Friday, August 29, 2008

Had you known that Adam Smith liked homeschooling?

I had not know that Adam Smith liked homeschooling. The Nerd Family has the details: Adam Smith on Public School.

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

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

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted by Carol Topp at HomeschoolCPA.

As always, entries are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Well I was wrong

My use of Google was not clever enough. John McCain choose Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his VP.

It is going to be an interesting race.

Technorati tags: mccain, VP, pick

Headmistress' thoughts on chores

Janine and I are strong believers in teaching children to to have a work ethic. We try to teach them a couple lessons:

1) Good things come to those who work
2) Work is part of life

The Headmistress has some great thoughts about Chores and Children part I and part II.

Technorati tags: parenting, children, education

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am going to go out on a limb and predict McCain's VP choice

Clicked! had an interesting post about how someone had figured out who Obama had picked for his VP:

Marc Ambinder wins the prize for most creative use of the Web for clues as to Obama's V.P. pick. He used FlightAware to check for charter flights between Chicago and Biden's nearest airport in Delaware.

I'm not as clever, but I decided to use Google to see who popped up the most. I figure a Wisdom of Crowds approach might provide some clues. I found currently these numbers:

"John McCain" Romney - 4.3 Million web hits, 12,100 News hits, 101,000 Image hits, and 198,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Huckabee - 3.2 Million web hits, 1,157 News hits, 79,000 Image hits, and 127,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Thompson - 2.5 Million web hits, 1,500 News hits, 82,000 Image hits, and 76,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Giuliani - 2.8 Million web hits, 3,300 News hits, 74,000 Image hits, and 124,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Lieberman - 1.8 Million web hits, 8,300 News hits, 41,000 Image hits, and 43,000 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Hutchison - 0.5 Million web hits, 490 News hits, 17,000 Image hits, and 4,400 Blog hits.
"John McCain" Pawlenty - 0.4 Million web hits, 10,100 News hits, 11,000 Image hits, and 3,400 Blog hits.

Based on the above data my guess is that John McCain will pick Mitt Romney as his VP choice.

Tomorrow we'll know if I was right, or not.

Technorati tags: mccain, VP, pick

Humor - Natalie's I Will Survive is now a video

I came across Natalie's version of "I Will Survive" a couple weeks ago. In my post I wrote "Now I'm waiting for someone to sing this and post it on Youtube."

I don't have to wait any longer. It is up!!!

And it is great:

(Hat tip: Alasandra at The Homeschool Cafe)

Natalie said I could post the words on my blog:

Originally written and produced by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris
Originally performed by Gloria Gaynor
Mercilessly altered with apologies by Natalie Criss

First I was afraid
I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never teach’
Cause I’m not certified.
But we spent so many nights
Reteaching homework that was wrong.
I grew strong,
so now I teach my kids at home!
We study math
and outer space.
I just kept on despite the fear
with a big smile across my face.
I bought a set of Base Ten blocks.
I bought books with answer keys.
My parents think we’re nuts,
but they don’t even bother me

Come on, let’s go walk out the door.
We’re on the road now,
'cause we’re not home much anymore
My friends would frown and say we’d be unsocialized.
I heard one grumble
that I’d give up by July.
Oh no, not I!
I will survive!
As long as I know how to read
I know we’ll be alright.
I've got all my life to learn.
I've got energy to burn.
and I'll survive.
I will survive.

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart.
Decided to attend
a play date at the local park,
and I met oh so many moms
who offered eagerly to help.
They used to cry.
Now they hold their heads up high,
and so do we!
My kids are cool!
They’re not those chained up little people
stuck inside at school.
So if you feel like dropping by
don't you expect us to be free
I'm spending my time learning
with my loving family!

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another good TED talk

I enjoyed this TED talk by Benjamin Zander:

Hat tip: Danielle Bean, who says (and I agree): " ... it’s really well done and really worth your time."

Technorati tags: classical, music, life

Humor: Walmart sells out of ammo

From PalmTree Pundit:

From an email my dad passed along to me:
All of the Walmarts across Alabama sold out of ammunition as of last Friday. A reliable source said that one of the purchasers commented that while Russia may have invaded Georgia, they sure as heck ain't doin' it to Alabama.

I laughed outloud.

Technorati tags: Georgia, Russia, Alabama

Have you checked out Joanne Jacobs' blog lately?

Joanne Jacobs does a great job of staying on top of issues in education. If you are interested in public education, and education in general, check out her blog.

Over the last week she's posted several topics I found interesting. I'll mention one here - How to create kids who hate to read:

We’re Teaching Books That Don’t Stack Up, writes Nancy Schnog, a private school English teacher, in the Washington Post. High school reading lists ignore teens’ tastes and maturity levels, she writes. Students decide that literature is a bore.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines from Nancy Schnog's column:

I'll never forget what one parent, bemoaning his daughter's aversion to great books after she took AP English Literature, wrote to me: "What I've seen teachers do is take living, breathing works of art and transform them into dessicated lab specimens fit for dissection."


It's hard to forget my son's summer-reading assignment the year before he entered ninth grade: Julia Alvarez's "How the GarcĂ­a Girls Lost Their Accents." Try as he did, he never got beyond the first of 15 vignettes about four culturally displaced sisters who search for identity through therapists and mental illness, men and sex, drugs and alcohol. I could hardly blame him. We ask 14-year-old boys to read novels about the travails of anguished women and want them to develop a love of reading?

One of the things I love about homeschooling is all three of my daughters love to read. Our trips to the library are one of the highlights of the week. They come back loaded with books and scatter around the house to burry their noses in books. They love to read.

I have been saddened to learn that none of their friends who attend public schools love to read.

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

Great line about asking the government to help

I like this quote from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

If you have any understanding of government at all you will not want us to get involved.

-Mayor of Santa Cruz, California
(at a City Council meeting)
when asked by the "Surfers" to do something about the "Kayakers" who are taking all of their "good waves."

This reminds me of Ronald Reagan's line: "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem."

Technorati tags: government

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Be careful about mistreating another person - they might have a blog

Funny story. A young lady delivers pizza to a Utah State Senator. He gives her a bad time.

But she happens to have a blog. She wrote about the incident that evening. Others notice it and spread the word. I don't see a hit tracker, but there are currently over 174 comments.

I wonder if the senator will get reelected.

Today's lesson is: Always be nice to people, they might blog about you if you don't. And if you are kind, they might put in a kind word on their blog.

(Hat tip: Reddit)

Technorati tags: kindness

The Dead Sea Scrolls to be available online

The New York Times reports that Israel to Show Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet:

JERUSALEM — In a crowded laboratory painted in gray and cooled like a cave, half a dozen specialists embarked this week on a historic undertaking: digitally photographing every one of the thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the aim of making the entire file — among the most sought-after and examined documents on earth — available to all on the Internet.
Equipped with high-powered cameras with resolution and clarity many times greater than those of conventional models, and with lights that emit neither heat nor ultraviolet rays, the scientists and technicians are uncovering previously illegible sections and letters of the scrolls, discoveries that could have significant scholarly impact.


I remember hearing a joke years ago:

A Pope dies and goes to heaven. St Peter says, “Is there anything you wanna see? Anything you missed out on in your life?”
The Pope says, “Yes! I would love to see the original version of the Bible!”
St Peter says, “OK. Come over here then, go in that little room.”
After a while the Pope cries out, “Oh no!”
St Peter runs in and asks what’s wrong.
The Pope says, “This word, ‘celebrate’! We thought it was ‘celibate’!”

I wonder what we'll find as some of the original version of the scriptures become available.

(Hat tip: Reddit)

Technorati tags: Dead, Sea, Scrolls

A list of sites with online books

I've know of Gutenberg for a couple years. They have over 25,000 books available online. I had not realized there was another organization with more!

EduChoices has a list of Online Libraries - 25 Places to Read Free Books Online. They report that the University of Pennsylvania has over 30,000 books online. Wow. So many, many books, so little time.

(Hat tip: Reddit)

Technorati tags: online, books

Another article on 3D printing

I think 3D printing is going to be a big deal. This article has videos.

(Hat dig: Digg)

Technorati tags: 3D, printing

This could be good news

My wife became diabetic at age twelve. She has been lucky. Her control has been good. She has no complications. We do worry about our daughters. Janine takes them in every year for some tests. Sometimes they can tell a person is becoming diabetic before they are a full blown diabetic.

This could be exciting news - UT Southwestern doctor reports 'intriguing' diabetes breakthrough:

A Dallas-based researcher says he’s pulled off a medical first: successfully treating mice and rats dying of insulin-dependent diabetes without using insulin.
Dr. Roger Unger, chair of diabetes research at UT Southwestern Medical School, is quick to warn that practical applications, if any, are years away. But the research team he headed used high levels of leptin, a substance naturally produced by fat cells, to somehow reverse the otherwise fatal effects of diabetes.
If the experiment is repeated in other labs, and then if leptin can be adapted to treat humans, it might offer the first alternate to the multiple insulin injections used by millions of people who have type 1 diabetes, Dr. Unger said.

(Hat tip: Digg)

Technorati tags: diabetes

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Celebrating Women’s Independence Day edition!

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is hosted at Life Nurturing Education.

Renae starts with:

"Texas House Bill 67 calls for August 26th to be celebrated as Women’s Independence Day. It was on this day in 1920 that the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became a law, which guaranteed women the right to vote."

Renae ties in the dozens of posts with the progress of women getting the right to vote.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

James Duane says to always take the fifth

I found this fascinating:

Technorati tags: fifth, amendment

A new reason to homeschool - to avoid air pollution

Long, long ago, when Janine and I first started to blog, we were considering writing a book about 101 reasons to homeschool. At the time I had over 60 distinct reasons why parents homeschooled or why they might consider homeschooling.

I was suprised recently to come across yet another reason to homeschool: "To avoid air
pollution." reports that Many US public schools in 'air pollution danger zone'

One in three U.S. public schools are in the "air pollution danger zone," according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC). UC researchers have found that more than 30 percent of American public schools are within 400 meters, or a quarter mile, of major highways that consistently serve as main truck and traffic routes.
Research has shown that proximity to major highways—and thus environmental pollutants, such as aerosolizing diesel exhaust particles—can leave school-age children more susceptible to respiratory diseases later in life.

It would be nice to know how many homes are within the same 400 meter zones. The study claims that:

"Grinshpun's team found that public school students were more likely to attend schools near major highways compared to the general population."

I would love to know if public schools are ten percent more like to be near major highways than the general population, or double.

A couple years back I remember reading that many schools and hospitals are built on earthquake faults. It appears the driving factor is most families and businesses avoid land on the faults, and so the land is cheaper and often available.

By homeschooling your children they can be exposed to fresh, clean air and be safer from earthquakes.

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

What is the purpose of an education?

At times I just have to shake my head and wonder what are people thinking.

Joanne Jacobs reports on recent changes in Dallas rules for teachers. Teachers have to accept late homework without penalty.

What are the administrators thinking? Is the whole purpose of school to pass children? Even if they don't learn? Part of life is getting work done on time. Every job I can think of carries an expectation of getting work to be done on time. From a worker at Jack-in-the-box to a CEO at the largest companies the workers are expected to perform. Can you imaging ordering a hamburger and being told it will be a half hour before the cook gets around to making it?

By telling children they don't have to get the work done on time, they are being set up for failure.

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

Wow! This is sad.

Psychology Today's article on the Plight of the Little Emperors is sobering. A result of China's one child policy is many parents focus all their attention on making sure their one child succeeds. They make great sacrifices to provide for their one child. They push the child to study. The opening paragraph of the article is:

When Dawei Liu was growing up in the coastal city of Tai'an during the 1990s, all of his classmates—95 percent of whom were only children—received plenty of doting parental support. One student, however, truly stood out from the rest. Every day, this boy went from class to class with an entourage of one: his mother, who had given up the income of her day job to monitor his studies full-time, sitting beside him constantly in order to ensure perfect attention. "The teacher was OK with it," Liu shrugs. "He might not focus as much on class if his parent wasn't there."

There is great pressure on these poor children. To get into a top kindergarten children need to know pi to 100 digits. (Why???) Many children are spending ten hours a day studying, from K to 12. The parents push them, direct them, and plan their days.

The result is depression and suicide has skyrocketed. Many children, once they leave home, are aimless. At college they'll stop showing up for classes, because mom isn't there to tell them to go to class. Many spend hours each day escaping into internet games.

As we've mentioned before, an education is important, but not the most important. Children need to know how to read, how to write, they need to understand history, know the sciences, and be exposed to art and literature. But more important than all those topics is character development. They need to be honest. They need to know how to work. And they need to be self driven.

It appears that many parents in China have focused on academic topics and ignored character development.


(Hat tip: Instapundit)

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

Monday, August 25, 2008

One of the most outrageous things I've read

This is just crazy - Boy's parents sue to get his baby from mom, 21

A boy is raped at age fifteen by an older woman, who was 19 at the time. A judge gives custody of the baby to the mother and tells the boy he has to pay child support.

The woman should be in jail and never allowed access to the baby. Once the woman is out of jail she should be paying child support.

The baby should not be raised by this evil woman.

What does it take to get rid of a crazy judge?

(Hat tip: Glenn Sacks)

Technorati tags: crazy, court, system

Off topic: OODA - Observe Orient Decide Act

Over the years I've read a couple references to John Boyd. He was an air force pilot who came up with the OODA Loop (Observe Orient Decide Act) as a model to explain how solider could improve their chances at winning.

I like this long post FORTY SECOND BOYD AND THE BIG PICTURE. If you are interested in military tactics and strategy, check out the post.

Technorati tags: OODA, John, Boyd

Fun with Chemister

This is cool:

The best part is the last fifteen seconds.

I wonder how hard it would be to get a tank of Sulphur Hexafluoride. Does anyone know?

(Hat tip: Nerd Family)

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

I had not realized that Brazil was also hostile to homeschooling

There have been several stories recently about homeschooling parents in Germany being threaten with the lost of their children, being put in jail, and in some cases families fleeing Germany.

I had not realized that there were other countries just as hostile. Gary of reports that a Brazilian Couple May be Jailed if Children Fail Tests. The article he links to says two children of a family in Brazil have to take a test:

As LifeSiteNews reported previously, the Nunes children passed law school entrance exams at the ages of 13 and 14. Despite this success, Brazilian authorities decided to prosecute the family for "intellectual abandonment" because they were schooling the children at home rather than in a government-approved institution. If the Nunes lose the case, they could forfeit custody of their children, pay a steep fine, and even spend time in jail.

This would be funny if it wasn't so sad. The children have been accepted to law school, but the officals want them to take a "high school" test.

Another frustrating thing is the officials are not playing fair. They added additonal subject material at the last minute and have questions that most high school students in Brazil can't answer.

Maybe all the students in Brazil should take the test, and if they can't pass the teachers should go to jail.

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

The Wall Street Journal reports preschool is not for everyone one

A column in The Wall Street challenges the claim that preschool is a good universal solution. In Protect Our Kids from Preschool Shikha Dalmia and Lisa Snell write:

"Advocates and supporters of universal preschool often use existing research for purely political purposes," says James Heckman, a University of Chicago Noble laureate in economics whose work Mr. Obama and preschool activists routinely cite. "But the solid evidence for the effectiveness of early interventions is limited to those conducted on disadvantaged populations."

and later add:

In the last half-century, U.S. preschool attendance has gone up to nearly 70% from 16%. But fourth-grade reading, science, and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) -- the nation's report card -- have remained virtually stagnant since the early 1970s.

I liked this explanation of the problems with preschool:

If anything, preschool may do lasting damage to many children. A 2005 analysis by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, found that kindergartners with 15 or more hours of preschool every week were less motivated and more aggressive in class. Likewise, Canada's C.D. Howe Institute found a higher incidence of anxiety, hyperactivity and poor social skills among kids in Quebec after universal preschool.
The only preschool programs that seem to do more good than harm are very intense interventions targeted toward severely disadvantaged kids. A 1960s program in Ypsilanti, Mich., a 1970s program in Chapel Hill, N.C., and a 1980s program in Chicago, Ill., all report a net positive effect on adult crime, earnings, wealth and welfare dependence for participants. But the kids in the Michigan program had low IQs and all came from very poor families, often with parents who were drug addicts and neglectful.


Young children do better when they are with their family, all day long.

I liked Valerie Bonham Moon's response:

As it is, I think that the money proposed for mandatory preschool would be better spent on existing K - 12 schooling. Preschool as a part of the public education system …
* will divert funds from private preschools that already have a structure in place, but who then lose their customers to the ‘free’ programs
* will also divert funds from the rest of the public school system
* or will collect funding from taxpayers after taxes are raised to cover the additional cost of lowering the age of compulsory school attendance


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

Sorta kinda the first day of school

This year we are starting off with a whimper, instead of a bang. Normally, I like to organize my materials and tidy the homeschool shelves. Here's a picture from last year's well organized shelves.

This year, all the stuff from last year is still shoved onto the shelves in a mess. We are still in the middle of a remodel. Things are piled everywhere. I would share a picture, but that would mean that I would actually need to find my camera first.

I'm trying out a homeschool record keeping program, Homeschool Tracker Plus, that I bought in a fit of optimism at a homeschool conference a few months ago. It has some features I like and some I'm still trying to figure out. It is a bit laborious when you start using a new system, no matter how good it is.

This week we are only doing what I call our "morning routine." Our morning routine includes the following:

Personal devotional time (scripture study, prayer, journal)
Family devotional (scripture study, prayer)
Scripture Memorization
Oral Language Exercises
Daily Grams
Explode the Code (for my 3rd Grader only)
Spelling Power
Word of the Day extrapolated from English from the Roots Up
We Write to Read

Next week I will add math and foreign language. All the kids use Saxon for math. My oldest will try an online course from a university for Spanish while my younger children will continue with Rosetta Stone.

The following week we will start History, Science, and English/Literature classes with an online middle school/high school. This is also the week that Homeschool Band Ensemble, HP Symphony and Homeschool Orchestra will start. I haven't decided if I will try to do private lessons this year. I'm not sure if we have either the time or the money.

I will probably use Story of the World for history with my 3rd grader. For Science will study whatever she is interested in. English will pretty much be the same, anything she is interested in reading.

So, by week 4 we should be going full steam ahead.

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

Do you wonder if you are getting paid what you are worth?

My mother found PayScale. I took the Employee option, answered a bunch of questions, declined signing up with them, and was told my pay was slightly above average.

If you're trying to get a sense of how much your are worth, or what certain jobs pay, this looks like a good site to check out.

Oh, I forgot to mention, my mother thought this would be a good site for teenagers to check out, to see what various jobs paid. It could give them a vision of which careers would be worth chasing.

Technorati tags: job, pay

Carolyn makes a good point about "Bad homeschool days"

I enjoyed Carolyn's thoughts about What Made This a "Bad" Homeschool Day? She starts with:

This day started with such promise. You planned the lessons, and everyone took their places, but then something, somewhere went wrong. Very wrong. And you may have no idea why. Go fix yourself a refreshing beverage, and let's see if we can analyze what happened.
In my personal vocabulary, a "bad homeschool day" has one basic meaning: We didn't accomplish all of the lessons that I had planned for us to do.

She makes several good points. If you've had a bad homeschool day, you'll find her post worth reading.

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

Today should be interesting

When I graduated from college I didn't have a single cavity or filling. My first job was at startup. One of the perks they had was free soda. I liked Mug Root Beer and would drink three or four cans a day. The can would sit beside my keyboard and I'd sip it over a half hour while writing code. A year of this did great damage to my teeth. I now have a couple crowns and fillings.

And today I get my first root canal. Oh joy. This is a first I would have been happy to skip.

I'll be at work for this morning. Janine will drive me to the dentist for a 1:00 PM appointment. Then I'll be home for this afternoon. Depending on how I feel I may try working from home a bit, or I may just take it easy.

Technorati tags: ,

Do a kindness now

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Technorati tags:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

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

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted by Renae at Life Nurturing Education.

As always, entries are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

A couple good thoughts from Tom Peters

Tom Peters become famous as a co-author of In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best Run Companies. Good book. They looked into what set apart excellent companies from the average companies. They found some common themes.

I once had a chance to listen to him speak. He was a powerful speaker.

Right now I'm working through his 100 Ways to Succeed/Make Money via DailyLit. Two recent ways have validity for all aspects of our lives:


He makes the point that while few seek contention, conflict arises. Often we can resolve conflict, if we'll make a call, quickly after the contention. Conflict allowed to fester will grow and grow, until there is no way to fix it. He writes:

I’ve learned that invariably "there was a moment" when the situation (DAMN NEAR ANY "SITUATION") was reversible. In fact, easily reversible. But pride or embarrassment or unwillingness to further mess up an already nasty day led to "just one more day’s" evasion & delay ... and that day became a second day ...

If you have tension with a family member or good friend, call an apologize, today.


He has a powerful way to improve each day:

Here’s the deal. It’s 5 a.m. as I write. I have a day crammed full of miscellaneous (that dreaded word!) activities ahead, ending with a flight from Boston/Logan to London/Heathrow. But the ... THE ... Pressing Question is: WHAT WILL (in One Sentence) THE LEGACY OF THIS DAY HAVE BEEN FOR TP?

I am going to follow his advice. I'm going to step back right now and think about what I want to accomplish for today.

Technorati tags: ,

Next time something buzzs by you might check that it really is a bug

I friend sent me a couple links about micro flying vecicles. This is amazing - Unmanned aerial vehicle weighs in at 3 grams:

On Wednesday July 23, a development team at the TU Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands introduced the minute DelFly Micro air vehicle, a variant of an Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV). This successor to the DelFly I and II weighs barely 3 grams, and with its flapping wings is very similar to a dragonfly. The DelFly II drew huge attention in 2006 because it could fly horizontally (21 km/hr) as well as hover, just like a hummingbird, and could also fly backwards. The DelFly Micro, incidentally, cannot do this just yet.

You can find a picture here.

Currently these machines can not fly very long, just a couple minutes. It would be an interesting job to work on. They envision flying this machines into dangerous places.

Technorati tags: , ,

People respect the Post Office more than they respect public schools

Lisa Snell reports Public Says Post Office Is Doing a Better Job Than Public Schools:

An August 2008 poll conducted by Education Next and Harvard University finds that Americans think less of their schools than of their police departments and post offices. When asked to grade the post office, 70 percent of respondents gave an "A" or "B." In contrast, only 20 percent of Americans said public schools deserve an "A" or a "B." Twenty-six percent of the country actually gave their public schools a grade of "D" or "F." And African-Americans are even more down on public schools, 31 percent gave public schools a "D" or an "F."

(Hat tip: Friends of Dave)

I think in general people still have a pretty high opinion of school teachers, they just don't trust or like public schools. They recognize government schools are doing poorly and have declined in service and performance over the last several decades.

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

Another beautiful picture from APOD

This was up on Astronomy Picture of the Day a couple weeks ago:

This Open Cluster NGC 290 looks like A Stellar Jewel Box.

Credits: ESA & NASA; Acknowledgement: Edward Olszewski (U. Arizona) (Edward said it was OK to add this to our blog.)

Technorati tags: ,

Judy responds to why many hate homeschoolers

Awhile back Sonny Scott wrote an article on Homeschoolers Threaten Our Cultural Comfort. It made the rounds, being picked up by several homeschool blogs. It started out with:

You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.
It's a big family by today's standards - "just like stair steps," as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.
There's no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.
You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion. When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools, but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.


He later asks and then answers his own question:

Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?
Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the homeschooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.
Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar's be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return.


Judy of Consent Of The Governed responds to Sonny's article. In Homeschoolers - The Cultural Threat Judy challenges many of the sterotypes. She writes about one reason why many oppose homeschoolers:

One would think that public school administrators would be more than happy to push kids out of their school door to be homeschooled, so they could have less kids to worry about, and a bigger pie of funding to distribute to educate less kids. Instead they tend to fight the homeschool model and block kids from leaving. I think it's mainly a "control thing". Heaven forbid parents teach something at home that other people cannot "content control".

Judy makes several more good points, go check out her post.

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

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Having a jogging partner keeps me going

I jogged several times a week for about ten years with a good friend. It was a sad day when he and his family moved. Our daughters were good friends with two of his daughters.

Another sad result is I stopped jogging. It is so much easier to sleep in "just this once" when no one will be waiting outside for me. For six months I didn't jog at all. I started back up this last month, when my second daughter said she wanted to start jogging. She has some trouble falling asleep at night and finds that a good workout helps her fall asleep faster.

The BBC reports:

Running on a regular basis can slow the effects of ageing, a study by US researchers shows.
Elderly joggers were half as likely to die prematurely from conditions like cancer than non-runners.


I'm glad jogging helps me live longer. One of my goals is to live long enough to see how my grandchildren turn out.

Technorati tags: exercise, jogging

Have you won a battle in the Culture War?

Rebecca Hagelin starts of her column The Culture Battle with the question:

"How are you doing in your fight against a culture that's gone stark raving mad?"

Rebecca's first book, Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture that's Gone Stark Raving Mad, was about the many ways our culture is destructive to children.

In her column Rebecca explains that she is in the process of writing a second book about how parents successfully fight against the many, many negative influences in our society. She is looking for input from parents who have success stories:

"I'm working now on a parenting “how to” book (due out just before Mother’s Day, 2009), and I’d like to include your anecdotes and victories. Any stories chosen for inclusion will be identified by first name only, to protect your privacy. Just e-mail them to me at"

I've sent an email explaining that by homeschooling our children we have greatly reduce the negative influences. Our daughters still see most of the normal aspects of our society, but they are not constantly bombarded.

If you have a good anecdote you might send Rebecca an email.

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

Some other good homeschooling carnivals

Shez has the latest Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers up at Homeschooled twins.

The eighteenth edition of the Canadian Home Educators Blog Carnival is up.

On Our Journey Westward is hosting the Charlotte Mason Carnival "Back To School Planning Bash." (I had trouble looking at this carnival in IE, but it worked fine in Firefox.)

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

Humor - funny view of vouchers from UK

This is pretty funny:

(Hat tip: Homeschool Nations - The United Kingdom)

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ramping up for the new school year

A few of the questions we are frequently asked are:

"Do you homeschool through the summer?"
"When do you start homeschooling in the fall?"
"Do you homeschool all year round?"

Our answers are: Sort of. It depends. Kind of.

We teach our daughters many academic subjects from Fall to Spring, pretty much the same time our friends have their children in public schools. But in the summer we often switch focus, while going lighter. We still want to keep their brains active, but recognize that twelve months a year can wear children down. It is nice to have a break.

It helps children to have a bit of a break, but we don't let our children vegetate all summer long. They watch little television and can only use the computers to do recreational activities for an hour a day. Recently they have been playing with Sketch-up, which we count as useful and so it doesn't debit their one hour a day account.

In the summer we've done a variety of things. In the past I have worked with my daughters to memorize poems. We've done a few field trips. We get out the Christmas Chemistry sets that sat and sat. They have taken some classes through the local community center.

We are slowly getting them back in the rhythm of school. Just recently Janine started the older two girls on the IEW writing program. Janine keeps them busy an hour or two each morning while she is working hard to get a schedule flushed out for the school year. We'll jump full force after Labor Day.

Years ago someone once commented that it takes about two weeks to get a new habit going. The first couple days are hard, because you have to retrain your mind. You are use to doing one set of activities and changing or expanding to another set takes effort. The claim was this is why salesmen would often loan people a vacuum cleaner for fifteen days. After fifteen days people were so use to the vacuum cleaner that it was easier to buy it than to go back to not using it.

We've found that the first couple weeks take lots of effort. We'll work with our daughters to get them to sit down and focus. We are as so concerned that they get a lot done, we just want them to get in the habit of working rather than playing. We'll expect some progress, but we're not worried if there is less progress than they could make.

We do sort of homeschool all year round. We just don't do the same kind of activites in the summer as the rest of the year.

It is great that we have the flexibility to do what we want, when we want.

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

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

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted at Janice Campbell Taking Time For Things.

As always, entries are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. (You have just 11 hours.)

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Friday, August 15, 2008

This could prove interesting - teachers can carry guns at a Texas school

With the rash of school shootings in recent years I think this is a good idea: Texas school district to let teachers carry guns.

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas school district will let teachers bring guns to class this fall, the district's superintendent said on Friday, in what experts said appeared to be a first in the United States.
The board of the small rural Harrold Independent School District unanimously approved the plan and parents have not objected, said the district's superintendent, David Thweatt.
School experts backed Thweatt's claim that Harrold, a system of about 110 students 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth, may be the first to let teachers bring guns to the classroom.
Thweatt said it is a matter of safety.
"We have a lock-down situation, we have cameras, but the question we had to answer is, 'What if somebody gets in? What are we going to do?" he said. "It's just common sense."
Teachers who wish to bring guns will have to be certified to carry a concealed handgun in Texas and get crisis training and permission from school officials, he said.


According to this site there are only 13 teachers. I wonder how many of them will be packing this fall? If more schools allowed teachers certified to carry a concealed handgun to teacher, I expect the number of students murdered from school shootings would drop. Of course in some schools the students might try to get hold of the guns.

Technorati tags: Harrold, School, gun

Sad, an eight month wait

The next Harry Potter movie has been pushed back from November of this year to July 2009. The BBC reports:

The sixth instalment of the teenage wizard's adventures was supposed to have its Royal premiere on 17 November.
Alan Horn, president of studio Warner Bros, said the decision was taken to guarantee the studio a major summer blockbuster in 2009.

There will be great morning at our home today when my daughters learn that they'll have to wait, eight whole months.

Technorati tags: Harry, Potter