- Influences -
People who have influenced my forming ideas about being alive on this
Earth and about how to set up learning opportunities. In the order of their coming into my life - - either personal
acquaintance or when I read their writings.
Charisma Madson Lindberg. My mother, from whom I soaked up instincts for who children are. Can fly airplanes. Could have become an opera singer, but decided to have a family instead. At one point had 5 kids age 5 years down to newborn. As soon as her youngest child was in kindergarten, picked up where she had left off after freshman year in college. Over the next decade, proceeded to earn a Bachelors Degree, Masters Degree, and Ph.D. - - in the study of how people, especially the young ones, learn and grow. A natural teacher. My model for a Community Learning Center's ideal Resource Navigator. And also model for an ideal field trip leader; knows how to go to a county or state or worlds fair and really do it up right. At age 73 went with backpack to Rome and Florence, stayed in cozy convents.
Mildred Romundstad Madson. My grandmother, born in 1897. Went to school up through the 8th grade at their rural Wisconsin farming community's one-room schoolhouse, where her older cousin was their teacher. When she lived with our family farm when I was young, would instigate large-scale projects in a way that was right up my alley, e.g., going all-out washing the outsides of all of the windows of the house, complete with ladders, buckets of water, and lots of rags. My grandma loved being outdoors enjoying our beautiful Earth, and she and my grandpa were ecologists before the term was ever coined. She was also a great walker, and liked hiking with us kids back to the old apple orchard on our farm to find fallen branches to haul back for firewood. She was in her mid- and late-60's at the time, but gamely climbed over the big gate along with us youngsters, keeping right up with us. In my young adult years in Milwaukee in the 1970's, I frequently visited her in her country town of Strum in northern Wisconsin. The first Spring we brought her to visit her grandparents house out in the country outside of town, she hadn't been up close for years, and was eager to go look inside of the now-abandoned farmhouse. It is inside of a fenced pasture now, and we had to climb over a gate to get in. She was in her late 70's by then, but again gamely clambered up and over. At the house she encouraged us in our attempts at "breaking and entering." Whenever we went on walks together, Grandma, ever the believer in fresh air, would exhort us, "Breathe deeply of the good country air; back down where you live in the city, the air isn't clean and fresh like it is up here, you know."
Genie and Irwin Fellows. Country neighbors of our family in Delaware County, Ohio. Advocates of user-designed-and-built structures. Parents of my friend Joy with whom I backpacked and hitched around Europe the summer of 1970 after I finished high school. In the Summer of 1968, I first visited Joy at her family's house which her parents had designed and built themselves, and I was dumbstruck. I walked around and around in it, trying to take it all in, and decided I never could find an end to partaking in its lovely places to read, cook, eat, sew, grow plants, work on building projects, meander around, hang out, take in the views, etc. Their house reflected its creators' view that one can create ones own environment to suite one own personal needs and desires. Their place - -along with Westerville, Ohoi's amazing Japanese Tea House my 7th grade class visited on a field trip - - significantly influenced my awakening interest in architecture, leading to my later decision to go to architecture school.
Ted and Sandy Scheick. Country neighbors of our family in Delaware County, Ohio. For whom I worked as an apprentice artist-craftsperson in my teen years in the late 1960's. They were both math professors at Ohio State and had a little girl. On weekends and in summers, they pursued their interest in arts and crafts, and had need of an assistant : me. They welcomed me into their home and into their lives, and gave me a glimpse of a world far different from what I was used to in my world of standard high school. They didn't watch TV, and the deliveries of newspapers lay in scatterings in their driveway; they had too many interesting activities to pursue, which I helped them with : adventuring into the woods to pick berries for making into wine, doing leather-furniture making, costume design and creation, candle making (both poured and dipped), organic gardening, food putting-up from their garden; and organic gourmet cooking where we made everything from scratch: bread, cakes, cookies, fruit cakes, and main dishes from exotic locales. While doing these things, we talked about art, philosophy, books, the condition of the nation and world, what I wanted to do with my life, guys, my upcoming backpacking trip to Europe, etc. They acknowledged and affirmed a part of myself for which I was starvingly hungry. For the experience of these privileges, I accepted wages. I remain friends with this family more than three decades later.
Donna Krile Boylan. My high school senior-class English teacher, Olentangy High School, rural Delaware County, Ohio, 1969-1970. The position of senior-class English teacher at any high school is always a challenge, and in my senior year, we were getting a new one. In fact a brand new one : a greenhorn fresh out of college and only 4 years older than us, having gone to summer school each year to do 4 years in 3. "Hmm," everyone thought, "how is this going to play out?" The first day of school, she came into class -- all 5 ft 2" of her - - and announced resolutely without batting an eyelash, "OK : this is what we are going to do this year, and this is what I expect of you, etc., etc." There wasn't an inappropriate peep out of anyone that day in any of her classes - - even from the big, brash 6'4" guys - - nor over the course of that entire year. When she was sick, we hated having substitutes, and couldn't wait until she came back and they left, taking their judgmental moralism with them. I had "finished" with high school in the summer before my junior year, and was doing major suffering til I could graduate and be out of there. As a part of this chafing, I would write Donna long thought essays, and she would thoughtfully comment back to me on them. She and I remain friends to this day.
Dave Morgan, Student-Teacher in Spanish at Olentangy High School, his senior year at Ohio Weslyan University, Delaware, Ohio.
Duncan Work. My brilliant Scotsman, my life partner and colleague since Fall 1970. He moved into the student rooming house where I was living in Lawrence, Kansas the fall I returned from being in Europe the summer I was 18. We started making dinner together, going to events and doing pretty much everything together -- such a great way to get to know someone. I fell in love with him because he was the first person who asked me good questions about what it was like for me being in Europe. How did he and I know - - all those years ago barely out of our childhoods - - that we had such similar worldviews and desires for how we wanted ideal human systems to be? And that these desires would lead both of us to help create - - each in our own area - - the non-archic model we think humanity needs to offer the best we are capable. Designer of Net Deva, a Web-based tool for building human connections : a browser and broker for developing extended human networks based on mutual trust and value. Musician and flute player extraordinairre, father of the wonderful Matthew, he and I have spent over a third of a century growing up together. I owe him more than I ever could possibly say.
Marjorie Gill, Lady Allen of Hurtwood. Author of Planning for Play (1968) and Memoirs of an Uneducated Lady (1975). I discovered her work in 1978 while working on the Children's Environments Project at UW-Milwaukee's Architecture Research Center. Born 1897 in England. Activist, advocate, and champion of children's rights and developmental needs - - WWII orphans, handicapped children, all children. Among the founders of the British Adventure Playground Association. Attended the Bedales School 1910-1916, about which she wrote in her Memoirs, "I left…in August 1916, and I have remained grateful to Bedales ever since. …For all children, life should be, as it was for me, a continuous celebration, free from the pressures which can do irreparable damage to their self-esteem. ". Lady Allen, Guardian Spirit of children's learning and play, of growing up happy.
Ursula LeGuin. Author of The Dispossessed (1974). For the approach to learning reflected in this paper, and in general for ideas on the individual's role in creating an ideal society. I first read this book in the Summer of 1980 on an island in northern Lake Michigan, and since then, I have read it numerous times more ; Ursula's lovely ideas in this work have put it on my permanent list of personal favorites. Her message in this book : being a part of a revolutionary society means that one must constantly BE the revolution - - because there is never a permanent guarantee of intellectual freedom. Therefore, one must always be on the alert for any threats of custom ever becoming used to maintain and extend power, or else everyone's hard work will devolve into a yet-one-more-valiant-but-faded-attempt at making our world a more joyful and good place to be alive.
Matthew Lindberg-Work - - Duncan's and my son. Loud and clear I heard him calling me in the summer of 1980, and was born on May 15, 1981. When he was about 6 months old and had just learned to crawl, one day he saw some small, visible-to-only-him, highly desirable object on our kitchen floor. With a look of non-disuadable curiosity and determination, he scooted over to it, grabbed it up in his hand, and thoroughly investigated it. "Matthew is going to be an explorer ! " Duncan exclaimed delightedly. An explorer he has indeed become - - in many realms. When he was less than one year old, his UW-M preschool teacher introduced him to a newly entering family, saying, "This is Matthew, one of our best students because he likes doing everything." Since he was a young teenager, his passion has been participating in creating the system of hiking trails for this country, and began by working with the Appalachian Trail and the National Parks. He is our family's personal walking encyclopedia in an astonishingly wide range of subjects. It is from him that I learned that the role of learning is in forming a person's relationship and approach to Life, to being alive on this Earth. I think the best things Duncan and I have given him is our own personal approaches to living. One of the ways we did that was to offer him 10 years of self-directed learning opportunities. Over the years of knowing him, we have gotten to watch how he takes on the great task of creating his own approach to what Life on this Earth is about, finding his own unique paths of expression in this world.
Georgia Houle. Author of Designing Learning Centers for Young Children (1984,1987). I first discovered her work in 1985, and was immediately entranced. Later, I had the great honor of being invited to review and comment on her manuscript for an upcoming revised edition of this book. Shining out from every page of this beautiful little guide is her love for and understanding of children's hearts and minds, and of the physical settings, tools, and emotional nurturing they need to grow and thrive.
Rima Faber. Dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, founder & director of The Primary Movers Dance Company, Washington, D.C. Our son Matthew had the very great fortune to study dance with her for five years, 1987-1992, age 7-12. Rima has an innate, wonderful sense of what it means to teach, which, as I have written in this treatise, is about how to assist in forming a person's relationship and approach to Life. I got to see how she perfectly channels exuberance into discipline, training these young dancers in the vocabulary and power of interpretive dramatic dance. She brought out qualities and abilities in her students - - both as individual dancers and as members of an ensemble - - they didn't know they possessed. In a radio interview she was once asked what she would advise parents to do to help their children develop a sense of the relationship of their bodies to space and movement. She replied, "Tell them to get rid of their furniture ! ! "
Lynda Bell. NASA geophysicist, dream-come-true science teacher. A real-life, living-breathing environmentalist who uses as classrooms the porches, fields, and woods surrounding her home. Who refers to the young people who come to her classes - - among whom was Matthew for three years, 1996-99 through his senior year of high school - - as "all my lovely students." A teacher who asks for and gets the best in her students, not so they can win awards, but rather so they can really dig into, learn about, and enjoy the subject matter. And they win awards anyway. An outstanding example of how someone can give of oneself to others through teaching about a field of study and about life in general - - in her case both are well-embraced and well-loved. Though no longer my son's teacher, she remains my dear friend and colleague.