Tag Archives: learning

Independent learning at its’ best…

Tomorrow on Saturday the 23, I am giving myself a learning gift.  I am going to participate in a seminar on Creativity with Dr. Karen Royer. 

Dr. Royer is a specialist in the use of creativity to enrich lives, point new directions and provide new directions in learning.  This is independent learning at its best… giving yourself the gift of growth…

Look for opportunities to give yourself such wonderful gifts… for they are at the core of what we who are trying to fulfil our gifts are doing. 

I’ll be posting about this beautiful experience in the next Independent Learning and Homeschooling….

Leave a comment

Filed under independent learning

Reflective Learning Journals

Information processing…  A concept that is so, so important but so limited in our busy world…. So what do we do to add to our information processing….our number crunching… our mental data filing.  Well there is something magical about the hands… there is almost no learning that does not involve the hands in some way… there is a message in this…

Writing… drawing… coloring… cutting… pasting… all can be part of an information processing strategy… The best examples of this kind of journal can be found by studying the way some of the most awesome minds in the history of the world learned.  Consider the journals of Leonardo…

Leonardo’s journals included everything… he did studies of zoology,  human anatomy,  drafts of writings,  diagrams of weapons, studies for his great artworks….he literally wrote down every thought he had in the course of his life… They are fascinating to look at for their diversity of thought and creativity…. they are essentially trains of thought as they occurred to him… in great detail….

So how do we use this idea… first get a good journal… I like Moleskin journals because I just can’t seem to tear them up…  Get one for every discipline you are studying..  One of my great friends has a journal in which he has his essential knowledge… quotes… formulas… drawings… and so much else…

As you read, think, study, or reflect, write down every thought you have no matter how seemingly unimportant…. then follow it if it seems to lead somewhere else….

Write down every question you have about the subject…don’t be shy…Leonardo constantly referred to his lack of learning…write down questions that come from reading… those that come from reflections… as well as those that may seem silly…

Write down things you are trying to remember… there is something magic about the hand… in writing is processing… amazing things happen when one writes down questions…. facts… learnings….

Then answer your questions….  you will find that one answer to a question leads to another question… then another and another… until you have learned as much as someone who took several courses in the discipline…

If you are a writer… write down things about your characters that you may need later… never trust your memory… a good idea drifts off into space so quickly you can’t imagine.  

Include articles you find… cut them out and paste them in… then write their significant points in the journal… draw their significant points…. outline them… but whatever you do.. just work the material… so it will be digested….

Don’t worry …. in this process you will find that you wake up each day with more understanding… the more information you collect the greater your mental database will grow….

Cut pictures from magazines, journals, books,,, (your books)  and paste these into your journals with captions that explain to your their meaning… to you not to someone else….to you…

Draw your concepts… forget artistry if you aren’t an artist… try to get as close as possible… just work a concept until you have learned it…. don’t study it… work it… process it… play with it… just run it through your mind without fear that you wont learn…. you…will…learn….

Reflect… take time to write a couple of pages that consolidate what you are learning in one place.  Your wonderful brain will absorb this material… you will also find that this form of reflection will point out what you don’t know…

Set aside a few pages to write lists or goals about things to do to learn more about your subject. 

If your discipline works with photography, travel to take pictures of locations, collect and photography samples… the act of hunting for samples will force you to explore….

Explore and note what you find… travel, research, go to libraries… make notes… carry your notebook with you where you go on your hunt… I cannot imagine that Leonardo traveled without his notebooks. 

Reflect, collect, write, record…. and learn…. journaling is one of your best independent or home school learning tools…..

Leave a comment

Filed under independent learning, nontraditional learning

The Practice of Learning…the cultivation of the child

Kurt Vonnegut said “The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.”  

I risk a paraphrase of that magnificent quotation…

The practice of Learning isn’t to make a living.  It’s to make your soul grow. 

Inside every human child there is a secret place… hidden… unknown… instilled with a magnificence we cannot fathom…

A place as deep as any ocean… as individual as each child’s DNA… In fact, I postulate this place holds each child’s personal intellectual genetic compass… a pathway that is only found through following the desires of that child’s intellectual heart… 

It is a place not often found… a place found only by the most blessed of people who were reared in an environment that encouraged that mad pursuit of intellectual independence toward what a “particular”  child was created to do… not educated, but cultivated… placed in sacred soil where the child was allowed to grow toward who he “is”…  for those who never find that special gift become those who live incomplete lives and who come to say in their old age those most tragic words… “If only”…

It is a place all but never found… for the soil in which we place most children today is not sacred… rather it is an artificial soil intended to grow discrete skills, uniformity, conformity, and the intellectual joining with the mass of humanity… humanity defined by the industrial definition of what it is to be human… 

They all must read… but they will read…

They all must calculate numbers… but they will calculate…

They all must write… but they all will write…

They all must understand what they need to endure in the world… but they will endure…

and they will learn all those things through the search for that hidden place… the sacred gift that each child is given… what they were made to be… 

These blessed children live in a world not defined by an expert’s definition of what a “graduate looks like”… No, they live in a world dedicated to letting them find the hidden place within their being by following their joy… by following that strong compass bearing holding true in their soul… by following their innate fascination with the creations miraculous paths…

They are the ones who walk the paths reading the compass of their heart… indeed that is the nature of those who found their genius… those who did not find that hidden place look at those who did find it and marvel… and feel the saddest intuition… did I not have something like that in me…

When we look at such a person we are looking at pure joy… we are looking at a being following the light for which they were created… the musician who plays miraculously… the doctor who heals with hands that seem dipped in sacred waters… the teacher who can reach into a child to help them find their hidden gift… the shuttle pilot who rides the thunder into the vastness of space… the carpenter who builds a house to stand the centuries… the cook who creates wonder from the gifts of the Earth… the physicist who listens to the music of the spheres… the machinist who works the elementals into shapes that allow the engines of our world to generate untold power in silence… the pastor who can communicate the eternal or quiet a grieving heart…

All these and millions more gifts are in as many children… But so few ever find that hidden place within their soul… so few… 

So what must we as a civilization do? 

We must remove the bindings of artificiality in what we allow children to learn…

We must renew our faith in art… music… great literature… true science…

We must renew our faith in play…for play is the foundation of creativity…

We must learn to trust that true compass within ourselves that always points to the joy… for as surely as we try to follow another’s compass or definition of learning we crush the joy…

We must give up our belief that there is “One” body of knowledge needed by every child…

We must not confine our thinking about learning to the small and mundane, but rather turn our thoughts to the greatness that could be… in every child… for in every honest and good path there is greatness…

We must trust our civilization to the miracle of the genius that created every child… we must allow ourselves to cultivate every growing child in such a way that they search, honestly search, for their hidden place… their hidden gifts… who they are supposed to be…

We must believe that we were given our minds to develop… 

We must believe above all else that we do feel the tug of the compass within ourselves… 

We must believe that if we follow that tug, that arterial tide within ourselves we will find our genius…

We will know when we have found our hidden place because it will be as if we have a powerful wind at our backs… those who have found their hidden place are the ones we call brilliant… the ones we call genius… the ones who inspire us… 

Should we fail in this we will see no more Galileo’s, no more Bach’s, no more Debakey’s, no more Einstein’s…  and we are failing… 

We are failing because we have believed a lie… we have believed that every child must be measured, cut from the same dull cloth, labeled with any of the hundreds of ways we try to categorize and limit human beings… We have believed that every child must learn the same things and be measured in the same way… and match the image of “what a graduate should look like”.   

We have believed the false premise that a human child can be manufactured through our well-meaning programs and curricula.  We have believed that the fact that we all share DNA makes us like every other… 

We have to learn that our DNA, the very thing that defines us all as human, makes us all as humanly different as stars in different galaxies… for that is what DNA is… it is an individual program… none like another… 

No human child is created like any other…when we found that DNA is a living program we took it to mean uniformity of universal intent when it means exactly the opposite… universal uniqueness…    

 This is why there is a dawning in some hearts lighting the way to another path, an independent brook away from the stream of humanity flowing into a sea of conformity… into the religion of similarity, of artificial counting of bits of knowledge, of sameness…. 

Those are the hearts that beat independently, the do answer to another rhythm, another music of the spheres…..

 The saddest truth is this; we will not see another Galileo, another Bach, another Debakey, another strange walker in time unless we have the courage to rebuild that which we call learning…. in our attempts to create uniformity in learning we will block the next stage in our development as human beings…. as a species specially created by God… each of us with a distinct purpose… each with an inborn joy that is lost to most of us by the time we are teenagers… the result being all the particular problems that do overtake our children because we are trying to actually create a uniform human being… as uniform as the length of each grass blade in a suburban lawn.

We must adopt a practice of learning that is only intent on finding that hidden place, a practice of learning that is independent, that results in the cultivation of the seed that is within every individually created child. 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Developing internet Textbooks for home schooling or independent learning

I’ve been a few days since the last post.  My job as a teacher at the end of a semester takes up a lot of time from writing.  But that’s the way it should be.  But I’m back and inspired.

Organizing data….. one of the most useful things a home schooler, or distance learner can do.  There are ever more sophisticated techniques to collect information and organize it. 

Perhaps you or your child is about to take up the study of  weather.  You might want to call your book Internet Weather.  Immediately begin to design your course of study.  I you are like many people you will need some direction to understand exactly what you want to cover or understand what needs to be covered. 

Search for a syllabus for weather on Google or Bing.  You will have several thousand come up.  Now you decide how technical you want to go.  I actually like to use a notebook to list topic headings.  I find cutting and pasting to be something I don’t want to do all day. 

Look for a syllabus or topic arrangement that splits the topics into a logical hierarchy.  As you go through the links from your search look for topics that might have been left out of your first topic list. 

The next thing to do is to start the internet textbook.  Start a page in Word, Publisher, or a Webpage.  Google Documents are wonderful as are other open office suites on the web.  Place your major topic headings in place on the first page of your document.

After you have placed your major topic headings label them as chapters.  Then begin to accumulate links that contain information relevant to the chapter.  As you continue this process you will begin to understand even more what you need to include. 

I have included an example of one on weather that I created as a reference.  This particular one isn’t complete but you will be able to see the process and get the idea.  This really isn’t hard.  And doing this can save you a tremendous amount of money in the long run.  You can choose to leave it on the document as a set of links or print it out.

A Weather Textbook

 

by
 
John J. McGeough
 
 
The development of internet self-study resources is going to become an important skill in the future of independent education.  The purpose of this document is to function as an experiment in the development of a personal study textbook. 
 
Introduction
 
      A.  USA Today Fronts
 
    B. Guide to science of the atmosphere
 
    C. Time as it is used by weather resources….
        z time
 
1. Reading weather maps online….
 
2. Earth’s Atmosphere
    a. Atmospheric density
    b. The Greenhouse Effect
    c.  Earths Atmospheric structure diagram
    d. Earths atmospheric layers explained 
   e.  Earths atmosphere links from eMints
 
3. The Seasons
 
    a.      What causes the seasons? 
    b.      Activities for the seasons.
    c.      Another view of the seasons. 
 
4. Solar and Terrestrial Radiation
 
    a.    Basics of solar radiations effect on Earth’s weather.
    b.    Solar radiation and the earth’s atmosphere
    c.     NOAA Space Weather and relation to Earth’s weather
 
5. atmospheric Heat and Temperature
 
    a.  The Earths atmosphere and heat
    b.  Atmospheric heat
    c.  Methods of heat transfer in the atmosphere
    
6. Atmospheric Moisture
 
    a.  Atmospheric moisture and the Earth
         
 
    
7. Atmospheric stability and instability
 
    a.  Weather and water page
    b.  Atmospheric stability and instability
    
8. Condensation and precipitation
     
    a.  Atmospheric condensation and precipitation
     b.  types of precipitation
     c.  Forms of precipitation
    
9. Atmospheric pressure and wind
 
    a.  Atmospheric pressure and wind demonstrations
     b.  Atmospheric pressure makes the wind blow
     c.  Air pressure and wind
 
10.  Global Atmospheric Circulation
 
        a.  Global atmospheric circulation
           b.  Global atmospheric circulation animation
           c.  Global scale circulation
 
 
 
 
 
 

2 Comments

Filed under home school, independent learning, nontraditional learning

Learning projects as the key to independent learning

We all learn what we must by creating our own content.  By this I mean that sitting through a lecture is passive.  We learn by doing.  So much of what we do in our work is learned through our work.  I know it is entirely possible to teach yourself virtually anything.  I’ve done it many times.  Most of what I know I was introduced to in school at best.  The real learning took place when I began to “practice” the skills as a teacher.  The best learning skill I stumbled across was trying to break down things I was to teach so they could be understood by my students.   My students learned a little.  I mastered my subject. 

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to buy new end tables to go with a new sofa I had purchased.  I had just moved into a new house.  Furnishing it on a limited budget was proving to be a challenge.  Everything I looked at that I liked was out of my price range.  Everything I looked at that was in my price range was, frankly, junk.  I was completely frustrated.  But, a peculiar thing had just happened.  I had seen the movie called “The Edge”.  In the movie the main characters are trapped in the wilderness after a plane crash.  They are then pursued by a killer bear.  The point of telling you about the movie is that a line in the movie helped resolve my end table problem as well as giving me a way to add to my income substantially.  At one desperate point in the movie the main character says to another character trying to goad him into going on the line “what one man can do, another man can do”.  He repeats it again and again.  He makes the secondary character yell the phrase until he is pumped up enough to go on. 

So, standing in a furniture store I recalled that line from the movie.  I started looking at the end table I liked.  I turned it over, examined it from every angle and decided that this was something I should be able to build.  To that point I had never cut a piece of wood in my life.  So I set myself a problem.  I would become a woodworker.  I went to a bookstore looking for books on woodworking.  I bought several.  Then I spent the next two or three weeks reading everything I could about woodwork.  I went to woodworking stores with a picture of the end table I wanted.  The guy in the store said “first you build a box”.  Of course, I then asked him how to build a box as well as what tools I would need to build one.  He took me to a cabinet in the store.  First, he took the drawers out which he explained were open boxes.  Then he showed me the frame of the cabinet which turned out to be, guess what, a box that had a simple support structure for the drawers.  Then he showed me a copy of a magazine that had a plan for end tables, a dresser and a bed.  I asked him what I needed at the bare minimum to complete the job.  I bought a basic table saw and a couple of hand tools.  I had a number of tools at home in my garage that I inherited from my father. 

I studied the plans until I had them memorized.  Then I bought some oak plywood along with a couple of oak boards as the plan specified.  Within a week I had my two end tables made that were stronger than anything I had found in the store.  Today much of the furniture in my house is my work.  I also sell custom furniture.  Soon I learned to do other types of woodwork which I now sell at shows and through galleries.  My work is in homes all over the country.  Later I took a few classes which taught me new techniques.  But for the most part I simply ran into a problem then found a solution. 

I had embarked on what has become a life-long learning project that has furnished my home as well as giving me a substantial second income.  In that way I learned woodworking to the point where I am able to build virtually anything I want to have in my house.  I’ve also learned how to make it look as good as that which can be found in fine furniture stores.  In the process after the initial addition of some tools I have saved thousands of dollars on furnishings.   So, this is how you learn… 

First, set yourself a problem.

Then identify what you need to know to solve the problem.  I will outline how to do this in future entries in this series of posts.

Follow through with a plan while you learn by doing. 

Change course when needed. 

Add layers of complexity to your skill set as you go. 

Continue to do so until you are a master at the particular skill you are trying to learn. 

Remember that a learning project can be small or large.  A learning project can be easy or seriously complicated.  But you can teach yourself virtually anything while getting help from instructors when needed as you go along.  Most of what you do will be researched from the web or other print sources. 

In this way you can learn anything.  We will examine these processes in detail as we go along.  I invite you to stay with me on this journey in the discovery of how we really learn. 

And, you will do most of it at home.   

What we do with young people is almost completely passive.  They sit attempting to receive information in a way that is completely alien to the way people actually learn.  One cannot learn to ride a bicycle listening to detailed instructions being given about how to sit on the bike, how to move the pedals or how to steer.  One has to get on the bicycle to learn to ride.   Similarly, you can’t learn to swim without getting wet.  Kids can’t learn to swim by standing on the side of the pool practicing strokes.  They have to get into the water to actually apply the principles they must use to swim.

There are several things mature learners can do to ensure that they master what they want to know.  Parents working with home school kids can guide their children in duplicating what a mature, efficient learner will do.

2 Comments

Filed under independent learning, nontraditional learning, Uncategorized

The role of responsibility in single parent homeschools…

Can single parents home school their children?  Most certainly yes.  The adolescent in American society has been marginalized.  Teenagers are able to do much more than society has indoctrinated us to believe.  We have come to believe that during the teenage years kids are just unable to take care of their lives.  Nothing could be further from truth.  The social beliefs held by society regarding teenagers hold that they are basically not responsible, unable to think for themselves and unable to make rational decisions.  Perhaps so, but we have trained them to be that way.

The first thing we have to do is rid ourselves of the notion that young people, after an age where they can care for themselves, are unable. Adolescence is an invented concept, an illness almost.  This condition was created to justify the continued confinement of young people in state institutions where they are forced to follow strict guidelines aiming to help them grow out of this invented malady. 

Young people are not disabled.  They may be inexperienced, untrained, lacking in the social graces but that isn’t their fault.  Rather it is the fault of a society that keeps kids in a perpetual state of childhood long after they are able to do much for themselves.  We create kids who are unable to cope with life by not allowing them to live life.  We seek to control them far beyond the years when they need or want control.  They are shackled to us as people who are actually mentally ill or disabled.  I don’t believe this is the case. 

I have come to believe that most of the problems we have with kids in this era are caused by the way we treat them especially after the age of about 12.  We have never seen an era in American history when we have so  crippled the development of young people.  How do we expect them to grow into young adults capable of taking care of themselves and their business when we keep them in de facto day care until they are close to or at the age of 18. 

We make every decision for them.  We tell them when to change classes.  We tell them that you study math from 9 to 10 in the morning nor can anything else be done during that time.   Institutions tell them when they can go to the bathroom.  They tell them when they can eat, what they can eat and give them about 25 to 30 minutes to eat.  They have little or no control over what they learn or what they want to learn.  They are often told that what they want to learn is unimportant.  They are lied to about the usefulness of many subjects in their future lives.  Complain to me about that last statement if you can still work with Quadratic Equations or have ever used them in your work.  Better yet complain to me about that statement if you didn’t eventually figure them out for yourself. 

Everything we do with kids is designed to support an invented culture.  In that culture invented labels control who you are, how valuable you are thought of and often where you will live, how much money you will make as well as whether you will be regarded as a useful member of society. 

So, in setting up a child to be able to care for herself when a parent is not around first the parent must throw out all that garbage.  Parents have to give up the idea that kids are incapable of caring for themselves.  Yes, they are still responsible to the parent legally and morally but they are able to do the work of men and women much earlier than our culture seems to think.  Can a child prepare lunch? Yes.  Can a child follow a schedule?  Yes.  Can a child stay alone after a certain age for the greater part of the day?  Yes. 

I did.  I had no choice.  At home I was regarded as a young adult able to care for myself, take care of my needs and behave responsibly during the time my single mother was at work.  I was taught that I was able and responsible from the time my father died when I was 12 years old. 

I was thrust into an environment where my mother had to work or we didn’t have bread on the table.  I had to man up.  And I responded to it.  Yes, I still did childish things.  I liked to play.  But I also owned my life.  I soon came to believe that I was man enough to make the basic decisions about my life.  I took on learning projects at a very early age at the encouragement of my mother but also on my own.  If I wanted to know something I learned it.  Soon I came to regard school as superfluous to my life.  I had enormous problems with school after that.  I didn’t get into trouble because I was taught not to disobey, but it rubbed me raw that I had to slow down for the school, do what I perceived to be silly, and surrender my independence to the school at the start of the school bell.  I was a kid who was able to cook, able to plan my own learning, able to take care of the house, able to do all the things I needed to do to live successfully on my own when my mother was not around.  

Yet, while I lived a near adult life at home, I lived the life of a child in school.  I lined up with the rest, went to the bathroom when I was told, drank water when I was told and only then.   I could not take part in the most basic social interactions people are used to in the general society.  My conversation was controlled.  Attempts were made to control my thinking.  Attempts were made to make me think what the school wanted me to think.  Those attempts were unsuccessful.  I watched friends hit with boards because they spoke out of turn, engaged in normal childish behavior, forgot something  or expressed an opinion.  And I watched the culture approve of that. 

So step one has to be when working toward developing a single parent home school to give up the idea that your child is unable.  Your child is able to do far, far more than the culture has indoctrinated us to believe.  Trust your child.  Treat him as a young adult.  Extend freedom until a breakdown occurs then talk about it, pull back a little.  But, by all means sit down with the child to show him what is needed in a given situation, then expect him to fulfil what he needs to do.  The vast majority of the time the child will come through.

Don’t forget that adolescence is an invention designed to support government schooling.  It is a concept designed to keep young men and women in a perpetual state of childhood until they are nearly 20. 

And above all remember that your child was given to you by God.  Your child does not belong to the state.  Your child is a holy gift from God with all the rights all people are born with as stated in our government documents.  We seem to be forgetting that people crave freedom, independence and self-realization.  Give those things to a child and you will see miracles occur.

6 Comments

Filed under parental rights, parenting, single parent homeschooling

Single Parents and home schooling, is it possible?

Yesterday, I got an excellent note from a reader named Amy. Her note was a response to my post of the 20th. I could just feel her frustration in the note. Education in this day is so difficult. The difficulties arise out of our present culture. Amy has inspired me to investigate the whole problem of how can single parents home school their kids while managing to keep body and soul together as well as staying sane. I thought today I would just make the blog entry my response to Amy’s wonderful note.

Dear Amy,

I completely understand your concerns. I have a foot in both worlds. First, I am a career teacher. Second, I am a stong advocate of home schooling and independent learning. I share your concerns. Home schooling isn’t going to be possible for everyone. There will always be a valuable place for public, private and other kinds of educational venues. Your concerns are completely valid. I have seen several creative single parents make it work while working full time jobs. First, there are so many resources out there now that did not exist years ago. I serve some families as a consultant supervisor to their kids by being in constant electronic contact with the kids and the parents. As I develop the blog, I will outline some of the ways that single parents are making it work. Tragically, about 50% of all parents are now single. Flexible day care situations help. So do family resources. Regarding the more advanced subjects the resources available to kids now are immense. I have not seen a family who wants to make advanced study work have a failure. But, there are others who can’t. In that case there are co-ops and tutorial services available. Please understand, I am not at all opposed to public/private schools in the traditional mode. Rather I am about solutions to improve the traditional school but also to develop solutions for the parent who choses to home school whether single or not. Remember that schools are a recent invention in the history of mankind. Personally I remember almost nothing I learned in school other than things I was really motivated to learn. I learned all the math I know including calculus myself. I also take it that you are a working teacher. As you know so much of the time in schools now is wasted taking care of disciplinary/social issues. Most of what is taught in twelve years can be taught in 5 to 7. I do share your concerns. Please stay with me as we work through these things together. I sense a true concern for kids in your writing. You are the kind of person who needs to be in teaching even though I sense your frustration with several things. Remember I taught for over 30 years. The last 15 I have also been involved with home schooling and independent learning. I invite you to stay with me on this journey. I also invite your comments which are excellent and perceptive. Thanks so much, John

Leave a comment

Filed under home school, single parent homeschooling