Common Arts I, Part A (Fall)
Common arts are the skills that provide for basic human needs through the creation of artifacts or the provision of services. We need to eat, drink, build shelters, defend ourselves, bargain, maintain our health, work raw materials into various forms, and repair artifacts that are broken. These arts provide for our survival, and yet, in our current moment, we outsource these arts more than practice them ourselves, and to our detriment. Many can live, even live comfortably, without knowledge of these fundamental skills that root us, not just in the realities of our embodiment, but in the orders of God’s creation in the cosmos all around. While the common arts could simply be called the arts of survival, taken with God’s orders and the liberal arts in mind, through virtuous practice, they become something far more: the arts of ‘thrival’, and a chance, as John Milton put it in his letter “Of Education”, for students to gain that “real tincture of natural knowledge, as they shall never forget, but daily augment with delight.”
In this course, we will explore these common arts with an interest in reclaiming not only these skills, but the connection of these skills with the liberal arts, God’s created orders, and JOY. We will strive to reclaim some of our outsourcing by cooking our own food, growing edible plants, tying useful knots, learning basic first aid, studying the interplay of strategy and tactics, reading the weather, tracking animals, and more. In the process, we will bring the arts of language and mathematics not just alongside, but into the practice of these arts, to show how the common arts make manifest the liberal arts through virtuous craft.
Woven throughout the course are the habits of observation, common placing, and careful planning. We will learn the way to approach craft with prudence, temperance, and fortitude, as well as with safety in mind. We will learn how to document our success and failure, research prudently, identify next steps, and render what we sense faithfully. In this way, we will learn the foundations for a lifetime of continued practice, refinement, and service to our families and to others.
For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.
- With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
- Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
- Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.
- Be able to read material with attention to detail and identify areas which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
- Be able to mark a text to indicate important terms, definitions, or concepts.
- Be able to read with a goal to understanding an author’s argument even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
- Be able to use proper capitalization and punctuation.
- Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.
- Be able to form a paragraph which includes a topic sentence, transition sentences, and clear linear thinking.
- Be able to write a five-paragraph essay with direction from the instructor.
- Be able to manage assignments, submissions, and notifications on Canvas.
- Know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
- Be able to engage respectfully and wisely with other students and the instructor.
- Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion and identify areas needing clarification.
- Be prepared to answer questions when called on during class.
- Be prepared to volunteer comments and ideas during class.
- Be able to follow directions on note-taking and other exercises during class.
REQUIRED COURSE TEXTS AND MATERIALS:
• Common Arts Education, Chris Hall, Classical Academic Press.
• Commonplace notebook
• Graph paper
• Basic art supplies: gum eraser, colored pencils, any other desired art tools
• Various materials related to the common arts we’re studying. This specialized list will be provided one month in advance of the start of class.
Chris Hall has a BA in philosophy from Gettysburg College and an MAT in elementary education from Towson University. He has been a classroom educator and administrator for 25 years, having served in public, independent, and classical schools. In that time, he has served as a classroom teacher in grades K-12, primarily as a science educator, PK-8 Science Department Chair, and a Lower School Academic Dean. Along with his professional pedigree, he is a lifelong practitioner of several of the common arts profiled in his book Common Arts Education: Renewing the Classical Tradition of Training the Head, Hands, and Heart, and the founder of Always Learning Education, an organization dedicated to teaching, learning, and propagating the common arts. He lives on a small, homesteaded farm in central Virginia with his wife and three homeschooled sons. email@example.com
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Webcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
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