to learn more about their family history. Recently I decided to step into uncharted waters when I signed up for an online course called “Latin for Orthographers 1: Initium.”

Not realizing when I initially signed up for the course that the whole world would essentially be in lockdown mode due to the pandemic, I was happy to find the class not only informative but also calming. It gave me a sense of routine and normality that helped bridge the stress of the unknown. And of course I also expected it would be interesting to learn about how Latin-derived parts of words can inform comprehension and spelling. I hoped to use what I learned during the course to in turn help my tutored students.

On the first day of class, I was excited but admittedly a mite nervous to enter the Zoom room. Our instructor, Michel, a Cambridge-trained linguist, thoroughly understood many languages. Latin was just one of them. The session was filled with educators from around the country and across the world who were all at various stages in their understanding of Latin. What united us was our desire to learn from this erudite educator.

I needn’t have been nervous. Michel turned out to be an enthusiastic and encouraging instructor. Daily reminding us of the famous quote by Heraclitus, “One can never dip one’s toes in the same river twice,” he invited us to repeat the same class as often as we liked. Each time we would, he assured us, be dipping our toes into an entirely new river of learning because we would be coming to the experience with previous knowledge and understanding to color our encounter.

Michel jovially took our class through many different words, breaking down their Latin components and showing us their English relatives. His enthusiasm for his field of study was infectious, and our class devoured the knowledge that he shared. Perhaps even more, though, we delighted in seeing his obvious joy in sharing a bit of his experience that he had gained through the many years he had been in his vocation. Each day he popped up on my screen wearing a jaunty bow tie, his white hair tucked underneath his cap, his eyes animated, and cats meandering in the background. Despite his years (I don’t know exactly how old he is, but certainly he has a full lifetime of experience.) he was clearly pleased to spend time sharing his knowledge with us.

All too soon the final class arrived, and “Latin for Orthographers: Initium” came to an end. What had I learned? Beyond grasping a better understanding of etymology and linguistics, I had learned a few surprising tidbits as well:

  • The Great Vowel Shift is something I want to investigate more deeply on my own.
  • Exploring word roots and their derivatives is fascinating.
  • Learning and hypothesizing is invigorating when experienced in a group of like-minded, inquisitive people.
  • Learning is not always sequential. In other words, it’s not necessarily a tidy thing that occurs in a predictable, linear sequence. Mastery sometimes takes a circuitous path. This leads me to one more maxim my instructor shared with us:
  • “Revisit! Revisit! Revisit!” His admonition put me in mind of how I spiraled back around so many years with my own children, teaching them the nine IEW units year after year after year. Each journey we took through the sequence of units, I saw new growth in some area, which led to all of my children becoming strong writers in their own way.

I can hardly wait to sign up for “Latin for Orthographers 2.” I’m hoping to do it when my classes slow down over the summer, which is only a couple of weeks away.

I’m so glad I took that step to add to my knowledge. It will help me be a better teacher to my students, certainly, but beyond that, it also showed my daughter that I value my own education enough to invest both time and resources into improving it. In the end, that may be the most important benefit of all, for by showing her that I value my education enough to continue expanding it, I am modeling for her that a lifetime of learning is a worthy goal.

I think it’s already bearing fruit. She’s nearly done sewing up her first-ever quilt, a queen-sized behemoth that she’s planning on taking with her to college. She taught herself by watching YouTube videos. Who knows what’s next for her or for me? But there’s joy in the journey with  delights to discover along the way.

Live Chat with IEW