Monday, October 31, 2011

Thoughtful column on higher education

Misguided by Higher Education is a great column about higher education.  It has a number of interesting points. 

For example the author proposes that by encouraing so many to attend columns our country has suffered in lost opportunities.  He lists many successful high tech companies which were started by drop outs and asks if the students might have been more willing to take risks and start up a new business if they were not saddled by mountains of debt.

The column is a bit long, but well worth reading.

A little bit of science

This is kind of fun.  When you let go of a hanging slinky the bottom doesn't move until the slinky collapses.

Because it's Friday: Anti-Gravity Slinky describes it this way:

Here's an interesting quirk of Physics: if you hold a Slinky spring-toy in mid-air and then drop it, the base of the Slinky becomes momentarily suspended in mid-air, apparently defying gravity.

Pretty cool:

Hat tip: Instapundit

Combining the worst of two regions

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

Washington [D.C.] is a city of
Southern efficiency and Northern charm.

-John F. Kennedy

National Novel Writing Month

Each November there is a invitation to write a novel in a month.  NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  All three of my daughters have decided they are going to participate.  (I think the older two are doing it for their English class.)

I will at least start this effort.  I was awake last night for for over an hour as I was writing the introduction in my head.

If my mind continues to race with ideas and stops me from sleeping I might have to put the effort back on the shelf.  We'll see.

Drop Out rates

My only direct contact with the public school system has been with foster children. What I see scares me to death. Most people are shocked to know the drop out / graduation rates.

Data from the California Department of Education show that only 74.4% of students who start the 9th grade will graduate in 4 years. For many students, school is just daycare for teenagers.

Of those not graduating, 18% are considered drop outs; some are still enrolled in school (6.6 %); others are non-diploma special education students (0.5 %) or those who passed the General Educational Development Test® (0.4 %).

These numbers do not include the 3.5% of students that dropped out during 8th grade.

I could not find data on the graduation rates for the 6.6% percent of students still enrolled after 4 years. These statistics also don't reveal what percentage of high school graduates earned "soft" credits through alternative programs.

We have a local high school program that allows students to earn double credits so that they can potentially return to the regular high school and graduate with their class. Unfortunately, students are given "double credits " but it is high questionable if the students actually earn them.

Even though we homeschool, the government school problems effect my family. My tax money finances this system. These poorly educated youth are future voters.

Not all is bad. There are some good programs. There are many students with involved parents who navigate the school system well and come out relatively unscathed and are generally competent.

However, even in this group, that future voter issue still worries me. Without an understanding of history and the principles of government on which our country was founded, voting deteriorates into a popularity contest devoid of substance (which sounds suspiciously like high school).

I'm interested in education reforms that treat tax payer funded education as a privilege, are flexible, leave the responsibility with the parents, and yet provide options for students with less competent parents.

Any ideas?

Some recent homeschooling carnivals

The latest Homeschooling on the Cheap is up at 3 Boys and a Dog.

Homeschool Showcase #84 is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Resources for unschoolers

The Libertarian Homeschooler posted a link to a good list of The 10 Best Resources For Unschooling

The first three resources are:

1. A good set of encyclopedias
2. Books
3. A Libary Card

Contrasting poverty in the United States with the rest of the world

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a report on poverty in the United StatesAttention, Protestors: You're Probably Part of the 1% reminds us just how blessed we are in America:

The recent Occupy Wall Street protests have aimed their message at the income disparity between the 1% richest Americans and the rest of the country. But what happens when you expand that and look at the 1% richest of the entire world? Some really interesting numbers emerge. If there were a global Occupy Wall Street protest, people as well off as Linda Frakes might actually be the target.

In America, the top 1% earn more than $380,000 per year. We are, however, among the richest nations on Earth. How much do you need to earn to be among the top 1% of the world?


That was the finding World Bank economist Branko Milanovic presented in his 2010 book The Haves and the Have-Nots. Going down the distribution ladder may be just as surprising. To be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it's $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

We enjoyed watching Courageous

This is a good movie:

A fun little quiz

According to Smart or Stoopid I am above average.

Hat tip: my mom

Interesting study on gun ownership by state

Janine and I took a pistol safety class a couple months ago.  Once soccer season and the Christmast season have passed we are planning on signing our daughters up for the class in January. 

Given our recent interest in guns I found this article interesting: Gun Ownership by State.

I won't have guessed there was such a dramatic difference in percentage of households which own guns.  The DC district only has 3.8% and Hawaii only has 8.7%, but in contrast Wyoming has 59.7% and Montana has 57.7%. 

Hat tip: Instapundit

Time to get rid of the TSA

We haven't flown for a long time.  I am not willing to subject my daughters to the TSA agressive pat downs.  I follow Boycott Flying on Facebook.  It constantly reports abuses by TSA agents, but the sad thing is they rarely get punished.

TSA Creator Says Dismantle, Privatize the Agency is a good article, which starts:

They’ve been accused of rampant thievery, spending billions of dollars like drunken sailors, groping children and little old ladies, and making everyone take off their shoes.

But the real job of the tens of thousands of screeners at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is to protect Americans from a terrorist attack.

Yet a decade after the TSA was created following the September 11 attacks, the author of the legislation that established the massive agency grades its performance at “D-.”

“The whole program has been hijacked by bureaucrats,” said Rep. John Mica (R. -Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

“It mushroomed into an army,” Mica said. “It’s gone from a couple-billion-dollar enterprise to close to $9 billion.”

As for keeping the American public safe, Mica says, “They’ve failed to actually detect any threat in 10 years.”

“Everything they have done has been reactive. They take shoes off because of [shoe-bomber] Richard Reid, passengers are patted down because of the diaper bomber, and you can’t pack liquids because the British uncovered a plot using liquids,” Mica said.

“It’s an agency that is always one step out of step,” Mica said.

Interesting article on the Moral Foundations of Occupy Wall Street

A friend sent me a link to a fascinating article about The Moral Foundations of Occupy Wall Street.

"In Our Law" A song about the constitution

Janine found this found site.  They have a song about the Constitution: In Our Law.

Pretty cool.

I love presentations that teach useful information in an entertaining way.

A good question to ask when making decisions

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

Ask not what the cost of doing this will be.
Ask what the cost of not doing it will be.
-Attributed to
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The US gives economic aid to over 150 countries

As Representative Poe says it is time to reconsider who we give economic aid to.  The United States is giving money to countries which hate us.  With the hard economic times I think we should cut back.

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

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

Next week's carnival will be held at

This will be the 305th edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Webinar on the IRS and Homeschool organizations

Carol, the HomeschoolCPA, has a Webinar tonight: The IRS and Your Homeschool Organization.

She'll talk about:
  • Homeschoolers and the IRS
  • What does 501(c)(3) mean?
  • Is it needed for my group?
  • The benefits of 501c3 tax exempt status
  • The disadvantages too!
  • Why your organization should consider becoming a nonprofit corporation

New study finds IQ can rise or fall significantly

IQ can rise or fall significantly during adolescence, brain scans confirm starts:

Across our lifetime, our intellectual ability is considered to be stable, with Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores taken at one point in time used to predict educational achievement and employment prospects later in life. However, in a study published today in the journal Nature, researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London) and the Centre for Educational Neuroscience show for the first time that in fact our IQ is not constant.

The researchers, led by Professor Cathy Price, tested thirty-three healthy adolescents in 2004 when they were between the ages of 12 and 16 years. They then repeated the tests four years later when the same subjects were between 15 and 20 years old. On both occasions, the researchers took structural brains scans of the subjects using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Professor Price and colleagues found significant changes in the IQ scores measured in 2008 compared to the 2004 scores. Some subjects had improved their performance relative to people of a similar age by as much as 20 points on the standardised IQ scale; in other cases, however, performance had fallen by a similar amount. In order to test whether these changes were meaningful, the researchers analysed the MRI scans to see if there was a correlation with changes in the structure of the subjects' brains.

And it appears IQ may be able to change even into adulthood:

"The question is, if our brain structure can change throughout our adult lives, can our IQ also change?" adds Professor Price. "My guess is yes. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that our brains can adapt and their structure changes, even in adulthood."

Do you find this true with your children?

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

The quickest way for a parent to get a child's
attention is to sit down and look comfortable.

Lane Olinhouse
Bits and Pieces August 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I hope to be going this strong at 100

My mom found this video of Jay Leno hosting Dorothy Custer:

Good thought on problem solving

From A.Word.A.Day:

A problem well stated is a problem half solved.
-Charles F. Kettering, inventor and engineer (1876-1958)

Amazing - The stick bomb or cobra weave

This is pretty cool:

And this is how you make it:

Should I be blogging less?

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

      Blessed is the man who,
      having nothing to say,
      abstains from giving
      evidence of the fact.
           -George Eliot
            PAX Proverbs Plus

Some recent homeschooling carnivals

Homeschool Showcase #83 is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

The latest Homeschooling on the Cheap is up at 3 Boys and a Dog.

The most recent Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is from the Fisher Academy International, in Peru!

The latest edition of a homeschooling carnival is up at Garden of Learning.

Video Gaming

A recent study of video gaming had some sad statistics.

"We're starting to see a number of studies from different cultures -- in Europe, the US and Asia -- and they're all showing that somewhere around 7 to 11 per cent of gamers seem to be having real problems to the point that they're considered pathological gamers."

I thought it was funny that they define the "safe zone" of game playing as about 20 hours or less a week. That's an incredible amount of wasted time.

Pathological Video Game Use Among Youths: A Two-Year Longitudinal Study

A pdf of the full study is available here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to make the world a better place

From A.Word.A.Day:

He who listens to truth is not less than he who utters truth.
-Kahlil Gibran, poet and artist (1883-1931)

I think the world would be hugely improved if more people were actively listening for truth.

The education bubble

The Class The Loans Fell On reports that the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School MBA graduating class is graduating with over $100 million in debt.

Can you say education bubble?

The article starts with:

Dubbed “The Class The Dollars Fell On” by Fortune magazine, the 1949 graduates of the Harvard Business School were undoubtedly the most celebrated group of MBAs in history. Though the 700 or so members of the class graduated with modest expectations, more than a third would become CEOs and well over half would end up as multi-millionaires.

As author Laurence Shames would write in The Big Time, one of two books that documented the group’s unprecedented success, “the class would become emblematic of the mysterious potency of the MBA degree back when it was still exotic, a rare golden ticket to action.”

Fast forward to this year’s incoming class at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The 845 students who start their first classes on Sept. 7 are among their generation’s best and brightest. Unlike the men of 1949—there were no women–the Wharton group is as diverse as any in history: A record 45 percent are women and 36 percent hail from outside the U.S. To come to the Philadelphia campus, they left some of the most prestigious organizations in the world where they already were on the fast track to success. Some 36 students founded or co-founded businesses.

But there’s one other very big difference between this year’s incoming Wharton class and the most renowned: debt and lots of it. Largely funded by the GI Bill, few members of Harvard’s class graduated with any debt. If the Class of 1949 had been the most wildly successful of all the MBA classes ever, it can be said with certainty that Wharton’s Class of 2013 will be the most heavily in hock.

Some of our best posts from March 2006

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for over five years now. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from March 2006:

Henry shared some thoughts on a Good article from on The Multitasking Generation.

In response to a column by Richard Cohen, Henry wrote about The importance of math.

Parents might enjoy: The best gift for your kids: responsibility.

Homeschoolers have many reasons for homeschooling, here is: One of our first reasons for homeschooling.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Rollerskating in a Buffalo Herd Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Dewey's Treehouse.

Mama Squirrel starts the carnival with:

In honour of singer/songwriter Roger Miller, who died nineteen years ago today...

And in celebration of some really unusual homeschool activities...or maybe they're just the usual, for homeschoolers...

We welcome you to the 304th Carnival of Homeschooling.

Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

Carnival of Homeschooling

The importance of being flexible

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

A bend in the road
is not the end of the road....
unless you fail to make the turn.

-Author Unknown

Homeschooling in the news

The Glenn Beck show has a free episode on homeschooling. (I didn't know that Glenn Beck's family is now homeschooling.)

A couple of warnings:

1) The episode begins with the death of Gaddafi with graphic pictures on the screen in the background.

2) There are a lot of sponsor and news update interruptions. So, it is a pain to get to the parts about homeschooling.

To speed it up, here's a time marker, if you want to avoid some of the interruptions and the segment on Gaddafi at the beginning: Skip to 32 minutes and 52 seconds.

I found I could get it to load if I double clicked at the desired time. It hung a couple of times while I was trying to watch it. To get it going again, I would reload the page and move the tracking bar to the time I left off and double click.

The end of the episode includes a discussion on the book, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 with the author.

A resource for parents

hand in hand is an organization designed to help parents be better parents.  They have a number of articles on various aspects of parentings.  They also have a blog and address problems parents struggle with.

It seems like a good organization.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Are we mirrors or windows?

From A.Word.A.Day:

Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
-Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986) 

Education vs. Schooling

I think one of the things homeschooling parents have is a crystal clear understanding of the difference between education and schooling.  It seems like the vast majority currently assume that the only place children can learn is at school. 

Near the end of the classic movie "Wizard of Oz" Dorothy's companions are given what they were searching for.  The wizard gives the scarecrow a diploma and somehow magically it makes the scarecrow smart. 

In real life merely giving a student a piece of paper does not grant him an education.  Putting in your time at a public school does not make children smart.

Because often students who attend school do in fact learn, people get confused about the process.  Without thinking too much about it a belief develops that sitting in a classroom will make children educated.

Parents who homeschool have a much sharper focus on what constitutes an education.  They know that some of the things that make a person educated are:

1) Having useful knowledge: We teach our children math facts, historical knowledge and practical things like how to run a house.

2) Knowing how to think: We teach our children logic and consequences.

3) How to find and learn what we need to know: We teach our children had to search the internet and how master new subjects.

4) Striving for wisdom: We teach our children to continue learning and working to understand the world more and more.

Clearly there are parents with children who see a difference between an education and spending time at school, but my experience is way too many parents see the two as the same basic thing.

Checkout the Newseum

Several years ago I wrote about the Newseum. A friend recently sent out an email about it. 

One of the coolest features in being able to look at the front pages of more than 800 newspapers from around the world.

There are a number of other interesting features.

Advice for living long and living well

My mother found this article: Author/physician Shigeaki Hinohara.  A 97-year-old man shares his insight into how to living well.

Good argument for buying gold

I like this video James Turk's presentation on the gold price and the US dollar:

You can read the transcript here.

Atlas Shrugged the DVD will be out in a couple weeks

Janine and I really enjoyed Atlas Shrugged:

The DVD will be out will be out in a couple weeks. 

I've placed an order.

Another beautiful picture from the Astronomy Picture of the Day

Stanislav Volskiy gave his permission for me to post his Pleiades Deep Field picture on my blog:

Just beautiful.

Life of Flowers

This is a beautiful video:

Life of flowers from VOROBYOFF PRODUCTION on Vimeo.

Hat tip: My mom

Mountains - to climb or go around?

Interesting thought from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

They say they climb mountains because they are there. I wonder if it would astound them to know that the very same reason is why the rest of us go around them.

-S. Omar Baker (1894-1985)
Poet and writer

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More on Bollywood vs. Islam

In Bollywood vs. Jihad Shikha Dalmia argues that Mumbai is a bigger threat than the Pentagon to fundamentalist Islam. 

You might remember that in May I shared this video:

Bollywood vs. Jihad covers much of the same material.  Here are the first four paragraphs of the article:

India is a country riven with religious, linguistic, socioeconomic, and regional clashes. But the battle that split the country in two last year concerned a far more basic, existential question: Munni or Sheila?

These are the screen names of the sex sirens who danced and lip-synced in Bollywood’s two biggest hit songs not just of 2010 but likely in the Indian film industry’s entire 112-year history: “Munni Badnam Hui,” from the blockbuster Dabangg, and “Sheila Ki Jawani,” from Tees Maar Khan. No sooner had the movies hit the silver screen than a cultural civil war broke out in India, Pakistan, and portions of the Middle East. Fans took to Twitter and Facebook to duel over which of the two dancers could undulate more gracefully to the melodies. Which woman had better captured the sexuality of the lyrics? The earthy, ethnic Munni in her backless blouses? Or the urbane, Westernized, English-spouting Sheila in her stringy outfits? Thanks to the songs, the opening weekends of these otherwise execrable movies were Bollywood’s biggest of all time. The Times of India, India’s equivalent of The New York Times, declared Munni and Sheila to be India’s Women of the Year.

Not everyone was amused. Bollywood’s suggestive eroticism has always pushed the boundaries of a sexually prudish country, rubbing traditionalists of all stripes the wrong way. But Munni’s come-hither bawdiness and Sheila’s saucy paean to her “too-sexy-for-you” body were just too much for some conservatives to endure, prompting the wife of one prominent civil servant to petition the courts to ban the songs on the grounds of indecency and immorality. Islamists in particular had reason to be offended: The woman who plays Sheila—Katrina Kaif—is Muslim. So is Salman Khan, the star actor who danced raunchily with Munni. As if to add insult to injury, a Muslim woman, Farah Khan, choreographed both of the racy dance numbers.

Islamic fundamentalists have long worried about the threat that Bollywood poses to their puritanical demands. Of late, they have even taken to making videos—rap videos, no less—condemning Bollywood movies as being the product of an infidel culture trying to brainwash Muslims against their own religious values and duties. They have ample reason to be worried: About 3 billion people, or half the planet, watches Bollywood, and many of them live in the Islamic world. By depicting assimilated, modernized Muslims, Bollywood—without even trying—deromanticizes and thereby disarms fanatical Islam. If you can have Munni and Sheila in this world, why on earth would you want to strap bombs to your waist and blow yourself up for the sake of 72 theoretical virgins?

It would be great if Bollywood could reform radical Islam.  I think there is a good chance.

Grade Inflation for Education Majors and Low Standards for Teachers

Interesting report: Grade Inflation for Education Majors and Low Standards for Teachers.

The report starts:

Students who take education classes at universities receive significantly higher grades than students who take classes in every other academic discipline. The higher grades cannot be explained by observable differences in student quality between education majors and other students, nor can they be explained by the fact that education classes are typically smaller than classes in other academic departments. The remaining reasonable explanation is that the higher grades in education classes are the result of low grading standards. These low grading standards likely will negatively affect the accumulation of skills for prospective teachers during university training. More generally, they contribute to a larger culture of low standards for educators.

The report explores two consequences of this trend:

1) We Are Training Teachers Who Know Less
2) Education Departments Are Contributing to the Culture of Low Standards for Educators

If you have any friends who feel that public school teachers are the only ones qualified to teach you might have them read the report.

Hat tip: Transterrestrial Musings.

Would you like to get rid of $132,000 worth of debt?

The US Debt Clock says the US National Debt is $14.8 trillion, as of today.   This means the average tax payer in obligated for $132,000.  With the unfunded liabilities the real total debt is much higher.

Sometimes I think about leaving the United States.  If I could find a better country I could leave the debt here and be much richer just by changing citizenship.

Maybe Estonia is a good candidate

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Friday, October 21, 2011

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

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

Mama Squirrel will be hosting the carnival at Dewey's Treehouse.

This will be the 304th edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Great Smoky Mountains edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is being held at SmallWorld.

Sarah starts the carnival with:

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling #303! I always enjoy hosting the carnival. I get to "meet" a bunch of new bloggers, visit some old favorites, and, more than anything else, see what is going on in the lives of other homeschoolers.

Here at SmallWorld, we've been doing a lot of hiking in our big backyard, also known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Interspersed with these excellent posts from fellow bloggers are pictures of our most recent outings in the Smokies. The fall colors are just beginning, the weather is perfect, and my oldest is home from college for fall break (and yes, we homeschooled him all the way)!

So grab a cup of coffee, breathe in that good autumn air, and start reading!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, October 17, 2011

A great thought!

One of my nieces just posted this on Facebook:

You were born an original, don't die a copy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oops, I forgot to file our R4

I was a bit tardy this year filing our Private School Affidavit. I filed this morning. Technically, I think we were supposed to file by October 15th.

Last year, we barely filed in time.

Our confirmation number was over 112,000. Last year we came in at nearly 98,000. I'm guessing there were a few last minute or late filers like me.

In my circles, about half of my homeschool friends file the Private School Affidavit and about half use an independent study programs through the public school. In our area, there is a fairly well run program that looks very inviting. However, I like the flexibility that comes with being outside the public school system.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is moral courage harder than physical courage?

From A.Word.A.Day:

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
-Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

Some recent homeschooling carnivals

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

The recent Homeschooling on the Cheap is up at 3 Boys and a Dog.

The latest edition of a homeschooling carnival is up at Garden of Learning.

The recent Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up at Fisher Academy International Teaching Home.

And the latest Classical Homeschooling Carnival is up at Baby Steps.

Fascinating report on Poverty in the United States

My mom sent me a link to a fascinating report:  Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America's Poor.

Here is the start of the Executive Summary:

Today, the Census Bureau released its annual poverty report, which declared that a record 46.2 million persons, or roughly one in seven Americans, were poor in 2010. The numbers were up sharply from the previous year’s total of 43.6 million. Although the current recession has increased the numbers of the poor, high levels of poverty predate the recession. In most years for the past two decades, the Census Bureau has declared that at least 35 million Americans lived in poverty.

However, understanding poverty in America requires looking behind these numbers at the actual living conditions of the individuals the government deems to be poor. For most Americans, the word “poverty” suggests near destitution: an inability to provide nutritious food, clothing, and reasonable shelter for one’s family. However, only a small number of the 46 million persons classified as “poor” by the Census Bureau fit that description. While real material hardship certainly does occur, it is limited in scope and severity.

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau as taken from various government reports:
  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • 92 percent of poor households have a microwave.
  • Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and 70 percent have a VCR.
  • Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers.
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
  • 43 percent have Internet access.
  • One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
  • One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo.
For decades, the living conditions of the poor have steadily improved. Consumer items that were luxuries or significant purchases for the middle class a few decades ago have become commonplace in poor households, partially because of the normal downward price trend that follows introduction of a new product.

I often tell my friends that I would rather live my life today than to be the king of England 500 years ago.  It looks like I would rather be poor in America than the king of England 500 years ago.

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

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. Sarah will be hosting the carnival at SmallWorld.

This will be the 303rd edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Where do we get growth from?

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

We find comfort among those who agree with us -- growth among those who don't.
-Frank A. Clark

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A nano technology rap song

This is fun:

I think it would be cool if there was a radio station of educational songs.

Hat tip: Instapundit

A good article about the problems with public schools

Andrew Coulson has a long thoughtful article: A Less Perfect Union

It starts:

Student achievement at the end of high school has stagnated or declined, depending on the subject, since we started keeping track around 1970. Over that period, the cost of sending a child through the K-12 public system tripled, even after adjusting for inflation. Public school employee unions, the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, are partly to blame for this, but the attention focused on collective bargaining in particular has been misplaced. The unions' success in driving up costs and protecting even low-performing teachers stems less from their power at the bargaining table than from the monopoly status of their employer. Taxpayers, and most families, have no place else to go.

I do disagree about families having no place else to go.  A large reason for the dramatic increase in the number of children being homeschooled is because more and more parents and unwilling to allow government schools to hurt their children.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Life, the Universe and Everything

The 302nd Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Raising Real Men.

Melanie starts with:

The longer we homeschool, the more we realize that homeschooling isn’t merely about spelling, math and history. It’s really about Life, the Universe and Everything, but not quite the way Douglas Adams meant it! It seems like when you start to homeschool, the scales fall from your eyes and you realize all the many, many things you need to teach your children. That’s why a homeschooling blog carnival is so very interesting! Welcome to the October 11th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling! For your visual pleasure, we are including a series of photographs taken by our son, Matt, at Prairie State Park in Missouri.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Details behind the Keynes vs. Hayek video

I rarely read the Daily Kos, but a good friend had a link to a long article: Smackdown: Keynes vs. Hayek With Poll.

If you enjoyed the video below, check out the article.  The author goes through the rap song and explains what each lines means. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

A benefit to homeschooling - the flexibility

Last week I asked my youngest daughter what she liked about homeschooling.  She said "Going your own pace."

Today I asked my oldest daughter what she liked about homeschooling.  My oldest daughter is seventeen.  She has never taken a class at a public school.  She is now in her senior year taking a full load of classes while also taking three classes at two of the local community colleges.

She focused on one main benefit to homeschooling: The flexibility.  She likes being able to work through the material in an order of her choosing.  She also likes being able to choose her learning environment.  She likes being able to work in the living room, kitchen or upstairs, depending on her mood.

She tossed in a second benefit to homeschool.  She likes being a little weird.  (I don't know where that came from.  :-)  )

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Do you think these children are homeschooled?

A good friend sent me a link to These teenagers are trying to take my job.

The article starts with:

While attending the 2011 Fall Demo conference in Santa Clara, I was startled by the sight of a young man helping himself to coffee in between interviews with startup founders and venture capitalists in the conference Green Room. It’s my job to drink coffee and do interviews. What’s more, he was way better dressed than me. Feeling threatened, I went to tower over him in my four inch heels.

That young man was 12 year-old Vincent of The Intek, a Seattle-based tech blog created by three teenagers. Their “den mother” was always close behind, taking pictures the way moms tend to do, as the young men toured the conference hall and dug up stories. They had a great sense of who to talk to, and looked people in the eye as they shook hands.

And here is a video of the boys working:

New Project 3 from Venturebeat on Vimeo.

Think of the learning and growth they were experiencing as they interviewed company founders and asked questions about new products.

I think this is a good reminder that children can do a lot more than society expects.

Sweet - video of rescuing a baby humming bird

My mom found this video:

Another beautiful picture from APOD - NGC 281

J-P Metsävainio (Astro Anarchy) gave me permission to post his beautiful picture of the NGC 281:

For other beautiful astronomy pictures check out Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Review: TED Talk - David Pogue: When it comes to tech, simplicity sells

My second daughter provides this review of David Pogue: When it comes to tech, simplicity sells:

I recently watched the TED talk by David Pogue: When it comes to tech, simplicity sells. Throughout the talk he would go back to the piano and play funny songs. One of the main points was how making tech more complicated makes the user more frustrated. The importance in designing software is making it simple and intelligent so that it is easier to use. This idea is also applicable to life, you want to organize you’re life to be straightforward and intelligent.

Here's the talk:

I enjoyed this talk and think it is worth watching.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Review: TED Talk by Sugata Mitra's new experiments in self-teaching

My oldest daughter wrote this review of Sugata Mitra's new experiments in self-teaching:

Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, is the originator of the Hole in the Wall experiment.

The Hole of the Wall also called MIE, Minimally Invasive Education, is an experiment that tests how children learn in unsupervised environments. What the experiment did was place computers in walls all over Africa and India. Then the experimenters watched as children taught themselves and each other.

Some of the more impressive results included a group of young boys correcting their pronunciation as to be able to be understood by the text to speech functions.

According to Professor Mitra when given free and public access to computers and the Internet a group of children can do everything from teach themselves enough English to use email, to answer examinations questions several years ahead of their age group.

It is a fun video and worth watching:

(Here is my second daughter's review of the same TED Talk.)

Review of the movie Mao's Last Dancer

Almost twelve months ago I read about Mao's Last Dancer.  This summer we got the DVD and I watched it with my three daughters.  I was blown away, so then the next day I watched it with Janine. 

It is a great story, a true story, of a young man growing up in Communist China who gets a taste of freedom and then risks it all to be free.  It is a powerful message and a good reminder of just how blessed most of us are.  It is also a very professional and well told.

Li Cunxin was only eleven when party officials took him from a little village to a ballot school in Beijing.  For the next seven years he lived ballot.  He never saw his family.  Then Li went to Texas to dance as part of a cultural exchange program.  He was blown away as he realized the Chinese government had lied and as more importantly as he tasted freedom.

Janine read the book and says it is also very well done.

If you like good clean well done movies, then check it out.

Here is a trailer for the movie:

And here is an interview with Li Cunxin:

Online education resources

My mother sent me the information bellow which is from the March 2011 Reader's Digest.


Did you know the following?
  • America’s top professors are putting their courses online.
  • The OpenCourseWare movement took off in the US when MIT began uploading classroom material without charge in 2002.
  • A Google search for free online education turns up over 320 million results.
The following are examples of two free online teachers and the URLs for their classes:
Marian C. Diamond, UC Berkeley, General Human Anatomy: The Human Brain and Muscular System at:
Richard Feyman, Cornell University, Law of Gravitation at:
Below are five of the best collections of free courses:
Academic Earth (
Browse lectures at such schools as Harvard, Stanford, and Yale; post questions and comments; see which lectures get A+ grades from fellow users.
The Einstein Knowledge Network (
Access to complete courses, including downloadable syllabuses and document, across more than 35 categories, from 100-plus university providers.
Khan Academy (
Khan is very wise man lecturing on hundreds of topics. Heavy emphasis on numbers and science. On YouTube, Khan is reaching 300,000 people a month.
Open Culture (
A smart guide to free audio books, language lessons, academic podcasts, classes, and intelligent video sites.
YouTube EDU (
The site’s sprawling academic collection features content from more than 300 college and universities from ten countries in seven languages.

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

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The carnival next week will be hosted at Raising Real Men.

This will be the 302nd edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up -

The 301st Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Home Grown Mommy.

Jennifer starts the carnival with:

Welcome! This is the October 4, 2011 edition of carnival of homeschooling. Even here in Florida, we’re finally into cooler weather and enjoying this beautiful autumn season.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, October 03, 2011

Have you seen Courageous?

My wife and I enjoyed Fireproof

I plan to take Janine to see Courageous in the next week or so.

A benefit to homeschooling - going your own pace

I asked my youngest daughter today what she liked about homeschooling.  She said one of the things she really liked it being able to go her own pace.  At eleven-years-old there are times when she wants to do some of the stuff her older sisters, ages fifteen and seventeen, are doing.  But other times she is happy to do more age appropriate activities. 

For example often she would watched the history videos her sisters were studying.  It was exciting for her to learning the same stuff her sister were learning.  Having older sisters have given her opportunity to stretch.

This process has also extended to our five-year-old son.  When my youngest daughter is doing math sometimes he will want to do school so my daughter will give him simple problems to solve.

I am glad my children can move as fast as they are ready and not have to march to the same beat thirty other children are foced to march.