"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


Learning Link, 11

Looking to add interesting material to the classroom section of your school's website?

Check this out: Copyblogger Brian Clark Interview on Content Planning for Blogs.

Clear advice with a focus on building 'robust, engaging content'....here's the link:


Music and Art take to the streets

Are you interested in street art?

How about pianos, out on the street, for any passerby to play?

As part of an art experiment?

How cool is that?

Check it out:

....uh, and no: I'm not going to draw any of the obvious references or wisecracks about public school music education and this event...you can do that one on your own.


Learning Link, 10

Getting started with plans for the school year?

How about this idea, from the classroom wall of a great teacher I know?

She kept a list on the wall of words & phrases to let people know they're doing a great job.

I tried this last year, changing the focus a bit. It worked well for me.

Here's my working list for this year:

Things I want to think about, every day:
Dignity. Calmness. Centered. Kindness. Listening. Energy.
Autonomy. Mastery. Meaning. Play. Story. Design. Empathy. Symphony. Purpose.

That second line, in case you didn't recognize it, is from Daniel Pink's book, A Whole New Mind. (If you haven't read it...well, let's just say it can deepen awareness of what the fundamental abilities are for success...)

How about you? Any words you find important to remind yourself about, each day?



Looking for some good reading for the school year?

Have you ever noticed that there are certain books which become worn from re-reading?

Books which make some things more clear?

Here's some I find helpful:

Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke
Linchpin, Seth Godin
Tribes , also by Godin
If you want to write , Brenda Ueland
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
Shop Class as Soul Craft, Matthew Crawford
A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink
The Old Way of Seeing, Hale

And blog posts from Seth Godin (www.sethgodin.typepad.com and Leo Babuta(zenhabits.net).

Plus, nearly any TED talk by Ken Robinson.

Current reading?
Robert Francis (Collected Poems), and The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.

And, as always, looking for good (non-fiction) suggestions. What are you reading these days?


Learning Link, 9

Are you drowning in details right about now?


Working on that one...


Learning Links, 8

Amazing presentation-- a headset which controls the human-machine interface.

Apparently our thoughts can change the world.



August 7th

No big learning news or links today.

Just thinking about what it takes to play music that's real. To live, for real.

Beauty comes at a high cost.

Sometimes there's no other way.

Learning Links, 7


This time around, not another TED talk but instead, an interesting take on the contributing factors for success, from Malcolm Gladwell via RadioLab. (If you haven't listened to any of the RadioLab shows, check them out if you have time. Good stuff.)


Adventures in Learning, 4

My hands are greasy.

And I am utterly content.

Today, a teenage friend of mine went down with me to our local co-op bike repair "we'll teach you while you do the work yourself" shop, mostly because I was, frankly, a bit intimidated about going there on my own.

Foolish, but true.

It's a place of beauty. Not sure everyone would see it that way, but for me, those bike repair stations with their orderly rows of tools, exposed brick walls and quietly intent work was an inherently satisfying sight.

What did I learn?

1. It's useful to listen while someone's explaining how to do things, and wait to ask questions until they're done.
2. It's even more useful to speak as little as possible, try to follow the directions, and only ask questions after trying on my own.
3. Repair follows an orderly pattern. Much like cooking and baking: sensible.
4. Bikes are far more user-friendly than I would ever have guessed. Accessible technology (well, at the level of my free-to-me bike, anyway).

I admire people who can fix things (as regular readers may already know). And finally, finally, finally....I'm starting to enter that world myself.


More tomorrow.



Adventures in Learning, 3

OK, more in the exciting saga of learning in daily life.

First of all, in case you didn't know, the 'preferred method' of maintaining aluminum chairs? Car wax. Yep. Surprised me, too.

Second, that clothesline. I was inordinately proud of being able to a) hang it up high enough without falling off the ladder and b) using screws, not nails. This last tidbit is thanks to a friend who carefully explained to me the proper uses of each.

See? I'm learning. It's just s-l-o-w.

In any case, the clothesline worked great--until I put a moderately heavy sleeping bag on it. Hmm: sag-city. Also, the hook worked itself right out of the dandy little hole in the tree bark. Ugh.

Unfortunately, most of the directions online include using a posthole digger, metal poles, and cement. Budget for this project is at zero for the summer, so now it's time to learn through experimentation. Wish me luck on this one! (Better yet, how's about some advice?)

On a more successful front, I also started a repainting project using some old chairs from my Mom's basement. They were destined for the 'free' pile anyway---great raw material for learning.

So what did I learn?

1. Despite meticulous effort, the paint streaked like crazy with the paintbrush. Either it's too big (which it was) or it's the wrong kind of brush for this kind of paint. Switching to a sponge worked better but now there are small bumps in odd places. Grrrr.
2. Sanding these pieces down before washing them, then painting, would probably have been a very good idea indeed. I'll do that on the other chair.
3. For the first time, I understand why my Grandfather and some of my friends want to have workshops, separate from the house. It's nice to be working in the quiet outoors, and it's also handy to have the proper tools nearby. There's something about working in a space which is intended for just this use, also, which gives me more patience and the willingness to take the time to do it right. Perhaps a teeny tiny bit of the dignity of (and true desire for) good craftsmanship is starting to become mine.

Lastly, it occurred to me today how much different this whole process of doing things is, from watching or reading about other people's work. Far more absorbing, though I love to read about it. Actually starting to do things myself, overall? Moments of sheer frustration coupled with intense satisfaction.

I'm ready for more. See you tomorrow.