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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Framing Colors the Picture

"No." Her tone quickly loses its hint of contempt. "No, it's not like homeschooling."

She sells paint and teaches children too sick to go to school. It's a good gig, she tells me. She gets to use her teaching credential helping kids recovering from surgery or long-term illness. It's a one-on-one home visit. She doesn't have to come up with lesson plans. And she gets paid as much as a teacher with 30 students per classroom while she only visits five students a day.

She studies me, trying to gauge how I feel about homeschooling.

I do my best to remain unreadable. I'm interested in her honest feelings about homeschooling. She hadn't said anything directly, but I want to know more about that flicker of disdain. 'Why so adamant about not being like a homeschooler?'

She doesn't offer me any more hints. And I resist the urge to question her about her student's socialization. <smile> We part ways on friendly terms. But I still wonder: Why does she feel the way she does about homeschooling?

I'm guessing it has more to do with something completely outside of homeschooling.

Our response to things is determined by how the thing is presented. One of the most obvious and easily tested examples of this is the simple A/B split test. These tests take two identical webpages, change one element, and see which page does better. You can find fascinating examples on Anne Holland's Which Test Won? Something as small as the gender of the person in your photo can radically alter your results. And the proper frame, my wife reminds me, makes a picture's color look great.

How you approach certain topics is bound to have a tremendous impact on your children. I get this certain grin when I'm about to say something snarky or take someone down in an argument. My wife knows, long before I say anything, when I'm certain someone is wrong and I can prove it. In that way, I'm coloring her view of the topic.

Have you noticed ways you frame things with your words or actions? Are there ideas you are--subconsciously--teaching your children to dismiss? For me it's not homeschooling, but I know I instantly react when someone claims to have "the biblical approach" to something. <twitch> Like the girl selling paint, have you noticed the things you automatically frame in a negative (or positive) light? Those subtle influences can make something look very different than it actually is.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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Luke Holzmann
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