Thursday, November 30, 2006

Selections from - 30 Nov 2006

It has been two months since I've posted selections from Below are some of the links I enjoyed:

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting explanation on The Economy Revealed: Why understanding economics is hard. Are there relationships which don't fit in the four types?

In response to Grade inflation Alan Johnson, the UK Education Secretary, is proposing A* grades for brightest A-level students. It seems like the right answer is to only give an A when the student has really done A work. Maybe in a couple more years we'll have A*** or A+++ grades.

Did you know that in space if two pieces of metal touch each other they will stick together?

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Links to interesting posts - 30 Nov 2006

Barbara Frank, The Imperfect Homeschooler, writes about Rethinking Overscheduling in response something in the Chicago Tribune about a mother who has realized that scheduling every minute of a child's life is a bad idea.

Carolyn, of Guilt-Free Homeschooling, gives a concrete example of Applying Learning Styles with Skip-counting.

HomeSchoolBuzz found an article about a 13-year-old boy who as entered college: Day in the life of a 13-year-old college freshman. Jonathan Link was first accepted to college when he was 8-years-old. Public schools never allow children with great capacity to fully develop. It is like putting a race horse with a plow horse.

Spunky wonders if there is an organized attack on unschooling in her post The Unschooling Conspiracy.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A book on drugs available over the internet

It is amazing what technology provides us. The cost of computing power has gotten so low that Blogger hosts millions of blogs for free. Whole books are available on the internet for free.

Jeff Morelock has written about the problems of drugs. He worked as an undercover policeman. His book, The Complete Guide to Drug Free Teens, is available for free over the internet. The book has a chapter on Marijuana, another on Cocaine, and so on. Jeff ties in personal stories of teenagers and their struggles. All of the stories were chilling. He also explains the facts about how different drugs work and the signs to watch out for.

If you have questions about possible drug use this looks like a good resource to check out.

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The Carnival of Education, week 95

This week's Carnival of Education is hosted by A History Teacher.

Submissions for the next Carnival of Education should sent to historyiselementary [at] yahoo [dot] com or the carnival submission form.

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A great resource for learning history - videos of presidential campagins

The American Museum of the Moving Image has put together resource for learning the political history of America over the last fifty years. They have gathered the TV campaign ads for the presidential campaigns started with 1952. I think the singing ad in 1952 for Adlai Stevenson will stick with me for a long time. There is much irony in watching Nixon in 1952, as the Vice President candidate, talk about corruption. I was surprised to see how many of the early ads were cartoons. The contrast between the ads was sometimes very striking. Comparing the ads both for each side was instructive of a campaign and comparing the ads over the years was very instructive.

For each election year the site provides background on the major issues. It gives the results of the election both the raw numbers, and an image of the Electoral Vote.

It was fascinating to watch the ads. It was hard to stop. It was very educational. It would give children insight into how politics works.

If you have interest in recent American politics go check out the site.

(Hat tip: Cool List Digest)

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A high college drop out rate?

After blogging yesterday about an "epidemic" high school drop out rate, it was interesting to read Joanne Jacobs blog about a high college drop out rate. She references an article in the Christian Science Monitor on States give failing grade to graduation rates. The second paragraph in the article had this statistic: "For every 100 ninth graders, only 18 will enter college and finish within six years."

One of the problems with public education is many people get confused with the real goal of school. The real goal, in my not so humble opinion, should be that the students get an education. Do they know how to read, write, and do math? Have they learned how to learn? It is easy to get confused because there is a loose correlation between education and degrees. And it is easy to measure the number of people with college degrees.

My wife wrote two months ago The US doesn't need more college grads. (Ironically enough her post was also in response to an article in the Christian Science Monitor.) I agree with my wife. We could give a piece of paper to everyone and say they were all college graduates. But unlike the Wizard of Oz, a piece of paper does not grant education and wisdom.

A low college graduation level doesn't concern me near as much as it appears that as a group this generation is much less educated than previous generations. That is a cause for great concern.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Students are dropping out of High School at higher levels

One of my brothers sent me a link to an ABC report titled: Students Dropping Out of High School Reaches Epidemic Levels. The opening line was written for shock value: "In several of the largest school systems across the country -- from Baltimore to Cleveland to Atlanta and Oakland, Calif. -- half of the students are dropping out." (emphasis is mine)

One or two distrinct with high drop out rates are a problem, but not an epidemic. Later in the report it says: "A recent study by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of American students were dropping out or failing to graduate in the nation's largest 100 public school districts." It would have been nice to have a link to the study.

I poked around on the United States Department of Education website and the best I could find was a report published in 2000 on Dropout Rates in the United States. The full report (255K) has an interesting graph on page iv showing that percent of 18 to 24 year olds who completed highschool has climbed slight fromm 84% in 1972 to 86% in 2000. This factors in students who stop going to school but later return and finish. But even a rate of 15% is still high.

The ABC News report is focused on the problems students face without an education. It would be more helpful if there was some analysis of why so many students, 31% or 15%, are not interested in finishing their public school education.

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A thought from Will Rogers on money

I enjoyed the thought last Thursday from A Word A Day:

"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like."

-Will Rogers, humorist (1879-1935)

One of the main goals we have for our daughters is to teach to effectively manage their money. We'll try to teach them:

1) To have the discipline to spend less than they earned
2) To only buy things they need and when they can afford it, to sometimes buy what they want
3) And never to buy something to impress others, especially people they don't like

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The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - week 48

The Headmistress is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at The Common Room. There's a wide selection of posts, well worth checking out.

And Be A Good Dad is hosting this week's Carnival of Family Life.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Dads - Part 5

Next in the series on how Dads (or at least the Dad at our house) participate in the education of their children. (If you missed it, here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

I originally started this series as "How Dads Participate in Homeschooling". As time went on I shorted it to just "Dads." Many, if not all of the things on my list, could apply to dads regardless of homeschooling.

So, now back to my list.

5) Dad covers Mom's blind spot

This is also a polite way of saying that Dad reigns Mom in so she doesn't turn into the Wicked Witch of the West.

Not to sound sexist, but women can be more emotional and volatile then men. If I over react to something, Henry gives me the "Honey, you're going over the edge" look. He gently reminds me what is really important.

At our house, Henry is the unflappable one. In 14 years of marriage, I think he has raised his voice (slightly) maybe 3 times. I'm not one to yell, but I do get frustrated and show it.

Here's an example: A week ago, we invited some friends over for dinner. The kids were in charge of the food. I had planned a simple menu (a potato bar) and given the girls instructions. They were supposed to wash, stab with a fork, wrap the potatoes in foil and put them in the oven which I had preheated. I set them to the task and went to do something in another room. About 45 minutes before our guests are to arrive, I went into the kitchen to start the girls on the other preparations.

I was stunned to find that the potatoes, nicely wrapped in foil, sitting on top of the stove. The girls had never put them in the oven. This was when I got upset. I called the girls in and began to lecture them along the lines of "How did you think the potatoes were going to get cooked sitting on the kitchen counter?" By this time, a few of the kids were near tears.

This was when Henry gave me the look. I kept going back to "What were you thinking? You need to think things through better." He gave me the look again and I let it go even though I was no where near done venting.

For a historical reference point, in my maternal grandparents home, the worst thing you could do was something that showed lack of thought. Showing how smart you are was everything. So, this kind of mistake really gets to me. Henry gave me a short parenting pep talk and I forced myself to calm down.

Dinner was a little bit late, but everything was fine. And, more importantly, I hadn't damaged the emotional well being of my children.

This brings to mind something our former therapist once said. Part of a good marriage is trusting that your spouse can see something you can't see.

In homeschooling as in any other parenting endeavor, it is easier when both parents actively participate. One person can't see and be everything. Each parent has unique strengths and perspective to add as a result of their different personalities, experiences, talents and genders.

As I was writing this post, I asked Henry if he knew what math program we used. He gave me a blank look, and after a moments pause said "....a..... I don't know, Saxon maybe."

He had an equally blank look when asked about spelling. He trusts that I am taking care of that. As long as the girls learn how to learn, he doesn't really care what they learn.

The only thing Henry has every asked me when he comes home from work is "Did you study the scriptures today?" I know there will be someone who reads that who will think, "Oh, they're one of those religious nuts who are trying to brainwash their children at the expense of their education....."

This is not to say that math and spelling are not important. We do want our children to be successful in academic endeavors. However, in the end, if our children grow up to discover the cure for cancer but they have gone over to the dark side, their lives and our efforts will have been wasted.

Henry puts his efforts into developing their character and intellect. While these things are important to me too, I'm distract by the day to day details of homeschooling to give them my full attention. Henry doesn't worry about the day to day details because I do.

His contributions are harder to define. He introduces the girls to good literature, takes the girls to eat at various ethnic restaurants, and does odd projects like build a maze for our rats.

Recently our twelve year old daughter became very interested in cooking. She would spend hours looking at cook books and trying out new recipes. I was concerned that she wasn't spending enough time on "school work." Henry's advice was to leave her alone as long as she was learning. I'm so glad we did. While cooking skills won't show up on the SAT test, she will need to eat for the rest of her life.

In a way, Dad is the ultimate unschooler. Together, Dad and Mom make a pretty good team.

Next, see Dads Part 6.

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Google Alerts are better than even

Before soccer practices started I use to mention interesting news I'd find via Google Alerts. For example: July, June and May. And for awhile I use to blog about scary teacher stories: April and March. I stopped doing the scary teacher stories for several reasons. One reason was there were just so many of the scary teacher stories it was depressing. Another reason was I think there is more value in showing the positive benefits of homeschooling, versus attacking the weaknesses of public schools.

I have kept getting the Google Alerts on homeschooling. Here are some of the search patterns I use:

"home-school" OR "homeschools" OR "home-schools" OR "homeschooling" OR "home-schoolers" OR "homeschoolers"

"homeschooled" OR "home-schooled" "home-schooling" OR "home-education" OR "home-educated"

Recently the Google Alerts have been improved. In addition to providing a sampling of news articles which mention homeschooling, the alerts also include links to recent blog posts on homeschooling. This provides another avenue into finding other blogs which mention homeschooling. Here are a few of the blogs Google Alert recently mentioned:

Unschooling by Homeschooling at School Matters introduces the recent article in the New York Times about unschooling with this comment: "Some parents have the wherewithal and resouces to save their children from being sacrificed to the present-day testing crucible. It is, indeed, a sad commentary to suggest that the best way to save our next generation of children may be to remove them from the straightjacketed testing camps that are quickly replacing America's schools."

I'm Jus' A Lil' Dizzy! also commented about the New York Times article in Dizzy News With A View: Homeschooling.

With over 50,000,000 blogs, it helps to have a name that sticks out. I laughed when I read Joyful Chaos, which introduced their children's Cool Home School blog. had a post on So - Why Do You Homeschool? (Homeschooling).

Trust The Children has a nice store about children, homeschooling, and socialization in Socialization - In The Real World...

Adrienne Furness blogs about Homeschooling and Libraries and has advice for librarians on how to reach out to homeschoolers in A Word about Advertising to Homeschoolers .

So if you would like to get some exposure to random posts about homeschooling, or any other topic, go check out Google Alerts.

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Selections from TTLB's Homeschool Community

I have a several dozen blogs and web sites I try to check most every day. One of them is The Truth Laid Bear's (TTLB) Homeschool Community.

If you have a blog and you haven't checked out TTLB before, go check it out. TTLB is a blog, but it has much more. I first became aware of TTLB when I noticed its ecosystem. It some ways it is like Sitemeter, but the focus is on how many other blogs link to a particular blog, rather than the traffic or hits. (Blogger has more information on hit counters like Sitemeter.) The TTLB's ecosystem is a fun way to see which blogs other bloggers reference. To join the ecosystem you need to register.

Another service TTLB provides is Blogosphere Communities. Currenty there are 44 communities, and it looks like it is pretty easy to suggest another community. About six months ago Dana, of Principled Discovery, was able to get the Bear to create a Homeschool Community.

The Homeschool Community has several features. It lists recent posts about homeschooling. It lists homeschooling posts which other bloggers are linking to. And it provides a ranking of homeschool blogs in terms of how many other blogs link to a particular blog. The first two features are almost like a homeschool carnival. Every day there is a different list. Not all of the posts are directly related to or supporting homeschooling. The following are a few selections:

Daryl Cobranchi of HE&OS interprets a recent article on preschool in NEWSPEAK TRANSLATED.

Joanne of A Day in Our Lives quotes an article from the New York Times in New York Times on Unschooling. Thoughts of an Average Woman writes Unschooling Still a Bogeyman in response to the same New York Times article. In reference to the article Daryl makes an interesting observation: "Homeschooling is now too mainstream (and successful) for the MSM to pick on. Not so for unschooling."

Danny Homeschooling Dad warns parents about What's being taught in schools: Parental Divorce. Danny warns that public schools are teaching children to divorce their parents.

The Thinking Mother shares My Thoughts About What Homeschooling Parents Do, Opinions of Others, Finding Support and Friendships.

From Tales of a Farmwife is My little archaeologists. This is the type of learning that will stick a lot longer than a few books.

At What Would Phoebe Do is a post on Child-led learning which says unschooling is a bad idea.

The TTLB Homeschool community is a good site to check out now and then. If you haven't looked at it before, give it a try.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Book reviews at Dewey's Treehouse

A couple of our favorite books for homeschoolers are

1) The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother Jessie Wise
2) Inside American Education by Thomas Sowell.

The first shows the potential of a truly great education. The second shows the reality of our current public school system.

Even with all the advances in technology Books are still one of the best ways to disseminate information efficiently and effectively.

Mama Squirrel of Dewey's Treehouse, recent posted several book reviews:

In Part 1 she reviews two books by Cyndy Regeling and Tammy Duby: Add Two Cups of Laughter and The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook. She starts off her review of the first book with: "Add Two Cups of Laughter is a book full of ideas to keep your homeschooling from getting stale, or what to do to spice things up when you've all been snowed in too long and you're close to round-the-bend."

In Part 2 she reviews Terri Camp's Ignite the Fire based on Yeats' statement: "Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire."

In Part 3 she reviews When Homeschooling Gets Tough! by Diana Johnson and Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.

In Part 4 she reviews several books by Joyce Herzog.

Update I:

In Part 5 Mama Squirrel reviews Making Sense of History: Using High-Quality Literature and Hands-On Experiences to Build Content Knowledge, by Myra Zarnowski.

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Growing Without Schooling

The following was sent to the Stillwater Homeschool Alliance mailing list just over a month ago:


Growing Without Schooling is the work of John C. Holt and homeschooling's early pioneer families. It is now made available exclusively by Home Education Magazine at

Patrick Farenga President, Holt Associates Inc. writes:

"Posting issues of Growing Without Schooling magazine (GWS) online is exhilarating to me, and a bit sad. Exhilarating because I am excited that a new audience of children and adults will be able to read these issues almost exactly as they were published nearly thirty years ago. Sad because their posting achingly reminds me of the loss of my friend and mentor John Holt, and because they mark a fascinating period of my own life that is now considered "historic." Just writing that makes me feel old, if not historical.

At the time I didn’t think I was part of any historical record: I was just a young man gaining office and publishing experience, wielding an Exacto knife and rubber cement to get out the next publication John wanted to do. But after a year of working with John, I realized how important and unique GWS was and I "was hooked." Looking back, I also realize how lucky I was to work with Peggy Durkee, Donna Richoux, Tim Chapman, and all the volunteers who helped bring out the materials Holt produced then. With John, these diverse personalities produced one of the foundations of the homeschooling movement. John couldn’t have done it without their generous assistance."

Visit to read the rest of Mr. Farenga's message.

Once you are there, you will find more Growing Without Schooling issues have been added. Issues 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 31, 49, 52, 53, 54, 68, 69, 70, 77 and 78 are now available with many more to come very soon. Recently, Home Education Magazine also added an index to the issues that can be accessed here:

For more information about unschooling or homeschooling vist the award winning Home Education Magazine here-


There is a ton of information. This is a great resource for both people new to homeschooling, and old timers.

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A few selections from HomeSchoolBuzz - 25 Nov 06

I'm slowly climbing out of the hole of not enough time for blogging. For the last couple months I've been coaching my youngest daughter's soccer team. The extra four or five hours of coaching, plus the four or five hours of watching the other two daughter's games adds up. Soccer ended last week, and I'm expecting to be blogging more now.

Gary of HomeSchoolBuzz does a great job of finding interesting news about homeschoolers. The following are selections from some of his recent posts:

The Korea Times reports on Prodigies' Mother Reveals Secret. It was a nice article about how the mother of two geniuses helps her children get a challenging education.

From the Buzzle Web Portal is 4 Reasons Why You Should Homeschool Your Child. It started with this fascinating line: "A recent survey indicated that nearly 30% of American parents are seriously considering homeschooling their children rather than sending them to school." Does anyone know what survey?

From Dallas Morning News is a pleasant article on Home-schooling mom turns to nature for inspiration.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Poll on Styles on Schooling

That tv show has a poll on styles of schooling. It is not very well written. They count unschooling and homeschooling as separate things.

Here's the latest poll results:

Which style of schooling do you think is best?

15%..........469..........Public school
9%..........366..........Private school

Considering that unschoolers are homeschoolers, that puts homeschooling at 76% as the best style of schooling.

The numbers keep changing. When my mother-in-law checked the poll this morning homeschooling/unschooling was only at 70%.

So much for a raise of hands like they did with the show audience.

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That TV show on homeschooling and unschooling

Once P.T. Barnum once said "I don't care what they say about me, just make sure they spell my name right!" His point was that even bad press was good business. There is some wisdom in his observation. I don't want to encourage people to watch TV shows which unfairly attack or are dishonest in their presentation. And so for the rest of this post I'll refer to the Dr. Phil show that aired last night as that TV show.

When I first heard a popular televsion host wanted homeschoolers for his show I was excited. Homeschooling is a great influence for good. To give it national exposure would encourage more people to at least investigate homeschooling. The popularly accepted numbers are that about two percent of the children in American are homeschooled. It would be great if that grew to five or even ten percent. I do think it will happen in the next ten to twenty years. National exposure on a popular TV show would help accelerate the growth of homeschooling.

When my wife found a report on the recording of that TV show, I realized that this would not be real helpful in teaching people about the benefits of homeschooling.

I only watched a few minutes last night. I hadn't planned to watch, since I had heard from several sources that it was to be an attack on homeschooling. My wife turned on the televsion last night and in flipping around came across that TV show. We watched for a bit.

I forget the exact words, but at one point the host asks the audience how many people thought unschooling was a good idea. Several hands went up. The host said about five percent of the audience was in support of unschooling. Then he asked how many thought public school, with all its problems was a better alternative. A few more hands went up. From the perspective the camera gave it didn't seem like a whole lot of hands went up. But the host said about 90% were in support of public schooling. I had read the report about how that TV show bused in students from a public school, so I recognized that that TV show was stacking the deck in favor of the arguement the host was making. This was very dishonest.

A little later that TV show had a 26 year old woman on who complained that homeschooling had ruined her life. That she didn't have an active social life. The viewers were suppose to come to the conclusion that all homeschoolers are socially backwards retards. For my wife and I the bad socialization at public schools is one of the reasons we homeschool. The truth is as a group homeschoolers are more socially well rounded.

One of the problems with making any kind of claim that life would have been better if we had choosen another alternative is that we can never know for sure. With science we can run and rerun various experiments. But with people we can't back up life and see what would have happend if this woman had gone to public school. All we can do is to look at evidence and make our best guess. We do know that children have horrible experiences every year in public schools. Thousands to hundreds of thousands are bullied every year. Public schools waste time. Even more get a poor education.

The problem with that TV show's presentation is not that there was some child some where in the whole world who was homeschooled and regrets it, but that there was no context given. For example they didn't mention Dr. Brian Ray's study which found that 95% of the adults who were homeschooled were glad they were homeschooled, and less than 2% were upset about being homeschooled.

If people stopped and compared the few individuals who regret being homeschooled to the mlllions of people who had horrible experiences going to public school, they would realize that homeschooling is a much better choice.

At this point I went upstairs to watch other shows.

What are some good responses?

Well I plan to write a short note to that TV show and explain that they were dishonest in their presentation of homeschooling and that I don't plan to ever watch the show again. I'll also write some of the companies which advertise on that TV show and tell them why I will not be watching that TV show ever again. Someone has already posted a list of sponsors of that TV show. If anyone posts a list with addresses, please let me know.

Right now I don't plan to write any more about that TV show. I don't want to give them any press. If you are interested in what others are saying about that TV show check out:

The Homeschool Scuttle reports on the taping of the show.

The Thinking Mother shares some of her thoughts and she also has a report on the taping of the show.

The Princess Mom reports that the poll by that TV show are rounding the numbers in favor of public school. Even with this dishonesty, the results are good for homeschooling and unschooling.

At the Four Willows Christian Academy the point is made that the 26 year old woman mostly seems to be upset that she didn't get to be a cheer leader.

Valorie Delp wants to know what research claims that after eighth grade children are better socialized in public schools.

Dana is upset that that TV show is so hostile to homeschoolers.

Spunky is looking for feedback from people who watched that TV show.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Friday, November 24, 2006

A few upcoming carnivals on Homeschooling

At The Common Room the Headmistress will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week. Submissions are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time. Here are the instructions for sending in your submission.

This snuck up on me, submissions for the December Catholic Homeschool Carnival are due tomorrow. It will be hosted by O Night Divine. (This carnival is a monthly carnival, with entries due on the 25th of the money.) Go here to send in an entry.

You have a little more time for Unschooling Voices, are carnival about unschooling. Joanne of A Day in Our Lives put out a request for submissions; the submissions are due at the end of the November.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Normal Rockwell

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

Frederick Keonig quotes

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Generosity and Education

A soon to be released books compares charitable behavior between various ideologies.

The book, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism " by Arthur Brooks, has some interesting conclusions.

From Arthur Brooks' web page:

People who are religious give more across the board to all causes than their non-religious counterparts

There is a huge “charity gap” that follows religion: On average, religious people are far more generous than secularists with their time and money. This is not just because of giving to churches—religious people are more generous than secularists towards explicitly non-religious charities as well. They are also more generous in informal ways, such as giving money to family members, and behaving honestly.

Giving supports economic growth and actually creates prosperity

Many studies show that giving and volunteering improve physical health and happiness, and lead to better citizenship. In other words, we need to give for our own good. Cultural and political influences—and the many government policies—that discourage private charitable behavior have negative effects that are far more widespread than people usually realize.

The working poor in America give more to charity than the middle class

The American working poor are, relative to their income, some of the most generous people in America today. The nonworking poor, however—those on public assistance instead of earning low wages—give at lower levels than any other group. In other words, poverty does not discourage charity in America, but welfare does.

Upper level income people often give less than the working poor

Among Americans with above-average incomes who do not give charitably, a majority say that they ‘don’t have enough money.’ Meanwhile, the working poor in America give a larger percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group, including the middle class and rich.


People who give money charitably are 43 percent more likely to say they are “very happy” than nongivers and 25 percent more likely than nongivers to say their health is excellent or very good.

A religious person is 57% more likely than a secularist to help a homeless person.
Conservative households in America donate 30% more money to charity each year than liberal households.

If liberals gave blood like conservatives do, the blood supply in the U.S. would jump by about 45%.

I've always thought that much of the support for "tax payer financed programs for the poor" were an attempt to avoid guilt for lack of personal generosity. True generosity is what you do with your money, not someone else's.

There is a theory in psychology that people feel uncomfortable in inequitable relationships. There are two ways to relieve the discomfort. Change what you do or change how you think about it. It is much easier to change how you think about it, so that is the option most people choose. Voting for more funding for the poor at the taxpayers expense alleviates feelings of guilt without requiring the individual actually do anything for the poor. This study bares that out.

I do think there is another category of people who support governmental income redistribution. Such individuals can be very generous, but arrogantly assume they know what is best for others. Thomas Sowell describes this phenomenon in his book, "Vision of the Anointed." Such people believe that by making life easier for non-producers at the expense of the producers, more people will prosper. The reverse is actually true.

I'm reminded of an example I read in a book. If you crack the shell of an egg to make it easier for the chick to hatch, the chick will usually die. The struggle to break the shell is what develops the circulatory system and makes the chick strong enough to survive. This is why much of welfare "help" actually harms the individual. The aided individual looses the capacity to do for oneself.

Like the Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”

This relates to education. Our entire public education system is based on, "Give a man a fish, and tell him that only professionals with certificates are qualified to fish."

I can not tell how many times someone has said to me, "That's great that you homeschool, but I could never do that."

My response is, "Yes, you could."

Almost all functioning adults could care for and educate their children, if they choose to put in the effort to do so. It is a tragedy that capable adults now believe that it is impossible to care for children without the aid of the state. Increasingly, schools take on the role the parents once served. The more that parents are relieve of their responsibilities, the weaker they become. Eventually, potentially able parents find that even if they wanted to take an active role, they are afraid to try.

Regardless of how good schools become, children will go home to increasingly incompetent parents as the "education system" lulls parents into inefficacy, much as the current welfare system sabotages the poor.

Hat Tip: Spunky Homeschool.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Putting the universe in perspective

My mother recently sent me a fascinating URL. The web site starts the viewer off by showing the Milky Way Galaxy from 10 million light years away. Then the web site zooms in by factors of ten each time. It helps to give some sense of the scale of our galaxy, our solar system, Earth, and so on, down to the subatomic level. Pretty educational.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation

Since it will soon be Thanksgiving, click here to see all the presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations.

Here is this year's proclamation:

November 16, 2006

As Americans gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for the many ways that our Nation and our people have been blessed.

The Thanksgiving tradition dates back to the earliest days of our society, celebrated in decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables. Nearly four centuries have passed since early settlers gave thanks for their safe arrival and pilgrims enjoyed a harvest feast to thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World. General George Washington observed Thanksgiving during the Revolutionary War, and in his first proclamation after becoming President, he declared November 26, 1789, a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition of proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, reminding a divided Nation of its founding ideals.

At this time of great promise for America, we are grateful for the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and defended by our Armed Forces throughout the generations. Today, many of these courageous men and women are securing our peace in places far from home, and we pay tribute to them and to their families for their service, sacrifice, and strength. We also honor the families of the fallen and lift them up in our prayers.

Our citizens are privileged to live in the world's freest country, where the hope of the American dream is within the reach of every person. Americans share a desire to answer the universal call to serve something greater than ourselves, and we see this spirit every day in the millions of volunteers throughout our country who bring hope and healing to those in need. On this Thanksgiving Day, and throughout the year, let us show our gratitude for the blessings of freedom, family, and faith, and may God continue to bless America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 2006, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.


Here are a few excerpts from previous proclamations:

George Washington


Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks...

John Adams


As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants....

Ulysses S. Grant


Whereas it behooves a people sensible of their dependence on the Almighty publicly and collectively to acknowledge their gratitude for his favors and mercies and humbly to beseech for their continuance; and

Whereas the people of the United States during the year now about to end have special cause to be thankful for general prosperity, abundant harvests, exemption from pestilence, foreign war, and civil strife :

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States, concurring in any similar recommendations from chief magistrates of States, do hereby recommend to all citizens to meet in their respective places of worship on Thursday the 24th day of November next, there to give thanks for the bounty of God during the year about to close and to supplicate for its continuance hereafter.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 21st day of October, A.D. 1870, and of the Independence of the United States of America the ninety-fifth.

This week we can spend time reading the past proclamations as part of our studies. It is interesting to see how proclamations have changed over the years, as well as how they have stayed the same.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Selections from Astronomy Picture of the Day - 20 Nov 06

My youngest daughter said the picture of Wisps of the Orion Nebula is the most beautiful astronomy picture she has every seen.

For the picture of a Cosmic Whirlpool she said "Wow!"

Her comment on two galaxies colliding was "That's nice."

Her observation of a variable star is "It's very nice."

I check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day web site most days. I guess I'll have to start having my daughters look at the pictures also.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thanksgiving and homeschooling

This next week much of the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Tami is hosting the next Carnival of Homeschooling. She is using a theme of being thankful. Consider submitting a post about aspects of homeschooling for which you are thankful.

As always submissions are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM PST. Here are the instructions.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Dads - Part 4

Next in the series on how Dads (or at least the Dad at our house) participate in the education of their children. (If you missed it, here's Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

4) Dad handles everything and anything to do with pets or animals.

This isn't unique to homeschooling and applies to families in general. Henry feels very strongly that pets are an important part of child development. It gives children the opportunity to be responsible for the care of the animal. It gives children experience with the life and death cycle of mortality.

While I agree with this, I hate to clean up after animals. I also have terrible allergies. So, Henry takes care of anything related to pets. He works with the girls to pick out a pet. He takes them on field trips to breeders and pet stores. He takes them to visit other people's animals. He teaches the girls how to care for and clean up after their animals. He takes the girls with him to the vet.

Henry also makes an effort to take the girls to his sister's house to learn about and ride horses. Their aunt is an accomplished rider and a great teacher.

The girls have had some wonderful experiences with animals. And not to sound odd, but the death of a pet is an important growth experience. Henry has presided over more than one pet funeral. Though I found his eulogy at the rat funeral rather terrifying when you think about all the roof rats we've killed in our garage.

Any time one of the kids asks about getting a new pet, my response is this. "Talk to your father. I'm not on that committee."

My kids know that I don't involve myself with the pets, but when they were asleep at night sometimes I would play with the pet rats. They were really quite sweet and I was actually quite sad to see them go. However, I wanted to throw a party when the last goldfish died. The kids were just to little to clean the tank and I did get stuck with that one. Now the tank is a pet rock habitat. I couldn't be happier.

For next in this series, see Part 5.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

More on Bullies

Here are a few tidbits I saw in today's news about bullies and school violence, as a follow up to this post. All of these stories are very sad. I'm very grateful that my children don't go to school. I pity those who are left to sink or swim in such dangerous waters.

School Safety Expert focuses on Guns and Bullying

Since August 1st, 16 students across the country have died as a result of school violence. That puts this school year on pace to be one of the most violent in the last 8 years.

Next is a particularly horrifying story from the UK.

Parents burned to death following vendetta against bullied daughter, court hears

A woman and her husband were murdered in an arson attack on their home following a vendetta against their bullied daughter, a court heard.

...The arson attack was launched by Michael Connor, 40, the jury was told, whose daughter, Natalie, then 17, had fallen out with Lucy when they were both pupils at Newall Green School last year.

Connor had been urged on by his estranged wife, Jane, 40, and his daughter, after playground rows between the two girls developed into a "campaign of harassment" by the Connors aimed at Lucy and her family, the court heard.

...He said the bullying at school started with insults and escalated until Lucy was arrested by police over an "entirely false allegation" of assault by Natalie.

During the campaign of harassment the Cochrane's car was damaged, and a tree was uprooted in the Cochrane family garden. Only five days before the fatal fire, liquid was poured on the front door of their home. It was reported to the police but no officer ever tested the liquid.

Mr Webster QC said: "Given that the fatal fire took place just five days later, what took place that morning seems to be particularly sinister - a harbinger of future tragedy - and it is extremely sad that it did not prove possible to take action in that intervening period."

Can't really blame this one on the school. The whole family was in on it, even the grandmother who has since pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. I will be interested to see how the trial ends.

This last article comes from Cananda.

Beating the bully

Eleven-year-old Sean understands why sometimes kids who are bullied commit suicide. There are occasions when the bullying that he endures at school becomes so tormenting that he thinks of jumping out a window and breaking an arm or a leg so that he can stay home from school.

Sean has been a target of bullies since kindergarten.

"I've always been left out," he said. "I had to beg to play."

Sean has been called names, pushed, kicked in the groin, and choked by the collar of his shirt. He's been harassed so many times that he usually no longer cries or wants to discuss it when he returns home from school. Most times, he said, he keeps his hurt feelings to himself.

Sean's mom, Margaret, has discussed bullying with school officials many times, yet efforts to halt it are often unsuccessful.

With this story I keep asking myself why the mother keeps sending him back. I'm left to ponder what anyone can do from the outside. I can't think of any way I can make schools safer for other people's children. The only thing I can do is to keep my kids safe.

I do advice my kids to give difficult people a wide berth. We also tell them to defend themselves.

We had a minor incident at a few years back. A boy came up behind my oldest daughter and purposely tripped her with a jump rope. She fell flat on her back and had the wind knocked out of her. It really scared her when she could breathe for a few seconds.

She came to me crying and asked to go home. The boy's mother heard her and went to talk to her son. I was surprised when the mother came back and complained that my daughter had kicked her son in the groin after she fell. My daughter who was still sobbing at this point and just looked at the mother in confusion.

My daughter explained that she was kicking her feet to try and free herself from the rope that the boy had wrapped around her ankles. The boy's mother lectured for a moment about how you should never kick a boy "in his privates." My daughter was only ten and didn't really know what this mother was talking about.

My daughter was still quite upset and asked to go home. I took her aside for a private little chat. Basically I told her that in a situation like that it was ok to kick as hard as she could anywhere she wanted. She didn't need to worry about hurting her attacker. My daughter calmed down and that was the end of it.

I should add that the boy was basically a good kid. It seemed like it had never occurred to him that sneaking up behind someone and tripping them wasn't funny.

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Recent carnivals

Janine's post on Pinocchio Parenting was in this week's Carnival of Family Life hosted by Michele at scribbit.

This week's Carnival of Kid Comedy is at Life in a shoe.

The 93rd edition of the Carnival of Education is at What It's Like on the Inside.

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