Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seth, mate, actually it goes the OTHER way!

Some dude called Seth Godin waded into the Gifted world this week. According to Wikipedia (the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom...hang on - that was the Encyclopedia Galactica), Seth is "an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker" and knows a bit about marketing and advertising and how the Internet is impacting the economy. Oh and he wrote a 30,000 word manifesto about education and what it's for, which I freely admit I haven't read in detail, but which, upon scanning, I mostly agree with (perhaps that's another post for another day).
Seth also has a blog. And earlier this week he wrote a little, inconspicuous post entitled "Actually, it goes the other way" which I will reproduce in full: 

Wouldn't it be great to be gifted? In fact...
It turns out that choices lead to habits.
Habits become talents.
Talents are labelled gifts.
You're not born this way, you get this way.

Oh Seth. You had me until "wouldn't it be great to be gifted?". You waded into the Gifted waters, but you are out of your depth.
You see, mate, it's often not great to be "gifted" (unless that gift is being a gifted swimmer or footballer, but in the case of James "the Missile" Magnusson or Ben Barba, not even then, on reflection).
It's not great to be so far to the right of the bell curve that no one "gets" you, except maybe your mum. It's not great to feel different from all your age peers. It's not great to have to deal with the expectations of being "really smart". It's not great to deal with the heightened nervous system that has you feeling everything so intensely and questioning everything so thoroughly.
And don't even get me started on exceptionally/profoundly gifted kids, twice-exceptional kids or God forbid, EG/PG 2e kids!
Seth, it turns out you aren't really talking about "Gifted", just "gifts". Everyone has "gifts" - those areas in life which we are good at, have strengths at, be better than other people. Might be speaking in public, might be swimming, might be pretending to be someone else. But "Gifted" - that's a whole other ball game! It has NOTHING to do with choices, habits, talents and skills. It has EVERYTHING to do with what you were born with.
Sure, we can work hard, persist, develop strengths. But I'm telling you - I can run until I collapse, and am never going to be an Olympic runner. I'm not going to "get this way" in running, despite all my best efforts. I am not and never will be, a "gifted" athlete.
And, try as they might, flashcards and all, some kids are never going to be cognitively fast, or connect the dots or think outside the square. I'm sorry Seth, that is gifted - it is wiring and it is why our intellectually Gifted kids need something else educationally. 
Hopefully our Gifted kids find their passion, develop good habits, work hard and develop their talents. But it is never about the Product. Gifted kids and their education is about dealing with their very different wiring. It is about helping them through the maze of childhood and adolescence in which they don't fit and getting them through to adulthood relatively intact and maybe, just maybe, happy! And if we are super-lucky, someone may one day invent a cure a cancer, but it's not a given.
So, I'm sorry,Seth, maaate, buddy, pal. Whilst you may know a lot of stuff about a lot of things, and even have some great ideas and are lucky enough to live in this day and age where technology can help you disseminate these ideas via a range of media, your ideas about Gifted are off the mark. Maybe you got your terminology a bit mixed up. That's OK - happens to the best of us. But me and a few other people who blog about gifted are here to make sure that those words and the baggage they carry are made clearer.
Now, my little blog and Twitter account may not be as big-time as yours, Seth. But it's big enough that I can add my voice to the outrage and rectify the situation in my corner of the world and I'm joining in with a lot of others in the gifted world:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Interest-led learning - holiday style!

One of the (many) things I love about homeschooling is that we can take the State-mandated "curriculum" and twist it around to suit ourselves. Love maths? Lots of opportunity to delve deeper into the "thinking mathematically". Love english? Get stuck right into  writing narratives or expressing yourself through the spoken word (aka: drama).

Did I mention we are going on HOLIDAYS? We are! Just two short weeks until we board the Diamond Princess to sail off into the sunset and into Asia. So, I do what any self-respecting homeschool mum would do - I tailor just about all our learning around our trip (because I'm excited!!).

Mapping skills - Mapping the World By Heart

Using Google maps

We watched a great documentary about Qin Shi Huang - China's first emperor and the guy who got all those Terracotta Soldiers and the Great Wall (not self-centred at all!!!).

Research skills

Calculating (or daydreaming?)

Constructing time lines (to scale!)

Measurement, representing historical events

Ancient China timeline

Reading up on Japanese history

Origami folding

Following instructions

Working together

Turtles holding up the world!

Even a trip to the dentist is educational!!

We are also looking at foreign currency exchange - there is a world of resources out there on consumer maths and being an informed consumer - this is just one from ABC TV's Behind the News (great videos on huge range of current topics):

We are also trying to squeeze in some language practice time learning Mandarin!

Lots of wonderful learning opportunities and I haven't had to pay for any of it :-) It all comes from the internet (lapbooks) or the library!

Oh, and I need to add in what a wonderful day we had "not going back to school" and meeting up with homeschoolers from the South Coast to northern Sydney - a nice chance to catch up with Helena from Respect. Love. Learning again:

It surely is a wonderful life - full of wonder, joy, learning, love and we're going on holidays!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Random Monday

I have a good homeschooley post nearly ready to go, but because it's actually not ready to go, here is Random Monday (linking in with the very Fabulous Deb, from Not Inadequate).
  • I have an infestation of freaking evil little pantry weevils. At least I think that is what they are after extensive research Googling. I've had them before and one minute all is hunky dory in pantry land and the next - population explosion of little brown bugs. Gross. And the only way to get rid of them is to empty out the entire pantry (and the rest of my kitchen because they are EVERYWHERE) and vaccum and disinfect. Sigh. I've got important things to do - like watch My Kitchen Rules, not spend hours in the kitchen cleaning!
Evil little blighters!
  • I have just run my first 10km fun run! OK, so I came 156th out of 160 finishers, but at least I wasn't a DNF and I wasn't DFL. It was about 24C, but over 90% humidity - steamy!!!! I ran nearly the whole way. I have also lost 10kg in the last 4 months! I still have a few more to lose, but I'm feeling (and looking) much healthier! Check out my other blog for all the gory details (and pics of me in the nearly nude!)
Before the start - wondering what on earth possessed me to enter

  • There are just 18 days until we board the Diamond Princess for our cruise to China. I am just hoping like mad that the maintenance crew get paid better than those on the Carnival Triumph, because I didn't pay all that money to go camping.
At least they have a water slide!

  • I work for NSW National Parks and Wildlife (not very often, but I love it). The NSW Government in their infinite wisdom and desperate need to stay in government, has done a deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party to allow shooting and children as young as 12 to launch bows and arrows at wildlife feral animals. WTF??? Not happy Barry O'Farrell (NSW Premier).

  • I have a "new" laptop (Hubby's "old" one - newer and faster than mine is now mine after he got himself some new-fangled Windows 8 tablet thingy that docks into his big screen). However, Windows 7 is giving me headaches with it's Easy Transfer software. I was all excited because it could transfer all my digital baggage (over 300GB) via the home network. Downside? I left it all day today and it only had done about 15% and reported it still had over 6 days to finish. Umm. I don't think so. So tonight, after finishing up vitally important blog posts, I'm going to try a USB transfer cable. Wish me a speedy moving of virtual house!
Go check out other Random Monday madness over at Deb's place!

Monday, February 11, 2013

We're going on a slow boat.... China!!!!

You how a little ways back I was complaining discussing how our bathroom is ugly and we need to do something about it? Well, the reason we never have enough money to do anything about the bathroom is the liking we have for travel!

And earlier this year, I said I wanted needed to go on a decent holiday! Well I was Googling (as you do) trips to the South Pacific or Bali or Phuket - and got as far as nagging Hubby to book a cruise to Vanuatu/New Caledonia.

But Hubby has this tendency to make sure all the options are looked at. So he said "what about Princess Cruises", whom I'd written off because they didn't have any South Pacific cruises in our timeframe. But, there was this one cruise...

...departing from Sydney, heading north via:

  • Port Douglas
  • Darwin
  • Hong Kong
  • Taipei (Taiwan)
  • Kagoshima (Japan)
  • Busan (Korea)
  • Shanghai (China)
  • Dalian (China)
and finishing up in Beijing!!!

And it's on the "big" ship the Diamond Princess!!!

So after some umming and ahhing, we are going to spend 24 days cruising and exploring Australia and Asia, then 3 days in Beijing, before flying home. We will be away for nearly a month and I am beyond excited! And just between you and me - the prices were amazing - $70 a day (per person) for the cruise and all meals! We had to pay to fly home and for our few days in Beijing, but there was NO WAY I was travelling all that way and not visiting the Great Wall!

Heaps of people have asked "are the kids coming too?" and whilst leaving them behind and upgrading ourselves to a balcony was tempting, we decided they'd enjoy the trip too (might even be educational and stuff!).

We depart on the 8th of March - 26 days and counting! The kids and I have started doing some homeschooling based on our upcoming adventure - so much fun stuff to learn! History, geography, economics, languages!!! So you can bet I will be filling you in (and thank goodness I now have something to blog about!).

Ni hao holidays!!!!!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Back to not-school...

School started back this week in Australia. Facebook and (non-homeschooling) blogs were full of mums beside themselves with joy that they have their days back to themselves again or worry that their little ones are starting the new, big world of Kindergarten or High School. And then people like Shae from Free Range in Suburbia wrote great stuff like this.

Apart from some lingering end-of-January shifts at work, I have been beside myself with joy that I finally get to spend some time with my kids! For large chunks of the holidays I've been working and they've been...what do teenage kids do in their dark, gloomy rooms? Mine have apparently been consumed by a whole world of anime cartoons that I only had a vague idea existed. And they are also learning Japanese! Little Japanese phrases are creeping their way into everyday conversation...

We have family movie nights where we hire a DVD or pull one (of many) out of the cupboard to watch all together. We have now started to have "YouTube" nights (thanks to the brilliance of the WiiU) where we show our latest favourite YouTube clips. It's a nice way of staying in touch with whatever the kids are into at the moment.

Inspired a bit by the Australian Open, the kids have got out the Wii Tennis and only managed to whack each other a few times in our tiny lounge room. Roger Federer doesn't have those issues, I bet!

We've also been doing the Big Screen thing - Hubby took the kids to The Hobbit in 3D (and I had 3 lovely, uninterrupted hours of Doing Whatever I Want. Bliss). I also took Wombat Girl to see Les Miserables. I prepped her about the sad and sometimes confronting storyline, because she is a sensitive soul. But she handled it OK and we both sat spellbound at the stunning photography, amazing acting, and of course the soul-stirring, moving and brilliant music and songs. We sobbed liked babies! We sighed, we smiled, we sat awestruck at the hardships and extremes of human emotions presented. Can you tell that I loved it? I asked Wombat Girl afterwards if she had any trouble following the plot given it was entirely sung - she didn't even notice! That's how good it was. Hugh Jackman is seriously under-rated as Wolverine. And Anne Hathaway singing I Dreamed A Dream in one shot? I have no words.

And in a desperate attempt to make sure they didn't spend all their time in front of a screen, we got them a Robot Arm kit, which kept them busy constructing and then programming (and troubleshooting!) the arm. There is also software you can buy which you program and send to the robot.

And so, after what seems like a LOT of months, we finally sat down to do some "schoolwork" together. And you know what? After about 20 minutes, I wanted to send them back to school!!! They were a bit narky with each other, Video Boy was fiddling with stuff (toothpicks everywhere, anyone?), Wombat Girl decided NOW was a great time to cut her fingernails, and we had lots of heads on desks and complaining. Yeah, I love homeschooling!

There may have been threats of sending them to high school made (and only half in jest!). But then we wouldn't get to go on big holidays in the middle of term....stay tuned for exciting news!

Embroidery Project - Blue Butterfly

I downloaded this pattern as a PDF from Hoop Embroidery Co on Esty as my first attempt at the technique known as "thread painting"...