Röena Studio

The book, RICH Learning: Brain-Based Learning on Arts-Based Platforms  was highly recommended to me so I read it a couple weekends ago.  It was perfect timing because we were about to start our new school year.  Although what I learned from the book wasn’t super novel since I have learned many of the same principles from Well-Educated Heart, it was really encouraging and motivated me to continue on this path and style of education for myself and my children.

It inspired me to be even more intentional about engaging all of our senses in our learning… including our sense of humor.


I thought I would share a longish quote from the book that really stood out to me…


“We cannot expect them to be held captive by our oratory. The Post-Gutenberg/Neo- Googleberger generation will not simply sit passively watching our show. We can either sit around complaining about what’s wrong with kids today, or we can realize that the student is not learning the way we are teaching and start searching for methods to teach the way the students are learning.

Neurologically, what do we know to be the best ways to “enter their land and hold them” today? The very best ways are no-brainers because they are whole brainers. No. They’re no-brainers because they’re whole- minders. The best ways to engage children of this brave new post-television world are to engage brains, bodies, environments and hearts with multi- dimensional OPERA Arts.

So sing it. Dance it. Sign it. Draw it. Act it. Splash it across a large canvas with finger paints. Trace it on the sidewalk with colored chalk. Cut it out of magazines. Glue it together with junk drawer treasures. Make it out of Jell-O, feathers, walnuts, ice, SPAM sculptures. Touch the art. Smell the art. Taste the art. See the lesson. BE the lesson. See the art. Be the art. Create a work of visual or dimensional art on the theme. Name it. Claim it. Then frame it and hang it on the wall in a weekly gallery hall. Applaud it. Toast it. Celebrate it in a weekly exhibition and photograph it and Facebook it before you let it out of your sight. Tell your teachers, friends, parents and strangers about it. Take it on the road to a nursing home, a veteran’s hospital, a flea market, a sidewalk sale. Teach others about your art and ask them about theirs. Sing for them. Dance with them. Ask them to tell you a story in song. Build your songs and stories into a show and a collage. Post the video and art online for the world to see! Podcast your young artists’ voices telling about their work. Call a famous artist, photographer or filmmaker on a speaker phone or Skype and ask them about their work. Then show them what you have done and invite a critique. Take the works home. Connect them with caring conversations on your themes seven nights this week at bedtime. Go deep, deep, deep into the “why” behind the “what” and draw out the pathos, humor, emotion, and truth behind the canvas.

Every way you interact with art becomes another learning opportunity, another myriad of neural connections, and another road you take towards deeper meaning. Get onto the road of teaching, and the road gets into you. Create a culture where the students are teachers using performance arts. Create a system where the teachers are students of even the youngest artists. (Especially the youngest artists!) Make every lesson a work of art and every work of art a lesson. Do this and you will create curious curators and life-long lovers of learning from children who find it natural and necessary to create. To share. To teach. To celebrate their part in the marvelous art of life and love and learning.

And one more thing…

Studio vs. School

Consider embracing the metaphor of a studio or a theater and expelling the metaphors of the classroom and school. Language matters. The metaphors we use matter. They mold us. Sometimes they hold us… together. Sometimes they hold us back. Metaphors like teaching, teachers, students, classrooms and processes matter. We shape our metaphors, then our metaphors shape us. Consider renaming, reframing and regaming the language for what you are trying to accomplish. What might happen to learning, joy, creativity, and expectations if you ditched the words class and classroom and embraced the metaphor of the studio? How might it effect attitudes, emotional connections and test scores if classrooms looked more like theaters, art galleries, and dance halls rather than straight-rowed, one-directional teaching spaces?  What would a studio look like compared to a classroom?  What might a theater need?  Mostly chairs for spectators?  Mostly stages for performers?  What might happen to the ebb and flow of your day if mornings were renamed Act 1?  Lunch breaks became Intermission?  Afternoons were thought of as Act 2?  What happens to administrators, teachers, and support staff if they are renamed directors, cast and crew?  What other language might you want to change and incorporate to support the theater metaphor?” (pg. 201-205)


This really inspired me and I want to apply it more deeply and fully in our homeschool.  I immediately decided that Röena Schoolhouse now has a Studio, which is the main part of the school.  I didn’t want to let go of the name schoolhouse all together because of the connection with my ancestors (herehere, and here), but Röena Studio is housed within Röena Schoolhouse.  As I started thinking about it, I decided that our Studio could use a logo to help remind us who we are and what our studio is here to help us accomplish and become so I created it over the next few days as ideas flowed into me.  In true Shelly fashion, our logo is embedded with symbolism, details, depth, and meaning.  I’ll share it with you here…



When I first started thinking about the logo, 3 words came in to my mind: Collecting, Connecting, and Creating.  These three things sum up what our Studio is there to help us with.



-collecting gems

-collecting flowers

-collecting bricks 


“Nothing in the world gives people so much real pleasure as making things. And have you ever tried to think exactly what making a thing means? It doesn’t mean making something out of nothing in a magical way, but it means taking a thing, or a number of things that are already in existence, and so arranging them, that in addition to the things that have been used, an entirely new thing comes into being….

“For instance, a man may take thousands of bricks, each of which is a separate thing that has already been made, and out of them make an entirely new thing, a house. And in building a house the man is happy for two reasons—because he is making a useful thing, a place where he or someone else can live, and also because he is able to take a lot of bricks that have been lying in heaps, that do not seem to mean anything, and arrange them so that they become a house, which means a great deal. And there is nothing which gives us so much satisfaction as this ability to make disorder into order and give a useful meaning to things that until we have arranged them—just as the man arranges his bricks into a house seemed to have no use or meaning at all.

“It is a curious thing that we are able to get just this same kind of pleasure, which is so good for us, without having any real things to arrange. If you shut your eyes and then think of a horse, for example, it is certain that there is no real horse that you are looking at, and yet in some wonderful way you have been able to make a horse in your mind out of nothing. And the truth is that the idea of a horse which you have been able to call up in your mind, is just as real a thing, and just as important to you, as the horse that you may see in the street.

“And nothing will help you more in your life than the habit of seeing things in your mind very clearly; the habit not only of making things with your hands, but of making them in your mind as well. And just as, if you were building a house of bricks, you would not get the greatest possible pleasure unless you built a good, well-shapen, and complete house, so you will not get the greatest possible pleasure from the things that you make in your mind, unless they too are well-shaped and complete. You will find, for instance, that if you think about a horse with your eyes shut, that is to say, if you make a horse in your mind, you will get far more pleasure if you have learnt how to make it very exactly and clearly, than if you are only able to make it uncertainly, so that the horse in your mind is a confused kind of thing.

“I have said that the pleasure that we get from making things, whether with our hands or in our minds, is good for us. That is so because, ever since the earth began, the greatest purpose of the life on it has been to grow from a confusion that cannot be understood into clear shapes that can be well understood, and when we make anything clearly and exactly we are helping this purpose.” (Catch The Vision of the Well-Educated Heart, pg. 105-106)




-connecting with God

-connecting with the past (history, family history, His story)

-connecting the dots 

-connecting with each other 

-connecting with friends all over the world and throughout all time 

-connecting through creating (connecting with each other through creating together; connecting even more dots in the process of creating something)

-connecting through sharing with each other what we have collected and connected




-creating beauty 

-creating meaning 

-creating art (in many forms)

-creating because of connecting

-creating with the bricks/gems/flowers that have been collected and connected 



As you can see, the basic shape of our logo is two overlapping circles.  This is symbolic of the connection of heaven and earth.  In the center, the Mandorla shape, is the middle space where you can experience God’s presence and communion with Him.  I included this imagery in a few of my poems. (herehere, and here.)


The outer portion of these circles is formed by yarn. I spun this yarn from wool from two of our sheep: Swen (one of our rams) and Thilda (one of our ewes). Yarn encompasses all 3 things, collecting, connecting, and creating.  Each single fiber of wool is collected (luckily in huge chunks at a time), then connected together, and then created into yarn…and then other items can be made from the yarn as well.



This yarn also represents our hearts being knit together in love with God, with each other, and with our ancestors and others that we learn about/from.


The lamb in the center of the logo represents a few things…

Jesus is the Lamb of God.  We connect with Him in this sacred space where heaven and earth connect. 

He is also our Good Shepherd and we are His lambs so the lamb also represents us and the green pastures that He leads us to.  He feeds us and teaches us.  “True education is between a child’s soul and God.” (Charlotte Mason) (more on that here)

Sheep/lambs are also significant to us because they connect us with our ancestors and were the inspiration for us getting our farm.  You could say that the lamb is our mascot. 



In our logo, this middle space is bordered by lilac flowers.  I added this detail for a few reasons…

My great-great Grandmother, Thilda’s conversion story involves a lilac bush. (you can read about that herehere, and here)

Because of Thilda’s experience, we seek to learn for ourselves and gain our own witnesses of God’s love and His plan for us as His children.

The enclosed garden has become a really special and meaningful symbol and concept to me.  I even wrote a poem about it.

The flowers also remind us to collect/harvest the flowers in our lives.


The words that help to create the border of the middle space are written in cursive.  Cursive has become special to me since getting to see my great-great-great Grandfather’s diary.  Since that day, over 5 years ago, I have practiced and improved my penmanship and I write in cursive nearly 100% of the time now.  I wouldn’t say that my handwriting is nearly as beautiful as Charles Alfred Harper’s yet but funnily, I have had at least a handful of people comment on my handwriting because they thought that it was printed, not handwritten.  I took that as the highest compliment and it made me feel so happy and connected to Charles. 


The frame is made from some twigs from one of our oak trees and the yarn that I made from Swen and Thilda’s wool.  I love that everything that the frame is made of came from our farm.  I chose twigs that have a little bit of moss and lichen on them because I love little nature details like that.  I also love that the shape of the frame, including the yarn at the top, form the shape of a house.  Röena Studio is within Röena Schoolhouse.  Our Schoolhouse, just like the schoolhouse that my great great grandfather taught at in Sweden is both our home and our school.  



I love what the RICH Learning website says:


“We are going to transform the future of education.

No borders. No walls.

No grade levels. No grades.

No class. (We’ll be the school with no class!)

No age. Every age.

No limits.

Only quests. And questions. And curiosity.

And exploration. And imagination.

And experimentation.

And learning from failure.

Trying something new.

Discovering. Uncovering. Creating worlds together.

Unlocking ancient doors with new keys and friends from all over the world.

And working in teams on a learning adventure of a lifetime –

for a lifetime of learning.

And music. And art. And dance. And theater.

And games. And fun. Fun. Fun.

Maybe we’ll short-circuit the short-circuit of learning disabilities while we’re at it.”


I am excited to see how Röena Studio continues to transform each of us as we collect, connect, and create.  I’m sure I’ll share bits and pieces of our journey along the way.

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