Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Budding Filmmaker's Self Education

Shannon is a 2013 graduate in Santa Monica, California USA who spent his elementary years at a Waldorf school, then did 9th grade in a public school, then chose to self educate through West River Academy. He used internet resources that may be helpful to others. Enjoy his story!

"After ninth grade, I moved to a different city to live with my Dad, who is a film director. It seemed logical to pursue a home-based education, which would allow me to follow my passion of filmmaking with my father. I researched online and found West River Academy, and it is a perfect fit. Now that I don’t have to conform to typical school hours, it allows me to split my time between school and filmmaking. I don’t think there could be a better way to learn about
filmmaking than actually working on real films, which is what living with my Dad allows me to do. At public school, each day of the week is tightly scheduled in a pattern that is repeated in exactly the same way every week. Now that I homeschool, every day is completely unique, so there is never a dull or boring moment. Schools that follow traditional schedules take three-month-long breaks in the summer, and due to budget cuts some schools are only open four days a week. Since I actually enjoy teaching things to myself, I don’t take any summer breaks, and instead I manage my time so that my work, study and play are in balance. That allows me to learn more in a year than I ever had before. I research all of my school subjects online. There are so many great ways to teach yourself anything online, whether it’s with Khan Academy,
Encyclopedia Britannica, or even YouTube. When I teach things to myself, I can learn things faster and more efficiently. I read hundreds of RSS feeds and thousands of tweets every day. I follow real people that are experts in the subjects I care about, like technology, science and more, and learn from their thoughts and what they link to. There is so much information available online, and there are so many ways to ingest it. I have recently been using a app called
ReadQuick, that only shows one word of a book or article at a time. You can control how fast it flashes the words, and as you use it, you are able to read faster and faster. I am up to four hundred and twenty five words per minute, and it saves me a considerable amount of time. I am also learning more things than typical high school subjects, things that are actually practical skills to have in the real world. I work with a small group of coworkers/friends, and I am one of
the people in the group who has developed an understanding for the technical details involved in producing feature-length media. Because of that, I am constantly being asked questions on a variety of detailed subjects, which has greatly improved my problem solving skills. Sometimes, I get questions that I can’t answer, so I have also learned to effectively research online and quickly
comprehend any knowledge that I need to retain.

"I recently watched an inspiring TED Talk by Sugata Mitra, who said “The education system is designed to produce identical clerks to run an empire that does not exist and a manufacturing industry that has gone away.” While trying to figure out how to improve education, Sugata did a test where in a foreign country he placed a computer in a hole in a wall. Kids with no access to education ran up to the computer, and started teaching themselves how to use it. Sugata came back after a few months and they had already taught themselves English, and they were learning about the complexities of DNA. With no help and only a computer, they gave themselves their own education. Sugata is now on a mission to build an online school in the cloud, where the students are also the teachers. One of the most important things I have learned during my
homeschooling is that I can start teaching myself almost anything immediately, using the power of the internet. Since I am working on films with hard deadlines, I have also learned the importance of finishing what I start. Missing the delivery date for a film is not an option. I have had to learn how to manage my time efficiently to make sure everything gets finished on time. In the past three years, in addition to learning about the main high school subjects, I have started my career as a filmmaker, and I have developed practical skills that I can use as a adult. Of all of the different schooling methods I have experienced, I believe I have learned the most by teaching things to myself during these past three years."

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