Today, I took Nolan and Lilah to the Natatorium for their natatory lessons. Yep, I'm going to be saying that all the time now.
We learn by being taught, but we gain true, gut-level understanding when we keep swallowing up worthy examples of a job well done. I become a great writer by reading the words of great writers. I become a great designer by surrounding myself with the work of great designers. It's a slow, gradual process, but it doesn't have to be. The way I learn things quickly (which is the fun part of building nations in fields I'm not as familiar with) is by not only surrounding myself with the best examples I can find, but by noticing the details and imagining the decisions that went into making them. Not by criticizing them, analyzing them, or trying to replicate them, but by paying close attention.
"I've always thought that a close-reading course should at least be a companion, if not an alternative, to the writing workshop. Though it also doles out praise, the workshop most often focuses on what a writer has done wrong, what needs to be fixed, cut, or augmented. Whereas reading a masterpiece can inspire us by showing us how a writer does something brilliantly."
"Our generation is prone to amuse itself with fragmentary information and resources. We flip on the TV for brief programs, and then we think we know about the subjects they dealt with. A few paragraphs in a magazine and we think we've formed an opinion. What is happening so often is that we are merely forming a habit of amusing our interests and then forgetting the fragments. This is not education."
This was printed pre-Twitter, in 1984.
"Look well at the child on your knee. In whatever condition you find him, look with reverence. We can only love and serve him and be his friend. We cannot own him. He is not ours. Neither would it be fit to use the fact that he is dependent on us to brainwash him into thinking any arbitrary thought or perform any arbitrary act that we may deem useful. We should not plan his life for him, so that he is being prepared for some great purpose -- even if the purpose we intend is a worthy one in our eyes."
In our first year of homeschooling, we've been struggling to balance a child-led approach with one that dips the children's toes into many different fascinating things that they might not choose for themselves. I'm finding myself using more and more of Charlotte Mason's approach, which seems to allow for both. Copious amounts of unstructured play combined with short, impactful, interesting lessons.
Apparently, this book I'm reading is the one that re-introduced Charlotte Mason's philosophy to a whole new generation of parents and educators. I'm excited to dig in.
- Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units, the Lego blocks, I should be starting with?
- Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcomes I want?
- Sequencing: In what order should I learn the blocks?
- Stakes: How do I set up stakes, create real consequences, and guarantee I follow the program?
Note to self: Yes! This is how I can make sure that we are getting tremendous outcomes in the 4-week excursion format...DSSS.
"Students are subordinate to materials, much like novice cooks are subordinate to recipes. If you select the wrong material, the wrong textbook, the wrong group of words, it doesn't matter how much (or how well) you study. It doesn't matter how good your teacher is. One must find the highest-frequency material. Material beats method."
I picked up The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss because although the premise is cooking, it's actually about becoming a master at something in a very short period of time. This makes sense for the Tour de Bliss excursions, since they're 4-weeks, and I'm always wanting to tackle something big enough that it will actually make a difference in someone's work life.
Tim gives two examples of why you'll succeed with his program:
- When writing the book, he focused on addressing tripping points. He made a list of them based on an informal poll of his massive audience, and then he looked for patterns.
"I don't care why people pick up cookbooks. I'm much more interested in why they put them down."
- He made sure there was a margin of safety in every recipe, ensuring early and continual wins.
"Early wins are critical for momentum, so we'll guarantee them."