STEAM-Powered Classroom is inspired by the retro-futuristic aesthetic of Steampunk, which takes the old and reimagines it with more funk and more tech. Traditional, Steampunk is not, yet it honors the past even as it tinkers with it. That too is part of our value system in our own hybrid classroom. We are not opposed to public education, nor are we afraid to alter it as it suits our needs and interests. In fact, we see ourselves as a miniature laboratory, cooking up educational experiments in our home that just may have some replicable qualities for the broader education scene. We likewise enjoy the talents and expertise of the public school teachers that work with our children. We are a hybrid home, and so our children are educated both at public school and in the world outside it.
If you’re here, then you either have kids or teach them, or care about them in some way. They are our future, and it is beyond time to quit settling for what’s expected, what’s offered, “the way it’s done.” These are your children, and their education can open doors or shut them. Be involved. Be with your kids and get to know their teachers and what is being taught and how they’re being taught. Celebrate the fantastic teaching practices and bring the academic conversation home. Challenge unsuitable classroom situations, and never be afraid to advocate for your child. If you homeschool, don’t settle for curriculum, practices and standards that other people tell you to follow. If you agree, and they work for you and your children, fabulous. But claim your education. Claim what works. Toss what doesn’t. We don’t have to wait for the nation to make its changes (which it will, to be sure). We have children now, and we must do what’s right by them… now.
And you kids don’t get out of this either! This is your life we’re talking about, so step up! Be courageous, be passionate, be curious. Read about other amazing people and be inspired. Make things, learn about your world, and challenge adults. You are our present and our future – so be that bright inspiration, just by believing in your own potential. I know I believe in it. It’s why I’m here.
For parents with kids in public school, pick up a copy of the wonderful book The Parent Backpack by ML Nichols. And be sure to look around her outstanding website. Both the book and site are go-to resources for parents wanting to be more fully engaged in their child’s education. The book is full of practical ideas, motivation, and encouragement that will help you support your child through her elementary years.
For those of you who are homeschooling or considering homeschooling, may I introduce the kind and brilliant Lisa Rivero. Check out her book The Homeschooling Option, which will help you assess readiness at each stage of the homeschooling journey and her Creative Home Schooling, which will help you create an education that is truly unique and child-centered.
Both ML Nichols and Lisa Rivero are not only talented authors, but generously supportive to their readership and peers. I’m pleased to know them.
For motivated kids ages 13(ish) and up, be inspired by Hacking Your Education by Dale J. Stephens. In it, Stephens challenges teens and 20-somethings to create their education outside the university walls. Involved in universities all my life, I can’t exactly promote that as a good choice for everyone (and frankly, Stephens doesn’t say this either; he is instead asking you to question the choice and your motivations). However, there is great enthusiasm here for the motivated self-learner, no matter what path you choose.
And finally, one of my favorite speakers, Adora Svitak, reminding us all of the great capacity of kids:
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