Good news during a pandemic…everyone gets a front room seat in a recorded session of digital school! We might as well look on the bright side and make the best of these changing educational platforms during the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic. Today, Joelle Hodge, who is the Director of the Scholé Academy and an online distance educational expert, helps parents and teachers see how distance learning can be more than cramming facts and regurgitating information. Listen in today to hear how this is an opportunity to reconnect with children in a new way using the classical Christian model!

 

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Joelle Hodge is a veteran classical educator, the author of several award-winning logic texts, and a mentor and trainer of classical teachers. As Director, she oversees the leadership teams and future development of Scholé Academy and St. Raphael School. She helped launch Scholé Academy in 2014 with 8 students and it now has over 1000 students in the 2019/2020 school year.

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT of this episode:

Davies Owens (00:01):

We are all living in a new reality with our students attending school digitally from our homes. How do we make this adjustment? How do we support our children and their teachers? Online classroom expectations while maintaining structure and balance on top of everything. We’re personally juggling parents and all of that within the walls of our home. Well, my guest today is a veteran classical educator with years of excellence delivering classical Christian education online. Stay tuned for this encouraging episode of Basecamp LIVE. Well, welcome to Basecamp LIVE. Davies on the line with Joelle Hodge. How are you Joelle? It is so good to have you. I can’t think of a better person in these very challenging days to have on the line than someone with your background. If folks don’t know, you are a veteran classical educator, author of several award-winning logic textbooks, mentor and trainer of classical teachers.

Speaker 1 (00:55):

You started into classical education back in ’99. I mean that, that makes you early in the last century. Well if you think that is 40 years old and you’ve been doing it for 21, you are founder. That’s amazing. And you know, for those, again who don’t know you, the strength of your experience has also been in your work with Schole Academy, which is online. So share a little bit about your professional work and I’m also gonna just put a plug in. It’s fascinating to me. Of course, prior to classical, you spent a number of years, working in the a staff of US Senator Arlen specter. That sounds pretty exciting too.

Joelle Hodge (01:37):

He was actually a federal Senator. He was a Senator for Pennsylvania, in Washington D C. He’s no longer with us, but it was a great proving ground… I grew up very quickly working a for United States Senator.

Davies Owens (01:53):

Nothing like working on the Hill to get you ready for classical education. So that’s a good prerequisite. We’ll explain to folks again prior to this whole distant learning and crazy new day we’re living in: many thousands of families have been quite successfully doing classical Christian education remotely. So kind of share with us some of the experiences you’ve been having.

Joelle Hodge (02:14):

Sure. So, back in 2014 I had, taken a little bit of a break from teaching at a local brick and mortar school here in central Pennsylvania. We had brought our daughter home from South Korea and I was just enjoying being a mom, but Chris Perrin, you know Chris Perrin, he’s sort of a, he’s like a vortex and you can’t quite get out of his grip once you get into it. He reached out and asked if I’m in some of my spare time and from home, would I help or sort of consider helping to launch online Academy that might feature some of classical academic presses, texts. And he was thinking that since I was one of the authors of The Art of Argument and the Discovery of Deduction that I could teach both of those twovcourses and that because I was one of the authors teaching, it would be such a draw that, you know, we would have a great beta year. I’m not sure how much of a draw it was. I had two kids in each class that year. One of the other teachers authored Argument Belt Builder, Dr Shelley Johnson. She and I both launched Schole Academy that year. We started off Schole Academy with eight students in 2014. This year that we’re currently in here in 2000, the 2019-2020 school year, we have over a thousand enrollments, which represents about 650 unique family students and about 450 unique families.

Davies Owens (03:46):

That is remarkable in six years. Unbelievable.

Joelle Hodge (03:49):

It is. Yeah the thing about Schole Academy is that it’s not like a traditional school in that, you don’t have to come and do all of seventh grade or all of fifth grade. The idea is that families can still be homeschooling families because there’s a lot of things that some families can do really well on their own. There’s a co op right nearby that they do very well, but then there might be a few things that a family might want to outsource. Maybe like a logic class or a math class. You know, there’s something in particular, maybe Latin, that kind of thing. And Schole Academy offers classes, sort of a la cart, if you will. So a family can retain the idea of homeschooling and preserve those kinds of things, but then just take the classes that they want to take with us.

Davies Owens (04:37):

For those of us who two weeks ago were dropping our kids off in the carpool line, never thinking twice about it. And now we are functionally homeschooling. This is again the encouragement that this is not new. You know, the work you’ve been doing and thousands of others around the globe. So I guess one of the questions is just what do you gain and what do you lose when you go to a digital environment?

Joelle Hodge (05:07):

That’s a really good question. So I think one of the first things for families to remember is that families have been doing this, have been schooling their own children for centuries. And that they probably have more resources around them they might immediately recognize. If an entire school has been displaced by the Coronavirus in this case, that means that there’s a lot of people that are in the exact same situation and some of them do have more time than others. Some of them have different skill sets and expertise than other families do. And so it doesn’t have to be that they only go digital in the sense of online education just with their school or maybe a real sort of distance learning with just discussion boards. Every school is going to take their group online a little bit differently, but there is a wealth of community resources that each community can draw on and that keeps the relational aspect of this whole thing right.

Joelle Hodge (06:11):

Right. Where it needs to be right in the center. Because at the heart of all of what we do with classical education, it’s about us helping them to shape their loves, right? Helping to shape the loves of the children. It’s about cultivating virtue in them so that they grow up not just with knowledge, but with wisdom and with joy and delight. So we’ve got to keep the relational aspect right at the core. And there are ways to do that with online classical education. But we don’t ever envision a child sitting in front of a computer for six, eight, six or eight hours a day. That’s not what this is. It’s about probably reaching out when you need to, but then, you know, having some direct personal attention in other ways.

Davies Owens (06:56):

And are you saying that intention is as much with the parent and the child in the home as well as the teacher working intentionally online? Is that it? I mean it’s both of those that are creating that connection.

Joelle Hodge (07:07):

It is both of those and for our homeschool families that we work with traditionally they don’t just hand off everything to us as I mentioned before, they are still taking on some of the courses with their kids at home. So it needs to be a nice healthy, healthy blend. So I know that some schools are thinking about going all virtual. They’re going to take all of their classes online. They’re going to try to replicate for our online classes the way that the students did at the school. And that might be, that might work for some, for some schools, a lot of schools I think are going to go for a little bit of a hybrid model. They’re going to dial back how much they’re offering. They’re going to offer some online content and then there’s going to be more opportunity at home for there to be working with the parents, work independently. And then maybe with some communities that kind of decided to get together virtually perhaps or on the phone or what have you to continue and extend some of those other courses.

Davies Owens (08:01):

Right. Cause I think that the concern may be some parents are having this like, gosh, you know, I signed up for this very interactive, classical Christian education, brick and mortar and now basically I’ve got this very one dimensional Khan Academy information thing coming at me and, and, and I think it could fall into that. But there is definitely opportunity for interaction, which is part of what creates the formation of virtue. So we can do digital differently, I guess is what we’re trying to say.

Joelle Hodge (08:29):

That’s right. So one thing to remember when people hear distance learning, what they usually do think is like the Khan Academy experience where you go, you look at a module online, you read it, you watch a video that’s been prepared before you kind of assimilate that data. Then you take some sort of an online test and when you’ve kind of tested well enough, you move on to the next level. I don’t think that that’s what most of our schools are trying to replicate. And that’s certainly not what Schole Academy does. I know, I really know that parents make an active and intentional choice about where they send their children and they probably chose each and every one of these schools that’s been closed for a very particular reason. And it just absolutely stinks.

Joelle Hodge (09:13):

Let’s just acknowledge that it really stinks that they can’t send their kids anymore. For a lot of reasons. And not just because we’re all busy and everybody’s going to have cabin fever, but because of all of the other really rich and robust experiences that were provided at that school. Some of that we have to kind of mourn for it in the sense that we’re going to have to probably in many States let that go for the remainder of this year. Um, you and I were talking earlier about graduations not happening. Rhetoric, thesis presentations may be being done via zoom. There’s a mourning that goes along with that cause we’ve worked for something, right? They were really, really special goals. But we have to also say, what, what can we make the best of here? And there’s a lot that, a lot of resources and tools where we can make the best of this.

Davies Owens (09:59):

And that’s what I want to focus on. Cause I mean, one of my hopeful takeaways and all of this you’re, first of all, you’re absolutely correct. My, I have a son who’s a senior this year and he’s like, dad, I think we’re going to be graduating on zoom. I thought, well that’s definitely going to be disappointing. However, every family member can be at your graduation. Everyone gets a front row seat. So maybe there’s a different way to look at it. But I do think, I mean, my hope, my caution is that that families don’t just need jerk reaction and say, look, I bought one thing and now I’ve got again, a very flat one dimensional Khan Academy. So this is very encouraging to hear that there’s, you know, again, every school is in a slightly different place, but you can, and you’ve done it every day with Schole Academy. You are creating intentional virtue formation in a digital format and it actually achieves way more than just your average digital information delivery as you’ve just…

Joelle Hodge (10:49):

That’s absolutely right. So what I, we did last summer with my teachers…we encouraged them to read Joseph Peiper’s book, the four Cardinal virtues. We started with prudence and we made that sort of the theme of this year. And I don’t mean in sort of a hokey way. We were trying to be very intentional about how we could thoughtfully bring these concepts with us and look for ways to be really intentional about this with our students, about making wise choices and, and following through with wisdom and identifying where we see those kinds of character traits in others and with the students themselves.

Joelle Hodge (11:35):

And we did that through prayer. We’d done it through a book discussion groups. We host coffee with the principal and teachers. Unusually once a month. I try to schedule at a time cause my families are all over the world. But once a month we get together with a cup of coffee. We’ve read something together and you know, sometimes we read poems together. We read The Inner Ring by C S Lewis together and then came together and had a conversation about it as well. There’s all kinds of ways that we can, you can be from across the country or across the world with someone and still instill, cultivate a relationship with them. And we do that with our students in those classrooms using Socratic discussion. We invite the students to lead the classes in prayer.

Joelle Hodge (12:22):

Obviously it’s all live and interactive videos. So students really do get to know each other. Most schools won’t have this same problem because they are, the kids already know each other. They’re part of an actual local community together. But our students, even the fact that they are across the country, we have families who are scheduling family vacations in the summertime. So the kids that they’ve met online have really built a nice relationship with can actually meet in person and get to hang out together for a little while. This is not something that continues a chasm between kids.

Davies Owens (12:59):

That is so encouraging. And I know churches for years have done Bible studies and people are completely distanced from another. I actually did my doctoral dissertation on using internet-based technology to build a koinonia community. And this was in the late nineties, early two thousands when everybody thought the internet was of the devil. And here the churches are actually creating meaningful connections. And like, and my point was you can’t create a full replacement for an embodied community, but you can do a lot certainly to compliment and to build that level of connection. So again we’re going to take a break in a moment and we’re going to come back and talk more about just some practical things folks can be doing in their home to kind of adapt into this new world. But I’m very encouraged with what you’re saying, which is to those who are listening are thinking, what is, what about my child? You know, we’ve gone from 100% down to a whatever percent experience and yeah, there’s some loss, but I wouldn’t put it in a catastrophic case or, you know, complete loss of value. Again, it’s happens every day in the work you do and wonderful outcomes that come from this. So is there anything that we could say is a distinct advantage of a kind of digital classical experience over the embodied, I mean, you can’t fall asleep cause you’re right there on the screen. I mean you [inaudible]

Joelle Hodge (14:11):

That’s right. Well you mentioned earlier, everybody gets a front row seat with the zoom camera. Nobody can hide in the back. So everybody does have an opportunity to be right there and present and engaged. But there, there really are quite a number of benefits. One of which is that you know, when sessions are recordedthen students who are absent can rewatch the entire lesson. They can take advantage of the conversation. Students who are struggling can watch again and be able to see, maybe understand,something and by listening to it a second time, there’s still opportunities for office hours you know, withteachers or instructors, guidance counselors, all sorts of things. You give up a lot less. Now again, you’re going to have, I’m sure you’re going to have some folks who are listening who are thinking, I just absolutely detest this idea. I get it. I really do. But again, we are all in this situation together. So you know what, I think that the point here is for parents and for teachers to make that list of all the things that you really dislike about what’s happening. And that’s a good list. But now let’s make another list of all of the pros and let’s start working on really fulfilling those.

Davies Owens (15:30):

I’ve felt this just in the last week since I’ve been, I think at least on two or three Zoom calls a day with heads of schools and different individuals. The medium is starting to feel less awkward. I remember years ago I was serving a church in North Carolina and there was a gentleman who was in his eighties and he remembered when the first telephones came into his neighborhood in North Carolina. And he talked about how so many people refused to get on it because it seemed so impersonal to talk on a phone. And he’s like, if you want to talk, somebody walked down the street and you got to talk to him. And so it seems so ludicrous that somebody would’ve had a problem with it. But again, the adaptation to it was, no, that’s a real human on the other end of the line. And we’re really having a real conversation. So again, I’m not saying that we’ll always want to just live in Zoom anymore, but I hope that some of the awkwardness goes away. And the richness rises to the surface. So let’s take a break. We’ll come right back and talk about some practical ways to make these changes into the digital world and our homes.

Davies Owens (16:29):

Well, Keith, on this McCurdy moment, we are talking about marriages and you know, it’s interesting in part one that we did last week, it was kind of before this whole pandemic thing broke out. We were talking about the wonders of going out on date nights and things, which probably isn’t really good idea anymore, but it’s probably more important than ever to have healthy and strong marriages. We’re spending a lot of time together. What’s another piece of advice you have for us?

Keith McCurdy (16:51):

You know, another thing I tell couples all the time, and I think especially during this time of high stress, is to realize that we have a tendency to have a negative confirmation bias, which means we pay attention more easily to what frustrates us and drives us nuts than what we appreciate. And so more than ever now is a time for us to decide. We are going to focus on what we appreciate about one another. You know, not just our children but actually our spouse and and share that with our spouse. Let our spouse know, gosh, I really appreciate this. I appreciate what you just did. I appreciate how you are, whatever that is because it’s so much easier for us to see the negative. You know, an example I give couples all the time is if I gave you a sheet of paper and said you have 30 seconds, write down everything that drives you nuts, they’d take off, they’d fill the page in 30 seconds. But if you flip it over and I say you have 30 seconds to think about, you know, write down as many things as you can that you appreciate about your spouse. It takes a little time to think on it. Not because there are not those, but because we recognize the negative so much more easily. Yeah. So during this time, give the benefit of the doubt to motive. Don’t read a negative motive into things and really focus on what do we appreciate about one another and then share it.

Davies Owens (18:03):

So are there ways to say it other than just saying it? I mean, it feels like, you know, I, I mean, you can certainly say, I love this about you and I appreciate this about you and that would be amazing. Other ways to express that affirmation without just saying it.

Speaker 3 (18:16):

Yeah. You know, one of the, one of the greatest ways is to say thank you. You know, look at the things we’re doing right now in these crazy times to serve one another because trust me with kids at home, we’re doing things to serve one another and just start saying thank you know, thank you for taking care of that. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for saying that, that matters. So just acknowledging that with appreciation we don’t have to have some great romantic statement. Oh, I love you so much because of this. Just say thank you. Thank you. And I appreciate that matters to me. That helps me. Just acknowledging that is powerful. Yeah.

Davies Owens (18:48):

Gratitude goes a long way. That’s great advice. Obviously it’s good advice for everybody in our home, not just our spouse, but for sure college kids are actually doing dishes. Look at that. All right Keith, we’ll be back again with you. Thanks so much.

Davies Owens (19:04):

Welcome back. Joelle Hodge on the line with me. We’re talking about this new world we’re in if trying to navigate the blend of home and school and both the wonders of new opportunities and the challenges we’re confronting. So Joelle, before the break we were talking about some of the things that maybe are positive, very positive about this, but also some of the challenges. What are just from your experience 21 years as a classical educator and working in the digital space, what are some best practices or encouragements you could give us to do this well with everything going on?

Speaker 2 (19:38):

That’s areally good question. And I think one of the most important elements here is going to be to create a schedule at home. And I’m not talking about Von Trapp family whistles and you know, marching in line and that kind of thing. I’m really talking more about the idea of creating a rhythm and a liturgy at home. Something to help mark the days in a way that will give the students a sense of boundary and consistency. There’s a lot of research out there to show that students really do crave that as much as they pretend like and want just like tons of free time with no limits and you know, being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want to be able to do it.

Joelle Hodge (20:22):

They actually do appreciate when there are some guidelines in place and they know where the guard rails are. That can really help them manage and structure themselves. Well, my daughter is not homeschooled, she’s an only child. So we sent her to an actual school here at bricks and mortar school and they’re closed just like everybody else. And so over the weekend we sat down with her and I asked her to build out her schedule, what are her days going to look like? Everything from meal time to practicing the piano to doing some of her own science experiments. We brainstormed some of the activities she could do, things that wouldn’t burn the house down while I’m upstairs. You know, I work full time, my husband works full time.

Joelle Hodge (21:06):

Um, she’s 12 so you know, she has a little bit more freedom than say a three year old does. But you know, I gave her that responsibility and she really thrived under making a schedule and coming up with the rhythm and routine. And so this morning at seven o’clock, we sat down for a family breakfast, which by the way, we never do, we never do. We race out the door. I’ve got a cup of coffee, she’s got a bagel or whatever it is and some fruit but we sat down for family breakfast. We marked the moment. It’s, you know, we’re in the season of Lent right now. We prayed together and then we scattered throughout the house and came back together for the day and at the end of the day marked the moment with dinner with gratitude and then we went into our evening time together. She really appreciated that and had a better day this day than she did the last two days of the previous week when we didn’t have a schedule.

Davies Owens (21:54):

That is really, that’s really wise. What do you, what advice do you have though, if you’ve got six children. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have order, but I mean, especially if there’s some technical challenges with how many devices do you have and how many things are kids supposed to be listening? I mean you’ve got to manage multiple school days at once, right?

Joelle Hodge (22:14):

That’s right. And that, I mean there’s no denying that that moms are going to have a challenge on their hands. They absolutely are. And dads too. I don’t want to leave the dads out of it. I know we’ve got a lot of dads who are very hands on. I was mentioning this to you over the break. I had initially started working with Schole Academy online, but I had this very unique opportunity come my way with a family who was living in Dubai. Uh, they were looking for a tutor for their family. They had six children. They had initially wanted Dr. Christopher Perrin to quit his job and move out to Dubai and be their full-time tutor, but he had a few other things going on. So he said no, but Chris pointed them to me and I had the opportunity to work with this family and the mom and dad ran a pretty, pretty tight ship on things.

Joelle Hodge (23:01):

They had six children. So it was a matter of working on the schedules for each kid. They were tuning in with classes with me on a cycle. So some of them were with me and then some of them were working independently. There are a lot of different classical techniques like by teaching we learn, for example. So there’s nothing wrong with having an older student who’s learning Latin, helping to teach a younger student who’s learning Latin. There’s nothing wrong with an older student who’s in on the rhetoric level turning around and helping to edit and you know, review spelling words with the kids who are on a lower level or same thing with math. So moms can’t give all of their attention to all of the kids. But the kids will actually enhance their own educational experience by turning around and teaching kids that are younger than them. And there’s this concept of service that gets, gets woven in there as well by loving our brothers.

Davies Owens (23:55):

And I guess you could actually create a full house system and have points with older mentoring younger since you don’t have that anymore with the house program, if you have enough kids you can create your own intramural sports and everything! No, but that’s an excellent point. And, and we do want our students to be working, you know, in caring for one another. And the environment is, you’re saying that, Joel’s making me think too that again, it depends, obviously we’re speaking across the whole spectrum of schools or really around the world who are listening. How, um, each one of them maybe looks a little bit differently. But the role of the parent maybe in comparison to traditional homeschooling where you’re kind of, you the parent had the curriculum and you, the parent has to teach it. I think most of the time our schools are trying to carry most of that weight. So really the primary thing you should think about is how to create this structure around the student as you’re describing it.

Joelle Hodge (24:46):

That’s right. In most cases and in varying ways, they’re still trying to be the ones who have decided on the curriculum and who are delivering that curriculum. It is the parent’s role to make a space for the students to be able to thrive in the environment that they’re in. So it might be about coming up with what some guidelines are for the kids. It might be a form of checking in with them to ensure that they’ve done the things that their instructors have asked them to do. But it also, and again, you want to be careful when you do this and what you require. I mean, we don’t want anybody’s, you know, grades to tank because of this necessarily, but – don’t get me started talking about grades – but, you know, students are going to have to exercise a little bit more responsibility than they would in a normal situation.

Joelle Hodge (25:43):

This is going to be a big change for the kids too. And this could be an opportunity for a kid who has always felt like the school has been too confining. He’s had to be in a seat all day long. This could be the relief that that kid has been looking for. And with other kids, it’s an opportunity for us, maybe some of his struggles for with his own organizational skills, his own executive function skills. Maybe these things really come to a head and this is when he has to really address those. For students who have special learning differences, this might be probably one of the most important places for the parent to be in connection with the school and be looking for extra resources because we don’t want any of those kids to get left behind in any of this. But it is an opportunity to really connect with each one, each child in a fresh way. So it’s a real special opportunity.

Davies Owens (26:41):

It is a special opportunity and I think it, from what you’re saying, part of it is if you’ve got structure and structure affords you an awareness to know they are supposed to be doing their work kind of in this hour as opposed to just get it done sometime today in your bedroom. And I have no idea what’s going on. There’s a little bit more of a sense of awareness. And so you started to talk a little bit about the sense of distraction. I mean, this is again, part of the disruption. You know, we’re not wearing uniforms, although the Von Trapp idea, I’m still back to that, like that maybe that was a good idea. Like maybe we should. I mean, corporate America figured it out a long time ago. You really should get dressed for work even if you work at home. So, you know, if every kid is running around, never got out of their pajamas and they’re still eating Cheerios through the whole class, there are distractions.

Davies Owens (27:23):

So have order to it. But I also recognize that there’s a lot of people living in houses these days. I, I have to laugh. My friend, Eric Cook, who’s in Fort worth where he’s had a school and when he started out doing all of his communication and the zoom calls, he was doing it in his closet because it was the only place you could find in the house without kids running around. So we may have to get creative where we office from or where we do our homework from. Any advice? Just kind of where to, how to direct families to set up the right kind of space?

Joelle Hodge (27:56):

That’s a good question. We want a quiet space. I do have concerns about students being, kids being on online activities, far far, too much, and for a long duration. I do think that parents need to be vigilant about online safety for sure. So I like to keep our daughter in a central location. I’m actually wearing a headset and microphone right now that I got for about $14 on Amazon. That prevents anybody else around me having to listen to this conversation. I can just keep it sort of confined on my ears. There are ways for families to be kind of doing their online work that have just a few of these extra accoutrements that give the ability to be together in a community space and not spread out all over the home. That being said, if you’ve got cameras on, one of the things I’ve talked about is, you know, make sure that you know what your background looks like because you know, if, if dad just got out of the shower and he’s walking by shirtless, you know, everybody probably doesn’t need to see that. Right? So, just be thinking about what’s behind you and you know, be aware of your background, that kind of thing.

Davies Owens (29:08):

But some of that actually can lend itself to some very interesting, almost old school show and tell like, Hey, before we get started, here’s my cat. Like, Oh wow, I didn’t know you had a cat.

Joelle Hodge (29:23):

Yeah. Well, we’ve had students who have played their violin for us in front of all of their classmates. We’ve had students who have decided to read a poem. It can be the, you know, the, the youngest baby. It can be the gold fish. It can be those kinds of things, the cookies that the kid just baked. But it can also be these really and enriching things. Some kids, even though they’ve gone to school together for years, they don’t realize that their classmate actually speaks another language or that they play an instrument or, you know, whatever it might be. It can be a really unique opportunity to see and get a peek into the lives of other people.

Davies Owens (29:58):

Right. That’s sort of in good ways. Yeah, it’s good. What about just maybe motivation for kids that are not as self- motivated. I mean, one of the advantages of being in a school is you’ve shut, you’ve shut off the rest of the world and you kind of don’t have a choice. You get in the hallway and you walk in the room and there’s your classroom and like it or not, it’s time for class. How do we help motivate?

Joelle Hodge (30:22):

That’s a really great question. And you know, I was, I was working on my masters, I’m still working on my master’s through Eastern university. Give a little shout out to them. One of the questions that we talked about last year was the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. And that we very often get in the habit of thinking that we have to somehow lure, entice, reward students, you know, create just the right circumstances for them before they’ll be able to really hunker down and do what we ask them to do. But what we came to talk about and what we, I think we all sort of really realized by the time that the course was finished is if we really do lay a feast before the children, children are hungry and they will respond to that feast that’s been laid before them.

Joelle Hodge (31:09):

And so I think it is going to fall to the instructors in some ways to ensure that the material that they choose to bring up for the remainder of this school year is a really rich, robust buffet of delightfuland enriching Turkish delicacy. Yeah. For this, for the kids. And I think the parent’s job is to make sure that that table is set really well and that the kids have access to it and that, you know, that there’s an, as we say, the idea of Schole is undistracted time to focus on the things that are most worthwhile. And that’s what we really want. Um, that’s what I think everybody wants for their kids.

Davies Owens (31:48):

And that’s a really good word. Obviously teachers listening to this, too, many of them. Are there things that you the teacher might’ve made far more dynamic and interesting in person, in a classroom, and they’re not going to translate just through a text for a child on their own and therefore you’ve lost some of that. So maybe choosing very significant or thoughtfully what assignments you’re giving and why you’re giving it. And we, you know, I’ve also talked about, I mean there are schools choosing differentforms of delivery. In other words, being a classical Christian schools, most especially upper level schools, reading is something that we expect our students to do that maybe a lot of the Khan Academy world wouldn’t do so much. And so that doesn’t require anything to plug in with a screen on it. And we should have them reading and we should have them both engaging in real time zooms, but also independently going back and watching the time that was prerecorded, if you will, which you commented, I thought, interesting. It can be a huge advantage for students that maybe need to hear it twice. That’s a new advantage. So,

Joelle Hodge (32:48):

yeah. It’s not altogether a bad idea to give parents some questions to ask their kids about what it is that they’re reading. Some “connection” kinds of questions. I mean in, in some cases, parents won’t have read everything that their child might be reading, but there might be an opportunity for some of those live interactive discussions to be great conversation around a dining room table.

Davies Owens (33:12):

Yeah. Is this, so is it okay to bring your parents to school? Well, we laugh, but you know, this is a huge blessing and for parents who are listening this is for us on the administrator side of things we see every day this unbelievable experience happening in our classrooms and we know that most of us never had it and other than the time that they came after the open house, and they did the visit to actually be able to get a bird’s eye view of our classrooms…is pretty exciting. So this is a prime time to look in.

Speaker 2 (33:45):

It is. And I think parents are going to be really, I mean the quality of the kinds of schools that I was invited to kind of sit in on in these, some of these admin meetings that you were talking about. I mean we’re talking about some really excellent schools across the country. I will not be surprised at all if parents just can’t help themselves. They’re going to hear the conversations that are going on and they’re going to just stop and have a sip of tea listening maybe working on something that you know they need to do. But keeping one ear on the classroom conversation. Cause I bet those conversations are going to be really rich and robust.

Davies Owens (34:16):

And it might become like when we take our seniors through Europe. We agve parents that go with us and the parents sit in the front of the bus. We finally had to tell the parents to stop answering all the questions of the tour guide because they get so excited. So maybe we’ll have parents, if we create a new demand after the virus has gone. We’ll have online classes for parents to make up for it. So it can be a new opportunity. Well good. Well Joelle, thanks so much for your insights and encouragement. I love your enthusiasm. There’s a lot on us these days and certainly using it as you and I’ve talked about the challenges aren’t just the distant learning reality. It’s everything else. The emotions pile up. It can be tough. And so just any final words of encouragement along those lines?

Joelle Hodge (35:02):

You’re, you’re absolutely right. I made a list on the sheet here of all of the possible things that families might be experiencing and I’m sure I left some off, but you know, a fear about what’s going on with the economy. Fear that this will hurt their students’ academics longterm, sadness,that a good thing has been taken away, stress and anxiety about all that there is to manage at home, frustration with, you know, potential job losses that families might be going through. They might just be feeling ill-equipped and overwhelmed. They might even just have a fear or a loathing for online education as it is. I was just reminded though the really great blog by Ann Voskamp. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Ann Voskamp. I really like her a lot, but I was reading her blog today and she just reminded us that on the night that he was betrayed, Jesus broke bread and lifted it up and he gave thanks. And I think this idea of keeping a heart of gratitude while we’re facing these fears, because gratitude and joy can really stare down fear and fear, stand down, frustration. And we’re going to get through this. We all will, we’re going to have a great story to tell.

Davies Owens (36:08):

And there’s going to be some interesting evolution of our innovation, I should say. It’s probably a better word that we would have never expected that comes out of this. Very good. Joelle, if folks want to learn more about the work you’re doing and Schole Academy, how do people find you?

Joelle Hodge (36:24):

Well, we are part of classical academic press and I would love people to check out classical academic press for for resources. But I think one of the things that a lot of parents might really find a lot of interest in is Classical U, it is an asynchronous experience and so it’s not live and online, although there are some reading clubs, but that is a way if you feel like you’re one of those parents who may be missed out on the classical education that your kids are getting, this is a really great way to start and move through just a whole wide range of fantastic resources really pulled together by some of the really thoughtful classical educators around the country these days. So that might be…

Davies Owens (37:04):

That is great, they do a fantastic job and it would definitely keep parents from eavesdropping on students’ classes that we were concerned about that you can have your own class, which would be great. So. All right, Joelle. Well, we’ll have to check back with you as this thing continues on and hopefully parents get into good routines. I know as you said, we can have a lot to be thankful for, but we do appreciate you and your time and look forward to having you on again.

Joelle Hodge (37:28):

Sure. Thank you so much for inviting me. It was great. Okay. Take care.

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One comment on “Making the Most of Your Child’s Digital Education In Quarantine ~ Joelle Hodge

  1. Excellent podcast!! I shared this with my academic leadership team yesterday and we decided it’s so good we need to share it out as PD training with all our teaching faculty (Early childhood, Grammar School, School of Logic and School of Rhetoric) teachers this coming week! I think we will all benefit from Joelle’s insights.

    Thank you for taking time to produce and share this relevant, practical and inspirational take on “how to do digital differently” for this distance learning season within our unique model of classical Christian education.

    Blessings,
    Denise Strickland,
    Head of School
    Cahaya Bangsa Classical School in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

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