Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Toolbox Conference

I am going to have a conference.  It was a concept in my imagination, and now it's going to happen.  That comes from the "if you can conceive and believe, you can achieve" model.  Plus, it's key to have good friends and lots of people who don't shut out the intention right away.

Kids have a lot of value in their lives.  They spend a lot of hours learning things like how words are spelled, how math works, what science is, reading, how to make art, the list goes on.  As they grow older decisions start popping up on the screen, whether they are home-schooled or in a school.  They need to make a decision about whether they are going to high school, then college, then what they are going to start doing in their adult lives.

I reach back to my own experience.  I know I wanted to go to the University of Michigan.  That was because it was well-known, and my best friend's brother went there.  Then, she did.  People outside of Michigan knew of UMich.  I was offered a full-ride at Western Michigan University.  I wasn't sure that anyone outside of Michigan had ever heard of WMU.

So, I got myself into UMich.  I went there, which is a long story itself.  Then, I graduated.  I had no idea what to do after that, so I followed my father's advice and got a $10,000/year job as a civil servant.  I was way overqualified, and miserable.  It took some time to get out of that quagmire.  And, I could never answer the question, "what are you good at?  what do you want to do?"  As far as I was concerned, there was nothing I was particularly good at, and nothing I could realistically accomplish.

Switch back to "now."  I have spent my life jumping in and just doing things.  Not a smooth career path, but definitely interesting at times.  And now I can answer those questions.

So, I believe if you give kids a tool to examine and assess what they've done, put some value on it, and then have them try using some of those things in a controlled experiment of sorts.  And, you throw in some interesting and inspiring adults briefly telling their own stories, and then sitting down with those kids in the controlled experiments, the kids will benefit.  They will be able to start to answer the beginning questions they will need to answer to set a course as they progress through their lives, on their own journeys.


  1. I like your perspective, and am looking forward to reading more : )

  2. I am curious about what the "tool" would look like. My personal journey has been to follow the advice of other, trusted, people; as I myself have been clueless! Along the way I discovered some things that I liked and was good at. I'm lucky that the advice I was given was good. ( I guess I can give myself credit for knowing good advice when I hear it)

  3. Thank you for the great comments! I think you can count yourselves as my "first".
    I have spent so much of my life being a good assistant that I feel like it's time to try some of my own ideas. That actually isn't entirely true...I just jumped into homeschooling. I can't say I was clueless, but I did go with my heart and my gut, and then let my brain catch up.

    Now I realize that I can be a good assistant, and also the person who is leaping in.

    I am developing the "tool" for the conference as I speak...stay tuned.
    And, I must give my kids credit for helping me make this conference relevant. I learned to include those who I am teaching in the process back when I was running the HIV prevention program.

    And, also "trusted" people show up when you are ready for them. I have learned some really important lessons that are relevant to everything from a nice lady named Holley this week. She has taught me some powerful lessons about skiing that I can apply to this conference, and just about everywhere else.