facebook round-up

This week on Facebook, we returned to the passion vs. mastery argument:

“Think about all the things you have been passionate about in your life. Think about all those passions that you considered making a career out of or building a company around. How many were/are there? Why did you bounce from one to another? Why were you not able to make a career or business out of any of those passions? Or if you have been able to have some success, what was the key to the success? Was it the passion or the effort you put in to your job or company ?

If you really want to know where you destiny lies, look at where you apply your time.” — Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Effort @ Blog Maverick

There were some strong reactions on Facebook voting in favor of passion. I wrote a post about this, if you recall:

To really learn something, you need both knowledge and skills. You have to gather the knowledge and then you have to work with it. To discard passion (or authentic interest) is to drain the life force from the learner and therefore from the work. Am I going to bring my best efforts to something that holds no interest for me? Am I going to achieve flow? Am I going to strive to challenge myself? — Why Skills Don’t Trump Passion

The thing is, in my opinion it shouldn’t be “passion over everything” — it should be “passion *plus* mastery.”

Skills don’t trump passion. Skills are what you know how to do. Passion is where you start finding out who you are, what you’re good at, and what the world needs.Why Skills Don’t Trump Passion

I do think you should look at where you apply your time and your effort. Because if you think you have a passion but you aren’t willing to put in the time and the hard work to build up your skills, then what you have is a pipe dream. Real passion calls to something deep inside you that demands effort, sharing, and contributing. If you aren’t moved to do those things, then you need to consider whether it’s really a passion at all.

This week’s Facebook posts focused on self-examination, so let’s continue! Your passion may not really be much of a passion if you aren’t willing to do the work — and inspiration isn’t worth anything if it doesn’t lead to real doing.

The inspiration is not the receiving of information. The inspiration is applying what you’ve received. People think that if they keep reading articles, browsing books, listening to talks, or meeting people, that they’re going to suddenly get inspired. But constantly seeking inspiration is anti-inspiring.

 

You have to pause the input, and focus on your output. For every bit of inspiration, use it and amplify it by applying it to your work. Then you’ll finally feel the inspiration you’ve been looking for.” — Seeking Inspiration? Stop Looking and Start Doing @ LifeHacker

This week’s theme is also evidently “share a quote then share one of my old posts” — here’s my take on too much inspiration, not enough action:
If attention is a finite resource, we need to be careful how we allot it.

If you have ever gotten caught on Tumblr or Flickr browsing 800 images of home offices, gardens, or kid spaces, you know what inspiration overload is. Especially when you find yourself addicted to looking at other people’s art projects and art studios but you haven’t touched a pencil yourself in ages.

The problem with too much input is, it leads to too little output. What is the point of endlessly gathering new information if we never do anything with it? Inspiration Overload

In the same theme of examining our habits and determining whether they’re really supporting our goals, I loved this post about examining your social-media habits:

Is it necessary to share this? Will it add value to my life and for other people?

 

Can I share this experience later so I can focus on living it now?

 

Am I looking for validation? Is there something I could do to validate myself?” — 9 Questions to Ask About Your Social Media Addiction

Click through to read the rest of the questions.
 
I don’t like framing this as social-media addiction for our context, however. Let’s frame it as self-reflection: taking the time to think about what we’re doing and why and whether our choices align with our goals. That’s worth thinking about!
 
It’s important to stop regularly and think about your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Do your routines and habits support those goals? Are you still feeling passionate about what you’re doing? Keri Smith has a great post about how to get published, and buried inside, she talks about how it’s about the journey, not the reward — the process, not the product:

But what I learned in the meantime was bigger than any publishing tip I had ever read, you really must LOVE THE WORK. While getting published is an exciting possible outcome of a creative endeavor, it should not used as a motive for creating. Really enjoy yourself and the process of creating… — Seven Steps to Getting Published, Keri Smith

In Reggio schools, they say Niente Senza Gioia — Nothing without joy. Measuring your joy is a good way of seeing if you’re still on track. Is hard work required? Oh, yes. Is it always fun? Nope. But you should still have the passion, you should still feel the drive to make and share and build, and you should still love the work. If you don’t love it, it’s not going to resonate with anyone else.

 

I hope you all have been checking out the new PBH Kids tumblr blog — I’ll slowly be adding more and more self-directed projects by kids of all ages, and we are going to have some kid-written reviews of project resources as well. If you want to share some kid-directed work, send me an e-mail through the contact form on this blog!

 

And finally, a great quote from the PBH forum:

I also loved what Ian told me yesterday — He said, “All of our projects connect! Because I am learning about the ocean, and Micah is learning about machines, and they use machines to explore the ocean, and Max is learning about dinosaurs and he is really wanting to know about fossils, and Lena is learning about people skeletons, and…” He’s right, they are all connecting, sometimes in startling ways.

Everything is connected.

 

On that note, hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

New PBH Kids blog + Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on April 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM

We’ve started a new blog sharing self-directed projects by kids of all ages: PBH Kids. We’ll be keeping this G-rated so kids can enjoy reading it, too. Be sure to check it out! If you would like to share some project work, e-mail me through the contact form. Enjoy!

This week on Facebook, some links discussing work and money. As self-employed people, my husband and I have made self-sufficiency and financial independence an important part of our family culture. One thing we discuss is the importance of knowing when you have enough:

What is wealth for? How much money do we need to lead a good life? This might seem an impossible question. But it is not a trivial one. Making money cannot be an end in itself — at least for anyone not suffering from acute mental disorder. To say that my purpose in life is to make more and more money is like saying that my aim in eating is to get fatter and fatter. And what is true of individuals is also true of societies. Making money cannot be the permanent business of humanity, for the simple reason that there is nothing to do with money except spend it. And we cannot just go on spending. There will come a point when we will be satiated or disgusted or both.” — In Praise of Leisure @ The Chronicle of Higher Education

I am reading a fantastic book called The Soul of Money, which I quoted on the PBH Facebook page:
 
“When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have.” — Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money
 
This fits right in with the PBH philosophy: focus on what’s working, and whatever you pay attention to will grow. Or as Lynne says in the book, “What you appreciate appreciates.”
 
Somewhat related, what is the number one piece of advice older people want to pass along to the younger generation? Don’t work a job you hate:
 
“You know those nightmares where you are shouting a warning but no sound comes out? Well, that’s the intensity with which the experts wanted to tell younger people that spending years in a job you dislike is a recipe for regret and a tragic mistake. There was no issue about which the experts were more adamant and forceful. Over and over they prefaced their comments with, “If there’s one thing I want your readers to know it’s…” From the vantage point of looking back over long experience, wasting around two thousand hours of irretrievable lifetime each year is pure idiocy.” — What is the single most important life lesson older people feel younger people need to know?
 
I don’t believe it’s ever too late to change your life (I’m not giving up on you grown-ups), but certainly our children have the opportunity to lay out a life plan that aims toward meaning and purpose. You can gift them with freedom and choice by helping them learn to appreciate what they have (see above) and know when they have enough (see above). And how to keep their costs down:
 

“The only thing you should have to do is find work you love to do. … [W]hat I always tell kids when they get out of class and ask, ‘What should I do now?’ I always say, ‘Keep a low overhead. You’re not going to make a lot of money.’ And the next thing I say: ‘Don’t live with a person who doesn’t respect your work.’ That's the most important thing — that’s more important than the money thing. I think those two things are very valuable pieces of information.” — Grace Paley

 
Keeping a low overhead is always good advice, I think. And again that goes back to knowing when you have enough, so you aren’t caught on that besting-the-Joneses hamster wheel.
 
A nice post on honoring your work space that harkens back to creating a supportive environment for your work:
 
When you respect your work, you want to create a beautiful, clean, sacred container for it. Regardless of the size, cost or fanciness of your physical space, treat it with reverence. Pay attention to what you bring into it. Take time to clean the floor and wash the windows. Surround yourself with images of beauty and inspiration. Give gratitude to the tools that you use to do your work, and to all the masters who have come before you.” — 10 Ways to Develop a Mastery Mindset @ Escape from Cubicle Nation
 
Another great quote from that post:
 

Set boundaries. You cannot create great work if you are in a constant state of reaction. You must protect your creative work time by blocking out your schedule, turning off your phone and closing down your email.  You must protect your creative energy by avoiding “life sucking squids,” as my friend Martha Beck calls people who only care about their own edification and not about your needs or soul. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can take advantage of you without your permission.” —  10 Ways to Develop a Mastery Mindset @ Escape from Cubicle Nation

Need more help with that? Check out How to give without being taken advantage of.
 
And our PBH-related posts for this week!
 
Michelle continues her great blog series about doing PBH with her daughters:
 
“[I]f you pay close attention and build the habit of writing down all of those little things they’re doing that don’t look like the typical definition of learning activities, you’ll start to see patterns or deeper skills and connections forming. You’ll see the face of authentic learning. Subjects they research begin to show up in their play, drawings, stories, and conversations. You’ll see them learning at a much deeper level than if they had just read a few pages in a textbook and answered some questions or wrote an awkward, forced essay. It’s real. It’s powerful. And it sticks.” — Project-Based Homeschooling Q&A: Documenting and Forward Motion @ Raising Cajuns
 
Beautiful. And Lindsay wrote a great post about doing PBH with preschoolers with her own list of essential things to remember:
 

Before implementing any ideas from project-based homeschooling (PBH), the “projects” we were doing were completely adult-directed, which Marlowe really likes. PBH helped me to see that projects that are child-chosen, child-directed, and child-managed are crucial as well. Marlowe often has ideas that we never get to (ie, I never get around to helping her make them happen) or that get started but fizzle right away once the next thing comes along. The book is overflowing with ideas for how to assist children in their projects in a thoughtful way, many of which I’ll modify for this early childhood time by taking a more subtle approach. — Project-Based Homeschooling: Simple Project Work with Preschoolers @ Song & Season

And Claire wrote about introducing her children to dedicated project time:

 

I know every day won't be like today, but oh if it could be...

We got our feet wet with this new concept of “project time” today. I had talked with the boys about the idea yesterday and their enthusiasm was so heartwarming. I did have to insist that we get our regular lessons done first, but they were happy enough with that (and even got all their work done before lunch!). After a short break, it was the much anticipated “project time” and they jumped into their work with gusto. — Our first day with “project time” @ Faith, Family and Life

 

Our thoughts are with Boston this week. Peace be with you all.

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 out the book. Look over the 10 steps to getting started with PBH. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

“You want to build a family culture that celebrates and supports meaningful work. This is much more than saying the right thing — this is creating a lifestyle, a set of articulated beliefs, and a  daily routine that encourage and sustain the life you want for your family.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

 

“I’m especially grateful for the shared experiences, questions, and suggestions in this forum. Already I have been able to think more creatively about some of our dilemmas and I think the idea of a tribe of families working on this makes it so much more interesting to me.” — from the PBH forum

 

 

When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. — Lynne Twist

This week on Facebook, some great links about project-based learning…

“As far as project-based learning is concerned, it may well be that those who were forced to sit in neatly aligned desks all day every day during their school years will see this approach as “nonsense.” They were accustomed to having information force-fed to them only so that they could regurgitate it on tests. But anyone who understands child development — and brain-based learning — knows that pursuing one’s interests results in truer, deeper learning. That hands-on, inquiry-based approaches stimulate the mind and the soul and will serve our children, now and in the future, far better than the expectation that there is only one right answer to every question.” — What If Everybody Understood Child Development?

and

We say that we want creative, passion-driven students, yet we reward the opposite. Standards-based education stifles engagement and passion in students. While drop-outs are considered to be lazy and unmotivated, many are simply not interested because they don’t understand the relevance of what they’re being taught. We’re rewarding students who are best at obedience, memorization, regurgitation, and compliance. And those who do succeed in school often don’t know what to do when they get out. We need to prepare kids to be successful in the real world, not just while in school.” — Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning @ Mind/Shift

Another quote from that article:

Being around passionate people is the best way to become passionate. A passion-driven teacher is a model for her students. … [S]tudents work harder with people who matter to them.” — Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning @ Mind/Shift

This is why we need to be active, engaged learners pursuing meaning and purpose — so we can help our children do the same. (Check out the PBH for Grown-Ups series — now with 15 articles to help you live the life you want to help your children live.)

And now some lovely PBH-related posts…

It literally took me years to trust in children’s genuine, deepest desire: to learn and discover. Once I got over the mentality that learning could only take place with a teacher hovering and a worksheet presented, I finally noticed the magical learning that had been taking place before my eyes in a more quiet and natural way.

And once I did let go of my fears of trusting my children in their own exploration of life, they flew.” — Letting Go… and Learning @ The Sleepy Time Gal

Michelle is continuing her great PBH series:

“I try not to let my mess or lack of space or natural lighting bother me too much. Ok, it still bothers me, but I don’t let it stop me. That’s the key. Look at your mess. Acknowledge your mess. (It has feelings, too, you know.) Tell your mess, “I hear you; I see you,” and MOVE ON. Clear a tiny space for five minutes today. Throw five things in a giveaway bag tomorrow. Baby step your way to a better environment, but don’t wait for the perfect creative space to get started!” — Project-Based Homeschooling Q&A: Supplies & Environment @ Raising Cajuns

And

[F]ocusing a little attention on your environment is worth the small investment of time. It breeds creativity and inspiration. — Project-Based Homeschooling Q&A: Supplies & Environment @ Raising Cajuns

This is the upward spiral — you don’t have to do it all at once. Just get started.

Carrie is sharing great project work by her young daughters:

“One of the things that popped out during my first read of Project-Based Homeschooling is Lori’s advice not to take field trips just for the sake of taking a field trip. … It’s simply not necessary. It’s more important to tailor our days to meet our kids where their interests are, and to give them long stretches to occupy themselves and develop their own interests, and to work on their projects. Time to wonder, imagine, dream, scheme, and make.” — Bugs & Bones @ Carrie Mac

Finally, a nice article on the topic of screen time, which I know is still a hot topic for many:

“[S]ometimes you’re watching because you meant to, with an intent to learn. … And that feels different. And you do all KINDS of different things on the computer, right? … This ‘what are you thinking/planning’ question has since become a staple of our family conversations around screentime. And Mr. D has started to make the case that sometimes, his screen time is not only not in the junk food category, it’s actually in the brain food category. … Once we started leaning towards thinking about screen time in these more specific terms, then we started talking about lots of things in terms of whether they represented a brain workout or not, and which kind of workout was more challenging.” — Junk Food, Brain Food, Soul Food @ Connected Learnings

Have a great weekend, and see you next week!

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 out the book. Look over the 10 steps to getting started with PBH. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

“To learn how to do, we need something real to focus on — not a task assigned by someone else, but something we want to create, something we want to understand. Not an empty exercise but a meaningful, self-chosen undertaking.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

“My kid is just a regular kid, and neither he nor I do this PBH stuff perfectly. But I’m so impressed with how well it’s fallen together, and how much he’s been able to learn, and how it really does work like it says in the book.” — from the PBH forum

First news first, if you have any interest in starting some sort of project or PBH-related group, please check out “How to Start a Project Group” and let me know if you have additional questions/feedback. After everyone has had a chance to give input, I’ll add any additional material and then make it available as a downloadable PDF.

And now, this week on Facebook

I shared another post on how our kids may have to invent their own jobs:

“Today … because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’” — Need a Job? Invent It @ The New York Times

We already quoted the same writer on the same subject back in 2011:

[The fastest growing companies in the world] are all looking for the same kind of people — people who not only have the critical thinking skills to do the value-adding jobs that technology can’t, but also people who can invent, adapt and reinvent their jobs every day, in a market that changes faster than ever. — Invent, adapt, and reinvent

More of this kind of discussion here:

What’s needed most are a set of educational practices — whether in the context of the traditional liberal arts, a technical program, or something in between — that empower students to seek knowledge independently, to collaborate, follow their passions and to connect their knowledge with the real world.” — In a Time of Change

If so-called “soft skills” are what employers will really be looking for, maybe artists will be highly valued:

“Many people see artists as shamans, dreamers, outsiders, and rebels. In reality, the artist is a builder, an engineer, a research analyst, a human relations expert, a project manager, a communications specialist, and a salesman. The artist is all of those and more — combined with the imagination of an inventor and the courage of an explorer. Not a bad set of talents for any business challenged to innovate in a world of volatility, uncertainty, and change.” — Is an MFA the New MBA? @ Fast Company

Dawn pointed out this sounds like Dan Pink:

“The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people — artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers — will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.” — Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind

I shared a couple of great posts this week on doing less so you can accomplish more of what matters:

“You can’t please everyone. When you’re too focused on living up to other people’s standards, you aren’t spending enough time raising your own. Some people may whisper, complain, and judge. But for the most part, it’s all in your head. People care less about your actions than you think. Why? They have their own problems! However, when you do get the stink eye, it’s because folks are jealous of the gutsy risks you take. They’re too scared to look in the mirror and take action. Thicken your gorgeous skin and move on.” — Do Less and Live More @ Positively Positive

And:

“[T]hinking, if done properly, requires uninterrupted focus… In other words, it takes time. And that time will only be available if you carve it out for yourself. Conversely, if you don’t take the time to think proactively you will increasingly find yourself reacting to your environment rather than influencing it.” — The Importance of Scheduling Nothing

This reminded me of one of my own posts:

Not only does your attention reveal so much of what is happening all around you, but it creates a dynamic that pulls your children in and feeds their desire to work. When you pay attention to their work, when you provide them with the space and materials they need, they respond by doing more of what you are paying attention to — your attention to what matters becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Rather than praise or coercion, you are simply making space to focus on something. And your focus and attention are worth more to your child than all the praise and coercion in the world. So they are drawn to doing more of what earns your attention.

 

How do we begin? By clearing a space. — White Space as a Learning Tool

It’s about being deliberate and intentional — dedicating time to your priorities.

And this one:

Refilling the well, being inspired, making connections, reflecting … these aren’t things that are easily acknowledged and checked off a list. They need time — empty, unfilled, unscheduled time. White space.

Without the white space, there’s no balance.

Rather than thinking about quantity — of ideas, of experiences, of work produced — we need to think about quality. Spending more time doing less, so we can do better and appreciate more. A single experience, really and truly had and understood, is more valuable than weeks and weeks of rushed, unconnected, random experiences.White Space

As Randall Degges writes in this post, you might find more time by sacrificing something that doesn’t matter as much:

A great way to free up your time to work on something new is to give something up. Instead of optimizing every second of your day (which is do-able, but very difficult to maintain), I believe the better option is to make a sacrifice. … Instead of focusing on the killing aspect, I’ll try to focus on how this is a good move for me right now, and how life’s too short to focus on everything and accomplish nothing.” — Sacrifice

You might have to practice some good quitting.

Some great PBH-related stuff to share this week!

Michelle wrote a great post about getting started with PBH:

“I think project-based learning is a natural way of learning, so in some ways we’ve always done this. When my oldest was two and was obsessed with dinosaurs and we came home with stacks of dinosaur books each week that she picked out … that was PBL (project-based learning). When we wanted to adopt a new dog and researched his breed and bought a book on teaching dogs tricks … that was PBL, too. It’s all about finding an interest, feeding it, finding ways to dig deeper, and sharing what you learn. It’s the kind of learning that attracted us (and many of you, I’m sure) to homeschooling in the first place. It’s something we were already doing in small doses. We just shifted to doing more of it.” — Project-Based Homeschooling Q&A: Getting Started @ Raising Cajuns

I loved what Sheri wrote about the big differences you can see from making small changes:

“As I sit here tonight, I wonder about what in our environment changed so that the latch could be lifted and the floodgates of imagination could burst open. Not that our house is void of imagination — I do recognize its presence daily. What was different was my place amongst all the scheming. I was no longer a passive participant, barely noticing the words and ideas making up the constant chatter that surrounds me. I was actively listening.” — The day grand plans were made @ Rookie Homeschooling Mama

Carrie shared her three-year-old daughter’s inspiring work on her snail project:

Esmé’s bug and snail knowledge is building, and her confidence as a young entymologist is blossoming too. She has a focus for her art, her photography, her writing, her research, her make-believe. It’s not all snails and bugs at our house, but it definitely is an ongoing interest that results in knowledge acquisition in just about every subject that I can think about; math, writing, biology, history, art, literature, caretaking, sharing, cooperation, physics, empathy, and more.

Interest-led learning, brought to life.” — Snails, season II @ Carrie Mac

And that’s what PBH is — a child’s intense interest provides a focus point for her learning so that everything comes together to make a layered, complex understanding. This is authentic, organic multidisciplinary learning!

Heather’s kids do so many awesome projects — I love this post about how her daughter’s sharing her work turned into an even bigger opportunity to contribute to her community:

Her source book suggested finding a place to “carry” her zine for distribution so on our next trip to the library, she asked the librarian if they would put her zine out for patrons to take. Our little library has had many staff changes in the last year, so we don’t know these ladies as well and we weren’t sure how the request would be received. Providentially, she asked the right person. She’d asked the new children’s librarian who was delighted to carry The Artist’s Palette at the circulation desk. … Additionally, the children’s librarian asked her on the spot if she would agree to teach kids how to make Zines at the summer library program’s craft hour. R is so excited about this! — Behind the Scenes, the World of Zines @ Blog, She Wrote

So much good stuff to share this week. Hope everyone has 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 out the book. Look over the 10 steps to getting started with PBH. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. 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

My children are thriving now where before I could see some struggling and frustration. It’s been fun for me too! We learn and grow together now and there’s nothing boring about our days.” — newest review of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

 

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on March 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Hello and happy Friday! This week’s Facebook link round-up commences … now.

You probably already know my take on screen time (you can read about it here and here). I really enjoyed this writer’s thoughtful exploration of the topic:

On the one hand, parents want their children to swim expertly in the digital stream that they will have to navigate all their lives; on the other hand, they fear that too much digital media, too early, will sink them. Parents end up treating tablets like precision surgical instruments, gadgets that might perform miracles for their child’s IQ and help him win some nifty robotics competition — but only if they are used just so. Otherwise, their child could end up one of those sad, pale creatures who can’t make eye contact and has an avatar for a girlfriend.” — The Touch-Screen Generation @ The Atlantic

Fantastic article about how to change the story and make positive errors:

Scientists call it the ‘sweet spot’ — that highly productive zone on the edge of our abilities where learning happens fastest. The problem, of course, is that the sweet spot doesn’t feel sweet. In fact, it feels sour and uncomfortable, because being there you have to take risks and make mistakes. And most of us hate making mistakes.

Basically, we’re allergic.

But what’s kick-assingly powerful is when somebody finds a simple way to reverse that allergy.

[C]oaches and parents are storytellers. Their job is to create an emotional safe zone where players can go to the edges of their abilities and then beyond.” — How to Overcome Fear of Mistakes: One Coach’s Story @ The Talent Code

“Changing the story” reminded me of Donald Miller’s book, which I quoted quite a while back on Facebook (before I started doing these round-ups):

If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers. You wouldn’t tell your friends you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen. The truth is, you wouldn't remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back. Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to be meaningful. The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won't make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story

I usually take a pass on articles talking about how public education isn’t making the grade (they usually have titles that incorporate puns), but I couldn’t resist this description of Education 3.0 — because it sounds just like PBH:
“Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning and implementing Education 3.0. ... [Education 3.0] is self-directed, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation and creativity drive education.” — Jackie Gerstein
Kudos to people who are working hard to bring the opportunities to public school students that homeschool students already have! (Although not all homeschoolers take advantage of those opportunities…)
 
Along those same lines…
We teach kids to do all sorts of things, but we don’t teach them to think about things in the inventive way — and why don’t we? It’s something you should be alert for from earliest childhood. You should be conscious that when you do devise something, when you fill a gap, you have invented. I’d love to see kids thinking in that way, and growing up to be adults that think in that way… that solve their own problems, and acquire stuff for themselves that they want, whether or not it can be bought off the shelf.” — Saving the Inventive Way of Life @ InventiveMax
In that same vein, I shared this quote:
“Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself.” — William Deresiewicz
We could save a lot of time — and increase our learning ROI exponentially — if we just paused before selecting an activity for our kids and opted instead to make choices that allow them to develop their own ideas.
 
I loved this article on how positivity and generosity relate to succeeding in life — and if you’ve read Heather’s post about me then you know where I fall on this subject as well:
The greatest untapped source of motivation … is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples’ lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.” — Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? @ The New York Times
I have much to say on this subject but I think I’ll write a post about it.
 
Shelli wrote a post about doing PBH this week and identified the key principles as she sees them:
“[A]ll these elements work together to create this lifestyle of learning. Project-based homeschooling is like putting together a puzzle. It doesn’t matter which piece you start with, but as you lay them all on the table, you’ll start to see how they fit together to make the whole picture.” — What Is Project-Based Homeschooling? @ Mama of Letters
And now I want to share with you a testimonial from the PBH forum — I hope you find it inspiring!

I started this PBH journey a few months ago with my 4 year old, and in my project notes and my questions on this forum, I can find records of me struggling with all the PBH things it seemed like he wasn’t doing. He didn’t focus on anything real, and then he didn’t identify questions or do research, and then he didn’t make things, and then he didn’t improve his work or problem solve, and then he didn’t share his knowledge, etc...

But now, after a few months, I don’t have anything to worry or complain about any more. My kid is just a regular kid, and neither he nor I do this PBH stuff perfectly. But I’m so impressed with how well it’s fallen together, and how much he’s been able to learn, and how it really does work like it says in the book. :)

We have some adult friends staying with us for a couple days, and seeing him share his knowledge of prehistoric creatures with them has really impressed me. He’ll walk over to the wall to show off his artwork (much more detailed than a few months ago), and talk about it … And when they have more questions, instead of just always making up an answer, he’ll go to one of his books, find the right page and research something … using the pictures and his memory. And he’s constantly pushing the edges of his knowledge and figuring out what can be looked up on Wikipedia or Google Images. …

I think my family is now thoroughly hooked on this approach.

Yes! Learning to mentor your children to become self-directed learners doesn’t happen overnight, but it is well worth the effort.
 
Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed, left an Amazon review of the book, or shared their small win in the forum — your feedback is immensely appreciated! Now go have a great weekend.

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on March 22, 2013 at 09:06 AM

Welcome to the Friday link round-up! Boom! Some good stuff to share this week…

First, a book quote I shared on Facebook:

“The secret is creating the conditions for inner work life — the conditions that foster positive emotions, strong internal motivation, and favorable perceptions of colleagues and the work itself. Great inner work life is about the work, not the accoutrements. It starts with giving people something meaningful to accomplish… It requires … clear goals, autonomy, help, and resources — what people need to make real progress in their daily work. And it depends on showing respect for ideas and the people who create them.” — The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity

This is a busines book but hey, look — same ideas work in motivating your kids. Give them something meaningful to accomplish! (Their own self-chosen interests and goals.) Give them autonomy, help, and resources! (What you need to make real progress.) Show respect for their ideas! That’s it in a nutshell.

And some more links about helping our kids succeed:

If we believe that someone’s talent is fixed — including our own — we are effectively writing off any options for growth. But if we believe that talent, or intelligence, or any other ability, evolves as a result of how much effort we put in, the opportunities are endless. — Talent Isn’t Fixed and Other Mindsets That Lead to Greatness

That’s our old friend Dweck they’re referencing. 

What else? How about change the story and encourage positive errors:

Scientists call it the “sweet spot” — that highly productive zone on the edge of our abilities where learning happens fastest. The problem, of course, is that the sweet spot doesn’t feel sweet. In fact, it feels sour and uncomfortable, because being there you have to take risks and make mistakes. And most of us hate making mistakes.

Basically, we’re allergic.

But what’s kick-assingly powerful is when somebody finds a simple way to reverse that allergy.

...

[C]oaches and parents are storytellers. Their job is to create an emotional safe zone where players can go to the edges of their abilities and then beyond.How to Overcome Fear of Mistakes: One Coach’s Story @ The Talent Code

Heather wrote a great post this week about learning how to take more risks:

“[T]here’s a trap in looking for some elusive expertise that few people can achieve. It makes getting started too hard. It undermines the achievements we make. It makes us reluctant to start something new, because the bar for competence is set so high. … Over and over, I’m seeing that the real way you gain fluency is not through competence or perfection, but through sold-out bravery. You get better at something not by magically getting it all right ahead of time, but by *being willing to try*.” — What is Fluent? @ A Little Yes

This article reminded me of my own post about learning to take *real* baby steps — you’ve got to just go for it! And to do that, you need to cultivate a safe space for making big attempts and taking risks, which is what that previous quote is all about. This week’s links are sending a great message: figure out the story you want to tell, make a safe space for making big attempts, and then go for it!

Some great PBH-related sharing this week —

Angela wrote about the positive changes she saw in her children when she moved into more self-directed work:

“Back in October, I realized my carefully laid out plans for our oh-so-many-subjects weren't really working out. My kids were completing their work, but I could tell they weren’t really learning. I’d get questions like, “Is this good enough?” This question is code for, “Does this please you enough to let me quit now and get on with my life because I really couldn't care about this any less?” I remember some name coming up in conversation one day and excitedly saying, “Oh, Cati, you can tell us all about this because you read about this person last week!” She looked back at me completely clueless. If my goal for the kids during school time had simply been obedience to my plans and diligence, then I would have achieved my goal. Don’t get me wrong! Obedience and diligence are important virtues, but could we attain those virtues while working on others. We could come to enjoy learning, we learn to self-direct.” — Project Peek Day @ Creating Something Beautiful

Michelle wrote about how to use that time between projects to gear up for the next big thing:

“One of the main things we’ve learned is that interests develop with time and freedom to explore. Kids need big chunks of time to play, create, read, and question. They need the freedom to discover their interests. We have to make room in our days for exploration in order to pave the way for more meaningful projects.” — Paving the Way for Projects @ Raising Cajuns

A really interesting read in the Atlantic about screen time, kids who are digital natives, and app designers with very restrictive screen times for their own kids:

On the one hand, parents want their children to swim expertly in the digital stream that they will have to navigate all their lives; on the other hand, they fear that too much digital media, too early, will sink them. Parents end up treating tablets like precision surgical instruments, gadgets that might perform miracles for their child’s IQ and help him win some nifty robotics competition — but only if they are used just so. Otherwise, their child could end up one of those sad, pale creatures who can’t make eye contact and has an avatar for a girlfriend.” — The Touch-Screen Generation @ The Atlantic

At the end of the article, the writer decides to experiment with her own toddler’s screen time. Bit of a long article, but I enjoyed the read.

On Twitter, I’ve been talking to some parents who are starting (or who have already started) businesses so they can work at home. This article about a mom’s struggle to run a business and still be a good parent seemed especially timely:

“Why is it that moms can't set the bullying aside and focus instead on what is right in front of them: the exquisite opportunity to know and be known, to inspire and be inspired? We’re all in the same impossible predicament that society put us in — why can’t we acknowledge it and go from there? We’re all in the same pickle. We were educated from childhood to become contributing members of society and to aspire to fulfilling careers, then we have our own children and society’s expectations of us change utterly. Our collective confusion and anxiety is understandable. But why can’t we recognize that this is a consequence of living in this time, and not allow the insecurity we are almost forced to feel manifest itself in a distracting and destructive cutting down of others?” — The Helping Foundation

I realized how closely my daughter was watching me and that I was wrong to beat myself up. Even when I thought I wasn’t directly affecting her, I was. She was watching — and what she saw wasn’t hurting her. She was proud of what I had made. That gave me so much inspiration… I was ready to make more.

So, I kept building. — The Helping Foundation

Once again, we’re touching on women feeling less-than — obviously, this is something a lot of us are struggling with. I have seen some great support and cheerleading among the women in my circle — I hope we can make more of that!

Finally, PBH news!

I’m working on setting up a kid-project section of the blog, but here’s just one of the great projects Heather’s kids have been working on:

An important aspect of Project-Based Homeschooling is to make sure kids don’t have to constantly ask for permission. At our house, we definitely strive to make things available to our kids and we’ve always done that in an age appropriate way. This is really key. If kids have to ask for everything, chances are they will stop asking … especially if you aren’t timely enough about getting them the help they need.

He began this journey all on his own and all we had to do was say yes. — Introducing BrikSmith Customs @ Blog She Wrote

Don’t miss the newest post in Amy’s process art series, Art Together:

It’s just fun to lay down some color and “see what happens.” When you go into it with the idea that you’re experimenting, there are no mistakes, just unexpected outcomes. When my 8yo layered white on top of a color he thought was dry but the white looked muddy, we talked about it. Was the white paint itself muddied in the tray? Let’s wipe it off and try again. He experimented with having black as the first color — would anything at all show up on it? This is knowledge he’ll take with him the next time he paints. This is how we get to know a material so that we don’t try to make it do something it just can’t do. — {Art Together} Experimenting with Watercolors @ Kids in the Studio

Check out our new quick-start guide for getting started with PBH:

“PBH is centered around helping your child direct and manage his own learning. It’s about independence, responsibility, and exploring talents and deep interests.

Every choice you make matters.” — 10 Steps to Getting Started with Project-Based Homeschooling

And we also made an FAQ for the site — it’s a work in progress, but we’ll keep adding to it. Let us know if you have any suggestions!

What’s your background?

What is Reggio?

Does PBH work with teens? — Project-Based Homeschooling: Frequently Asked Questions

I was interviewed by Jacquie this week at the Sweeter Side of Mommyhood:

“Thoreau wrote that cutting wood warms you twice — once when you split it and again when you burn it. This is probably the deepest lesson I’ve learned, first through my own work and then again watching my children: building your own education means you learn exponentially more. You have to find what you need, you have to determine whether you’ve answered your own questions, you have to set and meet your own goals. You end up with the knowledge and skills you were seeking, but you also end up with remarkable learning muscles and powerful habits of mind. Then you can go forward and learn anything you need to learn.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Interview with Lori Pickert @ The Sweeter Side of Mommyhood

The PBH for Grown-Ups post this week was on building community (geared especially toward introverts):

“No matter what you want to accomplish, community is key. Whether it’s online or offline, whether it’s focused on you or your kids, community is where you see how you fit and how you can contribute. It can be as simple as having two other families to hike with once a week or as complex as an online forum with thousands of members — but it comes down to finding other people who want to do what you want to do. It’s about making friends, but it’s also about finding colleagues and building a network. It’s about building a community of people who can help each other accomplish something larger than what one person can do alone.” — The Introvert’s Guide to Building Community

Thanks for supporting PBH — hope your weekend is wonderful!

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. Check out our 10-step guide to getting started with project-based homeschooling. Check out the book. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

To be a mentor goes beyond showing a child how to use the library or bind a book, bake a muffin or build a birdhouse. It means setting an example of what it means to be an alert, curious, interested human being. It means setting an example of doing, making, creating, and sharing. … Being a good mentor means showing your child that learning doesn’t stop when someone hands you a diploma.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

My children are thriving now where before I could see some struggling and frustration. It’s been fun for me too! We learn and grow together now and there’s nothing boring about our days.” — newest review of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

 

 

 

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on March 15, 2013 at 09:08 AM

So, Google Reader bit the dust this week. Just a reminder that you can subscribe to this blog by e-mail if you like — or several people have been recommending Feedly.

Quote for the day:

[Creative children] ask more questions than most children. They’re usually spontaneous and enthusiastic. Their ideas are unique and occasionally strike other kids as weird. They’re independent. Not that they don’t care at all what other kids think, but they’re able to do their thing despite the fact that their peers may think it’s strange. And they have lots and lots of ideas.” — Silvia Rimm

And this week’s Facebook links!

Worried about how much your teens use the internet? It offers kids the chance to direct a lot of their own learning, including for personal projects:

When my daughter graduates from college, I want her to be able to ask interesting questions, make wise choices in where to direct her time and attention, and find a career that is about contributing to a purpose that’s more than her own self-advancement. I am proud of her for managing a rigorous course of study both in school and out of school, but I’m also delighted that she finds the time to cultivate interests in a self-directed way that is about contributing to her community of peers. The Internet and her friends have offered my daughter a lifeline to explore new interests that are not just about the resume and getting ahead of everyone else. In today’s high-pressure climate for teens, the Internet is feeling more and more like one of the few havens they can find for the lessons that matter most.” — What Teens Get About the Internet that Parents Don’t @ The Atlantic

Another quote from the above article:

A college degree is a requirement for most good jobs, but no longer a guarantee of one.

Consequently, kids feel pressure to not only do well on tests and in school, but in their out-of-school activities as well. … The pressure to succeed along narrow paths is exacting a staggering cost on the values and well being of our children. — What Teens Get About the Internet that Parents Don’t @ The Atlantic

Along those lines, this jumped out at me this week:

“Universities must change, [Thomas Friedman] says, from a ‘time served’ model to a ‘stuff learned’ model. He reasons that ‘increasingly the world does not care what you know. Everything is on Google. The world only cares, and will only pay for, what you can do with what you know’.” — Who’s Afraid of the big, bad MOOC? @ Learning with ‘e’s

(If you want a funny take on this, try the Onion’s.)

Obviously, people who succeed have to rise above what everyone knows and what everyone knows how to do — they have to go further, do more. Along those lines, I’ll reshare a quote that I blogged earlier this week:

“Every once in a while — often when we least expect it — we encounter someone more courageous, someone who choose to strive for that which (to us) seemed unrealistically unattainable, even elusive. And we marvel. We swoon. We gape. Often, we are in awe. I think we look at these people as lucky, when in fact, luck has nothing to do with it. It is really about the strength of their imagination; it is about how they constructed the possibilities for their life. In short, unlike me, they didn’t determine what was impossible before it was even possible.” — Imagine more, not less @ Camp Creek Blog

Click over to read the whole quote.

And a couple more blog posts re: those intangible skills that we need to rise above the other B.A.s…

“The brain chunks activities into habits to save mental energy.

When a routine becomes a habit, the brain performs these routines automatically and without thinking.

Healthy habits influence healthy lives and unhealthy habits determine unhealthy lives.

Habits can be changed.” — Change a Habit @ New Discoveries

The takeaway here is that habits can be changed — you are not doomed to stay on an unproductive road! Believe it, then do it.

And another important skill — networking, making friends, building community. This is something I am asked about frequently. How do you do it? This excellent short article gives you the answer — definitely read the whole thing:

“Give. All the time. And never ask for anything return unless you really have to. … This isn’t a ‘favor for a favor’ thing. It’s being a good person. When you truly help people every chance you get, that reputation will get around and people will be more inclined to help you down the line.” — How to Network Without Shaking Hands @ What Spinks Thinks

While you’re out there attempting to build that network, keep in mind we’re all trying to put our best face forward — and we’re all human:

“I’m not the only one who wonders why other mothers seem to have such ordered lives, when mine is a whirlwind. I’m not the only one who thinks that the neighbours can hear me when I shout, and what must they think of me, because of course they never shouted at their children. I’m not the only one who wishes my house could be a little tidier, a little cleaner, like the other mothers I know.

I’m not the only one making comparisons and coming out at the bottom.” — Keeping up appearances @ The Home of Lisa Hassan Scott

Finally, some some great kid PBH goodness:

“He knew exactly where he wanted each box and bottle to go, where to put doors and windows, and even added water to a bottle for a fuel tank.

It was SO HARD to watch him struggle with the tape, or to see him doing something one way when I knew another way would work better. I kept my mouth shut as much as I could, and when I broke down and offered suggestions he almost always said he wanted to figure it out.” — The Rocket Ship @ Lemon Tree Studio

Really inspirational, both the kid work and the parent/mentor work!

We are setting up an area of the blog to share kid projects like this — real, authentic, inspiring. Not a recipe for how to do things, but a glimpse of what is possible. There are quite a few other new site additions in the works, so stay tuned — and join our e-mailing list if you haven’t already. (So far I’ve averaged about one e-mail every six months, so it’s not a spam factory.)

Hope your weekend is wonderful!

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 out the book. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

You need to get comfortable with your flawed humanity. Making excuses so you don’t have to start so you can forestall pain and humiliation just keeps you out of the game. And once you’re in it, if you think success means pretending everything is easy for you and nothing hurts, you’re wrong. What binds us is our common experience. The only way to build intimacy is through vulnerability. When you lift your chin in the air, you can’t look anyone in the eyes.” — Renovating your brain: Building new habits of mind

My children are thriving now where before I could see some struggling and frustration. It’s been fun for me too! We learn and grow together now and there’s nothing boring about our days.” — newest review of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

 

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on March 8, 2013 at 09:47 AM

It’s Friday again people. Here’s what I shared on Facebook this week:

Shelli posted a review of the book and followed up with a three-part interview with me, lengthy because her questions were astute and challenging and my answers were long and let’s say detailed, shall we? Shelli is actually doing projects with her children, so she had authentic questions based on her own experiences. It’s good stuff.

How do you help a child direct his own work if he doesn’t yet have the experience to know where to research?

The most important thing is to remember that it’s a process. You are learning how to mentor, and your child is learning how to direct and manage his own learning. Mentoring means slowly transferring the power to him and helping him learn how to be in charge of his own learning. You should try to stay out of his way as much as possible and leave him room to have his own ideas — but that doesn’t mean never making suggestions. It just means waiting to see if he will have his own ideas and supporting those first.

He needs an environment that supports independent working, he needs you to model how to ask questions and research and make and share, and he might need you to help him recognize and articulate his interests and questions.

Being a mentor means helping him slowly take control — and it means showing him the ropes.” — Interview with Lori Pickert, Part 1 @ Mama of Letters

How can you encourage a child to share his work if he’s reluctant?

“There are many reasons why project-based homeschooling emphasizes sharing what you learn. You really know you understand something when you can teach it to someone else. Collaboration is a crucial life skill. And PBH is about helping children connect with their meaningful work: where their interests and their talents intersect. This is a years-long process that you are only just beginning; there will be time to explore it fully and develop it from project to project.

Helping children share what they know helps them find their place in the world, and it helps them discover what they have to give. I don’t think there’s a better goal for education than that.” — Interview with Lori Pickert, Part 2 @ Mama of Letters

What if you’re interested in exploring these ideas but are struggling with doing it all?

“Even when it feels like you aren’t accomplishing as much as you want, keep living a life that prioritizes learning, making, and sharing. It’s those underlying values that will form the foundation of [your child’s] learning life.” — Interview with Lori Pickert, Part 3 @ Mama of Letters

That final interview was posted today and I am taking questions, so if you want to ask something about PBH, get over there!

It’s not ALL about me this week. Michelle shared some great advice about using momentum to jump-start your week:

[I]nstead of procrastinating or taking it ALL on at once, we need to remember the importance of tiny victories and the snowball effect. Tiny changes snowball into big changes, with very little effort. Accomplishing something, anything, no matter how small, makes you feel good. Getting that little zap of feel-good for several days in a row becomes a drug. You want more. So you do another small something for a while. Now you're doing two things and getting twice the feel-good juice. See how the new pattern works? It’s all about momentum, baby.” — Momentum Magic @ Raising Cajuns

This is exactly why I write and post my PBH for Grown-Ups piece on Monday morning — taking advantage of the momentum of finishing. I surf that wave the rest of the week.

Angela shared how projects are going with her kids — really inspiring:

I’ve come to see that my kids have learned more by pursuing these other projects than they ever would have by completing my plans. They have learned to do their own library research and reserve books through inter library loan. They have learned to keep a notebook of questions and notes about their projects to help them organize their research. They have learned to plan. They have learned to evaluate helpful resources verses extraneous ones. They have learned how to take all of this further and produce things from their research. They have learned to schedule their own time. They have learned the joy of sharing their work with others. And, they have learned the joy of learning.” — Project Peek Day @ Creating Something Beautiful

This made my week!

Finally, another interesting article on the college question:

“[A] combination of technology and sticker shock leads increasingly well-informed parents and students to distinguish between the truly valuable offerings of mainstream universities and commodity courses and activities that can be had elsewhere for a fraction of the price. The result: a tsunami of creative destruction is bearing down on US higher education.” — The Coming Higher Education Bust: “Some Will Survive”

Are you going to be hustling to put together a reasonably priced degree for your child? When I went to college, I was the first on one side of my family to attend; now my children aren’t college age yet and a degree is considered necessary for even entry-level jobs. Quite a switch in just one generation.

 

Not a big week for links as I was being quite a me-monster. Also, I am working hard on my next book, which I hope to publish in May — see Part 3 of Shelli’s interview for a few tantalizing details! If you want every last bit of my Facebook goodness including the quotes and photos I don’t repost here, follow me there. If you’re off Facebook, I have to applaud that, but if you want to go back under a pseudonym just to follow my page, I would consider it a very reasonable compromise.

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 out the book. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

Why do adults do this? Why do they curtail what children can learn by deciding ahead of time what’s possible and reasonable? Because it’s a real time-saver. Learning authentically and organically takes time. It doesn’t follow a checklist. It requires adult mentors/teachers/facilitators who are willing to follow along and support without knowing ahead of time what’s going to happen. It requires putting doing in front of measuring (which is the correct order, by the way). Now here’s where we take it to the grown-up level: Stop preshrinking your own opportunities.” — Stop Preshrinking Your Opportunities

“My children are thriving now where before I could see some struggling and frustration. It’s been fun for me too! We learn and grow together now and there’s nothing boring about our days.” — newest review of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

 

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on March 1, 2013 at 08:06 AM

Happy Friday! This week on facebook… and some bonus content I didn’t post to facebook as well…

“What story it is I want to tell with my talents? … When I look ahead ten years from now I want to be living my passion. This is just the map to get me there. Pushing off and testing the waters so to speak, exiting the planning stage and creating something, leaving my mark in the world so that I can turn to my daughters one day and say, ‘This is what I have created. Know that you can create something for yourselves too.’” — growing a business: choosing @ under a big blue sky

This is the message of the PBH for Grown-Ups series: that the best way to help our children live an authentic life is to strive for that ourselves. Speaking of which, I added a new quote to that page that says it all:

Train up a child in the way he should go — but be sure you go that way yourself. — Charles Spurgeon

More inspiration from Paul Graham:

I'll start by telling you something you don't have to know in high school: what you want to do with your life. People are always asking you this, so you think you’re supposed to have an answer. But adults ask this mainly as a conversation starter. They want to know what sort of person you are, and this question is just to get you talking. They ask it the way you might poke a hermit crab in a tide pool, to see what it does.

“If I were back in high school and someone asked about my plans, I’d say that my first priority was to learn what the options were. You don’t need to be in a rush to choose your life's work. What you need to do is discover what you like. You have to work on stuff you like if you want to be good at what you do.” — What You’ll Wish You’d Known, by Paul Graham

This reminds me of a post Deb had about asking a teen friend who likes photography if she planned on being a photographer when she grows up.

The minute I said it, I realized that I was doing the very thing that some of the moms and dads and coaches whose kids play competitive sports do: trying to turn an interest into a vocation.

Why? Why do we do this? There is no reason to take something that a kid (or regular person, for that matter) is interested in and push them into making it something more. More. Why do we want everything to be MORE? And don’t you think doing that can ruin the very thing that was previously loved? — Grownups Ruin Everything @ Not Inadequate

One (ha) of my comments in response to this post:

My issue with asking the teenage girl if she wants to be a photographer when she grows up would be — isn’t she *already* a photographer? Do we disrespect the work that kids do because it doesn’t earn money? Because we assume it can’t be that good?

Lots of good discussion in the comments of that post and lots of ideas to unpack about interests and how they tie to income, future or otherwise — another thing we’ve discussed in PBH for Grown-Ups, specifically Getting Out of Your Own Way (self-talk: “Shouldn’t I be earning money for this? Or doing something else that could earn money?”)

When you’re helping your children develop their talents and deeply engage with their interests, how preoccupied are you with how they’re going to translate that into a future income?

How closely tied are education and future career opportunities in your mind?

It is one of the great testaments to the intellectual — and moral, and spiritual — poverty of American society that it makes its most intelligent young people feel like they're being self-indulgent if they pursue their curiosity. You are all told that you're supposed to go to college, but you’re also told that you’re being “self-indulgent” if you actually want to get an education. Or even worse, give yourself one.” — What Are You Going to Do With That? — The Chronicle Review

And speaking of giving yourself an education, maybe you’ll give yourself a job as well —

“My oldest son, Christopher, was not college material. You probably have the wrong idea: it’s not that Chris isn’t smart. Chris is brilliant. But brilliance is not enough to make you college material. Something else is needed: at least an average level of compliance.” — How the Bowyer Family Played the College Tuition Bubble @ Forbes

I have a brilliant, noncompliant son myself… but as a person who has always been self-employed, I am probably more comfortable with an alternate path than most.

Everything seems to point to the fact that our children will most likely be having nontraditional careers. Perhaps nontraditional education is the best preparation for that:

What will be required of our children in the future? They will have to be in charge of their own learning. As college students, as adults, as entrepreneurs, as tradesmen, as parents — they will have to make important decisions and figure out how to get the knowledge and skills they need. When we do start helping them learn how to direct and manage their own learning? When they are teenagers? When they are in college? We need to begin now. — The Myth of the Reluctant Learner

And in that same vein:

We need a curriculum of big questions, examinations where children can talk, share and use the Internet, and new, peer assessment systems. We need children from a range of economic and geographic backgrounds and an army of visionary educators. We need a pedagogy free from fear and focused on the magic of children's innate quest for information and understanding.” — Sugata Mitra: We Need Schools, Not Factories

Of course, if you’re homeschooling you own and operate your own school, so you can fit your child’s education to your particular beliefs. Don’t waste that opportunity — make the most of it.

Some inspiring posts about children and learning from this week:

“I learn a lot from my daughter. That fact releases me from a lot of concerns i used to have about homeschooling her. I homeschool with her. In fact, I can just say we learn together, because that is what we do. We build what works for us; we build it ourselves.” — If you want it, you can build it yourself @ Happyer at Home

A fantastic new series on authentic, process-based art from Amy:

I’m telling you: You are capable enough right now to sit down and make art alongside your kids (even if you think you can’t). If it only takes one person’s encouragement and that person hasn’t shown up in your life yet, I will be that person for you, if you’ll let me.” — {Art Together}: Getting Started @ Kids in the Studio

Annie’s words on helping kids make real books for their writing:

“Making books sends a special message to children as they begin their journey as readers, writers and artists. When you help a child write a book of their own, from the penning of the plot to the drafting of the illustrations, you create an object of permanence. You teach children that their work is valuable, that it is important, that it is worthy. You tell your child, and yourself, that each of us is a writer, an artist, a storyteller, or a poet. We are writers because we write. Artists because we make art.” — Creativity with Alphabet Glue @ Rhythm of the Home

And some important words on creativity’s importance for adults as well:

“Whenever I create something for myself, I have to fight off feeling a bit guilty… as if I was being too self indulgent. This is ridiculous because it’s actually an essential component of self-care. Just like exercise and fresh food is good for the body, creativity feeds the soul… and forming something for one’s self goes even deeper. It has the power to mend a broken spirit and give meaning to our making.” — worthy @ maya*made

And to go along with that, a quote I shared on facebook:

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college — that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” — Howard Ikemoto

If you’re still with me, you might want to check out a new review of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners:

“What Pickert has done with her book is explain in an easy-to-read and practical manner what parents can do at home to ensure that children will take charge of their own education and gain essential skills. If that sounds far-fetched, I suggest you read the book.” — Book review: Project-Based Homeschooling @ Mama of Letters

Shelli is following this up with a three-part (!) interview with me, so if you just can’t get enough Lori, you’re in luck. We’re going to do a Q&A on her blog at the end, too, so lots of PBH talk going on.

That’s all I’ve got this week. Still some stuff on Facebook I’m not sharing, so if you want every last bit of it, follow me there. (For instance, I quoted Seth Godin this week and set off a mini firestorm — you wouldn’t want to miss that!)

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 out the book. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

Allowing children to learn about what interests them is good, but helping them do it in a meaningful, rigorous way is better. Freedom and choice are good, but a life steeped in thinking, learning, and doing is better. It’s not enough to say, “Go, do whatever you like.” To help children become skilled thinkers and learners, to help them become people who make and do, we need a life centered around those experiences. We need to show them how to accomplish the things they want to do. We need to prepare them to make the life they want.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

 

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on February 22, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Before we get started with this week’s Facebook links, I also shared a few wintry thoughts this week at Rhythm of the Home:

We talk about what we want to accomplish over the cold months and they seem swept clean and bare — a clean surface for building something new. Winter is, for us, a time of anticipation and excitement. Outside, everything is dormant, waiting to burst forth in a few months. Our projects seem the same. We are planting seeds... — Midwestern Drifts @ Rhythm of the Home

“Midwestern Drifts” would be a great name for a jazz album. I love winter! Am I the only one?!

Now, onto what we shared and talked about on facebook this week — and remember, if you don’t want to miss any of these, you have to hover over the “Liked” button and make sure there’s a checkmark next to “Get Notifications.” Thanks for making it easy, Facebook.

I have a lot of conversations on Twitter and elsewhere about the future of work — what kinds of jobs will our kids have in a country that’s apparently swinging more and more toward a freelance/gig economy? I just assume my sons will be self-employed, if not for all of their careers, for part of them.

“[O]nline freelance work is growing at a record clip, outpacing progress in conventional job markets tremendously. Today there are some 14 million full-time online freelancers in America alone. By 2020, it’s estimated that one in three workers worldwide will be freelancing online.” — The Future of Freelance (and Why You Should Care)

Being in charge of your own learning is a great first step to being in charge of your own career. Are you doing any entrepreneurial education at your house? Do you think it’s a good idea?

And what about in our schools?

“American schools are failing because they are suppressing children by forcing them into a compliance-based model of education. All children are natural learners. We’re born with curiosity, creativity, wonder, and intrinsic motivation. Research shows that with more years of formal schooling, those very qualities are stunted tremendously.” — How Should We Rebuild the U.S. Education System? @ Forbes

“At an ideal school, adults understand that their mission is to help children grow not just cognitively, but also socially, emotionally, linguistically, ethically, and physically. We can’t address all those different development needs of children until we restore some balance to what we value.” — ibid.

I left a long comment on this article on my page — you can see it here

A quote from Paul Graham sums up my opinion:

The important thing is to get out there and do stuff. Instead of waiting to be taught, go out and learn. Your life doesn’t have to be shaped by admissions officers. It could be shaped by your own curiosity. It is for all ambitious adults. And you don’t have to wait to start. In fact, you don’t have to wait to be an adult. There’s no switch inside you that magically flips when you turn a certain age or graduate from some institution. You start being an adult when you decide to take responsibility for your life. You can do that at any age. — Paul Graham

I’m working on a post about this, specifically about how we inadvertently shortchange our kids when we depend too much on prepared, pre-digested curricula and activities.

I was inspired by this post about bullying:

“Someone threw a brick through the window of a six year-old Jewish boy who had displayed a picture of a lighted menorah there. But the attacker misjudged the community. People from all religions and walks of life acted to reject the attacks and the hate that motivated them. Among other events, the local paper published a full-page picture of a menorah. In days, there were 10,000 menorahs in the city’s windows. “Not in our town” was the message. As the police chief said, ‘Silence means acceptance.’” — It Takes a Village to Make a Bully, part 1 @ Beacon

It’s a powerful series about a mother whose daughter experienced terrible bullying in her school and in her community; this is only the first post. Check it out.

I followed up with a link to a post Seth Godin wrote about “the bullying power structure”:

When students are given permission to be their best selves, they take it, just as you and I would like to.” — Destabilizing the Bullying Power Structure @ Seth Godin

Another inspiring blog series by Amanda at Habit of Being sharing her process of making time for what matters:

“For those of you [who] are still turning their nose up at the thought of a routine, I say this: we all have routines whether we realize it or not. Maybe it’s the checking of email from the bed in the morning, the yoga stretches you find time for in the morning, maybe it’s the pick-me-up cup of coffee you have each afternoon, or the square of dark chocolate you savor after the house is quiet in the evening. The question is, are you making the most of yours?” — that thing called time, part deux @ Habit of Being

“Call it focus. Call it mindfulness, being in the moment, being present. It doesn’t matter what you call it so long as you practice it.” — that thing called time, part three @ Habit of Being

Be sure to read the whole series.

Amy shared some awesome project work being done by her four-year-old daughter this week:

This is such authentic work she is doing. She is working hard there, choosing to try to draw a coyote, noticing its colors and how many ears and legs it has, and where they are. She asked me where its nose was, and I showed her the snout and we talked about how the shape of the snout is one of the ways a coyote is distinguished from other dogs, and she worked at getting it right, at the same time understanding that she could make as many paintings as she wanted to try and get the coyote to look the way she wanted to.

This all makes me happy, not because my child is doing this but because I have created the space in which my child knows she can do this. She is not being kept distracted with “age-appropriate” busywork but instead allowed to choose her own work.” — {PBL} Scattering @ Kids in the Studio

And finally, some words to live by from Amy Poeher, talking about positivity:

It's very hard to have ideas. It's very hard to put yourself out there. It's very hard to be vulnerable. Those people who do that are the dreamers, the thinkers, the creators. They’re the magic people of the world. So try to strive to be one of those.Amy Poehler @ Upworthy

This goes along well with my own post this week on positivity:

You are the little fish and the people who have something to say about what you do and what you create are the ocean you swim in. It doesn’t matter. They are as natural as wind and tide. Human beings complain and nag and pick and offer up unwanted opinions the way they grow hair: naturally and pretty much continuously. There is nothing you can do to change that. Someone out there distinctly dislikes Meryl Streep right now. Someone else is writing an angry screed about Mother Teresa. You can rise above it or you can tune it out or you can tunnel through it like a mole, but you have to accept that it’s always going to be there. Then move on with your life, because you have more important things to do.” — Dealing with Haters

Let’s support one another, because it can be a cold world out there!

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 out the book. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

Surprisingly often, people will champion self-directed learning for children but not allow those children's parents the same freedom and respect. It's their way or the highway, and you had better start doing it the right way (their way) right away. Your kids should learn at their own pace, follow their interests, and you should trust that they'll eventually learn everything they need to know. You, on the other hand, should get with the program, right now, 100%, or else. You don't need to have your own opinions or ideas; ours will suffice. There's no time to experiment and see if these ideas work for you; take it on faith or you're part of the problem.

If your child deserves to learn at his own pace and have his own ideas, so do you. Whatever you champion for your child, make sure you also give to yourself: the right to follow your own path, work at your own pace, follow your own interests, make mistakes, and try again. Whatever you want for your children, you are far more likely to help them achieve it if you live it yourself.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

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