DIY home page, DIY learning

November 14, 2011

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So I have a new home page. Maybe you’ve seen it? You can check it out here, or by clicking about me in the menu above my header.

The home page is at patriciazaballos.com, where the blog used to live. The blog now gets moved next door to patriciazaballos.com/blog. I’ve been assured that the change shouldn’t effect my blog feed, meaning that if you subscribe via email or RSS feed, you should receive updates as usual. Hope so. Please let me know if it’s not working out for you. Resubscribing may be necessary.

Apparently I’ve become something of a code geek. Not that I know much, but I’ve definitely learned to speak a little PHP and CSS in the two months I’ve spent redesigning the blog, and setting up that home page. I thought that the home page would be fairly easy to put together, but it took even longer than the blog redesign, simply because I had to really tweak the blog template to make the page look as I wanted it to. Do you have any idea how complicated it was to set up those buttons linking to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr? I could tell you a whole story populated with image sprites and sprite generators and Firebug menu item numbers. But one sentence is boring enough–suffice to say that those cute little buttons took about three hours of my life.

Perhaps I’m a slow learner. Nevertheless, the whole endeavor brings us to the topic of do-it-yourself learning.

My home page isn’t just DIY in design; it’s DIY in content. Which has me thinking.

The page is, I suppose, an attempt at professionalizing what I’m doing these days. I used to be a credentialed professional, but my teaching credential is long lapsed and honestly, my teacher training has very little effect on my current life as a homeschooling parent. Less and less as time goes on.

Instead, I’ve been working towards my own goals, outside of institutions and without credentials to prove my accomplishments. Is it audacious of me to assert myself as a writer when I’ve only had a few pieces published? Does the fact that I was paid for some of those pieces make me a professional? If I’d spent two years earning an MFA in Creative Writing, would that earn me more respect than the twenty years I’ve spent studying writing on my own? Does it make a difference that I write in some fashion most days, that I think and read and look at the world through the lens of a writer?

I’ve also begun listing my speaking engagements on that page. I’ve been paid for some of those engagements, but not all. Does that make me a professional speaker? I’m likely hired, in part, due to my  yellowing teaching credential, although what I speak about has little to do with my experiences as a credentialed teacher. Instead, I speak about what I’ve learned from my kids in our lives as homeschoolers, and my own research, and my own experiences as a writer. A quasi-professional writer.

It’s a home page mostly based on my own DIY learning, and that feels a little cheeky of me. But at the same time, what kind of a homeschooler would I be if I didn’t value DIY learning? Do I think my kids are lesser learners because they spent most of their childhoods learning outside institutions? Absolutely not! I think they’re learners in the truest sense of the word. Their DIY learning has had a profound effect on who they are as people, and it certainly hasn’t hindered them when they’ve chosen more traditional, institutional learning for themselves.

I believe in DIY learning for my kids, and I believe in it for myself. I can’t really confer on myself a credential or a degree, I suppose, but I can make myself a home page! I can announce to the world what I’ve been doing and where I’m headed.

And that’s what my little home page is all about.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

renee @ FIMBY November 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

Love your homepage and wonderfarm remodels. Very, very nice.

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patricia November 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Thanks so much, Renee! Actually, your blog served as inspiration in my redesign! I admire how well you’ve organized all of your posts and interests, and how accessible you’ve made everything for your readers. Yours is one of the best-organized blogs I’ve seen. I’d love to set up an archive of links like you have, one of these days.

I’ve always been curious: did you design your blog on your own? (Apologies if you’ve already written about that–I’m fairly new to FIMBY.)

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Lise November 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

Fabulous. And of course you should say you are those things; you are!

I lost my teaching certification because I wasn’t interested in getting a master’s degree just to go through their hoops–I was educating myself in ways that were much more meaningful to me, and documented it all thoroughly, but the dept. of ed. didn’t have enough employees to actually look at the documentation they’d asked me to put together, so they just wanted me to check the “got a master’s degree” box and be done with it.

Oh, well. I started my own early childhood program with families who appreciate what I’ve taught myself! I think we just have to create our own credentials. You did so beautifully.

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patricia November 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Ridiculous that the dept of ed. didn’t recognize your documentation, Lise! I went through something similar myself: I renewed my credential twice during our early years of homeschooling, but had to earn a certain number of hours of “professional development” each time. Finally I realized that the professional development I was doing for myself just wasn’t going to cut it for credential renewal, and I let the thing lapse. Was I continuing to develop professionally? Yes! Just not in a way the credentialers would recognize.

I’m glad you’ve found families who appreciate your self-created credentials!

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Heather November 20, 2011 at 7:11 am

I think DIY learning is learning. As a fellow homeschooler that is the only can our family pursues. Granted we do take a few classes here and there, but I think truly following your interests and passions fuels all types of educational pursuits and leads to much more happiness along the way.

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patricia November 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

DIY learning is the best kind of learning, isn’t it, Heather? It’s easy for me to see that for my kids, but sometimes harder for me to see it for myself.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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