Monday, February 15, 2010

Conference Notes

Though I did not remember to take pictures at the unschooling conference,
I did find on my computer this photo of some people at another conference, which had a few similarities to the one in Madison

I didn't do enough to explain the Madison Unschooling Conference in yesterday's post, so here are a few quotes/thoughts I scribbled on my notepad there*:

-watch The Harlem Globetrotters to see an example of adults engaging in pure play.
-standardized testing industry is an 80 billion dollar empire.
-epidemic of diabetes in this country being blamed on food, but media is not covering the other main cause, which is immobilization (which occurs most of the day in schools).
-schools are the creators (along with the fast-food industry, etc.) of the diabetes epidemic
-book recommendation: Strangers in the Land
-Find out what people want. Then either give it to them cheaper or of better quality. Or be the only one.
-Look up his former student, B.J. Cummings
-small, private airfields - sometimes the pilots there will let you ride for free, just to have someone to talk to.
-John Taylor Gatto put kids back into the community doing what kids did before WWII - "adding value."
-Previous to WWII, kids were expected to make their own pocket money by age 7, usually doing things older people didn't want to do. These days this is considered child abuse.
-re: teenagers obsessed with video games: "If he loves video games, why not incorporate him into the video game industry. Designing video games, etc. Courses at the university. Video games are the largest single profit-making source in the media industry.
-read Dan Greenberg books
-Question from workshop participant: "Why do parents get worried about very intense non-academic pursuits?" JTG says there is no such thing as a non-academic pursuit.
-On the topic of "educational conspiracy" - JTG says, these people are/were not evil. But people have been conditioned, on purpose, and by "brilliant thinkers," for over 100 years, to "think down blind alleys." These people are not evil - they just believe what Calvin, Spinoza, etc., say, which is that you're dangerous. They spoke openly about it, though.
-Horace Mann, in a diary in 1845: "break the bonds of the working class." Or something like that.
-In a school setting where kids are in the back of the room copying out of comic books, JTG would go back and watch what the kids were doing and say "do you think you're copying that comic book?" Bring up something about what they're doing: "I notice all the characters in the panels - but in the comic books, the arms and legs stick out, and the panels are all of different sizes." Told student to take a week out of school, go to the library, and sit in a pile of 20 books at a time, in order to learn how to do it the way the professionals do - Where does the paper come from? What's the best comic book? What about foreign comics?
-Comic books - jobs in graphic arts are very well paid and the artists don't have to wear a coat and tie!
-Question from a workshop participant - How did you get away with not getting caught for the way you were teaching? JTG: wore pinstripes, volunteered for horrible jobs like lunchroom monitor, and pretended to be a "stickler" for discipline. Threw the scent off for long enough to try things and find out if they worked. He also visited homes: "If I don't know the parents I'm not going to know the kids."
-Advice: Look for opportunities. Then you can draw liasons/ligatures between casual interests and things that those interests might develop into in the future. Parents have been so excluded from "cooking a new life." That is poison. Parents become unpaid assistants of the classroom teacher.
-More advice to teachers: Start with projects that will make the school look good. Say, "A group of parents has approached me and said. . . . and I think it's a good idea!" Also, work through assistant principals because 75% of them won't survive.
-Colonial aristocrats used to teach their children, "If you can't draw what you're seeing, then you haven't seen what you think you're looking at."
-Get the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.
-On JTG's documentary film project - guy in charge says, "It's useless to make a small documentary because it will only be watched by the True Believers."
-Watch this movie: High School
-our economy depends on continuous warfare. Our economy can't survive without it.
-look up Penn-Gillette - read book.

Well, there you go. Hopefully there is something in there for everyone!

*Please keep in mind that these are just my notes, and I urge you to do your own research on their validity.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Wish I could have attended, too!

  2. Love the Picture!!! Does Kenny know that you posted that? :)
    I like the part about immobilization and Diabetes. Some co-workers and I were talking how horrid their kids schools Lunchs are, and I was shocked to hear that some kids ONLY have 15 Minutes for lunch period! Talk about indigestion!!! How is one to learn how to honor your body when you have to shovel your food in.