A few weeks ago, I got an email from a professor wishing me luck in doing my PhD DIY style.  This week, I got an email from another professor saying that my proposal is too broad and that the PhD has to be done with coursework.  That triggered the formulation of options:

  1. Pursue the book route while crafting a more focused PhD proposal
  2. Pursue a PhD proposal later after the road trips and the book
  3. More time focusing on teaching my children but at the same time not losing sight of my own dreams
  4. Use the road trip to gather information and experience that could lead to a more focused PhD proposal
  5. A more focused PhD proposal could be about Project Based Learning which I am very interested in and which I have applied in my classes here in China. A number of PBL schools are already included in the list of places to be visited.
  6. Continue to study online PhD options including the Open University in the Philippines
  7. Explore the PhD options again through the Yunnan universities when we get there
  8. For inspiration and guidance, research the book author models I mentioned in my proposal – Amanda Ripley, Tony Wagner – and other non-traditional school advocates like Jerry Mintz and Chris Marcogliano
  9. If at the end of this all, I dream of setting up my own alternative school, then maybe the route doesn’t have to be fixed and there are detours that are ultimately useful.

Meanwhile, another “PhD” requires more urgent action and attention.  “PhD” in this case loosely means an obsessive, obstinate study of a field.  PhD equals any project you invest unusual amount of time and effort.  These past few months, I’ve used most of my free time on researching alternative education but now I’ve switched to something more practical in desperate need of accomplishing – teaching my children to read.  It’s my current fixation.  I wish I started earlier getting possessed by it then maybe I could’ve made headway sooner but as my fellow mom keeps reminding me in Chinese – bie zhaoji.  That means don’t worry, don’t rush, don’t be nervous and rattled.

I’ve always passionately read to my kids every night but hardly supplemented it with other sustained activities unlike the daily exercises I have been giving them these past few weeks.  Among a list of things we worry about, some parents fret about when kids start reading and articles have been written to assuage our fears and anxieties.  The articles claim that every child is unique and each child develops differently.  It doesn’t matter if the child starts reading at age 3 or 10 as long as they eventually read.

However, if there is anything we can do as a parent to make the starting age as early as possible, we must only because it’s programmed in our system and there’s no escape unless you’re laid back or you’re confident that children will read organically or you know the school will take care of it or your children have already surpassed this stage in their life.

Being laid back doesn’t occur naturally to me although I try especially since I married somebody who epitomizes the word.  There’s no use being stressed out about something but I do have to re-channel that anxious energy into finding and experimenting with various methods.  I’ve tried some that worked and some that didn’t.  The ones that flopped only led me to the ones that were more successful.  Everything in the end can be used like puzzle pieces because one piece links to another.  Without that piece, you wouldn’t figure out how the other one fits.  The newest method I’m going to try combines two previous methods in a brilliant whole.  It seems brilliant only because I get excited about first-time trials.

Last night, when Joshua read about Biscuit the puppy, I began to see the wisdom behind cumulative small but consistent efforts.

Mother out.

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