Happy Friday! This week’s links shared on Facebook:
“Help your child (at any age, really) by being willing to help out — but emphatically not to lead or rescue — in an extended, risky project that has real impact in the child’s community — school, neighborhood, church, synagogue, community center. But stay out of the way. Let the kids shape the project. Kids should find a project that will probably not succeed in all the ways they hope. Dreaming big, taking risks, and scaling back if and when you have to are fantastic skills. These skills are hardly ever taught in the school room…” — How Do We Prepare Our Children for What’s Next? @ MindShift
Well, that’s just PBH, right? Meaningful, self-directed projects with a mentor helping out but letting the child lead. Yes! All kids need this experience of driving their own learning. All kids need to be makers:
“My son is 8. He’s a maker. Give him five unconnected objects and five minutes and he’ll make something amazing. He pulls the neighborhood kids into what he makes, creating communities of joyous co-creators. … Will his classes enable him or quash him? Will his teachers inspire him or suppress him? Will his schools nurture his brilliant divergence or force him into a convergent, one-size-fits-all model?” — My son is 8. He’s a maker. @ dangerously!irrelevant
I’m a fan of maker culture, but it doesn’t go far enough. Having kids make is great. But too many adults are setting up the equivalent of adult-organized Little League rather than letting kids grab a ball and a bat and figure it out themselves down at the corner lot. Kids need to go further than making. They need to share what they’re doing and go back and make changes and improvements. They need to work from their ideas, not a scripted theme. I’m going to write about this soon.
More about what kids really need to be learning:
“I was recently on a panel with a guy who was the chief engineer at NASA, and he was asked: what does NASA look for in its engineers? His answer? A basic solid foundation in sciences and math, the ability to conceive new ideas, innovate, communicate, and work on a team, diligence, hands-on problem solving skills, confidence, and respect. Fascinating isn’t it? His answer wasn’t about what school or what tier of school you have to come from, what grades you have to get. It’s a whole bunch of character skills!”
Habits of mind — and too often, our kids don’t get an education that folds in the opportunity to develop those habits of mind. To develop those tendencies and character skills, we have to back off and give kids room to experiment, explore, fail, struggle:
“Courageous parenting is related to the idea of permanent beta, that is, being a lifelong learner. You need to embrace the process of learning and developing skills, not just the outcome. And it is absolutely alright (in fact you should be encouraged) to go at your own pace.” — The Kids Are Not Alright; Stop Measuring Them All the Time @ big think
They also need to work on something they actually care about, which means moving beyond units and themes. This is meta, but I’ll quote from one of my posts from this week:
“Many people think “child-led learning” (or interest-led learning, or something resembling project-based homeschooling) is selfish. In their minds, encouraging children to follow their interests = letting them do whatever they want = having fun all the time = becoming selfish.
Maybe you are having the same thoughts about pursuing your own meaningful work — aren’t you just being selfish? Shouldn’t you devote more time to your children or your family or at least making a few bucks?
But how does that work exactly? Will you do a better or worse job of raising your children if you are connected with your own meaningful work? Will you be more or less likely to earn money if you’ve built up your knowledge and your skills? Will you be a better or worse leader for your family if you dedicate time toward becoming a better learner and mentor?” — Finding the true path to happiness
Encouraging children to follow their own interests doesn’t mean they’ll only have fun all the time — it’s the way they’re most likely to challenge themselves and work hard. Because they are truly self-motivated.
“If, as a teacher, you want your students to do their best, you have to have them practice what is effectively bad writing — no introduction, no conclusion, just hit the points of the rubric and provide the necessary factual support. … My students did well on those questions because we practiced bad writing.” — A warning to college profs from a high school teacher @ The Washington Post Answer Sheet
“[T]oo many students in AP courses were not getting depth in their learning and lacked both the content knowledge and the ability to use what content knowledge they had.” — ibid.
Any parent whose child is taking AP courses should be flattened by this article. These are our best students and we’re tossing out essential skills to grade a rubric.
Back to what kids really need to succeed:
“The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.” — It’s the P.Q. and C.Q. as much as the I.Q. @ New York Times
Does your curriculum include passion and curiosity? If not, better think on it.
Have you been reading the PBH for Grown-ups series? Austin Kleon sums up why we have to live the life we want for our kids here:
“You owe your kid food, safety, and love, but you also owe him your example. You give up on The Thing, and then when the kid grows up, he might give up on His Thing, too.
So don’t give up on The Thing.” — On Writing Post-Fatherhood @ Austin Kleon
Heather wrote an article about me this week, and I wrote a response. I loved what she had to say:
Lori talked over and over on her site about valuing the work that children want to pursue without reservation. About how to give it space, support, supplies, and kind, enthusiastic collaboration.
Was it any surprise that after practicing that kind of daily enthusiasm in her school, and with her kids, she would aim it, almost automatically, at everyone she encountered in the Internet? — Why you should favorite everything @ A Little Yes
And she pointed out that positivity toward others goes hand in hand with generosity toward ourselves:
“If I’m suspicious, critical, stingy and picky? Guess what kind of attitude I show my own nascent efforts?
On the other hand, when I approach others’ work with a desire to help, to collaborate, to get excited, to find what’s working?
I create a larger, more generous space for my own creativity.” — Why you should favorite everything @ A Little Yes
I was inspired to write a little more about positivity on this blog:
You can focus on what you don’t like, or you can focus on what you do like. Which one of those things is going to show you the way forward?
You can focus on your deficits, or you can focus on your strengths — which is going to make you stand out from the crowd?
You can focus on the people who lift you up or you can focus on the people who bring you down — which of those groups is going to help you fulfill your mission?
You can focus on what you can do or you can focus on what you can’t — which is going to help you live a life of action? — What soul-withering cold-calling taught me about positivity
I also quoted the great Randy Pausch, and I want to tie that back to something Austin wrote about in his post:
[I]f it was easy, everybody would do it. Randy Pausch said, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The bricks walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” — What soul-withering cold-calling taught me about positivity
“Don’t listen to these parents. They are using the precedent of their failures to predict your own.
For every tired, overworked, bitter parent who tells you how much you won’t get done when you have kids, [there are] any number of moms and dads who make it work and make the work. They are out there. Find them. Hang out with them. Ask them how they do it. Let them be your role models.” — On Writing Post-Fatherhood @ Austin Kleon
If you’re going to make progress on your meaningful work, you’re going to have to learn to get close to the things and people who lift you up and avoid as much as possible the situations and people that drag you down. To quote myself again (sorry), “it’s the light that will show you where to go.”
This post is already too long and I’m leaving out a couple of links I shared, so if you want to see all of it, follow me on facebook and don’t forget to hover over the “Liked” button and make sure there’s a checkmark next to “Get Notifications” if you want to see everything — and you do, right?!
Thanks for your support, your friendship, and your contributions to this community. I truly appreciate it. Have a great weekend!
Be a part of the PBH community. Project-Based Homeschooling isn’t for only one kind of homeschooler — whether you’re a classicist or a radical unschooler or somewhere in-between, all kids deserve some time to direct and manage their own learning while pursuing their deepest interests. Read the posts on project-based homeschooling. Check outthe book. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me onfacebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.
“Children, even when very young, have the capacity for inventive thought and decisive action. They have worthwhile ideas. They make perceptive connections. They’re individuals from the start: a unique bundle of interests, talents, and preferences. They have something to contribute. They want to be a part of things.
It’s up to us to give them the opportunity to express their creativity, explore widely, and connect with their own meaningful work.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners