Trust The Children

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It's All About You! #2

I want to recommend a book for parents of home schoolers to read. This book isn't about home schooling. It's about parents who want to be an example of life long learning. In the last post, I brought up Covey's pyramid of influence. It says that the base of the pyramid is example. So if a parent wants more influence with a child, you at least know where to begin. We begin with example, how we live, what we value, what our actions teach our children day in and day out even when we don't say a word.

The book title is, "The Meaning of Adult Education" by Eduard C. Lindeman.

Here are a few quotes from the first chapter:

"Youth educated in terms of adult ideas and taught to think of learning as a process which ends when real life begins will make no better use of intelligence than the elders who prescribe the sysem." p. 3

"From many quarters comes the call to a new kind of education with its initial assumption affirming the education is life - not a mere preparation for an unknown kind of future living." p. 4

"Every adult person finds himself in specific situations with respect to his work, his recreation, his family-life, his community-life, et cetera- situations which call for adjustments. Adult education begins at this point. Subject matter is brought into the situation, is put to work, when needed. Texts and teachers play a new and secondary role in this type of education; they must give way to the primary importance of the learner." p. 6

"...the resource of highest value in adult education is the learner's experience... Psychology is teaching us, however, that we learn what we do, and that therefore all genuine education will keep doing and thinking together. Life becomes rational, meaningful, as we learn to be intelligent about things we do and the things that happen to us." p. 7

"...we should find cumulative joys in searching out the reasonable meaning of the events in which we play parts... Experience is the adult learner's living textbook." p. 7

For each of these quotes, I have something personal in mind. But instead of sharing that at this point, if you have a moment in your busy life, I ask you simply to read each of these quotes and ask yourself, "Why is Mark so excited about this one that he would share it?"

I will say, that one of Cyndy's most endearing qualities, is her excitement for learning things, researching things and reading about all kinds of things. For instance, for mothers' day, I knew I had a winner of a gift, when we went to listen to David McCollough, the author of 1776 and John Adams. Here is a guy who is an adult learner. When he finds something he is curious about, he finds out about it.

I think of so many friends we know, who I have observed, in the middle of a situation in their lives, and reach out to figure it out. That is when they have been the happiest. I love their energy. I think of one guy, who coaches youth sports and can't get enough about all kinds of techniques, methods, and strategies for coaching this sport well. Want to build a raft? Then read up on it and do it. Learning and doing are meant to go together.

As adults, one way we can "live for our kids" is by doing a little living for ourselves from time to time, apart from them. Our own interests, our own learning, our own curiosities, etc. What is wrong with getting excited about finally reading AND understanding "King Lear" by Shakespeare? Finding someone who can help us understand the tougher lines, and the enjoying it all the more?

One thing I have learned here at school, is this:

I can think of some people, a lot of people, for whom my life experience may not mean much. However, it makes a huge difference to me, when I am studying here. Almost everything I am studying here has deeper meaning, much deeper meaning, for me, because I have put 57 years of wear on this body and mind. I am going to finish this degree and get a diplomma. However improving my education didn't require I go here. I have rediscovered that true education is being curious about things I am doing, and doesn't require going to a building or listening to a professor. This is the education we should never stop getting.

This is the adult education that we can be an example of as we attempt to influence our children and their education. It's all about us!

Another link you might enjoy:

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Once Again, You Are The Answer

I have a week before I dive in again. I have been preparing for this summer's classes. I have the syllabi, have ordered the books, and as I receive them I begin to study them so that when we go over them again on course, it sinks in a little better. Such is the life of this 57 year old graduate student. One class I am preparing for has offered again some gems for home schooling parents of all kinds. The ideas are simple and short.

Covey talks about a Pyramid of influence. As home schooling parents we definitely want "influence" with our kids. So this model is of extreme importance.

Our focus as home educators is helping our children learn for themselves the things they need to learn. So using the pyramid of influence, we begin with our personal example. How are we examples of personal learning to our children. What makes up the example we set for them, of personal learning?

First, it helps to recognize that we as adults are no longer children. Our example then will be the example of adult learning. How is adult learning different from the learning of our children? How has the mileage of the years changed us when it comes to learning?

Malcolm Knowles is considered by many to be the father of adult learning. He had an experience I want to share that exemplifies for me, the foundational difference between how kids learn and how adults must learn. This example led Knowles to a lifetime of study about adult learning/adult education. If I have it right, he coined the term "Andragogy" the study of how adults learn and must be taught. If we get this, our feet are firmly set on the path of being an example of personal learning. As an example of personal learning, we have the foundation of influence we need to impact the lives of our children for good in learning.

The Story:

The birth of the modern theory of adult learning, known as andragogy, occurred in 1946 at a Boston YMCA. A young director of adult education organized a course on astronomy and arranged for a local university professor to teach the class. Although initially enthusiastic, the students quickly became bored with the passive lecture experience and attendance dwindled until the course was finally canceled.

Trying again, the YMCA director rescheduled the course and this time invited a member of the amateur astronomers' club to lead the group of students. As soon as the students arrived for their first class, the new teacher escorted them to the roof of the YMCA and asked them to gaze into the night sky. While they looked up, the teacher asked them what it was they noticed most and what they wanted to learn. Their questions formed the basis for the rest of the course and the teacher led discussions with a telescope on hand for ready use. This experiential method of teaching was popular with the students and the class enrollment swelled.

The young YMCA director, named Malcolm Knowles, took note of the different teaching styles and their dramatically different outcomes. The method of teaching to adult learners' interests and actively engaging the students in their own discovery became the structure Knowles would use for all of the YMCA courses. The astronomy class also marked the beginning of Knowles' lifelong exploration towards understanding adult learning. Link

There seem to be several "lists" of the implications of this experience as Knowles worked through them all. Here are a few. I don't get them all yet, because if I did I wouldn't be taking the class and doing the reading right now. So just slug through them and see if this makes sense for you.

The Short List

Knowles' theories of adult learning are complex, but his conclusions can be summarized into four main points:
1. Adults need to know why they are learning something. They should be told how it effects them directly.
2. Adults have a repository of lifetime experiences that should be tapped as a resource for ongoing learning. Similarly, adult learners bring various levels of prior exposure to any topic and that fact should be acknowledged.
3. Adults use a hands-on problem-solving approach to learning. Rote memorization of facts and figures should be avoided.
4. Adults want to apply new knowledge and skills immediately. Retention decreases if the learning is applied only at some future point in time. (The original Article)

(Remember the point of these lists is to help you come to understand yourself as an adult learner, how you are different as a learner from when you were a kid, and how you can become a powerful example of a learner now, (being an adult) so that you set an example of being a learner, in order to increase your influence with your children in their education. Whew!)

The Longer List

Adults should acquire a mature understanding of themselves.
Adults should develop an attitude of acceptance, love, and respect toward others.
Adults should develop a dynamic attitude toward life.
Adults should learn to react to the causes, not the symptoms, of behavior.
Adults should acquire the skills necessary to achieve the potentials of their personalities.
Adults should understand the essential values in the capital of human experience.
Adults should understand their society and should be skillful in directing social change.
Original Article
(Remember the point of these lists is to help you come to understand yourself as an adult learner, how you are different as a learner from when you were a kid, and how you can become a powerful example of a learner now, (being an adult) so that you set an example of being a learner, in order to increase your influence with your children in their education. Whew!)

The Longest of the Lists


1. The ability to develop and be in touch with curiosities. Perhaps another way to describe this skill would be "the ability to engage in divergent thinking."

2. The ability to perceive one's self objectively and accept feedback about one's performance non-defensively

3. The ability to diagnose one's learning needs in the light of models of competencies required for performing life roles.

4.The ability to formulate learning objectives in terms that describe performance outcomes.

5.The ability to identify human, material, and experiential resources for accomplishing various kinds of learning objectives.

6.The ability to design a plan of strategies for making use of appropriate learning resources effectively.

7.The ability to carry out a learning plan systematically and sequentially. This skill is the beginning of the ability to engage in convergent thinking.

8.The ability to collect evidence of the accomplishment of learning objectives and have it validated through performance.

(If you want to read in greater depth, read here.Original Article

(Remember the point of these lists is to help you come to understand yourself as an adult learner, how you are different as a learner from when you were a kid, and how you can become a powerful example of a learner now, (being an adult) so that you set an example of being a learner, in order to increase your influence with your children in their education. Whew!)

I am not anxious to take much credit for how well our kids have done academically. We cover that in posts in the past. Our latest success however was William, who scored as a Junior a 27 on his ACT. Not the best in the family, but I think near the best at his age. He is cherry picking some classes at Logan High, music, science. Doing Math, reading and others at home. However, in one small but important area, Cyndy and I can say we have developed influence. Cyndy is always reading and learning and so am I. Even being here at graduate school, which is a gift from God I still can't believe, is sending a message. Life long curiosity and learning is part of the parents who lead this family. It is the example that forms the foundation of influence. It is true, that I could do a lot better at the relationships part of the pyramid. But to the extent that I am ok there, I then can teach with some authority and have influence with my kids. It does, however, begin with me.

I conclude this post, with another pyramid for you to look at. It is my vacation week, and I need to golf. Look this over and see if it speaks something to you. This is not mine. I can't remember where I got it. And I am way far away from understanding this one. My personal journey is still leading to it though. If you want to find out more, look up the books by Ferris and the Arbinger Institute. Here you go.

Love you all.