Getting Ready to Hit the Road

We are tantalizingly close to road_trip_by_public_domain_pics-d5tisqitwo of my favorite words: summer vacation. Two weeks from today, my family and I will head out on a six-week road trip. We’re heading acoss the northern United States to the Pacific Northwest, hitting National Parks and science museums. We’ll visit friends in Portland, OR and then circle to the south to see the redwoods, travel across northern Nevada and Utah, and after some stops to see family and friends in Colorado we’ll head towards home.

We have some things we want to see, like Hanford Reach National Monument, the Seattle Childrens’ Museum, and the Great Salt Lake. Mostly, though, our agenda is open, and intentionally so. The goal of the trip, really, is to explore, to be surprised, and to go where our interests lead us. In other words, our goal is to spend the summer doing school the way I hope to someday do it for the other nine months of the year.

Along the way, I hope to see some things that inspire me, some things that make me wonder, and some things that I can bring back to my classroom and my school. Over the next couple of years, I will be taking the lead in writing a new, integrated mathematics curriculum for The Hill School. This trip is about resting and recovering from a long school year, but it’s also about laying the foundation for next year and beyond. I hope to blog on a daily basis during our trip, documenting the things we’ve seen, the things I’ve been thinking about, and the questions I want to explore further when I return. If nothing else, I’ll have a great diary of our travels. Hopefully, though, some people will decide to join me virtually and extend my trip far beyond the summer.

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6 thoughts on “Getting Ready to Hit the Road

  1. Great start on your blog. I hope you’ll share with your students. Blogs that include personal experiences along with professional sharing are wonderful examples of incorporating learning into our lives. Too often, students view learning as a September through June activity. Wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if school were one big road trip!

    Personally, I’m jealous, this trip sounds like a wonderful way to spend the summer!

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  2. Ah, a road-trip to interdisciplinarity — something I really care about! I like the metaphor of your adventure and think the lens you have on whats to come is important.

    “We have some things we want to see, like Hanford Reach National Monument, the Seattle Childrens’ Museum, and the Great Salt Lake [sub core concepts in mathematics will always be important]. Mostly, though, our agenda is open, and intentionally so [inquiry!]. The goal of the trip, really, is to explore, to be surprised [imagine the study of mathematics with this design] , and to go where our interests lead us [going as far or as fast, as connected or as divergent in mathematics!].”

    Knowing you, the trip back at school will employ (and need too) all of the same openness to adventure and relief from the long years of teaching mathematics. This will be important as you pioneer new visions and methods, outcomes and ultimately aptitudes for crossing the disciplinary boundaries clung to for the institutions purpose only. I look forward to reading about your trip, but importantly about your writing process.

    A companion paper to take a look at: Blackwell,Wilson, Street, Boulton, Knell “Radical innovation:crossing knowledge boundaries with interdisciplinary teams” November 2009http://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/72035.pdf see APPENDIX D: ADVICE ON HOW TO DO IT 115-122, I have found this advice invaluable.

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    • Thank you, Thomas. I knew I could count on you, as always, to push my thinking in new and interesting directions. I’ll add the paper you mentioned to my summer reading list.

      I started typing more of a reply a few minutes ago, but the more I typed the more I realized that you had inspired not just a quick reply but an entire new post with your comments. So I’m selfishly going to leave you with my thanks, and I’ll be sure to let you know when the new post is up.

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  3. Thanks, Kim. I was planning to share this with my colleagues, but sharing this with my students is a great idea. Imagine if I had an on-going dialogue with some of them through their comments on the blog. Learning would continue, and I’d get real time feedback that would help me shape my trip and my thinking about our new curriculum. What could be better than that?

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  4. Chris DeLucia says:

    Jason,

    Love the title to your blog, and the defining quotation. I wish you, Stephanie and the kids a great and memorable trip. Also, what could be more interdisciplinary that taking some Math and Physics, and mixing it up with a little Daoistic “going with the flow.” I think you’ll have some great ideas, and new ways of looking at things, and encourage you to share with young and old alike.

    BTW, the _Tao of Physics_ by Fritjof Capra got me thinking multidisciplinarily even before I decided to mess up my brain with Chinese. Capra has gotten into even weirder stuff, and coincidentally, near the top of summer reading pile is his _The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision_ (9781107011366). I think it might be up your alley as well.

    I, too, am envious of your trip, and hesitate to make suggestions, but can’t help myself. The NW is my old stomping ground. Both the Oregon coast, and the Olympic peninsula, are amazingly beautiful, and worthy of consideration. I love that you decided on Crater Lake and No Cal, vs the big name parks. Don’t know if Glacier Nat Park is on your itinerary, but we’ve only been through there in April, when it was not thawed, and always wanted to go back. I’m sure the most memorable things will be little, out of the way stops that you hadn’t anticipated. Dinosaurs.

    Speaking of Lao Tzu, the famous quote “A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a step (literally, putting your foot down)” is from there as well. Heck, you could bring a copy of the Tao Te Ching with you, and read a chapter a day. I love the concept of the ideal leader, which works well for teachers also: the best ruler is one that the people barely know exists, and when the work is done, and goals fulfilled, the people all say “we did this ourselves.” It feels appropriate at this time of the year.

    Happy trails.

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    • Chris,

      Thanks for your comments and suggestions. My summer reading list is rapidly growing with all these great suggestions. I had considered the Tao Te Ching once I found that quote, so on your recommendation it will move toward the top of the list.

      We are planning to hit Glacier National Park (while there are still glaciers there), as well as Rainier and Olympic. We’re going to spend some time with friends in Portland and do some day trips out of there, and we’ll also spend a couple days in Seattle. We’ve never been to that part of the country, and the opportunity to see all these wonderful places is too good to pass up. Thanks again for reading and for your advice. If I write anything this summer that catches your eye I hope you’ll let me know.

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