With only a few minutes break to get sandwiches (lessons were also given while chewing), it was a non-stop intensive computer bootcamp that demystified computers and gave everyone in the room a can-do attitude about programming. Not surprisingly, the girls were just as capable as any of the guys — and when we showed off our websites in the last few minutes each reflected our own style, sense of humor and whimsy.
Basic computer knowledge should be mandatory education for all kids and adults. In just 2 days, computers and programming can be demystified. It’s just what may make many more girls go into engineering and become technical founders of companies. In fact in the course of one weekend we may just have created 3 more female engineers.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve needed to hire a number of teachers for our kids in a variety of subjects. This is what we’ve learned: although teachers who’ve been teaching and tutoring a number of years may have mastered the art of teaching, it’s those who use their craft outside the classroom setting who are the gems. Ideally, the two are combined: experience with teaching (as that is an art in itself) as well as being an expert in the field.
For instance, the kids’ music teacher, Keith Witty, is a wonderful teacher to the kids; he’s been teaching music for a number of years, but is also an accomplished cellist. He has his own band and tours with it (and other bands) throughout the world. As Keith explained last night, when you’re practicing the craft apart from teaching, you continue to grow, the subject doesn’t get stale, and your passion for the craft remains. And needless to say, that passion rubs off on the kids.
Similarly, just last week, one of our sons was fortunate enough to have a cooking session with Serena Bass, an award-winning chef who has her own restaurant, Lido. She also has experience teaching cooking. He learned so much from her in just one 4 hour session. Together they prepared a full meal starting with pea soup with mint and yogurt, roasted chicken, potato salad with juniper, yellow squash with torn Tuscan croutons, and finally an orange cake with rhubarb compote. And the best of all: the entire family got to enjoy the fruits of the meal — it was all absolutely delicious! Our son was beyond thrilled to have been a part of it.
So the next time you’re thinking of hiring a teacher or tutor, try to find someone who practices the craft outside the classroom. You won’t regret it.
Our trip to East Africa made a real impression on our 14 year old daughter, Katie. When we visited a school in Lewa, Kenya, she saw first hand how many fewer girls there were in middle school and high school. Katie has decided to do something about it. She’s raising money to support a girls’ boarding school that will allow girls to continue their education.
She’s having an opening of her photographs and art this coming Wednesday, June 18th to raise money for supplies needed to keep the school running (contact me if you’re interested in coming to the opening). You can see some of the photographs she took on safari here.
Please consider donating to her Crowdrise fundraiser
where she’s also posted more information about her fundraiser.
I’m excited to announce that Ziggeo just launched a really cool plug-in for Wordpress that lets anyone create a video blog — that is, record a video and have it directly submitted to your Wordpress blog.
Here’s the very first video blog (that’s Oliver, my business partner, together with me).
If you’d like to start video blogging — and/or accept video comments from others — you can find out more information here.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that the kids can dream up projects, plan and execute them. My daughter, Katie, decided she wanted to create an art piece by filling balloons with paint, throwing darts at them, and having the paint drip onto a canvas (alla Jackson Pollock).
Here she is on a rooftop in Dumbo shooting darts. And below is one result now hanging in our dining room.
"I don’t know why they call it homeschooling; I’m rarely home".
That came from my 12 year old who is out and about during regular school hours — much more so than kids who go to regular school and spend most of the day in one school building.
Among our three kids, they’ve taken Italian Renaissance Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; biology lab class at the Museum of Natural History; history by studying American musicals at the New York Historical Society and a number of other classes around the city, including Debate, Philosophy, Psychology, and Improv. Our kids have also done internships around town, attended conferences and traveled extensively.
So I’d have to agree with my little guy: “homeschooling” is a misnomer.
One of the most meaningful days on our trip to East Africa was our visit to a local school in Lewa. Our kids gave out school supplies, games and soccer balls (bought from money they raised from a crowd-funded campaign) and shared music on the first iPhone the Kenyan kids had ever seen (a big hit). So many takeaways for our kids that day — how education shouldn’t be taken for granted (some Kenyan kids walk 3 hours each way to attend school) — and, most importantly, how one family or child can make a difference.
As I mentioned previously, this week marked a huge milestone for Ziggeo. We launched our API for video recording and playback (so any site can now integrate video recording and playback with just two lines of code), and unveiled it at New York Tech Meetup.
The support and rallying from colleagues, friends and family to make this happen was amazing and truly touching. Just some of the faces who were there for us can be found on this Wall of Videos we created during the demo.
One of the issues I’ve had in the past with school assignments is that they’ve been assigned in a vacuum with little rhyme or reason as to why a particular subject was being studied. Subjects frequently seemed randomly selected.
We’re off next week on a safari to Kenya and Tanzania with the kids (one of the benefits of homeschooling is that they can take vacation whenever they like).
In preparation for the trip, the kids, Albert and I each prepared oral presentations (with slides) around particular topics of interest related to our trip (e.g. evolution, wildlife, local customs). In the process, the kids were able to refine their research and oral presentation skills — and focused on a subject they were genuinely interested in with a concrete reason behind their research. Our youngest also raised over $250 (via a funding platform) for supplies he purchased and is bringing to a local school there. And in the process he learned about crowd-funding, building networks, and charitable work.
Needless to say, the trip itself will be a wonderful learning experience — but preparing for the trip has proved to be a surprising fruitful learning experience as well.