What Teaching Can Never Be
pages 22-24 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)
online chat, October 19, 2011

This devolved some, but with such joyous enthusiasm that I left it. We moved from discussing what teachers know that homeschoolers don't (need to) know, to arithmetical calculations, repetition, cooking and posole. It was not off topic, though. It was a solid set of steps that make sense when you follow them.

I left some of the introductory banter, too, just because.

There's a lot to consider here.

Sandra, the hostess and editor, a week later

Sandra Dodd: Hello Frank and all.

Capn Franko: Yawn! Good morning.

Andrea: My kids have discovered country music videos on TV (our cable changed recently).

Andrea: They are fascinated.

Sandra Dodd: Pam and Rosie Sorooshian have their airline reservations. I made Deb Lewis's yesterday. She lives in MooseButt-practically-Canada

Sandra Dodd: But I found her a flight for under $500, so hooray! I was afraid it would be all puddle jumps, but she's Butte to Salt Lake City, and then here!

Sandra Dodd: All on those cute little Canadair planes. I love those.

Jill Parmer: Drat. If she came through Denver, I would have kidnapped her!

Sandra Dodd: Deer Lodge (not literally Moose-Butt-Nearly-Canada)

Sandra Dodd: She does really live in the boonies.

Capn Franko: Hi, Lyla.

Capn Franko: Hi, Marta.

Steph L.: Hello everyone

Capn Franko: Hi, Steph.

Marta BP:

Capn Franko: Yes, I am practicing for my new career as a Walmart greeter.

Sandra Dodd: "and you like beaver-frostbiteville" Holly said, when I was telling her about the museums in Deer Lodge. She said she didn't really like cowboy stuff, but I said "I like museums, though," and she said "and you like Beaver-Frostbiteville." And that was without me telling her I was already making fun of the name of the town.

Jill Parmer: We can be references for you, Frank.

Rebecca Allen: Hehe, Frank. I was thinking everyone sounds so cheery. I guess I have cheery eyes/ears this afternoon.

Capn Franko: Excellent. I think I have a good shot at it. Ready for my interview.

Capn Franko: I'm tired but in a good mood so it';s true for me.

Sandra Dodd: I wouldn't trust Frank to greet people at Walmart.

Andrea: LOL

Jill Parmer: Well your kids know you, Sandra.

Capn Franko: Oh, Sandra, shhhhh! It's my nefarious subversive plan.

Capn Franko: Just like all my plans.

Jill Parmer: Walmart might not like Frank, but it'd sure be fun to visit him as a Greeter.

Capn Franko: Imagine the possibilities! (Isn't that a tagline for some comercial?)

Sandra Dodd: If I ran Target, I would send Frank to greet people at Walmart.

ColleenPrieto: LOL Jill - I don't like Walmart, but to witness a real-life nefarious subversive plan it'd be worth the trip

Capn Franko: Sandra, you are clearly a marketing/capitalist genius.

Sandra Dodd: But probably they'd all go to Walmart for the comic benefits and Frank would regale them with smartassitude.

Capn Franko: A wonderful new descriptor to add to my resume: smartassitude.

Sandra Dodd: So! We have enough people to begin.

Sandra Dodd: Is there anyone here who is still iffy on the idea that if we stop thinking or talking about "teaching" we are closer to understanding learning?

Sandra Dodd: We can walk through this or everyone can test out.

Lylawolf: i'd like to clep out

Sandra Dodd: One of the first hurdles between normal people and unschooling is a jumble of questions like...
how will we teach them... and what about teaching them chemistry?
and how would they teach themselves? and how should we teach them to read?

Sandra Dodd: And how do parents teach things they don't know?

Sandra Dodd: For anyone unaware of this trivia, I'm saving these chats (parts of them) and the only directory at the moment is the raw site listing here:

Sandra Dodd: http://sandradodd.com/chats/bigbook

Jill Parmer: When I first started reading about unschooling, dropping the word "teach" seemed on of the easiest, concrete things to do.

reneecabatic: it's funny how now when i hear the word "teach" it's almost as if it's highlighted so that I am very aware of how it's being used.

Jill Parmer: And every time I wanted to say teaching or learning, it was a great way to think about how I would form the sentence, and how to replace "teach".

Sandra Dodd: I am amused every single time as though it were the first time when someone is asked, on Always Learning, not to say "teach" or not to use "have to" and they bother to write and post "Okay, I won't use that on this list."
HA HA HA.
Every time, I laugh.
Because it's like saying "don't think about frying pan."

Capn Franko: snicker

reneecabatic: all i can think of is frying pan

Sandra Dodd: But the idea that they have that I somehow don't personally like that term and I don't want to hear it, rather than that we're trying to deliver them a big clue and good tool to change their thinking is fun for me. Sandra Dodd: Once they can catch themselves writing it, they might catch themselves saying it.

Sandra Dodd: Once they catch themselves saying it, they might notice when they think it.

Sandra Dodd: As long as people attach themselves to ("cling to") teaching, they can't get unschooling.

ColleenPrieto: I sometimes remind people who use "teach" that what they think they're teaching isn't always what someone else is learning

Jill Parmer: They will still be thinking about themselves and not their kids.

Sandra Dodd: Probably this is one of those stages-of-unschooling situations.

Lylawolf: my daughter is taking community college classes, and it's really evident to me how she's tweaking her experience to make it more about learning and not teaching.

Lylawolf: or not being taught

Sandra Dodd: People need to really get the difference and the separation, and they pretty much will only get that by going cold turkey.

Jill Parmer: Maybe this is where some people get so stuck; if they are not teaching, what should they be doing? It's like they are lost if they are not doing something to their kids.

ColleenPrieto: if they're stuck and could replace the "doing to" with "doing with" their kids that'd be half the proverbial battle I'd think

Sandra Dodd: And that part was easy for me because of the way I was taught about education in college, and because of reading the radical school-reform guys, who would hardly use the word "teacher" but would talk about being facilitators of learning, called one thing or another.

Sandra Dodd: I agree with Colleen.

Lylawolf: jill, that's similar to the approach most people take to "discipline" - they feel if they are not "doing something" (which is translated into punishing) they aren't teaching. but they fail to realize their kids are still learning.

Sandra Dodd: Being their partners, being with, seeing them.... all those phrases we use all the time in unschooling conversations are the replacements for teaching.

Sandra Dodd: This I like: if they're stuck and could replace the "doing to" with "doing with" their kids that'd be half the proverbial battle I'd think

Sandra Dodd: Can you imagine Frank greeting people at Walmart, when they had kids with them on a schoolday?
Throwing Latin around where the carts are?
I can't get that vision out of my mind.

Capn Franko: Eheu! Non amo te, Sabadi... Oh yeah! That'd be fun!

Lylawolf: lol

Capn Franko: People who really bugged me would get Greek!

Sandra Dodd: Is there anyone here who's in the first year of unschooling?

Steph L.: we are in our second year

Sandra Dodd: This one might be too much like last week's, or too obvious or something.

Sandra Dodd: Steph, is there anything you want to talk about then?

Sandra Dodd: Or if anyone else here has an angle on the topic, or an example, or a complaint... let's have it!

Jill Parmer: I have a question...:::looking for notes:::

Andrea: I had a question a few days ago. I didn't ask and it worked itself out...and now I don't even remember what the question was.

Sandra Dodd: That will happen more and more, Andrea, as you don't need help so much.

Steph L.: well definitely replacing learn with teach has been helpful to me

Steph L.: I'm definitely starting to trust unschooling more and it's funny because I'm seeing that my kids definitely react strongly if I do try to "teach" them! if I slip back into it Sandra Dodd: Steph, maybe (just guessing) now you see that from a new angle. before deschooling, you might have seen them as being resistant or uncooperative, and now you likely see it as them being sensible.

Steph L.: Sandra, absolutely. And I see my kids trusting themselves as learners

Jill Parmer: Last week Sandra said, "A long time ago I did a talk at a couple of conferences called "What Teachers Know that You Don't Know."" I wanted to know more about that.

Sandra Dodd: How to control groups of 25, how to average grades, how to design tests that are hard to cheat on; how to catch and deal with cheaters.

Sandra Dodd: How to write lesson plans, how to "measure affect" and a bunch of jargonistic hooey

Jill Parmer: And that is the teacher's secret? (that we don't know)

Capn Franko: The jargon is useful to unschoolers who live in a state which requires reporting of outcomes etc.

Sandra Dodd: People expected to come in there and learn things that would help them to homeschool.

ColleenPrieto: how to use child outcomes data to effectively individualize for children in the class while at the same time planning for the success of the class as a whole - teacher jargon that I just had to write into a grant the other day!

Lylawolf: also - how to cheat, themselves, so as to look good under "no child left behind" requirements

Sandra Dodd: Most of what teachers know has nothing to do with the subject matter or about how to impart it.

Lylawolf: my son went to school for a few years before we became unschoolers. in first grade he totally stumped the teacher with a math thing, and it took her 24 hours to realize he was right and she was wrong

Lylawolf: it was something he had never been "taught"

Lylawolf: he just KNEW

Steph L.: I always get the "oh, well you have an advantage because you have a teaching degree" and I think it has been the opposite!

Jill Parmer: Steph, what does this mean? or look like? "I see my kids trusting themselves as learners" Did they not trust themselves before?

Sandra Dodd: It's about the rules of the school, state policies, district requirements, textbook committees (maybe, if they're on one), department politics, how snow days are decided, which teacher is responsible for collecting insurance forms and filling out those federal forms about what percentage of kids are of what ethnicity, or how many live or work on federal land (including Indian pueblos, reservations, national laboratories...)

Sandra Dodd: And it's usually the English teachers.

Steph L.: I mean that they know what they are interested in, they seek out the information that they want to know and don't rely on me as much

Jill Parmer: Oh. How old are your kids, Steph?

Steph L.: especially my oldest, who used to worry that she wasn't learning what she should, and now she's not worried

Jill Parmer: Oh, that's awesome.

Steph L.: my girls are 7, 9 and 11

Sandra Dodd: I bet it has helped, or will help, the others--the confidence of the oldest.

Sandra Dodd: Especially if they were aware she was a bit worried at one time.

Sandra Dodd: Cool!

Sandra Dodd: I have a recording somewhere, I think, of one of those "what teachers know" talks, Jill. I hope someday to have online, free, every recording of every talk of mine I can find and get digitalized. Because I'm a packrat and that's what I do. I collect stuff.

Lylawolf: yes i see that confidence in my kids too - my son used to worry he was "stupid" or didn't know anything

Sandra Dodd: Poor guy.

Steph L.: yes, and even the confidence of the youngest has helped the oldest! My youngest is confident that she wants to be a scientist and always is doing experiments or asking to do them-- and she is also learning to read on her own

Sandra Dodd: Marty asked me with a little embarrassment one day whether he was homeschooled because he wasn't very smart. The neighbor said that. Nick, rude little neighbor; seriously, that kid bugged the heck out of me.
Poor Marty. He only carried that question in his head for ten or fifteen minutes, but that was WAY too long.

Jill Parmer: If this is true, "Most of what teachers know has nothing to do with the subject matter or about how to impart it." Then people's argument about homeschooling parents not being qualified to teach has got to be false.

Sandra Dodd: Sure it's false, Jill.

Sandra Dodd: But the "proof" would involve them understanding what teachers know and do.

Jill Parmer: Right, but people keep claiming it. %-/

Sandra Dodd: When someone teaches math, he either has a major in math or a minor.

Steph L.: I used to worry about my middle daughter who wasn't reading and didn't want to

Lylawolf: not for elementary school though (math)

Steph L.: this year she wants to and has picked a really hard book! She's working through it slowly but she likes it!!

Sandra Dodd: So he's taken whatever--8 to 15 college classes in that subject?

Sandra Dodd: Maybe (MAYBE) one single one was about how to teach math to younger people. Probably not. But maybe.

Steph L.: (I left her alone with reading for a year...now she asks me )

Sandra Dodd: It's someone who has some interest in or understanding of the subject, plus a major or minor in education (or a certificate-amount-of credit), and then

the school provides textbooks, and the person who knows more about the subject than the kids do (they hope; they assume) will lead them through those chapters, units, quizzes, and (maybe) explain what they don't understand.

Andrea: -=- It's someone who has some interest in or understanding of the subject -=- For middle and high school, yes. But that's not necessarily true for elementary school. My cousin doesn't understand fractions, but she "teaches" them to fourth graders.

Sandra Dodd: I taught English, but I wasn't teaching the things I had studied in college. Except the mechanics of writing--paragraphs, sentences, punctuation, and most of that I learned in 8th and 9th grade anyway.

[I cut out some chitchat about a survey Pam Sorooshian had set up, about what age unschoolers had learned to read naturally.]

ColleenPrieto: Pam's survey made me smile as it reminded me when my son was 5 and he would say "I don't know how to read" but sure enough when the Easter Bunny left him a note and clues for a scavenger hunt, he read every word til he found his easter basket

Sandra Dodd: I have no idea what's going on with elementary school education these days.

Sandra Dodd: I mean teacher-training.

Andrea: I wish I didn't...but my family has more than its fair share of teachers

Sandra Dodd: But true, they're quite unlikely to have a high level of interest and knowledge of ALL the subjects taught in the early grades.

Lylawolf: right - it's not required at all. Just a general test on the basics in each "subject"

Sandra Dodd: And that's probably different from state to state, year to year.

Lylawolf: and yeah, it was a fraction thing my son stumped his teacher on. so many adults don't understand fractions but know how to do the "steps" to solve fraction problems.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes there are school textbooks that are clear enough that some of the kids can learn it from the book whether the teacher understands it or not, but there are kids who don't care, or can't read that well, or just don't connect with what the author was saying.

reneecabatic: yes- especially simple if your children aren't reading yet!

Sandra Dodd: Probably that's part of why learning to read early is such a huge big deal at school. That and that it's a thing that shows, that is showy.

Sandra Dodd: A great deal of teaching, though, is record keeping and peacekeeping. Social management of sorts. One thing I talked about in that presentation, Jill, was how to break up a fight (which I referred to in the page about kids fighting, I think) http://sandradodd.com/peace/fighting and about a little witness/court system I developed to help decide whether kids had copied.

pam sorooshian joined the chat

Jill Parmer: Record keeping and peacekeeping....sounds so depressing.

Sandra Dodd: I didn't make the declaration myself. I asked each to choose a witness, and we'd all leave the classroom and go around the corner into a side hall where nobody could see us. I would show the two papers to the two chosen witnesses, and they would say it was copying, and sometimes they knew (if I didn't know already) which person did the original and which one copied. And while we were out there, I would ask them what they thought, and we'd come up with something--usually that the one who provided the original lost a letter grade and the other person needed to start over.

Sandra Dodd: I've used that trick in other situations, though, when mediating disagreements in the SCA, for example, when two people really couldn't get along, or there was a dispute. Each chose a witness, and I would talk to or with the witnesses, and they would help untangle the situation.

Sandra Dodd: Not "witness" of the original incident, but a person chosen by each to represent them fairly, or back them up.

Sandra Dodd: I learned that teaching, though I learned it on my own.

Sandra Dodd: Okay, Jill: Record keeping, peacekeeping, inventory and protection of state property.

Sandra Dodd: I forgot that part. Responsibility for all the furniture, supplies and books.

Steph L.: I find myself still questioning unschooling at times and then this past weekend my nephew was here and asked me to help him with his homework. He was doing math...and obviously just was trying to get it over with and all that mattered was the answer and not the understanding of the process

Jill Parmer: Thanks Sandra. Eyeopening. I can be naive about what teaching is really about. :-(

pam sorooshian: Hi. I'd add to the what-teachers-do --- "whatever the newest fad is that the principal thinks is cool."

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes if a teacher is lucky, she gets a chance to be charming, entertaining and fun.

Lylawolf: alfie kohn has a good article about how instruction actually impedes learning. About how having "both" (instruction and exploration) actually isn't better than just exploration - the instruction is the "rotten apple" in the barrel

ColleenPrieto: I had a teacher in 6th grade who was charming, entertaining and fun - Mrs Miller - she wore leather pants and had bright red hair and she was an AMAZING teacher. But the parents banded together and wanted her gone because, yep you guessed it - "if the kids are having fun then they aren't learning!" Will always remember that.

pam sorooshian: These days a big job is making sure all the kids get to their various "pull outs" at the right times. Scheduling that and keeping track is big.

Lylawolf: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/rotten.htm Sandra Dodd: Lyla, that makes sense. If the child thinks the exploration is part of the teaching, that he's doing something "academic" it can all seem wrong. That's much of what deschooling is about. Kids need to recover from that.

Jill Parmer: Wow, Colleen. That is so sad.

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, that's awful.

pam sorooshian: I'll go read it later, Lyla, but his kids do go to school. Makes me take everything he says about schools with a grain of salt.

ColleenPrieto: it's so sad to me that so many people think of learning that way - like if it doesn't "hurt" it isn't working

Lylawolf: right. And also the teaching of methods (for solving math problems for instance) actually gets in the way of innate understanding.

Sandra Dodd: Formulas, you mean?

Lylawolf: yes Pam, i know - he's not an unschooler. but he's anti homework and instruction and lots of stuff that's wrong with school at least...If kids have to go to school, it'd sure be better for them to go to one that's designed as he pictures it

ColleenPrieto: pam yes I love Alfie Kohn's writings, but was very, very disappointed when I found out his kids go to school

Lylawolf: yes formulas or steps or "showing work" etc

Steph L.: yes, that is like when my kids are exploring something and I get the urge to jump in and "instruct" and ruin it!

Sandra Dodd: "teaching methods" has a school-jargon meaning of its own. It's not about formulas.

reneecabatic: this is interesting because sometimes i feel guilty for not "doing" any instruction....not giving any information....i play and roam and explore with them.....and my schoolishness sometimes makes me worry i ought to be doing more.

Lylawolf: yes i meant instructing kids about methods

Sandra Dodd: Lyla, if Alfie Kohn practiced what he preached, he would be an unschooler. As it is, he's a hypocrite.

Jill Parmer: I can see that (about instruction being the bad apple). When my kids ask me to show them something, or help with something, I am very careful about not going about it how I would, but from what their understanding is on the topic or issue.

pam sorooshian: That idea that learning to read is learning to sound out or recognize words, that learning to write is learning to draw the letters correctly, that learning math is learning to carry out algorithms by rote --- such ridiculously low goals. As if that is what kids are capable of. Those are not real reading, writing, or math.

Sandra Dodd: AHA, JILL!!! That's what teaching should be. "not going about it how I would, but from what their understanding is on the topic or issue." But that can't very well happen when the teacher has 25 kids.

Sandra Dodd: and a list of test dates and a knowledge of what might happen if the test scores aren't good. Schools lose funding, people can lose jobs

reneecabatic: recently, Xander asked me what "carrying, and borrowing" were...cuz a school friend had subtly implied Xander was not smart for not knowing what those words were

Lylawolf: sandra i agree with that, re: alfie. but i also think just because he hasn't made that leap, doesn't mean his work can't be useful to people for deschooling

pam sorooshian: I really want to know how Alfie Kohn manages to talk about unconditional parenting and all the things wrong with schools - and still look himself in the mirror when his kids are getting ready for school in the morning. I tried to talk with him about it and he shut me down very rudely.

Sandra Dodd: I never did teach my kids "carrying and borrowing." I mentioned it a time or two, to one or the other of them, or mentioned it as I was adding something (talked through what I was doing).

reneecabatic: So I showed him on paper what carrying and borrowing were and he was like--duh- I know that- I do that in my head. And his friend said, "Well, my Dad makes me show my work."

ColleenPrieto: I emailed him (Kohn) to ask what he personally does when it's standardized test time for his kids - he ignored my email

pam sorooshian: He refused to talk about his kids and demanded to know how I even knew about them. Apparently forgetting it was IN the intro to his book. I was speaking to him in person, by the way.

Lylawolf: you tried to talk with him in person pam? wow! sad he was rude about it.

pam sorooshian: yes

Lylawolf: i think his daughter goes to montessori school...

Sandra Dodd: Perhaps he does it for money.

pam sorooshian: they must go to private school, right?

Lylawolf: yes i think so pam.

pam sorooshian: surely he wouldn't put up with the standardized testing routine.

Lylawolf: no not at all. or homework

Sandra Dodd: I learned to carry (in two-column addition) from my grandfather, who had dropped out in the second grade. He showed me, just for fun (and it WAS fun) at my house when I was seven. So I already knew it when the teachers explained it the next year.

Lylawolf: my son has been doing mental math in his own head, his own way, for years and years. since he was 3 really. He never retains borrowing and carrying, even when he asks about it (or he hasn't retained it yet) but he doesn't seem to need it.

Sandra Dodd: That was true of most things for me in school.

Lylawolf: me too sandra

Sandra Dodd: I was curious, and was reading ahead.

Lylawolf: my dad played all kinds of math games with me well before I went to school. I never considered mathy stuff to be anything but fun and games

Sandra Dodd: Later when I was older (14, 15) I decided NOT to read ahead in the textbooks, but to wait until we got there so that school wouldn't be so godawful boring.

Lylawolf: but resented the hell out of having to do 30 math problems, all the same type, in 2nd grade

Sandra Dodd: Darn. It still was.

Sandra Dodd: Keith pointed out to me that those aren't "math problems." Those are the solutions to unstated problems, with nothing left to do but the calculations.

Lylawolf: yep. i used to do my algebra homework in the classroom, as we went over each problem, painstakingly slowly for me. I'd also help explain it to other kids, to save them from the mean teacher

Lylawolf: good point. math calculations

Sandra Dodd: Only 'the word problems' are problems. The rest are solutions. When he told me that I looked back with even more frustration.

pam sorooshian: they don't call it carrying or borrowing anymore, by the way. It is called "regrouping."

Lylawolf: wow. regrouping. i am a dinosaur

Sandra Dodd: -=- i'd also help explain it to other kids, to save them from the mean teacher-=- Me too. I algebra I, in geometry, in science, in history, in English.

Lylawolf: yep

Sandra Dodd: Well they'll call it something else in a few years, probably, Pam. And that would be by state or textbook anyway, so it might be regrouping in California and borrowing in Texas.

reneecabatic: well, this friend of Xander's is being taught school at home and he's being told it's carrying and borrowing...interesting Pam!

Steph L.: or they'll call it borrowing and carrying again!

Lylawolf: the most frustrating thing for me was listening to the teacher "not get" what the other kid was "not getting" - it was so easy to help them get it, but the teacher was too stuck on shaming to see the gap

ColleenPrieto: my 8 year old heard about regrouping from school friends, but refers to it as "repurposing" which I like even better - so he'll say when adding something like 32 and 49 in his head "hey mom am I repurposing with this one??" - makes me smile

Sandra Dodd: Nice, Colleen.

pam sorooshian: carrying and borrowing are pretty bad words for it - if you're going to teach it to young kids. You don't "carry" anything anywhere and you don't give back something you've borrowed.

reneecabatic: because of the grading, and ranking that goes on in school the school frends of Xander and XuMei have a one-up-man-ship about them that is getting more unpleasant to be around

Sandra Dodd: My kids do it in their head their own private ways or they do what is most often done in the real world--they use a calculator.

pam sorooshian: that kind of language is confusing for kids who are still little and very literal.

Sandra Dodd: We were playing five crowns the other night with Holly's boyfriend's family (his dad and two brothers). When we keep score here, we add every two or three hands so anyone can look over at the totals.

ColleenPrieto: my stepmother just mailed Robbie 2 new calculators as he ran his all out of battery - one is literally floppy - you can roll it up - it's rubber and very awesome

Sandra Dodd: Will kept score and didn't subtotal.

Jill Parmer: I was taught with carry and borrow. The terms made sense to me. You'd carry one number to the other column, or borrow from the other column. But I liked math, and got it easily.

Andrea: LOL about borrowing...it is actually stealing!

pam sorooshian: So - Jill? Did you return that number that you'd borrowed?

Sandra Dodd: At the end (I watched aghast and didn't participate)... they decided to add up the score of the person to the right of them, and they all whipped out phones and started adding up the numbers from 11 [card] hands on their calculators.

Sandra Dodd: It was surreal.

pam sorooshian: Real question: Jill, did you understand what you were doing when you borrowed? I mean - you understood why borrowing worked to give you the right answer?

Sandra Dodd: Kirby had a roll-up Mario calculator, or Ninja Turtles maybe, years ago.

Andrea: Sandra...I can't remember if I told you that we played Five Crowns with family this summer...and one of my teacher cousins liked it so much she bought it for her classroom

reneecabatic: When I met Chris he amazed me by being able to do calculations in his head faster than I could get out my calculator--he has since been showing me some tricks for how to quickly calculate numbers...I never thought of numbers the way he does

pam sorooshian: honestly don't think 7 year olds are at all capable of understanding place value well enough to understand carrying and borrowing.

Sandra Dodd: I understood it when my Papaw explained it to me at the house.

ColleenPrieto: I'd never seen a roll-up one - I need to get out more... roll-up with Mario would be all the better

Sandra Dodd: He called it, in his west-texas accent, "borry-in'"

pam sorooshian: understanding how to is different than why it works....

Jill Parmer: I knew I was taking a number from the ten or further out columns, to be able to subtract without getting into the negative.

Lylawolf: pam, i agree - my son could picture 10s in his head but borrowing and carrying would have muddled it up

pam sorooshian: my teacher called it "carry over"

Sandra Dodd: But I knew that was "borrowing" because I was bi-lingual in those two dialects.

Jill Parmer: I didn't think past the borrowing part. In my head, I figured it all came out in the wash (the answer).

Lylawolf: bilingual

Sandra Dodd: He talked about making change for a dime.

pam sorooshian: the thing is - I am certain that I could have even explained it in the right terms. But I know I did NOT grasp it in the "grok it" meaning of understanding.

Sandra Dodd: If you need pennies and you only have a dime... That made sense to me.

pam sorooshian: Rosie played a change making game with me for hours and hours, day after day.

ColleenPrieto: oh goodness - my 8 year old is sitting here at the table doing the same math on each calculator - and has just proclaimed "hey - cool - they're both right!!"

pam sorooshian: She made it up.

Andrea: That's a good way to explain it, Sandra.

Jill Parmer: I saw the borrowing as a picture in my head. It was like taking the bigger number out to subtract the smaller number, but everything was still in place. It just sort of came out for a bit. So maybe I was returning it.

pam sorooshian: The game was this....

pam sorooshian: We started with two dollar bills and a bunch of dimes and pennies in the center of the table.

pam sorooshian: Take turns rolling one die.

pam sorooshian: take the number of pennies you roll.

pam sorooshian: If you already have six pennies and you roll a five --- so you take five and have 11 -- you have to switch 10 out for a dime.

Sandra Dodd: I thought Keith was a total bullshitter once when I told him I could go do something with him but not until I finished averaging all the grades in my gradebook, because it was time for report cards. He looked over my shoulder and would tell me the average of one line of scores while I was doing it with a calculator. He was never off by more than one, and after a while it bugged me more than I was impressed.

pam sorooshian: that is the whole game - keep taking turns doing that. Until you have 10 dimes and you get the dollar.

Sandra Dodd: Sounds fun.

reneecabatic: that is a cool game, and after you can go get candy with the dollar!

pam sorooshian: Rosie wanted to play and play and play it. There is no strategy - no "game" in it, imo.

Sandra Dodd: It's a race, though.

pam sorooshian: But I played happily trying to pay attention to how much joy SHE was getting out of knowing when to make the trade of 10 pennies for a dime.

pam sorooshian: And sometimes I didn't do the trade when I should have and she would GLEEFULLY "catch me."

Jill Parmer: That sounds so fun, about Rosie.

pam sorooshian: and later, I used that when I told her something about place value. "It is just like that game where you trade 10 pennies for a dime and 10 dimes for a dollar.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe you could show that game at the symposium in December.

pam sorooshian: we can do that, sandra.

Sandra Dodd: I'll take change. Putting it on the list. If the game doesn't get played, no problem.

reneecabatic: will we play writey drawey? I want to.

Sandra Dodd: pencils, pencil sharpeners, 14" paper for writey drawey

Sandra Dodd: already on the list.

reneecabatic: cool!

pam sorooshian: one more thing about the game....

pam sorooshian: Rosie totally knew very well how to do it - she wasn't "exploring" in that sense. She was doing something she already "knew" - over and over.

pam sorooshian: I think that behavior is natural - but schools try to force it by making students "practice."

Lylawolf: that's fascinating!

pam sorooshian: there is great satisfaction in "getting" something and doing it over and over....

Sandra Dodd: "force" and "make" and "practice" all sound repressive to me.

Sandra Dodd: I play plants vs. zombies even though I've won the game two dozen times.

pam sorooshian: exactly.

Jill Parmer: There is something about doing something over and over, that is ??? meditative, comforting, enjoyable. Something.

pam sorooshian: satisfying

pam sorooshian: affirming

Sandra Dodd: People will dance the same dances, and sing the same songs.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes it's a challenge to do it clearer, more efficiently.

pam sorooshian: but sometimes teachers/parents will say, "You already KNOW how to do that.'

Rebecca Allen: We've started playing plants vs. zombies in a more regular way again. Quinn wants to dress as Snow Pea for Halloween. And also to the Zombie Crawl in Denver this weekend.

pam sorooshian: it isn't recognized as part of learning.

Sandra Dodd: People will sew the same thing they've made before, maybe with different cloth or maybe the very same.

Jill Parmer: Right, Pam. People think they must move on to something more or harder.

pam sorooshian: or if it is, it is called "practice" and it is forced.

Sandra Dodd: People listen to the same book and the same music.

Steph L.: cool...my husband is starting to "get" unschooling now he used to say he was giving me a year...now he's seeing the learning that happens all the time!!

Sandra Dodd: I'm glad, Steph.

Jill Parmer: Cool, Steph. Would like to hear that story.

pam sorooshian: and there is so often no time allowed for it....by homeschoolers or classroom teachers.

pam sorooshian: as soon as a kid has been taught something, they move on.

pam sorooshian: sometimes they need time to digest.

Sandra Dodd: I agree that there can be something meditative about it, as Jill said.

Jill Parmer: Or reveling in the competency.

Sandra Dodd: I think while I'm doing something I've done before.

pam sorooshian: yes - revel and/or meditate....i see both of those...

Sandra Dodd: I have music books I like, and I don't play the whole book, I play my favorite four or five pieces in each book.

pam sorooshian: I read somewhere that CEO's of top corporations spend an average of 1 hour a day playing online games or facebook style games or iphone games.

Sandra Dodd: People will do string figures they've done before, and origami they've done before.

pam sorooshian: I read that in "Reality is Broken" by Jane McGonigal, I think.

Jill Parmer: Yes! Sandra. (about thinking while doing something you do with ease). And I listen better when I knit.

pam sorooshian: and I think that is contemplative time.

Sandra Dodd: THERE are some formulas!!

reneecabatic: i cook the same food over and over, do the laundry, grocery shop-- all things I have "mastered"

Andrea: LOL renee.

heather: I was trying to find a way to work knitting into this conversation.

pam sorooshian: LOL

reneecabatic: what if i said- I've learned those things-- I must move on and learn something else.!

Sandra Dodd: There's a portrait studio here, everyone LOVES their stuff, and they do a limited number of same poses, in a white studio, and when we see other families' photos we go "Oh! Kim Jew!" and it is, and it's cool.

Sandra Dodd: Oddly, it seems like people wouldn't like it, but they do.

Sandra Dodd: Because they've discovered some photo poses that make families laugh and look good, they use them over and over.

Jill Parmer: So true, Renee. That's life, doing things over and over again. eat, poop, sleep.

pam sorooshian: Renne -- I admit I've been like that, exactly, about those things.

Sandra Dodd: What about knitting? Jill knits. I suppose people will knit the same piece over again.

Sandra Dodd: But what if some don't? Maybe some people do want to just do a new thing every time.

pam sorooshian: I seldom cook the same thing more than once. I cook from zillions of different cookbooks...few repeats.

ColleenPrieto: renee - excellent justification for no more laundry - sorry, been there/done that and moving on!!

reneecabatic: well, if someone else is doing those things for you Pam, than you can move on!

Sandra Dodd: I had a friend who was a good cook and wouldn't cook the same thing twice for a few years. She was amusing herself, and learning, by cooking a new thing every single night for dinner. She had married a friend of ours, though, who was used to the same things. His mom had been a good cook who cooked her few masterpiece things repeatedly. pam sorooshian: I just don't even remember to do the same thing again. But I'm getting much more into doing that these days.

pam sorooshian: picking a few things we really like and repeating them. But I didn't - for years.

reneecabatic: i am exploring Indian food right now--totally new for me.....but it's still heat the food in a pan add spices , stir

Jill Parmer: I like to cook new foods a lot. My husband does not like that. He says, can't we just have meat and potatoes regularly? I thought I was doing this cool thing, making different foods often. Not so.

pam sorooshian: I wonder if that was because I thought I was supposed to move on when I'd "covered" that recipe? I think so.

Sandra Dodd: When he moved out [from his parents' house], he would bake a chicken every Sunday, eat it for two days, then chicken salad... he had a routine with a single chicken. And married this cook who decided to never repeat. It must have been a little stressful.

pam sorooshian: I'm enjoying the comfort of more predictability as I get older.

Jill Parmer: LOL, Colleen, ...about moving on from laundry!

reneecabatic: Yes- Jill! my hubby too. He is a bit scared of some of my "experiments"!!!

Sandra Dodd: Pam do you have a dish you make for potlucks, like a specialty favorite? I was going to do all new food for a party here, but people said "Yeah, but what about..." and we ended up with two new things and all the regular stuff.

pam sorooshian: no I don't. I doubt I've ever made the same thing twice for potlucks.

Sandra Dodd: Our two most regular things are what I took to San Diego, because they can travel well.

pam sorooshian: Maybe fesnenjan --- persian dish with walnuts and pomegranate syrup. I've done that more than once. Maybe 2 or 3 times. At campouts.

Sandra Dodd: Two or three times? You really DO switch it up!!!

pam sorooshian: but - tonight i am making spinach enchiladas from the Engine 2 cookbook and I made them before and everybody loved them. So I'm making a couple of batches.

pam sorooshian: so - I am changing....

Sandra Dodd: Maybe it's personality and not "what should be", whether people do a long series or stick with favorites.

pam sorooshian: starting to pick out a few things we all like a lot that are pretty easy.

reneecabatic: woo hoo Pam! switching it up by NOT switching it up!!!!

pam sorooshian: I used to be more easily bored by routine....I'm appreciating it more these days.

Sandra Dodd: I like to sight-read music (keyboard, I'm talking) but only baroque stuff, pretty much. Because it's mechanical, clockwork, music-box kind of stuff, and that's fun for me.

Sandra Dodd: I remember in the 1960's there would be jokes about families that had a weekly menu, and the same thing every Tuesday, but I thought it was cool and wanted that for my house.

reneecabatic: Even when I make exotic things I try to have simple roast chicken or rice for Chris....then we are all happy

Rebecca Allen: It frees up energy, brain and physical, to do other things when you stick to some routines.

Sandra Dodd: And I've seriously thought about doing it with my family, but I think about it and I don't do it.

Renee Smock: How did you grocery shop/plan for such a varied menu all the time Pam? Did you plan by week? by day?

Sandra Dodd: Spaghetti on the same night, every week, without fail.

Renee Smock: taco tuesday here

pam sorooshian: i think it is personality - and I had some kind of "resentment" although that's not quite the right word - about feeling that I 'had to' make food for everybody that they all liked, etc.

Rebecca Allen: I know folks who do that, Sandra. With the chicken, and taco night, etc. I've never put effort into menu planning, though I can see how it would make things easier.

pam sorooshian: So - what was in it for ME was experimenting and making it more fun for me -

pam sorooshian: I had "resistance" a bit...not so much resentment.

Sandra Dodd: It's good for this to be discussed, because some people want their kids to be more like them (in this way and all kinds of ways)

Jill Parmer: I'm missing something, Pam. You had resistance to what?

pam sorooshian: I thought that making the same foods would bore me.

Andrea: I've considered a menu plan, but I'd get tired of it.

ColleenPrieto: my sister makes a menu plan every Sunday for the week and follows it religiously. We tried that here at our house and we made it to the first night and decided we HAD to have something different than was on schedule for that evening - we're not schedule-followers - she is - makes our grocery shopping more frequent but avoids us feeling compelled to eat what we're not craving that night

pam sorooshian: I had a little resistance to being "in charge" of what everybody ate. Left from women's movement antipathy toward women's work.

Jill Parmer: I love so many things that are women's work....cooking, sewing, knitting, kids. I would not have been a good political feminist.

Jill Parmer: I'm jealous of people that can plan menus and buy all their food for the week on one day. It's just not happening for me.

pam sorooshian: and I eased that feeling by making it more fun by experimenting (and by eating out a LOT, by the way).

Rebecca Allen: The same menu plan doesn't work well if you garden or otherwise eat seasonally. Even chickens are seasonal, technically, if fresh.

Sandra Dodd: YES, Rebecca. I think that weekly menu thing came from packaged foods, after WWII, not from farm life! Lots of foods were seasonal than are year-round now.

pam sorooshian: Oh - and I did something else - I simply didn't really do it like it was my job to do it. I did it "on the fly" --- we'd be hungry and I'd stop at the store to get something for dinner right then.

Sandra Dodd: When computers were new, one of the vaunted possibilities was that people could enter the names of the foods they have on hand and get a recipe. Google is what made that a reality. Rebecca Allen: Yes, Sandra! i hardly use most of cookbooks now, because I search for recipes based on what foods we have in the house.

PamelaCorkey: Cooking is my biggest challenge. I've always disliked it, but have been a single mom for 20 years, now unschooling. It's a struggle EVERY day to do it with love and generosity.

Andrea: I don't cook every day. I cook a lot on the weekends and then we "heat and eat" during the week.

Rebecca Allen: You could order in, with love and generosity, if you can afford it.

pam sorooshian: now i am thinking about putting together a cookbook for people like me . If there ARE any other people like me.

PamelaCorkey: And now one of Oscar's passions is cooking and baking.

PamelaCorkey: I have all kinds of tricks. Trader Joe's is a miracle. AND both of my children have learned to cook and love to do it

Jill Parmer: People who cook on the fly? Pam?

pam sorooshian: Okay - i have to run but I'm really glad I got here.....Can't WAIT until ALL!! See some of you in Albuquerque!

Jill Parmer: Bye Pam, so glad to see you here.

ColleenPrieto: yes Rebecca I agree local/seasonal (which we do a lot of) definitely makes menu planning a little tricky!

Sandra Dodd: I just started thinking about the problem of New Year's Day coming the morning after a symposium at a hotel in Albuquerque.

Sandra Dodd: The local New Year's Day food here is posole. And it needs to be made in a crock pot. And I'll be at a hotel for three days before that. Slow cooked (not necessarily crock pot). I might have to buy some ready-made. OR NO! I'll make it before the symposium and freeze it.

Sandra Dodd: Yeah. That.

Sandra Dodd: So the people who stay over until Sunday can have some posole after we check out of the hotel.

Jill Parmer: That sounds so yummy Sandra.

Andrea: Cook it ahead of time and freeze it

Andrea: Oops, you just said that

Jill Parmer: Maybe at the symposium, we can all have crockpots of posole cooking!

ColleenPrieto: just googled posole - looks yummy!

Sandra Dodd: It's hominy, pork and red chile.

Sandra Dodd: But not canned hominy like they eat in the south.

reneecabatic: crockpots work in hotels

PamelaCorkey: Posole - I've never heard of it, but it looks great! We are on a Mexican kick here.

Sandra Dodd: But eating it on New Year's Eve isn't the right day.

Sandra Dodd: It's northern New Mexico, not real Mexico, as far as I know.

Sandra Dodd: Still, as a demonstration of "here's what people will be eating in New Mexico tomorrow" it could work.

reneecabatic: we will probably still have our hotel room for New Year's Day...

Rebecca Allen: Hominy is dry like grits? People eat grits in the south, but they don't call it hominy.

Jill Parmer: I might, too, Renee.

Sandra Dodd: I think that's not a bad idea at all...

ColleenPrieto: like tamale soup sort of but not really it seems (my husband makes tamales with pork, ground corn, tomato, garlic, etc. so I'm guessing it might be similar in flavor) -

Sandra Dodd: Grits is ground up dried hominy.

reneecabatic: Also- did you find a coffee wench? if not-I'm happy to do it

Sandra Dodd: Posole and hominy are corn treated with lye. I don't know the process. It preserves and softens all at once.

Renee Smock: Thanks for the chat! Inspiring as always. Bye for now.

Sandra Dodd: Posole is a common potluck and party thing in the winter here.

Andrea: Sandra...do you buy hominy dry?

Sandra Dodd: I've added it to my list for the symposium.

Andrea: I've seen it canned.

Sandra Dodd: No, we buy it fresh (posole) in a way I've never seen it used in southern cooking at all.

Sandra Dodd: It's refrigerated and then you soak it and cook it very slowly, like cooking beans. Or it comes frozen, but it was never dried.

Andrea: I see.

Sandra Dodd: I'll make some up and freeze it flat in ziploc bags so it will thaw easily, and bring crockpots to re-heat it for the New Year's Eve party after the ALL Unschooling thing.

Sandra Dodd: And bring tortillas. And honey, for people who might think the red chile is too hot. Honey will cut that.

Andrea: I googled it and it says that grits are ground hominy. I'll have to read some more...

ColleenPrieto: making ALL good for your heart, mind, AND your tummy!

Jill Parmer: Nice, Colleen.

ColleenPrieto:

Jill Parmer: Wonderful chat, thanks all. See you next week.


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