Quite a few people wanted to kick my butt when I revealed that being the honorary recipient of a copy of my new e-book, “Secrets to DIY Organic Learning : 7-Steps to Effective Left and Right-directed Learning” was an April Fool prank. I realized that I could be a pretty brilliant scammer if I put my mind to it albeit an overgrown, estrogen-filled, middle-aged Artemis Fowl.
When my daughter saw me typing in the comment the following day that it was a prank she gasped and exclaimed that even SHE was fooled. We live in the same apartment so if there really was an ebook out she’d have some inkling about it since she likes spying on what I’m doing on my laptop every so often. (How many of you have kids like that?)
The folks from Malaysia’s Homeschooling community, my mailing list and my daughter weren’t the only one who got pranked that day. My boyfriend of 6-months got a different sort of royal prank pulled on him. I played the damsel in distress receiving calls and SMS-es from unknown persons “from the UK” and he thought I was being contacted by scammers. “Oh, dear, what should I do????” I lamented with as much drama as can be conveyed by an SMS. So each time I received an SMS from him asking me to be careful I burst out laughing at my “Scam-ception” (a scam within a scam ala Inception). This Scamception got me thinking that of all the pranks I’ve pulled that day the one about the ebook was the best by far. I don’t even know how I’m going to top my own game next year.
But here’s what the day’s event (Scamception!) taught me :
There are 3 elements to a perfect scam :
- It fulfills a deep need or a deep, hidden desire.
- It’s too good to pass up, too good to be true.
- It has an element that calls you to take action.
OK, how’s a learning blog on alternative education related to scams? Ever heard of love scams on the internet? Or some politician who needs you to help him move a large sum of money out of some country he got made a tosser? I mean, got tossed out? Each time people read about it in the papers they’d comment to me, “How can these women/people be so stupid? As if you’re going to get a lover like that / that amount of money! They’re educated and obviously make enough money to part with good money in the first place.”
Some people believe it’s just greed. I believe it’s more than that.
We want the best – whatever that means.
You see, the women who got scammed by online lovers are women who have educated themselves out of desirability for long-term committed relationships with most men they meet locally. I know some of these women. The reason they do this is partly in their effort to educate themselves out of the stereotypes of women from their mother’s generation (I could pretty well be speaking for myself except I’m not). Some men believe these women are just greedy and want too many things. Well, perhaps they are, but what’s wrong with wanting the best for ourselves? We want the best for our kids too – so much so that we don’t even think International Schools and Private Schools are good enough for us anymore.
Another deep, hidden desire most of us have is to escape a middle-income trap. Promises of 10% of a huge estate could deliver us from that trap.
The way these women are judged is the way we parents and educators are judged for not being able to accept what’s available. It’s a mixture between unrealistic expectations (trying to fulfill our own sense of underachievement in life) and a conscious unwillingness to accept less evolved ways of being. Most of us lie somewhere in between those two. The desire to release our children from the middle-income trap we find ourselves in might tempt us to invest in educational brands that deliver nothing but empty calories to sugarcoat our dreams of a better tomorrow – consumption that could land us in debt.
Step 1 : A hidden desire.
Prolonged periods of self-imposed isolation caused by triggers which are not properly understood creates a deep, hidden, desire that cannot be articulated openly without being judged.
It’s a long stretch, and thanks for bearing with me, but is that what we’ve done to ourselves as parents and educators? That we’ve educated ourselves so much about education, learning, systems, philosophy, politics, spirituality, finances, economy, business, our expertise in a certain area, etc that we’ve educated ourselves out of desirability for the lifestyle Industrial Schooling wanted for us : unthinking drones in a middle-income trap.
All kinds of men, I mean, all kinds of “schools” just aren’t desirable for us anymore. We have choices, we tell ourselves, and so we hold out until we get sold by another “center” or “private school” opening in the next neighborhood. Some of us “alternatives” feel like we’re going to cave in from the pressure of holding out. We know we don’t want to settle but we have a deeply embedded desire for our children to experience a wholesome, wholistic, socially-connected, spiritually conscious education immersed in creativity, co-operation and all things good.
But like the women who eventually got scammed by the person standing outside the jar who can read the label – many of us lose money, sooner or later, to programs and promises that are never delivered. Yes, ma’am, there’s a package for you but you got to keep paying – it’s never going to arrive! I’ve spoken to at least a dozen, if not more, parents who have coughed out thousands, moved countries, just to get that coveted parcel of wholistic, wholesome, education. The Best – whatever that means.
The irony is I have people writing in to me from countries OUTSIDE Malaysia who are considering re-locating to Penang because the idea of a green co-op in beautiful, culturally rich Penang sounds really good.
Steps 2 & 3 : Too good to be true? Would you like me to announce a call to action?
The thing is, all deep, hidden, desires work the same way. They cannot be easily articulated openly without the fear of being judged in a way that would affect a person’s perceived status quo. And sometimes I think that’s what my blog helps to do in the area of alternative thinking about education : to bring ideas that many find too difficult to openly discuss, out in the open, and to bring people together, one by one, until Imagination turns to Fruition.
On another note I wonder if any of you have thought the way I have that the only difference between a scam and a business idea is that one doesn’t deliver what it promises to do and the other does. If I could come up with a prank like that it takes only one more step to convert it into a business idea. Or a book. I can hear someone saying, “Talk is cheap!” – I hear ya!
With that being said as a form of atonement I’m just going to cobble up something, right here, right now, that would attempt to deliver on the promise I had made on Secrets to DIY Organic Learning : 7-Steps to Effective Left and Right-directed Learning.
I hope, perhaps, that some of these tips could help steer you towards saving yourself years and years of searching and thousands of dollars on programs and books you will never benefit from.
- There’s no SECRET!!!!If you can’t achieve your ideals of education on your own based on your own resources and experience, no one else is going to be able to achieve that either! The only way you can achieve your ideas of education based on your resources and experiences is to collaborate with other like-minded parents who are willing to shore-up the same level of commitment in engagement, participation, resources and time. What we lack in kind we make up for in cash.The difficulty lies in helping parents internalize the fact that they are their children’s best teachers IF ONLY they are willing to do some work on themselves i.e. the parent him/herself. It is completely true, though, that for areas such as non-native language, a parent needs to make even more effort to gather lots of first and second hand experience to develop an intuition about language learning if it does not come naturally for them and the best way for a parent to assist their child in language learning is to either fork up the economic costs or bear with the social costs of placing the child in a non-native environment or to pick the language up themselves.
Fluency in a non-native languages aside parents just need to do a lot of work on themselves. Not work on the child, work on the Self, yes, you and me, adults, models, facilitators.
This is really difficult work and I’m speaking from personal experience. The secret, therefore, is that there is no secret because all the answers are already within us. Each of us possesses the raw potential to bring into fruition a deep desire we have. The desire cannot exist by itself without a super-conscious awareness that we have the capacity to fulfill it.
I think you’re suddenly glad you didn’t spend good money on a book that contained no “secrets”. But then again judging from the success Rhonda Byrne and W.Chan Kim has had in their books on “Secret” and “Strategy” I might have been able to get away with it.
- This is probably the hardest part of homeschooling – reconciling with the Law of Karma i.e. What Goes Around Comes Around. Our children model after us in more ways than one and reflect back to us even the things we refused to see in ourselves. If you want to see it positively, God does not give us more than we can handle and our children are our pathways towards redemption – even if at times it seems a really sadistic way of getting from here to enlightenment.
- Having said that (that there is no secret) I have to say that however, there is a Way. It would seem like a simple matter of changing the title of my book from Secrets to DIY Organic Learning to The Way of DIY……. – just doesn’t quite have the same stickiness and ring to it. Ha!What IS The Way? The Way would be a highly-focused detailed description of scenarios, contexts behind those scenarios, strategies, case-studies of problems / challenges and what tools were used to solve them, why those tools were being called for use out of a huge reservoir and in what other related situation/s they could be applied to or if other tools would be used instead. The Way leverages on the experience of the practitioner mapping out how learning goals are matched to everyday situations and what choices and tools to discerningly choose from that would yield the highest probability of a positive and desired learning outcome.
- Following the revelation that there is “no secret” and what is required is a process of inward-looking and internalization of wisdom and love you’d probably figured out by now that inward-looking is a synonym for DIY and Organic Learningis an oxymoron. The natural approach to learning, the way we’ve evolved for thousands of years, is Organic. We learn what we need when we need it. The moment we make a conscious decision that we do not want the RESULTS of industrialized schooling on our child’s character and mind we ought to have stopped all forms of learning that mirror Industrial Schooling. Doing the same things gives us the same results, right?A lot of parents tell me they want their child to blossom in Intelligence, Compassion, Wisdom and Creativity. I have Steve Pinker’s The Blank Slate and it’s still sitting there on my bookshelf so I’m wondering – are we really blank slates? Or is Intelligence, Compassion, Wisdom and Creativity innate in us? If they are innate then all we have to do is to observe that the organism needs in order to bring forth what is innate in their seed. Like a plant we don’t need to do anything to it – we just need to give it what it needs out of our keen sense of detached love, wisdom and compassion.
There are probably more than 7-steps to Effective Left and Right brain learning but “7” just seems like a highly marketable number. If Deepak Chopra and Covey found the number lucky what’s to stop me from riding the bandwagon with a familiar marketing concept? Whether people I pranked were conscious of it or not I used several “hot keys” to excite a call to action. The words “secret”, “7”, “way/strategy”, “organic” (works wonders with the LOHAS who have a tendency to HS), “effective” and “left and right brain” and most of all FREE captured the imagination of many who vowed they would not be tricked on April Fool this year.
(soundbites, soundbites, soundbites!)
Here are some more tips I’ve shared with recent discussions I’ve had on R-directed and L-directed thinking. Without context (a totally right brain domain) they may seem like they were coming from Captain Obvious. But here goes :
5. The right brain is not more or less superior than the left. But we’ve been trained to be left-brain dominant. The first thing you need to do if you’re a chronic left-brainer and would like to work that right brain is to do EVERYTHING the opposite of what you’ve always done. Yup, get uncomfortable. Get EXTREMELY uncomfortable. If you’re someone who needs a schedule, do without. If you’re someone who needs your things organized create random chaos and enjoy the treasure hunt.
6. If we’re L-dominant our children will tend to be L-dominant by the time they turn 18 failing which we will see a lot of interesting domestic drama. If we hang in there long enough the R-brain will safely atrophy by the time they are 21.
7. The R-brain doesn’t learn AT ALL the way the L-brain works (no brainer, right?). We all know this, don’t we? In order to help the R-brain we have to stop doing all kinds of ‘input’ learning. I am highly skeptical of any program that calls itself “right brain” if the formula comes out of a book, all learning is standardized and systemized and results can be pinned down and accurately measured. I’d be more open to programs that have general goals and a huge reservoir of skills and techniques to tap from but whose methods and delivery are ambiguous, authentic and customized and results vary according to the personality and barriers a child brings with them to their learning experience. Left brain needs structure, Right brain needs freedom, along with the freedom to take as much time as they need to not be rushed to arrive at a place where they can create connections and inter-relatedness in a higher-order capacity.
8. MODELLING is oh-so-very important. You don’t become Asian because you’ve had rice a few times and can verbalize the following mantra : “ching-chong-ching-chong-ching-chong”. You’re Asian because you eat rice everyday at home (or at the hawker center) the same way you don’t strengthen your right-brain by going for some classes a couple of times a week but by constantly being immersed in an environment where things get done the R-directed way. It is important for our children to be exposed to parents, grandparents, neighbors, school, friends, etc who do things the R-directed way. A manifestation of modelling for R-directed learning and thinking is the way people develop comedic timing; it’s not something you learn from a stopwatch.
9. L-directed thinking makes you good at spelling and grammar checking yourself and it helps you to be somewhat coherent but it doesn’t give you the ability to spice a piece of writing that will elicit empathy, ask for engagement, tie seemingly unrelated things to create an epiphany or have the ability to take something abstract and putt it around until it seems concrete (enough). R-directed thinking gives you great ideas to write about – minus the ability to recall the appropriate words quickly enough to express the gush of images and feelings and expressions.
I got to 9 points out just cobbling some things in an act of atonement – it’s my Good Friday piece, if I may. 9’s as good a number as ‘7’. 🙂
Just out of curiosity, if it were true that I’m writing such a book, what questions would you need answered? What sort of information would you need? What problems are you facing that makes the title of the book appeal to you? How would I be able to help serve you with who I am, what I do and what I know?
I welcome any and all comments not just the ones that flatter me – I mean it.