June 2nd, 2010

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Quiet "home" header...ahhhhh...

Having complained, I should note that the header to my "home" in LJ is back to being a nice quiet dark blue--shading to lighter with the LJ logo over on the right but still quiet and plain and unobtrusive.  That happened...yesterday I think, but maybe Monday.

I don't know if everyone's experiencing a lack of something new, or if they just haven't put up the new one voted on yet, or if they've taken me off the automatic updating loop.  But I like it.    Much easier to read the buttons, much less visual noise up there.   And since I woke up with a nasty weather-related migraine headache today, I'm particularly grateful not to have some dazzle in my face.

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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April


Between the Science article on science literacy and education, and a program item I saw on Nightline last night about a family doing "unschooling" in Massachusetts, my head is about to burst. 

First, some personal history.   I did well in a very limited public school system (south Texas, 1951-1963)--underfunded, overcrowded (40 in many elementary school classes), old textbooks, and some seriously bad teachers (a few really good ones, a lot of mediocre ones, some VERY bad--abusive, dishonest, incompetent.)   The school did not prepare me well for a major university, but given the resources, it wasn't all bad.  Still, from third grade on, I was always at odds with it--the expectations for girls in that era were such that I had to fight for the classes I wanted, and was always pressured to scale down my ambitions.  I often wished I could stay home with the textbooks--I was reading well by first grade (and tested at 12th grade level in reading by about fifth grade) and very self-motivated.  I wanted to avoid the hassles of the classroom and just learn.  By high school I hated school, but knew that doing well was my only way "out"--so I made the honor roll and graduated 12th in a class of over 300, taking the hardest courses I could find. 

So in college, when I discovered Maria Montessori's books, I started thinking how I would teach my own children--I really liked a lot about the Montessori approach, and recognized that my mother had used something similar before I started public school.   I also read (then and within the next ten years) John Holt's books on education, which influenced my ideas.  While taking my second degree, I found Karen Pryor's book Lads Before the Wind, in which she described using positive reinforcement training with dolphins, whales, ponies, and children.  I tried the techniques with a horse (very difficult to bridle) and in 45 minutes trained him to lower his head and open his mouth for the bit.   Aha--I had a new set of tools!   The utility of the techniques for child-rearing was obvious.   We could not have biological children, as it turned out, and adoption was a much slower process than we'd hoped, but at age 38 we adopted a baby who turned out to be autistic. 

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