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.