Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I was interviewed by Sandi Schwartz

Sandi Schwartz interviewed me about unschooling today. Even though her show is usually Law-of-Attraction based, this time it was just unschooling.

She had done a lot of reading and research in advance, and she was a teacher in school-reform days too, which was very cool! I enjoyed the hour. There are only a couple of things I wish I'd said a little differently, but overall I think it was really good.

When it's not the default/new sound file on that page, I'll try to put it on my site, but for now you can hear it there.
It's here now: Unschooling: What It's Really All About

Here's the quote she started with. I could remember where it was quoted, but not who it was. :-)
"The thing that works with unschooling is to follow delight - and scatter it like a flower girl in front of the bride - not every petal will be crushed to release fragrance - but enough will. ...of course to follow delight, you have to admit to yourself that you feel delight." —Nora Cannon

Sandi Schwartz has a blog:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

bigger picture

I don't live in "the bigger picture." I like my house, my hobbies, my life. I don't like to write about school; I don't like to think about school. I like to think and write about learning, and joy.

Nearly a month ago I was quoted on a blog post. Time was I'd've heard about that pretty quickly, but it's so common now I don't always hear. This blog post was a long and detailed article about education and facilitation of learning. It's received 237 comments. I can't read them all, but I read some, and it's worth bringing to share. Anyone my age (I'm in my 50's) probably remembers stories of people's parents or grandparents bribing them with the purchase of a stereo to get a haircut, or with a car, to go to college. I naively believed those days were gone. Maybe I just hadn't thought about it much. And so the bribery is what first struck me about this blog comment:
About the time I got to 8th grade, I started begging my parents for homeschooling (I had started reading about unschooling at that point and I utterly hated wasting my days there). I finally got my parents to agree, but the day my dad was going to go to formally pull me out my grandma promised me $1000 for each year of high school if I graduated. I kept going (the deal fell apart, I feel like four years were wasted).

By the time I graduated I was not prepared for life at all. It’s like this post says. I didn’t know how to learn for myself, where to go, what to do. No one was there to tell me how I should live my life and I crumbled under the pressure. I suffered from analysis paralysis and started having panic attacks regularly. I also had this nagging feeling that I was disappointing everyone.

Even though I completely hated my formal education, I decided I’d suffer through college, if only for it’s guiding hand.

College wasn’t a total waste because of two classes I had. One was called “The Creative Process” and one was Drawing 101. These classes were so good, they actually pushed me toward quitting college. In The Creative Process, we learned about creativity (obviously) and it just blew my mind. And the openness of the class was a beautiful thing. We sat in circles, the professor didn’t care if we were late, we were encouraged to be ourselves, to think outside the box. We called the professor by his first name (which I had never experienced before). We would watch documentaries on artists and look through the design anarchy of Adbusters magazine. The drawing class was where I first harnessed creative flow. I found out that by drawing I could “get in the zone” any time. And I really enjoyed it. Loved it, even.

Unfortunately, I also had a math class and an English class. They were typical, rigid, boring as hell.

One day in the middle of math class, I finally snapped. We were going over basic probability (I was 19 years old learning basic probability) and I just realized how stupid and redundant it was. How much I hated the subject and hated being there. I stood up… and I walked out.

For someone as shy as my 19 year old self that was a bold move. I didn’t have a car at the time, so I just walked home. Two and half miles home.

I remember crossing a bridge that day, it was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining really bright, the air felt lighter. I don’t think I was ever so happy.

Anyway, Leo, this post is exactly how I feel about education. I wish more teachers would be facilitators. I knew a handful of teachers who were like that and they are really to be appreciated and I feel like I owe a lot to them, but they were really limited by the system. And unfortunately, the system only really awards and promotes truly awful teachers, so I’d say its a lot more common to find unhelpful, narcissistic teachers (I had one who told us we were lucky to get her time and that she deserved respect, even though the entire class was hopelessly confused about the material). The good ones should help create some kind of alternative to what we know as education. They are really the only ones who can do it.

Thanks for this thoughtful post, Leo!

That was written by J.D. Bentley and it's about twelve posts down, give or take.
Leo's thoughtful post is here: [Thanks, Robin Bentley (no relationship to the other Bentley as far as I know), for sending that link to me.]

Reading 237 brilliant comments might be fun, but I have a Monday afternoon chat you might want to go to instead.

But back for one moment to J.D. Bentley and his grandmother. Four years of high school (for $4000 that his grandmother didn't even come through with, it seems) and four or some years of college for ONE art class and a class in creativity!? What if when he was thirteen and in the 8th grade his parents had spent some time on creativity and art with him? How many years in a different direction would he be now? Poor guy. I wish he was the only one ever hurt by bribery and misguided misdirection, and that we could all comfort him. But there are millions, now, being bribed and threatened. Then there are three who arent: my kids. There are a few hundred, maybe thousands of others. It makes a difference. It makes a small difference in the big world, but an all-changing difference in those unschooled lives.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

$215.75 at the post office

That was fun! After the pain specialist and the five x-rays of my back, Marty took me to the post office where we mailed books. One box was all U.S. The other was all Canada and further points: Norway, Scotland, Wales, England, and Australia. I have fifteen orders I haven't packed up yet, all American. I ran out of time and energy. Now to the Drug Cabinet. The receipt is about 4' long. Quite entertaining. I'm still going to get an MRI, and a bone scan, and an appointment back with the pain/spine people, in the next week and three. If I'm not better and if the x-ray shows a likely target, I might get a nerve-numbing shot of some sort after while. Photo... Ah! Holly bought a sprig (?) of five lilies, only one of which was opened, before we left for the conference. When we got back, the first one was all a-wilt, and three had opened. I was down to a stem and one unopened blossom and it opened last night!
photobucket is very frustrating. This photo is just gone... sorry. Flowers of some sort.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My potentially-dying words (recorded at an earlier date)

Sunday September 13 I was at a conference thinking maybe I was dying or something. Today I was at an orthopedic place thinking about the same thing, but new and different theories. I have an appointment for a bone scan tomorrow. Oh goody!

But that Sunday before last there were several people in my hotel room variously helping out, trying to feed me, advising Keith about local resources, and making me laugh, and then telling me to stop joking around and go to the hospital. You know the type.

Cheryl recorded my dying words (just in case, y'know) and here that is, with a note from her below. I liked that bed. Those pillows were nice.

Sandra's Dying Words - Humor even while in dire pain!

Ya know, with all the laughs in your room - the jokes and video, the one thing that stands out is how important it was that you made it to your chats and that the work you've done with unschooling carries on. It really is amazing all that you've put together over the years, and that book is going to be a big help.

"That book" can be ordered here:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kirby has a girlfriend

Kirby took these photos with his phone on September 10.

Kirby has a girlfriend named Roxana Sorooshian. Today is Roxana's 22nd birthday. She's moving to the University of California at Irvine Very Soon, as a junior. Kirby lives in Austin, and works for a company that's headquartered in Irvine.

I might have hesitated to say Roxana was Kirby's girlfriend, but she has this photo on facebook and her status says "in a relationship." That's as official as things get these days, I think!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Priorities and drugs

So... My schedule coming up involves some podcast kind of interviews and doctors' appointments. Because I had committed to the interviews, I said no to doctors about Mondays (those are the chat and interview days). That is because the general practitioner prescribed me 60 tabs of hydrocodone. I know some people don't like it. I know some people think taking western medicine's opiates is a sign of a weak will or something. For me, though, it works and I can handle being stupid and sleepy, and this is a good season for it, for me.

Last weekend at the Good Vibrations Conference there were babies and toddlers of every charming sort and size and my mothering memories were stirred, and I kinda wanted a baby, and I missed having a baby, but when my leg started to spaz out on me that reminded me of being in labor (it was some serious pain Sunday and Monday), and I remembered to be extremely glad that I don't have any babies or toddlers, that all my kids drive and have plastic money-cards and that if I want to dope myself up and sleep for hours I can!

This is also a thing to be grateful about: I did speak in London, and spoke twice instead of once, even. And although I got tired easily (sore foot), I did a lot of walking in the U.K., and it was fun! And I fulfilled my moral and contractual obligations at Good Vibrations, all except that there might have been people who wanted books signed while I was off at the emergency room or whimpering in some corner.

Next week, orthopedic guy; maybe I'll get a shot. Week after that, physical therapist; who knows.

My point about priorities is that in the absence of children who need my immediate attention, helping other unschoolers seems to outrank going to the doctor for me. I didn't know that until this week. I'm not fishing for any "take care of yourself first" talk. I'm taking care of what's most important to me and THEN I'm going to the doctor. So far, good enough. They don't make any medicine that would help me with regret or sorrow about missing things I promised to do, and doctors are pretty boring compared to the lit-up faces of people who are connecting what I just said with something they were thinking inside already, or who just got a missing piece to a set of thoughts that will be a breakthrough for them and their kids. That is The Big Thing for me now.

(Gratuitous images have nothing to do with my leg.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Getting Better

I feel better but I still retired to the couch after a few hours of up-and-doing. Up behind me is the stuff on top of the fridge, and the chart of presidents' lives. I'm really upstairs! That's awesome.

If you want to see photos of all the Dodds and all the Sorooshians in one place, there's one in the post below, but there are two here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Vibrations Conference

Dan Vilter took that photo. From the left, it's Cyrus, Rosie, Roxana & Kirby (in the back, and "an item"), Holly leaning on Roya, Marty, Sandra, Keith behind Pam. click it for an extreme close-up or click here for the "make a face" version.

There are another couple of photos of that group in Dan's photos (linked at left).

The conference was really great. What I'm hoping to do is to collect different people's commentary and links to their images and make them available for others to poke around through.
I'll increase my collection here:

For me, one of the best parts was having a two connected hotel rooms with all of our family there, for the whole time. I could see various combinations of Marty, Kirby and Holly just about anytime, and Keith was there to take care of me when my leg started to freak out. Every time might be the last time, for anything, but I was really aware that all five of us were together for over three days.

Kids I never met were sweet to me in the public passageways, and when little kids came running up the hall, they would say "excuse me" (Roxana mentioned that too), and they had good elevator manners.

Thanks for the kind words about the book from so many people, and I'd love to have any errors or typos you found, please, whether as a note below or an e-mail to me. Thanks!

Additions! Cindy send me embedding codes for these two things. I think they'll actually play it on her site, but still...

That's Marty right at the beginning who gets up just as he's on the sand, but hey, he was up!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Today, me, home

I'm a little better, and planning my drug use in advance in hopes that I'll be stupified enough not to hurt or at least not to whimper in the plane. I don't want to scare little kids, nor to add to the nervousness of people who are afraid of flights. I'm not afraid of flying, I'm afraid of scaring other people. :-)

I called and was promised wheel chairs, and Keith will get me at 9:00. Once I'm with Keith, I'll be fine even if I'm crying because that won't scare him.

Last night I was getting updates from other family members about who was where. Keith and Marty got home before anyone else, and they were in the car. The last Holly update I had was from Marty who'd had a text from her saying where they were staying last night. She'll be in Corvallis later today. And I'll be in Albuquerque tonight. So we'll be all sorted and delivered to our *three* different places, we Dodds, having arrived from our two different places.

Kirby has an interview tonight for a senior position. Maybe I already told that here, but I will blame drugs if I repeat myself or if I totally fail to report something. He found out about it Sunday night by e-mail and then he got a communication from his supervisor saying the competition is stiff and Kirby's the last interview (because he was at the conference when the others were interviewed).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Me and my leg

I'm at the Sorooshians' with my leg up, a peanut butter sandwich and some nectarines nearby and a cup of tea I can't drink until I'm brave enough to sit up. That will be after the prescription ibuprofin and the hydrocordone kick in. Note to self: I need to take these on a schedule and not wait for the pain.

Gradually over the weekend my leg started twinging and cramping oddly and unexpectedly until sometimes I was crumpled and whimpering, and sometimes I was yelping and trying to get to a bed to get my leg up. It wasn't in a joint, it wasn't necessarily seeming to be a muscle, and except for a speedy stressful hike across the Phoenix airport, on and off of ten moving sidewalks, always right-leg first, i don't know what it could've been. So I looked up to read about it, late Saturday night after I had done a talk in a chair, and it seemed i had symptoms enough and reason enough that it might've been a blood clot.

Sunday morning I had the worst episode of all, and the pain had moved down from high on my thigh Friday, to lower thigh Saturday, to knee on Sunday, and i told Keith I definitely wanted to go to the emergency room, but not until other things were squared away. We needed to consolidate our two adjoining rooms into one room; my free speaker's room was expiring at noon. The boys did that. Roya was speaking. There was no way I could've gotten up and walked, but some of the others went. I took pills in hopes that I could patch up well enough to get to my 10:30 breathing workshop I was doing. Amusingly (to Holly) I had earlier that morning said "It won't help!" when Keith was saying "breathe" during one of my yelpie-I'm-dying moments.

Earlier, Kirby had agreed to do the breathing workshop if I wasn't able to do it. I ran quickly through what my plan was and he said he could do that. He could've, too.

So I took four Advil caps and thought calm thoughts through some eye-crossing, death-seeming pain, not helped by thoughts of parts of blood clots killing me in front of a bunch of people with camera phones. Holly said it was a bad idea, for me to potentially die. I told her the book was done and she was moving away the next day anyway, so i wasn't that bad a time.

Kirby came back, said Roya's talk was great and I would definitely want to hear the recording later

Around 10:10 I started to feel less pained, so we decided Keith could take some books to sell (there was no ongoing registration area or sales area) and Kirby would go with me in case he needed to take over leading the session. The pain that had been spiking to a 10, as they say, stayed around five or six for a whole hour, and that was good. I myself was unable to take a full deep breath as clean and long as I was recommending, but I was able to tell the stories and make the jokes and people were very kind and understanding. The room filled up; i think there were nearly 30 people at the height of it (if anyone counted and wants to leave a note, I'd appreciate it), and I was maintaining the semblance of functionality and comfort as well as I could.

In the group were some nurses and other helpful people, some of whom helped me to my room after (Marty and Keith stayed to sell books) and some came by later. I was in the bed with the pillow arrangement keith had designed for me so my leg could be in the only comfortable position we had found (I'm like that now at Pam's house, though it's better if Keith put the pillows there, because it's Keith, but he's on his way to Albuquerque by car with Marty now, I bet.

In honor of the possibility of a blood clot, people brought me a blood-thinning assortment of foods they had in their rooms. Marty had found a list of foods on the internet, and it said chewing gum and wine, so i started with Bubbleyoum from my backpack and Karri brought me a bottle of white wine, so I was doing the wine and bubble gum pre-meal drinks. There were spices on the list, so Keith and Marty were maybe going to go get me Thai food but one of the moms there Jenny Canfield went to her room and brought a microwaveable Indian chicken lunch for me, which i ate very gratefully.

Meanwhile on the other side of the room, Keith was being advised on which hospital to take me to, and (I need the name, please) one of the breathing workshop attendees who had been both a cardiac nurse and emergency room nurse at other times was making calls to see who had an ultrasound machine and operator on site on a Sunday.

Some people were saying "go now" but I figured it was a blood clot and they weren't going to let me fly home so there wasn't so much of a hurry, and I was getting to talk to unschoolers which was why I was out there.

So my guests and food providers and coaches left, and Keith and i told people we were going to go and hear Pam, and I did want to. The trip down the hall and down elevator was so painful and scary, though, that when I got to the lobby I asked Keith to just take me to the hospital instead. We met James Coburn in the parking lot, who offered to help and wanted to give me his phone number, which made me realize i had left my phone in the room. Keith doesn't own or want to have a cellphone. So James very sweetly and quickly took our key and fetched my phone while Keith got me in the car.

We went to Scripp's Memorial in La Jolla which was only about five miles away. I know that from having read my patient wrist-thing later. Everyone there was sweet and cheerful and patient and awesome, from the receptionist to the gurney drivers to Steve the nurse to the ultrasound tech (maybe Barbara? she was especially nice and explained it all) to the doctor, who had first come to talk to me in the waiting room and then twice in the curtained room that was mine for a very short while. I could easily be wrong, but I think we were in and out of there in two hours or less. Keith figured it would've been less had I been in a yelpy whimpery phase. That one happened in the bathroom, though, when Keith took me to pee. No witnesses but Keith to my inability to stand or sit. There was a wheelchair for me, from the time I had gotten out of the car, but I couldn't get very comfortable in it.

So no blood clot (GOOD!) and probably it's sciatic nerve stuff, even though it wasn't hurting at hip or butt. That doesn't make it hurt less, but it makes it non-life-threatening, and I can still dope myself up enough to be still in an airplane and get to Albuquerque Tuesday night.

I'm writing this partly for my own records, so I can look back later and check the date and what drugs I had.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Whose hat is this?

Holly found this hat in the lobby, and would like to return it to the owner.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kirby goes on vacation

Past the lobby, we weren't allowed to take pictures. Those who want stories will just have to ask Kirby. But you can see the official site of the official show, officially, here:

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Memories, green chile, Puerto Rico

This is a montage of the moment. I've never been to Puerto Rico, but unschooling is alive and well there. I lifted this image from Aprendiendo Naturalmente, on Facebook.

If anyone knows who created the image, I'd be glad to add the credit here. [Someone noted below that it was on an Old Navy shirt. If the artist's name comes through, I'll credit that.]

When I was a kid, desks like that were modern. And any plastic back with bolts to a frame would catch long hair in the bolts sometimes, because the plastic was flexible. Up to Jr. High I was in a really old building some of the time, and some of the desks were from ink-pot days. They were wooden, and tore up nylons. The boys fared better, wearing jeans and having short hair, in those desks. The year after I graduated from high school our district started letting girls wear pants to school.

There is another group on Facebook, also started by one of the Puerto Rican moms: Sandra Dodd fans. They didn't tell me about it until it already had a fair number of members.

Joannette Aponte YunquƩ translated the Certificate of Empowerment into Spanish. You can get to that (two formats) and the English original here: Certificate of Empowerment.

For Cathyn and Mark, I have a video. I know this leaves out the best part of all, but Holly and I stood there and smelled it for you as well as we possibly could.