Maybe If We Had Known That We Didn’t Know. . .

28 10 2011

This is headlined as “The Boomer Parent’s Lament”:

“Maybe if I knew that our children would be coming of age in an economy that would crush even the best and brightest among them, I would have cared a little less about their score on an advanced placement history test, and a little more about helping them find happiness in moments at the margin.”

UNSCHOOLING boomer parents though, knew this all along and we aren’t lamenting any such thing. Finding happiness in the moment and the margin AND smack-dab in the middle of the morning too, while everyone else was sweating yet another test — that was the whole program, the whole point, the whole power of our story.

Didn’t JJ just finish saying something like that? 😉

There was a book excerpt in the NYT Sunday magazine so stunning that I ordered the book online. I was waiting to read it before blogging anything about it but it’s been on my mind in every current conversation, now including this one. The book is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and its professor author Daniel Kahneman was a 2002 Nobel laureate in economics.

The big point is that we humans tend to hold fast to (often false) confidence that we’re doing the right thing and that we can “know” what that is, even when we’re smart enough to SEE that we aren’t, and don’t, and can’t.

The Hazards of Confidence:

We rarely experienced doubt or conflicting impressions. . . [but] as it turned out, despite our certainty about the potential of individual candidates, our forecasts were largely useless.

The evidence was overwhelming. . . our ability to predict performance at the school was negligible. Our forecasts were better than blind guesses, but not by much.

What do you think about the right way to school kids and prepare them for quantifiable success? How confident are you that you’re right about that? 😉





“I Live in the Future” Where Video Gameplay Is Real-Life Learning

24 10 2011

Excerpted from “I Live in the Future and Here’s How it Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain are Being Creatively Disrupted”:

These residents and practicing surgeons simply played 3 or more hours of action video games a week. Some of the more advanced video game-playing students managed to make 47% fewer errors than others and were able to work as much as 39% faster. . .

For example, these studies consistently show that playing video games improves hand-eye coordination and increases one’s capacity for visual attention and spatial distribution, among other skills. These increased brain functions are tied not only to game play but to several other real- world scenarios, including surgery.

You may feel like your brain cannot cope with so much information or jump seamlessly from one medium to another, just as you may have felt in high school that you couldn’t learn a foreign language or conquer higher math.

But as the brain faces new language (or acronyms and abbreviations), new visual and auditory stimulation, or new and different ways of processing information, it can change and grow in the most remarkable fashion. In fact, it may well be a natural part of human behavior to seek out and develop unnatural new experiences and technologies and then incorporate them into our daily lives and storytelling.

High-tech gameplay as well as entertainment through the television screen have been part of our happy unschooling from the start, just like libraries and bookloving (ALL the books, not One Book to Rule Them All.) We snook about it often and you can easily search with the little box on the right-hand menu, but here are a few apt posts and conversations for example:

So Young and So Gadgeted, What’s the Right Approach?”

Video Games Bonanza Site — Save This Link!:

Is PBS a credible enough source for whoever in your child’s life clucks disapprovingly at screen time? Click here now — don’t wait, your child’s education and entire future could be at stake! 🙂

My favorite moment in the article is when the author is showing his seven-year-old nephew the SimCity neighborhood that he built. When the author notes that he’s having problem getting a certain area with factories to come back to life, the boy turns to him and says, “I think you need to lower your industrial tax rates.”

Video Games: New Ways of Being in the World

More Kid Stuff or Video Gaming for Real?:

[So] Blake seems happy with his home school arrangement, as you would expect from a teenager who is allowed to stay up into the wee hours to play video games. Sometimes, when Mike heads to the gym before 5 a.m., his son is still playing video games.

. . .when Blake’s older brother wanted Read the rest of this entry »





Some “Very Good Advice” About Parenting Advice

24 10 2011

The Guilted Age:
Making Your Own Rules

This week’s guest post is from the fabulous JJ Ross, who has worn many hats including academic, secular humanist, and unschooler. She shares her thoughts about parenting beyond the advice of others.

This is the first in the series “Good Advice / Bad Advice,” with a new post every week from now until the end of November. –LN





Private Power of Story in Censorship

15 11 2010

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION (subscription only)
“The Future of Free Speech”
By Tim Wu

Tim Wu is a professor of law at Columbia Law School. His new book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, was just published by Knopf.

This is what speech management looks like in 2010. No one elected Facebook or YouTube, and neither one is beholden to the First Amendment. Nonetheless, it is their decisions that dictate, effectively, who gets heard.

What’s the answer? There is no easy answer. Monopolies like Google, Facebook, and Hollywood have certain advantages: That’s why they tend to come into existence. That means the American public needs to be aware of the dangers that private censors can pose to free speech.

The American Constitution was written to control abuses of power, but it didn’t account for the heavy concentration of private power that we see today.

And in the end, power is power, whether in private or public hands.

More snooking on censorship power of story:

School theatre and citizen censorship

Ideas are incombustible

More t-shirts and dress message stories, from stupid to dead serious this time

So we were saying censorship is a bad thing . . .

How the Oscars offended me today

Palin’s “Actual Responsibilities” as Madame Mayor

Ignorance makes the N-word Even Scarier Unspoken





School for Hackers: DIY Takes Education By Storm

18 09 2010

When a kid builds a model rocket, or a kite, or a birdhouse, she not only picks up math, physics, and chemistry along the way, she also develops her creativity, resourcefulness, planning abilities, curiosity, and engagement with the world around her. But since these things can’t be measured on a standardized test, schools no longer focus on them.

Building your own education with stuff you find around the house is so cool it’s red-white-and-blue hot. And despite public stereotype you needn’t be a holy/wholly homeschooling homesteader to learn out of school. Read the rest of this entry »





Colleen: “Unschooling Is Like A Game Of Super Mario Galaxy 2”

29 06 2010

Unschooling Is Like A Game Of Super Mario Galaxy 2″:

I thought of myself as the support crew. I wasn’t there to win–-I was there to support Jerry. And once I accepted that I was the sidekick, I had fun–-especially once it hit me that my role as player 2 in the Super Mario Galaxy games is exactly the same as my role as an unschooling parent! I’m along for the ride. I’m not leading the way, but every now and then I throw in something new. Sometimes it’s helpful and Jerry wants me to keep at it and sometimes he asks me to back off. But, I’m always covering his back . . .

I’m happy to follow along behind, collecting stars as I go.





Only Actual Public Education, Intelligence Can Save Us Now

27 05 2010

Education is Power of Story and our school stories just suck. I offer today a study in contrasts as my argument that public education (not necessarily public school but education of the public, by the public, for the public) matters more than ever to every single one of us as individuals, even those of us who don’t have kids in school or have no children at all.

Below are two individuals from whom we can learn many lessons, if we do our homework and then choose wisely between them.

Which of these two education “exhibits” would you bank on to help turn things around in this third millennium since Christian doctrine captured the minds of men — not just choosing for your own children but for your community, our country, our collective consciousness as human beings facing evermore complex global challenges?

EXHIBIT A
Martin Gardner died the other day. He was the first science-math intellectual (other than those writing fiction like Asimov or Lewis Carroll, I mean) I discovered and read on my own as a puzzle-enamoured young teen, back in the mid-twentieth century.

In an age when science claims to be all-encompassing and skepticism seems corrosive to faith, Gardner was a breath of fresh air. He could “out-skeptic” the harshest of the New Atheists and yet his imagination was so much more robust that he could intuit a world beyond science.

. . .Martin Gardner possessed a unique combination of literary breadth, rigorous logic, mathematical intuition, and lively, engaging writing.

I never met Gardner, but I know him well — and so do the students who take my freshman honors seminar at Eastern Nazarene College, “Contemporary Questions.” Like many great writers, Gardner has put his soul in print, allowing us to peek in and see what a true genius thinks about the great questions of life — free will, God, immortality, evil, prayer, politics, markets.

. . . Gardner was genuinely skeptical about paranormal claims that went against science but, paradoxically, he affirmed and celebrated a world that went beyond science. . .
Gardner’s essays in The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener are a tour de force of mature, honest thinking expressed in golden and often witty prose. In fact, Gardner’s wit is enough to justify reading him. . .

EXHIBIT B
One of Pretend Pimp James O’Keefe‘s co-conspirators pleading guilty and being sentenced yesterday, was “a former assistant director of a program at Trinity Washington University that taught students about careers in intelligence. . . part of a national effort following the Sept. 11 attacks to interest students at liberal arts colleges in careers as spies. He was also active in the conservative newspaper and other organizations at George Washington University.”

So — during the war-driven Bush administration, federal education dollars went to this private southern protestant university ( “private” except over 80% of all students get financial aid to learn whatever they’re being taught there) to pay an extremely young extremist to administer a U.S. spy recruitment program? Read the rest of this entry »