Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Coming School Year

  To most of the world September signals the start of the new school year. Time to put away the hours of summer exploration and fun. Around my house nothing much changes.
  I truly believe in the ideal of unschooling! The ability to follow the thought or idea to its obvious conclusion in the child's mind.  To me there is a large difference in the terms of Education and Learning. Education is the systematic approach of pounding set ideas into people until they can parrot back the idea. These may not be ideas that are in line with the parent's belief system. The educator does not care. Learning is the development of skills necessary to enjoy the gathering of information that interest the person. Learning is a life long event that is a place of joy for the mind.
  So, let me explain. A few days ago my three year old granddaughter was watching something that I was writing on a  tablet. She pointed to the word "paws" I told her what it said. She cocked her head to the side then pointed to the cat and said "cat's paws" I said yes. She just stood there for a few moments and then smiled and said "word pictures!" while pointing at the word paws. We spent the next hour doing Nose, eye, mouth, teeth, ear, and cheek while she happily pointed at each one and then at the word. She laughed and giggled while learning. She was delighted at her discovery that words are a picture representing things. We will continue this game whenever we have the opportunity!
  Yes, she is learning the alphabet and numbers. We play games to instill each idea into her. She manipulates items to build things, walks on beams to encourage better balance, and plays all day long. She is a sponge for learning and that is exactly what all children are. In the past I did similar things with my own children. As adults the have entered professions that are a joy to them and continue learning every day. By guiding them to the ideal that learning is fun they will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. So, give unschooling a chance and help your children to learn with joy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Learning About the Environment

I have come to the conclusion that our children need to be soundly educated on the environment. I am all in favor of saving the owls, air, and land in the best ways! But what is the best way to do that?

Many years ago I was an environmentalist. I wanted to save it all and thought that the powers to be knew best how to do that. Sadly I have had to reform my thinking through the school of hard knocks. We need to take a realistic look at how our actions are actually damaging the ability for our country to have clean air, sustainable wildlife, and jobs.

Currently 45,000 acres of my state are burning up from lightning caused fires. Many of those fires are not being contained because of the inability of the firefighters to reach the burning locations.  My heart is saddened at the amount of wildlife being killed. Deer, bear, eagles, owls, chipmunks, and all of the other inhabitants of these beautiful forest are either burnt to death or scared into life threatening decisions such as dashing across busy road ways. Rivers and streams are being clogged with ash and burning debris killing off the fish. The air quality in large chunks of my state is in the hazardous category and people are being advised to stay indoors or suffer lung damage.

I volunteer with a local wildlife rehabilitation center and am sadden at the refugees that are being sent our way.  These burned and scarred victims may possibly never be returned to the wild as we fight to save them. If they can not survive on their own then they will stay with us for the rest of their lives.

In the recent past when the fires were finally put out and the land left in a charred state the forest service would offer some of the destroyed timber to be logged. These trees, if not harvested, become infected with beetles and other parasites helping to spread disease to the healthy trees in the area.  Environmentalist groups have filed court cases to stop these sales. So the timber is left to rot and further the devastation of the fire. Yes, some burnt trees need to be left. It is not an all or nothing deal.

When logging companies harvest the trees they open roads for further recreational and firefighting access. In our state the companies are required to replant the areas that they log! By replanting they help to stop soil erosion and replenish the environment with health trees. They rehabilitee streams and rivers so that the fish can survive. Habitat is restored in a balance that allows wildlife to resume living in the areas.  Jobs are created for the people. 

Our children need to learn about how to balance the environment if we are all going to live healthy lives!