Tag Archive | resourcefulness

A new kind of educational history

I read a fascinating book recently called ‘The Button Box’ by Lynn Knight. It is a social and fashion history inspired by the buttons of the times and their relevance to how everyone lived, the women in particular. Through the buttons the book illustrates the position of women through the ages, from the rich to the powerless (as most were in past times), and their ever changing roles and rights.

What struck me most was how resourceful women have always been, how ingenious they were at making use of what resources they had and how creative and entrepreneurial they were when, let’s face it, mostly they were up against it!

I think that is a fundamental skill most women have, developed further I think through mothering, home educating, and in times of challenge. A bit like now!

Throughout the pandemic we’ve all faced hardships and deprivation of one kind or another; social and spiritual as much as the financial and physical. And educational, even though it’s been education in itself. We’ve had to dig deep into resourcefulness some of us never knew we had.

I always equate that kind of resourcefulness with home educators – it’s almost a natural part of what home educators do; make an education with an entrepreneurial spirit. And maybe those who’ve had home education thrust upon them through ‘school-at-home’ which is very different (see this blog), have discovered that they can be resourceful with education and learning too and branch out from what they thought it was. I hope so.

Most people have always (wrongly) thought that school is the only route to becoming educated. And it also requires having money. Or masses of tech. Or qualified teachers. Or expensive materials.

All these may contribute to a broadening of an educative experience, but are still no guarantee.

What we need most of all to develop educated people is to encourage them to have resourceful, inquiring minds. Minds that can adapt, embrace challenge and diversity, think past problems, who have resilience and staying power, as well as the ability to find out stuff, seek out new experience and learn for themselves by whatever means we have.

Prescriptive schooling rarely achieves this. But this is what home educators generally do most of the time!

Home education and the people doing it are nothing if not resourceful. Unlike school-at-home where many schools prescribed the learning, home educators take a different approach and engineer it themselves. They consider options, navigate resources, choose their objectives and the route to take them there within the boundaries of what they have to hand.

Few have exclusive lab equipment or high brow tech, but they find ways open to them.

But what they do have is the best resource any educator can give; the time, attention, engagement and encouragement of another human being.

We are raising and educating human beings remember – social human beings. Tech will never show us how to be human however much we use it, or use online teachers and online schools. Whilst useful, tech can never show how to be empathetic and responsible, respectful and kind, in the way that humans show. And you need those qualities as well as knowledge and exam passes to be a truly educated human being.

As the book says; whether you have posh buttons or cheap ones on your clothing, wealth or poverty, underneath we are still all human.

It’s also true that whether you are school users or home educators; education is about humanity and developing personally as well as academically. Education should develop a mind that is broad and open, all embracing, and resourceful, and able to go on learning beyond being told what to do through prescriptive schooling.

And it is the resourcefulness of home educators and the approaches they’re using, that succeeds in doing this and in making a new educational history which other families and educators, current and future, should learn from!

How will you respond this Easter?

This is such a strange and challenging time. We’re going to have to dig deeper than ever into our personal resources to respond and cope with these unprecedented circumstances.

Hopefully we will learn something about ourselves by the end of it. It’s bound to change us. Has changed us already – I know my appreciation of many simple things has increased as we do without many of the things we took for granted, like popping to the shop for chocolate!

Ours have grown up now, but I can still remember how difficult it can be at times cloistered in with small children not able to get out. I know many families would occupy their time with a trip to the shops just to buy some non-essential that they don’t need. Out of the question now obviously.

But actually, what children crave – even as much as those chocolate eggs – is the engaged time and attention of their loving adult.

Many parents bemoan the fact they never have time in their lives for that. Many children feel the pinch of life without it.

So maybe that’s a good aspect of being home bound right now. You can do something about it. Children learn as much from the time and attention of an engaged adult as anything else on any curriculum!

And it’s the perfect time to give some effort to making Easter rather than buying it.

It doesn’t have to cost, if you get resourceful with whatever you have in the house. Exercise their minds and problem solving skills by giving up thinking; ‘we need to buy this, this and this’ and start thinking ‘how can we make this with the resources we already have?’

For example, paint or felt tip eggs, or crumpled up paper can make eggs to hang up, a coat hanger would suffice to hang them on although I bet you’ll come up with something better than that. Bunting can be made with old magazines, books you’ll never use again, even old clothes – you don’t have to sew it, think of another way to put it together. Get resourceful with creating rather than buying, get creating this Easter rather than consuming.

And when you get out for the groceries, get the ingredients for a simple cake.

Making a cake together is not about the cake.

Making a cake with kids can be tricky, unless you change your agenda. Your agenda is not to make a perfect cake. Your agenda is to make some happy memories with them about the resourceful way you dealt with this crisis and the things you came up with. Stir your cake with fun and affection and lick your sticky fingers with relish over the sweet times you made together.

You are teaching the kids about resilience and resourcefulness. Both are skills that will be useful to them time and time again throughout their life long after this crisis is over.

We can spend the Easter bemoaning the things we’d usually do that we now cannot. Or we can spend the Easter creating something that’s more important than baking a cake; making good memories that will stay with the youngsters forever.

Hope you stay well and manage a Happy Easter. And if you come up with some good ideas – please share them in the comments below!

Climbing out the wellies

I’m doing quite well at the not-spending I was talking about in an earlier post.

Click on the picture for tickets…or just turn up at The Purple Playhouse Fri/Sat at 7.30!

I’ve not bought several things I’ve looked at and thought; ‘that’s nice, want it, need it’, only to rethink; ‘actually, I don’t!’ Then went off and got pleasure from  other nice things always available like wild flowers, sunshine on my face, a passing butterfly, friends and loved ones.

This has helped keep a nice bit by for my trip.

I’m climbing out my wellies and going city side to visit my eldest and see her production; Decade 20, in the Brighton Fringe.

When I go away money leeches out of my purse faster than water leaks into my wellies. But it’s so nice to be able to treat the girls to coffee, cake, food, frivolities they wouldn’t normally afford – it’s the best spending of all.

Is this when we get to be proper grown-ups – when we get more delight in spending on our offspring than on ourselves? Perhaps! Seems I have no hesitation in treating them to new shoes whilst I walk about with holes in my boots.

Might have to purchase some new clothes, (new to me, anyway – they could be from a charity shop), just so I don’t feel quite so decrepit visiting in the same old rags I’ve hung onto for years. On the other hand I could just get the sewing machine out and revamp them, as I taught them to do.

Both girls have that same skill of creative recycling we used through their home educating days when budget was tight but inventiveness was rich. (There’s a funny story in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ where they paint their wellies – and their dad’s – when I couldn’t afford coloured ones)!

But when education is in your own hands you tend to get inventive. This independent way of educating requires creative thinking which spills over into all aspects of life, developing intelligence, useful skills and resourcefulness. And there’s nothing better than resourcefulness for overcoming all the challenges you face in life.

So, being resourceful, maybe I’ll just look for something to patch my wellies instead when I get back and the purse is alarmingly empty!

Budget, bunny bottoms and an occasional shop

I’ve just been on a trip. It wasn’t planned. My foot got caught in a bramble and catapulted me down a bank side. Not enjoyable, although I did have a nice view of a bunny’s bottom as it bundled for cover in terror.

It’s my own fault. I go about gawping at all the natural delights without watching where I’m putting my feet. Rabbit holes have caught me out before now, and trails of ivy across the wooded path where I sometimes walk.

But I still love being out there. Now the weather’s improving it’s all the nicer and I get out often, looking for both inspiration and soul refreshment. Over winter there’s been times I’ve often resorted to coffee shops and city centres for this purpose. But the snag with that is the expenditure and the hoards of people all shopping. cafe books 002

When did shopping become a pastime, rather than a necessity? Probably when corporate politics saw the potential to fleece people without them even needing anything!

We used to shop out of need. Now we shop out of greed. For, let’s be honest, much of what we shop for is non-essential. We could do without much of it.

I’m not against shopping as a pastime if it’s what you like. I like charity treasure seeking with the girls! But as long as it is what you like and not something you’re doing as a slave to commercial trends and con merchants.

We can be so conned and from so many sources. Conned into believing we need much more than we do, or we’re not as good as others if we don’t have stuff, or if we haven’t got that kind of ‘disposable income’ we’re somehow inferior.

I’ve decided to resist this. I’ve decided to look seriously at anything I’m tempted to buy and ask; do I really want this or am I conned into believing I do with clever marketing? (Supermarkets are masters at this). What can I use/do/create as a solution rather than buy as a solution?

The beauty of this approach is that it lessens my dependency on the expensive antidote to doldrums that shopping can become making me a slave to big income when moderate income will do, it makes me far more resourceful and stretches my mental skills, it’s a good example to my young people and shows them how to be thrifty and I also find I’m not as poor as I thought because not only am I keeping money in my purse, I’ve changed my attitude as well.

For once basic needs are met; food, shelter, warmth, etc, feeling poor can be as much a state of attitude as a state of finance. We can be rich in love even without money, for example. Rich in what we already have, without needing anything else. And if life feels flat and we’re thinking about buying a solution, creating a solution or seeking an experience instead of shopping can change that feeling by giving a sense of achievement far more fulfilling that a quick shopping fix. I think so many young people are dissatisfied because of slavery to shopping fixes that soon wear off.

And of course, the less we buy, the less we pollute the earth. So not only does it make us more resourceful, it pays greater respect to the resources the earth already has given, and lessens the impact on what’s left of it.

So, I’m on a drive to minimise spending and maximise resourcefulness.

Although I’m not sure how many brambles and bunny bottoms will be involved! I’ll keep you posted.