Saturday, September 30, 2006

Selections from - 30 Sep 2006

The following items were found via

The reports that Latin is staging a come back.

Also over in the UK is a report that Schools can fingerprint children without parental consent. (How are schools different from prisons?)

Still in the UK is a report of school leaders who have decided they know what is best for the children to eat. (They can't give them a decent education, but they know what to feed them.) The Parents feed pupils through gates! One of the parents says: "They're like caged animals at the moment ..."

And the last one from the UK: Montessori teaching 'better than traditional schooling'. The result of a study into how children do is that those taught via the Montessori method do better.

(I wonder why there has been some much education related news in the UK recently.)

Interesting news - by adding an "s" you have gmail encrypt all your email, go with:

Did you know that Great Titles Are The SuperWeapon Of Successful Bloggers? Some good thoughts. I may have to find a better line than "Selections from" Any suggestions? Maybe "The Best of"

Remembering names is important. Here are 9 Steps To Remembering Names.

And back to some school topics. In Denver, some eighth-grade girls, being the best of friends, decided to dress alike. And then the principal decides to suspend them. The principal said "the girls were suspended because they violated school rules, but he declined to say which rules they broke." The girls received a five day suspension. Dress like your friend, be put on detention.

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Selections from HomeSchoolBuzz - 30 Sep 06

On Gary does a great job of finding news about homeschooling. He posts a brief summary and links to the news articles. The following are some recent new articles Gary found.

On is a report that Colleges Coveting Home-Schooled Students. I was comforted by this line: "With colleges and universities aggressively competing for the best students, a growing number of institutions are actively courting homebound high achievers ..." In explaining how universities have turned around Barmak Nassirian says: "After years of skepticism, even mistrust, many college officials now realize it's in their best interest to seek out home-schoolers."

From is a positive article about a Boy, 13, finalist for 'Young Scientist of the Year'. Theo Jones, the boy, explains how homeschooling has allowed him to make great progress in understanding science. has another positive article on how a Homeschooling student earns National Merit semifinalist honor. Sharon Barrett did great on the PSAT test and made it into the National Merit Scholarship competitio!

Juanita Haddad started homeschooling back in the 1980s. She likes the term Free-range education. She makes a provocative suggestion to change "... the language slightly from ‘When did you put your child in school?’ to ‘At what age did you institutionalize your child?’"

From the is an article about how Blacks take education into their own hands New ground: Once dominated by whites, homeschooling appeals to more African Americans. Black parents are worried about how public schools often fail black boys. I liked this line: ""We didn't want them socialized with marijuana smokers and pregnant teens."

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

Reminder for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, to be at HomeSchoolBuzz

You have a little over two days to get your entry in for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The carnival will be held next week at HomeSchoolBuzz. Entries are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM PST. As always the host would appreciate entries coming in early. Details on what and how to submit are here.

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

Friday, September 29, 2006

The woman on the train

While waiting to catch a train from BWI airport to Union Station in Washington, DC, I exchanged a few words with another woman who was waiting for the train. She was a conservatively dressed black woman. Once we boarded the train, I ended up two rows behind her. Another two rows in front of us a young mother with a 10 year old boy was seated. The mother had long blond hair, and a "biker girl" look. The boy was quite excited and moved back and forth between seats. The mother yelled at the boy to sit down. The boy responded with a swear word. The mother replied something to the effect, "Don't you bleep* bleep* talk to me like that you little bleep*."

While listening to their exchange, I thought about how well my children were behaving during our trip. I was feeling rather pleased with myself. The thought crossed my mind, "Lady, if you don't want your kid to swear at you, don't swear at your kid."

At some point during their exchange, the woman with whom I had spoken earlier slipped quietly from her seat and crouched down beside the mother. Soon, both mother and son were quiet. The woman put her arm around the mother and spoke to her so softly I could not her what she said. From my seat a few rows behind them, I could tell that the mother was wiping tears from her face.

The woman then stood. I could her the remark she directed towards the boy, "Remember, you need to be the man now and take care of your mom." The woman then returned to her seat.

The remainder of the trip was quiet. The mother and son got off at the next stop as did I. As I passed the woman's row, I caught her eye. I smiled and nodded in silent salute to her kindness.

I've thought about the Good Samaritan on the train many times since then. I'm impressed not only by what she did, but how she did it. She reached out to someone of a different race and lifestyle and extended compassionate assistance without calling attention to herself. I wonder if anyone but me noticed their exchange.

So, this is my tribute to Good Samaritans everywhere and their deeds of kindness.

As a parent, I'm not sure how you teach this sort of thing. Mainly, I think children learn by example. While a formal lesson could introduce the topic of the Good Samaritan, I'm not sure how you help children (and adults) move from the theoretical to the practical application.

As a homeschooler, I can't just teach the lesson. I have to live it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Links to interesting posts - 28 Sep 2006

Tenniel, of SCHOOL@HOME, has a delightful post about using the American Girl books to teach history. My oldest daughter read the books and enjoyed them. Children learn so much more when they are interested and see the information as relevant.

At EveryWakingHour WJFR explores the difference between Fantasy and Imagination. She writes: "Montessori maintains that imagination is a development of higher consciousness and is dependent upon a prior ability to distinguish fact from fantasy." Later WJFR writes that Montessori saw value in both Fantasy and Imagination. A thoughtful post.

Anne, the PalmTree Pundit, quotes from a recent appearance by Bill Cosby who asked "Why can't students practice algebra for hours like teams practice sports?"

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

The Carnival of Education, week 86, is up

The Carnival of Education is hosted by The Education Wonks. I'm not able to get the permanent link to work, or to fine a good link directly to the carnival, so you may need to go to the main page and scroll down a bit.

I also found out via the Blog Carnival List a couple other interesting carnivals:

The Bugout Bag hosted the first Carnival of Preparedness & Survival. Our church did a local survey a couple years back and found that something like a quarter of the families had less than two months worth of income in savings.

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

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Janine and the two younger girls are back!

Blogging has been a light the last couple days. I worked from home much of the week Janine and the two younger girls have been gone. Monday my oldest daughter and I started doing some major cleaning projects around the house.

I spent about half of Tuesday working in the garden, which is about 900 square feet. I pulled up our summer crops and rototilled. I have a sister who lives in the area. She has horses. She is always constantly trying to get rid of the manure. As a kind and gracious (and greedy) brother I've helpfully offered to take some of it off her hands. She dropped off a nice big load and I rototilled it into the garden.

We picked up Janine and the two younger girls Tuesday evening. They had a great time in Virginia. They had blissful days of playing with their cousins. Now my younger two daughters are waking at 5:30 and 6:00 AM since their bodies are still on Virginia time.

We're slowly getting back into our rhythm and blogging should pick up.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - week 39, the Autumn Edition

Anne, the PalmTree Pundit, is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. Anne lives in Hawaii and misses the fall, so she is celebrating this time of year with thoughts and images of autumn. There are a lot of good posts. Be prepared to spend some time.

Also, Kim of Life is a shoe is hosting this week's Carnival of Kid Comedy.

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

Monday, September 25, 2006

The US doesn't need more college grads

I found this very well written piece in the Christian Science Monitor. The article made some good points about the problem with sending more unmotivated students to college.

The US doesn't need more college grads

Here are a few excerpts:

There are lots of American students who are eager to learn and proceed to master skills that aid them in their careers. But government and private support already get almost all of these passionate pupils into college. The trouble is that many other students enter college with no enthusiasm for learning. Boosting college participation would mean recruiting still more of these disengaged students. Increasing their numbers will not give us a more skilled workforce; it will just put more downward pressure on academic standards.

Already standards have been falling for decades, as schools have lowered expectations to keep weak, indifferent students enrolled. Indeed, many students who graduate from college are deficient in even the most basic skills that employers want. Last year's National Assessment of Adult Literacy found, for example, that less than a third of college graduates are proficient in reading and the ability to do elementary mathematical calculations. Similarly, the National Commission on Writing has found that many business executives are appalled at graduates' poor writing skills.

I agree with this observation:

We currently find many college graduates employed as waiters, cashiers, healthcare aides, and in other jobs that don't require any special background. Expanding college access will just mean more young people with college debts doing low-paid work.

This is my favorite quote from the article:

As one student I know puts it, "People would be amazed if they knew how easy it is to graduate without learning anything."

This sure rings true with my experience at college.

This issue effects homeschoolers, as well as public school students. As a parent, I'm reluctant to invest so much money for a dumbed down college education. Nor, do I wish to pay for an ivy league education.

My siblings and I all attended college, though I'm the only one to get a degree. Both my brother and sister were very successful in their careers and other pursuits without one. My sister is especially well educated and articulate. At some point she would like to finish a degree, but she already has a better education than most college graduates.

I think my college experience is a benefit for homeschooling. Not that it makes me a better teacher, but that it lends more legitamacy to our home education efforts. In other word, it looks good on paper. Most of what really makes a difference in education is what I learn as we go along, and that has almost nothing to do with what I learned in college.

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

Friday, September 22, 2006

Getting a job requires more than education

Here's an entertaining piece on the difficulties in finding qualified job applicants.

Kline: Getting a job requires more than education
By Daniel B. Kline

The pile of resumes on my desk suggests that either the American educational system fails to prepare students for getting a job or the rules of grammar, spelling and logic were changed without my knowledge. Of the hundreds of applications I received in my quest to hire an entry-level graphic designer, very few lacked serious flaws.

The majority of the applicants seeking to fill this particular opening actually possessed college degrees - some from reasonably prestigious schools. Four extra years of schooling may have filled their heads with facts about obscure literature and all sorts of scientific theories, but it's obvious that classes in resume writing were not part of the curriculum.

Forget the horrific grammar and spelling (for a job where the description includes being proficient in those two areas); the vast majority of applicants appear to lack the basic skills asked for in my help wanted ad. If you have no previous work experience at the job you are applying for, it's generally a good idea to explain in your cover letter why you still might be a good hire....

As for your resume, while many experts debate whether you should include an "objective" section at the top, I've never read one article that suggests replacing that area with a quote from Oprah. Similarly, I'm pretty sure no book or magazine article has ever told a prospective job candidate to paperclip a sexy picture to her cover letter.

Unfortunately, this has not stopped actual job applicants, whom I must assume hoped I would hire them, from doing exactly those things. I've also received resumes that contained "Star Trek" quotes, one that was packaged with a mix tape and more than a few that contained multiple spellings of the applicant's name.

Just as applicants who are unsure of the spelling of their own names fail to inspire confidence, resumes that lack basic contact information aren't scoring a lot of points, either. Perhaps worse than the completely missing info might be the handful of resumes I've received where the phone number listed does not include the area code, or has too few digits.

Though it might be difficult to get a job even under the best of circumstances, a candidate who has a clean resume and a cover letter that concisely explains her qualifications has a huge advantage. Education and work experience matter precious little if your resume buries this information under a discussion of which Backstreet Boy you like the most.

This article illuminates various gaps in our education process. More than just poor grammar and spelling, there is a lack of understanding in regards to social graces and business sense. This is one of the reasons why a college degree isn't necessarily the key to success.

Some of my own post graduate job hunting efforts looked embarrassingly similar to the candidates described by Mr. Kline. I remember my brother-in-law laughing at me when I explained why I thought I should earn a particular salary. My reasons included things like the budget I had imagined to cover my expenses. My brother-in-law responded that a future employer doesn't care what kind of life style I think I am entitled to; an employer will pay what I am worth to his business.

Much of my post graduate growing pains could have been prevented by a good "real world" education. So much of school is disconnected from reality that graduates hit the job market as prepared as aliens from another planet.

Our homeschool program includes more than just the skills of spelling and math. Application of these skills in the form of writing a resume, balancing a check book, money management, and cooking are the goals for our course of study. While being able to color in the correct dot on a standardized test is nice, it is not the purpose of our educational plan.

This also brings up the topic of socialization. Socialization is one of the reasons we homeschool. Popularity in school does not translate well into success in life. The inverse is generally true. The social skills that make for happy home are learned at home. Traditional schools do not teach good interview skills or how to dress for success in the business world. Again, the inverse is generally true. The behaviors, such as modern dress and speech, that are most rewarded at school (in the form of popularity) do not lead to success in the real world. Often the skills that lead to good grades, such as cramming, passive learning and cheating, don't serve the student well outside the artificial environment of school.

Many criticize schools because children are not learning. Children at school are learning all too well what they are taught. Unfortunately, these lessons are not the ones their parents intended.

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

Yet another homeschooling carnival - for Catholic Homeschoolers

The first Catholic Homeschool Carnival will be hosted next month at Love2learn.

From an announcement on the carnival: "The Catholic Homeschool Carnival will take place once a month, on the first Friday. The deadline to get your favorite post(s) in is the 25th of each month." You have three days to get in an try to the first Catholic Homeschool Carnival.

Go here to submit a post interesting for Catholic Homeschoolers.

(Hat tip: TTLB Homeschooling Community)

I am aware of the following homeschooling carnivals:

The Carnival of Homeschooling
Unschooling Voices
The Country Fair
The Catholic Homeschool Carnival

If you know of any other homeschooling carnivals please let me know. Thanks.

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

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Homeschooling, a way to make a real difference

Every month I copy a set of poems and sayings into my planner. This is one of the poems:

Procrastination is a silly thing,
It only brings me sorrow,
But I can stop at any time,
I think I will, tomorrow.

My daughters love to recite this poem. They get all dramatic when saying the last line.

A saying I copy each month is:

"The greatest cause of failure and unhappiness is giving up what we want most for what we want at the moment."

Each time I copy it I am reminded to not get distracted by trivial things.

A year ago I came across a saying by Henry David Thoreau:

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who's striking at the root."

I’ve added this to my planner and copy it each month.

One of the interesting things I've learned in gardening is that often pruning helps a plant. It provides balance. If you cut a few branches often the plant will end up being stronger. Many people try band aids and feel good that they are making an attempt, but aren’t really improving a situation.

We have a fern on the side of our house. I don't want it there. A couple times I've literally cut the fern down to the ground. But it keeps coming back. If I ever destroy the roots the fern will be dead.

In life it is easy to be distracted by things that have the appearance of making a difference. There are many (most?) government programs that got started because someone thought some policy or program would help, but often nothing fundamentally changed.

Homeschooling is an effort to address the very core of child development. It makes a huge difference.

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

Links to interesting posts - 21 Sep 2006

Have you been meaning to take your children to a museum? Sherry posts that September 30th is Museum Day and many museums will be celebrating by having free admission. She found a site which reports the museums near you that will be participating.

Dana found that Veggie Tales will be on NBC, without the scripture verse at the end. My family has enjoyed Veggie Tales for years. It will be fun to see how this works out.

In There Is, Apparently, Such a Thing As a Free Lunch Anne reports that the Hawaii Department of Education has moved into the business of giving loans to students for lunch. One of the fundamental problems with public schools is that they are asked to do so much. Schools have dozens of activities that they are suppose to do, and the basics like reading and writing get lost among the conflicting goals. Public schools would be greatly improved if they were given just the goal of teaching the 3 Rs, and told to stay away from pretty much everything else, even loaning lunch money.

WJFR has been Learning Latin in Later Life. She has a great list of resources and explains why she has decided to learn Latin. One of the great things about homeschooling is it reminds parents that education should be a life long process.

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The school system vs. a learning system

Robert J. Samuelson had a good column a couple weeks ago on the about How We Dummies Succeed. He asks the question how does America support a first class economy with a third class education system? He says part of the answer is recognizing that there is "a distinction between between the U.S. school system and the American learning system." Michael Barone makes a similar point in his Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future.

On many levels the public school system is failing, and continues to perform worse and worse each decade. Robert Samuelson mentions some of the studies which show that our children enter public schools equal or above most of the industrial nations in the world, but by the time they graduate from high school they have fallen behind.

Yet our economy remains a power house. The United States dominates the world economy. And the reason is because the American learning system gives people a second change. Robert Samuelson makes the point that once people are motivated to learn there are many alternatives. There are on the job training, adult classes, training at work, and so on. Many people go back to college after working a few years. Public schools fail; but once people decide they want an education there are enough alternatives that people can finally get a decent education.

As homeschoolers we by pass the public school system and can give our children a head start. They are able to avoid all the weaknesses of learning at a slow rate, being taught bad techniques of fuzzy math or in guessing when reading, and become engaged in subjects they are fascinated with. They can became involved in a true learning system at a young age, and not have to wait until they have escaped from the public school system.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs and Instapundit)

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

Reminder for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Just a friendly reminder: start thinking about what you want to submit for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. Entries are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM PST. As always the host would appreciate entries coming in early. Details on what and how to submit are here.

Also, you might start thinking about a submission for the next monthly Unschooling Voices, a carnival for unschoolers. Submissions are due before the 1st of October. Joanne, of A Day in Our Lives, is the host. The topic for October is unschooling and math. Go here for more information.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Spunky is having a contest - you might win a camera

Spunky is hosting a contest. The price is the Canon PowerShot SD600 and a Timbuk2 Messenger Bag, worth over $350. You have just two days to submit an entry. Check out Spunky's post for the details.

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Homeschooling in China

This article caught my eye.

'Education at home' boy to be sent back to school

A case possibly involving Beijing's first dispute over fostering rights based on an argument over home schooling for a child or public education came to a conclusion yesterday with the court's verdict against the mother.

The Shijingshan District People's Court ruled against the divorced woman who wanted to win back the right to bring up her son. She had claimed her ex-husband was depriving the boy of a school education but the court found no evidence for that.

However, it did say the father must now send the 7-year-old boy to school because that would be better for the youngster's overall development.

Even though the father retained custody and an evaluation showed that homeschooling was working well for the boy, the boy will still be forced to go to school.

A test conducted by the Galaxy Primary School in Shijingshan District this month showed the child, who should be in the second grade, had already reached the level required for grade four students. The boy said in court that he enjoyed his home education.

In spite of China's new compulsory education law, homeschooling is gaining in popularity.

Some parents are still abandoning public schooling for various reasons such as a belief schools focus on high scores, assign too much homework and neglect those lagging behind, said Xu Xin, a professor with the Southwest University of Political Science and Law.

Do these criticisms against homeschooling sound familiar?

Xu said home schooling may also lead to defects in a child's personality, as he/she lacks chances to be involved in group activities.

It will be interesting to see how homeschooling grows in China.

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

Have you been meaning to write a book review?

If you need some extra motivation for writing a book review that you've been meaning to create, check what Sherry Early has been doing on her blog Semicolon. For the last couple Saturdays she has been hosting a dynamic book review carnival: Sep 16 and Sep 9. So write up that book review you have been meaning to work on, and then on Saturday submit it.

Even if you don't have a book review to submit, you should check out the cool feature that Sherry uses which allows the dynamic submission process.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You still have a chance to get your name into the hat

As we mentioned almost two weeks ago Susan Wise Bauer has some extra Advance Reader's Copies (ARC) of The History of the Ancient World. She announced that she was going to have a raffle for a lucky person to recieve an ARC. So far 159 people have put their name into the hat.

Since then she has said that she'll try to get two more ARCs. You have until next Monday, the 25th of September to add a comment to her post.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, , ,

Carnival of Homeschooling is up - week 38, The Five W’s and One H

Christine, The Thinking Mother, is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. She opens with Rudyard Kiplin's poem on the Five Ws:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Christine uses the same six honest men to guide us through this week's carnival. And you might consider reading the short story The Elephant's Child to find the rest of the poem.

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

My oldest daughter and I will be on our own for the next week

Years ago a friend of mine commented that children learn valuable lessons in saving for a large item. As a teenager he had worked and saved for a car. He felt this was an important maturing step in his life. He felt all children, especially teenagers, should be encouraged to pick large financial goals and work towards them.

Another friend, who grew up in India, related that on the way home from work one day her husband had picked up a television. My friend said her mother was totally shocked. Growing up in India people would save and plan for months. You had to check out the different models and shop around for the best price. Here in America her husband had been walking through Costco and saw a model he liked and just bought it.

My younger brother use to live about forty five minutes away from our house. We would get together a couple times a month. At the time he had three daughters, about the same ages as my second and third daughters. Sadly he and his family moved back East almost two years ago.

My second daughter greatly missed her cousins. She talked about how far away they were and how she wanted to see them again. Remembering the above events my wife and I told her that if she saved half of an airplane ticket we'd pay the rest. The plan was to let her go with my parents when they went to visit my brother and his family. For months our second daughter saved. At first the money seemed like a drop in the bucket. Then after a couple months she had a quarter of the goal. Soon she was at the half way point. When she finally hit the total amount we had a small celebration. I was very pleased with her.

Last year she went with my parents. They had a great time visiting. Our daughter played and played with cousins. It was one of the best weeks of the year.

She had so much fun that she wanted to go again. And our youngest daughter got caught up in the idea and decided to also start saving her money. For eight months they saved and saved. Finally about a month ago they reached the goal. My parents had already visited my brother in the summer, and my father teaches chess in the fall, so they were not planning on heading back east any time soon. My wife and I talked a bit and she reluctantly agreed to take the younger two to visit their cousins.

This morning we got up at 4:00 AM and drove to the airport. The three of them caught a nonstop flight to Washington DC. From there they will take a train. Already the house feels empty with just my oldest daughter and me.

I am very pleased with how my daughters are learning to save. (My oldest has recently bought the original Star Trek DVDs.) The discipline and habit of building a nest egg will help them realize many good things in life.

But I'm already missing my wife and the younger two girls.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What is the value of an education?

Recently Yahoo! News reported that High school dropouts earn far less money. The article reference a study which found that in the United States high school dropouts do worse when compared to other nations. There were some interesting statistics. It was nice to see an acknowledgement that the Unite States spends a ton of money on education. Often these kinds of articles conclude with a pled for more money.

I got to thinking a bit about what is the value of education? There are several benefits to continuing education. Here are a few:

1) Higher salary - This is an obvious. It is what most people think of when asked why children should have an education. The more our children know, the more productive they can be, and the more they will be able to earn.

2) Greater career options - This is in tandem to the first. If our children have little education, then their options will be limited, partly just by their own limited view. They won't think to even try to be a children's author, a dentist, or a software engineer. By reading and studying more about the world their eyes will be open to an almost countless number of options.

3) Longer life - I've seen a number of articles about how an education helps people to take advantage of medicine. There were some scary statistics that many people don't understand the directions on typical prescriptions and either don't heal, or even worse are hurt by misusing the medicine.

4) Happier life - An increased understanding of how the world works helps us to make informed choices, better choices. As our daughters learn more how to manage money, they will be masters of their finances, and not slaves feeling lost and confused. They will also enjoy learning about the world.

5) More productive life - In Maslow's Hierarchy of needs the last two steps were status and actualization. At these levels people are contributing members to society and able to make a difference. As our children learn they can be more effective in making the world a better place.

I am sure there are many other reasons to educate our children. These are just a few. The thought I'd like to leave with is that we shouldn't be limited to thinking an education is only for a higher salary. There are many reasons to educate our children.

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

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Searches which led to our blog - part 3

Sitemeter tries to record the referring URL which led a reader to our blog. As I've mentioned before this can sometimes be very interesting. Below are some of the unusual Search Engine results which brought readers to Why Homeschool:

A couple days ago for tami's beauty shop in long beach california Google put us about number 30. I'm pretty sure this was largely influence by our links to Tami's Blog. Interestingly enough Spunky was number one.

I've noticed that we get a search on the importance of math once or twice a day. We're often in the top ten. Google takes the reader to our post on how knowing the Taylor series saved a person's life during the Russian revolution.

It appeared a parent was looking for advice on how to help their child run for class president in
why i would like to be class president of 4th grade. Yahoo! took them to our main page, but the reader didn't stay very long.

And for why did henry the 8th make the english church ? Yahoo! also directed a reader to our blog. We were sixth in the listing for Yahoo! When I was about six I first heard the song I'm Henery the eighth and I thought the kids were singing about me, and mocking me, I was really mad until I learned it was a song by Herman's Hermits.

As search on Google for ancient-egypt weather-map led to Janine's Reasons to Avoid Government Schools - Part 2 on how textbooks are badly written. I wonder what the reader thought.

I'm not sure if the person searching for middle ages gender matters was interested in the Europe in the 1500s or in what happens as people grow older. My wife thinks it is Europe in the 1500s. Either way I think they were suprised when they started reading Janine's Why Gender Matters in Education.

I hadn't realized that Google had a translate option. Sitemeter said that someone had been reading our blog in German. Pretty cool.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Selections from Joanne Jacobs - 12 Sep 06

Joanne Jacobs does a great job of staying on top of education issues in public schools and on to colleges and universities. I'll mention some of her recent posts that I found interesting.

In Online tutors Joanne writes about a new growth industry in education - getting help online. She writes "Some are costly: will charge home users $30 an hour;, which uses tutors based in India, charges about $25 an hour." I wonder if any homeschooling teenagers have thought about starting up a business to help other students. Or they could contact one of the companies listed in Joanne's post.

In Parity Joanne links to an article on recent court ruling that Maryland has to provide the same per-pupil funding for charter schools as they give to regular public schools. It had been under $6,000 a year for students in charter schools vs. around $11,000 for public traditional public schools.

The article, Charter schools ruling worries city board, shows how public school administrators think: "After meeting in executive session, the Baltimore school board issued a vaguely worded statement Tuesday night saying it remains a strong supporter of charter schools but believes a recent court ruling requiring additional funding for charters would hurt regular schools." They are not worried about the children, but about the schools. They want the regular schools to survive. Parents who send their children to charter schools do so because they think the children will get a better education.

This could make a huge difference in the success of charter schools. It will be interesting to see if this is the start of a trend.

In New tech, same old curriculum Joanne reports that a A Microsoft-designed School of the Future has cool new technology, but many of the same basic problems as all public schools. (Insert lame joke about Microsoft here.)

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Carnival of Homeschooling is up - week 37, taking flight with homeschooling

Dana of Principled Discovery is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. She has used a theme of taking flight with homeschooling.

Also for your reading pleasure you might check out this week's Carnival of Family Life and the Carnival of Kid Comedy.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Remembered

Growing up, I remember hearing the stories from my parents, aunts and uncles describing where they were when they heard the news about Pearl Harbor or the assassination of JFK.

The event for our generation is 9/11.

On September 11th, 2001, I was surprised by a phone call a little before 7 a.m. Pacific Standard time. I didn't answer the phone. A few moments later the phone rang again. I answered it with a feeling of apprehension. Early morning phone calls are typically bad news.

I later found out that the first caller was a neighbor. The second caller was my sister in Kentucky. All she said was, "Turn on the television! Turn on the television!"

Henry and I hurried into our front room and turned the television on. Live news casts showed the burning Twin Towers followed by replays of the second plane hitting the tower. With in a few minutes of our turning the television on, the first tower collapsed.

We spent most of that day watching or listening to the news. Some of our friends with children in public school, kept their children home that day. Our children attended a homeschool class at a local park and zoo. Except for the homeschoolers, the place was practically deserted. I asked my now 12 year old what she recalled about that day. She said that she only remembers a few images from the television.

At the time, as part of our "school work," I had my oldest daughter write a condolence letter to the family of one of the lost firemen.

My in-laws were scheduled to take an international flight on September 13th. A grandchild had been born on Sept 11th and they were planning to see the new addition. Needless to say, their flight was cancelled and it took a week before the flight was reinstated. They were one of the first to fly after 9/11. My mother-in-law said that the plane was practically empty. The pilot thanked them for flying and said, "Come back soon and bring 10 friends."

I found two documentaries on 9/11 very moving. The first program was called Stranded Yanks and followed the experience of travelers stranded in Newfoundland after all the planes were grounded on 9/11.

The other program, called simply 9/11, consisted of the footage shoot by the Naudets who were actually filming a documentary about a rookie firefighter when the World Trade Center was attacked.

I plan on having my children watch both these programs when they are older. The Naudet brothers documentary is suitable only for adults or late teens, but the Stranded Yanks is appropriate for children.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Socialization article

I've spent the last few weeks thinking about and researching "socialization" and children. Some of this I used in my lastest in the series of posts on "Reasons to Avoid Government Schools." Thus this article, caught my eye.

Homeschool system could teach public schools a thing or two

I have lived between the realms of public and home education. While I spent the majority of my youth in public schools, I've had numerous home-educated friends, attended home-schooling conventions and support groups and, for a brief year in high school, homeschooled myself. And I remember a little about both worlds that the Mason County superintendent forgets.

The office-bound superintendent forgets that the socialization found in traditional schools (public and private) is appalling. K-12 students are segregated by age and denied interaction both with older people (from whom they could learn) and younger kids (whom they could help socialize).....

Homeschooling uniquely allows children to be well socialized. Traditional schooling, in contrast, pulls children out of the real world of community and work and hurts socialization.

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Reminder: Send in your submission for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Dana of Principled Discovery is hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling next week. She is eagerly waiting for submissions.

Go here for instructions on how to submit a post.

By way of information, a link to the schedule is on the side bar of our blog, just down a bit from the top.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

More homeschooling news via Google Alerts - 7 Sep 06

The following homeschooling articles were found via Google alerts:

This is a pretty typical back to homeschool article - You're the Boss: Homeschooling on the Rise. The thing that caught my eye was homeschooling grew 13% in Nebraska in one year. That is a very healthy increase. At that rate the number of homeschoolers would double every five years.

It will be interesting to see if this has much of an effect, from ChristianNewsWire is a news release that Considering Homeschooling is "urging California Christian parents to NOT send their children back to school, as a protest against the homosexual bills passed by the California Legislature."

USA Today has a more general article about some Christians trying to encourage others to homeschool in Evangelicals intensify calls for parents to pull kids from public schools.

Here is another reason people are turning to homeschooling - Increase in bullying cases divides campaigners. There is some conflict over if there is more or less bullying, but ChildLine reported a 12% increase in the number of phone calls about bullying.

From is an article on how Home-schoolers face college hurdles and suggestions on how to help homeschoolers get into college.

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Would you like Susan Wise Bauer's latest book?

Susan Wise Bauer has some extra Advance Reader's Copies (ARC) of The History of the Ancient World that she is going to give to a few lucky people. If you would like a chance at a copy go put your name in the comments of her post. On the 25 of September she'll select six names. The published version will be available late February of 2007.

Update I: 7 Sep 06

The Tutor is right, see comments. I hadn't read carefully enough. The correct number is one, one name will be selected.

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Selections from - 7 Sep 06

The following education related posts were found via

Google has a Book search option. A number of publishers have made available some or all of the text of various books. And they have scanned in a number of old books which are available via PDF files. For examle The Firste Thre Bokes of the Most Chritia Poet is available. I think it is from the 1500s. Here is an article on Downloading Books For Free From Google Book Search with more information about this service.

Homeschoolers recognize the value of a broad education. In Stuff we didn't learn at school Leon Gettler lists some of the work related skills that he has had to learn on the job. As parents we might want to teach our children some of these skills. Toastmasters for teeenagers would help develop many of them.

Dave Cheong has 13 Problem Solving Nuggets Everyone Should Know that would also be good to teach our children. I don't remember stuff like this ever being taught at school.

And tying in to the same basic theme, Stuart Buck makes a good arguement in The Value of Education? that formal education is not the main factor in promoting economic growth. He says most of the useful information comes from on the job training, and that formal schools at best provide basic skills like reading, writing and math.

In Sacrificing truth on the altar of diversity Jeff Jacoby writes about how textbook publishing companies are given guidelines on how many pictures of disabled children a book should have. But very few disabled children look photogenic or want their picture taken, so the publishers hire healthy kids and put them in wheelchaires or give them some crutches. He says "But when reality conflicts with political correctness, reality gets the boot." This reminds me of Diane Ravitch's The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn.

Jacob Neusner writes The Speech the Graduates Didn't Hear. It starts with: "We the faculty take no pride in our educational achievements with you. We have prepared you for a world that does not exist, indeed, that cannot exist. You have spent four years supposing that failure leaves no record." And it gets better.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reasons to Avoid Government Schools - Part 5

Continuing on from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4


It is ironic that socialization is often the first criticism against homeschooling. Examples of really bad socialization in government schools are in the news every day. As a society, do we really want the next generation "socialized" in large groups by an institution?

A simple definition of socialization is "the process where by children learn how to behave similarly to other members in the group." At school, the group is other children, not adults. As parents, we don't teach our children to behave like other children. We teach them to how to behave like high functioning adults.

Good socialization provides the means for children to transition to adulthood. The ability to think and provide for oneself is paramount to this process. Autonomy and moral development are key elements.

School is not designed to promote anything "moral" because now all choices are morally equivelent. Saving sex for marriage and having sex with multiple partners, lying to parents, dismembering the child growing in your body and having it sucked into a sink, are now seen as having the same ethical merit. It just matters how you feel about it.

Since I am not raising my children to lie, cheat, be promiscuous, or have an abortion why would I send them to a government school that normalizes and facilitates that kind of behavior?

Advertisers pay thousands of dollars for just a few seconds of broadcast time. Why? Because research shows that a little well placed propaganda can persuade viewers to buy their products. If only a few seconds can change viewer behavior, how do you think 6 hours a day, 5 days a week in an institutional setting with a "Lord of the Flies" atmosphere is going to influence a child? Parents are kidding themselves if they think a few minutes a day on their part can counteract the hours of negative peer pressure at school. Very few children succeed against such imbalanced odds.

The problem is more than just the lack of morality in the school system. The socialization of children in large groups creates lower ethical and moral functioning. This phenomenon is well documented as "group think and the "bystander effect." This is one of the reasons bullying and other bad behaviors run amok in schools. Children who would otherwise respond in a noble manner will, when in a group situation, stand by and do nothing while another child is victimized. Or worse, these same children will take part in the abuse or other misconduct.

Thus school socialization looks a lot like this.

2000 "Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth"


71% of all high school students admit they cheated on an exam at least once in the past 12 months (45% said they did so two or more times).

92% lied to their parents in the past 12 months (79% said they did so two or more times); 78% lied to a teacher (58% two or more times); more than one in four (27%) said they would lie to get a job.

40% of males and 30% of females say they stole something from a store in the past 12 months.

Drunk at School
Nearly one in six (16%) say they have been drunk in school during the past year (9% said they were drunk two or more times).

Propensity Toward Violence
68% say they hit someone because they were angry in the past year (46% did so at least twice), and nearly half (47%) said they could get a gun if they wanted to (for males: 60% say they could get a gun).


"At the end of the last century, approximately thirty students per year died of homicides committed on school grounds; 10 percent of all public school teachers were threatened with injury by students; and 4 percent of teachers were physically attacked in the course of the year. In urban public schools the rate was even higher, with 14 percent of teachers threatened with injury and 6 percent attacked. More than 10 percent of high school males reported carrying a weapon on school property over the past month, while 34 percent of urban high school seniors reported that street gangs were present in their schools."

I don't think anyone would argue that this is good socialization. With a low adult to child ratio in most government schools, peers have replaced adults as role models. Problem behaviors then develop unchecked. One's ranking in the peer group becomes more important than right and wrong.

School is also where many emotional problems begin.


"...what it would be like to spend over 40 hours a week in school and after-school programs with lots of other people your own age, but to have few of them like you or want to be with you. This is the reality for many children. Indeed, about ten percent of school-age children have no friends in their classes and are disliked by a majority of their classmates."

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Asher, S.R. & Williams, G. (1993). Children without friends, Part 1: Their problems. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.), *Day care center connections*, 2(6), pp. 3-4. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.

The system of government schools is not designed to help children learn healthy socialization. Little is done to facilitate wholesome relationships because adults play such a minor roll in the child's social life. In addition, schools measure "socialization" by expedience and popularity.

Socialization Messages in American Primary Schools: An Organizational Analysis

"A more serious problem, they argue, is the tendency of schools to reinterpret values along the lines suggested by organizational interest. Thus, value terms such as citizenship, self-esteem and respect are in widespread use in the schools, but their meaning is interpreted in ways that are biased by the schools' interests in maximizing order, minimizing trouble, and making all students feel a sense of identification with the school."

While researching this topic, I came across an essay written by a graduate student at Harvard Graduate School of Education which included some quotes that relate very well to this topic. If you have the time, the entire piece is worth a look.

From Intimacy, Bureaucracy, and Literacy, Tensions in the socialization of schoolchildren

Jason Jay
Essay exam question #5
A-107: The Sociology of Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education
November 4, 2002

Theodore Sizer
“Most high school students have several teachers who know a bit about them, but no teacher who sees them whole. Unless they are in some limited enclave... they are, for all intents and purposes, anonymous. This ill serves the students, obviously. It also frustrates good teachers.” (pp. 208-209)

Richard Rodriguez
"The loneliness that results from this lack of intimacy, this isolation, is made palpable in Rodriguez’s writing. “Here is a child who cannot forget that his academic success distances him from a life he loved, even from his own memory of himself” (p. 48). The central theme of the book is that this education separates him from his family, from those most intimate of relationships, and squeezes him into the lonely role of academic in the basement of the British Museum. Up to a point, then, there is a strong sense of his schooling as being oppressive, cutting himself off from the vibrancy of his family heritage."

(The words of Jason Jay)
The problem is that much of what passes for socialization in many schools is really not socialization at all as I define it – there are no intimate relationships, only scripted interactions guided by a hierarchical bureaucracy. As Dennison and Sizer point out, the mainstream public schools do not even allow the time for a true relationship to develop between teacher and pupil, or between pupils in the safe context of the school. One might say that some process of socialization is occurring – a learning of norms and regulations, behavioral contracts of shallow acquaintanceship. But I refuse to let the word socialization be used for that process. Rather I see the shallow forms of interaction and organization as simple obstacles – blocking people’s time and space – from the liberation of true relationship and true socialization.

There are many of well written articles on the subject. Here are a few. If you have a favorite article or post on socialization, please post a comment and include the link to it.

Socialization? No problem!

Homeschooling and the Myth of Socialization

Socialization: A Great Reason Not to Go to School

Social Skills and Homeschooling: Myths and Facts

There is much more that could be said on the topic of socialization, but I will leave it with this last thought.

"Macurdy reviews the early education of many eminent people from the last couple of centuries and concludes (1) that most of them had an enormous amount of attention paid to them by one or both parents and (2) that generally they were relatively isolated from other children. This is very different from what most people today consider an ideal school. It seems to me that much of what we call education is really socialization. Consider what we do to our kids. Is it really a good idea to send your 6-year-old into a room full of 6-year-olds, and then, the next year, to put your 7-year-old in with 7-year-olds, and so on? A simple recursive argument suggests this exposes them to a real danger of all growing up with the minds of 6-year-olds. And, so far as I can see, that's exactly what happens.

Our present culture may be largely shaped by this strange idea of isolating children's thought from adult thought. Perhaps the way our culture educates its children better explains why most of us come out as dumb as they do, than it explains how some of us come out as smart as they do.

Marvin Minsky

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