Friday, July 31, 2009

A virtual education for free

Virtual education... for free reports:

Video-sharing site YouTube recently created a hub called YouTube EDU at for the more than 100 US colleges and universities offering free online learning.
They don't offer degrees but then they don't charge tuition either.
Colleges and universities across the United States are offering free courses online on virtually every subject imaginable, including videotaped lectures by some of their most distinguished professors.
Video-sharing site
YouTube recently created a hub called YouTube EDU at for the more than 100 US colleges and universities offering free online learning.
Among the thousands of
videos on YouTube EDU are the celebrated classroom theatrics of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) physics professor Walter Lewin, whose clips have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
Other leading institutions of
higher education posting videos to YouTube include the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale.

Just amazing!

Technorati tags: ,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Strange Maps

Bob Durtschi sent me another cool link Strange Maps.

Warning, you might only want to click through if you got a few hours to look through the interesting maps.

Technorati tags: Strange, Maps

The Power of Technology - a video on the Obama Health Reform and Wait Times Visualization (In Lego!)

Matt of 10000Pennies has done it again! With a small budget he has created a powerful message:

My eldest daughter read Do Hard Things last week. My second daughter just started it. One of the main messages is too often we allow ourselves to be limited. There are hundreds of thousands of people who could build the types of videos Matt has produced. If you have a such a message, don't be sacred, go for it.

Technorati tags: technology, influence

Cell phones and medical technology

Back in April I wrote about a project using cell phones to drive down the price of ultrasound devices from $10,000 to $200 and make them available to third world nations.

A Cell-Phone Microscope for Disease Detection builds on this theme of using cell phones with medical devices:

In a twist on traditional smart-phone accessories, researchers have demonstrated fluorescent microscopy using a physical attachment to an ordinary cell phone. The researchers behind the device say that it could identify and track diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in developing countries with limited access to health care, or in rural areas of the U.S.
The "Cellscope," which came out of an optics-class project at the University of California, Berkeley, could capture and perform simple analysis of magnified images of blood and sputum samples, or transmit the images over the cell-phone network for analysis elsewhere.
The contraption--a tube-like extension hooked onto the cell phone with a modified belt clip--works just like a traditional microscope, using a series of lenses that magnify blood or spit samples on a microscope slide. To detect TB, for example, a spit sample is infused with an inexpensive dye called auramine. An "excitation" wavelength is emitted by the light source--a blue light-emitting diode (LED) on the opposite end of the device from the cell phone--and absorbed by the auramine dye in the spit sample, which fluoresces green to illuminate TB bacteria. Then automated software can count the green bacteria for a diagnosis in real time, or the image can be transmitted via cell network to a separate facility where doctors can analyze it and respond.


The article has a cool picture showing the device.

This device would allow third world nations a greater ability to detect diseases like TB.

Who would have thought that cell phones might make such a difference in the world of medicine?

It is an amazing world.

Technorati tags: , ,

Good thoughts about lying

From A.Word.A.Day:

We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.
-Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (1902-1983)

As William Shakespeare says in Hamlet:

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."

Technorati tags: , Eric Hoffer

An interview with Anita Renfroe

About two years ago Janine posted Anita Renfroe's Momsense, a wonderful summary of what a mom says in a typical day:

If you've never heard this, take a deep breath and click play. Amazing!

Recently I came across this delightful interview with Anita.

Technorati tags: , Anita Renfroe

John Taylor Gatto on Intellectual Espionage

Bob Durtschi recently pointed me to a startling section by John Taylor Gatto on the declining literacy in America. Intellectual Espionage starts with:

At the start of WWII millions of men showed up at registration offices to take low-level academic tests before being inducted. The years of maximum mobilization were 1942 to1944; the fighting force had been mostly schooled in the 1930s, both those inducted and those turned away. Of the 18 million men were tested, 17,280,000 of them were judged to have the minimum competence in reading required to be a soldier, a 96 percent literacy rate. Although this was a 2 percent fall-off from the 98 percent rate among voluntary military applicants ten years earlier, the dip was so small it didn’t worry anybody.
WWII was over in 1945. Six years later another war began in Korea. Several million men were tested for military service but this time 600,000 were rejected. Literacy in the draft pool had dropped to 81 percent, even though all that was needed to classify a soldier as literate was fourth- grade reading proficiency. In the few short years from the beginning of WWII to Korea, a terrifying problem of adult illiteracy had appeared. The Korean War group received most of its schooling in the 1940s, and it had more years in school with more professionally trained personnel and more scientifically selected textbooks than the WWII men, yet it could not read, write, count, speak, or think as well as the earlier, less-schooled contingent.
A third American war began in the mid-1960s. By its end in 1973 the number of men found noninductible by reason of inability to read safety instructions, interpret road signs, decipher orders, and so on—in other words, the number found illiterate—had reached 27 percent of the total pool. Vietnam-era young men had been schooled in the 1950s and the 1960s—much better schooled than either of the two earlier groups—but the 4 percent illiteracy of 1941 which had transmuted into the 19 percent illiteracy of 1952 had now had grown into the 27 percent illiteracy of 1970. Not only had the fraction of competent readers dropped to 73 percent but a substantial chunk of even those were only barely adequate; they could not keep abreast of developments by reading a newspaper, they could not read for pleasure, they could not sustain a thought or an argument, they could not write well enough to manage their own affairs without assistance.


The section concludes with:

Back in 1952 the Army quietly began hiring hundreds of psychologists to find out how 600,000 high school graduates had successfully faked illiteracy. Regna Wood sums up the episode this way:
"After the psychologists told the officers that the graduates weren’t faking, Defense Department administrators knew that something terrible had happened in grade school reading instruction. And they knew it had started in the thirties. Why they remained silent, no one knows. The switch back to reading instruction that worked for everyone should have been made then. But it wasn’t."
In 1882, fifth graders read these authors in their Appleton School Reader: William Shakespeare, Henry Thoreau, George Washington, Sir Walter Scott, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Bunyan, Daniel Webster, Samuel Johnson, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others like them. In 1995, a student teacher of fifth graders in Minneapolis wrote to the local newspaper, "I was told children are not to be expected to spell the following words correctly: back, big, call, came, can, day, did, dog, down, get, good, have, he, home, if, in, is, it, like, little, man, morning, mother, my, night, off, out, over, people, play, ran, said, saw, she, some, soon, their, them, there, time, two, too, up, us, very, water, we, went, where, when, will, would, etc. Is this nuts?"


What worked was phonics. I was handicapped early in life by being taught "Look say." Even to this day I'm only marginally competent with phonics. I am so grateful that Janine and I can teach our children principles that work, instead of them being suffering from the latest educational theory.

I don't understand why the "professional" educators are willing to put up with 27% illiteracy rates. Why don't they wake up and say "Whoa, we need to go back to phonetics!"

Until this happens government schools will continue graduating large numbers of students who struggle with simple words.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

Another beautiful picture from APOD - The Dark River to Antares

Jason Jennings gave me permission to post his picture of The Dark River to Antares:

Beautiful, just beautiful.

Technorati tags: , , Antares, Jason Jennings

Are we educational John Galts?

Around seventeen or eighteen I read Ayn Rand's massive book Atlas Shrugged. I liked some of the things she said like we should use reason to make decisions and that government and society should not force people to sacrifice themselves for others. I disagree that there is no God and it is OK for people to sleep around.

One of the main threads of Atlas Shrugged is John Galt goes around encouraging those who to produce to go on strike. As more movers and shakers walk away from their businesses, society starts to fall apart.

As I read The Dad Who Holds Schools to the Rules which highlights the efforts of people like David Page to save public schools I wonder if homeschoolers are educational John Galts? The article starts with:

David Page says the problem is that parents are on their own. Teachers have a union. So do principals. School board members get to vote plans up or down and top administrators make decisions in the salmon-pink offices of San Diego Unified.
But parents are often too intimidated to speak up or too star-struck with school staffers to question them, Page said. Education is a world loaded with its own numbing lingo -- categorical funding, supplement not supplant, program improvement -- and it seems overwhelming to understand it, let alone to fight it.
"They think, 'They make six figures and they're educated. Who am I to second guess them?'" Page said.


David Page sounds like a great guy. He has spent years trying to improve public schools. But public schools just keep getting worse and worse. I don't have any faith that government schools, the way they are currently set up, will ever get better.

Maybe at some point the David Pages in our society will give up, and more and more parents will turn to private schools and homeschooling. If a large movement develops, then I think government schools will be questioned, challenged, and maybe even discarded.

Are we educational John Galts?

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

Important lesson: keep a video camera handy

Just over a month ago I read an account of Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer Daniel Martin who pulled over an ambulance. It appears the officer thought the driver had flipped him off, which turns out to be protected under free speech. It may be stupid, but the officer had no legal reason for pulling over the ambulance.

Maurice White, the other paramedic, got out and asked if there was something wrong. Maurice was worried that the officer needed help. Trooper Martin yelled at him to get back in the ambulance. The paramedic explained that they had a patient and asked if they could proceed to the hospital and then resolve the officer's issues. Legally the police are not allowed to stop an ambulance when they are in the process of taking a patient to a hospital. The officer started to lose it. At one point the officer puts the paramedic in a choke hold.

You can read the paramedic's report here.

It appears the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's first response was to arrest the paramedic for obstructing justice. Never mind that the officer had broken a few laws.

One of the main reasons the Oklahoma Highway Patrol backed down is a son of the patient in the ambulance had been following his mother. When the officer started hassling the paramedic the son took this video:

It quickly got tens of thousands of hits. (Now it is up to 1.6 million hits.)

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol cars have their own video cameras. They claim they don't have to release the video, which is offensive because they are suppose to be protected us citizens, and we pay for the cameras. With all the publicity, and politicians asking the Highway Patrol to release the video, they finally release the video from the officer's car:

News organizations dug up earlier reports of Trooper Daniel Martin being a bully. To be fair they also found that a few co-workers at a previous thought Maurice White was unprofessional. As I have watched the two above videos a couple times it seems to be that on a scale of one to ten Daniel Martin is a seven or eight as being way out of line, and Maurice White might be a two. He could have been a little more tactful, but he was trying hard to take care of his patient.

I set up a couple Google Alerts to track this issue. Just this week the Oklahoma Highway Patrol decided to slap Daniel Martin's hands and give him a five day supension, without pay.

It is mind boggling to me that they feel Daniel Martin can be trusted with a gun. He may be a nice guy, good with dogs, great husband, and helps little old ladies across the street. But he showed a complete lack of judgement. What happens the next time he is in a stressful situation? I'm afraid it could go bad, maybe very bad.

One of the lessons I take from this incident is that the only reason Maurice White didn't end up in jail is the son of the patient had a video camera. With all the publicity the Highway Patrol had to be a little fair and leave Maurice White alone.

If I lived in Oklahoma I'd be calling the state officials and demanding that Daniel Martin be fired.

And I'm going to try and always have a video camera handy.

Technorati tags: Daniel Martin, Maurice White

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - the Loving Summer Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is being hosted at SmallWorld.

The carnival starts with:

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling! Down here in the South, all the stores are in a Back-to-School frenzy. Our city's schools start back next week, and the rest are soon to follow. Having grown up in New York, where school starts back the day after Labor Day, I find this late July/early August return-to-school policy bordering on criminal. What about the hot days of August, when the grass is crispy and the pool water finally warm?
For our family, that's just another huge reason to homeschool: we can make our own schedules. Whether you school year round, follow a traditional schedule, or take your "summer break" in October, you get to choose what works best for your family. And that's what it's all about.
We have some great posts this month, and scattered amongst the posts are photos of some of our family's favorite things about summer. Because I am not ready to let go yet!

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Homeschooling on Facebook

Janine and I have been blogging for almost four years now. My how time flies.

While Janine joined Facebook a long time ago, I only got set up a couple weeks ago. I have enjoyed seeing what friends and family are doing.

I learned that Facebook has a very active wall on homeschooling. There are frequent requests for help, informative posts about resources, and encouragement to keep on homeschooling.

If you are on Facebook try checking out the wall on homeschooling.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

It is that time again! Please remember to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted at SmallWorld

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What if the Government ran Health Care?

Funny, in a sad sort of way:

(Hat tip: Reason Magazine)

Technorati tags: Government, Health, Care

I wonder how many volunteers they'll get?

I know people who would pay money to be in this study. Wanted: volunteers to eat chocolate every day for a year in the name of science:

Scientists from the University of East Anglia are searching for volunteers to eat chocolate every day for a year.
Researchers studying the potential health benefits of dark chocolate at UEA in Norwich, Norfolk, need 40 women to test specially made bars.
Participants must be post-menopausal and have type 2 diabetes to help see whether flavonoid compounds in chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Some 150 volunteers who took part in the study's first round of tests last year will soon be tested for any health benefits.


(Hat tip Slashdot Stories)

Technorati tags: chocolate

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book review: Miracle at Midway by Gordon W. Prange

I am fascinated by the Battle of Midway. In June 1942 the Japanese were trying to launch a surprise attack at Midway, but the Americans were able to turn the tables and sink four Japanese aircraft carriers. It was a major setback for the Japanese. Many on both sides agree that this was the deciding battle for the Pacific conflict. The Japanese went from being on the offensive to fighting a defensive war.

My interest in Midway was first peaked with Victor Davis Hanson's Carnage and Culture. The book covers several “Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power.” Professor Hanson spends fifty five pages on Midway. One of the main points is that the American culture allowed greater flexibility at the individual level which paid great dividends. For example several times American pilots were directed to certain locations to attack the Japanese fleet. When the pilots arrived, they didn’t see any ships. Rather than wait for instructions, they went looking for the ships. Invariably they made the right decisions and the final result was the complete destruction of all four carriers.

Miracle at Midway by Gordon W. Prange covers the Battle of Midway in great detail. Four hundred sixty pages summarize years of research. To prepare for this book the author waded through dozens of diaries and thousands of pages of government records. This research was on both the American side and the Japanese side. The author interviewed many of the survivors.

The result is an engaging book. It was hard for me to put down. The author did a great job of taking the reader through the events. It is easy to follow what was happening, even with the story taking place simultaneously at several locations.

The book also does a great job of showing the “fog of war.” Often times leaders on both sides were forced to make major decisions with faulty or incomplete information. Because of the exhaustive research the author has the details from both sides. I was surprised by how many times a pilot would claim to hit a ship of a certain time, but the records from the other side would show the ship was a smaller class. Sometimes the author was not able to find any record of any ship being attacked.

If you want to know more about the Battle of Midway this is a great book to read.

Technorati tags: Miracle, , Midway, Gordon Prange

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It is all in how you report the news

One of my favorite jokes is from the mid 1980s::

"Seems that there was an auto race with just two entrants: An American car, and a Soviet car. The American won. The Soviet press announced the results this way: "The Soviet car came in second. The American car came in next to the last."

I was reminded of this joke while reading Paul Jacob's column Prop 13 Declared Innocent. California politicians are having trouble agreeing on a budget. The media reports that Prop 13, which put a limit on how fast the government could raise property taxes, is to blame. Paul Jacob writes that Chris Reed of the San Diego Union-Tribune did some investigating and found even with Prop 13, property tax revenue has climbed 579 percent in the last 30 years.

I agree with Paul and Chris, the problem in California is not Prop 13, it is politicians who have trouble controling their desires for spending.

Technorati tags: taxes, Prop 13, Paul Jacob, education

Music Video on class size and performance

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is going to create a weekly "Fun Fact Friday" video about education. Here is last week's video:

Fun Fact Friday! - Student/Teacher Ratio from Education Gadfly on Vimeo.

(Hat tip: Friends of Dave)

Technorati tags: children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

Interesting - taller people earn more money

Study shows Taller People Earn More Money reports:

Taller men are able to earn more money than their shorter counterparts simply because taller people are perceived to be more intelligent and powerful, this according to a study published in The Economic Record by Wiley-Blackwell.
The study entitled “Does Size Matter in Australia?” uses newly available data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to estimate the relationship between hourly wages and two aspects of body size: height and BMI.
It finds that taller people, particularly men, earn more money - with every five centimetres of height being worth about $950 per annum.


When I was growing up children were often told to "Eat your vegetables so you'll grow up big and strong." Maybe now we should be telling them: "Eat your vegetables so you'll grow up and earn more money."

Technorati tags: parenting, children, children, tall, money

Another beautiful picture from APOD - the Trifid Nebula

John Taylor Gatto on the purpose of public schools - brainwashing and preparing for factories

Many people have turned to homeschooling because of John Taylor Gatto. In this ten minute video he explains some of his concerns about public schools:

(Hat tip: Twitter Homeschooling wall)

There are a whole lot of other John Taylor Gatto videos on Youtube.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When to take your daughters to the shooting range?

Janine and I have talked about taking a class with our daughters on gun safety and having them learn how to shoot. We just weren't sure at what age to start them.

Sprittibee recently went shooting with her 10-year-old daughter.

I guess we should stop talking about it and go do it.

Technorati tags: gun, shooting

Possible new line of games?

This is funny:

(Hat tip: Consent Of The Governed)

Technorati tags: Socialism, Life

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One of the reasons public schools don't improve

A major impediment to improvement in public schools is that public school officials making bad decisions rarely suffer consequences. It is almost impossible to fire a bad teacher with tenure.

In Proof Districts can't reform themselves, Dave references an article where a Girl was suspended for videotaping unruly class. The article starts with:

Allison Moore says she and her 15-year-old daughter complained for months about the chaotic environment in a Clayton Valley High School math class.
"The students weren't behaving," Moore said of the third period Introduction to Algebra class. "The teacher couldn't control the students. They were making a ruckus everyday, making it difficult to learn."
The ninth-grade students threw things around the room. Shortly after Christmas, students told the Times, someone exploded Play-Doh in the microwave, resulting in a smoke-filled classroom that teacher Michael Huang refused to air out. In other classes Huang taught, they said, students lit trash can fires and smoked cigarettes or even marijuana.
Moore said she told administrators about the problems in February, but added little seemed to change.


The girl is very frustrated. She wants to learn. She isn't learning. Finally after months of complaining she video tapes the class one day on her cell phone. A friend of hers puts it up on the internet. The school officials find out and suspend her.

Dave raises some good points:

This school has wasted an entire year of educational opportunity in math for these students. They will never get that time back. Yet, from the article it doesn't sound like any of the adults involved have any consequences. Sure, the teacher won't be there next year, but he had already resigned. Where are the consequences for the principal who ignored nearly a full school year's worth of complaints about the classroom? Wouldn't it have made sense for the principal to stop by at least once? Is there any doubt that they would have witnessed the chaos these students describe?

I wonder if the rules should be changed to allow students to video tape their classes. Maybe we'd get a little more accountability.

Technorati tags: parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

NHELD has another reason to homeschool

Judy Aron brought my attention to a recent NHELD bulletin with another reason to homeschool.

Deborah G. Stevenson explains that the federal government is pushing mandatory swine flu vaccinations for children in public schools this fall, fall of 2009. She lists several problems with the vaccine. A big issue is that parents may not have any say or choice.

It is a good bulletin, worth reading the full text.

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

Would you like to host a zoo animal?

A recent news article caught my eye. Zoos Fear Forced Closure, Destruction of Animals starts with:

Anyone want a giraffe?
A zoo operator says it will have to close a pair of Massachussetts zoos, lay off most of the 165 employees, find homes for some of the more-than-1,000 animals and possibly euthanize the rest of the animals unless the state restores millions of dollars in funding.
Patrons view giraffes at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston Thursday, June 13, 2002. Massachusetts, facing a $2 billion deficit, is proposing to drastically cut funding for two state-financed zoos.


This reminded me of a similar problem back in 1984. The story goes that:

During the summer of 1984, when the troubles at the city owned Atlanta Zoo were coming to a head, volunteers at the Atlanta Zoological Society (a privately sponsored support group, dedicated to improving the Zoo) were deluged by calls from members who had received a copy of the letter that follows and were panicking at the prospect of what it suggested. The letter was personally addressed to each and typed on NEW but official looking Atlanta Zoo stationary, embossed in sepia tones with the pictures of various animals usually found in zoos, and hand signed by the supposed sender. It is, of course a complete hoax, and no-one is really sure who was responsible for this rather elaborate prank:

June 29, 1984

Mr. Jim Brueggemann 2279 Plaster Road (#7) Atlanta, Georgia 30345

Dear Mr. Brueggemann:

As you are aware, Atlanta's zoo is going through a very stressful period. The Board has considered several alternatives and we feel we have a novel, short-term solution to the zoo's current difficulties.

Our solution, which involves you, will immediately relieve the zoo staff of the problems of daily caring for the animals and give the staff the opportunity to perform much needed repairs in animal exhibits.

You have been selected to care for one of the animals for the rest of the summer. You were highly recommended to us because of:

(1) your concern for the reputation of the Atlanta Zoo
(2) your known love of animals.

Accordingly, Dixie, a 6,000-lb. hippopotamus from North Africa will soon be delivered to your home. You are totally responsible for her care; housing and feeding until September. Please call Dr. Emmett Asheley, who is on leave but still considered our zoo veterinarian, with your questions regarding Dixie's special diet requirements.

You'll agree, I'm sure, that by distributing our animals among caring metro-Atlanta citizens we are keeping our problems in "our own back yard," while constructively working toward having one of the finest zoological facilities in the country.


Rufus Simms
Animal Husbandry

I wonder if anyone said "Sure, we can take the hippo."

Technorati tags: zoo, troubles

A revolutionary thought - public school bullying may not be good for children

A frequent criticism of homeschooling is the claim that the children will miss out on the benefit of public school socialization. Typically people say children have to learn how to deal with bullies.

It makes no sense to me. Why should we throw children into a hostile environment where they have little protection or guidance? As adults we would never tolerate the kinds of abuse that happen in public schools. If this happened in the workplace people would be arrested and some would be thrown in jail.

CT of Petticoat Government left a comment on one of my posts about this topic. She referred me to: Children Who Suffered Bullying Are More Likely To Develop Psychotic Symptoms In Early Adolescence:

A report in the May issue of Archives of General Psychiatry (one of the JAMA/Archives journals) indicates that children who have been mistreated over and over again by peers seem more prone to suffer from psychotic symptoms in early adolescence.
Background facts sustained in the report demonstrate that hallucinations and delusions are common in childhood and adulthood and are characteristic symptoms of psychosis. Children experiencing these symptoms have a greater probability of developing psychosis in later life. The researchers say: "Recent studies have demonstrated an association between traumatic events such as abuse in childhood and psychosis in adults."

The next time someone claims public schools teach children how to deal with bullies, maybe I'll encourage them to read this study.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up!

Tami is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Tami's Thoughts and Views.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, July 13, 2009

Homeschooling thought from my oldest daughter

I asked my daughter to write up her thoughts about homeschooling:

I have always enjoyed homeschooling. From being able to finish by noon if I work at it, to taking a plethora of classes, home schooling has always been the best option for me. I was a late reader, so home schooling allowed me to learn at my own pace. Often I will find something that fascinates me, from the Greek Pathogen to space-time, then I just log on to the computer and I will research till my curiosity is sated.

Often on school days I wake up at 5:50 am. Then my dad drives me to an early morning religion class. When I get back, I eat breakfast and then start on my Internet classes: History, English, and Science. When those are completed, I do the homework and then start math. By then it is lunch and all I have to do is music (clarinet and piano), Rosetta Stone Spanish, chores and any miscellaneous thing my mom plans.


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

Another beautiful picture from APOD - Three Galaxies

Giovanni Benintende gave me permission to post his picture of Three Galaxies in Draco:

Technorati tags: , , Three Galaxies Draco, Giovanni Benintende

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dave Carroll sings about his experience with United Airlines

This is another instance of how the Internet gives power to one creative individual.

Dave Carroll flew with United and his guitar was damaged. He spent nine months trying to get compensation. He was ignored. He finally took his complaint to Youtube and produced United Breaks Guitars:

The video has gotten over two million hits in six days! United finally has said "We're sorry!"

The lesson here is one creative person can have great impact.

It is kind of fun, Taylor Guitar, who made the guitar, even has a video response.

(Hat tip: my Virginia brother)

Technorati tags: United, breaks, guitars

Reminder: send in your entries for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Tami will be hosting the next Carnival of Homeschooling at Tami's Thoughts and Views.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Is this really true? Women spend nearly one year deciding what to wear


Women will spend almost one year of their lives deciding what to wear, a study found.
The average female will spend 287 days rifling through their wardrobe
Choosing outfits for work, nights out, dinner parties, holidays, gym and other activities means the average female will spend 287 days rifling through their wardrobe.
The biggest chunk of that time is used up picking a killer ensemble for Friday or Saturday nights out or selecting the right clothes for a holiday.


My guess is men spend between 10% to 20% of the time women spend.

(Hat tip: Digg)

Technorati tags: women, men

Do you know someone who suffers from depression?

I enjoyed Dr. Helen's interview with Dr. Steve Ilardi about his new book: The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs. The fifteen minute interview seemed pretty good, but I haven't read the book.

To beat depression Dr. Steve Ilardi says we need to:

1) Abundent physical activity
2) Better diet, more Omega three fats
3) More sunglight exposure
4) More sleep, like 8 to 9 hours a night
5) Social connectiveness
6) Avoid rumination by having more engaging activity

If you know someone who struggles with depression, check out the interview with Dr. Steve Ilardi.

Technorati tags: depression

Cool TED talk: Catherine Mohr: Surgery's past, present and robotic future

I was listening to a couple TED talks while doing some email when I realized Catherine Mohr was talking about a company a friend of mine works at: Intuitive Surgical. The video might be a bit much of you are squemish about blood:

Heart surgery is a big deal because it is so tramatic on the body. The kind of robotic tools Catherine talks about are much less invasive and allow much quicker recovery time.

It is a wonderful time to be alive.

Technorati tags: Surgery, robotic

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

One problem with public schools - they pay teachers not to teach

New York City public schools are well known for paying a few teachers to sit in a room, away from students. Public school officials have made the decision that it is cheaper to keep these bad teachers away from students than to try to fire them.

It looks like this problem is also happening in San Diego. When Schools Pay Teachers Not to Teach starts with:

Lynne Holyoke knew her principal wanted to fire her. The retired art teacher said the two had often sparred over her teaching style. But instead, Holyoke said the school district made her an offer: Take a year off with pay and resign at the end of it. Holyoke agreed and spent the year on paid administrative leave, doing art therapy, volunteering and mulling her future.
"It was like a package to go," she said.
Holyoke is not the only educator who has been pulled from her classroom but paid nonetheless. Fifty-six educators have been put on paid administrative leave in San Diego Unified over the last six years, taken out of their ordinary jobs but kept on the payroll for anywhere from a few days to more than four years.
Some teachers have been accused of crimes or inappropriate behavior and are removed from their classes until the charges are proven or disproven. Some are awaiting hearings that decide whether they will be fired. A small number are suffering medical problems.


I'd love to know how many teachers nationwide are being paid to stay away from students.

In general when employees at private companies break the law there is no problem in firing them. But teachers at public schools get tenure and a well financed teacher union to protect them. It is almost impossible to fire an average bad teacher.

Until this changes public schools will keep prompting many parents to turn to homeschooling.

(Hat tip: Friends of Dave)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

My wife may save me from losing my mind

A recent study found Lower risk of dementia for married or cohabiting people:

People who live alone have twice the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease in later life compared with married or cohabiting people, according to a research study led by Miia Kivipelto from Karolinska Institutet and published on the prominent British Medical Journal's website,

This is another reason why I'm lucky to be married to Janine!

Technorati tags: dementia, marriage

Cool - orbits in our solar system

A NASA web site displays orbits of a few hundred of the asteriods in our solar system, along with the orbits of our planets. You'll need to have Java enabled for your web browser to see the orbits.

It is pretty cool.

Technorati tags: asteriod, orbit

Anyone have a Math Rapper CD?

This is fun:

I'm always amazed by people who can write songs like this.

If you have one of his CDs, tell me what you think of them. Are they worth buying?

(Hat tip: The Informed Parent)

Technorati tags: Math, Rapper

Ronald Reagan on Socialized Medicine

I have great concerns with the current push for nationalized health care. I was surprised to find this isn't a new idea. Ronald Reagan addressed this back in 1961:

(Hat tip: Carpe Diem)

Technorati tags: Socialized, Medicine, nationalized, health, care

Malcolm Gladwell why public school are doing poorly

In Most Likely To Succeed Malcolm Gladwell explores how hard it is to anticipate how well a person will perform. He starts off explaining how a football scout struggles to figure out which football players will do well on professional teams. Malcolm then reviews why it is hard to recognize who will be good teachers.

There are several good points in the column. I found this paragraph fascinating:

Hanushek recently did a back-of-the-envelope calculation about what even a rudimentary focus on teacher quality could mean for the United States. If you rank the countries of the world in terms of the academic performance of their schoolchildren, the U.S. is just below average, half a standard deviation below a clump of relatively high-performing countries like Canada and Belgium. According to Hanushek, the U.S. could close that gap simply by replacing the bottom six per cent to ten per cent of public-school teachers with teachers of average quality. After years of worrying about issues like school funding levels, class size, and curriculum design, many reformers have come to the conclusion that nothing matters more than finding people with the potential to be great teachers. But there's a hitch: no one knows what a person with the potential to be a great teacher looks like. The school system has a quarterback problem.

If we could change the politics of public schools and allow poor teachers to be fired, it would be a huge difference.

Here Malcolm writes about why certificates don't help in picking out good teachers:

A group of researchers - Thomas J. Kane, an economist at Harvard.s school of education; Douglas Staiger, an economist at Dartmouth; and Robert Gordon, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress - have investigated whether it helps to have a teacher who has earned a teaching certification or a master's degree. Both are expensive, time-consuming credentials that almost every district expects teachers to acquire; neither makes a difference in the classroom. Test scores, graduate degrees, and certifications - as much as they appear related to teaching prowess - turn out to be about as useful in predicting success as having a quarterback throw footballs into a bunch of garbage cans.

I love this point:

In teaching, the implications are even more profound. They suggest that we shouldn't be raising standards. We should be lowering them, because there is no point in raising standards if standards don't track with what we care about. Teaching should be open to anyone with a pulse and a college degree - and teachers should be judged after they have started their jobs, not before. That means that the profession needs to start the equivalent of Ed Deutschlander's training camp. It needs an apprenticeship system that allows candidates to be rigorously evaluated. Kane and Staiger have calculated that, given the enormous differences between the top and the bottom of the profession, you'd probably have to try out four candidates to find one good teacher. That means tenure can't be routinely awarded, the way it is now. Currently, the salary structure of the teaching profession is highly rigid, and that would also have to change in a world where we want to rate teachers on their actual pe rformance. An apprentice should get apprentice wages. But if we find eighty-fifth-percentile teachers who can teach a year and a half.s material in one year, we're going to have to pay them a lot - both because we want them to stay and because the only way to get people to try out for what will suddenly be a high-risk profession is to offer those who survive the winnowing a healthy reward.

This explains one of the reasons why public schools do such a poor job. They are not sifting for good teachers. They are sifting for certified teachers, some of which do a good job, and some of which do a poor job.

Technorati tags: parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

From the archives - Reason to homeschool, to allow boys to be boys

Boys Will Be Boys…Or Will They? is Linda Schrock Taylor's column from five years ago. She starts with:

Boys most definitely should be allowed to be boys…and they could grow up more mentally and emotionally healthy…if government schools would stop trying to force boys – whether by the use of drugs, or the use of punishments – to act like girls. To better understand the destructive treatment of boys in today's society, I highly recommend The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers. Our culture is greatly harming our boys and creating problems that will germinate and grow to proportions unseen since Jack and the Beanstalk.
Jack. Remember him? Sent on an important errand to sell the family cow….which he did do…but for a handful of beans. Boys are sometimes like that, but fewer and fewer teachers appreciate boy-like behaviors, thoughts, perceptions and ways of approaching the world. What a shame, for boys are such fun. Boys are so refreshing. Boys, when allowed to be boys, are so unlike girls, and that is right and as it should be. Boys tend to be more loyal – less into tattling; more transparent – less into emotional game playing; more outspoken – less into pouting; more honest – less into manipulating.
One is never sure what a boy will pull out of a pocket, and I have been surprised, shocked or repulsed on many occasions. The latest pocket treasures are pretty safe, being these 'hacky-sacks' that the boys use to develop physical dexterity and eye/hand coordination. Those who believe that the boys are purposefully trying to antagonize teachers have it all wrong. Look beyond the fact that the boys are blocking the halls as they kick those little bags of sand (?), endangering any nearby glass – doors, trophy cases, eyewear – and realize that boys need to be physically and mentally active.
When the culture was healthier and more trusting of individuals, the boys carried their jackknives to school and tossed them in games such as "Mumbly-Peg"; dug circles in the sand for a game of marbles; carried shotguns to school and stored them in their lockers, eagerly anticipating an after school hunting expedition.


She goes on to explain how public schools have become hostile to boys.

Yet another reason to homeschool.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education