Monday, July 30, 2012

Computer as the Teacher

I am Vincent Cate, one of Henry's brothers.   I live in Anguilla, a small island in the Caribbean.   The private school here is asking me for nearly 3 times as much money for next year as I paid last year.  I have decided it is time to start homeschooling.

There is no private school for 7th to 12th grades in Anguilla.   A number of parents send their children to the next island at great cost and extra time for the children.   If I can get computers to do most of the teaching I may be able to start a school and get some paying students and make some extra money.   I am wondering if computers can do most of the education for junior high and high school age students, so that one teacher might have 10 or 20 students even when they are at different ages.   My plan is to start with just my two older boys (ages 9 and 11 in Sept) for the fall.   After this, if I think I can handle another 10 kids, and if I can get a school license, then maybe expand in January.

I am a Libertarian atheist.  I don't want a religious education for my kids, nor one that makes it seem like big government is a good thing.

The Calvert School seems very good but when I spoke with them they seemed to strongly believe that humans have to do the teaching, not computers.  I think they are wrong and that computers can be very good teachers and are the future of teaching.

I have been impressed with or had recommended to me the following computer based education.  We are already at the point that students learn much faster with many of these than sitting in a normal class with 10 or 20 other students listening to a teacher.   The software and online videos will keep getting better.
It seems that K12 provides a good general education where the computer does most of the teaching.   My current thinking is that K12 will be our main source  with the others above as extras.   I am looking for any feedback anyone can give.   Does my plan seem reasonable?   Are the above sources ok for a Libertarian atheist?  Are there others you can recommend?

Short videos on Physics

MinutePhysics puts together short two to three minute videos explaining some basic concepts of physics.

Here is their explanation of How far is a second:

Good video about "Are the Poor Getting Poorer"

This is a good video about how income mobility in the United States:

Hat tip: Economic Freedom

Chem Lab Camp Day 5

Continuation from Chem Lab Camp Day 1, Chem Lab Camp Day 2, Chem Lab Camp Day 3, Chem Lab Camp Day 4 and Lab Sciences. 

Day 5 was a fun day at our Do-It-Yourself Chemistry Lab Camp.  The kids got to create the rotten egg smell as part of section III of the CK01A Standard/Honors Home School Chemistry Laboratory Kit by Home Scientist LLC.

My daughter commented to me that the kids didn't get to talk much during lab that day because they were so busy counting the drops of chemicals for each step in the experiments. She was also happy that we kept the garage door open for ventilation.

While there are 14 sections in the kit, the first three are the most time intensive.  We have 4 more days left (20 hours) and we hope to complete the majority of the kit in that time. However, we haven't been rushing it.  We are focusing on quality not quantity of experiments.

We keep you posted as the week progresses.

For more info on our Chem Lab Camp see Day 6.

We are part of the majority

Next month our oldest daughter will be starting full time at a local junior college.  As I wrote earlier, this was a bit hard for us.  I had previously thought that our daughter, like most students, would go away to college.

In Going Away to College This Fall? You’re Now the Exception Brad Tuttle reports that we are part of the new majority:

For American students, heading off to college has traditionally also meant physically going away to college. But now, at a time when college costs are soaring, and when news of young people being saddled with burdensome student loan debt is unavoidable, today’s students are trying to trim college expenses in every way possible. More than half of students, in fact, will be living at home when the fall semester begins—up significantly from the 43% of students who commuted a couple of years ago.

The just-released report from Sallie Mae shows that in a “major shift in spending,” college students themselves are paying a larger percentage of the total amount for their educations lately. Using their savings and income, undergrads spent $2,555 on average for their educations during the last academic year, up from $1,944 the previous year. Parents, by contrast, have been contributing less for their children’s college bills: $5,955 last year, down substantially from $8,752 two years prior. In total, parents footed 37% of college costs via spending or borrowing, compared to 44% of their children’s college expenses four years before. Students themselves account for 30% of the total cost of attendance, up from 24% four years earlier.

The rest of the article is also worth reading.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

The 100th edition of Homeschool Showcase is up

Kris has posted the 100th edition of Homeschool Showcase, at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

TED talk mentions homeschooling

"Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence."

It starts a little slow and diverges slightly into "global warming" during the introduction but overall is a good presentation.

 At 16 minutes 12 seconds, Robinson makes a passing reference to homeschooling.

"I've Got a Book Comin' Out" by Dave Carroll

My wife and I greatly enjoyed Dave Carroll's songs about "United Breaks Guitars."  (Song 1, Song 2 & Song 3)

He has just realease a book called United Breaks Guitars The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media

Appropriately he has a song about the book:

Kind of amazing the influence one person can have on the world.

Friday, July 27, 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 The Common Room.

This will be the 344th 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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chem Lab Camp Day 4

Continuation from Chem Lab Camp Day 1, Chem Lab Camp Day 2, Chem Lab Camp Day 3, and Lab Sciences.

It has been another lovely day of experiments.  We've finished sections I and II and then began section III of the CK01A Standard/Honors Home School Chemistry Laboratory Kit by Home Scientist LLC.  It took us 20 hours of lab time to get this far.  The teacher has allowed the kids to take extra time to explore and repeat steps as needed.

We've had a few technical difficulties.  Even with the extension cord into the kitchen with the kitchen lights off and an extension cord into the outside outlet for the lawn mower, we still blew a fuse.  But, only once.  Also, we had problems with the digital multimeters. The teacher and some of the students brought meters from home that they already owned.  Not one of them worked properly because the meters had been sitting in drawers for some time and needed new batteries.  That took us a day to figure out.

The kids are having a great time.  I'm excited to see how much of the kit we can complete in the 9 days of class (5 hours per day) we've scheduled.

For more info on our Chem Lab Camp see Day 5

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up

The latest Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival at Epi Kardia Home Education.

Nice article about Christopher Paolini becoming an author

How a Homeschooler Became a Best-Selling Author starts:

How did Christopher Paolini, a homeschooler from Montana, become one of the world’s best-selling authors? The story of his remarkable career has appeared in The Writer magazine of May 2012 in the form of an interview and also in an illustrated article in Rolling Stone magazine of March 1, 2012 by freelancer Amanda Fortini. Indeed, if you type in his name in Google search, you’ll find that he has already become a world literary celebrity.

It appears that Christopher, now 28, who still lives with his parents, started writing his first fantasy novel at the age of 15. He got his inspiration from reading J.R.R. Tolkien, E.R. Eddison, and Anne McCaffrey. His family liked the story and decided to publish it themselves as a homeschool family business. It took them a year to prepare the book for publication. The book, Eragon, was published in 2001, when Christopher turned 18.

Living in Montana’s Paradise Valley, the family then spent the next year promoting the book, taking Christopher to libraries, bookstores, and schools around the Western states, building a fan base among young readers. To attract readers, Christopher wore a medieval costume consisting of a red swordsman shirt, black pantaloons, knee-high boots, a black pirate sash, and a black beret. He spent eight hours a day talking to every person who came in the store. Thus, the family was able to sell 10,000 copies of the book. But it was barely enough to pay the family’s bills.

Read the rest of the article to find out how he became famous.

Hat tip: MiaZagora's Homeschool Minutes

"A Homeschooling Carnival" is up

This month's A Homeschooling Carnival is up at Garden of Learning.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chem Lab Camp Day 3

Continuation from Chem Lab Camp Day 1, Chem Lab Camp Day 2, and Lab Sciences.

We are still blowing fuses.  Today, we ended up running one extension cord into the kitchen (with the kitchen lights off) and another outside to the outlet for our electric lawn mower.

We leave the garage door open some of the class time and are getting a little attention from people passing by. My neighbor told me that a squad car cruised past our house a couple of times checking us out.   I got to thinking that we kind of do look like a meth lab. ;)

Things are going so well that we are thinking ahead for next year.  Most of the students in our little camp will be studying physiology/anatomy next year.  We hope to find an equally good lab program for that.

Next: Chem Lab Camp Day 4.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Raising Real Men

Hal starts the carnival with:

“Homeschooling”. To some, the word might conjure up images of un-socialized nerds. To others, it might inspire dreams of perfect students, sitting at the table eagerly learning everything they’re taught and clamoring for more. To most of us, we probably see everything — from the struggles of teaching children of all ages, to the pleasure of watching an older child teaching his sibling. From weariness brought on by bad attitudes and scuffling, to the joy of seeing your children grow strong in the faith, homeschooling parents see it all. Welcome to the July 24 edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling!

Carnival of Homeschooling

People and things

One of my cousins posted this on Facebook:

People were created to be loved.
Things were created to be used.

The reason why the world is in CHAOS,
is because things are being loved,
and people are being used.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chem Lab Camp Day 2

Continuation from Chem Lab Camp Day 1 and Lab Sciences.

Today's lab went very similar to yesterdays. However, we blew two fuses this time. One in the garage and one in the kitchen. We discovered that when we run the extension cord into the kitchen, we need to turn off the kitchen lights. ;)

We have also extended out our time to 5 hours per meeting instead of 4 1/2. When we were in the planning stages, 4 1/2 hours seemed too long. But, now it doesn't seem long enough.

Here's what we have covered so far.

From the Standard/Honors Home School Chemistry Laboratory Kit CK01A Instruction Manual:  

Day 1: 

Note: We reversed #1 and #2. The teacher covered the importance of "Keeping a Lab Notebook" before the students went through the contents of their kits. 

1. Introduction Getting Started
     Kit Contents
     Materials You Provide
     Where to Work
     Laboratory Safety
     Final Words

2. Keeping a Lab Notebook

Note: We began Session I-1 and Session 1-2 and completed them the following day. 

Topic I. Separating Mixtures
     Session I-1: Recrystallization
     Session I-2: Chromatography

Day 2:

Note: We completed Session I-1 and Session 1-2 and the students wrote a lab report on the results.

Topic I. Separating Mixtures
     Session I-1: Recrystallization
     Session I-2: Chromatography

Topic II. Solubility and Solutions Session
     II-1: Solubility as a Function of Temperature

Next: Chem Lab Camp Day 3

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chem Lab Camp Day 1

As I mentioned in Lab Sciences, providing chemistry lab experience is a bit of a challenge for homeschoolers like us.

Today, was the first day of my Do-it-yourself Chemistry Lab Camp.  We got off to a good start.  We have 12 homeschool high school students meeting in my one car garage.

The kids did well and had a good time.  I had been a little worried that 4.5 hours was going to be too much at one sitting.  It helped that we had a master teacher and a short 15 minute break with snacks in the middle.

We really like the lab kit,CK01A Standard/Honors Home School Chemistry Laboratory Kit by Home Scientist LLC.  When we ordered 7 kits, they threw in extra goggles because they correctly assumed were were doing a co-op class. 

The only real problem we had was the circuit breaker.  The outlet on the ceiling for the garage door couldn't handle the two hot plates, hair dryer and desk lamp.  We ended up running an extension cord into the kitchen. 

And speaking of kitchens, the moms who stayed hung out and discussed politics while I cleaned my beautifully remodeled kitchen.

I'm also really glad we kept our old refrigerator in the laundry room.   It is a great place to store today's experiments on recrystallization.

For more info on our Chem Lab Camp see Day 2.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Online college classes can be just as effective

The post New Study: Online Classes Just as Good starts with:

On Tuesday Via Meadia reported that the Coursera program for online education has just expanded its offerings. Along with programs like MIT’s EdX and Stanford’s Udacity, Coursera offers lectures from professors presented in video format, supplemented by online coursework and reading materials. Other institutions are looking to offer hybrid coursework, in which online classes are supplemented by semi-regular meetings with professors or tutors of some sort, to minimize the time required of professional staff while retaining the advantage of face time with an instructor.

Yet for all the fanfare, many people, particularly professors and students, are not yet convinced. Can a set of online videos and computer programs really be as effective as actual professors? According to a new and purportedly rigorous study comparing test results of students taking the same course online and in person, the answer may be yes. The Wall Street Journal reports:

After quoting from the WSJ article the post continues with another interesting thought:

This also serves as a reminder that even though the American university system sometimes seems full of obstructionists and slow to move, it’s actually moving much faster than most of its rivals overseas. What’s more, these changes tend to accelerate once they get under way.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

US Public schools are so bad some parents send their children overseas

To some Africans in U.S., children’s education is best left to the homeland is an interesting article.  It starts with:

Twelve-year-old Oladimeji Elujoba kept getting into fights at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown. Every time the teacher took attendance in the morning, she would stumble over his polysyllabic name and inadvertently elicit jeers and giggles from his classmates.

“I’m not the kind of person to watch people laugh at me,” Elujoba, now 17, says matter-of-factly.

And so he fought. He fought so much he got in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, after-school detentions. His parents, Ruth and Olalekan Elujoba, worried.

“One of the teachers in the middle school called me,” Olalekan Elujoba recalls. “They had suspended him and said that if I don’t take any action on this, I will spoil the boy’s future. I couldn’t sleep that night.”

Within a few weeks, Olalekan Elujoba had decided what to do. His two sons, Oladimeji and Kunle, later followed by his daughter, Comfort, would go to boarding school.

I hope more parents find out about the option of homeschooling.  It would be a lot cheaper than sending your children to a boarding school in another country, and better for the family.

Hat tip: Instapundit

The latest Homeschool Showcase is up

Homeschool Showcase #99 is up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

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 at Raising Real Men

This will be the 343rd 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

Anyone used's SAT and/or ACT Study Guides? has an online SAT Study Guide and an online ACT Study Guide.

I played around with them for a few minutes.  They seemed fairly helpful.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Carnival of Homeschool: Week 342 - The Change Edition

Our family has experienced a lot of changes this year.  The first six months have been pretty packed. For example, our oldest will soon be 18 years old and will "graduated" from Cate Academy.  Our youngest will begin Kindergarten at Cate Academy. 

This spring we moved out of our home for three months while our house underwent a major remodel. (Even two months later I’m still reaching for the light switches where they used to be.) 

I took my son on his first Fathers and Sons camp out. 

My work has had some major changes (long story, don't ask) in the first six months of 2012. 

Homeschoolers are used to change. We are frequently in a state of flux. Our plans may change from moment to moment.  So, sit back and enjoy the show while we look at some of the "changes" in this week's Carnival of Homeschooling.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Basic Change

Life is often changing, sometimes in unexpected ways.  Mystie reminds us in Real Life that interruptions are the point, from Simply Convivial.

Lisa provides us with a glimpse into A day in the life of Homeschool Circus.  This was their first official day of school; see how they organized (schedule) the day and what they did when a major curriculum derailment hit!  Posted at: Homeschool Circus.

Summer changes

Sometimes people think that learning stops when school is out for the summer.  In When Does Learning Stop? Chris reminds us that we learn every day and through that learning we expand our horizons. It is important to help our children experience the joy of learning in different ways so that they will be energized with the quest!  Posted at:  Home School vs. Public School.

Crafting With Kids: Summer Tie-Dye!  shows off a families a tie dye extravaganza just before Independence Day. They had fun, and the shirts were the talk of the neighborhood as they dried on hangers from the dogwood in front of the house.  Posted at:  So Crafty.

Dave shares a recent fun family outing.  They took a hike.  Posted at: Home School Dad.

Advice for Change

Michelle has 10 Money-Saving Homeschool Tips.  My family is a strong believer in her first tip.  Posted at: The Holistic Homeschooler.

After ten years of homeschooling, Kris shares lessons she has learned in 10 Homeschooling Do’s and Don’ts.  Posted at: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Sheila reminds us that We are a work in progress, not perfection.  In all that we do, we should not allow our imperfections to hinder us from hospitality.  Posted at: littleprairiehomeschool.

Paula has some tips on Homeschooling While Moving.  She shares what they’ve done to prepare for a move.  Posted at: Average Housewife.

In Home Spun Vignette #20 Cristina asks answers the questions “Which is more important? A clean house or busy, curious kids?” Posted at: Home Spun Juggling.

Reasons for Change

Homeschooling is perfect for a creative child for so many reasons.  Jimmie and her daughter came up with their Top Ten Reasons to Homeschool a Creative Child.  Posted at: Jimmie’s Collage.

Jan responds to the question: So, Why Do You Homeschool Anyway???  Posted at:  Encouraging Moms Who Homeschool.

From South Africa, Nadene explains Why would a school teacher homeschool?, and what made her decide on this journey.  Posted at: Practical Pages.

How to change

Regena explains that Sensory Boxes offer a terrific, hands-on way to explore a large variety of subjects.  They are generally set up to stimulate various senses; work large and fine motor skills; and teach patterning, sequencing, counting, colors, and so forth.  Posted at: Green Apple’s Blush.

Jimmie provides step by step directions for Getting Started with Notebooking.  Posted at: Homegrown Learners.

Anticipating changes

In Using block scheduling in Homeschooling,  Jamie writes about changing up how they homeschool. Block scheduling is a new old trick to use!  Posted at: MomSchool.

And for our humble entry to the carnival, Janine writes about her Summer Reading and reflects on lessons about homeschooling she’s learned over the last thirteen years and her goals for the next year.  Posted at: Why Homeschool.

In Thinking about College and Career Choices, Annie Kate reminds us that planning for the future is not only about a career; it’s about a whole life. Traditional career planning often forgets that simple but crucial fact.  Posted at: Tea Time with Annie Kate.

In Playing Store – Learning to Budget, Karyn provides a fun and simple way to teach children about money and budgeting using play money and play food.  Posted at: Teach Beside Me.

Learning from Change

Susan shares 10 Reasons to be Excited for School her young children came up with.  Posted at: Hopping to It.

In Looking Back and Looking Ahead, Lisa reflects on their first year of implementing the Charlotte Mason methods with some thoughts from here children as well.  Posted at: Olive Plants All Around My Table.

In Nine Disadvantages of Homeschooling, Karen talks about some things that tend to be "negative" about they homeschooling experience.  Posted at: Homeschool Atheist Momma.

Things that don’t change

Faith in God is an unchanging cornerstone for many homeschoolers.

In A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology, Mrs. White reminds us that mothers of old times would spend hours reading the Bible to their children.  Posted at The Legacy of Home.

Nebby shares her thoughts on What Does the Bible Say about Educating Children.  (Part 1; Part 2) Posted at: Letters from Nebby.

Phyllis has a thoughtful post about developing habits in our children in What Will Your Children Find You Doing?  Phyllis’ children will find her reading the scriptures.  Posted at: Proclaiming God's Faithfulness.

Books will always be important to homeschoolers.

Alasandra provides us with a short Book Review of Death Run by Jack Higgns, posted at Alasandra’s Homeschool Blog.

Books are an important part of any homeschooler’s diet.  Children’s minds grew and change as they devour new thoughts and stories.  Mindy has some Great Ways to Find Affordable Books, posted at DenSchool.

For generations, little boys have been making paper airplanes.  

Dave shares videos of his son showing How to Make A Paper Airplane.  Posted at: Dave Out Loud.

Carnival of Homeschooling

If you have enjoyed this carnival, please spread the word. Please mention the carnival on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other appropriate places. You can also help promote the carnival by adding the carnival images. Learn how by going here.

Go here for the archives of previous carnivals.

Next week the carnival will be held at Raising Real Men.

If you are interested in submitting a post for a future carnival, click here for information.

We thank everyone who has helped out. Thank you to all the participants in this carnival. And thanks to all those who help promote the Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling

Summer Reading

Summer is a great time to research and reading before my life gets crazy/busy in the fall.  Right now I'm reading 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy.  So far I like it a lot. However, I'm reading it on my iPhone so the graphs are too tiny to read.  I will need to get a hard copy to see what I'm missing.

Here's a great quote from the book:

It doesn't take long to figure out that veteran homeschoolers are, overall, very independent and strong-minded parents.  Chances are you could poll half a dozen such moms and discover they have half a dozen different ways they homeschool.  There is no single right way to homeschool that everyone figures out after a few years.
It sure would be easier if there was "a single right way to homeschhool."  Over the last 13 years, I've ebbed and flowed back and forth between Classic and Unschooling with some Montessori thrown in for flavor.  When I'm in a Classic mode, I feel guilty for missing out on the richness that comes from spontaneous discovery learning more typical of unschooling.  When I'm in a Unschooling phase, I feel guilty that we are not doing enough math worksheets and structured lessons.

Each year, about this time, I start making plans so that this year will be different.  I think to my delusional self, "This year, I'm going to have the perfect curriculum."  (I know this is a fantasy, but it is nice while it lasts).

I say this is delusional because there is no perfect curriculum or perfect children for that matter either.  Things have been good and things have been good enough, but that doesn't stop me from tweaking things

I don't want to give the wrong impression either.  My kids have done well in their academic studies, just not has well as my fantasies (full ride scholarship to an Ivy League School). In the end, I'm happy with who they are becoming.

I have one student leaving our "homeschool" and one student entering. I have to admit that kindergarten is not my favorite stage. My soon to be kindergartener is cut from a different cloth and is a boy. I'm expecting that many of the things I used with his three older sisters are not going to work. Hopefully, this book will give me some good suggestions on how to navigate in my new reality.

Friday, July 13, 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 at our blog Why Homeschool.

This will be the 342nd edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission. It appears Blog Carnival is broken again so please email your entry directly to

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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Home Grown Mommy.

The carnival starts with:

I always get such great input when going through the Carnival of Homeschooling – and even more so when I have the priviledge of hosting the Carnival!
Read on to add some more wonderful tools to your pile!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


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

It is great to have friends when one is young, but indeed it is still more so when you are getting old. When we are young friends are, like everything else, a matter of course. In the old days we know what it means to have them.
-Edvard Grieg

Ten Good Reasons to Homeschool

I like Greg Sherman's article on Ten Good Reasons to Homeschool. He starts with:

My three children and I were standing in line at the grocery store the other day, and a woman behind us started conversing with my thirteen year-old daughter Grace. At some point in the conversation, I overheard the woman ask Grace what grade she was in and what school she attended. Grace responded innocently that she was homeschooled, and that she wasn’t exactly sure what grade she would be in if she went to school. The woman looked over Grace’s shoulder and directly into my eyes. She wrinkled her brow and asked me, very casually, with perhaps a hint of skepticism, ?So, why do you homeschool??

Why do we homeschool? My wife Shelly and I have homeschooled our three children for the past 10 years, and in our experiences, people such as old friends, new neighbors, relatives, and even total strangers have asked this rather large and complicated question in a nonchalant and often cynical manner. I’m certain most homeschooling parents would agree that responding to the ?why? question is not something that can be accomplished succinctly or casually. After all, the question is big. Really BIG.

Unlike many homeschooling parents, however, I am also asked "why?" regularly by teachers, school administrators, university faculty members, and education graduate students. I represent one of those conflicted homeschooling parents whose professional experiences are rooted in public education. In fact, both my wife and I began our educational careers in the classroom. Shelly was a primary grade teacher, and I taught junior high school science. After spending almost 10 years teaching in the public school classroom and attending graduate school, I acquired a great deal of valuable educational experiences while earning degrees in the fields of educational media and instructional technology. These fields of study are defined by many ?why? questions related to learning and instruction, and since graduating I have been involved in a variety of research projects designed to find answers to instruction-related problems. In addition, I have taught university courses and worked as an educational consultant in the areas of evaluation and instructional design. Although I have grappled with a variety of teaching and learning problems throughout my professional experiences, the question ?Why do you homeschool?? has been one of the most difficult education-related question for me to answer truthfully. In fact, over the years I have developed no less than four different types of answers.

Have you ever wanted to fund a world changing cause?

My brother told me about It is a cool idea.  People pitch their proposals and other people donate money. is just the middle man.  There are a lot of interesting projects.  For example here are two from the technology category which interest me:

Final Frontier Design's 3G Space Suit asked for $20,000 to fund the development of a flight certified space suite.  They have already raised $26,471 from 334 backers.

Printrbot: Your First 3D Printer is way over funded with $830,827 from 1,808 backers.  (The original goal was $25,000.)

There are a huge variety of categories:  Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashing, Film & Video, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, Theater.

If you want to raise some money for a worthwhile project you might consider using

If you have some money you want to go to a worth while cause you might consider using

Interesting claim: This election will be one of the most important presidential elections ever

The column 'Two-Fer: Election a President and a Surpreme Court' by Clint Bolick is essentially a book review.  A key paragraph is:

In Two-Fer, Bolick provides historical context by assessing the Supreme Court’s record. He finds that over the past two decades, the Supreme Court has lived up to its intended role of curbing government power and protecting individual rights. He also writes that the next president “has the potential to heavily influence the direction of the Court,” particularly because there are currently two conservative justices and two liberal justices who are approaching retirement age. He maintains that if a Democratic president has the opportunity to replace one or two conservative justices, it will sharply tilt the Court to the left and probably be impossible to change that balance for twenty or thirty years. Likewise, if a Republican president gets to replace one or two liberal justices, it could reinforce the Court’s current conservative direction for another generation. Bolick points out that Supreme Court nominations increasingly reflect a president’s ideological stance and that when it comes to the differences in the ways that Republicans and Democrats interpret the Constitution, this can make a big difference in determining which of our rights are preserved or destroyed.

Clint Bolick argues that in this election our vote will strongly influence both the White House and the Surpreme Court. 

My oldest daughter is excited that she'll be voting for the first time this November.  I'll tell her that her vote may count for double.

Would we be better served by laying off some teachers?

Andrew J. Coulson makes a startiling claim:  America Has Too Many Teachers.  He starts with:

President Obama said last month that America can educate its way to prosperity if Congress sends money to states to prevent public school layoffs and "rehire even more teachers." Mitt Romney was having none of it, invoking "the message of Wisconsin" and arguing that the solution to our economic woes is to cut the size of government and shift resources to the private sector. Mr. Romney later stated that he wasn't calling for a reduction in the teacher force—but perhaps there would be some wisdom in doing just that.

Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers' aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs.

He goes on to argue that we are wasting $200 billion a year keeping three million teachers in public schools.  He says we should release them to the greater US economy so they could be productive and contribute to growing the economy.

I do believe that both public schools and our economy would improve if the worse 10% of public school teachers were told to find other jobs.

Hat tip: Time to Trim Teachers

Good summary of problems with higher education in California

This five minute video shares some scary facts about problems with higher education in California universities:

California students are spending more than students in other states and getting less.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Monday, July 09, 2012

Homeschool is much better than normal regular school

At minute 3:22 Tanishq explains "Homeschooling is much better than normal regular school."

For Tanishq a normal public school would have been soul destroying.

His mother has a great line:  "Sometimes when people ask what do you do for your fun time, he says I just learn, and people just don't understand that."

And the professor had a great observation about how there are so many programs for students which are learning impaired or hearing impaired, but there is nothing which really addresses those who are truely gifted.

Hat tip:  Althouse

Interesting proposal for higher education

I'm not sure how this is going to work out, but it should be interesting. Governor Walker and UW System Announce Revolutionary Online Degree Model is proposing:

The unique self-paced, competency-based model will allow students to start classes anytime and earn credit for what they already know. Students will be able to demonstrate college-level competencies based on material they already learned in school, on the job, or on their own, as soon as they can prove that they know it. By taking advantage of this high quality, flexibility model, and by utilizing a variety of resources to help pay for their education, students will have new tools to accelerate their careers. Working together, the UW System, the State of Wisconsin, and other partners can make a high-quality UW college degree significantly more affordable and accessible to substantially more people.

“This new model for delivering higher education will help us close the skills gap at an affordable price to get Wisconsin working again,” said Governor Walker. “As states across the country work to improve access and affordability in higher education, I am proud to support this exciting and innovative University of Wisconsin solution.”

Check out the rest of the press announcement for details.

At one level I think this is a good idea.  People shouldn't have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to get credit for something they already know, or could learn faster and cheaper on their own.

One the other hand I'm afraid that the higher education bureaucracy is so established that it will be almost impossible to have meaningful reform.

Hat tip: The Foundry

Cool science: Gloves that translate sign language into speech

This is pretty amazing - Ukrainian Students Develop Gloves That Translate Sign Language Into Speech:

There is no dearth of impressive student projects here at the finals of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup in Sydney, but one of the six finalists that caught my attention was a project called EnableTalk by the Ukrainian team QuadSquad. There are currently about 40 million deaf, mute and deaf-mute people and many of them use sign language to communicate, but there are very few people who actually understand sign language. Using gloves fitted with flex sensors, touch sensors, gyroscopes and accelerometers (as well as some solar cells to increase battery life) the EnableTalk team has built a system that can translate sign language into text and then into spoken words using a text-to-speech engine. The whole system then connects to a smartphone over Bluetooth.

July 10 - Update:

Ukrainian Students Win Microsoft’s Imagine Cup With Their Sign Language-To-Speech Translation Gloves

Saturday, July 07, 2012

A fun flash mob - Som Sabadell

Janine found this video:

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

Remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held tomorrow at Home Grown Mommy.

This will be the 341st edition.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.  It appears  Blog Carnival is broken again so please email your entry directly to

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

Friday, July 06, 2012

Interesting article on Grade Inflation and Accreditation in Higher Education

Paul Rahe makes some interesting points in Grade Inflation & Accreditation in Higher Education.  The article starts with:

When I returned from my sojourn at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland on Tuesday after having the catheter out the previous day, I found a pile of mail waiting for me – the usual bills, a get-well card from a kind nephew, and so forth. Among the items was an issue of Inside Academe, which is published by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA: – an outfit that serves a watchdog function with regard to the madness that has American higher education in its grip and that seeks to interest alumni and trustees in setting things straight.
On the third page was an article that caught my eye. It begins:
America’s higher-education accreditation system is broken. The current system – which forces schools to be certified by regional accreditors in order to receive federal money – was created to safeguard taxpayer dollars. But today it safeguards mediocrity and the status quo.
Once a school receives accreditation, it hardly ever loses that status, but new schools – especially innovative schools – often find it prohibitively difficult to obtain accreditation. The system misleads parents into believing that accreditation equals quality, and it wastes piles of money. Christopher Eisgruber, provost of Princeton University, testified that renewing accreditation can cost a single college or university over $1 million and hundreds of hours of staff time.
The claims advanced in these two paragraphs, in fact, understate the problem. The accreditation system was originally set up by colleges and universities with an eye to separating the sheep from the goats so that parents could have some idea of what they were getting into. The federal government had nothing to do with it. But the old order was hijacked a long time ago, and in the process yet another instrument was created for the micro-management by the federal government of entities that would not otherwise fall under its jurisdiction. The maneuver is simple. To get federal funding, a school must be accredited, and to get accreditation they must meet certain standards.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Statistics on the traffice for the Carnival of Homeschooling Images

About four years ago our readers selected three images to represent the Carnival of Homeschooling. I set things up so people who wanted to help support the carnival could copy some HTML code to their blog or web site. The image would appear, along with a link back to the carnival.

I renewed my account with PhotoBucket and checked the statistics.

Carnival of Homeschooling

The small image right now averages about 300 downloads a day.

Carnival of Homeschooling
The medium image is a touch closer to 650 downloads a day.

Carnival of Homeschooling

And the large image is in the 1200 downloads a day range.

If you want to see the statistics two years ago check out this post.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The education of the Founding Fathers

Janice Campbell has a nice post on The Education of the Founding Fathers.

Advice for new homeschoolers

Richele has Ten Pieces of Advice for New Homeschoolers.

And Sarah also has 10 Pieces of Advice for All Homeschoolers, New or Old.

One of the problems with freedom of speech

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

Where there is a great deal of free speech,
there is always a certain amount of foolish speech.
-Winston Churchill

Good TEDx talk: Jullien Gordon on Driving School for Life

I've asked my daughters to watch this - TEDxMidwest - Jullien Gordon: Driving School for Life:

Here is Jullien Gordon's web site.

Hat tip: Instapundit

We live in an amazing world

I find this exciting: Graphene Can Improve Desalination Efficiency by Several Orders of Magnitude, Can Do Pretty Much Anything:

Graphene. It can be stronger than steel and thinner than paper. It can generate electricity when struck by light. It can be used in thin, flexible supercapacitors that are up to 20 times more powerful than the ones we use right now and can be made in a DVD burner. It’s already got an impressive track record, but does it have any more tricks up its sleeve? Apparently, yes. According to researchers at MIT, graphene could also increase the efficicency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude. Seriously, what can’t this stuff do?

Desalination might sound boring, but it’s super important. Around 97% of the planet’s water is saltwater and therefore unpotable, and while you can remove the salt from the water, the current methods of doing so are laborious and expensive. Graphene stands to change all that by essentially serving as the world’s most awesomely efficient filter. If you can increase the efficiency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude (that is to say, make it 100 to 1,000 times more efficient) desalination suddenly becomes way more attractive as a way to obtain drinking water.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Interview with Glenn Reynolds on the Higher Education Bubble

I frequently checkout Instapundit, by Glenn Reynolds.  One of the topics he writes about is the high cost of higher education.  The cost of going to college has risen twice as fast as inflation for decades.

Glenn just released a book on this topic: The Higher Education Bubble

I enjoyed this interview of Glenn on the topic:

This was posted at PJ Media.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up

Karen is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Homeschool Atheist Momma.

This is the 340th edition of the carnival!

The theme is:  Momma's Musing Moments About Homeschool

The carnival starts:

Parents of homeschoolers must own up to at least one things we all have in common: we worry. We want the very best for our children and we do everything we can to ensure that.

We research, read, discuss, debate, web surf, try new things, nearly going crazy trying to keep up with the newest statistics on homeschooling, not to mention the newest curriculum and material choices out there. The groups. The trips. The CASH spent. The doubts...

We fret and doubt and hope...and then it happens...the evidence!

Carnival of Homeschooling

If you’re frugal, you don’t need to earn as much as everyone else.

Kristen makes an excellent point in If you’re frugal, you don’t need to earn as much as everyone else.  Well worth reading.

I once heard "That it isn't just the size of the stream that is important; it also important to have a big dam."  The point just earning lots of money doesn't help if you spend it as fast as you earn it.  Retaining a sizeable portion of what you earn and investing it pays huge dividends.

Hat tip: Renae Deckard

Monday, July 02, 2012

Lap-on-a-chip update

I have blogged a few times about new technology called Lab-on-a-chip.  Currently in development this product will allow cheaper blood diagnostics. A Forbes article I read years ago speculated that eventually we'd have dozens or hundreds of tests on a single silicon chip for pennies and you could run tests every day, at the same time you take your vitamins. There are a number of dieases and conditions that if you catch them early are much more manageable.

Nano nod for lab-on-a-chip is a recent article about this technology:

Each post performs its own genetic test, meaning you can not only find out whether you have malaria, but also determine the type of malaria and whether your DNA makes you resistant to certain antimalarial drugs. It takes less than an hour to process one chip, making it possible to screen large populations in a short time.

“That’s the real value proposition—being able to do multiple tests at the same time,” Acker said, adding that the Domino has been used in several recently published studies, showing similar accuracy to centralized labs.

They are looking at a box that sells for $5,000, and each chip will cost only a couple dollars.  This isn't quit the home model version, but we are getting there!

The Amazon Effect

The Amazon Effect is a good article about the book publishing industry and the changes we've had over the last couple decades.  The article is long, but worth reading. 

The article starts:

From the start, Jeff Bezos wanted to “get big fast.” He was never a “small is beautiful” kind of guy. The Brobdingnagian numbers tell much of the story. In 1994, four years after the first Internet browser was created, Bezos stumbled upon a startling statistic: the Internet had been growing at the rate of 2,300 percent annually. In 1995, the year Bezos, then 31, started Amazon, just 16 million people used the Internet. A year later, the number was 36 million, a figure that would multiply at a furious rate. Today, more than 1.7 billion people, or almost one out of every four humans on the planet, are online. Bezos understood two things. One was the way the Internet made it possible to banish geography, enabling anyone with an Internet connection and a computer to browse a seemingly limitless universe of goods with a precision never previously known and then buy them directly from the comfort of their homes. The second was how the Internet allowed merchants to gather vast amounts of personal information on individual customers.

TED Talk: Bruce Schneier on The Security Mirage

Bruce Schneier has some good thoughts about security:

Here is the TED Talk summary:

The feeling of security and the reality of security don't always match, says computer-security expert Bruce Schneier. At TEDxPSU, he explains why we spend billions addressing news story risks, like the "security theater" now playing at your local airport, while neglecting more probable risks -- and how we can break this pattern.
From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

To finish first,
you must first finish.
- Rick Mears

Latest Homeschool Showcase

The latest Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.