Many people feel good when they “support education.” But do you know what you are supporting? Take a look at what our education system is doing world wide, and also consider…what is it exactly that we are teaching our youth?
“A lot of [people supporting the spread of western education] are very well intentioned, good people who are actually thinking they are doing something good for their communities, but a lot of them don’t understand the much larger game in which they are pawns” (quote from the movie) We are actually taught to believe that what we learn in school is good for us, and the western way of thinking is superior to other ways. But how is teaching superiority helping us to have compassion and to love and respect one another?
I believe that my great-grandchildren will view western education as we now view slavery: How could we possibly do this to human beings?
Imaginon, one of our most frequented places to visit for its Children Theater Productions, also has a special place in their Teen Loft called Studio i. Apparently this is very underutilized which is a shame! I think more people just need to know that this place exists – and is free to use for teens 12 & up (or for families of all ages on Saturdays). In Studio i you have a stop motion film area, a blue screen (like the green screen for the weathermen), and a music recording studio.
@Alonalearning and I wanted to go in and use the blue screen equipment to make a mini movie that maximized the use of different backgrounds. I came up with the premise of the plot: Kids find a magic book in the woods that transports them to different places in the world. When they figure out where they are, the book reveals a page of information about that place (kinda Jack and Annie style). @Alonalearning and I had a lot of fun looking up places to go!
We only had 3 days to prepare this project (script writing, auditions, rehearsals), so I wrote most of the script to get the ball rolling. Then we held auditions. This was a really fun process to watch the kids work in groups to deliver their audition scenes. I wish I could’ve taken them all, but with Studio i being for teens only (but they’d let me slide in with a younger child who was very mature), I had to consider that this was our first time going and maturity was a big factor. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I needed to bring kids that could wait around bored for periods of time during movie editing. This turned out to be huge – the editing took forever!
Once we finalized the cast, the kids made changes to the script – even adding the trademark “comic relief” character. I was impressed how they used their own personalities to help them create the different characters. The kids practiced all day Wednesday in preparation for our visit.
At Studio i, we filmed and then @Alonalearning sat with the Imaginon staff to learn how to edit the movie. Unfortunately, the staff wasn’t super skilled in using imovie since they only recently started using this software. After @Alonalearning spent an hour and a half editing the movie, the computer crashed and we lost everything! We had an hour left before the end of the school day. What were we going to do? We couldn’t come back another day because one of the kids in the movie was leaving for Canada (he was just visiting that week). We decided to quickly re-film and have @Alonalearning come back and edit the movie herself, without staff help, the next day.
We were able to do it!! The movie turned out pretty great – especially for our first go at it. We learned that you have to find images that have at least the bottom third looking like ground (sometimes they are floating!). We also learned that mid-scene you can’t talk to your friend -the microphone picks up everything!
Also, just to note, somehow one of our picture scenes was missing from the computer when @Alonalearning came back the next day to edit. When the kids travel to Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park in China, @Alonalearning had to put in a swirly colorful background instead of the actual picture which I’ll put here, so please imagine this picture in the video when you watch it:
I’m enjoying the efforts @Lacy and I have been making to collaborate more. (Lacy started this beautiful school with me and several other families throughout 2013, and now runs the ALC Mosaic early childhood program). She’s someone I admire a lot and miss seeing on a daily basis. One day I hope the school can be housed in one big plot of land, with trees, water, several buildings, and the homes of those who want to live on the property. Then the kids of all ages can have more opportunities to mingle, as well as the staff.
Lacy invited us to join the Roots crew this week at Reedy Creek Park, and I jumped at the opportunity to make this work! I offered this at Set the Week, and every kid at the meeting wanted to go.
At the park, I found out that they have homeschool classes for only $3 a person, a nature center, hiking trails, and an awesome outdoor play area! I couldn’t believe it was my first time ever visiting the park, and I know it won’t be my last. I also got to see some of the kids I was with daily last year that I don’t get to see any more. I loved seeing how much they have grown and changed!
Some other highlights from the park:
Lacy and I also emailed a bit about Valentine’s day – both of us hadn’t really planned anything big for the kids, nor did we really seem jazzed to do so. Valentine’s has never been a big deal to me, and I also don’t like fostering the culture of, “How many Valentine’s did I get?” or building their own sense of self-worth around who gives them a little card with hearts on it. The other way I’ve seen it done at schools is to force everyone to give everyone else a card, and I guess that’s better, but…I guess I didn’t really care to do much about Valentines at school unless the kids really pushed for something, which they weren’t doing.
Lacy said that, while she didn’t feel an authentic connection to Valetine’s day, she’d think about doing a heart-self-love ritual. I thought that was the perfect thing to do! I printed out pictures of all the kids and glued those on heart cut-outs and set out on Thursday to share with the kids.
It was so much fun! Most of them were able to do it Thursday, and hopefully I’ll catch the others on Monday. I hung up the hearts on the doors to the library and office so everyone can see them as they walk in! As we worked on them, kids would ask each other, “What do you love about me?” We all had fun thinking of qualities that we loved about each other, and that helped get us started because when someone asks you to say what you love about yourself, you might feel like you aren’t supposed to say an answer (because then you are bragging). What I was hoping to convey here is that appreciating who we are, identifying what we are great at and the wonderful qualities we have isn’t bragging or being conceited. We can allow ourselves to love who we are, and when we feel really good about who we are, we tend to look for the good in others. Doing these with the kids was my favorite offering of the week! Hearing the kids really look at others thoughtfully to help them think of what to write was so sweet. Some snippets of conversations that happened:
Student 1: “I love your humor” Student 2: “Thank you! I wanted to say that, but I didn’t know if anyone else would think that too!”
Me (to a student): “What do you love about yourself?” Student: “Well, I love ME!” as they write the word “ME” in big letters on their heart.
When I was getting started and needed some help to do so, one student said that they appreciated my ability to plan trips or things to do for school, which warmed my heart – I don’t think “planning ability” would’ve been something I would have thought to write on my heart, but it is something that I do a lot for school and love that others notice and appreciate! I happily wrote this down 🙂
Student A: “What do you love about me?” Student B: “Well, I don’t know how to say this in a short sentence, but man you are so good at finding a new game and then mastering really quickly!” I could that student A in this situation felt just as I did in bullet point 3, having been noticed for skill they enjoy being good at doing.
Finally, my week of school ended with Valentine’s Foot Scrub! @Sassygirl26 wants to make her own cooking show videos, and we happened to have a parent donation of foot scrub ingredients to test out how to make a step by step video. We thought this would be great practice for when she got started with her cooking shows! We used my iphone and then I got a simple iPhone video editor. I needed to see if I could take short segments of video and then use an editor to merge the videos together – this way we could stop and start shooting for each step of a process. If I can’t shoot film in short segments, we would have a long messy video with us trying to not mess up any part.
Fortunately, my $1.99 app called Videoshop did the trick and we have our first How-To film up and ready for your viewing pleasure!
On Friday, school was closed so I flew up to NYC and visited Agile Learning Centers, our NYC home base. I loved walking into school Friday afternoon during blog time! The school was quiet and the energy was calm. The ALFs and kids were spread out around the school blogging. They have more teens than we do, so they can write their own blogs independently. There was a volunteer helping a younger student complete their blog.
This made me think – what if I let parents know that we would welcome them into the school from 12-1pm to partner with a child who isn’t reading/writing fluently and help them complete a reflective blog post? Even just having 1-2 extra adults around to sit with a child one on one would be amazing. I am excited to talk to @Charlotte and @Dthomasson about this idea next week!
Now I’m still in NYC after taking a silversmithing workshop at Liloveve where @Tomis and I made our wedding bands! They look wonderful, and I’m so glad we tried this out. At one point I thought I ruined his band (we each made the other’s band). I held the torch gun on the band for too long when soldering it together and melted a portion of it. Fortunately this was fixable and his band ended up looking great! Not only do we have rings with a story, I’ve learned a new skill that I hope to try out again. One of our former teachers, Lindsey, is a silversmith with her own studio. I hope to try out jewelry making with her soon, and possibly, with older kids who are interested.
Tomorrow @Tomis and I fly back to Charlotte to begin his two week stay at the school. I’m looking forward to having him back at school and to looking through an email from @Lacy where we’ll coordinate more whole school trips between our campuses for the rest of the spring 🙂