Thursday, October 16, 2014

Uncomfortable Questions, Tough Decisions, and Awkward Discomfort

Today is a good day to tackle the question, why?  I woke up to read an article in The Wall Street Journal about a second nurse possibly being infected with Ebola, on American soil, and the many gaps in the Texas hospital system that is one example of our great, western safeguard against things like that.  WHY did that happen?  It sounds like American policy makers and those who find themselves in charge would rather not ask uncomfortable questions or make tough decisions if it would cause awkward discomfort. (WSJ Push to check spread of Ebola article)

So, let's go with those phrases:  uncomfortable questions, tough decisions, awkward discomfort.  Those phrases kind of sums up some aspects of my almost ten years of homeschooling.  Not running away from the questions, decisions and discomfort gave me a gift earlier today.

I needed to get business cards.  I am tired of trying to put people's information into the already overloaded contacts on my IPhone.  I want something concrete to hand to people, something that represents me.  I have not been able to clearly explain why I blog or design games or care deeply about the education system.  However, I found some of the answer in the business card design I ordered this morning.

Humans know what they need and I believe that children know what they need educationally.  I also recognize that children do not have all of the maturation needed to put the foundation into place to succeed in the world we adult humans have created.  But, ultimately, I choose to trust that children know what they need educationally.  A disconnect happens when this knowing is stymied by the roadblocks set up in the way of "getting it."

My own children's teachers, including me, is a good place to look for roadblocks.  Let's go back to uncomfortable questions, tough decisions and awkward discomfort.  I love options and the chance to delve into areas of interest in all of the ways we have.  So, studying about American political history in the early part of the 20th century included Teddy Roosevelt, the National Parks system,

the stock market,

and yellow fever 

  We used books, websites, videos, wrote papers, visited places.  And, none of this will be on the popup quiz, exam, or standardized tests necessary to gain admittance to a great school.  I cannot give much credible evidence of neatly maintained grades, or that I was always making sure our math was plodding along, or that we studied the right type of science for the right number of hours.  I asked no one to memorize dates or historical figures.  It becomes very uncomfortable when another student can speak in specifics about any part of this grand journey.  But, I know my children will probably never look at a mosquito the same, or that they understand how difficult it is to bring people who have so many different motivations over to the idea that nature must be protected for a future that no one could visualize.  They know about the high of the giddy devil-may-care attitude that eventually led to the devastating down of the stock market crash, and how money outranked humanity.  And, was I a roadblock?  Oh yea.  Do my children know what they need educationally?  I would have to say yes on most days.  They do not easily go along with "that's the way it is" or worse, they are devastatingly realistic about what has to be done to succeed.

Too much professional attitude, expectation and organizational structure separates the teachers from their students and the love of learning and spark that can really help connect all of those interesting things with getting it:  how to use the things we love to learn about.

And so, I proudly post a photo of a compass, below SMALL STEPS GO PLACES. I enjoy the thought of sharing my business cards when they arrive.  It is no fun to keep walking around doing creative things if I do not know where I am headed.  And, when I offer my games or tools to students, it will be with the goal of leading them outside of themselves and then back inside with more of a compass, too.

Let's hear it for uncomfortable questions, tough decisions and awkward discomfort.  Let's hope we all have the guts to employ them when it is necessary.

BONUS:  The Baseball Majors!