Crows, Problem Solving and Education

Sometimes homeschoolers get into a rut. There is something that they need or want, but getting there seems difficult. This affects others, too, but from the perspective of homeschooling, there are always more solutions than difficulties because of the unique nature of flexibility within a homeschool program. So, in thinking about your homeschool program and any problems that you're having, what seems out of reach to you? Whatever it is, maybe you should toss it out to the birds, the C.R.O.W.s, that is!

In Aesop's fable, a crow discovers that the solution to its problem is by taking a common, ordinary stone, and putting into a pitcher. You see, the pitcher has some water in it that the crow wants to drink, but it's too far down for the crow to reach. By putting in stone after stone, the crow slowly raises the level of the water to drinking height. The moral of the fable, according to Aesop, is "little by little does the trick."

You may even have heard about the study that was done at the University of Cambridge that confirmed this fable. A team of researchers there were able to put a worm into a pitcher, and they witnessed the same phenomena as a rook, a bird in the crow family, used stones to raise the level of the water in order to get the worm. Amazing, huh? So what does a crow know that we don't?

C - "C" is for Clarity. In order to tackle a problem, sometimes you have to sort out the emotion behind it, remove the fillers, and get down to what the real problem is. Clarify what you are trying to do, without the extras. Sometimes the problem that we really have is not the one that we think we have when we sift through these distractions. Try to sum up your problem in 15 words or less and write it down. That is not as easy as it sounds, but if you can clarify the issue, then you will be on your way to the solution.

R - "R" is for Research. Research this issue with others, online or "live." Share your newly clarified issue with a friend who is good at seeing things objectively, or consult a homeschool coach. Get online input for your issue. New tools, techniques and groups are available all the time, so the research you've done in the past is old, but your problem is new! Get innovative and fresh eyes on your problem. Get help from others, as they will have insights that you don't.

O - "O" is for Organize. Organize your options and resources into categories of things that you can implement right now, things that will require more research or money, and things that will be aspired to down the road. Then, set up a timeline of steps you will take. Actually put them on a calendar as organized steps you will be taking towards solutions. But, be sure to keep the calendar handy!

W - "W" is for Walk Away. "Walk Away" has two types. The first is to know when to walk away from this problem because it cannot be fixed and your goal is unrealistic. Sometimes, the things that we want or are out of reach right now are just not what is good for us or our homeschool program. When that happens, the only thing to do is to walk away from that expectation and allow yourself the freedom to set new goals. There will be other "worms" and "pitchers of water" elsewhere. If this is the case, you will probably have had an inkling of this in the Clarify stage.

The other type of "walk away" is the type that allows time to pass before you take action. Sometimes you have to wait for the right age, or the right resource, or the playing out of something else before you can move forward. Sometimes you need to allow your mind to ruminate on the issue a bit more. This doesn't mean that the goal is unrealistic, only that it will need more time. If this is the case, don't be frustrated. You've done good work to come to some solutions, so all you need to do now is wait them out.