Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Some great thoughts about the early "education" of our children

The Headmistress at The Common Room has some great thoughts about what, and more importantly how, should we teach young children, say ages 3 to 6. Here and here she writes about the value of letting kindergarten age children play and not push them into doing lots of academics.

The fifth Carnival of Homeschooling is up!!!

Anne of PalmTree Pundit is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. There are a lot of good posts. This week's theme is tied to where Anne lives.

Please spread the word about the new carnival. Thanks.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A problem with public schools - not firing the bad teachers

In the last two weeks I've written a couple posts about scary teachers. There was the teacher who gave his freshman students an assignment to research internet porn. There was a Spanish high school teacher who showed an R-rated movie to his class. And another teacher forced a 17-year-old student to sit on the floor while taking a test, because the student was wearing a Denver Bronco jersey.

In one of these posts I made a comment about having yet another scary teacher story and got the following comment:

"So, help me with something.

It's certainly easy to search the media for stories of teachers that are morons and use them to justify why to homeschool kids.

We could do the same to homeschools, though. Do you think that every idiot that homeschools with subpar content knowledge and awful materials means you shouldn't be able to homeschool?


There is a big difference in the number of scary teachers and scary homeschool parents. For the last several months I have been using Google News Alerts to find articles about teachers with this search pattern "teacher guilty" (hat tip: HE&OS) and I get several articles every day. Not all of them are bad or crazy teacher stories, but many of them are. On the other hand the number of parents who are really home school and are scary seem to pop up around once a month. I use several search patterns to look for home news about homeschoolers, and I follow several homeschooling news blogs. There are around two million public school teachers, and around one million parents who home school.

In any discussion about bad or crazy teachers in public schools I want to first acknowledge that most teachers are wonderful people. It is a hard job to be a public school teacher. Many of them are sacrificing other opportunities to try and help the next generation. Both my wife and I have relatives who are teachers.

The bigger issue for me is that the public school system does a very poor job of policing their teachers. The bad and crazy teacher stories wouldn't be such a big deal if there were more instances of these crazy teachers being fired, or sometimes even being sent to jail. But in both my personal experience, and from reading the news, it seems many teachers who do things clearly lacking in judgment suffer little consequences and continue to teach.

This is the real issue. It is not that there are some teachers who have done something objectionable. When you get a large group of people there were often be a few who do stupid things. The problem is when teachers do harmful things to children they should no longer be teachers. But as John Stossel recently reported it is very hard to fire teachers. In the 20/20 report he showed a multi-page flowchart on how to get rid of a bad teacher. Things like this make it hard to get rid of bad teachers. This is what is really crazy.

Consider a similar situation. You want to do some traveling. You are considering visiting a number of countries. Country A has a number of interesting sites and many of your friends have enjoyed vacations there, but over the last twenty or thirty years the crime rate has been climbing. After some investigation you find that the police are not doing a good job of punishing criminals after the criminals are apprehended. You are also considering Country B, which also has a number of tourist sites and a few of your friends greatly enjoyed their time there, and there is little crime. Most of us would go to visit country B.

You could run the same experiment in choosing a town to live in. Town A has high crime, town B has low crime. All other things being relatively equal, which town would you want to live in?

The sad thing about the stories of bad or crazy teachers is not that bad or crazy teachers exist. The really sad thing is that once the public school system knows about these kinds of teachers it does such a poor job of protecting the children from the teachers.

What does the public school system really care about

EducationNews.org points to two columns today which both address the question: "What does the public school system really care about?"

Joel Turtel (at NewsWithViews) looks at some of the people against school choice and charter schools. One of the main claims by public school defenders is that school choice or charter schools will destroy the public schools. Shouldn't the issue be whether the students would get a better education? But no, many people in the public school system are more concerned about their jobs.

A column at the Opinion Journal has some of the same thoughts. The opening paragraph is:

Teachers unions keep telling us they care deeply, profoundly, about poor children. But what they do, as opposed to what they say, is behave like the Borg, those destructive aliens in the "Star Trek" TV series who keep coming and coming until everyone is "assimilated."

What should a high school diploma mean?

In A Night at the Opera starring the Marx brothers there is a scene in which Groucho and Harpo are trying to negotiate a contract. Groucho pulls out a long contract, saying this is a standard contract. After Groucho reads the first paragraph Harpo says he doesn't like it. So Groucho rips it out. Each time Groucho reads more, Harpo doesn't like the next paragraph, and so more and more is pulled until very little is left.

The Los Angeles Times has a long article over a fight to include algebra as requirement for getting a high school diploma. There is a push for raising the bar on what it means to be a high school graduate in California. The problem is algebra is hard. Some students struggle trying to learn algebra. The article also admits many students just don’t show up to class. Some people want to rip out the requirement. Over the last thirty years the public education system has been watering down and softening the requirements for graduating from high school.

What is the purpose of a high school diploma? Is it to show that a student has mastered the basics of education and achieved some level of proficiency? Or should a high school diploma merely show that a student has served their time in a public school? The push for the second reason has lead us to a situation in which many high school graduates have such a little education that they have to take remedial classes when they get to college.

While school experts continue to argue about whether algebra should be included as a high school diploma, I'll picture Groucho and Harp ripping out requirements for a high school diploma.

(Hat tip: EducationNews.org)

Update I (30 Jan 06)
Robert Lindsey pointed out (in a comment) that it was Groucho and Chico who argued about the contract. He's right. I guess I'll have to go back and watch the movie again. Maybe we can make it a homeschooling assignment.

More school craziness

Joanne Jacobs has a couple recent posts about crazy things happening in public schools:

She posts about an effort to teach California students about the history of India. This seems like a good thing. There are a lot of Indians in California. It helps to know your history, and it helps to know the history of your friends and neighbors. Unfortunately it is starting to look like this effort is evolving into a James Frey version of history with fictional account of the history of India. The Christian Science Monitor reports that several groups are trying to change textbooks in an effort to boost national pride.

Joanne found an article about a London school which banned students from raising their hands. The thought is those who don’t raise their hands were feeling bad. And we all know that you never want to hurt someone's feelings.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Book review of "It Takes a Parent" by Betsy Hart

I've just posted to Amazon.com my review of It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting Is Hurting Our Kids--and What to Do AboutIt by Betsy Hart.

Here is the review:


Many of the ills in our society can be trace to problems in the home. A scary fraction of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. If more parents were involved in the education of their children this number would drop. Many of the teenagers involved with gangs, drugs, and sex come from families where the parent didn't parent. Recently I've seen articles about how some parents are basically outsourcing "parenthood" and having others raise their children.

Betsy Hart's book "It Take a Parent" is a wake up call to parents. She wants them to be more involved, to take ownership for the responsibility of being a parent, and to be a parent. As older, more mature, and hopefully wiser adults, parents need to decide to be in charge of the family. Otherwise, as Betsy says, the children will be in charge.

Betsy says that many of the experts in the parenting culture tell parents to be more passive, to let children do what they want, and try to be their children's best friend. Betsy says parents need to be parents. If a child is angry at his parent, oh well, parents need to be focused on the long term. She sees parenting as a rescue mission for the heart of the child. Children are not naturally born with self discipline, wisdom, and charity. Parents need to model these, and to direct children in appropriate ways, giving consequences when children make bad choices.

Betsy makes many good points in this book. For example she makes a distinction between personality and character. Personality is largely what comes with the child. A child may be thoughtful, outgoing, energetic, and so on. Parents should not try to change a child's personality. Parents should be working to help develop a child's character. They should teach the child to be honest, hard working, and caring.

Another point Betsy makes, several times, is children need to learn they are not the center of the world. Children should learn to work with others, and not to always demand that they get their way. A child who learned to expect the world to revolve around him will be an unhappy adult when he finds the rest of the world pretty much ignores his wishes and desires.

Betsy has a full chapter on "When did 'No' become a dirty word?" Many parenting experts say children need to be happy and content, always. Betsy says it is more important for children to learn to follow rules. It is hard to start enforcing rules when children get older if they never followed rules when they were young.

Many books are the kind where it is worth reading once. (Some books aren't even worth reading once.) "It Takes a Parent" is a book I plan to read again in another six months. There is a lot of useful information and ideas in here on how to be a better parent. If you want to be a better parent give this book a try.

Links to interesting postings - 28 Jan 06

CNN has a pleasant article on Unschooling. Nothing earth shaking. They do mention the socialization issue, but over all it is a decent article. (Hat tip: HomeSchoolBuzz.)

Utah may be ending social promotion, the practice of moving children on to the next grade, even if they haven't mastered the material. DeseretNews.com has an article about a state lawmaker's efforts to get a bill passed. I think this would be an improvement, at least then the schools wouldn't be lying to the children, tell them that they were at grade level. We mentioned earlier this week a study which found that in general children who are held back a year have lower drop out rates. (Hat tip: EducationNews.com.)

The issue of schools failing boys may become more than a three day buzz. Newsweek came out with an article called The Trouble With Boys. We blogged about it earlier this week. Dr. Helen will be doing a podcast with Michael Gurian, who wrote The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life. Dr. Helen asked for questions for Michael Gurian and got over a hundred comments. Yesterday we briefly addressed the issue of boys and canceling recess. And Joanne Jacobs mentions a lawsuit where a boy is suing his high school for discrimination. I think the lawsuit will be tossed out, but it does appear that the issue of how boys have been falling behind will not go away.

The Education Wonks reports on a study which claims to find public schools do better than private schools. I've left some comments at The Education Wonks, but basically: 1) Millions of parents are willing to spend their money to send their children to private schools. 2) Private schools are doing a fairly comparable job for typically half the money. 3) An above average number of teachers send their own children to private schools. I think there is great reason to question the study.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reminder - submissions for Carnival of Homeschooling due in three days

The fifth Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted by PalmTree Pundit. Submissions are due in three days, at 6:00 PM PST on the 29th of January.

Click here for information on how to submit a post.

Check here for some ideas on what to write about.

More reasons to homeschool

In looking through various blogs today I kept thinking to myself that a good theme for many postings was "More reasons to homeschool." If you have been wavering about should you homeschool, or should you leave your child in public school, check out some of these articles:

The Washington Post has an article Seeking A's In a Few Moree Zzzz's about how high schools which start early are forcing students to get up way early. The article starts off with a 14-year-old girl who gets up at 5:25 AM to catch a 6:20 AM bus for her 7:20 AM class. For some parents having a high school forcing their children to get early is a problem. For me the bigger issue is the half hour to 45 minute bus ride which is pretty much a waste of time. When you homeschool your children don't have to waste so much of their time. (Hat tip: O'DonnellWeb)

HomeSchoolBuzz has post linking to an article on how even more Black families are turning to homeschooling. This is a great article. I liked this quote by a home school mother: "Our ancestors answered the question of socialization – children do not go to school to socialize, they go to school to learn." Many Black families with sons seem to get hit with a double whammy, the schools are failing lots of boys, and often there's an attitude that blacks can't succeed academically. This trend seems to be popping up in the news recently; many Black families are finding that homeschooling is a great way to give their children a solid education.

A fourth grade teacher decided that the students were behind in their studies and canceled recess. The article is vague, but it seems like the teacher has canceled recess permanently. It is things like this that make it hard for many boys to succeed. Boys need the break, a chance to let loose and release some physical energy. At least one parent is very upset that her son isn't getting released. I liked the EdWonk's comment, that teachers really need the break too. With homeschooling the teacher and children can take frequent recess breaks, as both need the breaks. (Hat tip: The Education Wonks.)

We have another scary teacher story. A Spanish high school teacher in Kentucky showed an R-rated movie, “The 40-Year-OldVirgin,” to his class, some of which were freshman. The movie wasn't in Spanish, had nothing to do with his class, it was just a filler. The school is doing an "investigation" which probably means that yet another teacher will get his wrists lightly slapped and then return to teaching. (See here and here for some other scary teachers.) I have a niece in Kentucky. The teacher of one her science classes showed "The Chain Saw Massacre." The teacher was never fired. With homeschooling you can control what movies your children see. (Hat tip, again: The Education Wonks.)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Links to interesting postings - 26 Jan 06

Melissa Wiley at Here in the Bonny Glen writes about her approach to homeschooling.
She has some great thoughts about how as parents we can provide environments for our children to learn. Go read the whole post.

Barbara Frank at The Imperfect Homeschooler writes about how her wonderful experience in fifth grade lead to her being a homeschooler. She had so much fun, and learned so much in fifth grade that her eyes had been opened to just how much children could learn. From sixth grade on she had a fairly typical boring educational experience. But once she had seen the possibilities of what education could be, she knew what she wanted for her children.

Alice at like a tea-tray in the sky writes about a recent study about children in the UK. The study found that "11- and 12-year-old children in year 7 are 'now on average between two and three years behind where they were 15 years ago', in terms of cognitive and conceptual development." Unfortunately the study doesn't have any good reasons for the decline. It is sad to see that the United States isn't the only country suffering greatly in the field of education.

Mother Tenn at SCHOOL@HOME writes in response to the recent Newsweek article: "The Boy Crisis." (We talked about this before, briefly recent studies have found that boys are falling behind faster than girls as our education system deteriorates.) Mother Tenn focused in on how fathers make a key difference in the lives and challenges homeschooling fathers to be involved with the education of their sons.

At Trivium Pursuit, the point is made that not only do we want to develop a love for reading in our children, but we need to direct them to good literature. Parents need to teach their children to appreciate good books and have a desire to read them. The post has several good suggestions on how to do this.

Allow children on the internet

Daryl at Home Education & Other Stuff found a column by Elizabeth Foss. In the column Elizabeth warns against MySpace.com. Her column is mostly about socialization, and the attraction children have to being popular. Elizabeth writes on how as parents we need to make sure our children don't get drawn into destructive behavior. (HomeSchoolBuzz also points to Elizabeth's column.)

Patricia Hunter is also concerned about MySpace.com and writes at Pollywog Creek Porch about some recent experience in checking out MySpace.com.

In general the issue is when, how, and under what conditions do you allow your children to have access to the internet. The internet is a great resource, but parts of the internet are filthy cesspools. As parents we need to control the access our children have to the internet.

My wife and I have choosen to greatly limit the access our daughters have to the internet. This is largely because they are young and we don't see a great need for them to spend a lot of time on the internet. They are still mastering a lot of basics. As they move into the teenage years we'll give them more access. Currently we allow them access to a few specific sites with instructions not to go wandering. They are on computers in our office when other people are around.

As our daughters become teenagers we plan to open their access to the internet. I'm curious, what kind of guidelines and suggestions do other parents have for the useage of the internet by chidlren?

Update I (26 Jan 06)
I loved Karen's comment in response to Daryl's post which kind of got me started on this topic, Karen's comment:

"My husband and I have told our kids that every family has different rules, and our family has blocked myspace, not only because of the pornography and vulgarity that is too easily stumbled upon, but because if our kids have nothing better to do than look at pictures of themselves and their friends, who they see all the time anyway, we will find something more worthwhile for them to do."

Update II (28 Jan 06)
Dateline did a report on MySpace.com last night. I missed the show, but here are the transcripts. It slams MySpace.com pretty hard. The basic message is parents need to be paying attention to what their children are doing online.

The Stillwater Homeschool Alliance

If you are part of a homeschool organization, you may want to check out the Still Water Homeschool Alliance. Helen Hegener on the Home Education Magazine editorial blog two weeks ago posted an announcement on the formation of the Still Water Homeschool Alliance. For the first week the mailing list was generating over a fifty emails a day, with gusts up to a hundred in a single day. Helen stepped in and posted some guidelines on exactly what the mailing list is for, and the traffic become a much more manageable level of a couple emails a day.

Here is Helen's announcement:


Stillwater Homeschool Alliance
Building Understanding and Perspective

The Stillwater Homeschool Alliance is the result of ongoing conversations between hundreds of homeschoolers over the span of several years.

The Alliance was developed as a much-needed forum for supporting grassroots homeschooling advocacy and to provide homeschooling-specific information to those seeking it. The mission of the Alliance is to build an association of homeschoolers to work on issues directly related to advocacy, building on our individual talents and our unique experiences as homeschoolers. Empowerment to advocate both individually and cooperatively on our own behalf is key to sustaining and, in some cases, reclaiming homeschooling freedoms, thereby promoting a more informed, cohesive, and effective homeschooling community.

The Alliance will work toward the development of a broad-based international coalition of individuals, support groups, businesses, organizations and other entities which support the long-term interests of the homeschool movement.

The Alliance will also work toward the founding of The Stillwater Institute for Homeschooling Research and Studies, which will seek to inform legislators, educators, media reporters, legal professionals, researchers and others with a bona fide interest in homeschooling via position statements, news releases, white papers, opinion pieces and more.

The Alliance list traffic is already very heavy, but preferences can be set to receive a weekly newsletter update. For more information about the Stillwater Homeschool Alliance click on the link above, or to join the discussion group via email send a blank email message to Join Stillwater Homeschool Alliance.

Thank you for your interest and your support!


I think this will develop into a great resource for helping various homeschooling organization be aware of each other, coordinate with each other, teach each other, and support each other.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Selections from Carnival of Education - week 51

This week's Carnival of Education is being hosted at The Education Wonks. There are a ton of good posts. Go check it out. Here are some I found very interesting:

At The Median Sib is a discussion of how the teacher is teaching sign language, and the children are excited about learning the basics.

I feel bad for students who are forced to sit through classes when they either don't have the foggiest idea what the lesson is about, or have already learned it three times and are bored out of their skull. Now after reading about a wasted evening I've learned to feel bad about teachers who are forced to sit through similar meetings.

Education In Texas shares a really cool feature of MicrosoftWord. I've turned it on, on my PC. After reading this, you will too.

Political Calculations writes about how the cost of universities are rising twice as fast as inflation. I think if distance learning ever takes off a whole lot of univversities may go out of business.

Selections from Carnival of Unschooling: month 2

If you haven't checked out the Carnival of Unschooling at Atypical Homeschool.net, you've been missing out. There are many good posts. Here are some that I especially enjoyed:

WJFR at EveryWakingHour writes about her efforts to define unschooling. She sees value in the results, but still struggles with embracing it.

At Confessions of a Mother Who Reads Too Much, Samantha lists some of the things her children have learned while doing unschooling.

I like Joanne's discussion at A Day in Our Lives about the socialization question.

Go check out the rest of the carnival.

Links to interesting postings - 25 Jan 06

Spunky at SpunkyHomeSchool has some great thoughts about Outsourcing Parenthood. She makes the point that many parents are happy to let someone else take over part, or even all, of the responsibility of being a parent. I liked Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's comment: "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." If a parent shuffles the job off to someone else, and the children turn out badly, then the parent has messed up, not the proxy. As parents we have the sole responsibility to help our children to develop into good adults.

The Headmistress in The Common Room is continuing a discussion about television, Television: Doesn't Content Matter? I posted yesterday "Would you let this stranger into your house?" partly in response to her Shrine in Your Corner. Today the Headmistress writes about what happens inside young children's minds as they watch television, and why there is great cause for concern.

Townhall.com has a column by John Stossel. John had the hard hitting one hour report on 20/20 about problems with education in America. John's solution is to give America's true choice in education by allowing parents to pick where their children go to school. The column today explores how some parents will cheat to get their children into a good school. He asks which is more wrong, a public school system which is not educating most of the children, or parents who break the rules to get their children into good schools.

That Socializaton Question again.

We received a comment asking about socialization.

Monica describes her situation and ends with this question:
.........I guess I would like to know if Homeschooling all my children, would hurt them socially. Interacting with other kids.

I must admit I was surprised by the question. I thought nobody believed anymore that the public school did a good job of socializing.

So here's my answer to Monica:

Are you asking about manners and social graces or popularity? School doesn't teach good manners and I really don't care if my kids are popular. In fact, I expect my kids to stand up for what is right reguardless of the social pressure. I expect my kids to be willing to stand alone, if necessary. Children learn this type of socialization by their interactions with adults. Children "socializing" children ends up looking like "Lord of the Flies."

From your comment, I suspect that you are more worried about the responsibility of educating 7 children than winning a popularity contest. It is scary to leave that which is familiar. I went to public school. All my friends went to public or private school. The first few years of homeschooling were the hardest. I was worried about "keeping up with the Jones." Now, I put my energies into helping my children become adults who use their unique gifts and talents wisely. I am over joyed to see how much better my children handle social situations than I did.

Spunky has a recent post called, Learning to Socialize, which also address many of the "socialization" questions.

So anyone, feel free to jump right in with your links and comments on socialization. Also, if you are a homeschooler with a large family, we would especially like to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Would you let this stranger into your house?

I don't know who wrote this:



A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales.

Adventures, mysteries, and comedies we enjoyed with daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.

He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, my brother and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.

The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up-while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places, go to her room, read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave. You see, my Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them.

Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house -- not from us, not from our friends nor from adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My Dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home - not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was by the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time, he opposed the values of our parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with us, but if I were to walk into my parent's home today, I would still see him sitting there waiting for someone to listen to his stories and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?

We always just called him ... TV.


I remembered this story after reading The Shrine in Your Corner at The Common Room.

I think it is OK to have this stranger in your home, but you need to keep a tight muzzle on him.

Links to interesting postings - 24 Jan 06

Ron at Atypical Homeschool.net, who teaches at a college, writes about how public schools help cause learning disabilities. Near the end Ron says: "People defending the public school system often say that many student thrive or do well in that system. I’m not sure that I agree with that, but I’ll skip arguing about it. What is the issue for me is that I question whether thriving in that environment is good thing." It is an interesting point. Is doing well in a public school really a good thing? (Hat tip: Chris O'Donnell.)

One of the first reasons my wife and I decided to homeschool was so our daughters would keep their love for learning. Christine Miller is doing a series on Beating Homeschool Burnout. In an effort to reduce her workload she takes a step back to think about the purpose of eduction. She writes "The purpose of K-12 education is not for a child to learn all there is; the purpose is of K-12 education is for a child to learn well those things which enable him to go on independently (this means without you) to learn all there is, or all he will need." (Hat tip: SpunkyHomeSchool.)

HomeSchoolBuzz found two articles about homeschooling in South Africa. He reports here and here. The articles are here and here. The articles are similar to articles about homeschooling in America. It does sound like homescholers in South Africa have a harder time than those in America.

More information on the push for a national curriculum

Daryl at Home Education & Other Stuff found more information about the issue of the federal government trying to establish a national curriculum. Spunky wrote about this yesterday.
There has been a great decline in public education over the last fifty years. During the same time there has been a great loss of local control. I think the two are related. Public safety is an important issue, but the police departments are not controlled by a national organization. By adding more and more levels of bureaucracy it is harder for parents to have any kind of influence in the public schools.

If a national curriculum is established there were be great promises of good intentions, lots of different groups will get involved pushing for their special interests. There will be people who want a curriculum to emphasis reading and math. Others will want good citizenship. Others will push for goals even farther from basic academics, like diversity, environmentalism, death education, and so on. I doubt the final result with be anything useful.

Education will continue to decline in the public schools. So more and more parents will turn to private schools and homeschooling.

Another Bad Teacher story - sit on the floor!

Both Joanne Jacobs posted and Kimberly Swygert posted today about a teacher who forced a student to take a test while sitting on the floor. News on the event here and here. The teacher didn't like the shirt the 17-year-old high schools student was wearing. The dress issue wasn't gang related. It wasn't a t-shirt with something offensive. The student was wearing a Denver Bronco jersey. The teacher, John Kelly, also had the other students in the class throw crumpled up paper at the student, because he was a "stinking Denver fan." The teacher said it was all a joke and he was trying to teach the student.

With google news I am sure I could find a news article every day, maybe several of them, about stupid things teachers are doing. And in some ways this is not unexpected. There are over two million teachers in the public schools. When you have a large number of people, almost always there will be a few who do stupid things. The problem I have with the public schools on this issue is so often the teachers have their hands slightly slapped, or don't have any discipline.

Last week we had the teacher who gave his high school freshman an assignment to research internet porn. He may be told not to do it again. There might be some note on his personal record. But after having read dozens of articles like this before, I expect the teacher is probably still teaching right now, and will be teaching for the next five or ten years.

It is hard to expect students to perform at a higher level when we don't demand the teachers perform at a higher level. Right now the public school system asks politely. Then it wrings its hands when there is a problem. But the teacher normally stays on as a teacher. As John Stossel reported in the very worse cases the teacher is kept on, but not allowed to teach. In bad cases the teachers should be fired, there should be consequences.

Selections from Joanne Jacobs

Joanne Jacobs has a couple interesting posts today.

She comments on Joe Williams' thoughts about the double standard public schools often have for charter schools. Sometimes charter schools will be closed because "the schools aren't performing well." But there are so many public schools which are also not performing well, and yet they stay open.

On to another topic, for decades the school of thought has been that it is wrong to hold back children who have not yet mastered the material for a given grade, so all the students are moved on to the next grade. This is called social promotion. Some "experts" say that if a child is forced to repeat a grade, it will hurt their self esteem. (The result of this is so many students are graduating from high school not knowing how to read or write.) Joanne has a post, Flunking succeeds in Florida, which references a study by Jay Greene and Marcus Winters. They found that when trying to track similar children, those who passed on to the next grade ended up with higher drop-out rates than the children who were held back a year. One of the nice things about home schooling is you can work with the child, no matter what level he is at.

EducationNews.org also mentions the Greene and Winter's study. Here is a brief summary.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Quote - making life too easy

"Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

Goethe's point is even more true today than when he said this about 200 years ago. One of the most important lessons any of us can learn is that choices have consequences. If parents only allow children to play for the first twenty years of their lives, they won't completely learn this lesson. A young adult will think he deserves for the rest of his life the constant fun he was provided as a child. Michael Barone writes about this in Hard America Soft America.

Nowadays many children spend hours and hours playing. I am sure Goethe would be aghast. I don't advocate sweatshop hours from 4:00 AM to midnight, but by instilling a work ethic in our children early, they'll be happier in the long run. As parents if we can find meaningful ways for our children to work, and make life a little hard for them now, they will have a better work ethic and prosper more as adults.

Some parents think they are doing a kindness to save their children from doing any kind of work. Years ago it was a sign of status for a young woman to be able to play the piano. It meant that her family had enough money to hire servants and thus let her spend time learning to play the piano, instead of helping around the house, or on the family farm. Additionally, as pianos were not cheap, having skill on the piano indicated a degree of wealth.

As parents my wife and I are trying to find the balance of letting our daughters learn to work, and still have time to play. In addition to all their school work, they have about an hour of family chores each day, and on Saturday we try to do a major cleaning, and some yard work. They completely take care of the dishes and silverware. The older ones sometimes will make meals. As they get older we will find more ways that they can contribute. We once heard that mothers should not to be slaves to the rest of the family, but mentors and managers. Our goal is for my wife to work herself out of a job.

We like the idea of raising our daughters to be competent young women. Our daughters are taking piano lessons, but more importantly they are learning to work.

The Carnival of Homeschooling, week 4 is up!!!

The Headmistress did a great job with the fourth Carnival of Homeschooling. So run, don't walk, quickly to The Common Room for the latest selection of thoughts about homeschooling. She has organized the posts around a Charlotte Mason theme.

A funny thing happened this last week. The Headmistress told me that she had found out that one of my cousins is one of her friends. It is a small world.

As your read this week's carnival, start thinking of what you might want to write about for the next carnival. Next week's carnival will be hosted at PalmTree Pundit. Submissions are due next Monday, the 30th of January, at 6:00 PM PST. Send your submissions to CarnivalOfHomeschooling@gmail.com

Does a good homeschool curriculum include video games?

I have always enjoyed good strategy games. I can spend hours and hours playing games like Civilization II or Master of Orion II. When I start to go overboard I'll give the CDs to my wife. She'll hide them until I ask for them again.

So it is exciting to see Instapundit write about the value in playing video games. Strategy Page reports that American troops have some great advantages over soliders from other countries. They say:

"Another big American advantage here is that U.S. troops can quickly get into the computerized training systems and further enhance their combat skills. A major problem with computerized simulators and wargames is the time it takes to learn to use them. But most American troops see this stuff as just another computer game, and get right into it. Whoever thought all those hours spend playing videogames would prove so useful on the battlefield."

Now maybe I'll be able to talk my wife into letting me have a unit study based on the new version of Civilization, Civilization IV.

Selections from EducationNews.org - 23 Jan 2006

Today EducationNews.org linked to two sites I thought worth mentioning.

BaltimoreSun.com has a good article about how more blacks are turning to homeschooling. The article lists a lot of the basic reasons parents homeschool.

Nancy Salvato has an interview with Dr. G. Reid Lyon. Recently George Will said that the best way to improve education would be to shut down schools of education. Dr. Lyon once said "You know, if there was any piece of legislation that I could pass, it would be to blow up colleges of education." I like the quote. Unfortuantely most of the interview is about how to fix the colleges of education.

Links to interesting postings - 23 Jan 06

Spunky at SpunkyHomeSchool has two good posts worth checking out. In the first she warns of a national movement to involve the federal government more in education. "...for the first time the federal government will rate the academic rigor of the nation's 18,000 high schools." There is great reason for concern over the federal government meddling more with education. In Spunky's other post she warns about how public schools are tolerating, and even encouraging cheating.

HomeSchoolBuzz has a post today pointing to an article about a young boy that should be a grade ahead, but the school won't move him. The school officials say their hands are tied. Here is a classic bureaucratic response: "We are following policy." This is one of the problems with many public schools, they get so caught up in the rules that they won't do what is best for a child.

Daryl on Home Education & Other Stuff mentions that he found a top ten list of web sites about homeschooling. I am also flattered.

EdWonk on The Education Wonks points to an article in Newsweek called The Trouble With Boys. EdWonk quotes part of the article and comments on it. Over the last thirty years boys as a group have been underperforming academically. Part of this appears to be due to expecting young boys to sit still. Over a hundred years ago children (boys and girls) weren't sent to school until they were eight. Raymond and Dorothy Moore argue in their book Better Late than Early that sending children to school too early is bad for them. Maybe with the increase effort to have more children go to preschool boys will fall even farther behind.

Instapundit also mentions the issue of boys falling behind. The Washington Times has a special report. One of the sad things is this is not really news. Peopole will make a fuss about it, but I don't expect any real changes in the next five years. During which time another million, or two million, boys will suffer.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Links to interesting postings - 21 Jan 06

HomeSchoolBuzz's post today links to a letter to the editor by a Derek Granquist, a young man who was homeschooled. Derek writes about the academic benefits of homeschooling and addresses the classic question of socialization. Nicely done.

EducationNews.org references an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about a charter school which is going to have a Mandarin Chinese immersion program. We've mentioned before recent increased focus to teach American children Chinese, here and here. On one hand I think it is cool that more students are learning Chinese. On the other hand I wish public schools would do a better job of teaching English.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Selections from Carnival of Education - week 49

I know. I know. This is a week late. I've been distracted.

Jenny D. hosted last week's Carnival of Education. (Week 49) Here are some of the postings I found interesting:

Janet of the art of getting by talks about how in her experience, guidence councilors have been pretty useless. For the record I don't remember ever meeting a guidence councilor in high school.

Casey Lartigue on What Would You Say If You Weren't Afraid? makes the argument that vouchers aren't perfect, but they are better than what we have now. He says that opponents to vouchers will exaggerate the claims for vouchers, and then show how vouchers don't solve world hungry. Casey says yes vouchers don't solve everything, but they are better than the current system.

Partialy in response to George Will's column that the best way to improve education would be to shut down schools of education, the Posthipchick writes about a fellow student in education who is incompentent, but the professors keep passing her. What value does a teaching credential have if anyone can get one?

Traffic report for the Carnival of Homeschooling - week 3

Two weeks ago I reported on the traffic for the first Carnival of Homeschooling. Today I'll report on the traffic for the third Carnival of Homeschooling. There are a couple interesting trends.

The post for the third Carnival went up Monday night just about midnight. Like with the first Carnival, I sent out emails to the participants asking them to double check the carnival. A couple people pointed out that I had not added the URL pointing to Spunky's blog. (It was a late night.) Once I had incorporated the changes I started sending emails to bloggers asking them to mention the carnival.

Site Meter reported that there was a spike at 6:00 AM (PST) Tuesday. Our guess is that a number of people came looking for the Carnival. The hits per hour dropped a bit, and then climbed fairly steadily Tuesday. Instapundit linked to the Carnival Wednesday afternoon and we got a nice wave of visitors. But I think we got much less than before. I don't currently have a way to track the exact numbers. It seems like we got around 2000 hits from Instapundit for the first Carnival, but closer to 1000 hits for the third Carnival. Maybe the Carnival of Homeschooling is no longer the new and interesting thing.

Site Meter reported that around 40% of the visitors spent at least a minute or two reading the carnival. And around 5% spent over 15 minutes. A lot of people seem to be seriously interested in homeschooling.

Technorati reports that currently 57 blogs (There are some duplicates, so the true number is closer to 45.) are pointing to the third Carnival of Homeschooling. I didn't think to check for the first Carnival, but I am sure it was much less. Many of these blogs are focused topics other than homeschooling. Some of these are political, parenting, and even fishing blogs. If we can continue to get the Carnival publicized in other areas we will get more exposure to new readers.

For the first Carnival it appears there were over 4,500 hits. For the third we've been getting close to a thousand hits a day for the last three days. I think it is dropping off a bit, but we'll probably end up with between 3,500 and 4,000 hits.

Again, I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the third Carnival, and all those who have help spread the word. It has been another success.

Links to interesting postings - 20 Jan 06

With the recent John Stossel 20/20 report about how American students fall behind the longer they are in public schools it was interesting to read one of Joanne Jacobs' posts today. Korean students score at the top in international science and math tests. But it appears to come at a heavy cost, high school students are pushed to sleep only four hours a night and study the rest of the time. Parents who want to escape a heavy focus on rote learning literally will leave the country. FirsTnews reports how the mothers will take the children and go to countries with more relaxed attitudes towards education, and what the parents see as a more balanced approach.

Anne at PalmTree Pundit has a good discussion about the lack of skills many college students have. She makes the point that by homeschooling her children she has developed a greater appreciation for math. My wife has often made a similar point. Janine says she has learned a lot of history over the last couple years. She is surprised by how little she was taught in school. Part of what prompted Anne's discussion is a recent study on how most college students lack some basic skills. The Head Girl at The Common Room also has some thoughts about the study. And Kimberly at Number 2 Pencil shares her comments.

Spunky writes on SpunkyHomeSchool about how it is important to first teach children how to act socially, and then let them practice the principles they've been taught. This is a better way to socialize children. It is the way science classes are taught, first you take the lecture, and then you go to lab to use the principle in action. Many homeschoolers challenge the assumption that public schools do a good job of socializing children.

On EducationNews.org, David Kirkpatrick has a column School Funding: An Invalid Excuse; A Futile Hope. He writes about the public school systems constant call for more money. I liked this line: "The ability of the system's adherents to resist change is vastly underestimated." And later he asks "What will it take to get the taxpaying public to realize that even the districts that are financially flush are educationally bankrupt?" Unfortunately so many taxpayers were taught by the public school system, and so it may be a long while before they realize the severity of the problems with public schools.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Reminder - submissions due in four days

Don't forget to submit a post for the fourth Carnival of Homeschooling. Submissions are due in four days, at 6:00 PM on the 22nd of January.

Click here for information on how to submit a post.

Check here for some ideas on what to write about.

Or add a comment with some interesting topic you would like others to write about.

Do we have time to read?

I have always considered myself a reader. I did get off to a slow start. In third grade I was reading at first grade level. Then around fifth grade my father read The Black Stallion to me, and I was hooked. Over the next year I read the rest of the series and moved on to other books. My father had collected a ton of science fiction books. The books were stored in boxes up in the attic. Through high school I often read a book each day.

In the late 1990s I realized that I wasn't reading lots of books. I was reading tons of stuff on the internet, various magazines, and the newspaper. For some reason I thought it would be worth while writing a review about each book I read. I soon realized I was reading a book a month, or even less frequent. Since then I've focused more energy and attention on reading. I find that if I'll check a book out of the library I'll force myself to read it before I return the book. Books that I buy often just sit on my bookshelf.

How to Read a Book, by Mortimer J. Adler, has several good points about how to be a more effective reader. If you haven't read it, check it out of the library. It is very worth reading. One of the points Mr. Alder makes is there are different types of reading.

David McCullogh (author of John Adams, 1776, ...) in a speech he gave in 1999 tells about Teddy Roosevelt:

". . . Once upon a time in the dead of winter in Dakota territory, with the temperature well below zero, young Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat, accompanied by two of his ranch hands, down-stream on the Little Missouri River in chase of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized row boat. After days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester, at which point they surrendered. Then, after finding a man with a team and a wagon, Roosevelt set off again to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. He left the ranch hands behind to tend to the boat, and walked alone behind the wagon, his rifle at the ready. They were headed across the snow covered wastes of the Bad Lands to the rail head at Dickinson, and Roosevelt walked the whole way, 40 miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in that eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina.

I often think of that when I hear people say they haven't time to read."

He goes on to point out that the average American makes time to watch an average of 28 hours of television a week. He says that if a person gave up television for a week they could read (reading 250 words a minute) all of the following:

The complete poems of T.S. Eliot;
Two plays by Thornton Wilder, including Our Town;
The complete poems of Maya Angelou;
Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury;
The Great Gatsby; and
The Book of Psalms.

The real question is not do we have time to read, but is it important to us to make the time to read. Consider blocking out some time each day, or on the weekend, where you will read a book. A good book can be the most effective way to learn a new principle.

Authors spend hundreds, maybe even thousands, of hours learning something, and in just a few hours you can capture the essence of their knowledge and wisdom. This is a great investment of time.

An interivew with Joel Turtel

Today's EducationNews.org referenced Michael Shaughnessy's interview of Joel Turtel. Joel wrote Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie to Parents and Betray Our Children. It is a very powerful interview. John Stossel recently reported on a 20/20 report "Stupid in America" about problems with public education. Joel makes a much stronger case than John Stossel about great problems with public schools. One of the the points Joel spends time on is how most parents think their children are getting an good education, when the students are being crippled in their ability to read or do basic math. Joel has a long list of ways public schools are betraying the children.

Both my wife and I have started Joel's book. It is well written and one of us will try to get a review up in the next month or so.

Resilient Children

As a parent, I am happy to see my children handle life's challenges better than I did. But let me digress a moment. I must confess that I cried all the way home from the doctor's office after he told me that the baby I was expecting was a girl. I thought childhood and adolescents was bad enough the first time. I didn't want to see a replay. I thought if I had boys, I could deal with every adolescent crisis with a "Go talk to your father" strategy.

Recently I attended an event sponsored by a group to which one of my daughters belongs. As part of the presentation, they showed multiple pictures of all the girls who had participated with the group that year. However, for some reason, they didn't included pictures of my daughter. At the end of the presentation, my daughter gave me a questioning look, that said "Hey, why wasn't I included?" I shrugged my shoulders, and gave my most nonchalant "Huh? I wonder what happened" response.

I'm sure it was inadvertent, but I wanted to cry. That Jr. High feeling came back to me. Different incidents from my childhood began to flash over me. I had the "I'm stupid, no one loves me, I'm not as good as everyone else" feeling. At 40, I can say that I've almost made peace with my childhood. However, I'm shocked at how easily the wave of misery comes back to me.

I carefully watched my daughter the rest of the evening. There was no hint of distress on her face. She was her happy, normal self. It became apparent that this oversight was no trauma for her. It was just an "Oh well" moment. My childhood sense of self was so fragile that accidental oversights and intended snubs were catastrophic. I am so pleased to see that this is not the case for my daughter.

Recently a homeschool friend of mine received an unpleasant post on her website. The writer claimed that homeschool children were wimpy and couldn't handle the real world as adults because they hadn't been bullied in school.

My children have never been to public school. As a result, they are not overly dependent upon others for their sense of well being. They can handle the real world just fine. In fact, sometimes they handle things better than me. (I admit that I am still a little upset about the above mentioned picture incident.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Carnival of Homeschooling: week 3

Homeschooling from A to Z:

A is for Advice

Homeschoolers love to give advice. Barbara Frank, The Imperfect Homeschooler, has a list of Top Ten Tools for Homeschooling Parents. Headmistress, at The Common Room, shares how to study nature in your home. Angela Snodgrass, an Aspiring Proverbs 31 Woman, writes about finding the natural rhythm of homeschooling.

B is for Books

Many homeschoolers seem to spend almost as much time at the library as at home. At Nose in a book, a mother shares the joy of reading to her daughters. At A teacher is simply a student with unlimited chalkboard privileges we find a fun quote about books.

C is for College

Metapundit, a homeschooled student now at college, muses about his thoughts on if he will homeschool his children. Melissa Morgan, at An Eagle's Nest, says homeschooling is also great at the college level.

D is for Disposition

Daniel MacIntyre, at Key Words, says it is a good thing homeschoolers don't need a "Professional Disposition."

E is for Entertainment

Homeschooling doesn't have to be boring. If done right, our children can learn a lot while they are entertained. At Mental Multivitamin are some great ways for injecting fun into your children's learning days. PalmTree Pundit shares her experience of her children dissecting a worm. And Joanne, at A Day in Our Lives, writes about her children creating a time capsule.

F is for Family

Homeschooling is great for strengthening the family. At the Farm School are some thoughts about family, independence and freedom. Bruggie Tales share some of their innovative ides their family has come up with.

G is for Goof

Oops, I missed this one. I really do know the alphabet.

H is for How to Homeschool

Getting started can be hard. Homeschool bloggers are ready to share their how-to tips. On Tami's Blog are some ideas for multi-level teaching. Jerz's Literacy Weblog says there is value in letting your child play computer games. Beverly Hernandez, of About Homeschooling, has advice on how to recognize good advice. At the Trivium Pursuit Online Blog is a nice list of books about history, chronology and the Bible.

I is for Intellectual Dynamo

Some parents homeschool because their children are gifted or have special needs. Mislabeled Child has advice for homeschooling a Fiercely Independent Learner.

J is for Joke

We all need a bit of humor in our life. At Home Education & Other Stuff Daryl Cobranchi shares his reason for homeschooling.

K is for Kids

Homeschooling is all about the kids. Better Left Unsaid shares how homeschooling was perfect for foster care and adopted kids.

L is for Lessons Learned

Homeschooling provides a wonderful environment for both parents and children to learn. Mama Squirrel at Dewy's Treehouse writes about why they homeschool and what she has learned. At Geronimo! Allison Tannery writes about raising an extremely active and passionate child, with an insatiable appetite for information. At Family School a mother wonders about the lessons she learned in taking her children ice skating.

M is for Math

Historically education was about reading, writing, and arithmetic. Homeschool Math Blog reviews the history of Euclid and Geometry, and how Euclid's geometry is the basis for high school geometry courses today. Rivendell, WIS compares US math textbooks to foreign texts, and finds the US texts don't measure up.

N is for New Beginnings

One of the nice things about homeschooling is how easy it is start over or try something new. At Janne's Jabberwocky, Janne writes about how after ten years of homeschooling she has changed her focus.

O is for Ownership

Parents who choose to homeschool take ownership of their children's education. At Pollywog Creek Porch, Patricia shares how she learned to assume ownership and responsibility for my children's education and extracurricular activities.

P is for Problems with Public Schools

Some parents run to homeschooling for the benefits; others run away from public schools because of the problems. Joanne Jacobs writes about a teacher who assigned high school freshman to do research on internet porn. Chris Adamo says the recent Ninth Circuit Court decision affirms the obvious attitude schools have towards children.

Q is for Questions

One of the great things about homeschooling is the questions that come up. At Why Homeschool, my wife writes about an important question she asked one of our daughters.

R is for Reasons

People homeschool for a variety of reasons. At Julie's Jewls, Julie covers many reasons why she homeschools. At The Wellspring are some more reasons for homeschooling. Many Christians choose to homeschool for religious reasons; Welcome to the Fallout provides support for their choice. At Homeward Academy for Eclectic Learning are some more reasons for homeschooling.

S is for Socialization

Many people don't recognize the great socialization that comes from homeschooling. Kim Anderson, at Mother-Lode, uses a trip to a debate tournament to show how homeschoolers are often very socialized. Kimberly Swygert, at Number 2 Pencil, comments on why the NEA attacks homeschoolers over the socialization issue.

T is for Typical Day (or Week)

It can be greatly reassuring to a new homeschooler to read about a typical day of homeschooling. Sherry Early, at Semicolon, documents one of her typical days. At Relaxed Homeskool Kim admits that not every day goes as planned. In Musings from the Mahan School for Little Women, June mentions one of the great benefits of homeschooling, the things parents learn and relearn. Faith in Love gives a little higher perspective and talks about a typical week.

U is for Unschooling

Unschooling is an approach to homeschooling where the child makes decisions about what to learn. Doc's Sunrise Rants has a series about homeschooling which starts with advice on unschooling. Spunky, at SpunkyHomesSchool, shares the undeniable truths of an Un-Unschooler.

V is for Values

Homeschoolers value many aspects of homeschooling. In the Dad's Corner, Steve Walden values homeschooling because his children know him, and they follow his (good) behavior. School at Home in the Wildwood talks about why they homeschool.

W is for Why We Homeschool

There are dozens of reasons why parents choose to teach their children at home. Father, Principal, Husband and Seeker has many, many reasons he homeschools. Susannah Cox on Susie-Q&A talks about why and how she homeschools. Victoria Carrington's Journal revels that she finds homeschooling best for the growth as a family, and best for academics. Family-Handiwork has even more reasons to homeschool. At My little corner is the basic reason for many Christians.

X is for eXtra special

There are a lot of special people in our lives. Don't Marker the Cat! talks about one of their special friends.

Y is for Young Children

For many homeschooling is a way of life, not just from K-12. Young Homemaker writes about homeschooling her 3-year old.

Z is for Zzzzz

I need to get some sleep. It is after midnight.

So there you have it, the complete alphabet of homeschooling.


Thank you for visiting the third Carnival of Homeschooling. We hope this has been fun, and educational. If you missed the first two carnivals, check here for the archives.

Next week the carnival will be held at The Common Room. If you are interested in submitting a post, click here for information.

If you have enjoyed the first Carnival of Homeschooling, please spread the word. If you have some constructive suggestions on how to improve this carnival, please leave a comment.

For those interested, the Carnival of Education will be coming out on Wednesday.

This carnival is registered at TTLB's Uber Carnival.

And lastly, I'd like to thank everyone who has helped out. A special thanks to The Old Schoolhouse for taking a risk on a new carnival and agreeing to host the second Carnival of Homeschooling. Thank you to all the participants in this carnival. And finally, thanks to all those who have helped publicized the Carnival of Homeschooling.

The schedule for the Carnival of Homeschooling

Currently we have the future carnivals scheduled:


I have split the schedule off from the post on Where to send submissions. Spunky suggested setting up a gmail account which is where people would always send submissions to, and then have it forward to the current host. This way submitters won't have to dig out a different email address each week. The details on where to send submissions won't change any more. This post will change over time.

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

The result of just moving students on to the next grade

It was an interesting contrast this morning. I just got through writing a post about Joanne Jacobs' experience at Downtown College Prep, often called DCP. DCP is a charter school in San Jose, California. Part of DCP's approach is to tell the students exactly how they are performing, and then to tell the students they can do better. They are honest with the students.

Unfortunately too many students graduate from high school barely being able to read, and not really having an education. The school system lied to the students, telling them "You are doing great."

After writing my post, I read a post by the Headmistress in The Common Room. She writes about an average application her husband had gotten recently. The spelling was horrible. This poor high school graduate was unable to correctly fill out a basic application. Read the whole post, it is scary.

Too often some people think that it is a kindness to lie to students, because they don’t want to hurt the student’s feelings. They want the student to have good self esteem. Maybe in the short term the student feels better, but it is horribly destructive in the long run. This person who filled out the application will be suffering for the rest of his life, barely able to get jobs that provide. It would have been much better if someone had been honest with him in school and said this is wrong, you need to do it over again. Maybe his feelings would have been hurt then, but he would have had a much better life.

By homeschooling our children we can be honest with them. We can tell them when they make mistakes, but then we'll tell them they can do better.

We're not good now, but we can do better

Joanne Jacobs has a link to a column she wrote about her experience at Downtown College Prep, often called DCP. She explained how important it was for the teachers at this charter school to be up front with the students. The students were told the truth about their performance, and then they were told they could improve. Joanne says the school's unofficial motto is "We're not good now, but we can do better."

In the last paragraph of the column Joanne says:

"Schools won't improve until administrators and teachers can admit the problems, analyze what's going wrong and try new strategies. Students won't improve if they think they're 'special' just the way they are. Many schools aren't good now. But they can do better. "

Hopefully more schools will acknowledge they aren't good now, and then they will work to be better.

Joanne Jacobs spent several years observing DCP. Her book Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea, and the School that Beat the Odds is about how DCP did such a good job. I wrote here about the kick off meeting for her book.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Selections from Carnival of Homeschooling: week 2

There are a ton of good posts in the second Carnival of Homeschooling. The following are a few of the ones I really enjoyed.

The theme for this carnival was "Why we homeschool." There were a number of interesting answers. The Joyful Homeschool said that they initially started so the children could spend time with their father between the times he was on cruises. Marsha echoed some similar thoughts. Three in the Nest has a post about a change for one mother who went from pitying homeschooled children, to embracing homeschooling. At H. Harmony Homeschool Dawn has a long list of good reasons for homeschooling. Anne, of PalmTree Pundit, shares some additional reasons she found for homeschooling. In the Common Room Headmistress started homeschooling after her eldest child suffered in kindergarten.

Laurie Bluedorn shared her experience with homeschool burnout and gave some good suggestions.

True Blue Semi-Crunchy Mama explained about unschooling. And Family Centered Living reviewed the Classical Education approach. Home on the Hill has a post from a homeschool graduate who shares her journey to using the Charlotte Mason approach

I enjoyed the carnival. If you haven't checked it out yet, give it a gander.