Friday, March 31, 2006

What is your favorite part of vacations?

I am trying to support the Carnival of Kid Comedy. All this week I have been racking my brain, trying to think of something humorous my daughters have done recently. They have been off in Nevada with my wife helping some friends for the whole week, so I've had to think back over time.

About four years ago my wife and I took our daughters, and a niece, to Hawaii. We were there for the typical seven days. We went to several beaches, the Honolulu Zoo, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We did some shopping. We did several normal tourist things.

After we returned home we asked our daughters what was their favorite part of the trip. They all responded that they enjoyed swimming. Intrigued we asked which beach. They said "Not the beach, the pool." We spent all this money, and the part of the trip they enjoyed most was the pool at the rental.

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Links to interesting postings - 31 March 2006

The Head Mistress, at The Coommon Room, ponders maintaining roads, paying taxes, and eduction. It is a very thoughtful post, worth reading.

Valerie Bonham Moon, on the News & Commentary Home Page of Home Education, writes about who is responsible for education. Some critics of homeschooling claim "... homeschooled children are not able to differentiate themselves from their parents’ viewpoints ..." As opposed to children not being able to differentiate between themselves and the government's point of view.

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

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Links to interesting postings - 30 March 2006

At The Education Wonks is a post about an effort in New York state to use mild electric shock therapy on students. I've read the post three times, it looks like some parents feel this "aversion theraphy" has been useful.

Kimberly Swygert at Number 2 Pencil has a good post about cheating in Britain. An article in Guardian Unlimited says that part of the problem is public schools have tried to get parents to be unpaid teachers. The article says: "Tragically this culture of cheating afflicts children from a very early age. Children as young as seven or eight arrive at school showing off polished projects that have benefited from more than a little help from parents." And then explains: "But parents are not entirely to blame. From day one in primary school they are told that the performance of their children is intimately linked to how much support they get at home." With homeschooling the parents don't feel any pressure to help their children do the work, and thus teach the children to cheat.

Do you have a children getting ready to go off to college? The Volokh Conspiracy has a discussion about what colleges are "are 'safe' for politically active and or outspoken conservatives and libertarian students in the sense that students and faculty will generally treat them respectfully ..." A number of itneresting comments. (Hat tip: Dr. Helen)

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

Another Scary Teacher story - Here's your yellow star

I haven't posted about scary teachers for awhile. There's no shortage, it is just that I've been busy.

Kimberly Swygert, at Number 2 Pencil, has posted up a storm recently. One of her posts is about how teachers at Apopka Memorial Middle School , Florida Middle school, handed out yellow stars to children with last names from L to Z. A local TV station reports that the stated goal was so some of the children would learn what it was like to be a Jew during the Holocaust.

The parents weren't asked ahead of time, or even told. All day long the children with yellow stars were harassed. Scary! There are many problems here. One is the school probably is doing a poor job of teaching the basics, like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Another problem is the parents weren't asked. The school clearly stepped over the line.

And if I were I betting man, I would take even odds that those in the public school who initiated this won't really suffer. Their hands might get slapped, but they won't be fired.

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Upcoming carnivals

Carnival of Kid Comedy
Send Kim at Life in a shoe a submission for the fourth week of the Carnival of Kid Comedy. It could be one of your posts, or a good post by someone else, about something funny children have said or done. Send the post to Kim at: homeschoolmarm @t gmail dot com
Submissions are due this Friday at midnight, CST. Kim has more details at here and here.
Here is the previous Carnival of Kid Comedy.

Carnival of Children's Literature
The third monthly Carnival of Children's Literature will be held at Semicolon. Entries are due to sherryDOTearlyATgmailDOTcom by 6 PM, Saturday, April 1st. Sherry is looking for posts on children's literature, and especially poetry. Go here or here for more details.
Here is the previous Carnival of Children's Literature.

Carnival of Education
Next week’s carnival will be at The Education Wonks, hosted by EdWonk. Send your submissions to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net by 9:00 pm PST, Tuesday, April 4th.
Here is the previous Carnival of Education.

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Request for submissions for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

My wife and I will be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week. Please consider submitting a post about homeschooling. If you would like some ideas, check here, and here.

Go here for details on how to submit. As always entries are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time.

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Good article from on The Multitasking Generation

I have been attending a local Toastmaster club for about a year. Toastmasters provides a format for helping people improve their speaking skills. I've found it to be useful and fun. If you want to improve your public speaking ability, go check out Toastmasters.

One of today's speeches was on "Modern Technology and Addiction." The speaker talked about some of her concerns when her oldest son started spending every minute playing computer games. Her son’s grades dropped, and he was more belligerent. She decided there would be no computer games from Monday to Friday, and the son’s behavior improved. At the conclusion of her speech she handed out copies of an article by Time.

The article, The Multitasking Generation, focuses on how children of this generation do a lot of multitasking, and some of the problems resulting from constant multitasking. The article had a number of good points. For example: “Decades of research (not to mention common sense) indicate that the quality of one's output and depth of thought deteriorate as one attends to ever more tasks.”

Research shows that our brains don’t do true multitasking. We can not give full attention to a conversation with a friend, while typing an email to another friend about a different topic, while focusing on a song in the background. The exception to this is: “It turns out that very automatic actions or what researchers call ‘highly practiced skills,’ like walking or chopping an onion, can be easily done while thinking about other things…” Once we have mastered a given action so well that we don’t consciously think about it, then we can do it and another action at the same time.

When we “multitask” what we are really doing is thinking about task A, and then pausing to think about task B, and then pausing again to bounce back to task A. Our brain does not consciously think about both tasks at the same time. “When people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up, and it takes far longer--often double the time or more--to get the jobs done than if they were done sequentially” Children may think they are doing a good job with their homework while watching a movie, but the research shows they are doing a poorer job than if they just focused on the homework.

A main part of the article is that with our advances in technology, and how cheap the new toys are, many children have computers, cell phones, and so on. And they’ll use them all at the same time, and often while they are at school or at home. The current generation of children is multitasking at a degree higher than ever before. Researches are concerned that too much time spent trying to multitask is harmful. “Habitual multitasking may condition their brain to an overexcited state, making it difficult to focus even when they want to. ‘People lose the skill and the will to maintain concentration …’” (I added the bold) Some children are spending all their time trying to do several things at once. The article makes the point that it is important “… for parents and educators to teach kids, preferably by example, that it's valuable, even essential, to occasionally slow down, unplug and take time to think about something for a while.”

The second to last paragraph was powerful:

“For all the handwringing about Generation M, technology is not really the problem. ‘The problem,’ says Hallowell, ‘is what you are not doing if the electronic moment grows too large’--too large for the teenager and too large for those parents who are equally tethered to their gadgets. In that case, says Hallowell, ‘you are not having family dinner, you are not having conversations, you are not debating whether to go out with a boy who wants to have sex on the first date, you are not going on a family ski trip or taking time just to veg. It's not so much that the video game is going to rot your brain, it's what you are not doing that's going to rot your life." (I added the bold.)

The next time your child claims they can multitask while doing their homework, you may want to say something like: "That is fine dear, but I want you to practice focusing on just your homework. It is important that you learn how to focus."

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Is there a way to get statistics on comments?

I like Site Meter. And after some recent discussion I've been conviced I should try out StatCounter and MyBlogLog. These do a great job of tracking how many people are reading your blog, where they come from, and how long they stick around.

I would also like to have some way to gather statistics on the comments on my blog. Is there some way to see how many comments we are getting each month? Or what are the top posts for generating comments? Or who is leaving the most comments?

Thanks for any suggestions.

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The Carnival of Education is up, week 60

This week's Carnival of Education is at Right Wing Nation.

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I'm going Japanese, I really think so.

We hosted two Japanese exchange students for the weekend. They didn’t speak English and really didn’t understand it either. We spent a lot of time using Babel Fish. It would translate English into Japanese characters. It worked with simple phrases, but the slightest figure of speech would elicit a giggle.

We hadn’t really wanted to host the students, but a friend asked us. It was quite fun. The kids interest in learning a foreign language jumped by leaps and bounds. I think we might abandon Latin for awhile and switch to Japanese. I’m going to look into other exchange programs. Then we can focus on learning the language of the student we are going to host. It is more fun to learn a language when you know that you get a chance to use it.

We really liked the Japanese girls. They were so polite and dressed modestly. As part of our duty as hosts, we attended their concert at the high school. A local school band performed also. It was a good reminder of why our children are not going to high school. These were all basically “good” kids, but many of the American kids seemed a little lost. In contrast, the Japanese students behaved as a good example for our children.

The night before the Japanese students went home, we went to dinner at my in-laws’ home. A family friend who is from Japan came over. We got a chance to really communicate with the Japanese girls. We were able to find out about their families and homes in Japan.

I would highly recommend hosting exchange students as a homeschool project.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, exchange students, Japan,

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Selections from - 28 Mar 2006

Joanne Jacobs reports that Washington D.C. public schools are spending an incredible $16,334 per student. And D.C. students rank near the bottom for performance. A couple months ago someone pointed out that it would be cheaper to fly students to India and put them in a boarder school. For $16,334 maybe the students could fly first class.

Joanne also has the latest on Morgan Spurlock (he produced SuperSizeMe) who swore during a speech at high school health fair, and then justified himself. One good thing about homeschooling is we can screen out adults who act like juveniles.

Some schools are cutting back on history and science to focus on reading and math. At first this seems like a bad idea, but in some cases if the students are way behind, this can be a blessing. If they don't have the basics down, they aren't learning anything. Joanne links to a number of bloggers who are discussing the issue.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

The Carnival of Homeschooling – lucky week 13

The Carnival of Homeschooling has lasted a quarter of a year. We made it to week 13!

I have broken the posts into 13 categories. Some of these categories are related to the number 13. I was born on a Friday the 13th, and I’ve often challenge the claim that 13 is an unlucky number. In reading through the Wikipedia entry on 13 I was surprised to learn that in the Spanish speaking world it is Tuesday the 13th that is considered unlucky.

LUCK: Some claim that the number 13 is unlucky. With It all begins with me Mental Multivitamin has some suggestions for homeschooling parents when things “break bad.” At Susie-Q&A, Susannah Cox has three catch-phrases that help her not to stress out.

MISSING: Because 13 is considered unlucky, some tall buildings are “missing” the 13th floor. The floors are numbered from 1 to 12, and then 14 and up. Contentment Acres reminds us not to miss the precious moments that come with being a parent. Christine at Routon Family Homeschool writes about what may be missing between parents and children; moreover, she explains why parents should share their hopes and dreams with their children.

FAMILY: One of the key strengths to homeschooling is how it builds family closeness. At Patricia Ann's Pollywog Creek Porch we read on how family relations were strengthen across generations. Leonie, of Living Without School, writes about how she was a “mean” mom to help her sons get through a tough spot. And Beverly Hernandez, of About Homeschool, continues a discussion about What are your families like?

ADVICE for new Homeschoolers: At Key Words, Daniel starts a discussion about why it is best for parents to plan on homeschooling sooner rather than later. In Dad's Corner, Steve explains why so many parents are turning to homeschooling. Melissa Wiley at Here in the Bonny Glen debunks some common anti-homeschooling fallacies and shares her experience over the last ten years of being a homeschooler.

FOOD: A baker’s dozen was 13 loaves, and now refers to 13 items, often food. Off the top reveals some mouth watering pictures from to a maple sugar house.

ADVICE about families: FatcatPaulanne at Home*School*Home makes clear that while some families may look like they have it all together, they are just muddling through like the rest of us. Ann Voskamp, at ChoosingHome Blog, shares some ideas on how to Gently Tune-Up Your Dawdler.

MONEY: I was surprised to find there are a whole lot of 13 items on a one dollar bill. At Home Sweet Home Melissa shares some of the important lessons her children learned from playing store. Heather at Duncan Learning Academy digs out web sites with FREE resources for homeschoolers.

READING: Mrs. Happy Housewife explains how she taught reading using the McGuffey Readers. Homeschool Mami wonders if learning to read is taught, or caught.

HISTORY: Children in the USA often start with history leading up to the original 13 colonies. Tami at Tami's Blog goes even farther back and shares their experience of seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls. Robert of Biblical Parenting found a great resource on a government website for learning more about history and government.

ART: Trivium Pursuit has some tips on how to raise an artist. Nose in a Book explains how an appreciation for performance art can be developed. Linda Fay, who has been homeschooling from Turkey for the last ten years, at Higher Up and Further in has an easy to implement approach for teaching children about artists and their work.

WORLD: I tried to get blog postings from 13 different countries, but I got to around eight countries and hit a stone wall. At HomeSchoolBuzz we learn that Koreans are starting to realize the benefits of homeschooling. Aaron, at Villiage Blog, in New Zealand shares some ideas on how to track down local homeschoolers. On Sydnor Update, Paul in Austria reports on the problems with getting the Austrian government to let him homeschool.

ADVICE in general: The Thinking Mother says don’t spend too much time studying homeschooling curriculums and methods, just get moving. Sprittibee discusses ways that Christian homeschoolers can set realistic expectations and encourages us not to try and be perfect.

MISCELLANEOUS: Kim at Relaxed Homeskool is bemused by the presence of bumper stickers at an annual homeschool conference. NerdMom, of the Nerd Family, recently found out that A Beka has been very supportive of homeschoolers who have suffered from national disasters. And finally my wife shares her thoughts about the dangers of a miseducation at college, and wonders about sending our daughters going off to college.

One of the things I have enjoyed about the carnivals is meeting new homeschool bloggers. It is fun to see what others are trying, to see homeschoolers in the news, and to learn about homeschooling issues. If you have enjoyed this carnival, please spread the word. Please mention the carnival on your blog, and other appropriate places. There are other bloggers out there who haven't heard of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the archives of previous carnivals.

Next week the carnival will be held over one more week at Why Homeschool. If you are interested in submitting a post, click here for information.

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

This carnival is registered at TTLB's Uber Carnival.

I'd like to thank everyone who has helped out. Thank you to all the participants in this carnival. And thanks to all those who have promoted the Carnival of Homeschooling.

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

Links to interesting postings - 27 March 2006 has a post linking to a nice, positive, article on homeschoolers at Princeton.

Spunky at SpunkyHomeSchool has a good discussion about how public schools destroy a child's love for learning. Spunky found a good quote:

The analogy used by one professor is very appropriate, "That's like a violin student who's only permitted to play scales, nothing else, day after day, scales, scales, scales. They'd lose their zest for music."

One of our first reasons for homeschooling was to help our daughters' love for learning grow, and not get squashed.

When the government starts passing laws about education and homeschooling, homeschoolers justifiably get concerned about the camel's nose creeping into the tent, or some times the whole camel coming into the tent. Christine at The Thinking Mother has a good review of the the differences in types of education in Correct and Incorrect Use of the Word "Homeschooling."

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

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Interesting maps of the world

Back in December we posted a link to a map of the world which showed countries according to how many people they had, not how much land made up the country.

Someone has taken this approach for lots of types of data. Here are some of my favorite maps:

1) Land area: Good to have for a comparison.

2) Total Population: Similar to the map we found back in December.

7) Population Year 1: Estimate on how 230 million people were spread out about 2000 years ago.

11) Population 2050: Estimate on how many people each country will have in another 45 years. I am not sure how much to trust these data, for I've seen a couple other places that by 2050 there will be a bit more people in the United States than in China. China has forced so many families to have just one child, and so many of those are boys, that by 2050, China will have heavily imploded.

17) Net Immigration: It is clear where people are moving to; the United States recieves over 37% of the world net immigration.

47) Cereal Exports: I was surprised to see that the United States exports so much grain.

If you want to see the overview of the maps, start here.

These maps might have a visual learner.

(Hat tip

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The Carnival of Kid Comedy, week 3, is up

Kim at Life in a shoe is doing a great job with the Carnival of Kid Comedy. This week's carnival just came up. Kim makes the observation that many fun stories involve a four year old. And many of the stories in this week's carnival do involve four year olds.

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Searches which led to our blog

Awhile back Anne at PalmTree Pundit mentioned some of the interesting search patterns which had led readers to her blog. I started recording, on and off, what Site Meter reported for the search strings which brought people to our blog. And then recently Dana at Principled Discovery mentioned a weird search which led someone to her blog. So I decided to report a bit about how some people are being led to our blog.

Normally most of the search engines seem to do a pretty good job of matching what the reader is looking for with our site. For example here are some of the recent search patterns which led people to us:

why people homeschool
why homeschool

I think we are a good match for the above search patterns. Here are a few more recent patterns which led to our blog:

"tricia smith" ~"indiana university"
We've blogged about some columns by a Trcia Smith Vaughan.

My wife had a whole post about how our daughters loved listening to Homer's Odessy.

These were a fairly reasonable match.

Over the last month we've had a few which a real reach. For example:

"why do working people need unions"
On the 28th of February we were the 9th on the list for MSN Search.

"being too nice"
On the 19th of March we were number six on the list for MSN Search for Canada

Tylenol versus classical conditioning
Also on the 19th of March, for this pattern we were number 4 on the list for

americans behavior during the 60-70's
This was also on the 19th of March, for this search string we were number 1 for MSN Search.

I like Site Meter. It is very informative. I frequently check the By Referrals report to see where readers are coming from. And as you can see from above, Site Meter can also be entertaining. If you don't have something like Site Meter, you might want to check out Blogger's help section on Hit Counters and Statistics.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

My daughter has a super hero

Awhile back I over heard my youngest daughter telling my middle daughter she had had a bad dream. It was early in the morning. Our girls were getting up. The youngest was still a bit frightened by the dream.

I was getting ready to go to the kitchen when my second daughter started the speech I'd given her a couple times about how nightmares are not real, but they can be scary.

Then my second daughter added something to the speech. She said that when she has a really bad dream she'll bring grandmother into the dream. By putting grandma into a dream she knew she was safe. Grandma chases away the monsters and makes the dream better. (Grandma often made the dreams better by bringing more horses into the dream. What is it about girls and horses?)

I was deeply touched and called my mother later that day to let her know she was a super hero.

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Reminder - submissions due next week for the Carnival of Children's Literature

The third monthly Carnival of Children's Literature will be held next week at Semicolon. Entries are due to sherryDOTearlyATgmailDOTcom by 6 PM, Saturday, April 1st. Go here for more details.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Links to interesting postings - 23 March 2006

HomeSchoolBuzz had a post today which led to an article about how one homeschooling mother dealt with improving her children's interest in writing. Angela Brown decided to start up a magazine. Her sons saw greater value in writing when they could see their articles in print. She's gone on line with an internet course for a group of children to produce HomeWorld Hearts. I think it is a great idea. I'm sure her children are much more motivated.

Joanne Jacobs reports on a USA Today article about how unions are fighting an effort to get outside help. President Bush is interested in starting an adjunct teachers corps, where experienced scientists and mathematicians would help teach at schools. Teacher unions say no way, just give us more money. To be honest I'm not sure that another government program would really improve public schools. But it is interesting to see that the teacher unions feel threaten and are worried about what is best for them, not the children.

At The Education Wonks is a post on how 800 Detroit teachers called in sick forcing 50 schools to be closed. The school district is suffering financially. The teachers are upset that the principals got a 4.7 to 10.6 percent pay raise, while the teachers aren't getting a raise. The school district points out that the principals got a 10 percent pay cut last year and they are just trying to balance things out. With homeschooling we are not at the mercy of shutdowns like this.

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

Character matters

This post is education related in a broad sense of the term. For, Tim Harford wrote an interesting column called:

Why Poor Countries Are Poor: The clues lie on a bumpy road leading to the world’s worst library

The column is about why some countries are poor and stay poor. He reports that fundamentally it isn't always a lack of an education that keeps people poor, but how trustworthy people are, is there a rule of law, and how much effort do you have to spend protecting stuff once you get stuff. He examines why Cameroon would spend money and build such a bad library.

As a homeschooling parent this was a good reminder that in addition to teaching our children the academic stuff, it is very important to teach our children to be moral. They will be happier with a good character. If our children are honest and have integrity, then people will trust them and want to be around them.

(Hat tip:

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

A College Miseducation

Pieter J. Friedrich wrote an interesting piece about his college experience, entitled A College Miseducation. He gives examples of misinformation he was taught in college courses.

Mr. Friedrich is a 20 year old homeschool graduate and about to begin active duty in the US Air Force. I admit that I didn't know all the historical fact he sited. I, of course, come from a public school background. My oldest is only 11 years old, so I haven't covered all the history yet. Every historical fact in this article that I did know, I had learned in the last 3 years of homeschooling my children.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the article:
"If you must get a college degree, do so for the benefit it can have on your career. Don't attend college to get an education."

This got me thinking about my own college experience. It was not quite as bad as the example Mr. Friedrich used. However, it is possible that my experience really was that bad and that I just didn't know how much misinformation I was given.

I had a recent conversation with a college professor about a class she was teaching. It became very clear that she didn't understand the subject she was attempting to teach. The course was merely the vehicle to promote her world view. I wondered how many students left her classroom more ignorant than when they entered it.

People often ask us how long we will homeschool. Our reply has been "until college." We are rethinking that one.

Pieter Friedrich also has a blog entitled Pumpkin Head.

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

Intersting view of those who connect to you

Today's Clicked! had a link to Bloginfluence. It provides some information on a blog in terms of how much traffic it gets, and how much the blog is connected to other blogs. (Note, be sure to enter a full URL, including the http:// part of the URL)

After entering the URL for Why Homeschool, Bloginfluence had a link to TouchGraph. This is really cool, but I'm not exactly sure what it all means. TouchGraph shows in a graphical form the Blogs that are closely connected to a specific blog. When I have more time I'll investigate just what the graphs mean.

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John Stossel continues to write about education

Back in January, John Stossel did a report for 20/20 called Stupid in America. It was a hard hitting account of the current state of public schools. (If you missed it, you can read the transcript, or watch the video.) John focused on a number of areas in which public schools are failing and then showed why he felt school vouchers would help improve education in America.

Many people who support public schools have tried to discredit John's report. They have challenged his integrity, they have tried to confuse the issue, and so on. Week after week John has written columns explaining the weakness in their arguements. They even tried to shut him up by claiming teaching was so hard that John wouldn't accept a challenge to teach, but he said fine, I'll give it a try.

This week John has a column, More teachers' union myths, refuting a number of myths about education.

One of the interesting points in the column was in response to the unions' claim that we need to spend more money on education. They say that countries which spend more money than us are doing better on international tests. John had an excellent insight: yes, and countries which spend less money than us are doing better than us.

Near the end of this week's column John writes about accountability. He says: "The people who want to control every young American's education like to talk about accountability, but what they want is to make schools accountable to anointed bureaucrats who think they know what's best for all of us. They evade real accountability -- the kind of accountability where if a student or parent realizes a school isn't doing its job, he can find another one."

If you are want to be more informed on the current state of public education, and you don't have time to read Thomas Sowell's book, Inside American Education, John Stossel's columns and his Stupid in America report are good places to start.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Homeschooling humor

How do homeschool children play hookey?

(Hat tip: Homeschool Mami's World)

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Just two days left to submit something to the Carnival of Kid Comedy

Kim at Life in a shoe is looking for submissions to the third week of the Carnival of Kid Comedy.

So if you have a good post, or have seen a good post, about something funny children have said or did, submit the post to Kim at: homeschoolmarm @t gmail dot com

Submissions are due this Friday at midnight. Kim has more details at here and here.

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The importance of math

Awhile back a Richard Cohen wrote a column for the Washington Post. He challenged the assumption that high school students needed to take Algebra. He claimed that for most students there were few reasons to master something as basic as Algebra. He said: "You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it."

This got a lot of discussion in the blogosphere. (Some of which wasn't clean.)

I disagree with Richard. My BS is in Physics. I took over a dozen math classes, starting with calculus. I have found that all this math has improved how I look at the world.

So in contrast to Richard’s column, it was nice to come across a list of reasons why high school students should study math in high school. The list has twelve good reasons, with a paragraph about each reason. My two favorite reasons were:

Choose math because you will make more money.
Choose math because you will lose less money.

If you have any doubts about the importance of students working to master math, go check out the list.

(Hat tip:

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Fifth Disease

Here's a factoid for the day.

I just received a call from one the moms at our Friday Homeschool Co-op. Her son had been diagnosed with Fifth Disease. He may have been contagious the last time we got together. I kept asking her to spell it. She replied, "You know fifth. Like first, second, third, fourth, fifth." I thought I had heard of everything.

So this is what I learned about Fifth Disease from and

fifth disease

A mild viral disease occurring mainly in early childhood, characterized by fever, a rosy-red rash on the cheeks that often spreads to the trunk and limbs, and usually arthritis and malaise. Also called erythema infectiosum.

"The name fifth disease stems from the fact that when diseases causing childhood rashes were enumerated, it was the fifth listed."

By the way, here's the list:
Measles (1st disease) - Scarlet fever (2nd disease) - Rubella (3rd disease)
Duke's disease (4th disease) - Slap cheek (5th disease) - Roseola (6th disease)

Apparently, it is quite common at daycare centers and schools. Maybe that's why I've never heard of it. It has a long incubation period, 4 to 28 days. By the time you get the rash, you are no longer contagious. They say 50% of adults have had it, but don't remember it because the symptoms were so mild.

I hope it misses our house, but if not, oh well.

Technorati tags: fifth disease

The Carnival of Education is up, week 59

EdWonks has put together another Carnival of Education. Week 59 is hosted at his blog, The Education Wonks.

A call for submissions to the next Carnival of Homeschooling

My wife and I will be hosting the next two Carnival of Homeschoolings. Please consider submitting a post about homeschooling. We'll take most anything about homeschooling. If you would like some ideas, check here, and here.

Go here for details on how to submit. Entries are due Monday evenings at 6:00 PM, Pacific Standard Time.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The best gift for your kids: responsibility

Last week my wife sent me a link to a column, The best gift for your kids: responsibility, Patricia Dalton. I only got around to reading it today. It is a great column. It was first published in the Washington Post, and then in the San Jose Mercury.

Patricia is a clinical psychologist in Washington. She says that many children are learning to make excuses for everything: "Evasive attitudes are learned, refined and reinforced in the home. Ultimately, people become so divorced from the impact of their actions that they freely take advantage of others."

I also thought this was a good point: "What is striking today is the number of parents who seem uncomfortable with teaching their children. They let the culture do it and hope for the best. Some even side with their children against authorities."

At some point learning to read and write is very important; however, if the child grows up with a bad heart, then the parents have failed. Louis L'Amour made a comment in one of his book about the value of education. Someone had taken pity on a criminal who had been in and out of jail since the man was fifteen. Finally at thirty the man was given a first class education, went into forgery and was serving ten to twenty years in jail. The education hadn't changed the heart.

As parents we need to provide the basics to our children, so they can stay alive. We have a responsibility to provide them with an education, so they can function in our highly technical world. But the most important thing we may do as parents is to help our children develop a good heart, and a good character. As homeschoolers we have more of a chance to work with our children and give them constant, useful feedback.

Patricia Dalton makes a number of good points. If you need any reason to be strong and make the extra effort to how your children be honest, work hard, and be responsible, go check out her column.

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Selections from Joanne Jacobs - 21 March 2006 is one of the top education blogs. Joanne Jacobs is the author of a recently published book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea, and the School That Beat the Odds. Our School is about a successful charter school in San Jose.

Today Joanne blogs about a recent trend with families who have children applying to colleges and universities. Many families are sending in dozens of applications. The New York Times reports that some students are worried about being accepted and figure that by applying to lots of colleges they have a greater chance at being accepted.

Joanne also reports that a public school in San Jose, California, recently decided to make it harder for parents to volunteer in the classroom. Parents will have to pay $57 to be finger printed. I have had to get fingerprinted a couple times to be a soccer coach. Even though it was a bit of a pain, the soccer league reimbursed the fee.

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Week 12 of the Carnival of Homeschooling is up

Shannon at PHAT Mommy is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. Shannon has done a great job of getting a lot of interesting posts about homeschooling. Wander over and be prepared to read for awhile.

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

Monday, March 20, 2006

One School of Education closed, how many more to go?

As recorded in Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers, Rita Kramer spent a year attending various Schools of Educations around the United States. What she found was pretty scary. The students were not being taught how to teach. They were being encouraged to change the world, without any real understanding of the world. Rita documented many problems with the Schools of Education.

It looks like Peter Wood came to the same conclusion. He is provost at King's College and decided to close the School of Education there. Here is a column by Peter about why he decided to close it down.

One of the things I was surprised to learn is a BA from a School of Education in New York is a bit useless. All teachers are required to get a Masters within five years.

Peter ends by challenge other provosts and college predsidents to close their Schools of Education.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

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One of our first reasons for homeschooling

HomeSchoolBuzz has a link to an article in the Baltimore Sun about a family who left the public schools to homeschool. The second paragraph of the article is:

"I was astounded at how superior home schooling is to public school," said Turner, who home-schools three children ages 6, 13 and 17. "The children get back this love of learning that all children had when they were 3 or 4 years old."

One of the first reasons I wanted to homeschool was so my daughters would retain their love for learning. Young children have great curiosity and are constantly asking questions. After “No!” the next favorite word for children seems to be “Why?”

One of the light bulb moments in my life was the realization that learning had become a chore for me. I graduated from a fairly decent high school. I had taken some college level courses. But my attitude towards education was it was something to be endured. When I had free time I didn't do things like read history for fun, or study a new language. There was little joy or excitement as I started my college years.

Around the time I got married I found again the joy that comes from learning new things. I didn't want my daughters to go through public schools which forced all the children to learn at the same speed, the same topics, in the same way.

We are happy to see the love for learning that our daughters have never lost. For example our daughters love the PBS specials on King Henry the Eighth’s wives. They have watched them over and over again.

My wife leaves some children magazines around the house, like Ranger Rick and Muse. For awhile our oldest daughter would take them along in the car and read them out loud to her sisters. My wife says the two younger girls were excited to learn about spiders.

Our oldest daughter is reading historical fiction right now. She was very frustrated to learn Friday that she couldn’t check out any more books. Our library only allows forty items to be checked out at one time. She has found a couple books she loves so much that she wants to buy them.

Homeschooling is the best way to help children retain their love for learning. We are so glad this is an option for us.

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

More on Susan Wise Bauer

My wife and I like Susan Wise Bauer. When we were getting started with homeschooling we were heavily influenced by The Well Trained Mind by Susan and her mother Jessie Wise. (If you haven't read Susan's typical homeschooling days, you can get the links from here.) My wife has mentioned that we use Susan's Story of the World series. (Volumes one, two, three, and four)

Awhile back Anne of PalmTree Pundit reported that Susan Wise Bauer had a blog. Susan is blogging about the process of publishing another book. I read the blog most every day.

So it was fun to read that Isabel (of The Homeschooling Revolution) found a teacher evaluation of one Susan's class. (Susan also teaches at William and Mary.)

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The second Carnival of Kid Comedy is up

Kim is doing a great job of gathering entertaining posts about the funny things our children do and say. Go check out the second Carnival of Kid Comedy.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thoughts to ponder

Friendships are fragile things, and require as much handling as any other fragile and precious thing.
-Randolph S. Bourne

The Golden Rule is of no use to you whatever unless you realize it is your move.
-Frank Crane

Consider carefully before you say a hard word to a man, but never let a chance to say a good one go by. Praise judiciously bestowed is money invested.
-George Horace Lorimer

What we see depends on mainly what we look for.
-John Lubbock

Life is not a static thing. The only people who do not change their minds are incompetents in asylums, who can't and those in cemeteries.
-Everett Dirksen

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Links to interesting postings - 17 March 2006

If you are into history, you might want to check out the Daily Perspective. Liz scans in news articles from old newspapers, and some not so old. For example the Oakland Tribune reported in 1923 that the US Navy had found the lost island of Atlantis. You can right click on the image to read the article from the Oakland Tribune.

Do you know how much teachers pay in union dues? Up in Washington State the average public school teacher pages over $750 a year in union dues. They have no choice, to be a teacher means you have to pay the union dues. Here is the break down by school district.

Selections from the Home Education Magazine are up on their web site. The discussion on Compulsory Education vs. Unschooling was interesting.

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Dear Spunky

If Spunky isn't careful she might turn into the Ann Landers of homeschooling. In the last couple days she's answered a number of questions about homeschooling.

On Wednesday she gave advice on how and when to pull children out of public schools.

Then on Thursday she answered three questions: 1) How do you work with family members who oppose homeschooling. 2) How do you select a curriculum? 3) Spunky, where do you get all the time to blog?

Maybe the next step is to get Spunky syndicated.

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