"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Adventures in Learning, 2

I admire my grandfather.

Also, I admire any of you out there who have that same skill set: being able to fix nearly anything.

And, you ask, what exactly does this have to do with learning?

Well. Front lines, folks: hands on learning. It's clearly the winner for accelerated learning in the classroom, so I'm hoping for similar results with my ventures into home repair and crafting.

Today's adventure? Restoring a 1950s aluminum lawn chair's graceful sleek silver lines, that I remember from my childhood. (uh, not that I was alive in the 1950s, but the chair certainly was around then.)

First things first: steel wool and lots of scrubbing. To my utter amazement, this accomplished nearly all of the work! Here I've been using this chair for years, wishing it didn't have so much rust obscuring its beautiful lines--and THIS is all that was needed to restore it?!

There's most definitely a lesson in there somewhere. I suspect it will also be a humbling experience, so I'm gonna save that one to think about later on in the day.

What else did I learn?

Fixing stuff gets a lot of gunk under fingernails. Yuck. It's all good, though, thanks to the miracle of soap and water. (Yep, I know already. Don't bother to tell me to wear gloves. Gloves are unwieldy and make it much harder to do detail work, at least at my current level of skill.)

In any case, now the chair is nearly clear. Next step--read and ask about how to bring it fully alive again.

(BTW, if you're reading this, thinking "How can she not know to do xyz?!"---please, don't keep that knowledge to yourself--put it in the comments, where it will be most welcome!) (and put to good use!)

Coming up tomorrow....hanging an outdoor clothesline that doesn't sag to the ground after one use. See you then!



Learning Links, 6


OK, so I realize: there's a lot of TED links on this blog.

Right--that's because it's a treasure chest of great ideas and advice.

Today's link? Three minutes of advice on how to succeed in life, distilled from discussions with TED speakers: 7 years, 500 interviews.

The result is like a turbo-charged multivitamin for encouraging creativity and success.

Well worth the three minutes (yep, you heard me correctly) it takes to listen. And then some, I think. What do you think?


Adventures in Learning: 1--News from the world of a novice crafter

Lessons learned while making a seat cushion for my back porch:

1. Needles tend towards sharpness. Have some respect.
2. If you sew without laying out the material and pinning it first, the result will look as though you did not lay out the material and pin it first.
3. Master craftspeople can probably use cruddy materials and still end up with a beautiful, polished product. I'm not yet a master craftsperson.
4. The learning process is absorbing and probably never-ending. It's also nice to have some useful products along the way.
5. It feels GREAT to be able to do it myself.

OK, there's the news from my first ventures in DIY land. I realize it's not about public school education, directly, but hey--all of life can be about learning, right?

More later.


Learning Links, 5


Bezos, Amazon founder, talks about the gifts we're given, the choices we make, and the interactions of the two.

Thought-provoking, especially his series of questions at the end of the speech.

Good stuff!


July 20th

BTW, check out Dudecraft's post today--art, kids and cool paper dogs.
www.Dudecraft.com oh yeah.

Yet another tiny house

OK. I realize these tiny house posts don't have much to do with education--except in terms of educating for a good life--but some of these places are too good to pass by.

Here's a video of a tiny house which has won architecture awards--it's as beautiful as finely hand-crafted furniture. Check it out (video's about 3 minutes long).


Learning Links, 4

Today's link is to a business book which packs great ideas into easy-to-read, short chapters. Written by Jason Fried and David Hansson, who are the founders of 37signals (a successful software company whose products are used by millions of people worldwide), ReWork offers practical tips for looking at how business is done and how to generate steady creativity. Good, solid, practical ideas that translate well into the world of education.

In fact, I bought the book because there's a quote on the front cover by my current favorite business writer, Seth Godin: "Ignore this book at your own peril".

Well....perhaps not 'peril', exactly, but it's well worth a read.

ReWork, Jason Fried and David Hansson.
Check out Godin's blog for great, short, daily posts about business & creativity: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/


Learning Links, 3

A different way of measuring success...Chip Conley, "We count numbers, we count on people. What really counts is when we actually use our numbers to truly take into account our people.....What one thing can you start counting today that actually would be meaningful in your life, whether it's your work life or your business life?"

Intrigued? More at the TED talk site:



Engaging the game

Thinking today about teaching in a public school classroom as a way of looking at life.

For many years, I've invested hours of my life each day in finding good material (songs, dances, tunes...) and preparing ways to introduce music & dance to children, to hone their skills, to make it come alive for them. Working even harder to hone my own skills and understanding, so that I have a hope of being effective in what I do each day.

On most fronts, it still feels as though I have lots of work to do, to substantiate my dream.

Teaching and learning are primarily vehicles for me. A way of being with others that encourages all involved, encourages us to open minds and lives to the joy of creating, to the sheer joy of being alive and able to be a part of music and dance...and art, reading, sports, nature, community, science,business, play...all of it. To flourish, no matter what the 'outside' circumstances of our lives may be.

It takes work--for all of us, it takes work to teach and to learn. Investing ourselves, putting in the time to learn our craft, passing that along to others and learning in that process, too. Learning to live as fully as we can, wherever we are.

Learning to, as a good friend of mine likes to say, "engage the game". How lucky are we, to have that chance to create, each day?

July 16th

I've been talking with a friend who's just graduated from college, and is searching for the next step in life.

Listening to her struggle with the dichotomy between what makes her come alive
(roots music & dance) and what she's 'supposed' to do (graduate work: 'serious academic study').

Listening as she tries to reconcile herself to committing hours of hard work and thought towards mastery of something which doesn't completely fit with her creative energy.

Acknowledging her utter ability to succeed--brilliantly--in either area.

Knowing that there's not much more I can do to help her find her way, except to listen with care.....

and thinking, with gratitude, about how many times others have given that exact same gift to me.

Just sayin'.


Celebrating Killian Mansfield's Life...

Killian Mansfield was one of the amazing teen musicians who came to Ashokan's Western & Swing week for several years. His irreverent good humor and sheer joy in life soon endeared him to everyone in our community, even as we watched with sadness as each year saw the cancer he was battling begin to take its toll.

He was--and continues to be--an inspiration for people of all ages.

This coming Sunday, there'll be a big celebration of Killian's life on what would have been his 17th birthday. (Sunday, July 18th, 2-6pm, Shokan, NY) Music, potluck, hanging out: it looks to be a great time to benefit a great cause.

From the website:
Live music, POT LUCK, community and BIG FUN
to benefit the charity Killian founded in the last months of his life, the Killian Mansfield Foundation.

Performances include (to date & subject to change):
Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, Amy Helm & Jay Collins, Robert Burke Warren, Bruce Katz, Jon Braman, Jon Coghill & Los Chingones, Mark Donato, Catskill Ukulele Group, Byrdsong, We Can Lele and more!

More information? Check out the website: http://killianmansfield.org/

Interested in knowing more about Killian? Check out this NY Magazine article:


Learning links, 2


OK, today's link is directly related to learning--for those of us who love us some good coffee. The Lifehacker article is pretty thorough & user-friendly. Also has great info for further reading.

And now, off to get a good cup of morning coffee....


Learning links, 1

I realized recently that I often post links to great TED talks or other material--so, to make things a little clearer, I'll title these kinds of posts from now on as 'Learning links'.

Today: here's a sound small nugget of wisdom from a great business writer, Seth Godin. If you haven't checked out his books or his blog, you might want to do so--he writes with clarity and originality. Invigorating stuff.

Here's a sample (his daily posts are generally a few paragraphs long):



Another TED talk


"Inspiration is cross-pollinating"--Marian Bantjes is a graphic designer who believes that it's important to share art with others, within the context of daily life.

Beautiful work.


Check it out!

Some fun-to-read posts by a young writer:


Worth a look!