facebook round-up

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on February 15, 2013 at 02:52 PM

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


Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on February 8, 2013 at 09:08 AM

Hope everyone had a great week!

This week’s facebook links (plus bonus links!):

In the world of project-based homeschooling this week, Michelle shared her shift in thinking about planning:

“We still set goals and make plans, but these are negotiable and fluid. As always, we do whatever works for us at any given point in time, and we're never afraid to shift gears or direction. The main difference these days is the shift from planning ahead to documenting the work as/after we do it.” — Planning Less, Doing More @ Raising Cajuns

How can you plan ahead if you’re letting your kids lead authentically? You can never anticipate exactly how things are going to go. Does that mean you give up on planning altogether? No. As the father of Reggio, Loris Malaguzzi said,

It is true that we do not have planning and curricula. It is not true that we rely on improvisation, which is an enviable skill. We do not rely on chance either, because we are convinced that what we do not yet know can to some extend be anticipated. What we do know is that to be with the children is to work one third with certainty and two thirds with uncertainty and the new.

…We can be sure that the children are ready to help us. They can help us by offering us ideas, suggestions, problems, questions, clues, and paths to follow; and the more they trust us and see us as a resouce, the more they give us help. All these offerings, merged with what we ourselves bring to the situation, make a handsome capital of resources. — Loris Malaguzzi, The Hundred Languages of Children

I then shared a classic (2008!) Camp Creek post about planning:

Don’t plan ahead — plan along.

Plan the environment.

Plan time to observe and document.

Plan one-on-one time. 

Plan to supply resources as they are needed/requested.

Plan time to collaborate.

Plan time to reflect.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Planning

I have been writing this blog for a long, long time.

Shaun shared her children’s reaction to the creative making space she set up and left available to them:

This is Violet, my older, preparing to sew. She loves the webcomic Homestuck, because she is 1) an aspiring comic artist and 2) a teen. She found the hat-making tutorial, made a list of what she needed, and then dove in. She even made the horns (see below) twice, because she didn’t like the first set. And she did it cheerfully. And all I did was drive to the fabric store because I still don’t really know how to run the sewing machine. I’d venture to say this is the first time she’sused the sewing machine in 2 years, and that was for a pillowcase.

Every time I say to myself “why is she unmotivated?” I need to look at this picture.World Nutella Day, and some projects @ What Real World?

Another great post about motivation — I shared a beautiful post from the PBH forum from a parent experiencing the magic that happens when learning focuses on a child’s interests:

“Driving to a craft store before 9 a.m. could be a small win for me. My six-year-old making his own color-coded list of supplies could also be a small win. But really, my win for today was feeling like my son and I were a team.

We were researching, designing, measuring, cutting, sewing, playing, planning. He was leading, asking, insisting. Today was special. Maybe today both our strong interests intersected just right. Maybe all this adult PBH has gotten me going in high gear so I could fly along next to my son at top speed for one day. : )

When he first got going on this current project, my son told me, “I’ll work on it day and night. That means I’ll be done with it by dawn.” So far, it’s been a week’s worth of dawns working day and night. He is *that* excited, and so am I.”

Thank you, Janet, for letting me share that with everyone! If you’re interested in participating in the forum, sign up here.

Be sure to check out Lise’s latest post about her daughter’s project on the Nields — it’s a great example of how many of the “hundred languages” children can employ with a single interest:

A few days ago, we read the liner notes inside Rock All Day; Rock All Night, and we learned a wonderful story about Katryna and Nerissa having the chicken pox as children (combining Lucy's favorite topics: childhood stories, The Nields, and sickness).  So Lucy's recruited the other children to take parts in the drama of a miserable, moaning Nerissa, unable to hold her new baby sister, while Katryna (Lucy) holds her tenderly.  She adores this game, and we play it again and again. — The Nields in valentine and doll form @ In the Purple House

Finally, I loved this post — it goes along with the values we’re embracing in PBH for Grown-Ups: stop waiting and start living the life in front of you:

“Our vanity is no longer enough of a reason to avoid the camera. Life doesn’t wait until you “get thin” enough to capture it. Life is happening … it is happening right now and the only moment we are guaranteed is the one we are living.” — So You’re Feeling Too Fat to Be Photographed @ My Friend Teresa Photography

That’s it for this week. Hope you had a good one, and I hope you 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 the chance 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 1, 2013 at 09:07 AM

First, an important bit of news with apologetic overtones: If you’ve tried to leave a comment on my blog and were unable to, it’s because one of our rotating captchas was broken. Mea culpa! I’m so sorry if this happened to you. It should be fixed now, so please — try again!

This week’s facebook links:

So much great project-related stuff this week!

Small, simple changes make a big difference:

“I have been amazed at the creative projects which have already emerged — simply by moving the junk box into a more visible place, by removing the paint pots and glue from a box and displaying them on a shelf within reach, by laying out different types of paper on a visible shelf, and making sure tools such as scissors, sellotape etc are in a marked drawer to hand. Simple changes.” — Project Based Home Schooling @ Organic Ed

Two posts from Lise this week about her three-year-old daughter’s project work — inspiring and beautiful. In the first post, a long list of representations and project-related imaginative play:

I was preparing materials for the kids to paint something else, and she told me “I’m going to do something different. I’m going to paint Nerissa and Katryna.” I asked if she’d like to look at their photo for reference, and photocopied it from their book. She cut around the photo and clipped it to the easel. ...

Pretended to be Nerissa in dramatic play, asking me to be Katryna.  “I like doing them.  I mean making — doing it with ourselves.  With our bodies.” — Representing the Nields @ In the Purple House

In this post, a whole series of beautiful drawings showing how her daughter progressed to including more detail:

At that point, Lucy told me that was all she wanted to write, but that she would fill up the rest of the pages with pictures.  And she began to draw Katryna and Nerissa again and again and again.

Now is when I hear the worried parents who've been in my classrooms over the years.  "All he does is play with blocks."  "If I left it up to her, she'd play fairies all day every day."  And to them, I say "what's bad about that?"  If only we can trust the value in what they choose to do!

On the very next page, Katryna suddenly had a neck, a body, legs, and feet (something Lucy's rarely done before)… — Multiple drafts are amazing! @ In the Purple House

If you are one of those people who struggle with understanding the value and purpose of authentic art in projects, you should definitely read this post:

I kept being pulled back to Reggio, but would always stop myself in my tracks at the mention of the "hundred language of children" which implied artistic activities.

I am a scientist, in my job and in my head.  Art was not something that was promoted when I was a child.  I have no problem letting my children explore art, contrarily to what my experience as a child was, but I don't feel like the best person to guide them through this since my limited experience and knowledge of arts.  X is not a very artistic boy either.  He is a very reality based child.  He is very creative in what he does, but not in arts per se.  How could Reggio work here?

But surprisingly, I have been able to find my niche in Reggio, or maybe what I do is Project based "homeshooling", (but truly, I do not think ones need to homeschool in order to incorporate that in their lives), it does not matter, I do not want to get stuck in semantics here.

What I didn't understand is 100 languages of children doesn't have to be limited to art.  You can find your own definition of a language, as long as somebody can express what they are learning, in a manner they are comfortable to. — Why we have incorporated Reggio in our lives @ Montessori Ici

If you’ve been participating in the Monday PBH for Grown-ups series, you may appreciate this post as you figure out your baby steps:

“My perfectionism makes it difficult for me to be self-compassionate. So, for this week, I tried to make small goals:

• I decided I would meditate for just five minutes a day.

• At work, I would take walk breaks for just five minutes, rather than always waiting until I had time for longer workouts.

... — Just Five Minutes

Amy started a great thread in the forum where we’re sharing our baby steps each month. If you want some friendship and community while you make your way, come join us!

And if you’re struggling with goals and baby steps, you might want to check out this classic Camp Creek post to remind yourself about the important context of why we’re doing this work in the first place:

“How can we live our values? Our goals are tied irrevocably to our values. … Your goals and resolutions are the what. Your values are the why.” — Goals, goals, goals: Expectations vs. reality

There’s a bit of a theme with the last three posts — shaking off our wrong ideas about how the world works.

“The turning point for me — what made me stop being so nervous — was when I realized that these guys were just real people who decided to pursue their own passions. Something flipped in their brains, and they said, ‘You know what? I don’t have to work for someone else. I can go do this myself.’” — Trust Your Gut, Always

“They are all just people. Passionate people, confident and vulnerable, trying to figure out what to do next.

When I began to truly believe that no one knew what they were doing, I felt freedom. ... Here’s to looking at the unknown as a big ball of opportunity.” — No One Knows

Risk is a choice. A hard choice, and a choice that may fail. But a choice that we need to value, and to encourage. It’s hard to turn down something comfortable. It’s hard to turn down something good, in the hopes of something great. It’s hard to be persistently unreasonable. But, all progress depends on it. — Risk Is a Skill

“Inspiration in my experience (I am not a doctor or philosopher — some say I am just a grumpy artist!) is nothing more previous knowledge and experience being deployed or used in a new way, i.e. creativeness. Inspiration comes when we furnish our brains with information about an issue or creative problem, leave it to; yes that’s right, leave it alone and don’t upset it or let others upset it. Your wonderful brain will work on the issue for you. It’s important not to bother it too much, you can check how it’s progressing but no more. Do give it more info about the issue if it asks for it. Before you know it the Eureka moment, the spark lights up and you are presented with a way forward.” — Inspiration — don’t wait for it!

I hope you don’t wait for your inspiration this week — chase it down! And have fun while you’re at it.

If you want to read these links throughout the week, follow me on facebook. If you want to chat, find me on twitter. If you’re on flickr, you might want to join our new PBH flickr group. And if you want to see the learning, authentic art, and play ideas I’m pinning (as well as my secret love of VW camper vans), I’m on pinterest, too. Have a very specific question? Join the forum or e-mail me. Have a great week!

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on January 24, 2013 at 09:16 PM

Let’s see what we got up to on facebook this week!

There are (as usual) a few posts pondering the purpose of education…

“[C]ollege students enjoying a four-year paid vacation courtesy of their parents are merely a symptom of a larger problem. … [A] university degree unaccompanied by a gain in knowledge or skills is an empty achievement indeed. For students (parentally funded or not) who have been coasting through college — and for American universities that have been demanding less work, offering more goodies and charging higher tuition — the party may soon be over.” — Does College Put Kids on a ‘Party Pathway’?

“Less than three years ago, I graduated high school. I was a driven student who scored a 100 per cent average, served as the students’ council president and class valedictorian, earned over 16 scholarships/awards, etc. The bottom line is that I was a high achiever, but I mistakenly defined achievement in a way most do: with my GPA. It was only until a couple of years ago, when I began to question my own educational career, that I realized something profound: The academic portion of my high school life was spent in the wrong way, with cloudy motivations. I treated schooling and education synonymously.” — An A+ Student Regrets His Grades

See my post earlier in the week with its long excerpt from The Trouble with Bright Kids and the quotes in last week’s round-up about the scourge of college admissions. All of these are saying the same basic thing: Our kids are only racing for the prize. They’re not in it for the learning. They’re looking at their education in the shallowest way possible and that’s our fault, because we only care about the grade, the prize, the degree.

Something needs to change. But which parent is going to be brave enough to say, forget about that — just learn something you care about?

“We believe children should not just be digital natives … they should be digital innovators.” — Kids Creating Stuff Online

That last article reminded me of my own post about why I don’t worry about my kids’ screen time — because “what they consume, they produce.”

Loved this article about Dan Pink’s new book:

“We have a lot of learned behavior of compliance, and hunger for external rewards and no real engagement.”

Oops, that harkens back to what we were just talking about. And more:

I defy you to find a two year old who is not engaged.

“Even a fifth-grader has the wherewithal to say, ‘This is what I want to learn; this is what I want to accomplish; this is what I want to get better at.’”

Love that last one. I don’t know if it’s true, though. Sadly, we may be causing them to lose that knowledge by fifth grade.

Okay, cheer up. Loved this article by Lisa about bucking the popular trends and doing what’s right for your kid:

“So many folks, related or not, feel the need to challenge your child, educational and parenting choices if they don’t match their expectations. Kind of like unwanted pregnancy advice.” — Tip #6 for Raising a Potential Thiel Fellow: Go Against the Grain

Amy shared her thoughts on the PBH for Grown-Ups series in a post that includes photos of her making spaces and her own destructive self-talk:

I admitted my personal big negative self-talk hurdle: “If my passion/interest/project isn't earning any income, it’s not worth the investment of money or time taken from the family.” This is something I deal with as the at-home non-wage-earning parent. It’s completely self-generated. I don’t hear it from anyone but myself. But always, in the back of my mind, is the constant circular mumble: Is there a way to make money from this but I don’t want to figure out an at-home business it would kill my joy I don’t have time for that I’m working quite a bit as it is but why take a class just for fun it doesn’t benefit anyone but me that’s so selfish is there a way to make money from this? — Grown-Up Projects @ Salamander Dreams

Sylvia shared beautiful photos of her space and the changes she made after reading the post about creating a supportive environment:

“i realized, i needed a space. just as lori's post encouraged me to, a space that works for me in this season of my life right now. so i got to work.” — the writer’s space @ artsyants

Are you still with me? Then you deserve a couple of purely happy links:

Alan Watts’ wonderful essay about doing what you love turned into a cartoon:

“Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.” — What If Money Was No Object? by Alan Watts

And a wonderful short video about picture book writer and artist Oliver Jeffers:

“I feel a sense of responsibility to enjoy it as much as I can.” — Oliver Jeffers Author Film 2013

The sensation of seeing all these facebook posts at once (and I won’t lie to you, there are a couple more I didn’t even include here) is like having all the ice in your supersize cup suddenly avalanche into your face. If you would rather sip it daintily all week, follow me on facebook. Unless you like the ice slam, in which case — enjoy!

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on January 18, 2013 at 12:23 PM

This week’s links I shared on Facebook:

Amy has one son in a school with a PBL curriculum and two others being homeschooled; she shared her sometimes frustrating experience in helping the school-attending son make the most of a school project:

“The school describes its curriculum as ‘project-based,’ but their definition and implementation is somewhat different than mine. … Interviewing somebody is great — if the student decides that’s the best way to get information that otherwise is unavailable. But assigning an interview takes away so much of the learning process… What do I want to know? How can I find it out? What resources are available to me? Instead, it seems like somebody else decided fifth graders should interview ‘experts.’” — {PBL} Projects + School at Kids in the Studio

I loved Carrie’s post about applying PBH lessons to her two-year-old’s love of brooms:

“It’s not about playing in to childish fixations, passing fancies or silly obsessions, as some people might think. Instead, it’s about meeting our children where they are in the moment. Sharing in their excitement, and showing them that we respect the way their brains work.” — For the love of brooms… at Carrie Mac

Respecting a child’s interests early on lays the groundwork for all the work he can do in the future. What a wonderful gift to give him. There really is no time too early to begin to pay attention to your child, his interests, and how he learns — and no time too early to begin to support him thoughtfully. 

I enjoyed this very interesting article about how kids’ engagement goes straight down the longer they’re in school, including the author’s uncertainty about whether they were measuring engagement correctly. (I think they were. What do you think?)

“Is our desire to be engaged, effective lifelong learners beaten down, if not killed outright by the time we leave high school? That may be too bleak a conclusion to draw, but the findings of a recent Gallup survey are disturbing nonetheless.” — A Bad Start to Lifelong Learning? at Mission to Learn

I liked Seth Godin’s post about how many people think they can initiate or create something vs. how many feel competent enough to criticize it:

“[M]ost people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it.” — Who goes first? at Seth’s Blog

Of course, what we want is to help our children become makers and doers.

A great article by a former university president, now professor emeritus at University of Michigan, about the college admissions process (he’s not a fan):

“At present, we inculcate the young into our superstitions, first of all the belief, against all evidence, that where you attend college determines your fate. … It is stupid, at least, to place so much weight upon it when in reality so much of what happens is up to the individual. The self-starting, energetic student at a community college will learn more and do better afterwards than a sloth attending Harvard or Yale.” — Ruining Our Children: The Scourge of College Admissions

That quote is a bit longer than what I posted on Facebook, and here’s a bonus quote:

Worse, this ugly attempt to claw your kid’s way into college implies that the only reason for doing anything — including sports or civic engagement or studying — is to get somewhere. Nothing has innate value. In such a grotesque system, now never quite becomes now, it is always just an instrument toward some future moment which of course will fail equally to be a now, for it too will be valued only for leading to the next step on this stairway to self-denigration. Race to the top, sure, but the top of what? To change the metaphor, out of the deep ocean of knowledge, we have somehow derived this shallows.

Yes, I know all that, we may say, but everyone else is doing it and we can’t put our own child at a disadvantage. What disadvantage? The disadvantage of independence, of a reflective mind and a calm spirit, of discovering one’s own interests and of following, as Emerson urged, where the soul leads? If that is a set of disadvantages, sign me and my children up. — ibid.

Finally, I loved this blog post Stacey wrote. I think it demonstrates what can happen when you have dedicated project time — you acquire the habit of bringing your energy and focus to the time you’ve set aside.

“What I didn’t realize was how doing rather than planning feels so different.” — Beyond the Plan at No Unsacred Places

Thank you for reading — have a great weekend!

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on January 11, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Hope everyone had a great week. Here are the links I shared on Facebook…

Shelli shared a beautiful post about her son’s first project work — building the Titanic not once, but twice. A great rundown of some of the things that can go wrong and right when doing project-based homeschooling:

“Let’s face it: it’s not easy letting children take the lead. It wasn’t easy trying to understand this process when my son was crying and inconsolable. But I understand now that he has to learn these lessons, and there’s no better way than letting him learn with a project that’s his own. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have cared about doing it well, and he may have given up completely.” — Building the Titanic: Project-Based Homeschooling on Mama of Letters

More project-based homeschooling in the blogs this week: Misa shared her son’s solar system project here and here — the videos are so great.

Kate had a lovely post about setting up a Reggio-style provocation:

“Reggio inspired activities are about exploration and discovery; exploring with their senses, asking questions, testing theories, making plans and thinking deeply.” — Setting Up a Reggio-Style Activity on Everyday Stories

I really liked Elisabeth’s explanation of why she blogs:

“Someone I met recently asked me why I blog. Well, because I enjoy it was my instinctive response. Because I like to share, to get feedback and to promote myself and others I guess, was my second comment. The third comment must is the main reason though — because the therapeutic effect it has on me, and the escape from a harsh reality.” — The not so fluffy reality on Fine Little Day

I do think blogging makes great therapy!

An interesting article on why some people insist they aren’t creative:

“Unfortunately, because the belief that failing is such a terrible thing to experience, many people can’t accept that exploring is perfectly normal. So they never explore.” — The psychology behind people believing they aren’t creative on Creative Something

I liked this article on setting areas of focus rather than concrete goals — there are a lot of studies showing that most people have a difficult time meeting goals, and maybe this would be a step in a better direction. (Although personally I love my goals.)

“Instead of identifying goals, consider identifying areas of focus.

A goal defines an outcome you want to achieve; an area of focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing. A goal is a result; an area of focus is a path. A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.” — Consider Not Setting Goals in 2013 on Harvard Business Review

This article also reminded me of people choosing a word for their upcoming year. Do you do that? I never do, but this year instead of a list of resolutions or goals, I decided to just focus. I want to focus on my priorities, focus on finishing the things I’ve already begun, and focus on my long-term goals. So I guess my area of focus is focusing. :P

Loved this post and felt it was one of the most evenhanded and thought-provoking looks at whether college will be necessary or preferable for our kids:

“Look, I teach at a high school that each year sends roughly 92% of our graduates on to a two or four-year college. We live in a community where college is the default assumption and, to be sure, that's worked really well for many of our students for a long time. But I'd like to delve a bit deeper. Roughly 92% of our graduates go on to two or four year colleges, but how many of them graduate and then use that degree for gainful employment? We don't have that data, so let me do a bit of assuming...”

“Who says that it has to be learn, then work? If you were devising a system from scratch, is that how you would design it? If you were designing your life from scratch, is that how you would want it to look?” — In Just Six Short Years on The Fischbowl

I can’t pull enough quotes to do this post justice — it’s well worth the read, even if you are positive you want your kids to go to college.

Speaking of which, I posted a quote from this article and got a big response in comments:

“In fifty years, if not much sooner, half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist. The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students.” — The End of the University as We Know It on The American Interest

Did you know that only 32.9% of men finish a degree in four years? Only 27% of first-generation college students? (I was one of those.) Did you know how many kids walk away from college with student loan debt but no degree? I didn’t. I don’t know if the writer of the above article is right and the university as we know it will eventually disappear, but the current system doesn’t seem sustainable. College costs have been outpacing inflation, income, healthcare, and everything else for decades. And fifty years is a long time — I’m guessing we’re going to see some real change. The only question is, how fast and what will it look like?

Friday link round-up (and news!)

Published by Lori Pickert on January 4, 2013 at 03:55 PM

Not a lot going on in facebook link land this week as chez Pickert has been in holiday mode. Still some great stuff to share, though.

Cori wrote about skills and mentoring and she also shared her project journal in this great post:

Honestly, it would be so much easier to teach my kids what I know and what I think they need to know. It is more effort for me to learn what THEY know and want to know. I feel like I’m running to keep up. I know that I don’t need to be an expert on a subject. I just need to take an interest and learn enough to talk with them. I can let them teach me. We can learn together. — Project-Based Homeschooling @ Wonder in the Woods

Amy wrote a terrific three-part series about process art. This grew out of a discussion in the PBH forum — if you’re not a member, you should join! And if you’re already a member, don’t forget to stop by and see what’s going on.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I figured I could do anything. That is the confidence I want for my children. — Why Process over Product? {Part One} @ Kids in the Studio

When a child (or adult) has an idea and a specific end result in mind, if he or she hasn’t had the opportunity to explore different media and materials to see what they do, he or she will have no idea how to achieve the desired goal. — Why Process over Product? {Part Two} @ Kids in the Studio

“Just messing around” with materials allows the space for accidents to happen, for unexpected results, for discoveries, and that is when we learn. — Why Process over Product? {Part Three} @ Kids in the Studio

I quoted a few classic Camp Creek posts on topics having to do with the new year and resolutions:

The antidote to sleepwalking through life is to wake up and realize you’re in charge. — Design the Life You Want

[T]here are so many things worth doing that are worth doing badly ... worth mastering slowly and even painfully ... worth our time and attention and focus. We need to remember that we own our lives and we can close the door on the world and enjoy our simple pleasures and our complex dreams alone, just for ourselves. And let the world look at someone else for awhile. — A Work of One’s Own

We have the power to create the circumstances under which our children can direct and manage their own learning and make their ideas happen. We have the power to create the life we want, for ourselves and for our family. The only question is whether we’ll choose to wield it. — Deciding to Live the Life You Imagine

We’re sharing our baby steps monthly goals in the forum — be sure to join us if you want to share some focused community support.

Some actual news:

I’ll be launching cohort classes in the next month or so — you’ll be able to join a group that will work its way through the PBH book together and discuss questions, ideas, and plans in a private forum. Make friends, dig a little deeper into PBH ideas, and get support while you experiment with PBH in your home. Stay tuned — more on that to come soon.

A lot of people have e-mailed me or talked in the forum about wanting to find time for their own interests, start a small business, start their own learning project, and so on. I’m launching a new Monday blog series on “PBH for grown-ups” talking about how we can start living the engaged, learning, working, doing, making life we want for our children.

Along with the blog series, we’ve created an area of the forum for sharing our goals and supporting one another as we move forward and put those ideas into action. Have a secret wish to launch a project of your own? Join us!

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on December 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM

My (semi-)weekly round-up of things I’ve shared on my Facebook page

Note: If you follow me on Facebook, they now only show you my posts when they feel like it. You can make sure you receive the notifications by going to my page and hovering over the “Liked” button and then making sure there’s a check mark next to “Get Notifications.” (Thank you to Shelli for the info!)

Loved Amy’s post about allowing her children the freedom to explore all their interests through projects:

“If I, an adult, am free to focus on what interests me without external judgment — without anyone telling me, “No, that’s frivolous, that’s a waste of time, go do something I’ve decided is meaningful,” then it seems obvious that my child have the same opportunity to pursue an interest without judgment.” — Monster Project @ Kids in the Studio

Continuing in that theme, Jane wrote about working through her angst about her children’s love of video games:

“I love my boy, and if I love my boy, I can’t be dismissive and contemptuous of something he loves.” — How I got deprogrammed and learned to love video games @ Nothing By the Book

The most important take-away of this article is how much progress you can see quickly by making just one or two small changes. We can use this ourselves and help our children understand it as well:

“One came into my office the other day, saying she knew that her class wasn’t going well and that she didn’t think she could ever help her students improve. I rejected that idea and noted two small changes she could make.” — At Work, Practice Puts Perfection in Reach

An interesting article in the NYT about whether college is always necessary:

“College is training for managerial work, and the economy doesn’t need that many managers.” — Saying No to College

(You can find several of my posts about college/uncollege here if you’d like to read more on this topic.)

I have mixed feelings about being called “lucky” when I’ve worked hard to make my own luck, but I thought Seth Godin’s take was interesting:

“[P]ersistence becomes an essential element of good, because without persistence, you never get a chance to get lucky.” — Confusing lucky with good

A good thing to remember, maybe especially around the holidays:

“People respond to policies. They understand a policy as a boundary. They will respect you more for being clear about what you won’t do.” — Say YES to Yourself with a Personal “Don’t-Do” Policy

Finally, a classic post from this blog, quoted by Elizabeth in the forum and worth thinking about as we coast into a new year:

“The antidote to sleepwalking through life is to wake up and realize you’re in charge.” — Design the Life You Want

Thank you for reading!

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on December 7, 2012 at 06:56 PM

A weekly round-up of things I’ve shared on my facebook page


Michelle tells a great story about letting her daughter control her project to the point of letting her quit:

“We don’t always finish projects. I rarely (if ever) have beautiful pinterest-perfect presentations to share. We fumble. We fall down. We get back up. A lot.

I’m fine with that. In fact, it all lines up fairly well with my educational philosophy.” — NaNoWriMo Outcome and Lessons Learned

This made me think of what I call the “relentless push toward the middle” — our need to push our kids to be that archetypal “ideal student”:

“As a psychologist, I have yet to see a child brought in for therapy because he is too social and his parents are concerned that he seems to have little access to his inner life. Yet, child after child is brought in for not talking enough, only having a few friends, and enjoying time alone — for being introverted.” — Laurie Helgoe, Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts

How we think about a situation changes everything. This article made me think of how kids feel they can tackle more if they think intelligence is malleable:

“Just thinking that willpower is a limited resource makes it more likely that you’ll feel depleted after a demanding task. However, if you see challenges as motivation, you are more likely to perform as if your willpower is unlimited.” — How to Power Through Any Demanding Task

When I need to reboot my day or my work in general, I sit down in the studio and just make something. We need to build these opportunities into our life:

“Unnecessary creating changes everything because it redeems useless time into time spent doing genuinely meaningful things for yourself and others.” — How Unnecessary Creating Changes Everything

Finally, I shared a post I wrote here about my favorite children’s Christmas book — well worth checking out if it’s new to you!

“The drawings are so charming, the stories so funny, and the whole concept so loving that it has become one of our absolute holiday favorites. If you love beautiful books, if you love Christmas, you can’t possibly not love this beautiful, wonderful book.” — Letters from Father Christmas by JRR Tolkien

Hope you all had a great week!

Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on November 30, 2012 at 08:14 AM

I thought I’d start doing a weekly round-up of the things I share on my Facebook page

A great story of what happens when you drop the “old, tired crafts” and let kids take charge of creating their own representations:

“When Michelle, our most recent parent-assistant, came out of the atelier one morning, she said to me, “I’m getting resistance from the children. They are not into this activity at all!” I’ve followed Lori Pickert’s blog for years, had just ordered her book, Project Based Homeschooling, and was about halfway through with it at that point...and the first thing that came to my mind was, “because you chose the project, not them.” Michelle had one of those “a-ha” moments, went back in the atelier, and this is the beauty that unfolded afterwards.” — Inspiring Reflections from a Parent-Assistant, TerraLuz Schoolhouse

I liked the ideas expressed here about learning to express what really matters to you:

“Observe a 4-year-old child going through her daily life. You will not find the slightest bit of irony in her behavior. She has not, so to speak, taken on the veil of irony. She likes what she likes and declares it without dissimulation. She is not particularly conscious of the scrutiny of others. She does not hide behind indirect language. … What would it take to overcome the cultural pull of irony?”

“The most important question: How would it feel to change yourself quietly, offline, without public display, from within?” — How to Live Without Irony, New York Times

An interview with designer Cameron Moll; as a bonus, he and his wife are homeschooling parents:

“Now, let me answer your question about creativity. I was always getting into trouble. I once tried to disassemble our dishwasher; I must have been five or six at the time. Being a father now, I know what it’s like to see your children do something mischievous, but also appreciating what they’re doing because they’re experimenting and trying to learn. That’s all I was doing; I wanted to know how this thing worked and, in my mind, the easiest way to do that was to take it apart. My mother was a saint in allowing me to do things like that.” — The Great Discontent: Cameron Moll interview

An interesting article that ties back to learned helplessness vs. becoming mastery-oriented:
“I think that from very early ages we [in America] see struggle as an indicator that you’re just not very smart,” Stigler says. “It’s a sign of low ability — people who are smart don’t struggle, they just naturally get it, that’s our folk theory. Whereas in Asian cultures they tend to see struggle more as an opportunity.” — Struggle for Smarts? How Eastern and Western Cultures Tackle Learning
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