This is the year like no other, in terms of life-changing events within my family. This is the first summer away from contract or research work since moving back to Albany, and staying home with the kids. I'm teaching a course online, facing some occasional issues in the Blackboard migration. But in the churn of everyday life I cannot help but be thankful of my career choice that allows me to spend time with the kids this summer, and that allows me to arrange my schedule to have minimal conflicts with their school next year.
The kids and I have some projects planned. One involves building a small wind turbine out of hard drive magnets. Another involves a solar module out of some recovered solar cells. Yet another means building a small shelter in the backyard, hopefully run by the aforementioned solar panel and wind turbine... We're 5 days into their summer vacation and have about 10 weeks to go...
I've thought a great deal about education and training, contrasting my own experience from the inside of the process as college instructor with the experience of me as an ABD struggling to find the peace of mind and time to complete the requirements from the outside of the ivy walls. Not the same walls, and not the same view from either side, it would seem. I stumbled and fell, and am recovering enough for another attempt to scale the walls. The ivory tower may not be in my future but that's ok- feet firmly planted on the ground suits me just fine.
How to turn these little summer projects into a coherent educational plan for the kids? There's some planning involved, but this would be a good area to invest in- a Civilization-style tech tree to help kids obtain the needed skills to understand a given concept or tool? Is this something that could be extrapolated for on-the-job learning or even academic skill sets, in their focus on identifying discrete objects or concepts and their relationships in establishing higher level learning?
There's the whole wiki thing to revisit, as I slowly get back into the mindset of my old research. Transportation, mobile computing, social media, and other of my old interests will still be there when I'm ready. After all the names change but the basic issues don't seem to ever get solved permanently.