Fred Ray Lybrand

Author Archives: Fred Ray Lybrand

What Should Your Child Study in College?

So, I’m going to be a lone and stupid voice…but I want to save you all the heartache in life I possibly can.

Tiringly, parents incessantly nag their kids into pursuing careers that they are suited to only mildly if it at…and mostly because of money. Now, before you think about an exception–just leave it there, it is an exception. The Grand Mistake is Pursing a Job Path in College as Your Primary Goal.

Here’s the truth—when you check it out, you find that about 85% of Americans are not in the career field they studied (for) within 10 years of graduation. Do you see the problem yet? 100 folks study hard and in 10 years only 15 of them are still in that field (surely engineers are an exception!) The reasons are likely multiple, yet understandable. Industries are dying and rising before our eyes—change-and-retooling is the climate in this increasingly face-paced world. However, another reason is even more likely— most people find out they basically HATE the field they study for! They were young, they looked at where the money was, and they didn’t give ‘what do I want to do / what do I love?’ a second thought.

That’s too bad.

Here’s a different viewpoint. Go get EDUCATED, don’t go get an EDUCATION. What I mean here is something to do with developing a particular skill. The skill is simply ‘learning how to learn’. Just think about it. If you can teach yourself anything then you are ready for everything. Need to retool? No problem. Need to advance your career by learning something? No big deal.

The point of education should really be to learn how to learn. Learning how to learn is the traditional idea behind ‘Liberal Arts’. The word ‘liberal’ in education used to be connected to the words liberty and freedom. Once you have learned how to learn, then you are free to pursue whatever you’d like.

May I tell you the big secret about ‘what to study’–it doesn’t matter. OK, maybe if you are going to be an engineer it will, but for most other things it really doesn’t matter. If your child will study something he loves in college, then he is likely to do pretty well at it…which means he has a shot at learning how to learn (because he was successful). It’s even better if he has the goal of learning how to learn in the curriculum he chooses.

My dad wisely told me to study English (we thought I was going to be a lawyer) because, as he said, if you can read and write you can learn and communicate. What more do you need? Exactly!

My son, Tripp, finished at the University of Texas (Austin) with a degree in Studio Art. People used to ask me ‘what can you do with that’? Nevermind they cool ways artists are used in the design businesses… I simply told them that he loves it and has a goal of learning, not a goal of a particular job. Also, if you learn how to take nothing (blank canvass) and make something (painting)….well, that seems like a pretty sweet skill for the rest of your life. Currently he has been employed to study public policy issues and map the causal loops in systems-dynamics presentations. He’s thinking next is seminary and a Phd across the pond. Not exactly Studio Art (though he has sold a number of paintings).

Again, what does that have to do with art? You’d be surprised! He has learned how to learn.

Focus on learning the skill of learning…you’ll be surprised how valuable (and FUN) that path will become for your student and your life.

Blessings,

Fred Lybrand

………………….

And Jody Added:

I love Fred’s post here. I will confess, when Tripp first wanted to study art I was a bit hesitant. But Fred is right, it is about learning to learn. Tripp has really done well in his job and has very high praises from his boss on how quickly he learns.I was just reading a book on how so many people are so unhappy in the field of work they are in. This book was telling of the importance of finding out what you love, what your good at, what is fulling to you. Not, what jobs are really hot now, what does the family want me to study, what field makes the most money…
Thanks Fred,
Jody

What Get’s Rewarded Gets Done

Maybe what you don’t like happening is your fault. Maybe you are encouraging the wrong
things in your life. Success is clearly about communication, and we communicate
in many subtle ways. It may just simply be that you are communicating to others
that you want THE OPPOSITE of what you really want.

Just ask, “How am I encouraging ______________________?”

What does you mind tell you ?

Great…now think about how to encourage something different. If you only have
creeps coming up and talking to you, change what you are wearing (or where you
go). If only marginal people apply for the job, change the amount you’ll pay and
where you look for employees.

You may get the idea…but you won’t learn it until you practice it!

Blessings,

Fred Ray Lybrand

Thoughts (below)?

Don’t Teach Math Too Soon (Lighten Up)

teacher math helpAgain, learning math early is NOT the key. Besides proof with our own 5 kids (Brooks just made an 800 on the math section in his SAT and didn’t start math AT ALL until 8 years old), just look at what the Finnish schools do (sounds a lot like homeschooling as you read the whole list…except a few twists). Finland ranks #1 and USA ranks #23 (lots of reasons for this). The following article suggests a few things. MY APPEAL is to LIGHTEN UP about MATH until they are 7 or 8 (or 9). At 4-6 years old, just use math around them, teach them to read, and rote-learn math facts (actually I question whether or not this is really worthwhile that young).

Finland:

The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).

Here are a few points-

Students have light homework loads.
Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.
Finland uses very little standardized testing.
Children do not start school until age 7…
Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.
…more at…http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/1075-u-s-students-compare.gs

All I’m pointing out is that the Finnish world thinks:

1. All children need to learn math
2. You get help for kids who need it
3. Focus on learning and to be more well rounded…don’t obsess on grades.

I’m not saying we should be like Finland. I’m saying that homeschoolers (and the schools) have terrific opportunity. Finland shows that even if you do some odd things (socialization)…ALL kids can still learn

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

Have you been thinking about homeschooling?  Want to avoid the homeschooling mistakes most people make?  Below you’ll find what we’ve discovered from homeschooling our 5 children from birth to college.

In 1987 homeschooling was just as newborn as our first child.  We looked at homeschooling for a number of reasons which were mostly related to our academic goals.  And yet, our first child’s Cerebral Palsy tipped the scales.  The simple nature of having a young and impressionable soul around active and undiscerning ‘friends’ made it clear that we should homeschool..  We really didn’t want our son settling into confusion about what he was capable of doing.  So, we decided to give it a try until he was old enough to physically function well around others who were his age, but weren’t his friends.  We thought it would be through third grade—it lasted until he went to the University of Texas in Austin.

Now, these 25+ years later, we know seven things that we make sure all of our homeschool coaching students start to understand–inside and out.  If you want a successful homeschool embrace these seven (or violate any of these at your own risk)!

  1. Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

  2. Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

  3. Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

  4. Find a Support Group(s) or Network

  5. Learn to Use Systems for Success

  6. Make Discipline a Nice Word

  7. Find a Coach

Here’s a quick summary to get you started:

Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

Definitions determine everything.  If your definition of “learning math” is to ‘get through the book’—then things will turn out very different from the family whose definition is to “learn how to do math.”  The definition for homeschooling success that we use is our basic understanding of education.  Education is learning how to learn.  We want our students to develop skills for learning so they are prepared for anything.  How sad when people think knowing information means education…especially when information changes and your are obsolete because you didn’t keep learning.

Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

There are as many curricula as there are people (so it seems).  Every curriculum is build on some set of assumptions or educational philosophy.  Some writing curricula believe (falsely) that we learn to write by studying grammar, while others show the students the power of learning to write by actively writing (for example see http:www.advanced-writing-resources.com).  Whatever the curriculum for whatever subject—make sure it matches your own definition so you aren’t caught wanting one result while using a process that takes you in the opposite direction.

Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

One of the great mistakes is to compete with schools.  A homeschool does not have large buildings, massive funding, and a variety of specialized teachers.  So, trying to produce the results they aim for will simply exhaust you.  Homeschool can actually produce greater skill and knowledge, but trying to match all the subjects a school offers is chasing the wind.  By the way, the students aren’t always leaving a school system as educated as you think!

Find a Support Group(s) or Network

It is the height of arrogance and the height of inefficiency to go it alone.  Why not benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of others?  Why not let others benefit from the insights you’ve gained along the way?  There are groups online, groups in your part of the world, or groups just waiting to be started by you and a few like-minded families.  You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around…so get busy and connect for your own good.

Learn to Use Systems for Success

One of the great insights in life is how things operate by cause-and-effect.   Good cooks can reproduce the same quality meal over-and-over because they follow some type of system (recipe).  The practical results you see in life are largely the result of the systems we use.  Homeschooling itself is a ‘different system’ of education which is aimed at a bit different result (included the character, sense of family, etc., it often affords).  If you don’t have an overall sequence of steps you are moving toward following, then you can rest assured your results will be as shoddy as your system.

Make Discipline a Nice Word

One of my favorite mentors, Robert Fritz, offers a helpful definition of discipline: “Discipline is when you itch, but don’t scratch.”  The truth is that some amount of discipline is necessary for learning.  Very few children naturally gravitate to wanting to learn in all the areas important to education.  It turns out then, that we must help them do what they don’t “feel” like doing, so they can ultimately benefit.  External discipline tends to lead to life-long internal discipline.  We all need help doing what needs to be done.  Homeschool (or any school) simply won’t work without making discipline a nice word which is practiced often.

Find a Coach / Mentor

In many ways it is the ultimate hypocrisy to ‘tutor’ our own children without having a ‘tutor’ for ourselves.  There is something powerful when we discuss, interact with, and learn from someone who is ahead of us in any field.  Sports training knows the value of coaches because the competition and economics involved are so great.  Without a coach you can’t compete.  If you find a voice or two you trust, a person or two whose results you want to see in your life— find them, pay them, beg them to coach you.  Nothing will save you more time and heartache than to learn from someone with wisdom.

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So Why Don’t We Finish the Books We Start?

So, I’m sitting here at my desk and I’m looking around my office of about 1400 books (another few thousand) are in the garage in boxes (yes, it is possible that I have an addiction).

book.chair

As I look at them, I realize that some of them I have never read and some of them I have read two or three times. Why would I buy a book and not read it? Why, in fact, would you buy a book (Kindle counts) and not read it? The answer is really simple…it isn’t interesting to you. I know you have been thinking it is about discipline, but why in the world would you be obligated to read a book just because you bought it?

Well, Dr. Lybrand, it’s a waste if we don’t read books we buy. Really? I’m thinking many of us would be better off intellectually if we had skipped Twilight (even if we bought it). Also, you don’t think it is a waste to not watch every show on TV/Cable, etc. [if that’s your thing], do you?

Most of us haven’t come to grips with a reality about our reading— if the book isn’t worth reading to you, then don’t read it (not saying the kids shouldn’t read their school books!). I came to realize many years ago that NOT EVERY WORD in a book is equally important. I also noticed that once I got what I wanted from a book, I couldn’t find a good reason to finish it.

So, as I pondered the issue of reading I realized that one of my biggest issues was that I wanted to be able to tell someone who asked me that I had read it. Really? Yep, that was me. So, as I thought a little more, I realized two things:

1. What I really wanted from the book was what I really wanted from the book
2. It was a waste of time and energy to try and make myself read something that I didn’t really care about

Ah! All I needed was a way to describe what I did with books, so I borrowed a term from the pirate lore:

I PLUNDER BOOKS

“Have you read this book?” they ask. “Even better, I plundered it.” I answer. This leads to a conversation about how pirates would go onto a ship and remove the treasures and leave the junk. That is what I aim to do with a book. I want to grab the treasure and leave the junk. Now, sometimes that means I read a book SEVERAL TIMES in order to plunder it. Sometimes the treasure is dense in a chapter or two, so I plunder again until I get every gem.

I think this approach to reading allows me to understand and recall a lot more than most folks because I’m not wading through a cargo hold of salty water and ruined packages.

Why don’t you give it a try? Take a book on your list or shelf and give it a plunder. Plan to ONLY READ the stuff you find fascinating and valuable; in fact, read some of that twice! You might just be amazed at what happens! Oh, and if it works and you are chatting about plundering at a dinner engagements…please give me some credit! 😉

Off to learn,
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.
Fred Ray Lybrand
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P.S. You could plunder my book on getting more done: The One Success Habit (You Can’t Do Without). It’s on sale in Kindle and comes with a link to a free workbook. CLICK HERE

 

Writing: The Secret Way to Calm Your Argumentative Kid

Everyone likes to argue, especially when they get to be about 12 years old.

“No, Dr. Lybrand, I have a quiet 12-year-old.” Well, maybe you have the exception, but something is wrong. Quiet people just argue in their heads, while other-than-quiet-people argue out in the ether.

Plain Fact #1

Arguing is thinking. It is natural for humans to think, and debating an issue or question through is a keen way to think. You really don’t want to crush the talent for thinking in anyone…especially because learning how to think means they’ll have very little competition at work someday 😉

Plain Fact #2

Arguing is a developmental stage for humans which matches the design of the brain. In classical educational understanding (Trivium), the game works roughly like this—

1. Grammar/Data Stage (ages 1-10)
2. Logic/Thinking Stage (ages 11 -15)
3. Rhetoric/Communication Stage (ages 16-21)

It works out that every subject you learn in life follows this form. You must understand the parts (Data), then understand how the parts fit together (Logic), before you can then use your understanding with others (Rhetoric/Communication).

So, having a child who likes to argue (or an employee who does the same) isn’t bad, but it needs some direction. This energy easily moves into writing, because WRITING IS THINKING. Here’s the simple thing you can do when a child gets animated about a subject or issue [our kids often preceded their argument with “They’re idiots…” We never consistently conquered this ungracious expression of frustration ;-( ].

Here’s what I recommend when you get your child to write about the issue that is frustrating them (the issue they are trying to think through):

1. Ask them to answer this question, “Why are you so sure that _________?

Asking for them to explain why they are sure means they’ll need to generate evidence (proof in data or proof in logic, or both). When we express the basis of our conviction in terms of evidence, we often see the flaws ourselves. It is SO FUN to watch a child figure out their own bad thinking!

2. Ask them to explain exactly why the other side thinks the way they do.

Frankly, if you can’t argue both sides, then you don’t understand the issue. This is, in part, what the court system was intended to do…give the best argument both ways for a judge/jury to impartially decide (comment: sadly in court, ‘winning’ became more important than ‘truth’).

So, have your debater write using these two essentials. Even better, have the paper read and discussed together at supper or over ice cream. Everyone will benefit! Also, as a final thought, when your child is arguing with you about what he/she does/doesn’t want to do, these points will work well for you. Just ask (for example):

1. Why are you so sure that I’m wrong to (require you to clean your room before you go out)?
2. What are the reasons you think (I want you to clean your room before you go out)?

It’s not a cure-all, but it will be a big deal as they grow that you direct their unction for arguing! Also, you’ll at least help them become a GOOD lawyer!

Off to learn,

 

Fred Ray Lybrand
The Writing Course Works

 

What If Your Kids Don’t Like Your Homeschool Curriculum?

Ruin your writing

In one of the FB Groups I visit someone asked about how long it takes for kids to like the curriculum. It’s a great question, and we found some liked it faster (and more) than others did. However, it strikes me that the ‘liking part’ can be an issue. So, I’m relaying my thoughts here: My first response:

We never asked, “Do they like it?” We asked, “Are they learning how to learn?”

My elaboration:

I guess our kids never liked it. They thought of school as something they were to do (like baths and feeding the dogs). We built in things they would like…for example, if they worked hard they could get off school sooner. They liked the surprise that came when a book was good, and they like finishing a book that wasn’t so great. They liked family, and playtime, and vacations, and music lessons; and, they liked our Bible Studies and their friends from church and scouts.

But today? They all LOVE what we did as a family with schooling. They all see that their life is on a good course with The Lord and their ability to learn is secure and improving still. They LOVE that we were an RC family (with tweaks). They LOVE that they can do their work in college (and beyond) and not struggle with not enjoying the hard parts of learning. Learning is now important to them, the process is no longer an issue.

The Bottom Line: The process was liked OK because we keep the End Result in view. We kept sharing a vision for college and life so they could focus on Reading/Writing/Math on a daily basis.


More of the story for anyone interested:


How We Homeschooled (4 Video Lessons)


Off to learn,

 

Fred Ray Lybrand

What Makes a Good Speller?

spelling

Good spellers don’t guess at how to spell a word. Badd spelers guess all the time. Good spellers who don’t guess look up the word, use a spell-checker, or use a different word. If they are not sure, they don’t write it (unless they are time/test constrained).

As homeschool home educators, the reason we focus primarily on teaching our kids to ‘not guess’ AND to learn by rote the words they consistently misspell (made their own list and had them practice them) are five-fold:

1. Guessing is the problem
2. The common words they misspell, once learned, solve 90% of the issue for life.
3. Spelling is too fluid (changing) to have real ‘rules’…exceptions are the rule: counselor (U.S.) vs. counsellor (entire rest of the world). The second spelling follows the rule, the first follows our American bent to be more efficient/lazy (drop a letter).
4. Non-guessers will use spell checkers properly, look it up, and be grateful to those who correct them.
5. People who ‘just guess’ won’t learn the rules anyway except under threat/pain…then they won’t use them because ‘guessing’ is OK.

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
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We Start Books & Don’t Finish Them…Why?

So, I’m sitting here at my desk and I’m looking around my office of about 1400 books (another few thousand) are in the garage in boxes (yes, it is possible that I have an addiction). It’s all much neater now!

book.chair

As I look at them, I realize that some of them I have never read and some of them I have read two or three times. Why would I buy a book and not read it? Why, in fact, would you buy a book (Kindle counts) and not read it? The answer is really simple…it isn’t interesting to you. I know you have been thinking it is about discipline, but why in the world would you be obligated to read a book just because you bought it?

Well, Dr. Lybrand, it’s a waste if we don’t read books we buy. Really? I’m thinking many of us would be better off intellectually if we had skipped Twilight (even if we bought it). Also, you don’t think it is a waste to not watch every show on TV/Cable, etc. [if that’s your thing], do you?

Most of us haven’t come to grips with a reality about our reading— if the book isn’t worth reading to you, then don’t read it (not saying the kids shouldn’t read their school books!). I came to realize many years ago that NOT EVERY WORD in a book is equally important. I also noticed that once I got what I wanted from a book, I couldn’t find a good reason to finish it.

So, as I pondered the issue of reading I realized that one of my biggest issues was that I wanted to be able to tell someone who asked me that I had read it. Really? Yep, that was me. So, as I thought a little more, I realized two things:

1. What I really wanted from the book was what I really wanted from the book
2. It was a waste of time and energy to try and make myself read something that I didn’t really care about

Ah! All I needed was a way to describe what I did with books, so I borrowed a term from the pirate lore:

I PLUNDER BOOKS

“Have you read this book?” they ask. “Even better, I plundered it.” I answer. This leads to a conversation about how pirates would go onto a ship and remove the treasures and leave the junk. That is what I aim to do with a book. I want to grab the treasure and leave the junk. Now, sometimes that means I read a book SEVERAL TIMES in order to plunder it. Sometimes the treasure is dense in a chapter or two, so I plunder again until I get every gem.

I think this approach to reading allows me to understand and recall a lot more than most folks because I’m not wading through a cargo hold of salty water and ruined packages.

Why don’t you give it a try? Take a book on your list or shelf and give it a plunder. Plan to ONLY READ the stuff you find fascinating and valuable; in fact, read some of that twice! You might just be amazed at what happens! Oh, and if it works and you are chatting about plundering at a dinner engagements…please give me some credit! 😉

Off to learn,
.
.
Fred Ray Lybrand
.
P.S. You could plunder my book on getting more done: The One Success Habit (You Can’t Do Without). It’s on sale in Kindle and comes with a link to a free workbook. CLICK HERE