The bones were old, creamy beige with dark brown crevices. You could imagine my surprise to find them so neatly stacked behind the shed. They were gleaming, as if someone had washed and dried them. It was more likely that the rain and wind had done the thorough cleaning. Brushing stray leaves away, I lifted the top bone. It was lighter than I expected and still warm from the sun. I brought the flared lens of the bone analyzer close. There were no fractures in this one. It was long, tapering to a wide end point where it joined something.
The camp was deserted. We picked a random spot to pitch the tent. I head towards the car to get the last pole set and am surprised that so many people have arrived. An acquaintance asks for help moving; a strange assortment of damaged sports equipment and battered musical instruments. I ask her to teach me guitar tuning. She asks where the next event is. I tell her that it’s over. She asks who won, but I don’t know. We scan the newspaper as we’re waiting for the pedestrian signal to change. Bicycles rush by on the rubble filled street.
My self-imposed Sunday Weekly Writing Challenge: To quickly write exactly one hundred words on whatever topic, theme or idea that wanders through my head that morning. Inspired by medium.com to give credit where it is due. Here’s this week’s 100 Words:
The call of “sweetie” over and over again, was creating an auto loop in my head even when the bird was silent. It was slowly driving me insane. I considered some sort of violent extermination and then reconsidered. It was spring after all, and the poor bird had only a few words with which to seduce and nest a mate. Pity consumed me. I should not be judging the evolution of this tiny creature. The solution was to turn up the music to run interference. The rasp of the singer’s voice soothed me and I forgot all about the bird.
Generally I don’t like riding a trend. Somehow here we are, right in the middle of the learning through play movement. As in any emerging field, there are tons of newly minted experts popping up at conventions and in city centers with fabulous visions, great ideas and buckets of energy. It’s easy to get swept up in the whirl of excitement. I started to question where I stand on education and its future. The dazzle of new opportunity blinded me.
I cleared my head. Or rather my son did. I had asked him to watch a video of kids designing games in a fun summer camp setting. He made it 1/2 way before he declared it “boring” and went back to the project he was working on in Minecraft. I started to get incensed, thinking he wasn’t really considering the opportunity. He wasn’t seeing what wondrous possibilities might await him, what working with a team of enthusiastic kids could merit. Then I took a step back, slightly bewildered, and realized that in his wisdom of few years, he’d cut to the chase. I wasn’t looking through his eyes, I was looking through mine, the eyes and mind that had been conditioned to play in an pre-organized way, to learn in a classroom, in a group.
These new classes/workshops/experiences are different. They are constructed to be child driven learning, with the focus on play, exploration, discovery and problem solving. But that’s it, right there in front of us. The design and the construction, is what makes it organized and less interesting to him. The “we have a challenge and need to address it” that’s given by the adult to the child to start the experience. The next step is the planning and process, which again is often set up by the adults involved. Of course they support the child’s dreams, desires, wishes but in the end it’s a program, a step by step process, that no matter how creatively based, it’s still not (in most cases), child driven. Even in the exceptional situations, programs like these are usually a group experience – and that means sacrifice.
I really thought about it, and thought about my personal experiences with education. I realized that I agreed with him, although I hadn’t seen it initially. That veil gone, I saw that organized programs almost never are better than an individual, or spontaneous experience. That taking a class on how to do something implicitly involves teaching or directed learning, and do I dare say it, often as not, harnesses and directs (or limits) creativity.
So does that infer there is less value to the experience? Perhaps not. Where there is freedom, a different self-directed experience can result. It’s a more creative experience because it’s not directed by outside sources. I am not suggesting to never take a class or a workshop. Exposure to new techniques, ideas, values, make for evolution of thought, and I find sometimes jump start me to a new level of creativity. But in contrast, spontaneous sparks are what take innovation to the next level. Time spent in “class”, “workshop” or with “directed learning” should be the limited experience, not the preferred method.
Learning through Play? Why yes! But learning through play in school? Certainly a better choice, especially compared to the traditional experience that most schools offer. Not a train for us jump onto, but fascinating to watch as it gathers speed…
In between days of exploration, I have taken up roasting coffee. Using the oven method with instructions from the founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, the beans go from green to brown in less than 10 mins. My first batch was on the light side. It’s hard to get the roast right.
But I’m getting better at it. I ordered a bunch of green beans from Sweet Marias and a Porelex hand grinder from Orphan Espresso. I already have a Chemex coffee maker, mesh sieves and a gram scale, so the only other equipment was a perforated sheet pan.
Turns out I really enjoy sifting chaff from the coffee. Adoring that I’m part of the process that makes that perfect cup of morning elixir. The hardest part is waiting at least 24 hours to try the beans.
I love it when an experiment comes together!
I find myself deeply ensconced in March without hardly any memory of February. The whirlwind of our winter is tinged with days at the parks, magic, science, skiing, tennis, PMC and lampworking. The whirlwind has been good though, we’ve produced things, made discoveries, had experiences and lived a lot. There have been giggles and cuddly moments. The ‘days off’ have been met with the languid pleasure of not having to move too quickly. The sparks have had time to catch. I’m sure you know what I mean.
I’m creating. T is creating.
We’ve both made rings. Rings that we can wear. More than 1 now. So exciting to work with real silver and real gemstones. I made a bracelet with Mary Neuer Lee. She is awesome and we have so much fun working with her. Trent is loving working with Davin learning the art of lampworking. They are using borosilicate glass, so he has special glasses and kevlar arm protectors.
Our Sketchbooks are in Austin, Texas right now. I’m thrilled when I get an email that someone has opened mine. T & I are also participating in Photomobile. I think we will take our cameras on our next adventure. Who knows what we might capture in Sin City.
Did I mention that we are adventuring again? Two trips are planned and detailed. I will tell you more as I have more to tell.
and I’m roasting coffee… more on that tomorrow…