Sunday, September 10, 2006

What did you learn today?

Parents often ask this of their children, and children are expected to (but rarely can or want to) list some facts or topics that they were "taught". Things like the capitol of Ethiopia, or the year the Civil War started, or the square root of 144.

I spent part of Friday morning reassuring a student that he was, indeed, learning even thought he didn't list any "facts" he had studied that day. In fact, it was a momentous day for him, as he was preparing for a performance with a band and by himself that night, and then he was training in for a new facet of his job at work.

Who in their right mind would say he wasn't learning anything doing those things? Just a short list includes: practicing fingerings/songs on guitar, calling others to make sure everything was prepared, planning what to wear, figuring out how to not be too nervous but to be "pumped up", feeling the experience of playing solo on a stage, keeping one's mind on songs and not on audience distractions, learning how to decompress after a performance, finding ways to go to sleep with adrenaline rushing to be rested for work the next day....and on and on. (As you may have guessed, I've done some performing too:)

And yet, this person was worried about not learning enough! Our system, it seems, has brainwashed us into believing that only sitting in a classroom is educational, only things on tests are important lessons, and all of it has to be incredibly boring.

Hopefully he'll relax and realize how educational his life really is.
Hopefully we all will!


Thursday, September 07, 2006


This is me- let me know where I can see a picture of you too :)

Field trip at Camp St. Croix

Welcome to Education On The Edge!

Job: advisor (i.e. teacher) at an online, project-based school.

My School: EdVisions Off-Campus High School, in Minnesota

School Website:

Welcome to my blog. I'm very new at this, so I'll probably make lots of mistakes- but hey, we're all new at something! Since I work at an online school I'm trying to learn about this new way to communicate. I've had a personal computer since 1982 (not the same one, obviously!).....but don't tell the tech person at my school- you certainly wouldn't know it by my skills.

About 15 years ago I made a very unusual decision for a teacher: I decided to never teach anyone anything they didn't want to know. I was sick of fighting to "get information in" to students who- didn't want it, wouldn't remember it, and would never need to remember it. It just didn't make sense anymore. I wanted to help create "win win" situations where the kids and I were on the same side, where we didn't struggle against each other and I didn't feel like a policewoman.

Since then it's been interesting. Some of the things I've done:
-homeschooled- helping my kids learn things they were interested in
-taught music lessons-teaching little 5th graders how to play the trumpet or drums is a kick :)
-taught classes at the local park- from preschool music to piano lessons to summer daycare
-done a little tutoring to help raise kids' basic skills (I quit this when it became apparent that most of the time they weren't interested in MORE work on reading, math...)
-taught summer community ed classes such as: Bubbles and Goo for little kids, Harry Potter classes, music classes, etc.

5 years ago I started working in charter schools here. I worked at Minnesota New Country School, a project-based school where students designed projects, carried them out, and then got credit for their learning. Then last year our online school started. It's a blast!

Topics to expect here: alternative education, democratic education, project-based education, online learning, personally tailored education, homeschooling, psychosynthesis, subpersonalities, nonviolent communcation, body-centered psychology.

Invitation to join the conversations: I'm excited about "meeting" you all- learning what else is out there!

Kids and adults are all invited to join in the conversation!

Karen Locke