Thursday, June 19, 2014


The last week and a half has been breathtakingly full for me.

First, I have been to Florida, then back to NYC, now in Connecticut on my way to Lake Champlain.  Travel is one of my pleasures, because it is an opportunity to see different places and talk with people.  I love the water, even if I do not swim very well.  I love to watch thunderstorms gather, erupt and dissipate. I do not mind getting a little wet.  Hot, humid weather in the grind of a big city is no fun until I can come indoors and have a chai in front of the fan.  But, going outside into the park with a coolish breeze is awesome.

Second, I spoke with someone at a boarding school who asked me to write a draft plan for including ENTER THE CAVE and RISK IT in a program for high school seniors.  Then, I went to a forum for after school programs where I heard (once again) that experiential work makes a difference to students who are planning to attend college.  Finally, I went to a college preparatory program directed by an Olympic athlete.  She is helping students from underperforming high schools use their athletic experience to stay focused on academics, get into good colleges and excel.  She and some of her staff had valuable observations, like matching high school students with college students in the later part of ENTER THE CAVE.  Perhaps, I could use my games in a program they use with their students in December!

The best aspect of the forum and presentation for me was inviting my son, who just completed his first year of college, to attend and assist.  Yes, I design, organize and administrate.  But, it is so powerful to have a person qualified to USE.

Let me take you back to my last post:  LEARNING = PARTICIPATING + MASTERING

It makes me ask if traditional education would be more effective if it were more experiential?  I think I have proven this is correct through the years I home schooled.  It makes me ask if college would be a more successful experience if students had a clearer idea of what was required, before they arrived, and had a chance to practice.   It makes me ask if we marginalize students who do not fit the idea of what is a "good student" because the definition is accepted as is, instead of being enlarged.

Let's look at what may improve executive skills

Today has been one of those breathtakingly complicated yet constructive days.  We were on the road looking at a four hour drive to a beautiful spot when the temperature gauge spiked and one of those red lights came on.  A quick look under the hood revealed issues with the radiator.  Several miles later brought us to Jim's Garage in Canaan where I have been hanging out for the last several hours.  The folks at Jim's have been fabulous:  welcoming us and our dogs, chatting about local wildlife, pointing out mini golf and lunch items, providing coffee and smiles.  Rats on the rats who caused the damage underneath our minivan.  But, I posted!!

Next stop, how do I make a board game?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Learning = Participating + Mastering

This morning I went to a "forum" put together by the after school folks (PASE).  It was a two-part affair on a Monday in rainy, rainy New York city.  And, it was sold out.

The presentations were given by a small group of administrators.  Half were from colleges and half from after school or community based organizations.  Those presentations were given with a great deal of conviction and humor,  and were a valuable reason for me to attend.

I took several pages of notes but came away with some hugely significant ideas, some of which I already know and employ, and some reframed.

People, be they teenagers or older adults, look for a place to fit.  Some may jump in and try to make a college or job (in this case) work but ULTIMATELY a good fit leads to SUCCESS.

Asking for help is an important reason for succeeding but that entire question is fraught with downsides which prevent students (in this case) from taking advantage.

These two observations can be linked by the description of a scenario:

A student applies and is admitted to a college.  The students goes to the college, after attending orientation.  The student THRIVES/CRASHES AND BURNS/MAKES IT?

Learning how to take the many small steps which make up life is an experience that continues all of our lives.

Participating in the struggle which leads to the learning is a normal and necessary aspect.

Mastering each step of the multi-faceted road map is why we participate and how we learn.

Plunking down in the midst of a totally foreign context rarely feels like a good fit.
I think the phrase "asking for help" is different from looking at the road map and seeking the pieces that will lead to successfully mastering it.  Plunking down in the midst of a totally foreign context, and realizing it is not as foreign as it first seemed, may be the difference between choosing to participate and mastering it.