Interesting quote

Visual-spatial learners are individuals who think in pictures rather than words… They learn all-at-once, and when the light bulb goes on, the learning is permanent. They do not learn from repetition and drill. They are whole-part learners that need to see the big picture first before they learn the details. They are non-sequential, which means they do not learn in the manner in which most teachers teach…They are systems thinkers who can orchestrate large amounts of information from different domains, but they often miss the details. They tend to be organizationally impaired and unconscious about time. – Guerrilla Learning

How many readers think they might have a visual spatial learner on their hands? I happen to be both this and tactile.

Got it right

Thanks, Chris.

You cannot legislate salvation; individuals must work it out for themselves. Therefore, it is fundamentally wrong to legislate morals that were intended to accompany salvation. – mikalyn

A nice short post that’s got it right. When I read Guerrilla Learning the following paragraph caught my attention:

“The presumption … is; People will only be good if they are forced to be. The fundamental question, more honestly posed, would be: Are you going to force your children to be good or let them be bad? The dichotomy is false because, in fact, people cannot be forced to be good. Goodness counts only when it is freely chosen, as the biblical parable of the prodigal son illustrates.”

In other words when someone is given no choice what they are doing (or not doing) then it is neither good nor bad as it related to them. Good will only be a meaningless abstraction unless there is another less “good” choice available to be made. Except perhaps in hypothetical discussions, I’ve never heard anyone say something to the effect of gravity is good (or bad). But, most consider someone holding the door for them to be good because the alternative of letting it slam in their face is there, unchosen.

Pacing

For the last week or so, I’ve been wanting to write about a single sentence (actually a sentence fragment that is a sentence on its own) I found in Guerrilla Learning a couple months ago. It seems as though the lack of understanding of the implications of the statement insist on cropping up in the blogosphere. Recently, ‘liberal society’, ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘censorship’ have been mentioned.

…freedom is not inconsistent with obligation. – Grace Llewellyn

It’s been my plan to describe here the things I said in a conversation with my oldest 3 children regarding that statement. And, to go a bit further into the issues of sociology, liberty and politics. For the last 2 nights I have been unable to collect my thoughts around those ideas because of the things I mentioned in the first paragraph. What I realized last night is that the pressing issue is the nature of the use of these terms.

The reason (other than being an idealist) I’m quite bothered by this is the fact that these variations of freedom of speech are being used as incantations (C.S. Lewis used this term to describe words and phrases which were used ‘for their selling power’ not for ideas or meaning they represented).

Even though we don’t discuss it publicly (well, I guess I am now), Andrea and I consider the atypicalife blog to be hers and this one to be mine. Since we both have the ability to post in each other’s blog, there exists the possibility that one of us could post something which the other disagreed with in the other one’s blog. The way we handle that is that, excluding incidental things like birthday greetings, neither of us post in the other person’s blog without running the post by each other. In fact, Andrea has already seen this post up to this point.

I haven’t pointed that out to say that we have issues. What I’m trying to say is that for all intents and purposes, this is my blog. Within the webosphere, this is where my freedom of speech exists. If I write in your blog (eg. via a comment form), you have the ability to decide whether anyone other than you and I see it. And there is nothing that I can do about it.

While no one has suggested it here, there have been accusations that both moderating comments and refraining from linking to another site was tatamount to censorship and being against freedom of speech. And, if I can be blunt, both accusations are nonsense. They make absolutely no sense. If I am under some bizarre obligation (i.e. to freedom of speech) to let anything and everything through and refer readers to every opinion different from my own; if I’m required to post content here under any form of duress, where is MY freedom of speech? Couldn’t a group of dedicated like minded individuals simply drown out everyone else?

Freedom of speech does not mean that every place must give way to your voice. It does not mean that I am obligated to provide everyone with an avenue of speech. It does not mean that the world owes you a free place to speak (although such places exist). I have been paying for domains, webspace and bandwidth for years. And I’ll keep paying, because my freedom and yours is worth far more that what this costs me.

You see, your freedom of speech is inexorably linked to mine. If you set out to take away my freedom of speech, you destroy an argument in favour of your own. If my freedom of speech is worthless to you, why should anyone else value yours? If you value freedom of speech, it is your responsibility to take every available measure to safeguard the freedom of others.

(And, that leads me to what I discussed with the children which I’ll address in another post.)

Opportunity Cost

Last week I finished reading Guerrilla Learning. Andrea had the chance to read a fair amount of it first. Eventually, I swiped it from her because she was taking it slow. It didn’t take me long to find out why she was taking so long with it. It is chock full of little gems that give you lots to think about. Here is a single sentence worth a few minutes pause:

Each thing we do – no matter how valuable – has an ‘opportunity cost’: It costs us all the things we are not doing or paying attention to while we are concentrating this one thing.

There is an odd bit of irony that comes into that statement from my perspective. I haven’t said much about the project I’m working on. Most of my career has been carried out under confidentiality agreements, so I’m used to not talking about work. Without getting into too much detail, the project I’m working on is a decision support system which weighs the cost of hundreds of thousands of ‘opportunities’ and recommends the most cost effective solution.

In choosing to homeschool, we cut ourselves off from other opportunities. I expect most HSers have come to the same realization. At this point, we have been doing this for over 12 years. And we have had the chance to see the fruit that has been born out of choosing and sticking with that opportunity. There is nothing that would persuade me to not do this all over again. I recall talking to an acquaintance last fall who had just started sending her oldest to kindergarten. Without thinking about it, I blurted out, “I couldn’t do it.”

She asked, “Couldn’t do what?”

I said, “I couldn’t send Emma to kindergarten. I just couldn’t.”

In choosing to homeschool, we made some opportunity choices for our kids. We knew we were doing that. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized we had given them something that few children get in lieu of the things we had taken away.

  • They’ve seen how the adult world operates.
  • They’ve seen household finances in action.
  • They’ve learned how to get along with the same person/people over a long period of time.
  • They’ve seen adults disagree, compromise and continue to work together and love one another.
  • Whether or not they could explain it to you, they understand opportunity cost better than many adults that I know because they’ve been given access to opportunities and choices.

Over the weekend I had a fair number of conversations with one or more of the children. What occurred to me on the way over here is that I talked to them as adults. Whether or not the world considers them to be adults, I do. Over the course of the weekend, I had explained to all of them the situation we had as a family (what I mentioned briefly in the post below the disappearing post) and the interim solution we had come to. Even though it wasn’t described in terms of opportunity and cost, I did describe both the opportunity that was there for us and what the short term costs were going to be.

Children should not be secluded away from opportunities and costs. They need to be able to make plans, execute them and see the results. They need to see other people with more experience at it than them working it out. They will never come to understand opportunities and cost as long as someone else is telling them what their opportunities are and assigning a cost to the failed opportunities through an arbitrary and artificial mechanism.

Guerrilla Learning

When I was working and coming home for lunch, Andrea and I normally reserved meal times for conversation whether it was with her or among the whole family. Alot of the time we would catch up on how our morning or afternoon had gone. Since I’ve been home alot more, Andrea has been reading at lunch. Often when she’s reading something and finds something she thinks I’ll like, she reads it out loud. If I’m reading, I do the same. I think we both enjoy reading aloud and being read to. There is also having the comfort of having someone to share a good thought with.Over the weekend she read 2 things to me at one meal. The first one was:

People learn to write well not by studying grammar, sentence structure, and spelling but by reading good writing and trying to imitate it. Reading and writing are inextricably linked…

There are few things that come along that feel better than having someone who is considered an expert say something you have been telling people for years. Oddly, this fits so well with a quote from Finding Forrester:

Why is it the words we write for ourselves are always so much better that those we write for others?

I think at least a partial answer to that is in the fact that often when we write for others, our first concern is with grammar, sentence structure and spelling. When we write for ourselves, we have something we want to express. And, the technicalities of writing take a back seat to what we need/want to say.

For many, blogging offers the opportunity through both reading and writing to discover the knack of writing well. It will only take a few months of reading to discover the type of writing one likes to read. From there, when writing in ones own blog, the tendency to frame things the way one likes to read them will naturally develop. Formality and structure are secondary.

The second thing Andrea read was:

Teach your children to listen carefully and to speak thoughtfully. The best way to teach this is to listen carefully and speak thoughtfully to your children, from the time they are babies. It’s never too late to begin this practice. (emphasis mine) … Above all, listen, listen, and listen to your kids. (emphasis autor)

When I did the home ed workshop last year, listening to and responding to your children was one of the primary messages I wanted to convey to the audience. In an effort to summarize that workshop, I may have reduced the significance of that point. I did not leave it out entirely, though.

The fifth chapter is called ‘Demonstration’. Its statement was, ‘Those who are seeking to train people must be prepared to have them follow.’ Has anyone ever told you they couldn’t homeschool because their children won’t listen to them? Even though I really had no idea what impact it would have on my children, I can remember back in the days when the older three were going to turn 6, 3, 1. Every day, when I got home from work, there they would be just inside the door, all talking to me at once (including the noises of someone who crawled there), and telling me what was important to them in their day. At 17, 14, 12 and 4 they still ‘check in’.

When I elaborated on this point in the workshop, I asked how would you expect children to listen if you don’t listen to them. Children who are listened to and taken seriously, will listen and take you seriously. The only leadership skill worth having is setting an example. It is the only form of leadership which exists in our absence.

While this was sitting on draft, Carlotta wrote (in part)

I respect the choices of my child because he is a human being. What quality about him means that he should only be viewed as something that only lives fully in the future? I do not believe that there is any vastly different quality in children that distinguishes them from adults…

and Clare wrote (in part)

I have only had 2.5years experience of being a mother, but I can say most definitely that respecting my child’s choices and needs is easy, enjoyable, relatively unstressful etc. etc. It makes for a toddler who respects other people and who don’t have tantrums here there and everywhere.

What more needs to be said?