Friday, March 15, 2013

Education for Mom

new reading material
Last week I made my annual trek to the Hershey Lodge to attend the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Special Education conference. The PDE opens their conference up to parents as well as education professionals. I always come away with new insight into how my children learn and think. This year was no exception. In fact, this may have been the best conference I have ever attended.

Out of the many different sessions I enjoyed, two stood out as the most applicable to my life as both a homeschooler and mom of gifted children. Peg Dawson offered excellent sessions on executive dysfunction. For years I have suspected that more than half of the residents in our house deal with difficulties because of executive dysfunction, including myself. Up until now, I have done little serious exploration of ways to help alleviate those issues. In preparation for the conference, I downloaded a sample of the book Smart but Scattered. After reading those first few chapters, I knew I needed this book. It arrived on the day I returned from the conference. As of yet, I have not had the time to really dive in and get to work. I expect to have some time after I wrap up my current Coursera classes in a few weeks. I'm hoping to be able to help JT with organizational problems that make some seemingly simple tasks into difficult projects.

I also had the opportunity to attend presentations by Gary Troia, Ph.D., Rick Guidotti, founder of Positive Exposure, Brian A. McNulty, Ph.D., Dan Florell, Ph.D., and my favorite, the final keynote speaker, Jesse Schell.

Jesse Schell is the CEO of Schell games, the author of the book, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, and, teaches at Carnegie Mellon University. Mr. Schell could have easily called his presentation, "Homeschoolers are Most Likely to Rule the Future." Every point he made about the future of education made homeschooling look like the best way any child can learn. Self-directed education is the future. Traditional schools are going to have a hard time providing those kinds of opportunities within the limits of teaching large groups of students in a centralized location. You can experience a portion of what he had to say at the conference by watching this talk he gave at the Learning Without Frontiers Conference, 2012, in London.

Whenever I attend these conferences, surrounded by professional educators, I often deal with feelings of guilt. I feel like I have some secret knowledge that I should be sharing with them. I have the hidden information that allows my children to be happy and learn in ways that best suit their personalities, that allows my children to live a life that doesn't require us to conform to any standard way of learning, that doesn't make us spend half of the day waiting for our chance to do what we really want to be doing, that allows us to be comfortable and relaxed, while filling our minds with new and interesting ideas. But I know not everyone can do what we do, because either their circumstances don't allow it, or their children would not flourish in this kind of lifestyle.

So I keep my knowledge to myself and I smile...

...because I know I am living the dream.

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