Intuitive ‘instruction design’

by Lilia Efimova on 12 October 2017

It’s third season of the workshops for homeschoolers that we organise together with Wout Zweers, who works at an intersection of art, design and making. Today is another workshop and, being up early, I started to think about my role in the process.

The first part is logistical. I sort out the dates, write announcements, communicate with the participants and make sure that contributions get collected.

The second one is educational. It is a sort of intuitive ‘instruction design’ for something where you can’t really fix the sequence of steps. A workshop is a discovery environment around a theme, where exploring materials, learning techniques to work with them, producing an outcome and playing with it are mixed in different proportions for everyone.

I guess what I’m trying to do when we are preparing a workshop is something about boundaries, attractors and fitting facilitation.

Attractors are usually there – an interesting theme, materials, methods, tools, machines, Wout himself with all knowledge, skills and inspiration that he easily shares. The challenge here is to stay as open as possible without getting into a chaos (which is easy, given a multi-age group of kids that we usually have). So in a conversation with each other and tryouts with my kids we are sharpening the focus: what is essential for this particular workshop and what can be left for the others. Finding the attractors usually means removing distractors – materials, methods, tools and machines that are likely to result in too much diverging.

This is where the boundaries come into play. Time has to be set and managed, space needs to be organised in a way which helps us and the participants to stay focused, where what is needed can be easily accessed and put back, where the chances of an injury are minimised and the chances of learning and discovery are maximised.

And then comes the facilitation. For me a lot in these workshops is about a sort of apprenticeship – letting the participants to explore while being inspired by Wout and being able to learn “tricks of the trade” from him. So part of the process is creating an opportunity for everyone to “unpack” Wout’s expertise while freeing him from explaining the same thing again and again where it is not essential. The other part is creating conditions for a legitimate peripheral participation, so even smaller kids, who can’t easily do complex tasks (operate a laser cutter or use woodworking tool independently), can feel part of the group and create something meaningful within a theme. The same goes for the parents – we try to make sure that they have a chance to explore, create and learn and next to supporting their own kids.

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Life goes on

by Lilia Efimova on 3 October 2017

It is always difficult to start writing again after a long period of silence. Like this time.

My mother passed away last year. She had a long history of heart problems that were not getting better, but it still came very unexpected (and seeing her writing on FB just hours before made it worse). Next to the emotions there were lots of other things to work out and no desire whatsoever to write in an open space.

But life doesn’t stay still. Grieving and all that comes with it give way. Life goes on and I start to feel that writing in me that needs this space. So, I’m back again :)

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My elephant in the dark

October 23, 2016

A visit from Gabriela, bringing back memories of the golden era of blogging and triggering an exploration of optics uses in medieval paintings, also brings something else. I look back at my own path and wonder how all of my experiences of work and blogging are useful now and what I’m going to do in […]

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What a week

October 16, 2016

When the cold season comes some homeschooling weeks are relatively normal, structured around regular activities in and outside the house. Others, like this one, are getting filled in with all kinds of extras, enough to make me want to crawl under the blanked and hide. A couple of sessions of working on a boat book […]

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Household activities as a part of the curriculum

October 6, 2016

I often say that household work is an important ingredient of our kids’ education. In this post I explain why it is so and how we approach this in practice.

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On homeschooling quality

September 11, 2016

Back home after a half a day talking about homeschooling practices and politics. There was an intervision session for the parents to share and discuss their experiences and, by a coincidence, a call with a discussion of current state of negotiations about the changes in the regulations of home education in the Netherlands. It’s a […]

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PKM for kids?

September 8, 2016

I’ve been thinking in the last few days about a direction to organise my current experiences and thinking about learning. It always have been about an individual in a social space, in a continuum of teams, communities and networks, but at the current iteration the age went from adults to young kids, bringing a lot […]

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A jar full of coins

September 4, 2016

While sorting stuff in the bookcases to be replaced I found a jar full of coins. Giving it to the kids turned into math, construction, cooperation and ice-creams.

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Facilitating unschooling: bridging the gap between interests of a child and external expectations

August 29, 2016

I’m at another iteration of trying to come up with a “theory of unschooling”. In this post I draw parallels between facilitating unschooling and supporting informal learning in an organisation, and then discuss the challenges of aligning interests of a child and external expectations.

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Not back to school insights

August 24, 2016

As everyone around is starting another school year, we do too, in a sense. Reestablishing household routines after traveling, painting shelves to make a new bookcase and trying to wrap free-range learning into a plan for a quality assessment process with Stichting Keurmerk Thuisonderwijs, which brings a few insights to share.

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Seasonal rhytms

August 18, 2016

Seeing how the choices of our kids of what to do and where are changing with the seasons is always amazing.

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Lightning and thunder

April 15, 2016

Nature, physics and math – just because it’s stormy and the delay between lightning and thunder is always amazing.

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Things to write on making

April 9, 2016

I’m longing to write, but the physical reality takes over. Two weeks in Russia with the kids, flu, Easter, laser cutter workshop and spring season in the garden, not to mention the kids, all need their share of attention. So, not to produce yet another unfinished draft I’ll make a quick list of things to […]

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Facilitating informal learning: mindset, lifestyle and paying attention

March 27, 2016

Easter lunch is not about learning, but it serves as a good example to talk about the mindset and the lifestyle that enable learning as part of life. It also helps to see why noticing and articulating informal, embedded and implicit is important.

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