I’ve made several attempts to draw Matty, our beloved Schnauzer-mix-looking dog. These are my fourth and fifth attempts, and I want her to be part of my InkTober drawings before I decide to move on from animals. While I found it fairly easy to draw a penguin and an owl as matryoshka dolls, I struggled so much with a dog. I’m sure part of it is my lack of drawing expertise, but I’m guessing part of it maybe because the shape of birds is closer to that of the matryoshka doll so it seemed a more natural fit. The silhouette of dogs, or perhaps any creature on fours, is very different from that of the matryoshka doll.
My InkTober drawing for day 3 comes a day late. Aside from having more to do than the usual (excuses, I know), I really found myself struggling with ideas.
I know I am not an artist and I am definitely no expert in drawing. But what I am discovering for myself is that, if I make this InkTober drawing challenge into a learning challenge, a month-long task of teaching myself to draw, then it becomes more manageable, less daunting, and yes, more fun!
I’ve realized that I can’t pluck ideas out of thin air. And I can’t draw something by freehand, without planning and practice. I have given myself permission to look at art and drawings that I like to give me inspiration and ideas. I am going to use themes and templates to work with. I am drawing not as an expert but as a novice, and I am going to enjoy myself!
For now, I’m going to stick with the matryoshka doll idea. It gives me a framework, something to give my imagination a boundary, and within that boundary I can line and color and imagine as much as I would like!
This is a matryoshka penguin, in celebration of World Animal Day on October 4. I love penguins and it saddens me that some penguin species are endangered.
I love this new campaign by Khan Academy. It speaks some very empowering messages for all of us (and it speaks to me personally as a homeschooling parent and an avid learner).
1. Learning is for everyone. Learning is not only for preschool kids or college students. It is not only for those who are deemed bright or studious. It is not only for those living near university campuses or for those with computers and Internet access. If you want to learn something, you need to open your eyes and your mind to the learning opportunities and possibilities around you.
2. Failing is an important part of learning. According to Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, studies show that intelligence is not fixed, not at birth, not in your teenage years, not now. She talks about a growth mindset, a belief that you can become smarter or perform better if you work hard at it. People with a growth mindset are not afraid to fail or to make mistakes. They learn from failing. They persevere in the face of a challenge. In that process, they grow smarter.
3. Success comes with persistence. Singer-songwriter John Legend talks about how he didn’t give up on his dream to become a recording artist. For six years, he kept trying and failing. He persisted, learned from failing and eventually succeeded. Talent alone will rarely bring you success. Hard work is essential to success.
I’m a huge fan of free knowledge and free learning. I admire what Khan Academy is giving the world – a means of learning that is “for free, for everyone, forever.” Now, add to that their beautiful message of empowerment. If you want to, you can learn anything.
Minecraft Homeschool offers a safe and fun way to combine the purpose of learning and the passion for gaming. It offers 5-week online classes to students of various levels of interest and expertise in Minecraft. Lite classes are recommended for students aged 5-15; advanced classes are recommended for those aged 9-18. Creativity is encouraged through the assigned builds; teamwork is learned through the team builds; flexibility is given since classes do not have a required meeting time.
IT professional and homeschooling parent Jody Nova came up with the idea for Minecraft Homeschool while searching for a better way for her children to enjoy learning. “When my son started crying every time we pulled out the schoolbooks, I knew it was time for a change. Through the summer I began to investigate ways to pair his love of Minecraft with learning. Over the past 9 months we have taken what was initially a project between him and me brought it to thousands of homeschooled students around the world.”
From being a homeschool project between Jody and her son, Minecraft Homeschool has grown into a learning tool accessed by thousands of homeschoolers around the world and is being run by a team of professionals and homeschooling teenagers. “I initially began this venture by myself and ran it that way until I ran out of time and energy about 3 months into the project. I then began to pull in some of my friends to help with administrative tasks. At that time I also began to notice that some students were excelling far beyond any of my expectations. I opened conversations with the parents of these students and have slowly build a team of homeschool teens that are the life blood of our servers. Each of them has a special skill that makes them valuable to our venture, whether it is an amazing aptitude for creating redstone contraptions, a great skill in resolving player conflict, phenomenal map design abilities or something else. Every day we are growing this venture to server more of the homeschooling community, but are also building our team on some of the most talented Minecrafters in that same homeschooling community!”
Many homeschooling parents and children from different parts of the world have embraced this new way of learning. “Parents have been fantastic about giving us feedback that has helped us tweak our curriculum and processes to work best for everyone. The kids are funny. At the end of the class they all have to fill out a survey that lists their most and least favorite parts of the class. Almost across the board they say their favorite part was the builds and their least favorite part was the quizzes. That being said, our repeat student rate is amazing, so we know they are having a good experience. We hear so many stories about special students with social struggles coming out of their shell and making lasting friendships. That right there is worth so much to us!”
Where will Minecraft Homeschool be in the future? “Our goal is always to deliver a quality product to our students that make them want to come back for more. With the success of our history program, we are looking ahead to next year and what else we can offer. The plan is to have science, creative writing, and math offerings throughout next year. For the long term, we would love to develop a product that is so successful that a curriculum publisher was willing to partner with us to offer ‘real’ curriculum instead of the current ‘best option’ method we are using today.”