I went hiking with my kids, and I couldn’t remember where the trail started. But my younger son remembered. And my older son remembered to put the tick collar on the dog. And I found myself going along for the hike, as a sort of passenger on the journey the kids set up for us.

It is so hard to imagine this happening, but kids become teenagers and then there it is — you are following them. Which makes me wonder when did I get in my head that I would have any idea what skills they’d need in their life?

My parents had no idea what skills I would need. And their parents had no idea what skills they would need. So what makes me think I can help my kids? What do I know?

So far what I know for sure is that skills I never dreamed of calling superfluous are, indeed, superfluous.

Taking notes. Kids have flipped classrooms now. The teachers hand out notes and the in-class time is for discussion. Moreover, taking notes doesn’t help with retention or comprehension. Kids are much better off saying the information out loud, or taking practice tests covering the information. I like taking practice tests on Quizlet so much that I do it just for fun when I’m bored.

Writing a paper. I actually only found this out when I started recording conversations with journalists. I give them so much good material, and I think, why don’t I use what I just said? I can use MightyCall to record my conversations, and then turn those conversations into posts. (Especially easy since I’m a terrible listener — there’s so little to edit when I’m the only one talking!) Podcasts are growing faster than text or video. And the only way to find what works is to try stuff.

Starting a company. Startups are passe. Which makes sense because 55% of them were started by Gen X. The lure of Silicon Valley is over, and homeowners and companies are gunning to get out. The only people are staying are those who could not function anywhere else. And for those who want to start a profitable, non-Silicon Valley company, places like CalChamber make it so easy to stay legal that your kids won’t have to give up tons of stock just to get a labor lawyer to take their call.

I am trying hard to remind myself that I have no idea what my kids will need to learn and I should leave them alone. But I always want to give my opinion.

Then I watched a teacher talking to my son when he stumbled on a word.

She said, “What should you do if you see a word you don’t know?

He said, “Look on the Internet.”

She said, “Or a dictionary.”

He laughed. Out loud. And so did many kids in the class. Because what is she even talking about? The dictionary is on the Internet now, but more than that, the Internet is actually a huge dictionary.

The adult who presumes to tell a kid how to learn will be an adult makes kids laugh.

3 replies
  1. Eostre
    Eostre says:

    Your posts are very frustrating at times because you incorrectly extrapolate information from the articles and research you cite.
    E.g. – you said note taking doesn’t improve recall. The NYT article you cited does not say this. It says “the participants were randomly assigned to deliver a lesson on the material with or without notes. A week later, they came back and had to take a surprise test on their recall. The ones who had taught the lesson without notes did better.” They’re illustrating that having to retrieve the information (versus reading it off your notes) improves memory. They never said taking notes doesn’t improve recall.

    Reply
  2. Elyse
    Elyse says:

    Loved this post!

    When I started to homeshcool my kids, I thought long and hard about what I wanted them to learn. After a lot of soul searching, I landed on kindness, determination, observation, authenticity, and joy. And structured what we did each day to help them practice those skills through different activities.

    I found over the past few years that each of my kids has found things that they are so passionate about and found things that they are so talented at and they tend to come back to those areas in whatever we do. And I envision that wherever they go in life, they will be led y those passions and talents.

    I would love to see a new model where kids all find what they love and are good at and grow those areas of their life (while also continuing to explore!). We would be gifted such a joyful, creative, passionate community. Oh the things they could do if they were all allowed to hone their own skills!

    Reply
  3. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    When presenting material to an audience, I don’t understand why a decision has to be made as to whether it’s all text, podcast, or video. In fact, I think a podcast or video is very much enhanced by supplementing it with text and other supporting links. As an example, I may be interested in only certain segments of a podcast or video that’s 30 minutes to an hour long. So it would be helpful and appreciated to have a start and finish time for each of the segments. And if references were made to certain sources or research, links could be provided. Additional text could be added as deemed necessary. Now having said that, it is additional work and not too many people do it. I don’t know why though as it makes perfect sense to me.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *