Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Stimulus Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Consent Of The Governed:

Welcome to the 165th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling!
It's the "Stimulus Edition" because all of our posts are incredibly stimulating! (as is homeschooling in general). We won't be bailing anyone out, unless of course one of our contributions here help solve a problem that you are having. The subject matter shouldn't be too taxing either, so grab a cup of coffee (which can also be stimulating unless it's decaf), and sit back and enjoy the carnival. And because there is so much to be found here, you might just have to come back for more stimulus several times this week!

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Debate on Homeschooling

This article and its comments about homeschooling popped up in my Google Alert for homeschooling.

Is home school a good option for middle school?

I find myself fascinated by these kinds of discussions. I do admit that it is a bit like slowing down to gawk at the scene of an accident. What fascinates me are the assumptions people make about teenagers, education and homeschooling.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

That’s when homeschooling entered the picture. It was a fleeting thought at first, but it’s now beginning to grow on me. I like the idea of choosing a curriculum that fits my daughter’s individual needs — one that would allow her to progress as fast as she would like and explore additional subjects. I know we would have to work hard to keep up her friendships with the girls in her “group” from elementary school, and I’m certain we would need to find some extracurricular activities to give her other social outlets as well.

Here is one of the expected responses:

By motherjanegoose

February 17, 2009 8:14 AM | Link to this

This will not come as a surprise to anyone but I am thoroughly opposed to home schooling with the exception of a few circumstances.

WHY? One reason is because of the enormity of the task and the fact that I have met several folks who have tried it and then decided it was way too hard. Is this why we require formal education to teach?

DUH…I train teachers all over the country. I am considered an expert in early literacy. I do not know enough about science, math, social studies and foreign languages to begin.

This is kind of like: I can cook…I should open a restaurant. I will order a kit to show me how and then VOILA I am on my way.
COULD it happen…YES but the chances are slim. I love to work with wood, I will build my own house…get me the kit and I am on my way!

You are practicing on your child who needs social skills and to understand how to mesh into a routine that perhaps is not his/her favorite ( at school and with teachers who may not be on his/her top ten list) BUT THAT IS LIFE....

There are also pro-homeschooling responses. However, I think it is strange that the debate keeps coming back to "socialization." I'm always shocked that any adult thinks teenagers learn anything valuable about being an adult at school.

Back to the original question, I don't think the person asking the question about homeschooling is very likely to be successful as a homeschooler. It takes a lot of conviction to weather the storm the follows removing a peer dependent / school indoctrinated child from the government (mis)educaton system. I've had many friends try to start homeschooling in middle school. Not one made it through the year. Some didn't even make it through two weeks. I imagine it would take a good year or more to make the transition.

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

Interesting thoughts on Two Americas

I enjoyed Jennifer Rubin's thoughts about Two Americas:

John Edwards was right: there are two Americas. No, I am not talking about the one with the hedge funds and the one with the girl with no coat. The real divide is between the political and economic, between those obsessed with politics and those determining our economic future.

In the former realm reside the politicians, political pundits, and the MSM reporters. In their world, Barack Obama is unblemished and riding “sky-high,” the stimulus was a political triumph, and the front page stories are the signing ceremony for the stimulus bill, Roland Burris’ potential perjury problems, and the prospects for new commerce and health and human services secretaries.

In the economic realm all of this is piffle. To recap: the ABC Consumer Comfort Index hit its lowest level in over 20 years this month and the Rasmussen Consumer Index also hit rock bottom (the day after the stimulus bill passed). Unemployment is at 7.6% and may well climb for at least another year. Even before yeaterday’s 300 point drop in the Dow, the markets had been diving. Since Election Day the Dow has plunged from 9600 to below 7600 (more than a 20% drop). And gold prices are soaring, a continued signal that confidence in the dollar and U.S. economy is waning.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: economics, politics

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

While you wait for tomorrow's carnival

Tomorrow the Carnival of Homeschooling will be up at Topsy-Techie.

While you wait, you can check out some of the other homeschooler carnivals:

The most recent Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival was at A peaceful day, from down under Australia.

The latest Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

And today the Canadian Home Educators Blog Carnival is up.

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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Interesting thoughts by John Stossel on The College Scam

I have blogged in the past about the problem of rising cost of a college education. In a nut shell the cost of college education has climbed twice as fast as inflation for decades. It has gotten to the point that a college education is not an economic benefit for many.

John Stossel makes this point in The College Scam as he attacks the claim that:

"Your life will be much better if you go to college. On average during your lifetime you will earn a million dollars more if you get a bachelor's degree."

He writes that many of those who will do well in life would still do well, even without an education. More and more students are sorry they paid so much money to go to college. I was surprised to read:

A recent survey asked thousands of students: Would you go to your college again? About 40 percent said no.

Just to make sure my position is clear, I do think a college education is worth while, for many, but that parents and children need to think carefully before spending tens of thousands of dollars.

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

Patriotism v. nationalism

I like this explanation on the difference between patriotism and nationalism:

Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.
-Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)

(Hat tip: the A.Word.A.Day mailing list)

Technorati tags: patriotism, nationalism

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Study finds that television is depressing. (Isn't this obvious?)

A recent study found that the more teenagers watched television, the more likely they would be depressed as adults. The summary of the research is posted in this month's issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The description of the article reports this conclusion:

"Television exposure and total media exposure in adolescence are associated with increased odds of depressive symptoms in young adulthood, especially in young men."

The LA Times reports that the study found: "... that each additional hour of TV watched per day boosted the odds of becoming depressed by 8%."

It appears that watched videos didn't have much of an effect. I wonder if it wasn't so much watching television, but seeing all the commericals?

Technorati tags: teenagers, television

A fun way to learn history: looking at Christmas catalogs through the years

A friend sent me a link to WishbookWeb.com. It is a fun project. You can look at Christmas catalogs from 1933 to 1988.

I enjoyed looking at the toys in the 1933 and 1943 catalogs. It is interesting to see how much you could get for a dollar 70 years ago.

Years ago I heard a story about Sears Catalogs. The claim was an American company had set up a large manufactoring plant in South America. Tens of millions of dollers were invested. They trained the local people and got the factory going. After a couple months the workers started quiting. They were making more in a couple months than they had made in years. After a couple months they had enough money saved to last a long time. Finally one of the executives had the idea of passing out Sears Catalogs to the wives of the workers. Soon every man was back at work, and worked year round.

Technorati tags: Christmas, catalogs

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but ...

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the picture may be a lie.

Many towns are turning to using cameras to capture people speeding as a way to raise cash. Maryland Students Use Speed Cameras for Revenge:

High school students in Maryland are using speed cameras as a tool to fine innocent drivers in a game, according to the Montgomery County Sentinel newspaper. Because photo enforcement devices will automatically mail out a ticket to any registered vehicle owner based solely on a photograph of a license plate, any driver could receive a ticket if someone else creates a duplicate of his license plate and drives quickly past a speed camera. The private companies that mail out the tickets often do not bother to verify whether vehicle registration information for the accused vehicle matches the photographed vehicle.

I wonder how soon a guilty party will point to this practice and claim he or she is innocent. "Really judge, it must of been someone else."

(Hat tip: Risks)

Technorati tags: speed, cameras

Politics and Public Education - with children being the losers

Clint Bolick writes about union efforts to make charter schools an endangered species:

Charter schools--independent public schools operated by private entities that are free from many of the regulations that stifle creativity in regular public schools--have produced enormous academic gains in Arizona and across the country. But they are bracing for a plague that could destroy them: teacher unionization.
At the national level, unions are pushing for a "card-check" system to enable them to organize without receiving a majority vote among employees in a secret ballot. Instead, a union will be created if a majority signs cards authorizing a union--a method ripe for coercive influence.

Unions want to destroy charter schools. And they may be successful. They have an incredible war chest of money to finance their efforts. David doesn't slay Goliath every time. Charter schools have popular support, but they are small enough that their voting constituency can't begin to compare to the power teacher unions have.

This is an example of why I don't see public education improving, maybe ever.

Most of the children in our nation are suffering with a poor education.

My crystal ball shows more and more parents homeschooling their children. I don't think unions will be able to destroy homeschooling. They have been trying, and will continue to try, but as more and more families turn to homeschooling, David will become bigger and bigger and at some point the political power will be close to equal.

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

Another beautiful picture from APOD - Orion's Belt

Martin Mutti gave me permission to post this picture:

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

The next Carnival of Homeschool will be held at Topsy-Techie.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling 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,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Progress in dealing with diabetes

Janine became diabetic at age twelve. She has been blessed. She has not had any complications. Yet we still worry about one of our daughters developing diabetes.

I'm excited to read about New clues to pancreatic cells' destruction in diabetes:

Researchers have found what appears to be a major culprit behind the loss of insulin-producing β cells from the pancreases of people with diabetes, a critical event in the progression of the disease.
The discovery could lead to new therapies for preventing the death of β cells or restoring those that have already been lost, Kathrin Maedler and colleagues report in the February 4th issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication. The inflammatory factor they uncovered, which they call CXCL10, might also offer a warning sign of early or impending disease, they said.

With an increased understanding of the cause(s) for diabetes, maybe our daughters will never become diabetic. That would be wonderful.

Technorati tags: diabetes, diabetic

Seth Godin explains why it is so hard to make progress with public education

A friend sent me a link to What is school for? by Seth Godin. Seth lists twenty seven possible goals of education. Some of them are contradictory.

When you stop and think about it, it becomes clear that part of the reason for lack of progress in improving public education is that so many people are pushing in different directions. Some want academics to get better. Others want expanded sport or art programs. Some people want children to be exposed to diversity or ways to help the environment. Others want informed citizens.

At a high level pretty much everyone agrees that education is a good thing. But once you start drilling down into the details of what it means, there quickly becomes huge differences in expectations. This is one of the reasons that homeschoolers succeed. We don't have to be distracted by someone else's view. We can make our selection from Seth's 27 goals, or come up with our own, and plug ahead. Because we are implementing our goals we have more energy and dedication. We are more engaged.

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

I like Ilya Somin's explanation of Why the Size of Goverment Matters

Ilya Somin makes some good points in Why the Size of Government Matters. He starts with:

In his inaugural address, President Obama said that "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." This is a commonly heard argument in response to concerns about the growth of government. Who could possibly be against government when it "works"? Why not instead consider each proposed expansion of the state on a case by case basis, supporting those that "work" and opposing any that don't?

Taken seriously, this argument leads to the rejection of any systematic constraints on government power. Why should we have a general presumption against government regulation of speech or religion? Why not instead support censorship when it "works" by improving the marketplace of ideas, and oppose it when it doesn't? Think of all the misleading speech and religious charlatans that government regulation could potentially save us from! The answer, of course, is that government regulation of speech and religion has systematic dangers that are not unique to any one particular regulation. Given those systematic flaws, it makes sense to have a general presumption against it.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: government

Another nail in the coffin

Many critics of homeschooling claim that only properly trained, certified teachers can really teach children. They close their eyes to the evidence that homeschooled children do just fine at college, and often better.

Joanne Jacobs reports Certification route doesn’t matter:

Alternatively certified elementary teachers are as effective as those who took a traditional path to certification, concludes a Mathematica study for the U.S. Education Department. It didn’t matter whether the teacher prep program required many hours of coursework or just a few: Students’ reading and math scores were the same. However, scores were lower for students whose teachers were taking coursework while teaching.

This should be another nail in the coffin of the attack that homeschoolers can't teach. Though I'm afraid the critics will plug up their ears and continue the mantra "Only properly certified teachers can teach. Only properly certified teachers can teach. ..."

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Be cautious about in all dealings with the internet

I find this fascinating: Expert: Fake UND parking tickets a new phishing tactic. Some criminals faked parking ticket notices with directions to contact a web site. Once there the victim was told to download a file, and soon their PC was infected.

Lenny Zeltser, a computer security expert, said: "Truly, I have not seen such a creative approach in starting the infection chain before."

I remember reading that for the amount of time most crook spend getting ready for a crime, committing a crime, and then some times being in jail, they would be better off working at Jack-in-the-box.

One lesson from this is to be very, very, very careful about ever downloading a file from an untrusted web site.

(Hat tip: Risks)


Technorati tags: internet, malware

Daily vitamins may not help

As I've started to feel old now and then, I've been taking multivitamins. I may rethink this effort. A huge study found multivitamins may not make much of a difference.

The largest study ever of multivitamin use in older women found the pills did nothing to prevent common cancers or heart disease.
The eight-year study in 161,808 postmenopausal women echoes recent disappointing vitamin studies in men.
Millions of Americans spend billions of dollars on vitamins to boost their health. Research has focused on cancer and heart disease in particular because of evidence that diets full of vitamin-rich foods may protect against those illnesses. But that evidence doesn't necessarily mean pills are a good substitute.
The study's lead author, researcher Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, offered this advice: "Get nutrients from food. Whole foods are better than dietary supplements," Neuhouser said.


Our society looks for the quick fixes. We want short cuts. Many don't want to put in the time and effort to earn the reward.

The lesson I take from this is it is better focus on eating a healthy diet, and don't worry about pills.

(Hat tip: Dr. Helen)

Technorati tags: health, vitamins

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - A 9 month journey

Sprittibee is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. She takes us through the nine month development of a baby.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, February 09, 2009

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

You have ten hours to send in an entry to the next Carnival of Homeschool, which will be held at Sprittibee.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling 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,

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Public school waste from the Stimulus bill

Joanne Jacobs reports Milwaukee seeks millions for . . . ?:

Milwaukee Public Schools could get $88.6 million in construction funds under the stimulus bill — “even though the district has 15 vacant school buildings, a large surplus of property and no plans for new construction,” reports the Journal-Sentinel.

This is what happens which politicians rush to make decisions.

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

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Identity Crisis edition

Mama Squirrel is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Dewey's Treehouse. She starts with:

"We were happily learning at home, things were going wonderfully, and I had absolutely no doubt that we were doing just what we were meant to be doing.
"Then like many other moms, I joined a local support group so that I could meet up with other like minded moms and learn from their experiences. Learn I did! There were so many great ideas and books that I had never heard of, different learning philosophies and schedules and children that were way ahead of mine. I wanted to suck up all of their knowledge and I wanted to know how I could be just like all of them. That's right...it was like having an identity crisis."--Whose Homeschool Life Are You Leading?, by BChsMamaof3 at the Huber Hof Academy.

Are you struggling with your identity as a homeschooler? Then check out this week's carnival. (If you are happy with your identity, still drop by and check out the carnival.)

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Monday, February 02, 2009

Homeschool Fantasy versus Reality

Even though we are on our tenth year of homeschooling, I still struggle with feeling frustrated when my homeschool fantasy does not match my reality.

Fantasy: My house will be orderly and clean at all time.

Reality: My house is orderly for about 5 seconds once a week after we finish Saturday chores. The rest of the time it is in various stages of the "lived in" look. I am always utterly amazed at how fast a clean surface can be covered or a tidy room can disappear in the blink of an eye. My overall orderliness is improving, but I won't really have a "clean" house until they all move out.

Fantasy: My children will easily complete their homeschool assignments and daily check them of their weekly assignment list.

Reality: Assignment list? Ok, so I don't get the weekly assignment list ready every week. Even when I do, half the time they don't mark of their work after it is completed. Most of the time it looks something like, "Hey, have your done math today?"

Fantasy: My children will only read classic books like Shakespeare and biographies.

Reality: Science fiction, comic books and fan fiction and other fluff and nonsense take up far to much of my children's attention. That is not to say that we don't read good books, but the ratio of fluff to substance leaves a bit to be desired. At least, we don't have the exposure to the dark and depressing junk that some schools use for English Literature these days.

Fantasy: I will give each child me full attention when helping them with their school work.

Reality: I have a 25 lb-2 year old hip attachment that dramatically limits my availability. The only time I'm really attentive is when he is sleeping. The upside to this is that the older girls have become more educationally self reliant and independent workers. However, I still feel a little guilty.

Fantasy: My children will become a virtuoso musician, a math prodigy or develop some other dramatic talent.

Reality: My kids are average smart. They are pretty competent at life skills and should be able to live well as independent adults, be good spouses and become competent mommies and daddies. However, I don't think they are going to win a Pulitzer Prize or find the cure for cancer.

Fantasy: My children will always love homeschooling.

Reality: Most of my children like homeschooling most of the time.

Fantasy: I can homeschool my children and still have time to pursue hobbies, blogging and other interests.

Reality: Hobby? What's a hobby? Blogging? I sometimes don't even read what Henry posts on our blog, let alone anyone else's blog.

Fantasy: My children will be peer independent, yet have great social skills and have a good circle of friends (though I wouldn't call them "popular.")

Reality: My children are so much better off than I was at their age. They have good friends who share our values. While we are still mastering the social graces, I'm pleased at who they are and how they interact with the world.

In the end, it is this type of homeschool reality that keeps me going on the hard days.

I would do more, but my hip attachment is calling.

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

The most awful, stupid parenting advice

My mother sent me a link a column by Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn. Dr. Hirschhorn writes that The most awful, stupid parenting advice is to "Let children work it out." Her rules for parenting are:

1. You, the parent, are responsible for teaching all social behavior the first time.
2. You then are responsible to coach the child on future occurrences of that kind of behavior as a way to prod his memory as to the original coaching idea.
3. As the child grows older and occurrences of this situation come up again, it is your job to wean yourself of helping/coaching so as to give more and more responsibility to the child for (a)recognizing the problem; (b)remembering that he once did have answers to it from the initial teaching and subsequent coaching; (c)correctly applying what he learned in the past to the present situation.
4. A point comes when it is actually good for the child to experience the (painful) outcome of his choices because he has already been coached numerous times and sometimes he must experience Life directly in order to learn.
5. It is always possible for you, the parent, to re-evaluate the rate at which you are either jumping in with the coaching too quickly or not quickly enough and change the level of help you are giving at any one time. As long as you re-evaluate this regularly, you are in a win-win situation. Even screwing up leads to a win, because the re-evaluation teaches you something and it allows your child to learn from the situation—and from your re-evaluation itself.


Technorati tags: family, parenting, children, education