Friday, June 30, 2006

Sex Ed Quiz

After my Effectiveness of Sex Education post, I remembered a little factoid that I read in Consumer Reports some years ago. So I went and tracked it down.

Here's a little health quiz.

What is the failure rate for condoms during typical use (pregnancy rate per 100 users per year)?

a) 1 out of 100

b) 2 out of 100

c) 5 out of 100

d) 15 out of 100

Here's a hint from Consumer Reports:

The online fact sheet on condoms by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at , used to begin with this statement: “Condoms are effective in preventing HIV and other STDs.” The fact sheet was removed from the site in 2002 and was later replaced with one that states, “The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse ...” or be in a long-term monogamous relationship with someone whom you know is not infected.

Drum roll please..........

According to Consumer Reports, in 1 years time, 15 out of 100 couples will conceive while practicing "safe sex" under typical circumstance. That means more than 1 out of 7, for those who don't like percentages. With perfect use of a condom, 2 out of 100 couples will still conceive.

I don't know any adolescents who do anything perfectly all the time. So, if adult couples have a 15% failure rate, what do you think it will be for teens?

I would be curious to know what is being taught in sex education classes. Do they teach students the actual risks? I bet most parents don't know what is being taught or don't know enough to recognize if what is being taught is entirely true.

As a homeschool parent, I have very little control over what goes on at my neighborhood school. I had a friend who called all the schools in our area asking what books they used and for course content. She was told that they couldn't give out that information, since she didn't have a child at that school. Personally, I think they were just stalling. I don't think they had the information to give out, even if they wanted to.

I have no idea how to transform such a broken system.

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Hey, I almost missed it, it is Frederic Bastiat's birthday

Frederic Bastiat wrote a powerful tract on the dangers of government. The Law analyses basic problems with government. It is powerful. And short. You can read it here. I plan to read it with my daughters when each of them hits fifteen or so. He also wrote about economics and created the Parable of the Broken Window which demonstrates how easy it is to ignore the unseen.

I would have missed that it was Frederic Bastiat's birthday today except that I put in a Google Alert awhile back, and one of the links today was to Follow The Law by Gary M. Galles.

You might consider celebratinge Bastiat's birthday by reading The Law or The Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen. (The second has the Parable of the Broken Window.) Then have a unit study with your children on how to protect your freedoms.

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Selections from - 30 June

Below are some selections from It was an interesting contrast to have one saying that maybe more money isn't the answer, and then the next saying we need more money.

David Kirkpatrick, of U.S. Freedom Foundation, writes a column: Urban Schools: Problems, Problems Everywhere. He says one way to solve the problem of public schools constantly asking for more money is "As an alternative to naming a specific amount that would do the job, they might identify a district that thinks it has enough money and see how it conducts its business." But then here is the slam: "... there doesn't seem to be a district that is truly effective ..." Out of 15,000 public school districts not one seems to be doing a great job. Maybe it is time to rethink the whole process and look at getting government out of education.

There is an abstract of a recent report out of Berkeley says the United States is in great danger of losing its standing as being one of the top nations with great higher education. Unfortunately part of the conclusion is that we need to invest more. Part of the current problems with education at the university level is too much government involvement. But I wouldn't expect a professor at a government school to consider that option.

I liked Michael Shaughnessy's interview of Frederick Hess. Frederick has great concerns about American Educational Research Association (AERA) on how it handles educational research. Frederick says many of the leaders of the AERA have agendas and don't allow for conflicting opinions, which stifles research.

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Effectiveness of Sex Education

I found an interesting commentary in Life Site News on the effectiveness of sex education. It analyzes a study which was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article points out how the headlines reported in most mainstream media down plays the studies actual findings.

I've added bolding for emphasis.

HPV Condom Study Shows The Failure of Condom Education

June 30, 2006 ( - "Study demonstrates failure of condom education." That is a headline you didn't read in your local paper although it accurately describes the results of a study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (Winer, June 22, 2006). Instead the headline in at least one paper reads "Condoms protect against cervical cancer." The subhead is a little more restrained: "When condoms are used effectively, a study shows they can help prevent the spread of human papilloma virus" (HPV).

Most people would assume for example, that "prevent" means zero infections, but what the study actually found was that if 100 women used condoms 100% of the time for one year, 37 would be infected with HPV. Admittedly that is better than the results for the 100 women who used condoms 5% or less of the time; 89 of these would be infected.

What the news story failed to mention, however, is that if 100 women used condoms 5% to 49% of the time, there would be 159 infections. In other words some women would have multiple infections.

How, you may ask, are women who at least use condoms some of the time twice as likely to be infected as those who use condoms rarely or never? The answer probably lies in the psychology of condom use. Those who have reason to believe that their partners are not infected are more likely to discontinue condom use altogether, whereas those who perceive some risk are more likely to insist on condom use, at least some of the time.

The study actually supports this strategy. Among the women who believed that their male partner had no previous sexual partners, there were no HPV infections. This is understandable since, if the male was not infected, he could not infect the woman.

On the other hand, the infection rate for the 100 women who had more than one new partner was 224, more than 2 infections per woman. The more sexual partners a woman has the greater the chance one of them will infect her.
The really bad news for the condom advocates is the percentage of women in the study who used a condom 100% of time. The 82 women included in the report were smart enough to get into college, prudent enough to arrive as virgins, concerned enough to enter a study, willing to record their sexual behavior every two weeks in an electronic diary, and health conscious enough to submit to regular exams. They undoubtedly were instructed in condom use and its importance, and the dangers of sexually transmitted infections, particularly cancer-causing HPV. This is the very best case scenario for condom education.

Therefore, the fact that in only 25% of the 164 eight month periods included in the study did the women report using condoms 100% of the time proves that condom education doesn't work.

The article does not report on the behavior and infections for the 82 women for the entire follow-up period which averaged 33.9 months, but rather reported on behavior and infections in eight month segments. Therefore, we don't know the percentage of women infected at least once at the end of the study.

Neither do we know from the article the percentage of the 82 women who used condoms 100% of the time for the entire study. It could be that 21 women used a condom every time. It is more likely that a larger number (but less than 50%) started out using a condom every time and then used condoms less frequently during subsequent eight month periods. What we do know is that using condoms less that 100% of the time is high risk behavior particularly if one has multiple sexual partners.

The study does not discuss the relationship between abstinence and HPV infection, because its authors know that abstinence offers 100% protection. The authors do report that 60 women initially recruited for the study were not included in the report because they did not engage in sexual activity.

In addition, the article includes only the data from the 164 eight month periods in which the women were sexually active. It does not report the number of eight month periods in which the women were abstinent, because of course during those periods there was no risk of a new HPV infection. While it is difficult it extrapolate that information from the other data, it is possible that the women in the study were abstinent during at least half of the eight month reporting periods. It would be nice to have the data on this.

The authors warn those who think the problem will be solved by the new HPV vaccine that the vaccine protects against only 4 of the scores of HPV strains.

We can assume that those pushing condom education and trying to de-fund abstinence education will use this study to prove condoms education works, when in fact what it really demonstrates is that abstinence works and even under optimum conditions encouraging women to use condoms puts them at risk.

This article made some very interesting points. I too would not consider an infection rate of 1 out of 3 as being "safe" or "protected." Considering these were college age women, I imagine the infection rates for younger women are much higher.

This acticle reminds me of the arguments made by Thomas Sowell in his book, Inside American Education. He proposed that sexual education in schools actually created the teen-sex epidemic.

p. 63
Teenage pregnancy was declining, over a period of more than a dozen years, before so-called "sex education" programs spread rapidly through American schools in the 1970s. Teenage pregnancies then rose sharply, along with federal expenditures on "sex education" programs and "family-planning" clinics, many located in schools. The pregnacy rate among 15 to 19 year old females was approximately 68 per thousand in 1970 and 96 per thousand in 1980.

.....Fertility rates among teenage girls had been declining since 1957, long before the massive, federally funded programs of the 197os and before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973.

Sex education is one of the many reasons (though not the main reason) my daughters do not go to public school. I want my children to know the truth about the risks and responsibilities that go along with sexual activity, not to mention the moral and spiritual elements.

Sex education, what an oxymoron.

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Links to interesting postings - 30 June 2006

Ken Jennings has a blog. When he was on Jeopardy we were amazed by just how quick he was, and how many correct questions he was able to ask. (Hat tip: Clicked!)

A valedictorian, Kareem Elnahal, used his chance to give a speach to describe his education as "hollow" and filled with "countless hours wasted in those halls." Some teachers and administrators were upset that he used this setting to attack public schools, but my guess is they would have been happy if he had praised public schools, or attack many other issues. They just don't like having their ox gored. (Hat tip: reddit)

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FYI: Homeschool Blog Watch has a new look

Some time in the last day or so Homeschool Blog Watch has started including about the first hundred words for the five most recent entries. It gives the reader a much better sense about the topic each post is covering.

If you've never checked out Homeschool Blog Watch before, give it a try.

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

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Larry Ellison won't be giving $115 million to Harvard

Last year University President Lawrence Summers dared to suggest something very politically incorrect - that men and women might be fundamentally different. He was driven out of his office.

An interesting consequence of this fiasco is Larry Ellison has decided not to give $115 million to Harvard because of how Harvard treated Lawrence Summers.

A university is supposed to be looking for the truth. It is suppose to teach students truth, and how to recognize truth. The backlash against President Summer's comments showed that many people at Harvard weren't interested in the truth. They didn't ask if he had any evidence for his theory. He was attacked because of how his statements made some of the professors at Harvard feel.

I'm glad Larry Ellison decided not to gift his money to Harvard. Maybe more people will take a hard look at what universities are doing these days.

(Hat tip: OpinionJournal)

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Reminder - get your submission in for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Tami, of Tami's Blog, is hosting next week's Carnival of Homeschooling! She is going with a patriotic theme. If you are going to be celebrating the four day weekend and away from the internet, get your submission in today. Otherwise you can ponder about your post and get it in by Monday.

Entries are due at 6:00 PM PST on Monday evenings. Go here for details on how to submit.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A few carnivals out today

Karen at The Thomas Institute has started up a carnival about model trains: Roundhouse Roundup.

And the Lone Star Home Schoolers carnival was kicked off at the Lone Star Academy. This carnival was initially meant for homeschoolers in Texas, but it looks like the carnival will be expanding to include homeschoolers in the South.

Melissa Wiley, of The Lilting House, is hosting this week's Carnival of Education.

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Beware: This is a monster post.

In my Declining Friendship post, I was quite pleased to note the number of good friends we have in our life. After more thought, I realized that this was not always the case. Before my marriage and in the first few years of marriage, I had very few close friends. I averaged one or two intimate friends and only a few casual ones. After reading the comments posted on Dr. Helen's blog, it all came back to me. So, I had to ask myself, what changed.

So here is what changed.

1) Effort: When I transitioned from high school to college, from one college to another college, and moved to get a job, I didn't do anything to maintain the friendships from that time in my life. Each year at college, I would make a new set of friends dependent on class schedule and roommate assignment. I had some magical thinking about the people I cared about. I imaged that I would somehow (magically) just bump into them on the street one day, even if I was now living in another state. I admit that I still think about many of these people today, but have no way of contacting them. Some, I don't even remember their full names. I secretly hoped that somehow they would find me.

2) Networking: I married an over-socialized-introvert, according to his therapist. Henry collects people. He keeps track of their phone numbers and addresses. The year before we got married, Henry sent out over 200 Christmas cards. The joke in my family was that even if I didn't marry him, my parents would still receive a Christmas card from Henry for the rest of their lives. Each year before Christmas, he gets on the phone to old friends to confirm their current address or to ask a mutual friend for contact information. Mostly, it is a pretext to call and chat. Many of us would like to get reacquainted with old friends, but feel awkward and need a reason to call. Christmas cards were a great connector.

However, Henry's network of friends was very hard for me at first. We couldn't go anywhere without bumping in to someone Henry knew. I'm an introvert who takes a little time to warm up to people. Suddenly, I had people who socialized with me because I was "Henry's wife." They already had a history together and I felt like a third wheel. In addition, Henry's extended family is very well connected with each other. It takes time to build a history with your spouse's relatives.

The first year of our marriage was the loneliest in many ways. When we married, I moved into the house that Henry already owned. While it was not far from my old apartment and friends, it was far enough that I had to make an effort to see them, something I wasn't in the habit of doing. My old friends were all single and marriage changed things. Most of Henry's friends were already married with children, so I didn't have much in common with them either.

Back then Henry had "friendship" problems too. He had many, many associations with other people, but few he could call intimate. While he could find a job easily through his connections, he still lacked good friends he could talk to about important things. I believe this is especially true for most men. In recent years, Henry's network of close friends is much wider. This is due to his increased maturity since getting married and becoming a father, and from the time he has spent working closely with other men at church.

3. Staying Home full time: Before we had children, I worked full time. Most of the friendships I have today began when I stopped working. Before I had children, I never talked to my neighbors. I worked, read books and occasionally did things with my room mates and later my husband. I think I must have watched TV back then because I literally can't remember what I did. I didn't really even do much housework either. We were both gone all day so the house didn't get very dirty. I think I was married over a year before I washed the kitchen floor.

As luck would have it, both my neighbor next door and the neighbor across the street had babies about the same time as I did. I noticed my next door neighbor walking her baby in stroller every morning at 9:30 am. So, I started doing the same. I would casually bump into her and then we would continue on together. Soon, we were doing more and more things together. It also helped that all of our children were born a few months apart, so we were at the same stage and the same time.

Another change I noticed after having children and staying home full time was that the relationship with my sister improved. She already had three children by the time I got married. My sister also ran a business. When I stopped working and she sold the business, we all of a sudden had time for each other. We now talk on the phone 3 or more times a week.

The relationship with my brother also improved when we were both married. Women are the connectors in my family. When women are too busy outside the family to connect, the family stays disconnected.

4. Children and The Nursing Mothers' Lounge. And now for the secret of friendship, hang out in the nursing mothers' lounge at church. (Gentlemen, sorry you're on your own here.) At our church, they have a small room on the back of the ladies' bathroom. It has a couch and a rocking chair. As needed, women can go there for a quiet place to nurse their babies and talk. Most of my early parenting information I gained there.

Children are great connectors to other people. I now have many friends through my children. These friendships began casually. Now after almost almost 12 years, I have many good friends. I find that a "good" friendship takes a few years to develop. You need a history with someone.

Now back to that socialization thing. I think many parents worry about pulling their kids out of school because that is where most of the parents' friendships start. I was worried when all my current friends' children went off to kindergarten. It did take effort on my part to continue those relationships when our life styles were so different. Only a few made that transition. It also took effort to go out and make new friends. Most of my child initiated friendships are now with other homeschoolers.

5. Service: Serving in a church or community organizations is a great way to make friends. Even spontaneous acts of service can build a friendship.

I gained one of my first new friends after getting married by watching our for a particular diaper bag and sitting next to it. When we got married, we began attending the church close to Henry's house. While Henry already knew some of the people there, I knew no one. One Sunday, I noticed a woman sitting alone with three young children who were having trouble sitting still. Her husband was leading the service and sat on the stand, so she had to handle the kids by herself. Early into the service she suddenly got up and walked out with all three kids. Curious, I followed to see where she was going. The woman walked out of the building, put her kids in the car and drove away. The next week we made a point of sitting beside her so that we could help out with the kids. We knew where to sit by looking for her diaper bag. She would use it to save a bench for her family while their kids played in the hall before the service started. After a few weeks of helping out, we invited the whole family over for dinner. This was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.


Today, we make more of an effort to connect more closely to others. I will just make up an excuse to call an old friend or distant cousin. When we travel, we make a point of looking up old friends and distant relatives.

Henry now has his jogging buddies. These men have the opportunity to talk while they exercise. Henry also gets together with a variety of friends about twice a month for lunch. It is a different mix each time. For example, Henry is having lunch today someone he used to work with over 10 years ago. Henry and this friend no longer move in the same circles, even though his old friend still lives and works in the area. Henry would never see this friend and many like him without making the effort to set up these lunch meetings.

I no longer have only 2 or 3 close friends. I have church friends, people I've worked with in service organizations, neighborhood friends, homeschool friends, family, one friend I made on the internet while doing research and one friend from high school/college.

[There's a funny story about my internet friend, Alden. When we first made contact and exchanged research information over email, I thought she was an older man. She later made a comment in an email about going to the movies with her girl friends. That got me wondering, so I sent an email introducing myself with a little information about my family. She responded in kind. We discovered that she was my age with two children about the same age as mine. On a resent trip, we met in person for the first time at the museum where she works. We got together a few times to visit and so the kids could play. It is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.]

Many people count their "online" connections as friends. I think that online contacts are potential friends, but need face-to-face meetings to develop. On the internet people are not always what the seem.

Close friendship takes time, effort and maturity. As a parent, I can help my children by teaching them the skills they need to interact with others on a mature level. Again, I don't think you can get that easily when you send your kids to school. At school, children might have a higher quantity of interactions with others, but a lower quality with a lower likelihood of success. I can give my children the opportunity to interact with others in constructive ways, such as doing service for others or in wholesome activies. I can make sure that my children have time to interact with a variety of people by not warehousing them all day in a room with only children their own age or filling up their evenings with homework.

In the end, maybe people are right. Socialization is what we should talk about when discussing homeschooling.

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Links to interesting postings - 28 June 2006

Valerie Bonaham Moon questions the use of a sentence "Home schooling also is capturing more students." she found in a recent news story. She makes the point that public schools don't own children.

Spunky found an article on USA Today that tag, soccer, and touch football may be banned. I like Spunky's closing line: "Why stop at tag? For the good of the children, let's just ban public school."

One of the frequent advantages listed for homeschooling is that parents can respond to the needs of their children and create an individual learning environment. Lynx at One-Sixteenth makes the point that we need to remember to also tailor homeschooling for parents.

This was a great summary of what a parent learned from their first year of homeschooling, from Three Loose Nuts.

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nice article on Sudoku

I started playing Sudoku last Thanksgiving. It is a fun logic game. Janine picked it up before we went on our Washington DC trip. Our two older daughters have played a couple games but not gotten hooked yet.

If you like Sudoku, you might enjoy this article about Will Shortz who has sold five million Sudoku books. The game has really taken off. The article compares crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and gives some history of Sudoku.

(Hat tip: reddit)

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The Carnival of Homeschooling, week 26, is up

Natalie is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at The Homeschool Café. Y'all are invited to drop by and hang out with old friends, and meet some new friends.

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


Our Sunday paper ran an editorial by Linda Hirshman. Ms. Hirshman complains that Everyone hates Linda.

There were so many things wrong with her arguments it was hard to know where to begin. Our local newspaper has a 125 word limit for letters to the editor. After much internal debate, I focused on one point, the influence and stabilizing effect of mothers at home. Just the day earlier, there was the report on declining friendship in America. I had hoped to demonstrate the bad effects of Ms. Hirshman's advice as evidenced in the article on friendship, but found I couldn't do it in 125 words or less. So, I sent off the following email to the Mercury News.

Linda R. Hirshman contends she is "Stepped on for standing up for working women" (Perspective, June 25). Stay-at-home mothers are "making a mistake" and wasting their talents according to Ms. Hirshman. She's forgotten that the small number of working mothers in her generation were successful due to the network of full-time mothers who were there to help them out. Those full-time mothers did the important things, like nurturing children and volunteering in the community, that career women no longer had the time or energy to do. Stay-at-home mothers were the glue that strengthened communities and kept children safe. Ms. Hirshman, the least you could do is say thank you. Stop poking holes in the boat that working women and their families are standing in.

Today, I went back and read her Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World. She has quite the Vision of the Anointed complex. The beauty of blogging is that we are not limited to 125 words.

Here's some of what the blogosphere has to say:

Mental multivitamin


I had intended to go over the "Manifesto" line by line putting in comments. However, I don't want to give her delusions a greater audience. Her view point is so absurdly false in comparison to my life experience, that there was no common ground on which to start. Her comments about homeschooling were particularly odd. I can't decide if Ms. Hirshman is really that narcissistic and self-centered or if she is just evil. Instead, I will shares some words on family, marriage and motherhood:

The bravest battle that ever was fought!
Shall I tell you where and when?
On the maps of the world you will find it not;
'Twas fought by the mothers of men.

Nay not with the cannon of battle-shot,
With a sword or noble pen;
Nay, not with eloquent words or thought
From mouth of wonderful men!

But deep in a walled-up woman's heart --
Of a woman that would not yield,
But bravely, silently bore her part --
Lo, there is the battlefield!

No marshalling troops, no bivouac song,
No banner to gleam and wave;
But oh! those battles, they last so long --
From babyhood to the grave.

Yet, faithful still as a bridge of stars,
She fights in her walled-up town --
Fights on and on in her endless wars,
Then silent, unseen, goes down.

Oh, ye with banners and battle-shot,
And soldiers to shout and paise!
I tell you the kingliest victories fought
Were fought in those silent ways.

O spotless woman in a world of shame,
With splendid and silent scorn,
Go back to God as white as you came --
The Kingliest warrior born!
-- Joaquin Miller (1839-1913)

The memory of a mother waiting is a safeguard against temptation
-- Author Unknown

The best thing to spend on children is your time.
-- Arnold Glasow

The future destiny of the child is always the work of the mother.
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

Abstracted from home, I know no happiness in this world.
-- Thomas Jefferson

The trouble with being a parent is that by the time you are experienced you are usually unemployed.
-- Author Unknown

If we had paid no more attention to our plant than we have to our children, we would now be living in a jungle of weeds.
-- Luther Burbank

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
-- Abraham Lincoln

No other success can compensate for failure in the home
-- D. McKay

A picture memory brings to me;
I look across the years and see
Myself beside my mother's knee.
I feel her gentle hand restrain
My selfish moods, and know again
A child's blind sense of wrong and pain.
But wiser now,
a man gray grown,
My childhood's needs are better known.
My mother's chastening love I own.
-- John Greenleaf Whittier

A truly happy marriage is one in which a woman gives the best years of her life to the man who made them the best.
-- Author Unknown

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.
-- George Moore

The future of the race marches forward on the feet of little children.
-- Phillips Brooks

It is better to build boys than to repair men.
-- Author Unknown

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Thought For The Day - friendship and love your neighbor

After my wife's post yesterday Friendship is in decline I greatly enjoyed Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day:

Love thy neighbor as thyself,
but choose your neighborhood.
-Louise Beal

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Up coming carnivals

Summer is here. You may have some extra time for blogging. If you have been wondering about what to blog about, you might consider joining one or more of the following blogs:

Carnivals with entries due June 27th:

Carnival of Education - Melissa Wiley, of Here in the Bonny Glen, will be hosting this Wednesday. email: thebonnyglen (at) gmail (dot) com Go here for more details.

Carnival of Pregnancy - NerdMom, of Nerd Family, is hosting again. Here are the details, and submit here.

Carnivals with entries due June 29th:

lone star home schoolers - This is a new carnival, focused on home schooling in Texas. Brandi Webster, of Lone Star Academy, is kicking this off. Go here for details and how to submit.

Carnivals with entries due June 30th

Carnival of Unschooling - Joanne, of A Day in Our Lives, has picked up the torch and will be hosting the next Carnival of Unschooling. Go here and here for details. Send submissions here: (mention carnival in subject line)

Mom Bloggers Carnival - Jennifer James is kicking off a carnival of mothers who blog. That should include a few million bloggers, so spread the word. Go here for more details.

History Carnival - will be hosted July 1st at Chapati Mystery. Send your submission here.

Carnivals with entries due July 2nd:

Carnival of Family Life - will be hosted by Jennifer at Snapshot. Go here for details.

Now if you still haven't found the perfect carnival to join, there are a couple hundred more here.

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

A map of graduation rates in the United States

Scott, of Somerschool, found an interesting map showing the graduation rates for highschools around the United States.

You don't want to be in the red areas on this map, and pink is even worse.

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

Friendship is in decline

Friendship is in decline according to a recent survey by the Universtiy of Arizona and Duke University. The study, Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades, reports that 1 in 4 American adults have no one to discuss important matters.

I found the following quotes from The San Jose Mercury News intriguing:

"Weakening bonds of friendship, which other studies affirm, have far-reaching effects. Among them: fewer people to turn to for help in crises such as Hurricane Katrina, fewer watchdogs to deter neighborhood crime, fewer visitors for hospital patients and fewer participants in community groups. The decline, which was greatest in estimates of the number of friends outside the family, also puts added pressure on spouses, families and counselors."

The article points out how friendship is tied to safety:

She (study co-author Lynn Smith-Lovin) speculated that social isolation may have made Hurricane Katrina worse. "The people we saw sitting on roofs after Katrina hit were probably people without close ties to someone with a car to get them out,'' she said.

She's right, said Bob Howard of the American Red Cross' Hurricane Relief Project.

"People that had friends and family were probably most likely to evacuate,'' he said.

While exact numbers may be in question, the study shows a definate trend of decreasing resources. People are more isolated and have fewer friends and family to utilize in times of need. This decrease in emotionally intimate relationships is reported both inside and outside the family. Almost all interpersonal networking is now superficial.

I find it kind of ironic that one of the most frequent critisism against homeschooling is "socialization." Comments like, "They need friends!" and "What about the prom?" indicate a belief that school leads to friendship and connectedness. I think the opposite is true. School disconnects children from their families and from other children. More and more we see the "alone in a crowd" phenomenon, children with a pathetic need to fit it, but lacking any true relationships.

Of all my close friends, only one can I trace back to school. Note: I count someone as a close friend if I would feel comfortable calling them in the middle of the night when my car broke down and I was stranded. For the study, they asked participants to count and describe all the people with whom they had discussed matters important to them in the previous six months.

When I asked Henry this question, he responded, "Including family, work and church? It's might be a hundred." That may be a slight exageration. I think I could get 20 or 30 pretty easily, without having to think hard.

The Washington Post has an interesting article exploring the causes of the friendship decline. It is worth a look.

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You have just twelve hours to get your submission in for the Carnival of Homeschooling

The Homeschool Cafe is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling! You have twelve hours to get your submission in, so act now.

As always entries are due at 6:00 PM PST on Monday evenings. Go here for details on how to submit.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

A few lessons learned from hosting the Carnival of Education

We've been the organizers for the Carnival of Homeschooling for six months. During that time we've hosted it several times. In the last month we've hosted two other carnivals, the Carnival of Kid Comedy and the Carnival of Education. In hosting the Carnival of Education this last week I noticed several good things.

The first was I was exposed to a number of new blogs I had not ever seen before. We had about forty submissions. Many of them came from bloggers who were brand new to me. I have a tendency to check out the same bloggers day after day. But by checking out new bloggers I get exposed to new ideas and information.

Another good thing was we got some additional traffic from readers who probably never heard of us. Just in the comments for the carnival, there nine bloggers who I don't remember ever leaving comments before, and I belive may never have checked out our blog before. (With over forty million blogs, you just can't keep up.) My hope is a few of the hundreds of readers who came to read the Carnival of Education will come back now and then to read our blog.

The most suprising thing to me in hosting the Carnival of Education was being exposed to a number of new ideas, issues, and problems. We've mainly focused on homeschooling issues for the last eight months. I have not researched what kinds of issues public school teachers face. Here were a few of the posts that give me some new ideas to think about: 1) a teacher who had quit, 2) a student newspaper being hassled by a senator, and 3) what a teacher thinks about year round school.

If you are interested in attracting more readers to your blog, it is good to participate in carnivals. It takes more work, but it is even better to host a carnival. Most organizers are willing to let others help with their carnival. It is nice to share the load, and a new host gives a carnival greater exposure. If you are looking for ideas you can go here for recent carnivals, or here for a list of carnivals. It does take effort, but hosting a carnival is working the effort.

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How to teach basic economics to children

Arthur Foulkes wrote a great description of how he taught young children basic economic theory. His account opens with:

"But when are you going to get to the economics?"It was the end of my first day volunteering to teach "basic economics" to a group of fifth graders. The teacher looked bemused as she asked the question."That's what I'm doing," I whispered a little curtly in reply.Realizing her offense, she quickly explained her meaning: "You know, with all the graphs and big words and stuff."

Arthur writes about how he taught young children basic economic ideas. By setting up concrete examples of economics the students understood the basics, without the graphs and big words.

His first lesson was on trade. He gave each child an inexpensive gift and then allowed the children to trade. At first he only allowed the students to trade with their neighbors, but then they were allowed to trade with anyone in the class. He points outs to the children that they were only makings trades when both sides were happy with the exchange. He also forces a few trades and talks with the students about "fair trade."

To teach about money Arthur had the children act out a short story about the problems of trading when you want something like shoes, but the person who has extra shoes doesn't want what you have. In acting out the story the children again had a very concrete example of the role and power of money.

In the third week Arthur divided the class into two "villages" to teach them about savings. The first village never saved, just fished and partied. The second village used savings to increase their standard of living. By the end of the lesson most of the class said they would want to be in the village which saved.

To teach about how competition worked Arthur made one student a gas station owner, and the rest of the class had to "commute" back and forth across the room. The gas station owner got to charge whatever he wanted, so he charged a high price. Then Arthur made a few more students gas station owners, and quickly the price of gas came down.

For the final lesson in economics Arthur again bought some inexpensive gifts, but this time he gave them some play money. They had an auction. After all the items were sold, Arthur led a discussion about how some items which were scarce had a higher price.

This is a great approach for teaching children the basics of economics. This is something which could easily be done with a few families. If you are interested in teaching your children the basics of economics, go check out Arthur's full article.

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Book review: Gibraltar Sun by Michael McCollum

As a child the first set of books I read for fun were those in the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. Next I worked through the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift books. The Tom Swift books transitioned me into Science Fiction, and for close to ten years almost all of the books I read for fun were Science Fiction.

Around the time I was twelve or thirteen I realized there was a treasure of science fiction books up in the attic. As a teenager and young man my father had collected science fiction books and magazines. He had boxes of books from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. He also had a fairly complete collection of Astounding, which later become Analog. Often I would come home from school, go up into the attic, and read a book during the afternoon.

As an adult, later as a husband, and especially as a parent I've not been able to keep up that pace. I still greatly enjoy science fiction, but I tend to read one or two books a month.

Recently I read Gibraltar Sun by Michael McCollum. Gibraltar Sun is the second in a trilogy. Most stories have the hero struggling against overwhelming odds. Sometimes the hero is outnumbered two to one, or five to one, or greater. In the Gibraltar series humanity is outnumbered about a million to one. The Broa has conquered every alien race they meet. Earth has learned of the Broa and survives as an independent race only because the Broa don't yet know about Earth.

Gibraltar Earth (the first book) sets the stage as humans learn about the Broa. While out exploring another solar system a human space ship rescues the lone survivor of a space battle. Humanity finds out there is a huge civilization of a million solar systems, and this civilization is run by the Broa.

Gibraltar Sun is the story of how humanity decides to fight the Broa. The first half of the book is mostly focused on the various factions on Earth that are pushing for different responses. Some want to hide. Some want to fight. A few want to contact the Broa and surrender. Our heroes are not willing to be slaves, or hope to hide forever. They recognize they can't win in a straight head on war, so they decide to see if they can trigger rebellions and help the thousands of races who are slaves to the Broa break their chains.

The second half of the book is about our heroes sneaking back into Broa space to do some scouting. Before taking a step in their war on the Broa humans need to find out exactly where the Broa systems are located. There is great excitement as negotiate with a conquered race.

I enjoy Michael McCullum's world building. The two Gibraltar books paint an interesting universe. Michael does a good job of making the Broa universe seem real.

This is a fun book. I read it in one sitting. A lot happens, but there is so much more hinted at, that I wonder how Michael McCollum will be able to wrap up everything.

If you like classic space opera, then I think you'll enjoy Gibraltar Sun.

You buy Gibraltar Sun through Amazon. But I encourage you to order directly from Michael McCullum. Most authors go through a publishing company. The publishing company gives a fraction of the sales for a book to the author. Michael McCullum is self publishing. He has created Sci Fi - Arizona, Inc. His sales may be less, but he gets all the profit when he sells directly to the reader. You can order from here. Michael makes the book available in both eletronic form, and in hardcopy.

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The Carnival of Kid Comedy, week 16, is up

Dana, of Principled Discovery, is hosting this week's Carnival of Kid Comedy. Dan uses a principled approach for her homeschooling. For this week's carnival Dana runs with the Principle of Individuality.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Adding to a Homeschool Wiki

Spunky blogs about a homeschool wiki: Know Homeschool. A wiki is an online encyclopedia which anyone can contribute to. Spunky set up a page for homeschool blogs. She points to post by Scott Somerville on how to add your blog to the homeschool wiki. His instructions are clear and I've added our blog.

If you have a homeschool blog, go add your blog.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

What is an education?

Dan Galvin runs a Thought For The Day mailing list that I greatly enjoy. (To join send email to:

Today's thought is:

He who graduates today,
and stops learning tomorrow,
is uneducated the day after.
-Newton D. Baker

This reminded me of William Yates observation: Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.

We improve the quality of education by focusing on our end goals. One of my end goals is that my daughters will enjoy learning. I want them to have a habit of learning, so when they complete their formal education they will continue to educate themselves.

If we just try to stuff data into our children's brains, and destroy their love for learning, we have committed a serious mistake. There is a balance. Children do need to learn to read, write, and master a multitude of subjects. When we lose sight of the end goal, we can harm our children in the long run.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Carnival of Education: Week 72 - the alphabet version

Welcome to the 72nd edition of The Carnival Of Education. Below are a variety of interesting, amusing, discouraging, and informative posts from around the EduSphere and the greater blogosphere.

Before we get started I'd like to say that it is an honor to host the Carnival of Education. It has also been a lot of fun. I've been exposed to over a dozen blogs I hadn't read before.

One of the first things children learn are the ABCs. In this carnival we have the alphabet of education. We hope you enjoy the variety of interesting posts.


Academic Integrity - A first year teacher has been struggling with Should I Stay or Should I Go? and has finally decided It's Over, and that she will not return to teaching in the fall. She asks if she's made the right choice.

Affirmative Action - At Joyride Through Insanity, Jennifer James shares her thoughts about two upcoming Supreme Court cases where involving affirmative action in public schools, and some of the possible consequences.

Bilingual Education - At HUNBlog Paul Medina makes an argument for Bilingual Education.

Boarding School - Dave Shearon writes about a presentation on Positive Psychology he helped give at a boarding school

Cheerleaders - Ms. Cornelius at A Shrewdness of Apes posts on the threat to the status of cheerleading as a competitive sport in Missouri.

Disposition Requirements - At History if Elementary a teacher wonders about a recent NCATE program and asks Are You Culturally Competent?

Diversity - At Discriminations a carnival participant from long ago writes about a possiblly illegal push to Mimic The Demographics.

Election - A Poor, Starving, College Student looks what politicians say about education, and their campaigns.

Endorsements - At Going to the Mat, Matt Johnston writes about on Endorsement by School Newspaper Is Questioned. A public high school newspaper wrote an article on a Senate race and endorsed the challenger. The incumbent is very upset.

Fail - A NYC Educator writes about The Wild West where teachers can not flunk students who refused to show up for class.

Funding - At Right On The Left Coast we learn that parents in a Sacramento area school district created a non-profit foundation to pay for what used to be standard--field trips, lab equipment, etc. Is this the right or wrong thing to do?

Garden - At the LATimes blog School Me! Adventures in Education we can read about an effort to help children experience nature in Asphalt is easy, green takes guts.

Good student - From Trinity Prep School Maureen shares an epiphany she had about what is a good student in Teachability As A Virtue.

Homework - Muse (from Isreal) at me-ander in The other side of summer homework has some thoughts about appropriate summer homework. And ChemJerk responds to the claim we are hurting our children with too much homework.

Instruction - From the AFT NCLBlog we have two posts about instructing teachers in how to teach reading: one and two.

Justice - We humbly submit our book review of Gansta Island which described a system with no justice.

Kentucky - At Rhymes With Right Greg uses some strong language in discussing a recent controversy in Kentucky about using BCE & CE.

Knowledge - From Text Savvy is a thoughtful post, The Teaching-Content Continuum, about teacher knowledge (content expertise) and teacher training (teaching expertise).

Lables - At Education in Texas Mike struggles with labels applied to him and his co-workers in Unprofessional, insubordinate and un-Christian.

Liberal arts colleges - The Charlotte Capitalist has the latest details on the founding of a new liberal arts college.

Marriage - From Cross Blogging is concern over NEA's proposal to endorse homosexual marriage in NEA endorses Lifestyles.

Money - At EducationMatters US is a post Noboy was Minding the Shop? on how little oversight there's been in following the money as a school superintendent spent the money.

National Board certification - Ed Knows Policy and wonders why we have research if it is going to be ignored in National Board Certification: Educators agree to ignore research.

Networks - Assorted Stuff writes about the next social networks for teenagers in The Next Headline-Grabbing Site.

Oxymoron - From Scheiss Weekly. Just as it says. we have some humor.

Perils - Joanne Jacobs writes about The perils of single-sex thinking, that there may be some problems with single-sex schools.

Professional Development - From The Thomas Institute is a short rant about the number and quality of hours of professional development now required in various school districts.

Quality - EduThink reviews his findings of Teacher Quality in India. He recently interviewed with over 200 teachers in Delhi, India. EdWonk, the organizer of the Carnival of Education, at The Education Wonks writes Getting Better Teachers Into The Classroom.

Reading - Laurie Bluedorn, of the Trivium Pursuit, shares some thoughts about reading aloud to our children.

Resources - Bud the Teacher blogs about interesting educational resources and improving the resources we have in Yet ANOTHER Resource.

Science Education - At A Blog Around The Clock is an update on how Coturnix is teaching 8-week Intro Biology course at a community college.

Strange bedfellows - At Eduwonk guest blogger Dianne Piche muses about a Mixed Up EduWorld.

Top 5 things - Learn Me Good blogs about the Top 5 Things*I Am Not Missing This Summer.

Underwhelming Response - At This Week in Education is a copy of a recent speech by Education Secretary Spellings.

Valedictorian - At Below The Beltway Doug wonders why our society has trouble celebrating excellence.

Voucher - From Get on the Bus Scott compares Voucher spin vs. reality.

Work - Jenny D. wants her daughter to work hard and take some challenging classes. Jenny records her thoughts after Conversation with a Mom who doesn't want her daughter to fail.

eXperience - From VAULTlife a college student shares some of the lessons he has learned surviving the first semester.

eXtravagant - 3 Standard Deviations ToThe Left has the budgets on some Senior Parties.

Year round school - At I Thought a Think a teacher ponders the impact of year round school on his life.

Zzzzz - We need to get some sleep. It is after midnight. (Yes, I know this is an exactly what I said the last time we used the alphabet theme for a carnival.)


The EdWonk often reminds us: "As always, the secret for having a well-attended Carnival is publicity. We are requesting your help in getting the word out. The more folks that know about this collection of exhibits, the more that will 'drop-in' and visit the midway." At likewise I'll make the same pled, please help promote this carnival.

You can wander through old Carnival of Education by going through the archive.

Next week the Carnival of Education will be hosted by Melissa Wiley at the Liltinghouse. Submissions should to by 6pm Eastern time on the 27th.

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 help promote the Carnival of Education.

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