My nephew has grown up accustomed to a pattern of learning that his school is ill-prepared to serve. He is the perfect blend of his mother, a creative artist and father, a computer programmer/technician. The kid’s first word was “mouse”. He understands the artistic design of physical objects just as much as he understands the creative necessity of a certain device. He chooses what he wants to use based on what he wants to accomplish.
One would think that the adults of his life taught him these things. We did not. His dad works at least 15 hours a day and his mother spends most of her time in her shop. Most of his learning happened in isolation. My little Braeden, using the tools that he knew, taught himself with the aid of his own curiosity, a pencil, paper, his ipad and youtube. He’s been doing this since he was 4. This is his normal.
When Braeden wants to learn how to do something, he does. There are no barriers to his learning except for the occasional drop in wifi and ironically…school. There is no mechanism for curiosity during his school day. Home is where the learning happens. Whatever he envisions and wants to know more about, Braeden knows that information is only a few swipes away.
His app of choice is one called “How to Draw“. It’s an organized collection of youtube videos teaching various techniques related to sketching. Over time, the use of this app began to show in his work. He drew pictures like any other child but something was inherently changing in his creations. They began to display greater detail and maturity. They were more realistic in their texture, shading and shape. Braeden found this app because he wanted to learn how to draw faces…thus he searched the app store for it.
An interesting point to note is that he often searches youtube itself for specific art related videos and utilizes other videos that happen to appear. In other words, his art has now become a combination of several videos depending on his intent. (He just asked me to add this part. I had no idea.)
The Difference Between Home and School
Braeden is best when he is moved by what sparks his interest in lieu of having it defined. I talk a great deal about his school not meeting his needs because they don’t. He’s confined to a room, completing a school day full of repetitive worksheets. If he does get to do art, it’ll be defined for him or assigned after state testing is complete. The only technology in his classroom is the smartboard that his teacher barely understands and that he and his peers have never touched. The few student computers that are located along the side wall of his classroom will be used for AR testing. When he is allowed to go to the computer lab, it’ll be to play games and utilize math practice websites.
At school, he will never truly be allowed to share the extent of who he is.
Sharing Braeden’s story and art on social media paints a new picture. While Braeden complies with the muting of his ability that school requires, technology enables us to give him a voice. He can create videos about his art and share it with the click of a “button”. Our next step is to create a blog, a platform that will enable him to share with the world.
A wise man once told me that if I didn’t share my story someone else would. I’m teaching my nephew the same.