Dirt Under My Fingernails

intentional teaching on the great plains

The What’s in a Name Contest!

on November 6, 2013

What's in a Name Blog Naming Contest

Introducing my very first reader contest! Thanks to all of you who participated in my recent poll, “Should I Change the Name of this Blog.” 60% of you said “No! We love it the way it is!” But the other 40% said it was a bit confusing, especially at first.

Since I am beginning a total reworking of my blog over the next couple of months, I feel that changing the name to something more obviously tied to education is important. But I want to honor those of you who really get “Dirt Under My Fingernails” and the message/image I’m trying to portray.

So: a contest!

First, the Rules:

1) Enter your brilliant blog-name suggestion in the comments below. You can enter as many names as you like. In at least one of your comments, also list your website or Thing you do, with a one or two line description. If you have a forthcoming book or recently published book, list that too. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

2) Comment on other people’s suggestions to let me know if you like them. I’ll be using several criteria to judge the entries, but comments will definitely be noted.

3) Share the contest with your friends, fellow poets, and educators, and encourage them to participate. Let me know about it so I can thank you properly.

4) Do all this by November 15, at which point I will judge ‘em up!

Second, the Prizes:

1) All participants will be thanked in a post, with links to their websites, books, works of art or music, or whatever you’re most proud of that you mentioned in the comments with your entry.

2) For the winner, I will dedicate a post just to you, interviewing you about the things you care about most. Keep in mind that the subject matter will have to be consistent with the mission of this blog. No politics (unless they are neutral and we’re talking about your career) or religion or super heated topics, please. But the interview can be about your career as a teacher or writer or artist or doctor or chef or student or what have you. Or maybe you just have a particular issue you’re passionate about, and want to spend the time talking about adopting stray dogs. We’ll create an interview that will connect with my readers and their kids, and provide links and all that good stuff. You will also receive my eternal gratitude for your brilliance. :)

Third, the Tips:

You can enter this contest whether or not you’re a regular reader of the blog, and it’s open to all ages. Here’s some information to help you get started:

Perhaps the most important question is why do I write this blog? Education is under fire in this country, and many others. Parents, teachers, and students, and even principals feel like their hands are tied, but they want to do better by their kids. Our family has had a unique educational journey, both in and out of the public school system. We have successfully advocated for acceleration, and then at our kids’ request, pulled them out to homeschool. Even then they took some classes in the public school, and now Ian’s back full time.

With each passing year, I’ve met more people who feel as desperate as we did when trying to figure out how to make sure their child/ren get the education they’re going to need for this rapidly changing world. I started sharing our story again and again. I finally created this blog – to chronicle our adventures, to provide support and ideas and encouragement, and to offer an example and proof that you can do this another way.

My hope is to help parents and teachers raise and educate their children to reach their highest potentials. If we are bold and courageous, we can raise a new generation of individuals who can think for themselves, who can problem solve, who are fearless, who can tap into their wealth of creativity and passion and compassion, and make this world a heck of a lot better than it is today. That is the mission of my blog. Here are some more thoughts:

  • The kids participate in “hybrid” education, which means they homeschool some, take some public school classes, some college classes, some private lessons. Ian this year has returned to public school full time, three grades accelerated.
  • We are hands-on, project-based, interest-based, rigorous but flexible, and committed to quality learning in the arts, sciences, and in social justice. We don’t do grades, either in terms of report cards or what grade you’re in at school. We just learn and explore. But don’t mistake: there is definite method to the madness.
  • We focus on the subjects the kids are interested in, and I am helping them develop their careers now, as kids. Eva is an author, and Ian is a musician. Their education is dedicated to helping them be smart, curious, driven learners, and successful in their career pursuits.
  • We look at life requirements to dictate our educational goals. Engineering and computer science to us are just as important than the “traditional” sciences such as biology and chemistry because of their direct relevance in how our world works today. We study all the sciences, but are unafraid going against tradition to mold our education to the requirements of our current society. We also believe that literature and the arts are as essential as any “core” subject, and prioritize them as such.
  • We rarely use boxed, pre-packaged curricula, preferring to follow our noses to uncover awesome resources that will help us become experts in whatever it is we want to know more about.
  • We are unafraid of getting messy, both in our daily activities, and as we create this unconventional educational path.
  • We are committed to becoming bold, strong, compassionate people who are dedicated to using our gifts and talents to make the world a better place.
  • It’s a journey that changes all the time, as we adjust to meet new challenges.
  • These techniques are not just for homeschoolers. I hope to reach audiences that include parents of traditionally educated kids, public and private school educators, and yes, you lovely homeschoolers as well.
  • Sometimes I post about my kids’ specific journeys or accomplishments. Other times I share ideas that people can use in their classrooms and after school. I also share other resources, like books, educational kits, and even other people’s stories. And on occasion, I wax poetic about education in general. But not often.
  • What people love about “Dirt Under My Fingernails” is that it implies that messy journey, with a hint of the growth that comes as a natural result. What people didn’t like about it is that they thought it sounded too much like a blog about gardening.
  • The words “innovative,” “creative,” “out-of-the-box,” and anything that implies homeschooling need to be crossed off the list. Nothing wrong with any of them, but they’re either already used in other blogs, or not exactly what I’m going for.
  • Above all, we value kindness, creativity, different perspectives, community, brilliance, generosity, and an insatiable desire to learn.

If you have questions, please ask! And thanks! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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13 responses to “The What’s in a Name Contest!

  1. Cy says:

    Path Less Flown

  2. dairyairhead says:

    Lessons in the Messes, or finding lessons in the messes.

    My site is dairyairhead.com- a creative writing blog dedicated to poetry, fiction, music, and other forms of art that touch my life.

  3. Vanessa says:

    * Seeds and Sparks *
    Planting seeds and nurturing sparks to grow passionate learners.

    I love the fearless honesty in your blog, and think your new blog name should reflect your deep, lively approach to education.

    I am passionate about providing a rich, personalised education for my children (and when I am teaching, other children). My interests include home education, giftedness, alternative education systems and writing for children.

    My main website is http://chrysalisisland.blogspot.com

    • Cy says:

      Oooh, I really like this one! It shows both the potential, the growing, and the result … plus it sounds sparkly!

    • Thanks Vanessa! I like it. I am astonished by how difficult this is! But I’ll be mulling your idea over for sure. I like what it suggests.

      Thank you to for your kind words about my blog! They are more deeply appreciated than you know.

      • Vanessa says:

        Thanks Cy and Gwyn :) Naming a blog is almost harder than naming a baby, I think (I have about 7 … blogs, not babies). Not only does the name have to suit the content and sound cool, it also has to be available in cyberspace. Good luck, Gwyn.

  4. Ray says:

    dirt under my fingernails Keep it the same, Gwyn. From the past’s perspective, you have a known name that people know and like. From the present’s perspective, it’s good and succinctly describes what you do and advocate. And from a future’s perspective, our kids are quickly closing in on the next part of their journey (maybe you noticed :), which will mean the next part of our journey as parents. Maybe down the road a piece, something along the lines of “second wind”. All the best up in ND, Ray

    • Man I missed seeing you guys this summer. Thanks for the feedback, Ray. I love that you feel the connection, and you’re right: we’re definitely closing in on those next stages! I think of you guys often. Greetings to the family!

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