3 Important Facts About Slow-Readers

Everything I'm about to say will seem ridiculously absurd to a lot of people, especially those in education who honestly aren't that smart (or educated). Home educators have a decided advantage since they are not interested in a 'percentage' of students graduating from home college and life ready. For most homeschool families it's 100%...we just aim for every student to succeed.

​So, seriously?...

Half of Florida’s high school grads can’t read at grade level


The Literacy Project Foundation says…

  • In a study of literacy among 20 ‘high income’ countries; US ranked 12th
  • Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children
  • 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level
  • 45 million are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level
  • 44% of the American adults do not read a book in a year
  • 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year
  • http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/community/statistics/

Even if these statistics are dated, we know that things aren't any better. The simple fact is that educators either don't know what they are doing OR they are unable to do what they need to do because of the constraints in the system.

My simple premise as an educator and the father of 5 Fine Readers is that we have missed the point that COMPREHENSION is actually all that matters. Take a moment and ponder: Does it really matter how fast or slow your child reads if she can't understand the content?


[Slow readers are just readers who are subject to the same bits of reality we all must face]

1. Reading Speed is Limited (no matter what)

2. Comprehension Speed is the REAL Issue

3. Once the Brain is 'Hooked Up Right' - Comprehension is a Breeze

Reading Speed is Limited (no matter what)

Having taken over 1/2 dozen speed-reading courses, I can assure you that actual speeds are limited by physiology. Just like talking has limits that run a range between fast-and-slow talkers. You can take a course in talking faster (I guess), but the REAL ISSUE is what you say 😉 This is the same game with speed-reading; as speeds increase then comprehension will diminish. At one time I tested out at 1600 words a minute with an 80% comprehension rate...which means I would barely make a "B" four times faster. Here's a good explanation if you want to learn more: http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2015/01/19/speed-reading-redo/

Comprehension Speed is the REAL Issue

The honest issue is comprehension speed. If your child is reading slow it is most likely because he is not understanding what he is reading. That's where reading things over-and-over comes in to the story. Plus, vocabulary, reading way too slowly, learning challenges, lack of focus, etc., come into play. The real focus every home educator should have (and public/private educator as well) is, "Do you understand what you are reading?" If they don't understand it, then they are just swooshing their eyes over the words.

Once the Brain is 'Hooked Up Right' - Comprehension is a Breeze

While we all have an instinct for language, it is rather easy to not understand what's going on. Haven't you misunderstood someone's point (or a joke's punchline) before? The reason we often miss these things is that we have some other story line bumping along in our heads. We mistake words and then create some other story about what was said. Usually this is about poor habits or skills in putting together the information.

We have found that there are Three Stages in Comprehension:

1. The Pieces of Information

2. The Connections Between the Pieces of Information

3. The Logic of How the Pieces Fit Together as a Whole

Our Mastering Reading Course (see above menu) provides a very specific series of exercises designed to "Hook Up" almost anyone's brain for reading. Frankly, it is exactly what happens naturally when a fine reader develops.


Outside of our comprehensive approach to learning how to Understand without having to Read Every Word (crazy idea, huh?). The best place to start is with these simple steps:

1. Have your student read to you out loud for 10 minutes

2. Ask your student to explain what she read in her own words

3. If it isn't clear and detailed enough, re-read the passages and repeat step #2​ until you are satisfied

I dare you to try this for 5 days in a row! I also dare you to see what an amazing course of study we've developed to give all students the gift of UNDERSTANDING what they read.

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand Jr.​

College Ready Reader

Writing Fiction in 3 Steps

In creating fiction, all we have to do is think of a bag lady and a computer salesman, and immediately a thousand questions come up, which lead to answers, which then lead to more questions, and so on.

Stephen Nachmanovitch

In a way, that really is all there is to it! Fiction sort of writes itself sometimes.

The challenge we often see in our students around the globe is that they 'don't know what to write about' (or some other such hogwash). The challenge is that kids don't realize some basic things about writing:

A. With fiction, you really just make it up (which is why it is easier than other kinds of writing).

B. You can't really know what you are going to write until you start writing. In this way, writing is really about discovering as you write how you are going to say something.

So, as a matter of practice, if you can simply get your child to do the following, then anything can happen---

STEP 1: Pick out two things in the world somewhere. They can be anything. If your child gets stumped here, she probably has a phobia in place ;-(  In that case, just go get a nearby book and turned to page 32. Start reading until she picks two items that are mentioned.

STEP 2: Write down 3 Questions that someone could ask about the two items.

STEP 3: Start writing!

EXAMPLE: Lizard & Coffee Cup

Why is the lizard in the coffee cup?
Why does this lizard like to drink coffee?
Why is the coffee cup afraid of the lizard?
Can a coffee cup be a new house for a lizard?

"It's a fine cup. Yessir, a very fine cup indeed."

Gormit, an American Chameleon, was so excited he blushed bright red even though he was sitting on a deep green leaf of Mrs. Snooley's gardenia bush.

"I'll have it for my house," he said to Clappity-Clack, his really big grasshopper friend.

"Who needs a house?," CC (short for Clappity-Clack) said as he chewed down the grass-blade he was holding with his four hands.

Gormit was a little surprised but he politely asked CC, "How can you have friends over to visit if you don't have a house?"

-Fred Ray Lybrand Jr., 2015

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

P.S. More help here: www.advanced-writing-resources.com


10 Reasons to Read Better (& How to Start)

It is striking sometimes how little we realize SKILL DEVELOPMENT is more important than content. As Covey pointed out, the person who sharpens his saw can cut way more wood than the person who just keep sawing! I might add that a chainsaw is even better 😉

I get it--- you are busy doing life and doing work, but you probably don't realize how much time and impact it can have just to move your reading skill up a notch or two. It's even more profound with students...staying weak at reading means staying weak in both college and career.

Often we just need some motivation to start working on improving, so here are 10 Reasons improving your ability to read and comprehend is worth it. There are stories that you'll know which prove each of these points...just think a little.


1. Builds confidence intellectually and academically

2. Opens your world up to new information and new possibilities

3. Empowers you to find better answers

4. Improves your writing

5. Makes any kind of reading more enjoyable

6. Leads to more enriching friendships with others who read

7. Makes you smarter and your brain more efficient

8. Makes you more articulate

9. Makes you more interesting as a person

10. Means doing better in college because you are simply a better student

On balance, all this means is that it's more strategic to read better than to read more. Think about it: If you can't comprehend what you are reading, then it doesn't matter how much you read. Like typing, working on your speed can save you a massive amount of accumulated time. However, reading more effectively does even more. It isn't speed-reading that you need, it's speed-understanding. When you read effectively you can access the knowledge to change your world (and you'll have a ready-cure for all boredom in life).

There's more to it, but this is exactly why we emphasized (and taught) reading skill development to our kids. Even without a course or book you can do a couple of things that will make a huge difference:

1. Start reading and discussing the same book with a friend or group of friends.

2. Practice: Stop every 5 pages when you read and repeat the basic points you just covered out loud (this part is important). Just a few times a day will make a difference.

Just those two things will change your reading life (or that of your students). I dare you to try them. If you homeschool like we did, then you already have the ingredients for better reading right in front of you! So, get cookin'...

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand Jr.

How to Cure Anger at Any Age


Even for my upset little 6 year old child/grandchild?

Well, sure (but...).

Cure implies disease (or dis-ease), so off the bat you really need to notice that if you misdiagnose the problem then your odds of finding a 'cure' diminish greatly.

What causes ANGER? If we can get that down then we can start thinking about the cure. Of course, I'm talking about the wisdom level on this topic, so especially spiritual issues will need to be discussed separately. 

Anger is basically generated by at least one of two things:

1. A Perceived Injustice
2. A Perceived Lack of Control/Power

Justice is simply about right and wrong. When you see anger in yourself or others then first ask, "How has this person (or you) been wronged?" In the old days we called this righteous indignation, but now we'd just call it 'no fair'. It also makes sense that if someone thinks they've been wronged then it is clearly frustrating (frustrated = nice word for ANGRY), doesn't it? It's mistreatment and a violation of what we value in the world. Politics is full of this kind of anger as people take up causes for themselves and others.

Control is about our ability to influence, or we might say 'do something' about a situation or need we care about. Face it, if you could do something you'd do it instead of being angry (unless an injustice is mixed in!). So, when we are in circumstances where we are trapped, then frustration (ANGER) is an only natural outcome. Children in particular who are stripped of all choice tend to develop an angry orientation. 


Knowing this actually helps us a lot if we can realize that there is a more essential cause of our perception of injustice or loss of control. The essential cause is THE RULES we have in our heads. Anytime we think SHOULD, MUST, or HAVE TO, then we can rest assured we are only a circumstance away from anger.

For example, take a young boy who believes the RULE that "I should get my way." What will happen when he doesn't get his way? It will be both a violation of his sense of right-and-wrong AND a loss of control (no ability to get his way). Anger is an expression of how this RULE contradicts his situation, kind of like when a cold front hits warm/moist air! Sadly, this can result in 'getting his way' so the anger also becomes a habitual strategy for control in most situations.

Or, think about a teenage girl who has a RULE that "Sally Bae should be nice to me." If Sally Bae is nice, no problem. However, if Sally Bae is a 'mean girl' then ANGER is bound to join the party.

​Making a RULE that you or others 'shouldn't be angry' only multiplies the problem because you'll get angry about being angry. Even the Bible knows that getting angry isn't evil all by itself (Ephesians 4:26 says, "Be angry, but do not sin.").

The cure is profoundly simple, but it takes a little work sometimes. 

If ANGER is caused by RULES, then the ANGER will disappear when the RULE is changed, true?

Yes, ANGER really works that way, but maybe you don't want the rule to change. If murder is an injustice and someone you loved was murdered, then it is going to be a no-go to simply drop the murder-is-wrong RULE.

On the other hand, whenever you can adjust the RULE in your head or someone else's, then the anger will drop off.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that God will deal with all the wrongs, so if you have that orientation you can get off the anger train by letting God handle it. If this isn't your view, then you might want to hold on for an anger filled life in this often unjust world. The next best option is to choose to limit the number of causes that will torque your jaw.

When working with kids it's really all about the RULES. Getting them to think through the truth/error of something like "I should always get my way," or "____________ must be be friend," is an important step. 

  • Why should you always get your way?
  • Where is it written that you should always get your way?
  • Are there any other children who always get their way?

These kinds of questions don't look like much, but even children can wake up and notice that their thinking doesn't make sense. Furthermore, once they understand that life doesn't match a particular rule (and never will), then they can more easily give it up along with their anger.

  • Where is it written that _____________ must be your friend?
  • What if someone you don't like that much insisted that you be their friend? How would that work?
  • Why would you want to be friends with someone who doesn't like you that much?

These kinds of questions also don't look like much, but they can go a long way in helping deal with anger. 


1. "Wishing something" were true is different than having a RULE about it. Wishing Sally Bae was your friend is different than demanding it (She MUST BE my friend). The result is being disappointed, but it isn't being ANGRY.

2. Most anger issues can only be dealt with one-at-a-time. A habit of anger is a different problem, but dealing with the RULES behind anger because you understand about Justice & Control can make a terrific difference for you and you family/friends.

3. Back off control where you can. Give choices if possible. If you want someone to clean their room, then don't ask them if they are going to or not...but you can give them a choice about timing. Even better, something like, "Do you want to clean your room alone or would you like my help?" can do the trick. Especially as children age, your external control needs to go away if they are going to ever learn to avoid anger and be responsible for their own choices. Giving choice can be quite calming and quite empowering...but you have to mean it! If it isn't a real choice, then don't ever (ever) call it one.

So, go play around with it. I bet you'll see some noticeable improvement; but please, don't make it a RULE that others SHOULDN'T have rules...then a new mess will be spawned in your world!

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand
Check out Mastering Emotions if you want to learn more (Menu Above)
@ www.college-ready.com 

Talk to everyone below...

The 4 Words That Help Us Focus

There are four words that help us focus, but it's so obvious that you may miss it. As Churchill observed:

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

Winston Churchhill

It's funny about that focus alludes us all. We are a medicated society and everyone is concerned about their ability to multi-task, etc.

As I said to someone I was coaching today, "I don't multi-task, I multi-obsess." That's closer to what we all mean; focus is concentration and obsession. Never-mind our fundamental mistake on that point, the real issues is our challenge with WHAT we are focusing upon.

Even if you think you are excellent at focus (I haven't met that person...except in my dad and Harry Truman, of whom it was said he could easily read a paper with such intensity that a train / train wreck would not interrupt him), you are probably missing the fact that it is more important to know WHAT is the object of your focus than the ability to focus is by itself.

There are 4 WORDS that are more important than the skill of focusing, and yet, they are the keys to success:


Let's count them:

1. What
          2. Do
                    3. You
                              4. Want

In my consulting and coaching practice I find that most people have never clarified the answer to these four words formed as a question. In fact, usually people are talking about what they don't want.

Just think about the problem with this approach:

1. I don't want to go hungry.
2. I don't want to be abandoned.
3. I don't want my children to be dysfunctional.
4. I don't want Billy to hit Sally Jesse.

Frankly, it's really hard to organize focus or actions around those items. What you WANT is the touchstone for success in both focus and actions. So, it should look more like this---

1. I want to provide well for my family and my retirement.
2. I want to be loved and connected to the friends and family I care about.
3. I want my children to have great values and lives as they serve the Lord.
4. I want Billy and Sally Jesse to treat each other with kindness and respect.

Isn't that profoundly different?

If you have and employee, what are you wanting them to focus upon?
If you have a child, what are you wanting them to focus upon?

It's all about 4 Words--- WHAT DO YOU WANT?

"Do your math" is not the same as "Complete Lesson 17" --- is it?

"I want an Excel Spreadsheet on the monthly total sales" is different than "just work hard."

So, do you want focus? Well, it starts with the OBJECT of your focus. Do you want someone else to focus, then tell them what you REALLY WANT.

Honestly, this may seem obvious; however, I promise, you are probably violating this simple principle every single day in multiple ways.

As Bob Newhart stated it in the Mad TV skit, "STOP IT."

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Relationship Quiz: Is this the Right Person?

Relationship Quiz: Is this the Right Person?

By Fred Lybrand, author of Glaen



Mark your answers from 1 to 10, with 1 being “No Way” and 10 being “I Think So”

1.     I can easily picture being with this person 10 years from now.

2.     We agree on everything that is really important to me.

3.     We finally solve our conflicts, even if it takes a while.

4.     If this person stays just the same forever, I’ll be pretty happy.

5.     I feel good chemistry with this person at least once a week.

6.     Our closest friends have good relationships.

7.     I believe growing a soul mate is as right as finding a soul mate.

8.     We always give each other the freedom to say “No” without getting in trouble.

9.     I’ve read or listened to a talk to help my relating to others within the past year.

10.    I am sure I would not be the one to call it quits in this relationship.

Add up you points and consider this common sense scale:

90-100   Fantasy Land (please re-take the Quiz with a little less pretending)

75-90     You are as close to a sure bet as it gets in a world without guarantees

55-75     You have a good relationship that would likely blossom with a little work

40-55     You probably need to find some outside help from some wise friends or mentors

25-40     The relationship needs professional help (pastor, counselor, etc.)

<25        The relationship has almost no chance until you change your mind


The 3 Must Haves for Successful Relationships

Friends who won’t speak. A husband and wife who are ‘done’ with the whole thing. Co-workers who no longer look each other in the eye. These three have far more in common than you might think.

Every year around Valentine’s Day, we all elevate our thinking about love and friendship to the sublime idea of Romantic Love. More than affection, this kind of love makes are hearts skip and keep our minds distracted. Surely all of us experience this kind of fantastic imaginary ideal at least once in our lives, if not again and again from time to time.   While romance has been romanticized, it is still the fondness and commitment that makes relationships really feel like what they are—a deep connection between two persons. All of these relationships can run aground in the sea of life. The reason for a shipwreck, however, is that what really works in a relationship is neglected.

It isn’t about love languages, or fresh ideas, or even listening (though all of these are fine). Instead, it is at the heart of Glaen’s message and it can be describe by three simple ideas.

At its core, every successful relationship has three essential elements.

1.     The Point

2.     The People

3.     The Price

The Point simply refers to what a relationship is about at its core. It is not about what you can get, what you can give, or how well two people can change one another. The point of a relationship is relating…which means connecting. We use words like bonding and being on the same wave length. In a romantic context it has as its aim a more intense version of connection called oneness. Honestly, the names don’t matter, but the point does. Relationships that work stay on point and they keep connecting together. Fights are division, coolness is distance, and silence is death. The point of connecting together can only happen in real time (that means, right now). Connecting again and again in real time is what builds strength in the bond; be it friendship, romantic love, or to team members pitching in together at work.

The People are the second essential and refers to the influence those around us wield on our lives. Glaen says, “You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around.” The truth is that you will drift toward the character and interests (on some level) of the people you are in the greatest connection with. This explains why getting new friends distances you from old ones. It also explains why there is a repetition of connecting with one failure after another (sorry for the bluntness). A failure to recognize this plain fact is a step toward the destruction of the relationships you have or want. Sometimes it is uncomfortable because we really need to change, but in fact, starting with a vision for the kind of person you want to be can lead you to find, keep, and grow the relationships you long to have.

The Price for successful relationships is Truth. Yes, it is telling and living the truth. “But the truth about what?” you might ask. The question itself already says you are in trouble! It is the truth as anything (and everything) comes to the forefront. It is the truth about beliefs, and goals, and faith, and politics. Why does Truth matter? Well, the simple fact is that a successful relationship is an authentic connection with another person you’d like to be like (more or less). For that connection to happen, it is absolutely necessary that you are the ‘real you’ and the other person is the ‘real them’ in the relationship. This truth-based being real means that you and they are connecting and relating and growing together as the real thing. As soon as a mask goes up, the game’s afoot. The best you can hope for without truth is a good relationship with someone you don’t really know…which, of course, isn’t a success by any measure.

For more information about Glaen:

A Novel Message on Romance, Love & Relating, visit www.glaen.com.

Friendships, dating, romance, and marriage—it’s all confusing to college grad-student Annie until the day a white-haired stranger appears in her life. Glaen is an unusual professor and unconventional mentor who guides Annie on a path of discovery that unlocks the secrets of real relationships. Annie discovers the mystifying affect of how learning to tell the truth changes everything in friendship, family, and love.   The solutions Dr. Fred Lybrand offers in Glaen book will astound and free you to quit doing the very things that take away your ability to find the love and friendship you want. More importantly, you’ll discover a fresh path to the possibility of greater connections with those you care most about.



Fred R. Lybrand


The Barnabas Agency

February 2010

ISBN: 978-0-578-04652-5

Softcover/171 pages/

Website: www.glaen.com

Blog: www.glaen.wordpress.com

Become a fan of Glaen on Facebook!



Should We Re-Think What We Teach Our Kids About Altruism?

What is Altruism?

Well, as of right now Merriam Websters claims:

Altruism is currently in the top 1% of lookups and is the 83rd most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com.

And, it’s defined as…

 Altruism: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others

Pretty big kudos, true?  And, of course, it is incredibly appealing to the idealism of youth (and the hope of heaven).
How wildly noble it is to think of other instead of oneself.  The problem is rather simple…is this really possible?  Can
anyone really think of other without regard to oneself?

Webster’s adds a few examples, among which we find:

Mary may have ample resources and prefer that her share pass to her children who have greater need and are in lower income tax brackets.
(The progressive nature of our tax laws often fosters such altruism among family members.)
—William M. McGovern, Jr. et al., Wills, Trusts and Estates, 1988

Of course, there isn’t enough information, but was it really unselfish?  Really?  Was she not leaving a legacy or helping her children to avoid
later family conflicts?  Was she hoping that they would appreciate what she was doing?  Are the motives purely and perfectly loving?  Really?
No, we don’t know for sure…but it is easy to imagine that she would have felt bad (been thought of poorly) to keep it to herself.

So, what am I saying?  Is there no such thing as altruism?  Pretty much.  I don’t see how an ideal can be truly fulfilled this side of the perfection
of heaven.  Worse yet, it is harmful to our kids because it simply teaches them to pursue an unreachable goal.  Why would we do that?

Now, before you wig out (is that still a hip phrase?), consider the most altruistic person in history: Jesus Christ.

The most altruistic action ever taken was His own death for the world (see John 3:16).

And yet, was it completely without regard to Himself?  Was it truly selfless?

Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So, even in the incredible sacrifice of the Lord…us with him (and the joy accompanying it) was a part of His motive.  But, wasn’t that good and noble
and right?  Of course!

You see, there is no way to escape our own self-interest.  God placed it there.  It is the foundation of the Law and it is the Crown of Grace.  We are all
glad God loves those we love, but we are glad-glad that he loves us.  It’s just how it is.

The same goes with parenting effectively…it is there self-interest that helps them choose well.

It is true selfisness that has them choose poorly.  The problem isn’t our self-interest, rather it is that we are often self-interested without considering others
too.  We are also self-interested without thinking down the road a little (students want to play right now…but as they mature they forgo playing for study…
because it IS in there own best long-term interest!).

Yes, Philippians 2:3–4 (ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The translation is fine…it includes our interests too.

Please re-think this…crazy altruism is distracting our youth from the realities of life on an imperfect world.

This is a lesson worth the effort!



P.S.  I’d love your thoughts below.

Guest Blog: On the More Subtle Danger of Television and the Media

The following is a book review by Holmes Lybrand (18 year old High School Senior).  The book should be required reading.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

The title of this book does a very good job of explaining the premise and prophecy Neil Postman believes about America.  This book attempts to help us see the immediate threat that Television/Show Business presents to every areas of our lives (especially the educational, religious, political).  Postman’s main point, much like Aldous Huxley’s in A Brave New World is   “…not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking,” that the influence Television has on us now is not only unproductive, but it is also very harmful.

Postman explains that even when television is used for educational purposes it is still quite harmful, and at the least is a waste of the student and teacher’s time, saying that they are not asking, “What is education good for?” but  instead pondering what TV is can be used for.   Television is good for drama & amusement, and America has figure out how to draw the public to this business so very well.   Postman dives deeply into how and why TV sets the course for our culture, and makes very clear why this is a terrible, terrible thing.

I really have nothing bad to say about this book (except that people won’t read it ;-).   It was short and direct, I didn’t ever feel preached to, more of just encouraged to see the uncompromising truth of things.  I started out thinking, “Perhaps his views are a tad too extreme?” but by the end of this book, that thought now doesn’t even cross my mind.  I think we as humans do need to see things for how they are, television is amusement (or drama, you might say), that is all.  To ask, “Yeah, but can drama be used to help…like with the news?” is only to miss the point.  Amusing news is still essentially amusement.  Amusement, from a-muse simply means ‘not to think’…and so with the news as well.

I really enjoyed this book, although I still have things to think through concerning it.  Neil Postman is surely right, and the last 27 years (since Amusing Ourselves to Death was published) has only proved his point with emphasis.  Hopefully people might begin to realize it , especially in the area of the news.  Television is amusement, and only when we fully understand that can we be masters over it, and not the other way around.

Holmes 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.


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,