The Art of Commonplace For Students, Part 3

This series of three posts is addressed to students—of all ages!— based on the Commonplace Book Practices at Providence Prep. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Dearest y’all,

Now that we have all of the whywhat, and how of commonplacing covered, let’s talk about when. I urge you to set apart specific time in your schedule for commonplacing. Put at least two commonplace sessions on your weekly calendar. Rather than just another item on your checklist, commonplacing should contribute to that restful learning—scholé—which is one of the distinctives of a true classical education. Making your commonplacing time a disciplined habit in this way is one more stepping-stone to a lifetime of learning.

Create A Commonplacing Atmosphere

 Still Life With Blue Trim, by Félix Vallotton (1922)
Félix Vallotton, Still Life With Blue Trim, 1922

The physical atmosphere that surrounds your commonplacing can also contribute to scholé. Because we are embodied souls, our senses contribute to our experiences. Make these sensory associations pleasant! A few ideas to  involve your senses in your commonplacing:

  • Touch—provided by the carefully chosen book and the pen
  • Sight—perhaps you can commonplace in a beautiful setting with an outdoor view, near an arrangement of flowers or fruit, or near a work of art
  • Sound—play classical music
  • Smell—burn a scented candle
  • Taste—enjoy a cup of tea, a plate of cookies, or a bowl of fruit

Commonplace in Community

Perhaps your entire family—teaching parent included—can come together at regular times for commonplace sessions during school hours.

Or perhaps  you  could gather with fellow students and friends to commonplace together once or twice a week. Here are Providence Prep, we gather every Thursday afternoon  around my dining room for Scriptorium in preparation for our co-op meeting on Fridays. This is a dedicated time for commonplacing and for completing our weekly Reading Journals. Those whose circumstances and proximity permit are here in person. Those who live farther away still join us via an online connection provided by Zoom.

Both of these arrangements provide accountability as well as community. And at least in our family, accountability is quite essential.

The Art of Commonplace for Students:

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