12 November 2013

Education as we know it.

Some thoughts on Education- Formal and Informal

This past weekend was spent on a college tour with Belle.  It was informative and overly peppy and did little to inspire Belle that a four year traditional college was THE place for her.

When we came home we discovered the Hummer had a dead battery, possibly because the mama did not close the door all the way when she drove it last.
Possibly. I am not admitting or denying anything.

Because I am an overly happy OnStar subscriber, I called them and they dispatched a friendly tow truck to jump start the H3.  I had to run pick up Carlos at the kennel and hoped that the tow driver would not be there before I returned.

Of course, the tow driver showed up promptly while I was 30 minutes away. Belle was left to sign the paperwork and interact with the kind man that jump started our car.  After the Hummer was purring away, he told her to leave it running a bit and left.  (Lesson #1 with teenagers: Be specific.) She immediately turned the car off because she didn't want to sit out there with it running and God forbid! someone might steal it if she left it running in the driveway in the country in the middle of nowhere.

Guess what wouldn't start when Belle sashayed out all dressed and ready to head into town?

And then Mom decided it was time for a little class.   Jump starting a car 101.

Ok. We've got this.

We have jumper cables. We have an iPad. We have internet. What more did we need?

While the girls were convinced we were going to blow up at least one if not two cars, I had the confidence of knowing that I had done this before.  Maybe it was a million years ago, but still.

When I Googled "jump start a car" the first site that comes up is "The Art of Manliness".  I love that.

Clear and concise instructions. I love that, too.

There was a small glitch because my real car is still at the dealership with problems unspecified and the loaner is one of those "eco" models.  Maybe a hybrid? When I popped the hood, there was no battery to be found.

Again, Google to the rescue.

Looks like an accident waiting to happen.
Fortunately, that's the sun, not an explosion.

Which got me to thinking of all the things I have learned/learned how to do in the past year thanks to the internet.

Remove and replace a broken passenger side mirror on a Mercedes Benz.



Replace headlights on that same Mercedes Benz.

(Belle has an old Benz and while she picked it out and it has been very reliable, it still can't hold up to mailboxes on the side of the road and curbs on the side of the street.)

How to create a blog.

How to load a YouTube video onto that same blog.  (Along with lots of help from my genius niece, Allison.)

The best way to remove wall anchors from sheetrock without tearing an enormous hole in the wall. Unfortunately I did not share this info with Boy. He removed some shelves from his walls the old fashioned way- yanking them out.  Posters cover the fist size holes in his room right now.

Rustic apple pie when my stand-by recipe is 1000 miles away.

How to clear the filters on a washing machine.

How to change out the innards of a toilet.

About to do battle with the home potty. 

I could probably write a thesis on granuloma and lymphoma after Bunny's experience last April/May.
(click here, herehere and here to read about that adventure)

How to do a "purl" stitch knitting.  (Click here to see how I learned the basic knitting stitch.)

And tons and tons of other little things that I can't think of right now.

Which brings me to a conversation that I had on "Meet the Teacher" night at the high school that both of the girls now attend.

Both girls say Colorado high school is wayyyy easier than Texas high school. They learn less in the way of hard facts and concentrate more on the "big picture" and "how does X relate to Y?" They learn to think outside the box.
Bunny says sometimes everyone is so busy thinking outside the box that they forget to look INSIDE the box .

What I see is more papers, more projects, more discussion. Less rote learning.  Less standardized testing. Less teaching to the test.

And when I mentioned this to one of the girl's teachers he said that in reality, facts are at everyone's fingertips. At least everyone with a Smart Phone or internet access and a computer. So most of the world as I know it. And as my kids know it.
But the challenge now is to teach kids how to use the information that is so readily available and how it relates to their lives, their world, their existence.
Less memorizing the dates of some war and more learning why that war happened in the first place. You can always Google the exact dates of any war.

And when you need to learn something and actually do it yourself, that information stays with you MUCH longer than when you memorize it from a book.

I promise Belle will not forget that once a car has been jump started, you need to leave it running for at least 20 minutes so it will charge.   Bunny knows that lesson, too.

Hands on learning.

And that brings me back to the college visit.

Everywhere we read and everywhere we hear, college is now a requirement. Unfortunately a four year degree will only get you your old room back at your parents and maybe a job at McDonald's.  Now a Master's Degree is also required. Maybe even a PhD.

And everywhere there are kids with the degrees and no jobs and still no clue how to support themselves and no clue how to live on their own.  O! And plenty of them have mountains of debt from college loans.

So maybe Belle knows something that her parents don't.  That society doesn't.
She may find her path just fine going to a technical school or business school and doing exactly what she wants without the four years of delayed adulthood that college provides. Maybe she will travel instead. Maybe life will teach her what she needs to know.

Knowledge is available to all of us.

It's at our fingertips.

And just maybe this week I'll share that recipe for Rustic Apple Pie.  I have it here with me now.

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