Trust The Children

Monday, April 09, 2007

Where did that come from?

I received several positive comments about the last entry regarding packaging up your style of home schooling so that others stay off your back. One of the comments reminded me where I first learned to appreciate this idea of packaging stuff up in words. And how it can be useful to home schoolers. I guess we call it spinning today.

I had flown my dad from Portland Oregon up to Winfield British Columbia in a light plane. We were selling small RV furnaces to Vangard Trailers in Winfield BC. Dad was negotiating with the General Manager, who was the type who asked very strategic questions, to give him as much negotiating leverage as possible. My father had such a way of handling people like him.

He was asking questions about the company who manufactured the furnaces, their financial where-with-all and how substantial they were in plant capacity, how much market share they had, questions like that. Dad mentioned that this particular company had several divisions including one that was involved with solid fuels. When he said "solid fuels" the General Manager (GM) was really taken back. The way Dad said it, it was so impressive, high tech, etc.

Later in the afternoon, we got the commitment for the business and just before we were leaving, the GM asked my Dad "Dave, just exactly what did you mean when you mentioned solid fuels?" I think he was thinking about fuel that would go in a solid fuel rocket booster like on the space shuttle. High tech stuff. Dad responded, "wood and coal burning stoves for heating homes." The look on the GM's face was so precious. Here he had thought solid fuels were something really exotic and in the end, it was wood and coal.

We all just laughed so hard. Jim had been had, but the business was ours. Packaging things up has meant something to me ever since.

I am not as gifted at packaging as my dad was. I usually tend "call 'em as I see 'em". Nevertheless, packaging things up in the right words can make a huge difference. "Lap books", for instance, is so much more interesting than "self directed study." For us, "Got your Saxon done?" slides down the throat better than "Is your math done?" Asking about progress on rebuilding the quad was responded to much more enthusiastically than "have you done your small engine class homework?" Then there was the "class" on building a hover craft. Or the structural engineering "class" that built a bridge structure out of paper, to see how much weight it could hold. Learning activities themselves are a way of packaging up some pretty sophisticated ideas in a way that seems to be more effective and at the same time fun.

Try it out for yourself. See if you are having more fun than before.

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