Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When One Has Filthy Hair, a Hat is a Good Accessory

This is probably the biggest take-away since breaking my right wrist. My mom is coming for a visit starting next week and she has no idea yet her job will be blow drying my hair...but this is not what this post is about. 
What it is about is because of the generous donations of my AIDS/Lifecycle sponsors for pushing my fundraising over $500 in August, I qualified for one of these three cool cycling caps! I don’t think ever in my life have so many people been directly responsible for me being so very, very grateful.

Even though I will be wearing this cap, this cap is not mine. This cap belongs to the nine individuals and couples who have dedicated their financial resources and shared in such an important cause. They are also the ones who are helping me achieve this lofty goal of cycling 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. All cyclists are required to have a minimum of $3,000 in their fundraising account by Orientation Day in order to ride in AIDS/Lifecycle so thank you for bringing me over 30% of the way there but obviously I still have a ways to go! 
I ask you to give what you can by making a tax-deductible donation today. Any amount helps! You can make your donation in instalments or make it all at once. They make giving easy!
Once again, thank you for your contributions!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Learning Beyond the Book

(My dominant hand still remains in a great deal of pain and rather useless so I am resurrecting an old blog post with some new updates. It is also that time of year where even unschoolers are gearing up for the new school year so it also seems fitting to bring this one back....)
Bome Bell's at Tinkering School.
Alternative education must be catching on. A few weeks ago we were asked to submit our re-enrollment packet to Cedar Life Academy (the Private School Satellite Program that we "hire" to provide paperwork assistance and homeschool mentoring) early because they are wait listed!

Part of the enrollment process is submitting a Course of Study for the school year. Different from a curriculum written by someone who doesn't know my child and knows nothing of the kind of parent I want to be, Bome Bell and I collectively design a description using our local requirements based on natural learning.

In a discussion between celebrity unschooler mom, Pam Sorooshian and educator and activist, Marion Brady, Brady said that a school curriculum:
A. has no clear, overarching aim 
B. does not respect the brain's need for order and organization 
C. neglects important fields of study 
D. disregards the inherent seamlessness of knowledge 
E. fails to move students through ever-increasing levels of complexity 
F does not distinguish between degrees of importance of content 
G. insufficiently relates to real-world experience 
H. neglects higher-order thought processes 
J. unduly emphasizes symbol manipulation skills 
K. has no built-in self-renewing capability 
L. is overly dependent on extrinsic motivation 
M. makes unreasonable demands on memory 
N. lacks a comprehensive vocabulary shared by all educators 
O. assigns students an unnatural, passive role 
P. fails to put specialized studies in holistic perspective 
Q. does not encourage novel, creative thought 
R. penalizes rather than capitalizes on student variability 
S. encourages simplistic methods of evaluation 
T. neglects the basic knowledge-creating process 
U. fails to address ethical and moral issues
Pam responded by saying;
"all of this matters a lot for designing a curriculum that is going to be "used on" students who are required to be "in school". What a great world it would be, if this kind of thinking about schooling was pervasive. But the only one that really matters to unschoolers is "O"...assigns students an unnatural, passive role. Unschooling could almost be defined as the opposite of is allowing children their "natural, active roll" in their own learning. If we do that well, all the rest of Brady's points would take care of themselves."
At Chez Collier, we believe that life is not compartmentalized into subjects and neither should education be. All subjects overlap and are inherently intertwined, however, for the purpose of California State Department of Education, we have included ten subjects below and how we believe they will be learned as The Feral Child enters eighth (GASP!) grade!

English: Improving reading skills through various novels and short stories; types of poetry; biography and autobiography; listening skills; refining dictionary skill; spelling

Social Sciences: Lands and people of the world; yesterday and today current events; contemporary problems and issues; the environment; world geography and map skills

Foreign Language: Hayden will have the opportunity to develop an understanding, speaking, reading and writing skills in Spanish and French.

Physical Education: Swim lessons with the probability of joining a team; continuation of jujitsu with the probability of earning his purple belt; youth workshops at Coach 2 Edify; health and physical education will be fully integrated as part of daily living skills.

Science: Heredity and genetics; effects of weather and climate; rocks, soil and minerals; ecology and environment; conservation; laws of motion; energy

Math: Order of operation; ratios, proportions and percentages; basic geometry concepts and terms; elementary business math; use of calculators and computers; maintaining his own debit card with attached account

Fine Arts: Painting, drawing and creating at home and at classes held at Learn Beyond the Book; attending theater and musical events; attending community events; learning about artists and composers.

Applied Arts: Consumer and homemaker education will be offered in a variety of ways including general business education and agriculture.

Career Technical Education: Game design and programming classes will be offered at Learn Beyond the Book and include such topics as game design, interactive experience design, game design and game play, gaming algorithms, interactive design concepts, logic and representation and game scripting.

Health: Shopping and preparing food, discuss healthy diet and nutrition, participate in emergency preparedness, develop good hygiene.

The above areas of study will be offered yet if Bome Bell chooses to learn something else, that is acceptable. I still will make all subjects available. Understand, this is only a guideline for the school year and things can be added or removed as needed. The Course of Study does not only keep me in compliance but also helps me look at what we want to accomplish. I review this list monthly, as part of my personal homeschooling assessment, and update it at any time I choose.

There are no tests. I am able to assess Bome Bell on a daily basis, as I watch him discover new things, and observe his skills improving. I have the privilege of being “on the spot” when “a light turns on” and he makes a new discovery. I don’t have a timetable for when he will learn each new skill, and trust that he will learn everything he needs for his life in his own time. Consequently, there is no need to assess or compare him to others. I keep this blog about our family’s learning. We also keep nearly everything he produces.

It may not seem as such to the "schooly mind" but Bome Bell's education is very important and I believe he is learning no matter what activity he is engaged in. Therefore, he is learning (or being taught) all his waking hours. It would be very difficult to separate when he is learning, from when he is not. I believe living and learning are inextricably linked. 

Our weeks are filled with interesting activities, which provide an exceptionally rich education. Our days are structured around ordinary routines though there are never two days the same. Every day I am committed to Bome Bell’s well-being and education, and endeavor to provide him with a memorable and excellent foundation for his future.

We are always learning, and have read some excellent resources on home education, and how children learn. We make great use of the internet in learning new information, challenging assumptions, and assessing our course of study.

Our routine is changeable...I see this as a positive thing...being adaptable to the needs of my child. My love for Bome Bell is not, however, and what is best for him is always at the forefront of my mind. I am very proud of this guy. I already have four years of his college tuition saved up and I plan to help him have the very best education he can possibly have doing what he is passionate about.

I sincerely hope this helps those who have asked me questions about homeschooling/unschooling and how we do it. If you reside in California and have more questions, please contact Karen Taylor at Cedar Life Academy ( Karen also provides homeschooling information on FacebookPinterest and her blog.

Friday, July 10, 2015

That's How I Roll

If you've ever experienced a sports related injury, you're probably familiar with that sinking feeling after hearing a POP followed by a sharp pain. Your mind races as you consider recovery time and the impact it will have on your physical goals. The stress and frustration from being a very physical person to not even being able to dress yourself can make you feel like a caged animal resulting in hopelessness and depression. 

Cast Affirmations
This is exactly what I've been feeling since my Rollerblading accident resulting in a fracture of both the radial and ulna bones on my right wrist. When it happened I immediately thought about my commitment to riding in next year's AIDS/Lifecycle charity ride and how much time would it take to recover. As the week and numerous appointments with the orthopedist wore on, I became susceptible to depression, anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks to the accident, feeling like I've let my personal trainer down, irritability and low self-esteem.

I came to exercise as a way of moderating depression. Now that I am injured, I not only have to deal with the pain and stress of being injured but I have lost my primary coping strategy. To couple that with a delay in my ALC training, you can imagine what a blow this is.

The good news is that today I decided the pessimism is getting old and boring and I needed something else to go over. So, I started thinking about what I have to be thankful for. What I came to was that I will recover and even with eight weeks in a cast and six weeks of physical therapy (providing no surgery), I still have plenty of time to train like a badass. I have a husband that worked from home this week to help me all the while taking a heap load of my shit and who still loves and supports me. I have a mom whose care and concern showed through the 7,000 miles that separate us. A personal trainer who sent me affirmations every day and came over with some helpful alternative pain management therapy to the vicodin that makes me sick and several others who offered their support and good vibrations.

For me, the psychological part is the first step to recovery and in a few months I'll be back to being awesome!