Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life-Long Learning Community

Today, instead of tackling the huge list of items on my ‘to do’ list, I decided to look up the word ‘alternative’ in the dictionary. I was just thinking about alternatives: alternative life styles, alternative medicine, alternative schooling. So, I looked up the word ‘alternative’ at dictionary.com. The online dictionary has a number of definitions of the word ‘alternative.’ The one that I thought fit was: “employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas, methods, etc.; existing outside the establishment: an alternative newspaper; alternative lifestyles.” O.K., I knew that. But what I found more interesting was the synonym for ‘alternative,’—‘choice.’

I think we should all have as many choices as possible, and especially when referring to the way we lead our lives or raise our children. We now have alternative farmer’s markets, organic food and health stores. We have alternative medicine, chiropractics, acupuncture, message therapy, oriental medicine and so much more. We have Montessori schools that ‘follow the child’ and well done, are extraordinarily successful in creating an alternative environment for children. We have Waldorf schools that ‘unite head, heart and hand’ and are also very successful working with the whole child. What about us adults?

I’m thinking a learning community might be very revitalizing and a refreshing alternative. Right now, I get up every morning, go to work, take care of the house, the laundry (my husband does the same), family errands and more. My life is fairly traditional and over-scheduled. I think about creating alternative schools that not only change the way a child experiences his/her day, but a fresh way of living for family and community. We did that when my kids were young and growing up…but creating an alternative community for us and our grown-up children is a little more challenging. I’m not referring to community colleges or adult education. I mean, a true alternative learning community where we support each other and figure alternative ways to live and grow. I think we could rethink this and create adult learning communities everywhere. If done well, it could be a nice, healthy, alternative life choice for us all.

Alternative schooling has been around forever. There was a time when alternative schooling meant a general education (the 3R’s, reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic’) instead of learning to farm or a mastering a craft or trade. ‘Traditional’ public education only started in 1852. It is relav

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An ADD ADHD Family

My family was all together today. Stephen, our oldest son, walks into the house, empties the contents of his pockets, keys and odd crumpled up pieces of notes on the class family room table. Then he walks into the study (his old bedroom) and sits down with Dennis, aka Dad . They start some sort of project on the computer, but there's trouble with the internet connection. Dennis walks out of the study into the kitchen and makes coffee…except…dip and chip (even though it is only 10:00 am) seems like a good idea to him. So out comes the avocados, the wooden mixing bowl, the masher, and various spices. The sour cream is next, but it is in the back of the frig, so out comes all the stuff in front of it. Then Stephen calls. Dennis runs back down the hall into the study. The coffee is still perking and the guacamole contents are waiting. There's a problem with some wire that runs something to the room. I hear the garage door open. The front door is also left open. We haven't had a car in the garage since 30 B.C. (before children). I hear them. They are looking for a ladder. The holiday decoration boxes advance out onto the driveway along with the camping equipment, a couple of bikes and some unidentified flotsam and jetsam. The ladder emerges and makes it's way down the hall to the attic opening, which is in a closet. The closet contents spill into the hall. Our two big Rhodesian Ridgebacks take this opportunity to practice hurdle jumping. I trip over a tool chest in the entry hall. The front door flings open again. It's our daughter, Erin, with her basket of laundry and her German short-haired pointer. Now ALL the dogs are going nuts. She places the laundry in the entry hall because she's not finished unloading her car. Matt calls, he's on his way.

This is the profile of an active, creative family. Our family. The house is a mess. Projects are started and left sitting where they lie. Yet, the members of this house have all created significant contributions to the world. They have international businesses, solved interesting problems, lived in interesting places, started college and created functional, running businesses before the age of eighteen. Their profiles would have been labeled ADHD had any of them followed a traditional educational route. But none did. Not even, exactly, Dad. SO…what are we doing to this 'epidemic' of creative kids we label ADD/ADHD, (most without testing,) drug and confine to an uncreative, ordinary education? Eventually, the mess in my house will be cleaned up. My family remains creative. I feel saddened about the children we label and medicate, instead of giving them a chance to create in their own way, in their timeframes and find their own particular form of brilliance.