Work/Life Hacking

The Opt-Out Revolution–are you in?

Posted on: Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | One comment
Opt Out Pho

photo by Kirk Horsted

Married With Children families are no longer the norm in this country, but they still command attention and fill the portrait of the American Dream.  A few generations ago, two incomes became the norm.  But now, that norm may be shifting—due to sour economic conditions, mounting workplace burdens and the growing “Opt-out Phenomenon.”

Women have always gotten the short end of the career ladder; they’re paid less and rise to leadership slower. That’s still improving—and I might argue that women now enjoy bigger strides than men in the areas of entrepreneurship and solidarity.  Moreover, they often benefit from quotas and other protections.

  • Is work worth it?

But a new book by an economist and anthropologist asserts that a feminine backlash is happening:  Many women are choosing to stay home.  At least for a while—and for the family.

“Glass Ceilings and 100-Hour Couples:  What the Opt-Out Phenomenon Can Teach Us About Work and Family” takes a close look, and is worth a look.  After all, this downturn has made employers demand ever-more while workers cling fearfully to their cubicles and assembly lines.

  • “It’s not a financial decision.”

Here at BreakAway, we believe that life’s most important decisions are rarely about money first.  And as for having and raising a family, well, there will likely be very few decisions as important—or long-lasting—in the typical parent’s time on earth.  Yet, the average liver will only actively parent only about 25% of their lifetime.

Why have children if you’re going to spend most of those precious years prioritizing a career?  Oh sure, you may have to cut corners and live more simply.  But most kids would rather have more quality time with their kinfolk than more plasma TVs.

It pays to BreakAway from the career for a while.  Work–like chores when your child says “Can you read me a story?” –can wait.

  • What about Opt-Out men?

A standing O goes to Dianna Shandy and Karine Moe for writing this book.  I personally hope, though, that they or someone else will write the follow-up about men—for whom society often views opting out as dropping out.  The stigmas about men being bread-earners instead of bread-bakers are changing way more slowly than women’s roles.

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Lifehacker & Harvard Promote Creative Breaks

Posted on: Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | Leave a comment
DSC_0462

photo by Kirk Horsted

We are not alone. Word is getting ‘round! In Burned Out? Take a Creative Sabbatical,” Lifehacker.com’s founder, Gina Trapani, preaches about the importance of down time for HarvardBusiness.org’s readers. After all, even the guys on Mad Men do it—while those who don’t may slowly go mad.  Or worse…burn out.

She also features that now-viral video of designer Stefan Sagmeister telling TED conference attendees about his personal (and professional) Sabbatical program.
She mentions that Bill Gates takes two “Think Week” breaks annually to catch up on his reading.
And she inspires many comments from readers when she asks,
How do you use time off to refresh, rejuvenate, and yes, even make yourself more productive?”

The Usual Suspects check in. The executive coaches endorse life/work balance while gently promoting their services. A few of the Overworked & Underpaids complain that only the rich and lucky can afford a career break. And of course, BreakAwayGuy (me!) rebuts that “the folks that I know who have done the most exploring and traveling just tend to be stubborn, non-conformist types.”  In other words (as I point out in the 5 5-word mantras), sometimes it’s not a financial decision.

Trapani posts a powerful blog with a lot of good links—and that 17-minute video by Mr. Sagmeister. When you can make or take some free time, check it out–or burn out.
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Working Dads Crave A Break

Posted on: Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | Leave a comment

The job world keeps getting more co-ed with every passing year.  Oh sure, some fields are still a Boys Club—politics, money, more.  But others are becoming Girls Clubs.  And many employers prefer hiring women over men, if only to meet quotas.  Women are making great gains in the workplace, yet are still free to opt out and stay home.  Why can’t men enjoy such equality?

As this survey points out, nearly one-third of working men would make significant sacrifices to quit working or spend more time with their kids.

Survey Sez: 

  • 31%. Percentage of working dads who said they would leave their jobs if their spouse or significant other’s income could comfortably support the entire familly. 
  • 30%.  Despite a tough economy, percentage of working dads who said they are willing to take a pay cut to spend more time with their children.  

Those stats are sad, really, because the child-raising phase of one’s life is short.  Since kids are largely independent by, say, 12, most families only “need” ongoing parenting for 15 years or so.  That’s about one-fifth of a typical lifetime.  What a bummer to miss most of those sweet years, slaving away instead—especially if he would prefer not to. 

So then, why are home-dads still such a rare breed?  Here are some of my best guesses…

  • Stigma.  Society still fails to embrace the notion. 
  • Dishonor.  Many men fear society’s judgement—and a possible loss of pride. 
  • Income.  Men still make more, on average (though that’s changing fast). 
  • Double income.  Many families think they can’t make it without two revenue streams. 
  • Divorce.  If you’re a single dad, staying home with your kids may be impossible. 
  • Re-entry.  Leaving a career is risky business, and can result in countless compromises. 
  • Training.  Unfortunately, women still do more housework—and have learned how.
  • Mom Power.  If both parents wish to be home more, the woman usually wins. 

This is serious stuff.  After all, it’s an ageless American legend:  Dad didn’t get to spend enough time with his kids—he realizes at age 55.  He regrets it.  He realizes his career was relatively meaningless, and that he is dispensable.  Even his own kids may feel that way. 

But it’s too late to do anything about it.  So…what?  He lives out his final years with a sense of disappointment and failure?  He tries to bond with his kids in their adulthood?  He vows to be a great grand-dad?  Or he just accepts it and moves on—with any luck. 

Please pardon my predictable conclusion:  BreakAways are not just for the rich and self-actualized.  They’re also for dads who simply want to change diapers, cook healthy food for their family, and above all:  Hug their kids.  Any time, on any day. 

What’s wrong with that? 

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Busy…or Lazy!?!

Posted on: Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | Leave a comment
Check out this funny, smart WashPost column that dares to ask:  Am I busy?  Or am I lazy? Why, exactly, don’t I get those new eyeglasses, pay that insurance bill, and master my iPod?

My advice:  Take a 3-month sabbatical and ponder those very questions.  The ones you don’t have time–or energy–to deal with right now.  You just might…
  • Get past the annoyances of such unsolved mysteries.  
  • Find new profundities (and annoyances) to clog your brain.
  • Relax, and realize that’s the best solution to most anything.
  • Find time to get new eyeglasses.  
  • Come back with a (slightly) more cosmic view about the little shtuff…for now.  
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Success Secret: Practice!

Posted on: Sunday, May 3rd, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | Leave a comment

In this provocative NYT article, David Brooks dives deep into the notion that genes and IQs and things determine profound success, and convinincingly argues that nothing beats good, old-fashioned practice.  That’s not only how musicians get to Carnegie Hall, it’s also what made Mozart and Tiger Woods great. 

As Brooks states,

The mind is sloppy and will settle for good enough.  By practicing slowly, by breaking skills into tiny parts and repeating, the strenuous student forces the brain to internalize a better pattern of performance.” 

He recommends two “enjoyable” new books:  “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle, and “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin. 

For any of us who feel in a slump, a little background reading on perseverance may in order.  After all, nobody golfs par or launches a new idea without hard work along the way.  At some point, it’s probably even pleasureable.  Bet the pay-off is! 

To stretch the idea a bit further, nobody gets a sabbatical without persistence and patience either.  Gosh, even a week vacation takes ample planning and some sacrifice.  So, if you want a BreakAway, start rehearsing now.  Try weekend escapes.  Serve up (media-free) Sunday Supper.  Sneak away and chill 20 minutes every afternoon. 

Practice may not make perfect.  But it may get you to your desired destination in life.  

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Island Learning: Keeping it Local

Posted on: Friday, February 13th, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | One comment

Kids pick up a lot by experience and osmosis. But picking up books along the way perks up their sense of place—and increases their vernacular vocabulary. Wandering in little island book stores is a treat, too. The better ones do a fine job of providing local lesson materials, and make book browsing fun. 

Here’s just some of the stuff we’ve stumbled on that even the parents can appreciate…

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  • Children’s Stories.  Often written with some dialect and new words, they bring a child’s perspective to the big, old world.  “Away to Bequia” takes a quirky family sailing from St. Vincent to little Bequia.  “The Nutmeg Princess” features three haunting, local legends that make CurlyGirl’s blue eyes go wide open. 
  • Adventures.  AllBoy devours anything with some suspense and sea drama.  An adapted version of “Treasure Island” made him love a book his dad has never finished, while a Hardy Boys saga set on St. John brought new drama to familiar sites. 
  • Reference sources.  Fortunately, the better places you stay have stacks of guidebooks, nature books, maps, atlases, and more.  We thumb through those, plus pick up the likes of “A B Sea” for the little one and “Beneath Tropic Seas” for the tween.
  • Art materials.  Just handing out paper and pens to the kids brings forth some impressive interpretations of fish, plants, and local colors.  A coloring book like “Wet, Wild and Rare” not only provides fun drawings, but brief copy about the wildlife (non-human) of the Caribbean. 
  • Music.  Ears getting filled with song is the most ongoing and obvious proof that we’re far away.  It’s everywhere, all the time.  And although there is surprising variety, most of it is island-centric.  We pay attention in the buses and stores, go to hear it live, buy CDs, and even make our own with guitar and riddim instruments. 
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BreakAway Heroes Sail in from France

Posted on: Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | 5 comments
So I have this Big Idea—about retiring now and then instead of waiting until your final years, even if it means working longer at the end or enacting some sacrifices along the way. But just when I’m feeling pretty smug about taking 4 Sabbaticals in 19 years, along come some real experts, my new heroes, this intrepid family from France.
              

Frank, France, Juliette, Jeanne & Colin, Lifehackers extraordinaire

Frank, France, Juliette, Jeanne & Colin, Lifehackers extraordinaire

My idea is hardly original.  And folks like this prove that advanced actualization is possible.  You see, they are in the middle of executing the unthinkable:  Taking one year to sail; including to and from Europe; while home-schooling their 3 children via a vigorous program; and leaving a 100-employee business behind in the mist. 
 
Truth is, we’ve met many Euro-families doing this—from Sweden, the Netherlands, and beyond.  You see their flags flying and hear their children playing on vessels throughout the islands.  But we connected for a lovely, long time with these good people. 
 
They were living on their sailboat in the harbor of our resort when we arrived.  Our children soon found each other, we started sharing meals, and spent many hours relaxing and chatting with them—from which I assemble this collage of quotes, courtesy of Frank and France, with ongoing validation from their children, Colin, Jeanne & Juliette (ages 6, 10, 12).
 
It Starts with a Dream
At first it was just my dream, but then it got shared by the whole family.  I wanted to show the kids that if you have a dream, it takes time—year after year.  It’s important to keep it, even if you’re not realizing it.  But if you want it bad enough, and work hard, you can usually achieve most of your goals. 
 
My dream was a big sail.  I’ve had it for 20 years.  The family became part of it 10 years ago, because we had children.  5 years ago, I made it a real project.  And three years ago, I told my business partner and company we need to make this possible.  To not disturb the company was important.  And yet, my customers were actually impressed, not upset. 
 
I made a deal with my partner:  I do this, and you can also have a year off to use however you wish.  He still has that to look forward to. 
 
Workaholism Became Big Motivator
I work a lot.  The average week is 60 hours, I’d say.  A big awakening moment for me was realizing that I’d almost missed the births of two out of my three children.  I realized:  These are the big occasions of your life.  You have to be there.  They won’t happen again.  I decided if I wanted to see my children grow up, it was time to recalibrate my priorities. 

Getting the Children on Board
The timing was based largely on the children.  We figured that our oldest, 12, would be harder to remove from her social life at 13 or 14.  During planning, she did think a year would be too long.  But now that we are doing it, she keeps asking if we can keep sailing for another year! 
 
We had to convince them that this was our big chance for time together.  For exciting exploration—which I think is more important than school. 
 
The transition was difficult for all of us.  Being on a boat 24/7 with no escapes, well, sometimes that led to big explosions.  It’s easier now.  We’ve found ways to give free space and time.  Navigating.  Photos.  Art and play.  We all work on a website about the trip.  And of course, home schooling eats up a lot of time. 

Home Schooling a la France:  All Hands on Deck! 
As French citizens, to leave for a year, we MUST educate our children through a program called Centre Nationalee D’Enseignement a’ Distance.  There are 200,000 French students all over the world!  It goes as high as Ph.D.  We are registered to two different schools.  We belong to classes with teachers.  It’s very challenging and administrative. 
 
There are many, many books and supplies on board.  We have to do things like record music lessons on cassette and send it to France.  There, a teacher listens, records comments, and sends it back.  They even expect us to do chemistry experiments!  We’ve gotten bad grades and been scolded in e-mails for being late.  It’s taken much more time and focus than we expected, but we keep at it and do our best. 

Setting Sail on an Ambitious Adventure
The nice thing about life on a boat is that you can go anywhere.  It’s like having a move-able house on water.  We started from France, of course, and have done stops in Spain, the Canary Islands, Senegal, the Capo Verde islands, Barbados, the Grenadines, and Bequia.  We’ll spend some serious time in the French-Caribbean islands and Cuba before crossing the Atlantic to go home again. 
 
As for rough moments—besides privacy and home schooling.  We did have a medical emergency while crossing in September.  For a few hours, it was very scary.  One daughter got seriously ill, with many symptoms, and we thought it might be appendicitis.  That would NOT be easy to handle alone in stormy seas. 
 
Another terrible moment was going through customs on one particular island.  We made a simple mistake:  We had a friend on board—who had helped us cross over.  We arrived late, after customs was closed, and he had an early flight out the next morning, so we didn’t declare him.  Bad idea.  Customs figured that out and five agents surrounded, shouted, and grilled me for thirty minutes, like a scene from Midnight Express.
 
They told me the penalty is $5,000, one year in prison, or both.  Somehow, I kept my cool.  And they eventually backed off.  The calendar helped save me because, in the end, they said, “You’re lucky tomorrow is Christmas and we’re closed, so we’re going to drop the whole matter.”  That is NOT a good memory, though. 

Soon Comes the Hard Part:  Return to Reality
First came planning, and then the trip itself.  But the part that may be most difficult is going home.  We get back in July and school begins in September.  So for the kids, that transition will probably be easier.  But some of their friends may have moved on, so there could be other issues. 
 
I fear going back to work, I guess.  What if people have taken on too much autonomy and won’t listen to me any more?  I may have to refocus some people, or even ask if the company still needs me at all.  And my partner and I will need to learn to work together again after all this time and change. 
 
I don’t look forward to the weather, of course.  Where we live in France has a long, gray winter.  Would you believe I prefer this beautiful tropical season? 
 
  • But more than anything, I worry about ennui—being bored.  After a dream-come-true like this, will routine and work feel worthwhile and satisfying?  We will see. Perhaps to start thinking about the next big dream will be one way to survive the transition…

Thanks for the reminder.  Our Sabbatical ends months before you sail back across the big pond. So yes, it’s time to savor every setting, prepare for the impending re-entry, and start working toward the next big BreakAway.

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Extra Credit: Home Schooling in the Islands

Posted on: Saturday, January 31st, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | 2 comments

Frustrations proliferate, from kids over-acclimated to island time to music books lost in the mail. Still, we agree with the many (also biased) families we meet who say, “Kids get more education from seeing the world than from sitting in a classroom.” And a beloved part of this trip is watching them take it all in. Let us count a few ways…

  • AllBoy has become a master snorkeler who can dive deep and spot findings he will research later.
  • CurlyGirl has gone from water-wimp to water-bug, calmly jetting underwater like a little dolphin.
  • AllBoy can be a finicky reader, but he’ll now rip through a book in one day if he likes it.
  • CurlyGirl writes with confidence and abandon. In BB’s Crabback—where guests write on the walls—she grabbed that marker and left a legend.
  • Both enter “local” places without a flinch. Before this trip, such atypical settings would have given them pause for concern.
  • AllBoy explores new surroundings by himself, blind to fears and stereotypes.
  • CurlyGirl’s self-reliance has also exploded. When we lost her on a crowded ferry, she showed up after being in the lady’s room with the message, “No toilet paper!”
  • They both eat countless things they would have only sniffed at before: Conch, okra, curry, soursop, and much more.
  • They now effortlessly leap over language barriers that previously would have stalled them. In the past 3 days, they’ve found ways to communicate–and play–for hours with children from France and Sweden who speak very little English.
  • They (finally!) assist with domestic gruntwork. She likes to clean and help with clothes; he loves to cook and tends to their endless snack needs.
  • While they still enjoy their digi-toys, their favorite things of late have become coconuts, seashells, strange fruits, a feltboard—or activities that aren’t “things” at all.

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This blossoming has its poignant moments; it happens so fast, a doting parent can begin to feel obsolete. Like a slap to the head, it hit me yesterday that AllBoy will likely be leaving the house in just over six years. That’s too soon. Better start scheming another Sabbatical—before it’s too late.

Only rarely can I offer them a stretch of time to grow like this BreakAway. But how sweet it is to see that their minds, bodies, and hearts are expanding in ways that only such experiences can provide.

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No Regrets: Another BreakAway Tale

Posted on: Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | Leave a comment
Last week, this inspiring article by Steve Lopez ran in the Los Angeles Times. It’s about a California girl who took a BreakAway to the Caymans and never looked back. Her life story shows that ruts can lead to risks that lead to big payoffs.  And that leaps of faith can land you in a far better place. 
 
It’s recommended reading.  Please watch for these key words, which often appear on this site, to which I attach mini-definitions…
  • Revelation.  A leak in your heart that needs attention
  • Reinvent.  Can happen with or without our intent
  • Comfort zone.  An expensive big yellow chair that’s easy to get stuck in
  • Break.  aka BreakAway
  • Groove.  Feeling you’re following your right path
  • Regret.  An emotion more often triggered by things undone than things done wrong
  • Nightmare.  Where dreams go to die
  • Free spirit.  What we all long to be now and then
For your convenience, I’ve reprinted the article, which was published in the Los Angeles Times on January 14, 2009.           

She packed it up and moved to paradise, sort of

Steve Lopez

Traffic is mad, your nest egg is now the size of a pea and your HMO has stopped covering your blood pressure meds. You’ve thought about reeling it all in, selling what’s left and trying something new in a distant hideaway.

But who really has the courage for such a move, I wondered while lounging during my vacation last week on a speck of sand between Cuba, Mexico and Jamaica. I called the newspaper office in George Town, Grand Cayman, and asked a reporter if he knew of any California transplants.

The reporter gave me two names. The first person was away on vacation. The second answered the phone at her real estate office across the street from 7-Mile Beach, one of the world’s most spectacular stretches of white sand and turquoise sea.

Lisa Uggeri, who left Southern California two decades ago on what was supposed to be a six-week vacation, told me she hasn’t a single regret.

“It’s a nightmare for me to be on the 405,” the Long Beach native said of her infrequent trips home.

So how did she make the break, you ask?

It began when a relationship blew up in 1989, leading to the revelation that she needed to reinvent herself at the age of 28. A friend named Laura Lovekin, who lives in Hermosa Beach, remembers the day Lisa announced plans to step out of her own skin.

“We were water skiing on San Diego Bay,” Lovekin recalled, “and she said, ‘I think I’m going to give everything up and go live on an island.’ “

Huh? She was spending her days water skiing in San Diego, and she needed to shake things up?

Uggeri says she didn’t intend to permanently relocate, and the only break she wanted was from the predictable routine she’d gotten locked into. She wanted to get outside her “comfort zone,” and not having a specific plan was part of the thrill for the business major.

Uggeri, whose last name was Haagsma back then, took a friend’s recommendation to consider the Cayman Islands. She’d never been, but after a bit of research, she decided it sounded perfect.

She quit her job in computer and software sales. She gave up a rented room in a nice San Diego home. And she packed her bags.

After saying goodbye back in Long Beach to her family, she flew away to the Caymans, a three-island British territory known for great diving and even better tax shelters.

Six weeks turned into 20 years.

When I drove to Uggeri’s office, I was on one of the busiest roads on the island, but traffic moved just fine, and no one seemed to be in any particular hurry.

Grand Cayman is no paradise, though. It’s flat as a boogie board and not particularly lush or distinctive, with too many Burger Kings and Wendy’s, and a daily traffic jam of cruise ships delivering passengers to T-shirt and trinket shops.

Uggeri, a blue-eyed blond with a gracious smile and a map of the Caribbean on her office wall, agreed that her adopted home has its issues.

“But there is no stress here whatsoever,” she tried telling me.

I wasn’t buying it. Every year, they’re on hurricane watch for six months, and 2004’s Ivan almost blew the island to Havana.

Yes, Uggeri agreed, but she was away on vacation at the time, and no one died despite all the damage. You take things easy on the islands, she said, and it wasn’t long before she found her new groove.

“I wake up the first morning and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get to 7-Mile Beach,’ ” she recalled. “So I start walking along the South Sound, and not five minutes into it a guy pulls up in a truck and says, ‘Do you need a ride?’ “

He was a complete stranger in a place she didn’t know. The old Lisa would never have accepted. The new Lisa, a budding free spirit, took a breath of fresh subtropical air and thought, “What the heck?”

He turned out to be a musician, and when she went to hear his band at a Holiday Inn soon after, she was introduced to a new circle of friends. One night at the bar, she met two Cayman Airlines pilots who convinced her to move into a three-bedroom condo with them on 7-Mile Beach.

But how would she pay the rent? They had an answer.

After two weeks of training, she became a Cayman Air flight attendant. It kept her six-week party going for another four months, until she found work in real estate at a time when the island was booming.

She knew then that she might never go home, and the deal was sealed the night a dashing young Italian expat sent a drink her way at a bar. Luca Uggeri was five years younger than Lisa Haagsma. He told her he was a submarine pilot.

Yeah, it sounds like a pickup line, but it turned out to be true. Uggeri piloted a sightseeing sub.

They began dating, they fell in love, they got married and there you have it. With a nice life in the tropics, who needs Sigalerts and brown-sky summers?

But surely Uggeri must miss something about her first home.

“I can’t really think of anything,” she said, except for the people she was close to. But Lovekin visits her in the Caymans, and they also travel to other parts of the world together.

There’s not a lot to do in the Caymans, Uggeri admitted. No shopping and little in the way of culture.

But she’s happy with a quiet and simpler life, she knows half the residents of the island and feels safe among them, and Miami is only an hour away by plane when she needs something more.

As for the submarine pilot, he’s moved up in the world.

“Did you see that yacht in the bay?” Uggeri asked me.

I did, as a matter of fact.

Well, Uggeri told me, it’s owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and it’s named Octopus.

So what’s that got to do with her husband?

Octopus, naturally, has a submarine aboard in case any passengers get the urge to see live squid. When they do, Uggeri is their escort no matter where in the world the yacht travels, and Lisa can catch a plane and meet him in distant wonderlands.

“I know,” said Lisa, who’s traveled a long way from Millikan High in Long Beach. “It’s crazy.”

The point here, folks, is to get out of your rut and take a risk. Who knows what might happen?

We’ve got it pretty good in Southern California, though, and the Caymans aren’t for me.

Of course, there is the warm sea. The island rum. The Cuban cigars. The expat adventures that need telling. And now, with Barack Obama promising a crackdown, someone should probably be investigating all those shady American tax shelters.

Someone’s got to cover that, right?

A tough job, but in the service of readers and country, I stand ready.

 

 

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HomeSchooling Report Card: B

Posted on: Monday, January 19th, 2009
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | 2 comments
The first trimester has ended.  So it’s time for an achievement report on how the Parent is progressing as an educator.
  • Math:  Parent has exhibited basic understanding of teaching math, but sometimes fails to appreciate “new math” and often seems unable to make math “fun.”  Parent was delusional in thinking that completion of Modules 4 and 5 would be easy.  Using card games as teaching tools is controversial. 
  • Music:  Forgetting the bass lesson book was a major mistake.  But Parent has recovered and shown creativity by substituting guitar and instituting “Bob Marley lessons.”  More practice would ensure that CurlyGirl masters lyrics to “3 Little Birds” and “Lime in de Coconut.”  AllBoy’s affinity for feeln de riddims and using various sticks and shakers to keep the beat has earned him some unexpected percussion extra credit. 
  • Reading:  Parent should have realized that small islands don’t have libraries, and brought  more vampire books for AllBoy, who burned through about 3,000 pages of the Twilight series in the first 2 weeks.  Parent has successfully supported CurlyGirl’s budding reading skills by procuring local sourcebooks including “Away to Bequia.” 
  • Art:  Parent has satisfactorily trained AllBoy how to use, not lose, and take care of digital camera, and maintain a multi-media weblog (http://breakawaykid.wordpress.com/).  CurlyGirl’s felt board has proven to be a worthy tool for imagination, though Parent’s sketches are often indecipherable.
  • Writing:  Parent has a tendency toward verbosity, but demonstrates enthusiasm.  Can be harsh in instructing AllBoy to “write your blog!”  Should have brought more paper for CurlyGirl. 
  • P.E.  Parent was smart to bring basketball and baseball gear for AllBoy, but failed to realize that basketball courts and flat spaces do not exist on mountainous islands.  Has successfully organized vigorous dancing sessions for CurlyGirl to steel-pan-drums and guitarists, however, and taught both children good snorkel and bodysurfing skills. 
OVERALL TEACHING COMPETENCE:  C
 
PROVIDING A LEARNING EXPERIENCE:  A
 
AVERAGE:  B  
 
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