Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dream the Change & then Implement it!

It is early on a dreary, rainy Sunday morning, so I feed my dogs and we all settle back down for a nap (the dogs) and a read (me) before tackling our long to-do list for the day–sleep, play, sleep, walk, eat, sleep, look out the window for the dogs and bake, clean house, read, walk the dogs, read, prepare for tutoring next week, read for me.
The Foreword is three inspirational, sunshiny pages short, written by Sir Ken Robinson. Already I feel better! I have read much of his well-respected cutting-edge writing. Banished is the dragging feeling. There is hope. Educational change can and will emerge, even if it has to originate in small communities of dedicated individuals, changing the future for just a few students at a time. We need a whole new paradigm for education, not just an adjustment of the current out-dated system.
After reading Chapter 1 of Creating Tomorrow's Schools Today: Education–Our Children–Their Futures by Richard Gerver (who has implemented the changes he writes about), I am excited about reading the rest of the book. He outlines a future that is already well-documented in which our children will have worked for about 20 different organizations before they retire. We, therefore, he argues, need to cease schooling our youth to accommodate available jobs, but raise our young to "invent the new jobs and ways of working that simply do not exist yet...(and) create a system that creates people who can make the jobs fit them" (10).
"So what kind of people will our children need to be? They will need, above all else, huge levels of self-confidence, they will need to be adaptable, utilize their natural creativity and understand their own strengths and weaknesses. They will need to be increasingly self-aware emotionally and intellectually and be capable of building relationships quickly, effectively and often 'virtually'" (7).
As Gerver starts his first chapter:
"Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it." African proverb.
Let us dream the change we wish to see and then act to see the future transformed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So What Should Students Learn?

To love to learn!
And everything else will follow.

First, enthusiastically introduce students to an array of knowledge within a topic to allow them to sample what is available. Explore the topic with them or share what you know, investigating how ideas about the topic have changed over time to reveal how knowledge advances. Then they can feel that it would be possible for them, too, to make a real contribution to the field.

Encourage lots of questions; research to find the answers. Make use of the many available resources: books, DVDs, YouTube, the internet, speciality magazines. The library, offering free access to all these, should be your best friend.

Now they have a taste of what the topic is all about, allow students to select areas of interest to pursue further. What knowledge they acquire is less important than the fact that they desire to acquire some.

That which interests us naturally becomes a part of us; learning and remembering are stress-free, automatic functions of our need to know more. Understanding follows as we delve deeper and deeper into the chosen area of study. Once we determine to share what we know with others, we cement the learning and can revel in the satisfaction of knowing we really know something.

In this way, we create life-long learners who will diligently pursue knowledge for the intrinsic rewards alone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Simple Questions With Not So Simple Answers

We are bombarded with information every day. We have knowledge at our finger tips at the touch of a screen that is carried in our pockets. We have access to pretty much anything we need to know any time of the day or night.

What kind of things is it important our children learn?
Why do we need to "teach" children anything?
Is school the best place for children to learn?
What, if any, basic facts should they memorize?
What is the purpose of testing?
How do we create enthusiastic "life-long learners"?

Our world is changing more than we can even begin to comprehend. The latest technology replaces the former "latest technology" at frightening speeds.
How do we give our children an advantage in life?
Do we need a few changes here and there in our outlook and traditions, or do we need a completely new paradigm to cope with this continually changing world?

If we were to take the time to ponder these questions with a truly open mind, we might astound ourselves with what our deepest responses reveal about what we think is really important.
I challenge all of us to reflect on what we are doing and why–in all areas of our lives.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Life Changes!

So you think you have the job of your dreams, until "poof!" it's gone...
Change is sometimes forced upon us and is not always easy to accept. However, once the initial shock wears off, there is an open vista of opportunity awaiting the brave; a smorgasbord of options from which to choose, even in our depressing economic times. A re-evaluation of goals and dreams can occur–scary perhaps, but exciting too.

After mourning the loss of my wonderful teaching job and frantically searching and applying for teaching positions that were few and far between, I forced myself to slow down and reconsider my options, and a wonderful thing happened...a startling new alternative arose. I love tutoring individuals and small groups and I love writing, and now, that is what I am able to do. I am working to expand my student base and keep my blog updated regularly. I am launching myself into the unknown future with as much confidence as I can muster, holding on to the dream of the life I desire. I have tutored several students over the years, including home-schooling my own sons, but now is the time to share my passion with a wider audience. I hope to gain many more students this year, both home-schooled and schooled, and work with them to study literature, reading, writing, SAT prep, Latin (using my own curriculum The Little Latinist), and all the other wonderfully exciting areas of knowledge available for us to explore.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Our Emerging Educational Revolution

I have been reading a lot recently, including Stephen Leeb's compelling book, The Coming Economic Collapse. I also have to believe we are at another major turning point in the history of our world. We have survived the Industrial Revolution and the Technological Revolution; do we have the foresight and courage to endure the energy revolution?

This alone is enough to have us shaking in our shoes or throbbing with excitement: the fact that we hold the future lifestyle of our children and grandchildren in our trembling, indecisive hands. But wait, there is more for us to concern ourselves with...

Earlier today, I stumbled across this article by Polly Curtis at a newspaper that was always a favorite of mine for education news when I lived in England:
about the revolutionary new curriculum proposed for implementation in British schools.

So, what has been obvious to those of us working as teachers in the education field for a while, is finally being recognized by higher powers – change is necessary. The huge, overwhelming question is: What exactly should we be teaching today's children to help them not just survive but thrive as they move out into the world?

Tony Wagner, in his 2008 book, The Global Achievement Gap, lists at least 7 skill areas that today's employers are seeking in their future employees. We would do well to take note of his extensive research.

Interestingly, after reading Ms Curtis's article, I spotted this link:

Anastasia de Waal, writes on Sunday 29 March, in the above article entitled, "Stop Twittering, Learn Latin", that the "relevance" of education does not always lie on the surface, but must be sought deeper in the knowledge being taught. Speaking of the re-introduction of Latin into inner-city schools in London and New York, she states: "Latin has been successful because of the discipline, rules and crucially, high expectations, it's entailed for the pupils."

This is my own experience also. I have been tutoring Latin to small groups of students, mostly home-schoolers, here in Michigan for 5 years now. I have developed my own unique way of teaching children even as young as 6. All my students love their lessons. They are excited by the challenge that decoding sentences that rely solely on endings rather than word order presents.

The content, methods, and grading systems we use to educate our children need a serious overhaul. The proposed route Ofsted, in the UK, is taking is a great step in the right direction, but let's take care not to dumb down our educational offerings. Let's raise the bar and once again begin to expect more from our children. They are more than capable of meeting any high standard we set for them. Let's recognize their immense talent and creativity and bring joy and personal satisfaction back to learning. When the pupils are engaged in challenging, stimulating and engaging activities many of the discipline issues we experience will simply fade away.

This is an exciting time for me. I am involved in developing and expanding the reach of my Latin curriculum, The Little Latinist, as well as being part of another extremely important ingredient in the education of the next generation. I am a Creative Wealth coach for Elisabeth Donati's brainchild Camp Millionaire: a financial literacy program for children. Through high-energy accelerated learning techniques, the students actually experience budgeting, investing, building a business, and so much more. Visit Elisabeth website for more information:

Through this blog I would love to have intense, life-changing discussions about anything related to educating our children. My focus is obviously Latin and financial literacy, but I would love to have you blog about anything you want to have feedback on or that you feel passionate about concerning education.