Thursday, November 24, 2011

Puppy Tricks and Being Thankful

Thanksgiving is here and it’s a natural time to reflect on our lives.  Since this is a blog about learning/education, I would like to reflect about what my family has recently learned and why I’m thankful about it.

I’m learning how to teach my dog new tricks.  It’s so fun!  I really get a kick out of dog training!  My dog, Abby, is smart and energetic so she’s pretty easy to teach new things.  She loves the attention and stimulation…oh yeah; the treats are pretty awesome too!  Her newest tricks are:  balancing a biscuit on her nose, laying in her bed when I say “Go to bed”, giving me a “high five” in order to get a tummy scratch, and her most useful trick…she will touch her nose on the end of a stick so now I can teach her a bunch of new things.  The first one I’m going to try to teach her is to “Take a bow”.

I’m also learning even more about education reform and how I might be able to help bring change to my own community.  Towards that effort, I am currently reading these books:  “The Element” by Ken Robinson and “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier.  I’m also thankful for the opportunity to hang out and learn at the Innovation Lab with Monika Hardy.

I’m considering taking a workshop or class on public speaking.  Speaking in front of people is a personal weakness I’d like to remedy in order to be better at my job and to be more effective when advocating for the things that are important to me.  I’m still working up the courage to sign up for a class.  I’ll keep you posted.

Tessa is still living in a hostel with 18 other teens for National Novel Writing Month.  She is learning how to play and shuffle cards like a pro, partner dance, live without her family, sleep in a noisy house, and motivate herself to write a novel.  I’m sure there are hundreds of other things she has learned on this trip.  I’m inspired by her courage.

Lee is learning to play “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Aeroplane” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the bass guitar.

Jacob is meeting lots of new people, playing the guitar, and writing.  He is also troubleshooting for the Innovation Lab and mentoring other students.  Being out of college, working and negotiating his way through life and love has been a huge learning experience for him.  The lessons he learned in the last 6 months, he will draw from the rest of his life.

So today, I’m thankful for the freedom to learn whatever I’m interested in.  I’m also thankful that I can learn in the ways that are best for me as an individual and I’m especially thankful I can provide that freedom for my kids.  It’s gratifying to watch them discover new interests and develop new skills.  I believe they will continue to learn and challenge themselves the rest of their lives and that makes this Mom very happy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The End of Make Month

So my Make Month is over.  I really slacked off at the end of the month and I realized it was partly because after making something little and simple everyday for about 15 days, I craved to make more complicated long term projects.  When I couldn’t finish something in one day it became discouraging because I felt like I was failing if I didn’t complete something everyday.  So I think I will continue this creative exercise but revamp it to be “work on making something everyday” instead of   “make something everyday”.   Make Month was fun though.  Here is a castle tower I made for a storytime I am doing later this month (The Grimm’s fairytale “Little Briar Rose”).  I also made the queen, which is the doll with the purple dress.  She still needs a crown and maybe a little more shaping.  The other dolls I made several years ago.  Not pictured is a doodle I made during a meeting and a sculpture made of sticks.  I hope my Make Month inspires you to be creative and to just go make stuff!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Education Revolution

The education revolution I’ve been hoping for is slowly but surely taking hold.  Everyday I read articles in the newspaper and on the internet about letting children and young people follow their interests.  I see people writing about how experiencing failure and knowing how to move forward after hitting road blocks is an essential skill that our youth are not attaining in school.   Finally people are talking about letting young people take ownership of their own education and about building networks and true learning communities for young people to use as educational resources.   As a Homeschooling Mom, I’ve been trying to provide these things for my kids for the last 10 years but have been worried about their peers who were being forced to sit in brick buildings being spoon fed information and then regurgitating it for a test a couple of weeks later.  I’ve worried how these kids were going to be prepared to face the complex problems they will face when someone lets them out of their brick building. But I truly believe very soon there will be many opportunities for those kids to learn in freedom.  In the very near future, children will be learning in more natural, humane ways.   Education is changing mostly because it’s become so dysfunctional that kids and parents are just abandoning the current system and looking for something that makes more sense. 

The revolution is here!!  Books like “Secrets of a Buccaneer Scholar” by James Bach, “TheEducation of Millionaires: It’s not what you think and it’s not too late” byMichael Ellsberg and "DIY U" by Anna Kamenetz  and places like Thompson Valley School District’s “Be You” house and companies like Blake Boles’s “Zero Tuition College” are heralding in a new day in education.  Soon, the name of my blog, “Learning on the Road Less Traveled” will have to be called “Learning like everybody else”.  I can’t wait for that day.