On documentation

Today was wonderful. After spending the morning with the kids and some friends I got the rest of the day to myself to plug away at my preparations for the start of the semester. I was excited to see that the first email from the PBH Master Class had arrived (PBH = Project-Based Homeschooling.) I read the email in full– getting more excited as I went along.

The focus this week is on documentation. And perhaps not so oddly, that is most certainly one of the topics of great concerns for the grads I am working with this semester. The email was really focused on process (another love of mine)– specifically observational writing, photography and video. But all this in the context of journaling. Of course, that always brings to mind a lonely teenager writing poems at her bedside (been there done that.) But this is, in many ways, a tool for orientation– for reflection. And I know how valuable it can be from the perspective as a designer. And it is certainly something I am excited to be more rigorous about.

What I never considered before and really learned today was the value it brings in the PBH context. As a parent, observing and journaling becomes a tool for encouraging. Lori (from PBH) writes:

Using your journal sends a whole series of messages to your child without your ever needing to say them out loud:

Their work is important and worthy of attention and support.
You are investing time and energy in them.
You are working on yourself.
You are using a tool to help you focus, remember, and plan.
You are paying attention.
You think it’s important to remember questions, plans, and ideas.

And so on. Without you explicitly saying anything, your child picks up on the fact that you care about the work she’s doing:

My family thinks I’m important.
My work is important.
My opinions and my ideas are important.
They think so, and now, so do I.

This is so terribly valuable for me. It feels so liberating– this way of being with my kids. Not as an entertainer, not as a teacher. But that my work is the work of supporting them. And that I take it seriously. And when I take it seriously, they will too.

So after I scanned the email I headed over to the PBH forum. There are two posts in our dedicated class space. I’ve only got through one because I am brimming with ideas. The most profound is that PBH and the Reggio approach are so closed tied to Design Thinking (one of my other works in the world)– it just is astounding. I knew that on a surface level, but once I started diving deeper– it was mind blowing. I have had experiences before where I’ve learned something from a practitioner who works with children– only to have the realization that the methods are also highly effective with adults. It seems to be the same case here. The tools and the methods of PBH and the Reggio approach will be incredibly value to me when I enter a classroom with Design Graduate Students at the end of this week. And I am so excited to share what I am learning with them!

On a final note, I love that we are already practicing some of the tools of PBH. Just today D was talking about how he wanted to learn everything he could about Ninja’s. I nudged him to articulate some of his questions as he was headed out the door. As he spoke, I wrote his questions down on the chalk board so we could explore them more closely another time. He also asked me to write a reminder and go tape it to his bed reading: “D wants to be a Ninja.” Ya know– in case he forgets. (See images)

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Last, I am posting this amazing 15 minute documentary on Documentation in the Reggio School. It was one of the things shared on the PBH forum today. So excellent!

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