Skip to main content

Father Learns Best

My sons, Jarrett and Trevor, and I spent a warm, breezy Father's Day out a my parents' farm in Lena, Illinois. More than just social visits with my parents, these are also opportunities for us to learn more about nature, agriculture, and life without traffic jams. While my mom breaks out beef sandwiches, pickles, and potato chips for lunch, my dad and I cover our usual discussion topics.
What's the price of gas in Lake County? How are the Bears going to do this season? What did you think of the latest Sandford book? After looking at the sky, he checks area weather using an app on his iPad.
"Those clouds don't look too good, but there's nothing on the radar", says dad.


As sure as "death and higher taxes", mom will always have several varieties of potato chips on the lunch table, and my dad will attract "weather events" like ants to a picnic blanket. Before deciding to get into teaching, I studied geography and meteorology in the hopes of becoming a professional storm chaser. I had a couple decades of experience on my side because almost every family vacation, and nearly every major holiday was impacted by my dad's meteorological voodoo. My dad has been linked to flash floods in Florida, tornadoes in Minnesota, the Polar Vortex of this past winter, and the upcoming chaos of El Nino. If you want rain on your parade, just invite Terry Schuetz to the festivities.

My dad, who turns seventy-three this August, did not go to college, yet he is a prodigious life-long learner. A voracious reader, I will put his expertise of U. S. History up against any professor I've had. My parents, following retirement, purchased their sixteen acre farm just a few years ago. Their education now resides in the fields and forests that surround their small country house. Every day presents new challenges, and new projects. This week, it was cutting up a fallen cottonwood tree, rescuing a lost racing pigeon, and keeping young rabbits out of the vegetable garden.


My parents, even in their retirement years, are becoming increasingly self-sufficient because of their ability to read, research, connect, and problem solve. Their evolutionary life-style change is proof that they are not afraid to learn new things. Despite relocating to an area of less than forty people per square mile, my parents are more socially connected to their new community. A steady stream of friends stop by to swap stories over cups of coffee. Like my parents, these neighborly visitors discuss interesting projects, tough challenges, and simple rewards associated with life in the country. Apparently, personal learning networks (PLNs) are alive and well in rural Illinois.



If you are learning, then you are growing. My mom says people are like trees, we can continue to grow our entire lives. I am fortunate to have happy, healthy parents who value and share their learning experiences. Every day includes problem-based education, every day includes genius hour, every day is about passions and relationships, and every day is about self-assessment and reflection. We learn new things with every visit to my parents' interesting, engaging, "real-world" classroom. My parents have proven that learning opportunities are everywhere, and are embedded in our everyday lives. We seem to spend a lot of time and emotional energy fabricating a curriculum that lacks relevance, meaning, and longevity for many students. As educators, there are no limits to what our students can accomplish when we put learning, and relationships, first. My parents are great teachers, and my dad, as you can see, is an accomplished learner. Happy Father's Day Dad.

Related Reading



Lifelong Learning Institute - Harper College



Comments

Kristina Stary said…
Thanks for a great read this morning! Loved it!
Jen H. said…
I like what your mother said about trees - we can continue to grow our whole lives. Thanks for reminding us through this story that there are many ways to learn and be connected.
Robert Schuetz said…
Thank you Kristina & Jen,
I am realizing there are so many interesting stories out there, and you don't have to look to far to find vivid examples of life-long learners. Thanks again for the connections.
Bob

Popular posts from this blog

Learning that Matters

Originally posted on Fractus Learning - 5.3.16

“Today we speak casually of lifelong learning, but in a few decades, it will likely be so much the norm as hardly to require its own label.” - David Perkins

You’re an educator with your finger on the pulse of what’s relevant to teaching and school. Being well read, you know that educational thought leaders are focusing recent dialogue on learning. Schools have always been places of learning, but few can deny the impact the Internet has on a person’s ability to learn whatever they want, whenever they want. Let’s have some fun by responding with the first word that pops into your mind.

Fill in the blank to complete the following phrase;______________________ learning.

The possible answers are numerous, aren’t they? Is your response included in the table below?


Authentic Problem-based Project-based Individualized Personalized Cooperative Flipped Mastery Community-based

To Email, or Not

Should current students learn how to use email?


As someone who celebrates a clean email inbox about once every five years, I found it interesting that the topic of student email usage was on the agenda of our recent high school leadership meeting. The focus of this brief conversation concentrated on these questions.



How can we get students to utilize their school email account better? Should we be teaching students how to communicate with email?When and where should email usage skills be taught? Who's responsibility is this?Why do we want kids to check their email? Those around the conference room table agreed with the importance of students checking their email to stay informed about upcoming events and opportunities. Others mentioned it as being an important part of "digital executive functioning." Time was running short when someone said, "Kids don't use email."

This brief statement sent my mind scurrying in several simultaneous directions. 

First, thinking …

Practice Makes Learning

“Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
Yesterday, I sent a tweet to my friend Aaron Davis to congratulate him on his excellent blog, Read Write Respond, being recognized as a finalist for an Edublog Award (#Eddies15). He graciously responded with this...
@robert_schuetz@debsnet congrats to you too Bob. You got a gig as well — Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs) December 11, 2015My first thought was, "whaaaa?". My second thought was, Aaron's in Melbourne and I'm near Chicago, must be something lost in translation. After checking out the Edublog site, sure enough, my blog is listed as a finalist in the Teacher Blog category. Honor and pride began percolating for two reasons. 
First, my blog was listed along with others that I read, and comment on, nearly every day. Blogs from people I hold in high regard as friends, as thought-change leaders in education, and as peopl…