Saturday, December 22, 2007

Everyday Art

DESIGN
houses
bowls
spoons
glasses
lamps
fixtures
ornaments
giftwrap
cards
wreaths
cookies
food presentation
bags
boxes
cars
bikes
mailboxes
gates
doors
doorknobs
hinges
appliances
gadgets
books
paper
pens
posters
frames
fabric
games
tools
hats
shoes
chairs
kitchen sink





Things all around you were designed by artists, from tissue boxes to trash cans to hairbrushes to soap. If you google "award winning designs," you'll get lots more ideas.

On the "Good Design" pages you can view severalcategories: automotive/transportation, electronics, kitchen/bath, furniture, fabric/textiles, lighting, household products, household appliances, tabletop, children's products, medical equipment, personal care, office products, hardware/tools, sorts, urban furniture/architecture, graphic and packaging design, and industrial equipment.

The earliest year for which they have a site is 1996:
http://www.chi-athenaeum.org/gdesign/winners96.htm
and the newest is 2005:
http://www.chi-athenaeum.org/gdesign/winners05.htm and you can see the years in beween by replacing that number with another year. This is an international competition, and the site lists the winners (though not always photos) in all those categories. The designs in the changing .gif are from 1996. The John Deere 544J 4WD Wheel Loader won in 2004.




Maybe you'll find your keyboard, or your mouse, or your monitor, in the award winning designs. Is there a certain spoon or knife or mug that people in your family especially like because it feels good in your hand, has a good balance, or something? What about favorite towels or sheets? Pillows? Maybe discuss where these things came from, who made what kinds of decisions about them, and how rich the world is in design artistry of all sorts.

The comments on this blog won't accept photos, but I can put photos on a webpage linked here, and links and stories galore, if you have any thoughts to share. Some art is seasonal and fleeting—does someone in your family wrap gifts beautifully? Make beautiful cookies? Elegant punchbowls? This is the week to catch those images before they're gone!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wood

I'm hoping this can be a kind of show-and-tell about wood. Please feel free to comment with stories, links, photos (or send me the photos and I can add them to the main post) or questions. We can spend a week sharing bits and pieces of woodlore or news.



Bryan Anderson made this, in Colorado
Keith found the article.
(There are four other photos there at the original article, too.)



Keith has lately made a Viking game. It was a prize for a Toys for Tots tournament. More photos are here, and another couple of things Keith also no longer owns are documented somewhat on this knotwork page.



Woodgrain sample pages:
Light Woods      Red Woods
Brown Woods      Dark Woods



If you click the title it will lead to a page that will eventually be much bigger than this blog section, because I can keep adding photos and links as they come in later. I'd like to have a list there, too, of things people do with wood, so contributions to that list are welcome! Maybe brainstorm with your kids, if they're interested. My initial thoughts are: pallets, fuel, musical instruments

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fairness

It's not fair that homeschoolers win spelling bees; they had too much time to study spelling.
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200106/CUL20010606a.html
(That article includes geography bees too.)

It's not fair that homeschoolers involve their kids in politics.
http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071209/NEWS09/712090333/-1/caucus
(I'm not advocating this kind of politics at *all,* just mentioning it as another "unfair" charge.)

It's not fair that boy scouts who are home schooled have more time to work on badges.
http://homeschooling.families.com/blog/homeschooling-and-scouting-an-unfair-advantage


One of those articles begins:

From principals to teachers to superintendents, the reaction was unanimous and undiluted: "Your kids will fail."

That was 20 years ago.

All that time, the unschoolers have been hearing the same sorts of dire predictions (more like hopeful curses) from structured school-at-homers. And we hear "It's not fair your kids get to have freedoms," or "...be on the computer for hours," or "...not have to do chores." It's not fair when some kids don't have to take tests.

So what IS "fair"? Who's responsible for making life fair? Where and when has life been fair, and can we produce that condition again?

Parents try to be fair with their children, and sometimes do it by counting and measuring the time and money they put toward one child and another, but is it "fair" to give an introverted child who isn't needy the same amount of attention one might give an unsettled, hyper, talkative kid with the urge to collect something that costs money?

Zoom back out to the really big picture. Is it fair that in some countries education is freely available? Is it fair, in those countries, when private school is an option? Parochial school? Is it fair, within a district, that some kids get to go to cool charter schools and others don't? Is it fair that some kids don't go to school at all but get to sleep late and play on the computer?

What is "fair," and how can we answer these things (at least to ourselves and each other)?

Kurt Vonnegut wrote a story over 45 years ago called Harrison Bergeron. It's very short, and the text is here: http://www.stanford.edu/~guptaak/articles/harrison.html

It begins thus:

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
Is this what we should be seeking?

"Fair" is a very old word, meaning pleasant. Life isn't pleasant for everyone equally sometimes. Is the solution to "make it fair" by making everyone equally unhappy?

It's not an easy question. What should unschoolers do when it occurs to them? How can we couch our lives comfortably in terms of the world around us?



The images are from Equality Texas, which has an article on school bullying, and the Psychology Key Studies Website.

     

Is it fair that some kids are not exposed to school bullies and others are? And look at that grass. The ground looks NOTHING like the land around me, and neither do the sheep. Is it fair that some sheep have grass like that and some are eating desert grasses?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Topics, Ideas

I've been thinking about "topic chats" again for a while, and this might work. I'm thinking of having one topic per week, and anyone can come by and add links, suggestions, trivia or personal stories.

The ideas I have so far are

fairness [using, in part, "Harrison Bergeron" (a short story)]
wood
bass lines (in music—instrumental, vocal—bass guitar discussion?)

Marty suggested we could use thinking sticks sometimes—throw two topics and run connections. I think we might try to connect everything to whatever item, movie, story, or concept that's used. I couldn't get the blog names that would make the simplest sense, so I went with "thinking sticks." There will be links to this on my unschooling page and my blog, in case you can't remember where it is.

Respond to this post with suggestions for topics.

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