Trust The Children

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Actually Want To Get Better

A simple 3 x 5 card. But man is it effective. At the end of a recent training session where I was leading it, I asked the participants to write down their name, the date, one thing that they learned during the session and how they envisioned using that in their life from this point forward. This is helpful to me as a trainer, because I get a snapshot to see what from the training is making a possible difference. Sometimes, when no one mentions the entire point of the training, it is clear that I need to review what really went on versus what I envisioned would go on.

Anyway, one card said simply, "I hate change." That was it. I really love this guy. He is the salt of the earth type. He gives all he has in what he does. He just wants to be left alone. He doesn't want to be challenged to change. If he makes a change or improves, he wants it to be his idea, without outside influence and when he is ready not when someone else tells him it may be necessary. Are most people like this? I am not sure yet. Should I take a straw pole, or is the answer to that question so evident, so obvious, that I am the only one walking around with a grocery bag over my head?

What this leads to today for me, is how much I respect people, who for whatever reason, embrace change, and progress. Who are truth seeking missiles and are trying to improve each day in being a truth liver. And this, not in concept alone, but in action, in choices, in what they do. As a group, even though we are diverse, it is my observation that home schoolers seem to be willing to risk change and attempt progress more than others. I love being around you. I love your energy, your face set to the wind, your eyes focussed and keen, your step quick and with purpose and determination. Most of all I love that even being idealists, I don't see a whole lot of "holier than thou". That is good.

At home schooling conventions I have taught at, the one thing I like about the retail expos is watching the moms and some dads, looking booth to booth with intent. They are looking for something, anything that they can use to help their children. When they find it, they are willing to change course, willing to risk, and willing to pioneer yet one more new thing, even though it all requires energy, sacrifice and trust. "I am willing to change" to benefit my kids, is printed on their foreheads. You are people I LOVE to be around. You are a second home to me.

I am thankful I believe in a God, who expects me to change, to progress, and even facilitates it daily, because he was willing to experience the pain of change and suffer for change, that we might not have to suffer as much, as we improve and progress. I am better today than a while ago. I am thankful that the pain of change isn't so debilitating, because He suffers most of it for me. When I am around others who are on this path of change and love it, I feel I have found heaven on earth.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Global Warming For Home Schoolers

I have long felt very uncomfortable about the Global Warming debate. In the northwest, were we live, a few warmer and longer than normal summers are actually quite nice. No, it isn't the temperature that has me fidgeting, but the people who seem to be at the center of the argument for it. Al Gore claimed he invented the internet and of course didn't and now claims that the ocean is going to rise 20 feet in our life time. Is it? Well, we hear all the liberal media talking about GW as if it were already a fact. I didn't know where to turn to listen to any kind of opinion to the contrary.

If you have an hour, go here and listen. I did and to me the perspective is a breath of fresh and warm air.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Teaching vs Discovering

I have been recently reminded that there is a vast difference, in the attitude of a teacher, when ones goal is to teach versus enabling the students to learn. It goes directly to the title of our blog, "trusting the children".

It seems that many who "teach" almost have an ego need to teach, or expound or explain that is much greater than the desire to have students "learn". The assumption is that when I "talk", you must automatically be "learning". This traditional approach to instruction is the frame of reference of the majority of public teachers. I talk, you listen. I talk, that is my role, you listen and regurgitate what I have told you, that is your role. You do it well you get an "A" and more importantly, my approval.

Hence, many who home school their children, and who create their vision or expectations of what is going to happen at home from their experience in the public system, end up putting great pressure on themselves. They create a vision that says "Today as a home educator, I am going to "teach" or "present" or "talk" for a long time." An expectation like this, implies complicated lesson plans, lots of background knowledge and hours of preparation. In addition, this vision puts the majority of the responsibility for education at home upon the teacher instead of the student. Such an imaginary vision, and it is more fiction than fact, convinces many not to venture into the home schooling waters at all. Often, too often, we are prisoners, not of reality, but of the imaginary reality we are not even aware we have bought into.

However, the idea that education requires an all knowing teacher, plays into the hands of the full time educators and supports their argument that parents, as a group, are not in the main "qualified." "After all, I went to school for many years to earn the right to teach children," professional instructors say. "If I agree with you that children can learn without 'certificated teachers' what will be come of me?"

I have learned for myself, over and over again, that many students enjoy being

1) given ideas to look for,
2) material to look in and
3) time to explore, research, discover and come to conclusions.
4) And all of this on their own or with a sibling or parent.

At that point,
5) a group discussion may further enhance the experience of the learner. By group, I mean a parent and child, or a child and brothers and sisters, or a child and friends.

Further. I can't tell you how many times this process led to questions that Cyndy didn't have an answer for, but said, "Let's go together to the Library and see what we can find about that. We can learn together." So much for being the "Teacher who is the fountain of all knowledge." Trusting children to "Learn" on their own, through their own research and effort, and helping them in "their" efforts

1) communicates to children that parents trust them
2) communicates to children that they are capable.
3) communicates to children that learning things line upon line, a bit at a time is just fine.
4) communicates to children that learning together is fun.
5) communicates to children lifelong learning is the norm, not the exception.

The more I work with youth, and adults actually, in training situations, the more I believe, that creating situations for them to learn for themselves and among themselves, is so much more fruitful. It does take some thinking to come up with these kinds of learning activities, After a while, though, it gets easier. Easier to create the learning activity, and easier to overcome the ego need or the habit, of teaching by telling. What counts is that our children learn. What doesn't always count so much, is that the parent in all cases "teaches".