Monday, July 26, 2010

Recent Online Finds

Here are some of my favourite recent finds from mucking about on the internet. Each quote is just a piece from the larger article. To read the full-meal-deal, please click on the article title! Enjoy.

The Crash You Can Avoid by Tony Schwartz, Harvard Business Review

The complexity of the problems we're facing is growing, but our capacity to meet them is diminishing, precisely because we're moving so fast. We feel compelled to push ourselves harder and more continuously, so we're sleeping less, resting less, sitting at our desks for longer, moving and exercising less, eating fast foods faster, and becoming fatter and less healthy.

In the face of relentlessly rising demand, we feel constant pressure to get more done. Seduced by the new technologies, we juggle multiple activities to try to keep up. We're partially engaged in many things, but rarely fully engaged in anything. By splitting our attention, we sacrifice the qualities we need most: absorbed focus, reflectiveness, creativity and the capacity to think big picture...

The Creativity Crisis by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, Newsweek

Researchers say creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into homeroom. The argument that we can’t teach creativity because kids already have too much to learn is a false trade-off. Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. Scholars argue that current curriculum standards can still be met, if taught in a different way...

Whole Life Unschooling: It's For More Than Just Kids by The Organic Sister

There are so many definitions to unschooling. You can find them everywhere and they all do a perfectly fine job of explaining unschooling.

And yet, knowing full well how to define unschooling, I’m still not happy explaining it.

Why?

Because most definitions describe unschooling as a movement, a form of education or a belief on how we raise children. Our short answer usually sounds a bit like this:

"Unschooling is hands-on, experience-based and interest-led learning. The world is our classroom and everything in it our curricula."

Oh, but it’s so much more than that!

That answer really only describes how our child learns. It doesn’t describe how we live, how we view the world around us, how we strive to treat others or what any of this looks like...

The Adult Privilege Checklist by Anji of Shut Up, Sit Down

Reading a post by Elena Perez at California NOW made me think about privilege checklists (like the Male Privilege Checklist and the White Privilege Checklist, for example) and I came to the realisation that, as yet, nobody had written an adult privilege checklist...

This one is a bit different from previous privilege checklists in that instead of being written from the perspective of the privileged class (the male person, the white person) it is written in the voice of the oppressed class (the child). We came to this decision because written from the adult’s perspective, intersectionality became a problem. Things like “Light switches, windows, sinks and toilets are positioned for me to be able to reach easily” are null and void when thinking about, say, an adult wheelchair user. So we changed it to “Light switches, windows, sinks and toilets are not usually positioned for someone my size to be able to reach easily.” It is our hope that, written from the child’s perspective, the list shows the ways in which children are disadvantaged compared to the majority of adults, as written from the perspective of the adult, some of these would not apply...


10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your On-line Life by Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Review

The Internet's impact on our daily lives, experiences and relationships is real. Our world is deeply affected by networks...

And yet many of us feel like we don't have a lot of choices about the role of the Internet in our lives. We spend more and more time online, but feel less and less connected...

Still, the fact that life online can occasionally surprise and delight us points us towards the truth: it's not the Internet itself that leads to pathologies like cyber-bullying, spam and identity theft. Rather it's our decision — individually and collectively — to separate the Internet from the context, norms and experience that guide human behavior. It's our decision to engage in online interaction as if it were fundamentally different from offline conversation. It's our decision to label the Internet as something — anything! — other than real life...

Why I Stopped Blogging About Education by Maya Frost

In the last few months, many parents and students have contacted me to ask what happened to my blog here at New Globals. “What’s all this talk about Uruguay?” they want to know. “What happened to the posts about studying abroad, saving on college costs, avoiding student debt and getting a personalized international education?” they ask. “Why did you change it?”...

Here are the main issues that have convinced me to shift my efforts:

Fear causes paralysis. Since the publication of my book, I have talked with hundreds of parents and students interested in doing high school and college differently. I’ve received loads of wonderful emails from those who are wildly enthusiastic about the Bold School approach. “This resonates with me,” they say. “I’ve been looking for a book like this for years,” they write. But then, when parents check in with me months later, they often admit that they have not taken any steps to change the course of their children’s education. Why? Because they are afraid. They’re worried that their kids won’t like it, or it won’t work out, or it will be too hard to try something new. Even though they know there are far better (and far less expensive) options for their kids, they just can’t pull it together to make even one small change. And so, they do what everyone does in that situation: they hunker down and continue doing what they’ve always done. I can inform, cajole and cheer (and I continue to do so, especially with private clients) but in the end, the decision to overcome fear in order to soar is not mine to make...


In Pursuit of Better by Jeff Sabo, Just a Bald Man

A couple of days ago, there was a thread going around on Facebook that asked about the differences between parenting in an unschooling family vs parenting in a traditional family. This is a very insightful question, I think, because it gets to the heart of what "radical" unschoolers have been saying for years: unschooling can be far more than just an educational alternative. It is, for many people, an outlook on life that emphasizes freedom and choice, not just in terms of learning but in virtually every aspect of our lives: access to information and experiences, behavior, food selection, and bedtimes, among many others. There are few rules or "have to"s in this way of life; instead, we lead lives of principle and choice. That's not to say that parenting in this environment is hands off; in fact, it requires a level of introspection and engagement that can be challenging and, periodically, maddening. It demands much of the parent: time, passion, understanding, patience, letting go, and true deep connection.

What it does not demand is perfection. But some parents still try to be perfect, despite the fact that perfection is unattainable. We love our children, we connect with our children, we respect our children, and we support our children. But to do so in a manner which is both authentic and true means that we have to start from wherever we actually are, not from where we wish to be.

Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and I just do not feel it...

Real "Hands-On" Learning by Lori of Camp Creek Blog

Big ideas can always be watered down until they are almost nothing except the name, like painting with plain water.

In the world of learning, “hands on” is watered down until it means literally simply that kids get to use their hands. They get to touch something rather than just look at it from their desk.

When learning math facts, they get to hold some plastic bears. When learning science facts, they get to push a bean seed into the soil.

What does real “hands-on” learning look like?

When we hand over control to the children. When we pass them not the bean seed, but the lesson plan...

A local homelearning momma sent me the link for this site, Christian-Unschooling.com, and I'm happy to share about it here.

Why did you visit this website? If you did so deliberately, then you are probably a Christian attracted to unschooling, or possibly an unschooler curious about Christianity. You may be interested in exploring applications of the two philosophies and in considering differences and similarities between the two. Or you may be sceptical about the possibilities of joining two seemingly different spheres.

I was concerned about all the above. I loved being with my children, and home education was great. We had time and opportunity to enjoy a rich family life. I was a Christian, and it was important to me to share the beauty and the depth of the faith with my children. I also wanted a rich and full and happy educational experience for them...

Caveat: We are unschoolers at our house and much of my online reading tends toward that direction. However, if you've found an inspirational article that suits your style of learning-at-home, please feel free to link to it in the comments or send me an email and I'll be happy to include it!