Just wind me up and I'm ready to roll! There are very few things I like better than to dialogue with parents and others who care deeply about children and families (their own and others). So getting the chance to come visit with you and your friends is a real treat for me, and for which I am grateful.
Below is a list of titles and descriptions of talks I am prepared to give at the drop of a hat. They work best when there is plenty of time for discussion so I can be sure to try to address people's needs as best I can. I can design a program for you and your group, and if there is something else you'd like to see me address, feel free to ask.
Dismantling the Inner School
We all want the best possible education for our children. But sometimes the images of school we hold in our minds limit us from acting fully upon that which, deep down, we already know. We will explore some of these images together, and increase our self-confidence in helping our kids and our family pursue our dreams and aspirations.
The Curriculum of Beauty
Brown University President Ruth Simmons once wrote, "Nothing is so beautiful, nothing so moving, as the observance of a mind at work." What if, amidst all the focus on how to ensure our children have the necessary basic skills, we were to conceive of homeschooling as an aesthetic matter, helping our children to find ways to embrace the beautiful in their world, in their relationships with others, and in themselves? How can we go about with our kids in cultivating an inner harmony that will lead them to a life worth living? And can we go along for the ride?
Nine Elements of Intelligence
"The test of intelligence," wrote John Holt in How Children Learn, "is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don't know what to do." Instead of a static, in-born potential, how would we think and act differently if we reimagined "intelligence" as integrative of multiple elements, a dynamic set of behaviors and inner resources and processes that can be learned and nurtured in the course of our children becoming the people they are meant to be?
The Tenth Intelligence ("On Empathy")
Okay, I forgot one. And there all kinds of tasks we can't accomplish in the world without it. How did we learn to be less empathetic than we used to be (ever notice that "empathy" is not among your state's "education outcomes"?), and how can we begin to reclaim the tenth intelligence, for ourselves, and for our children, and for our world? (This talk is often done in a pair with "Nine Elements of Intelligence")
Novum Organum and the Killer Shrews: Science as a Subversive Activity
So you want your kids to "know something" about science. But what’s the takeaway? How did we actually learn about science as children? (Hint: it didn't have much to do with school.) How do scientists think, and in doing so, make new discoveries about our world? What are the principles of real science, and how can we incorporate them into both our learning and our lives? Engaging and provocative.
Who is Your Child?
As homeschoolers, we are bombarded with curricula choices, information about learning styles, material about multiple intelligences. It's enough to make our heads spin. Some of it might turn out to be useful, and much of it interesting. But wouldn't it be better to start with some idea of what we believe to be the truth about children, and what we are hoping to equip them with for a future world to which we ourselves are ultimately denied entry? No pat answers, but lots of interesting questions which we can explore together.
For more than a hundred years, from Alfred Binet to Howard Gardner to Robert Sternberg, the school people have been obsessed with intelligence (and the testing that goes with), and not always with the best of motives. Can we rescue anything of value from the concept of intelligence and put it to good use as we go about our homeschooling journeys with our children?
The Curriculum of Abundance
Ivan Illich once suggested the "education is learning under the assumption of scarcity." We see this scarcity played out in schools and communities all the time - from the lack of time teachers can devote to individual students, to the lack of freedom children experience in attempt to explore their passions and developing their unique gifts. What would education look like "under the assumption of abundance"? The answer is: homeschooling. A terrific keynote or conference opener.
Learning About Learning: Conversations with My Violin
Contrasts the rather strange principles that lie at the heart of public education with the actual learning process itself. Using the violin as example, I examine the five internal dialogues that take place in both children and adults when real learning really happens. Lots of anecdotes, show-and-tell, and humor. This is my main talk for homeschooling groups these days, and the most requested.
There's a whole big world out there! And we can explore it with our kids, 'cause they aren't all cooped up! Let's share out travel stories together, what worked and what didn't. Can we get outside our comfort zone? Are there ways to travel while staying right at home? Roundtable conversation, resources provided, as we spark discussions and excursions for the coming year.
Three Educational Stories: Filling the Holes, Bending the Form, and Feeding the Flame
Examines the metaphors we use in thinking about the education of our children, and the orientations our efforts take when we adopt certain educational stories - consciously or unconsciously - to the exclusion of others. Can we find the educational story that feels right for our own family? Can we write our own? Inspiring and challenging!
Writing, Reading, and All That
As homeschoolers, we are bombarded with techniques and methods for teaching what we all agree are critical skills. But how can we help our children learn that the written word is primarily about communication? Might it be possible to choose learning strategies based on an understanding of WHY individuals want to read or write? Does this all really have to be so traumatic? Provocative anecdotes and concrete, nuts-and-bolts ideas -- from a professional author, editor and writing coach.
The Future is Now! Engaging Our Young Teens for the Journey Ahead
Our young teens are not overgrown children in search of metal detectors. They are growing into new intellectual, emotional, and spiritual capabilities as they seek for futures that fit their emerging senses of themselves. How can we help them along in the journey, and prepare them for a future that they can embrace as truly their own?
Beans and the Curriculum of Creamed Corn
I invite parents to reflect back upon their own learning journeys, as most of us carry around scars inflicted upon us in the course of our own school experiences. We've also experienced successful learning experiences outside of school. How do we expand our repertoires and our limited ways of seeing the world beyond our own personal histories? Can we discover a "curriculum of everyday life?" and build an entire K-12 curriculum out of a can of creamed corn? Don't we have an obligation to help our children make real sense of the world around them? Expansive and provocative.
Hanging on for the Ride: Homeschooling WITH the Gifted Child
("How to talk so your child will think you have something worth listening to!") Examines three kinds of giftedness, reviews - with group participation - the hallmarks of gifted children, and provides hints on how to work effectively with them to appropriately enrich their education. The end of the talk is reserved for a resource sharing session.
Perfectionism, and Other Idiosyncracies of Homeschooling with Gifted Kids
What most gifted kids experience is similar to that experienced by less gifted ones - they just experience it earlier, more intensely, and are more likely to be verbalize it. We will explore some of these experiences, and learn how to partner more effectively in our children's learning journeys. Time will be reserved for discussion, and problem-solving. Even if you don't consider your child to be gifted, there will be lots of ideas you can apply in your homeschooling lives.
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" (also called "The Curriculum of Happiness")
We all pay lip-service to the idea that our children should be happy. But is there such a thing as "education for happiness", not just in the present but that would carry over into our children's future as well? Is there a way that the quality of the learning quest can contribute to our children's sense of fulfillment, and enhance their quality of living as adults? Building on the concept of "flow" pioneered by the behavioral psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I provide specific ideas that can promote optimal experience for the entire homeschooling family.
Straight Talk with David
Sometimes folks just prefer a straight question-and-answer format. I don't have all the answers, but I have talked with thousands of homeschoolers over the years, and can share the harvest of their experience, and my own. I'll present something short that I am thinking about of late to get us all started.
On Sixes and Sevens
For most children, the ages 6 and 7 represent some of the most important - and interesting! - developmental changes that will ever occur in their lives. It is the age of questions, trust-building, first real understandings of death and history, first confrontation with the need for experience in progressing with learning challenges. We explore together what it is like to be 6 and 7 all over again!
The Story of Ganesha
A storytelling session aimed at children ages 6-9. The Indian elephant-headed figure is the god of wisdom, learning, memory…and of storytelling! We explore Ganesha through posters and story (paying particular attention to how it is a tale of child development). Show and tell, too - Indian clothing, statuary, photos, maps.
I also do workshops (I like to call them "practicals") on surveying the community for educational opportunities, conduct dialogues on breaking down barriers to unconventional educational choices, help parents think about reading and math and music, and engage in creative problem-solving. I also facilitate discussions on race and religion as they impact our homeschooling practices (as a Quaker with a long history of mediation and facilitation experience, I am usually able to do that from a place which makes participants feel safe.)
I bring copies of my books for sale and signing, as well as a collection of other publications that I have found to be useful in our own homeschooling practice.