Lessons from the Fail Tree


This week, I was inspired by the drive and determination of Skateboarders. We went for an afternoon to play at the park with a friend and her kids. It was a bit of running around that we needed to break up this new routine of boredom from the curriculum we are currently using. As we were leaving, we decided to go check out the Skatepark on our way to the cars. They have this amazing tree where all their Epic Fails are prominently displayed for everyone to see – the boards they have broken, and the shoes that have worn out from use.

Why not display failures? They are a testament to hard work and some wicked crashes.

We are new to officially Homeschooling. We have been doing all sorts of fun educational things for years, but just recently jumped into doing it for real every day. It has not been a smooth transition. Ben was so excited about it. And then, we started doing this online thing through the school district. Basically, we were still doing traditional school, just at home, at our kitchen table, staring at a computer and doing math that was drudgery and boring and hard. We couldn’t seem to get to any of the fun stuff.

Then, we decided to skip the math from the curriculum altogether for a little bit. We needed to back up, to get some of the basics down a little better before the more complicated stuff was going to make sense. That change would allow us to get to the fun stuff.

We went through all the upcoming units for the rest of the year, and put topics on sticky notes on our big wall calendar. We wanted to see at a glance all the cool things we are going to be learning. We started building up excitement again.

Well, the fun stuff ended up being incredibly tame. What ended up being fun was the extra stuff I added – the 23 minute video of micro-organisms found in a drop of pond water… Ben could not stop saying, “Cool. Cool. That’s awesome,” with every breath for 23 minutes. It was so incredibly fascinating, and we found it because the video in the online school thing didn’t work, and was really short, and so we went looking and found this wonderful thing on YouTube, and it saved the day.

Last night, Ben looked at me with pleading eyes, and said, “Lessons online are okay, but they are Nothing Compared to what you would come up with on your own.”

My husband and I talked about it, and we are branching out into the world of Old-School Homeschool, where we are able to base lessons on interests that we have; talk about dirt-bikes and use those to discuss early vehicles in history, and what races were run before the invention of the motor.

When I told Ben, his face lit up like it usually only does at Christmas. He said his dreams had come true and he wasn’t even sure he was awake. It was too good to be true.

As we continue on this path, we will encounter probably more failures and sticky moments than I will care to admit, but there is something very encouraging about seeing all that effort, even if broken and battered, displayed with pride on the Fail Tree. At least we are trying, and we are doing it with passion and conviction and a few fleeting moments of catching air. Yes. We like the Fail Tree.

4 thoughts on “Lessons from the Fail Tree

  1. Glad I was able to spot your blog! I had not found you since the the old one. I think you will do great homeschooling, and your kids will be rich for it. They always seemed to dive into fun projects and seemed very “hands on”. Love the idea of sharing the “failures” as from those we grow!

  2. Wow – I love this. I can only imagine how tough homeschooling is. Traditional ways of learning can be so hard, but YouTube really can make learning fascinating. They have history lessons in five minutes that told me more than 10 years of sitting in a classroom listening to an unenthusiastic teacher. Good luck! And keep up the NaBloPoMo posts – I’m trying it too: http://www.leatherandabel.com

    1. It’s true! The age of YouTube can make lesson planning super fun. Today, we are learning about King Arthur and Joan of Arc, with a writing lesson involving coming up with our own Code of Chivalry. I’m so excited! Thanks for the 100th Facebook Like – and I’ll check out your blog as well.

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