Friday, December 28, 2012

Please send in a post for the 7th anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling

Next week will be the 7th anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling!!!

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at our blog: Why Homeschool
This will be the 366th 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fun idea: Personalized Cookie-Cutters

This is a fun idea: Maker Mom Builds Cookie-Cutter Empire With 3-D Printers.

Book review: An American Son by Senator Marco Rubio

I was returning some books to the library and looking for something new. I happened to see the autobiography of Marco Rubio: An American Son. I am glad I did. Over the last couple years I’ve heard frequent mention of him. I’ve watched a couple his speeches over the internet. I really enjoyed reading the book and getting to know him better. He writes about four main areas of his life: his personal life, his thoughts on politics, his campaigning and his relationship with God.

Marco starts the book by introducing us to his ancestors. He tells us about his grandparents and then parents. How they struggled and how eventually his family moved to America in the late 1950s. He writes about his childhood. His gives us the backdrop of life in Cuba and Florida. I learned a bit of history.

Marco frequently shares his thoughts on politics. He tells us what he thinks the role of government is. He comes across as a very principled person. He felt drawn to politics largely because of the influence of one of his grandfathers who lived with him when he was growing up. This resolve deepens after Obama was elected president.

Marco is a young man, in his early 40s. He has only held a few political offices. He writes about how he ran for a few offices and what he accomplished in each office. The last quarter or so of the book is about his run for US Senator. The race was a nail bitter. When he first started it seemed like he didn’t have a chance against the older Charlie Crist who had the support of the state Republican Party. Marco shared his vision and his concern about the direction government was heading. As more and more people supported him it became clear he was going to win the Republican nomination and so Charlie Crist ran as an independent. Marco tells us about all the ups and downs of almost two years of running for US Senate.

This is not the story of a super-human who makes no mistakes. Marco admit to some of his personal weaknesses. He explains the lessons he has learned and how he tries to do better.

If you want to know more about Marco Rubio, this is a good book to read. It is also hard to put down. I asked my 18-year-old daughter to read it the morning after Christmas. She finished it that day.

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

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at No Fighting, No Biting!

Katherine starts the carnival with:

Welcome to the last homeschool carnival of 2012! The season of Christmas is a time of kindness, love, joy, and being grateful. One of the gifts that makes us the most grateful is homeschooling, because it helps increase kindness, love, and joy. Our family wishes yours peace and much success in the coming year.

This is our first Christmas on our farm in Maine and for the first time we went out into the woods and chopped down a tree instead of buying one from a lot. Actually Tim sawed a 30 foot tall tree down and cut the top out for our Christmas tree. It may look a little Charlie Brownish, but just as I was so proud at Thanksgiving that some of the ingredients for the pumpkin pie, the stuffing, and the mashed potatoes came from our own garden, I am proud that our tree came from our own land.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

A sad sign of our times

A British survey found A 'dad' is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children

Hat tip: Instapundit

Homeschooling to avoid school shootings isn't the best reason for homeschooling

Several news stations are reporting an increase in interest about homeschooling after the tragic deaths in the Connecticut elementary school. Fox 5 from San Diego reports that a San Diego online homeschool academy is seeing a double in the number of inquiries into homeschooling. Likewise a virtual academy in Oklahoma has seen a dramatic increase in phone calls. In Arizona, the Maricopa County superintendent reports that so far they have seen only a slight increase of parents considering homeschooling. There are many other articles reporting on the increase interest because of the deaths in the Newton school.

Dramatic events can produce strong emotions which can side track a thoughtful analysis of the real risks.  To put this in perspective deaths to school shootings over the last decade are on the average about 26 each year in the United States.  This works out to one child out of every two million children.  While the death of any child is a tragedy, children have almost as much of a chance of being killed by lighting as being shot by a crazy or evil maniac.

There are so many other good reasons for homeschooling.  To avoid a possible school shooting is, in my opinion, not a good reason.

Here are a few reasons we’ve written about over the years:

So children can retain their love for learning.

To avoid indoctrination - Government schools have become a target of many groups pushing their agendas.

Public schools are not accountable to the parents.

To make sure your children read good books instead of trash.

To protect your daughters.

To escape the crazy homework load.

So families have more time together.

Because students can graduate from highschool and not even know how to read.

To avoid bullies - both students and teachers.

There are many, many more reasons to homeschool.

I do hope that because of the shooting many parents will investigate homeschooling and come to see the real benefit of homeschooling.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Will school violence encourage more to homeschool?

Laura Grace Weldon writes about How School violence Led Us To Homeschooling.  Her column starts with:

We became homeschoolers suddenly. One morning our oldest son, a freshman in an award-winning suburban high school, called home right before the first class of the day. The teen who’d been harassing him had just showed him a gun, telling him he wouldn’t live through the school day. I was home, babysitting an infant. Without the baby’s car seat I couldn’t even drive there to get him.

“Get out now,” I said. “Run home.”

I would love to know if the recent school shooting prompts a lot more parents to pull their children from government schools.

Hat tip:  Natalie Winningham

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: No Fighting, No Biting!

This will be the 365th 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Fun thought about public education

Campaign for Liberty posted this on Facebook:

"One doesn't have to look at current statistics to see the failure of the educational system in this country. Just listen to a few of its graduates speaking in Congress."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Good, The Bad, the Ugly

Mama Squirrel is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Dewey's Treehouse.

She starts the carnival with:

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling #364: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

For some people it's been a week of holidays, or holiday preparations (or even summer vacation, for those Down Under). For others it has been a struggle to find seasonal beauty amidst terrible ugliness and grief. The posts received reflect both ends of the spectrum.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 17, 2012

An update from a homeschool graduate

Here is an update from my oldest daughter:

Hi, I’m the eldest. I’m the one now in college. Dad asked me to write a homeschool post today.

One of the things I like most about homeschooling is the freedom, freedom to arrange my schedule how I want or freedom to take vacations in the middle of the year.

Because my sisters and I were/are homeschooled we have a monopoly on babysitting, house cleaning, and other chores that people hire kids for. Through high school I would watch kids during the hours when other kids where in school.

Now in college I have tried to arrange my classes to continue working. All my classes are in the morning allowing me to house clean, babysit, and do other jobs during the afternoon. This has allowed me to work for several people weekly and others when they need a babysitter.

Unfortunately college is not as accommodating as homeschooling is in regards to vacations.

In years past we could pack up our school work get on a plane and be gone for weeks. One year we went back East for a month staying in Boston one week, Virginia the next. It was really interesting we visited museums and spent several days at Colonial Williamsburg.

Homeschooling is really great and allows you to control your learning experience.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Dewey's Treehouse.

This will be the 364th 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Good suggestions on how to deal with stress

The Christmas season can often be stressful, very stressful.

My sister-in-law posted on Facebook a link to a Hardvard Business Review post on Nine Ways Successful People Defeat Stress.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book review: They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

Most of the Agatha Christie stories I’ve read are murder mysteries.  Someone gets killed early in the story and then the race is on to see if our heroes can gather the clues and unmask the villain. 

They Came to Baghdad is more like a James Bond spy thriller.  Great events are happening.  The reader knows a little but we’re larger in the dark at first.  Very few people are exactly as they seem.  It is about a third of the way through the book before someone dies. 

This is a fun book.  As always Agatha Christie does a great job building characters, providing enough clues that the reader knows some of what is going on, but we don’t have the whole story so there is suspense on just what is going on and will the villains be unmasked.

If you enjoy Agatha Christie and are willing to try something other than the typical murder myster, give this book a try.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - How'd it get to be December?

Christine is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Our Curious Home.

She starts the carnival with:

Co-op ended, we had a great Thanksgiving, and wow, it’s December. So I thought I’d look at our old photos of December for a memory jogger as to what came up other years, the carnival needed illustrating anyway.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Friday, December 07, 2012

Movie review: Courageous

Courageous is a wonderful story about the importance of fathers. The movie addresses the question of “What does it mean to be a father?” This is an important question in our society today when a growing number of children are disconnected from their fathers. The movie shows us some of the harm that comes when fathers don’t take their role seriously and we’re reminded of the great strength good fathers can give their children.

The movie focuses on five men. Four of them work together in the local police department. The fifth man gets adopted by the group. We watch them as they struggle to meet life's challenges. One of them has a wakeup call which shakes him to his core. He decides to be a better father based on what the Bible teaches and asks the other four to hold him accountable. They decide to join him.

My family loves this movie. It is very well done. We watch fairly often; when it isn’t loaned out.

If you like good wholesome movies with a powerful message then give this movie a try.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Do you homeschool? Did you know you are a radical?

Kevin Williamson makes some interesting points in The Last Radicals.  His columns starts with:

There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.

One of the points Kevin drives home is that by their very nature homeschoolers don't feel like they need bureaucrats.  We are radicals compared to most of society.

As a group homeschoolers are very strong willed, especially any that have homeschooled for more than a couple years.  We have to be.  The vast majority of society is going one way and we are marching to a different drum.  We are constantly being pushed and pulled in a hundreds of subtle and not so subtle ways.

Whatever our reason(s) we reject the status quo.  We are fighting to go against the stream.  We've pulled our children from public schools and decided to take ownership of the educational process of our children.  I doubt very few of us choose homeschooling with the intent of challenging society, but we are radicals as we ignore government schools.

Maybe I have more in common with John Adams than I realized.

Book review: A Call To Arms by Alan Dean Foster

A Call To Arms by Alan Dean Foster is a favorite of mine.  I read it about once a year.  The story isn’t deep or profound, but it is a fun read.  This is the first book in a group of three.

The setting for this book is a universe where two groups of aliens have been fighting for thousands of years.  One group is led by a race (the Amplitur) which has the ability to mentally control most other aliens.  The Amplitur want everyone to join them, meaning being ruled by the Amplitur, for a “Grand and Glorious” purpose.  They are opposed by a second group of aliens, The Weave.   As civilized races no one in either organization likes to fight.  Some races are completely incapable of fighting, as they become paralyzed when considering taking another being’s life.

The Weave stumbles across Earth.  They encounter Will Dulac, a New Orleans composer.  As Will learns about the war he tries to convince The Weave to leave humans alone.  The Weave learns that not only do many humans like to fight, but they are very, very good at it.

If you enjoy a good story in a science fiction setting, give this a try.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Good news for Netflix users

We enjoy many Disney classics. This is good new for our family:  Netflix signs exclusive licensing deal with Disney.  The reporter writes:

Netflix told me a large batch of Disney movies will begin rolling out to Netflix users today and will presumably continue for the next several weeks. The company does identify some of the films in a recent blog post about the deal. (More titles, the company said, will be listed in future company blog posts.)

I expect we'll be watching a lot of Disney movies over the next couple months.

Reminder:Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Our Curious Home.

This will be the 363rd 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - a Christmas Special

Lisa is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at The HomeSpun Life.

She starts the the carnival with:

I’m still somewhat new to the community we moved to in February, so this is our first Christmas here and I don’t know enough people to have a Christmas party. So, I’m having a cyber Christmas celebration right here through the Carnival of Homeschooling. You won’t have to stand in lines at 3 am in the morning either! You can grab the original button or (use the one below) to put in your posts to invite your readers to join us. Please feel free to use the social media buttons to share through your favorite networks.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 03, 2012

Cool tool; a bit out of my price range

This is $26,000:

Hat tip: TechCrunch

A homeschooling success story

My sister’s friend designed a nice outdoor nativity.  She contracted with a company to build the pieces.  Then she and my sister package them up and ship the nativity sets via Federal Express.  Orders have been high the last couple weeks, almost double where they were last year.  But storms have been pounding us.  Much of the packaging takes place in their front yard, so with all the rain few packages have been shipped the last couple days.

Over the weekend my sister asked if my daughters would be interested in helping.  They were!  My second daughter asked how many people could they use.  My sister said they could keep seven or eight people busy, so my daughter put out the word last night to some homeschool friends.  A couple youth were available today and my wife picked them up on the way over. 

I’m pleased that my daughter took the initiative to gather additional help.  I teased her that as an agent she should have taken a small cut of the pay, but the kind young lady she is she declined.  (I’m sure part of it was that she was happy to be making money while hanging out with her friends.)

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is it allows us the flexibility to change our schedule and not be forced to keep our children in a rigid schedule determined by others.

Yeah for homeschooling!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Amazing what they are doing with Lego Mindstorms these days

CubeStormer II "The Ultimate Cube Solver" was built with four "LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits (with some additional LEGO pieces) and a Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone:"

Pretty amazing!

Book review: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

Lois McMaster Bujold has hit home run after home run with her stories about Miles Vorkosigan.  Miles is a short man whose body doesn’t allow him to fight because of brittle bones.  Miles grew up in a warrior focused culture and he quickly learned to use his brain.  Ivan Vorpatril, a cousin, was a good foil for Miles.  Ivan would inevitably do something stupid, sometimes something really stupid, and Miles would save the day.  I came to think of Ivan’s full name being “Ivan the idiot.”

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is a novel about Ivan.  The story is fair to the character we’ve gotten to know over the years and while Ivan is not near as clever as Miles, he does have some redeeming points.  The book starts off with Ivan recusing two damsels in distress.  Ivan is at Komarran when he encounters these women.  He takes them back to Barrayar where he hopes they’ll be safe, but the danger and intrigue only ratchet up a level or two. 

On Barrayar we meet many of our favorite characters, but Ivan is always center stage.  It was fun to see the Emperor, Miles, Aral and so on, while the story stayed focused on Ivan’s adventure.

Maybe Lois McMasters Bujold is going branch out a bit more and write about some of the other characters in the Vorkosigan universe.  I would love to ready another story about Mile’s brother(clone) Mark. 

If you have enjoyed previous Miles Vorkosigan stories I’m sure you will like this novel.  If you haven’t read any Miles Vorkosigan stories, start with The Warrior’s Apprentice, work through the full series, and then read Captain Vorpatil’s Alliance.

I wonder if they'll start paying children to ask for a light?

Well done anti-smoking ad:

Life Raft

Since I post occasionally about our challenges in the Foster Care system, I thought I would explain about the "life raft."

Each family has its own life raft. Our family has a little extra room in our raft. Around us in the water are other rafts. Some of full and overflowing other are rather empty. Some rafts on not too sea worthy. Some people are floating alone in the water or in rafts on the verge of sinking.

So we take children from a sinking raft into our raft. We have to be careful. We don't want to do anything that jeopardizes the safety of those already in our life raft. However, it is ok if those in our raft become a little uncomfortable as long as our raft is still sound and our passengers are safe.

Now, once our little visitor is in our raft, there still is the problem of the rest of his family who is in a sinking raft. For many of them, it is all they know.  Sinking boats and drowning are just the way things are. Some really want to fix their raft, but it is very hard because they have never seen it done or even seen a raft in good repair.

Regardless of which raft the child rides in, there is some injury involved in the process. No matter how well intentioned, getting yanked out of a sinking boat or being pulled back into a repaired boat hurts. Most of the time these injuries will heal with time as long as the boat is sound enough and someone is paddling for the shore.

Now it is easy to assume that the child would be better off in the bigger, stronger boat. Sometimes that is true. However, often a "good enough" family boat can be better for the child than bigger, sturdier rescue vessel. The trauma of the rescue and the loss of their own raft can outweigh the benefits of being rescued.

As foster parents, our first goal is not only to rescue a child, but an entire family. We do this by supporting the parent-child relationship. Sometimes, when the circumstances are right, we can take this a step further by becoming their friend and giving their family the chance to see how our family functions. 

When, despite our and their best efforts, the sinking raft is not repairable, we try to rescue a child who we will hopefully heal from the loss and find a permanent spot in a new raft. 

I think they should start with the teachers first

There has been a push recently to track individual students while they are at school.  Schools’ Tracking Devices Causes Controversy reports on a school in Austin, Texas which has all students carrying ID cards with an embbed microchip.  The school tracks them every step they take at school.

The article explains:

Starting this fall, all students at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School are required to carry identification cards embedded with a microchip. They are tracked by the dozens of electronic readers installed in the schools’ ceiling panels.

Northside has been testing a “radio frequency identification” tracking system for the two schools to increase attendance in order to secure more state funding, officials have said. The program, which kicked off at the beginning of this school year, eventually could be used at all of Northside’s 112 campuses, officials have said. The district is the fourth largest in Texas with more than 97,000 students.

The justification is the ID cards would enable the schools to get more money because they'll be able to document that the children are at school.

I think the teachers should also be required to carry an ID card.  I wonder how many would revolt if the school district even floated this as an option.

Sometimes the best thing to do with a broken system is to simply walk away. 

I hope more parents decide to homeschool their children and not send them to government schools.

Educational sports

After two decades, Dean Kamen, the mascot of invention, is still touting educational sports is a good article about the motivation behind creating For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST):

In a keynote speech before a thousand chip industry executives, Kamen said he came up with the idea for FIRST out of frustration in 1989. He looked around at American society and was frustrated at how a whole generation of kids were growing up with warped perceptions, shaped by mass media, that made kids obsessed with professional sports athletes and Hollywood stars. And smart kids were branded as socially inept nerds.

“I looked at a culture that seemed to be going astray,” he said. “You can’t find a kid today who can tell you who won the Nobel prize in medicine. We don’t have an education problem. We have a culture problem.”

Kamen liked sports, but as a pastime, not an obsession. America came of age with great inventors like Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers, but, he said, “It didn’t seem like that was the core of the culture anymore.”

Instead of fighting it, Kamen embraced the idea of using competitive sports to get kids to realize that science and engineering could be fun. He shrugged off concerns that it might put too much pressure on kids. He started FIRST, and got the first competition going in 1992.

My father is a FIRST Lego League coach for several teams.  If you have children with an interest in science, or even if they aren't interested, check it out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An easy way to read a classic book

One of the challenges most people have is finding time.  There are millions of demands on our time from people, companies, TV shows, books and so on. 

I want to read more books, but I struggle making the time..  I go through spurts where I'll read a few in a couple days and then nothing for weeks. 

A trick I've found which helps me is DailyLit.  You can sign up for regular emails.  Snippets of a book will arrive via email.  It is much easier to read a book in small bite sizes.  This is how I finally got around to reading Anna Karenina.

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: The HomeSpun Life.

This will be the 362nd 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

This week's Homeschool Showcase is up

The latest Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Good thought about your life

In our society it is easy to live someone else's life:

It's important to run not on the fast track, but on your track.  Pretend you have only six months to live.  Make three lists: the things you have to do, want to do, and neither have to do nor want to do.  Then, for the rest of your life, forget everything in the third category.
 - Robert S. Eliot and Dennis Breo

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Into space for my father, maybe to Mars for my son

We talk a lot about space in my family.  One of my father's dreams is to be able to ride into space.  At the rate private rocket companies are going I think he will make it.  And because we frequently talk about the latest news on space my six-year-old son has said he wants to be a space man.

The possibility of this just got stronger for me today.

Elon Musk has a goal to help start a colony on Mars.  This caught my eye:

The first group of adventurers would include fewer than 10 people, with each paying $500,000 for the ride on a reusable rocket fueled by liquid oxygen and methane.

If the first group or two can make a viable go of it, and if the price really is in that range, I think we'll see a migration similar to the Pligrims and Puritans.  And maybe my son will be one of them.

Another reason to homeschool - to protect your boys from biased teachers

This is interesting.  A recent study in the UK found that Female Teachers Give Male Pupils Lower Marks:

Female teachers mark male pupils more harshly than they do their female students, research has claimed.

Additionally, girls tend to believe male teachers will look upon them more favourably than female teaching staff, but men treat all students the same, regardless of gender.

The study, released on Thursday, told 1,200 students in 29 schools to place financial bets on who would give them higher grades: external examiners or their teacher.

Dr. Helen suggests this may be one of the reasons why fewer men are going to college:

What they leave out of the equation is that boys and men are discriminated against–giving them little incentive to try.

Suzanne Venker sees this probelm as a larger, destructive trend:

To say gender relations have changed dramatically is an understatement. Ever since the sexual revolution, there has been a profound overhaul in the way men and women interact. Men haven’t changed much – they had no revolution that demanded it – but women have changed dramatically.

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.

If you have sons, one of the best things you may be able to do for them is to homeschool them, protecting them from a hostile school environment.

Hat tip: Instapundit and Rob Long

Learning how to program

As a software engineer I think programming is a great skill for everyone to have.  I like this article: So you want to be a programmer, huh? Here are 27 ways to learn online.

If you do want to learn programming, I strongly encourage you to read Code Complete by Steve McConnell.  Steve does a great job of reporting on the research about writing code.  For example he spends a whole chapter just on the naming of variables.

Salman Khan's crusade to change the world of education

Khan Academy is one of the organizations looking at making seismic changes in education.  Salman Khan sees the cost of education dropping to zero.

Technology Review has a good interview with Salman Khan.  Salman has just published a book titled The One World School House: Education Reimagined.  As part of the Q&A with Salman Khan explains where he sees the world of education going:

Here’s what I think it could look like in five years: the learning side will be free, but if and when you want to prove what you know, and get a credential, you would go to a proctoring center [for an exam]. And that would cost something. Let’s say it costs $100 to administer that exam. I could see charging $150 for it. And then you have a $50 margin that you can reinvest on the free-learning side.
I think that is consistent with the mission. You are taking the cost of the credential down from thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars. And the [software] system would tell them they are ready for it. So no paying tuition for community college and then dropping out, or even finishing the whole thing and saying “Oh, I’m $20,000 in debt and what did I get out of it?”
Now you are like, “Look, there is this micro-credential in basic accounting I can get for $150, and I basically know I am going to pass before I invest that money.” That would be a huge positive for the consumers of education, and it could pay the bills on the learning side.

It was interesting to learn Salman has made over 3000 videos which have been viewed 240 million times.  Khan Academy is getting over six million unique users each month of which there are a couple hundred thousand hard core users.
If you would like to know more, go check out the interview.

Hat tip: Instapundit

This week's carnival is up: No two are alike

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Notes from a Homeschool Mom.

The carnival starts with:

Whenever I host a Carnival of Homeschooling, I read the posts and they come in and try to see how they may tie in together- to see if a theme may emerge. This time I found less similarities than in previous issues. To me, this shows how homeschooling has evolved since I began 10 long years ago. Back then, every homeschooler I met was an Evangelical Christian, and homeschooling mostly for religious reasons. This made me stand out because while I am Christian, I wouldn't call myself Evangelical, and I was homeschooling out of what I felt was necessity.

Personally, I find comfort in the diversity that has evolved in the homeschooling community, and would like to celebrate in this edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Book review: Death in the Clouds: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie

I read Death in the Air by Agatha Christie years ago.  I remembered this after reading the first couple pages.  Even remembering the basic plot I enjoyed rereading the book.  I recalled who committed the murder and this second time through I really examined the clues.  The book was still enjoyable.

Hercule Poirot again “happens” to be close to a murder.  (One of the people in the book makes a funny comment about how people die because Hercule travels.)  At first it seems like Madame Giselle may have died by natural causes, but Hercule quickly determines that it was murder.   It appears she was poisoned by a dart from a South American blow-gun. 

There are thirteen people in the section of the plane of the murder.  Hercule suspects early who committed the murder, but he has to gather clues.  He interviews all the passengers and the two air attendants.  For a while it seemed like no one had motive, but Hercule is able to find four people could have had motive.  He continues to dig into Madame Giselle’s past and finally learns enough to prove who committed the murder.

It was a satisfying conclusion.

If you have enjoyed other Agatha Christie’s mysteries I’m sure you will enjoy this one.  And if you are new to Agatha Christie, this is a good place to start.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My homeschooling day

I have a niece who is coming tomorrow evening to visit for a couple days.  We’re planning a few trips.  Since I have several days of vacation I’m taking this whole week off.  I’m hoping to catch up on several ignored chores.  So far I’ve only marked off two from my list.

Rarely do I interact much with my children as they do their school work.  My younger two daughters are doing their school work on their own.  My oldest daughter spent the morning at a local junior college in some of our classes.

We have a young foster care boy with us.  This morning I took him and our six-year-old son for an hour walk around the neighborhood.  Monday is garbage day so we saw several garbage trucks.  We followed one for a couple blocks as it picked up over a dozen garbage cans.  We watched water flow down a stream.  We talked with a tow truck driver.  He had run a quick trip home.  I asked why he had a sign on the side of the truck which said “No for hire.”  He explained he doesn’t do rescue, he does repositions. 

Janine often takes the younger children to Sky High on Monday afternoons.  The local Sky High has a homeschooler discount on Mondays.  Today I tagged along. 

Our twelve-year-old daughter loves to play dodgeball.  Our six-year-old son’s strategy is to hang out in the back.  He is constantly moving around.  He has trouble throwing the ball hard enough and accurately enough to nail someone on the other side, but on the flip side he is pretty hard to hit.
My son loves to jump up and land on a side trampoline with his spider-man pose.  This is having his hands and feet touching the wall. 

It has been a pleasant day.  It was fun to hang out with the children for a bit, especially to watch the happy faces of the younger two jumping all over the place.

Now it is back to work.

Why do we teach math?

In The Unreasonable Ineffectiveness of Mathematics Education Alex Reinhart attacks the current approach of teaching math in public schools. 

His columns starts with:

In American schools, mathematics is taught as a dark art. Learn these sacred methods and you will become master of the ancient symbols. You must memorize the techniques to our satisfaction or your performance on the state standardized exams will be so poor that they will be forced to lower the passing grades. Never mind the foundational principles, proofs, or derivations – you’ll learn those in due course.

Why? Why do math? Because you’ll need it, that’s why. You’ll use it in your physics classes. And I’m sure I can think of examples of how you’ll use math in “real life”, whatever your chosen career may be. Right? Right. I hear engineers have to know how to solve differential equations, for example, and before you can do differential equations you need to learn logarithms. So get back to chapter 14 and get working.

This is the message we’re giving our children, and it’s no wonder so few students develop an interest in mathematics. Ask any math major: Math isn’t about memorizing some formulas and learning how to factor polynomials. It’s… well, it’s something much deeper. It’s fascinating. But what is it exactly?

He then goes on to explain how much of life is learning the rules and how to work with the rules.

Good column.

Some good thoughts.

The effect of mental stimulation on brain development

Books Change How a Child’s Brain Grows is a good article with a misleading title.  The article is really about what factors seem to encourage brain development in young children. 

Here are a couple key paragraphs:

To investigate, neuroscientist Martha Farah of the University of Pennsylvania and her colleagues recruited 64 children from a low-income background and followed them from birth through to late adolescence. They visited the children’s homes at 4 and 8 years of age to evaluate their environment, noting factors such as the number of books and educational toys in their houses, and how much warmth and support they received from their parents.

More than 10 years after the second home visit, the researchers used MRI to obtain detailed images of the participants’ brains. They found that the level of mental stimulation a child receives in the home at age 4 predicted the thickness of two regions of the cortex in late adolescence, such that more stimulation was associated with a thinner cortex. One region, the lateral inferior temporal gyrus, is involved in complex visual skills such as word recognition.

Home environment at age 8 had a smaller impact on development of these brain regions, whereas other factors, such as the mother’s intelligence and the degree and quality of her care, had no such effect.

The study re-enforces the thought that the first couple years of a child's life are key.

Nice article: The Year I Went to School and Why I Left

Ruthie Gopin, a 16-year-old young lady, wrote a nice article on The Year I Went to School and Why I Left.

She's mostly been homeschooled the last six years, but she decided to try out public school for a year.  She writes about being torn between attending a public school and being homeschooled, and then ultimiately choosing to be homeschooled.

If you have a teenager struggling with doing being sure which type of schooling is right for him, this article may help.

Would you use a Carnival of Homeschooling Facebook page?

The thought occurred to me this weekend that some people would like to follow a Carnival of Homeschooling Facebook.  Each week I could post reminders and the latest carnival. 

Is there any interest?

Which ladder are you on?

We can't just be busy, we have to be heading in the right direction:

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
 - Stephen R. Covey

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The latest edition of "a homeschooling carnival" is up

Brenda is hosting the latest edition of a homeschooling carnival at Garden of Learning.

An important skill to teach our children

I like this:

The art of dealing with people is foremost secret of successful men.  A man's success in handling people is the very yardstick by which the outcome of his life's work is measured.
 - Paul C. Packe

From my Franklin Covey planner.

A definition of study

From Waiting for "Superman"

study - The act of texting, eating and watching TV with an open textbook nearby.

(This isn't how we define study at our house.)

Maybe I'll ask for a 3D printer for Christmas

I've long been fascinated by 3D printers.  Venture Beat reports on Portabee: A $500 3D printer you can finally afford.  I have a friend at work who has a 3D Printer and he is using it to build another 3D Printer.  I'll ask him if the Portabee is worth getting.

3D Printing is an emerging technology.  It has the potential to fundamentally change our lives.  Instead of going to the store to buy stuff, you may be able to print (make) much of what you want at home.

To show an example of where the technology may go here is a BBC report on Printing a bicycle with a 3D printer:

Do you like Lord of the Rings and Role Playing?

Like Darths & Droids, DM of the Rings tells the story of a role playing game using images from the Lord of the Rings movies. 

And again be warn: it will take hours to read through the whole story from the beginning.

A new homeschooling blog carnival

I was looking around in Blog Carnival this morning and came across another blog carnival on homeschooling! 

Liz is the organizer for Great Homeschooling Days

The latest Great Homeschooing Days is at How Do I Home School.

Friday, November 23, 2012

We've learned this lesson as parents

I like this thought:

Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning.
 - George S. Patton

From my Franklin Covey planner.

One of the attacks on higher education

Even with the vast changes in technology colleges and universities operate much the same as they did fifty years ago, but at much higher prices.  The costs have climbed faster than inflation year after year. 

Free Textbooks Spell Disruption for College Publishers explores how the exploding cost of textbooks may be brought into a more rational range. The article starts with:

Ask Ariel Diaz why he's taking on the college textbook industry and he'll tell you, "Quaternions."

Quaternions are a number system used for calculating three-dimensional motion, popular in computer graphics. And Diaz needed a crash course to help him with a consulting gig after his online video platform startup, Youcastr, had failed. He started with Wikipedia and found it was surprisingly good at explaining this complicated mathematics.

Diaz, who still resents how much he'd paid for textbooks in college and graduate school, realized he'd hit on his next business idea. In 2011, he started Boundless Learning, a Boston company that has begun giving away free electronic textbooks covering college subjects like American history, anatomy and physiology, economics, and psychology.

Textbook publishers can change $200 for a book because they have a locked in market.  The students have few other choices.  But there is no reason why the information can't be provided to the students at lower prices.  It will be interesting to see if Ariel Diaz can provide a viable alternative.

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Now that Thanksgiving is over you can send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Notes From A Homeschool Mom.

This will be the 361st 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Fun learning game: Geography Match

My mother sent this link to a Geography Match game. 

It is fairly well done, though the European version sticks an image of Estonia next to England.  That is the only bug I saw.  I sent them an email and hopefully they'll have it fixed soon.

You might play the game yourself a couple times and then ask your children if they can beat your score.

Do you like Star Wars and Role Playing?

My oldest daughter sent me a Darths & Droids.  It is an online "comic."  They are using pictures from the Star Wars movies for the backdrop to a role playing game.  The game is somewhat similar to the plot in the movies, but there are fun differences. 

Be warn - reading starting at the begining and reading all that has been posted will soak up hours of your time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A new Piano Guys' video is up: Lord of The Rings

This is nice:

but I sure wish they'd do the sequel to their first Star Wars video.

Looks like an interesting book: The Year of Learning Dangerously

Some where recently I came across a review of The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings.  It sounds like a good book.  If you have read it, could you leave a comment on what you thought of the book?

Here's an interview with the author:

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - the Gratitude after Stormy Weather edition

Cristina is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Home Spun Juggling.

She starts the carnival with:

The little things I'm thankful for after going through two storms, Hurricane Sandy and Nor'easter Athena....

Cristina breaks the carnival down into these categories:

I'm thankful for light
I'm thankful for batteries
I'm thankful for books and libraries
I'm thankful for ice and snow
I'm thankful for homeschooling/unschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts about homeschooling and blogging

As the organizer for the Carnival of Homeschooling I try to submit a post each week. Since we started the carnival almost seven years ago my wife and I have only missed a handful. I think we skipped around a dozen carnivals. Typically Monday morning I'll start thinking about a post then write it in the afternoon and submit it just before the 6:00 pm PST deadline.

Today I've been thinking a bit about homeschooling and our blog. We just passed our seven year blog anniversary last month and I completely forgot about it until today. Over the years we've shared our thoughts about homeschooling, education and family. In addition we've tossed in random bits from dozens of other topics. We've written hundreds of thousands of words.

Blogging has been educational for me. I've read other people's thoughts about homeschooling. I've struggled with the fire hose of information the internet provides and consistently wished I had more time. I've learned about HTML and some of the technical pieces of information that drive blogs.

Blogging has helped Janine and I be better homeschoolers. We've been a bit more thoughtful about how we homeschool because we have shared our approach, thoughts and challenges on the blog. We've also learned from many other homeschoolers who blog.

It will be interesting to see if blogging is still a major part of the internet in another seven years. I wonder at times if social media like Facebook will drive blogging to dark corners until it is gone like the dinosaurs?

Whatever the medium I'm sure people will continue to use the internet to share their thoughts and insights into homeschooling and to support others in their struggles.

The Parent Rap

This is cute:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Could a college education be free in ten years?

Dan Kadlec shares some interesting thoughts about college education in Why College May Be Totally Free Within 10 Years.  The article starts with:

As few as 10 years from now, quality higher education will be largely free—unless, of course, nothing much has changed. It all depends on whom you believe. But one thing is clear: The debate about financing education grows louder by the day.

Technology had driven down the cost of so many services over the last couple decades.  And services like search and email are free.  I think the cost of higher education can likewise follow Moore's Law, if politics doesn't mess it up.  The current generation may be the last generation to mortgage their future to pay for a Bachelors degree.

A nice outdoor nativity scene

outdoor nativity

My sister's friend has designed this beautiful outdoor nativity scene. They are selling it via the web.

Janine and I enjoy ours. If you are looking for the "perfect" outdoors nativity scene, check it out. (
Here is a video showing how to put it together:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spunky's comment on seceding and public schools

Spunky posted this on Facebook:

"Conservatives: Forget seceding from the union, seceding from the government schools will accomplish the same thing a lot quicker and without a petition."

This is a movement I am already behind!

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Home Spun Juggling.

This will be the 360th 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This week's Homeschool Showcase is up

This week's Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Are we spending enough on public education?

BrainTrack has this nice graphic about How Much Do Nations Spend on Students?

How Much Do Nations Spend on Students?

I knew that the per capita was pretty high, I hadn't realized we are spending over 7% of our GDP on education.

Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs

Some good thoughts about parenting

My cousin posted a link to 10 Things Not to Say to Your Kids. It is worth reading.

Interesting service: Is it down right now?

Sitemeter is a useful service for tracking visits to my blog.  I typically check Sitemeter's page for Why Homeschool a couple times a day. 

Recently Sitemeter was down for a day or two.  I did a Google search to see if there were any details about why it was down or when it would be back up.  I came across Is It  Down Right Now?  It tracks various web sites and reports on if htey are down and if so how long the site has been down.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Light Edition

Misty is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at HomeschoolBytes.

She starts the carnival with:

"With just a few great online homeschool ideas, this edition of the Carnival is a 'light' one."

And she then breaks the carnival into the following sections:

The light of gratitude and Thanksgiving
Lightening your homeschool difficulties
The Light of Example

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, November 12, 2012


A few of the speakers yesterday at church talked about the importance of gratitude.  As Thanksgiving is just around the corner I’m thinking more about some of the things for which I am grateful.  One of the speakers referenced studies which found that people who have an attitude of gratitude tend to be happier, more successful and live longer. 

One of the things I am grateful for is homeschooling. I am grateful we don’t have a conflict in what we teach our children, for example being thankful for their many, many blessings.  Society in general teaches children to want more.  Public schools especially foster an environment of focusing on material things and trying to keep up with the Jones.  It would be hard for Janine and I to spend a couple hours a day trying to help our children recognize how richly blessed we are and then have them spend eight hours a day with their fellow students where they learn to want more and be dissatisfied with what they have. 

For several months this year our family was in the habit of writing thank-you notes each week.  We would step back and think of those who had touched our lives for the better.  With the craziness of the soccer season we got out of the habit.  Now that soccer is over I’ll get my family going again on writing a few thank-you notes.

There is much in the world we can complain about.  There are many problems.  Sometimes I feel a bit like Don Quixote who was driven mad because his society was so decadent.  We should work to make the world a better place.  However, there is also much good in the world and it helps to remember our many blessings.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

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

Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Homeschool Bytes.

This will be the 359th 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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A secret to leadership

There is a lot of truth to this:

The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests.
 - Gail Sheehy

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Do you think Janine would get me a Dragonfly for Christmas?

This looks pretty cool.  I'd love to have one.  My son would also like to have one.  I wonder if Janine would get us one for Christmas?

For more information check out: This Robotic Dragonfly Will Soon Flit Into Your Nightmares For $99.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling i s up - the Vote! Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Sprittibee.

Heather starts the carnival with:

Welcome to the VOTE! Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling! If you are new to ‘blog carnivals’, please read the link at the bottom of this post to find out more. This post has many links that take you off-site to other homeschool blogs where you can read their ‘showcased’ article submission. If you would like to submit an article for a future carnival or host the carnival on your site, please see the bottom section to find out how. Each carnival writer has the option to put their compilation to a ‘theme’ if they so choose. Being voting day, I figured it would be good to reflect on the process and the politics of making our voices heard.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, November 05, 2012

A good thought from Walt Disney

I like this:

The difference between winning and losing is frequently not quitting.
 - Walt Disney

From my Franklin Covey planner.

Free online resources for learning American Sign Language

My second daughter is studying American Sign Language.  She has found these web sites helpful:

Learning Sign Language (ASL)

ASL Sign Language Video Dictionary

Good thoughts about education

Waiting for "Superman" had two good thoughts on Facebook this weekend:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlear, and relearn.
 - Alvin Toffler

Education isn't what you learn, it's what you do with what you learn.

How Toastmasters has helped me with our homeschool co-op

When Henry and I first met, he was involved with Toastmasters.  For those of you who are not familiar, Toastmasters International is a public speaking club. After we got married, Henry got busy with other things and dropped out of Toastmasters. A few years ago, Henry joined a toastmasters lunch club at his work.  Occasionally, I would visit the meetings and bring the kids. Mostly I visited as an excuse to eat lunch with Henry.

Last year when Henry changed jobs, he helped reactivate a Toastmasters club at his new job.  Because it was a new club and they needed more members, I joined.

I discovered that Toastmasters has a very structured program of speeches and "roles" involved with public speaking and meeting management.  One of those roles is to be the "Toastmaster."  The Toastmaster prepares the agenda, sends out reminders, and recruits people to fill in open roles, such as timekeeper or grammarian.When I was a guest just visiting Toastmasters meetings, I never paid much attention to the mechanism of running a meeting.  As a member of Toastmasters, I've had my opportunity to act as Toastmaster on a few occasions.

This is the tenth year that I have been part of a homeschool co-op.  We meet once a week and provide a variety of classes and activities.  In years past, we often found ourselves improvising activities or classes because we hadn't really planned it all out in advance.  Since I've been a "Toastmaster" that has changed.

Early in the week, I send out an draft agenda for our Friday co-op meeting.  I borrowed the style from our toastmasters agenda that marks out a time and a person responsible for each agenda item.  I've even included a location so that we have planned out ahead of time which classes is in which room at the church.  I look ahead of time at potential conflicts.  For example, if we are having PE in the gym we can't use the gym for art class, or if we use the gym for art class, we need to plan for PE outside.

Here's last week's co-op agenda:

12:30 - 12:45 pm    Small / Medium / Large Opening Exercises in the sanctuary
                            (Opening Song, Pray, Flag, Rules Reminder )

                            Conducting: Jacob
                            Opening Song: Matiah
                            Opening Prayer: Sophia
                            Flag Cermony: Chase

12:45 - 1 pm        Small / Medium / Large:  Sharing Time Group #5
                           Emily, Deborah, Henry, Madison, Peter

Announce next week’s sharing group:
Sharing Time Group #6: Kayla, Hannah, Samantha, Ian, Lucy

1:00 - 1:30 pm     Small / Medium / Large: Singing Time in the sanctuary - [Jocelyn]

1:30 - 2:30 pm     Smalls:  Lesson in the Nursery [Sarah] 
                          Medium/Large :  Chess Lesson in Multipurpose Room [Henry]
                          Medium/Large:  Picture Puzzle/Sudoko [Janine] in room with the big table                       
2:30 - 3:00 pm   Smalls/Mediums:  PE in the Gym [Cathy]
                        Large: Art Appreciation in the multipurpose room [Tonya] 

3:00 - 3:30 pm    Smalls:  Free play in the nursery [Moms]
                         Medium: Art Appreciation in the multipurpose room [Tonya]
                         Large: PE in the gym [Cathy]

3:30 pm             Clean up

In addition to sending out the email agenda, I print out agendas for the actually meeting.  In the past, we've often not had a hard copy of assignments and had to scramble to look it up on line with someone's iPhone.  Things don't go exactly as planned, but using a more structured agenda has greatly improved our co-op experience.