Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Toilet training

I've just spent the past couple of hours continuing my plumbing education - in an unschooling sort of way, of course. Since both of our toilets decided to quit working at the same time, I didn't have much choice. The neighbors like us just fine, but loaning the use of one's toilet on a regular basis would probably strain even the best of neighborly relationships. Had my dear husband been home, he'd have called a plumber, but how much fun is that?

So, one Home Depot trip for toilet guts, a few hours of slopping around in the tanks while trying to decipher cryptic directions, and about $20 later, we're back in business. I tried my best to spark a plumbing interest in my kids, but alas, it appears that both take after their father when it comes to fixing toilets.

Wikipedia on unschooling

I just had occasion to take a look at what Wikipedia has to say about unschooling. Interesting, but it doesn't seem quite there yet. What would you change?

Wiki technology is really intriguing to me. I think it holds lots of potential for collaborative development of resources for homeschooling.

If you repeat it often enough...

Recently, HSLDA has been claiming that 80% of homeschoolers are evangelical Christians, as they do in this article in Insight Magazine. What a load of bunk. Ian Slatter of HSLDA says,

"It's difficult to get exact numbers, but about 80 percent are evangelical Christians and 20 percent are nonreligious."

So, Ian, say we accept for the moment that 20% of homeschoolers are non-religious. What about all the NON-evangelical Christians, and the Muslims, Buddhists, Baha'is, Jews, Unitarians, Pagans, Hindus, etc. that homeschool. You seem to have forgotten about them when you fabricated your statistics.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Just experimenting

I am LOVING the new blogger! It may take me a while to update my old style template to include the new features I want to use though. So far I've added comments to my posts and put a link list of recent posts in the sidebar - both features I've been wanting.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Really nice article

This one is an overwhelmingly positive piece about homeschoolers in California, with some nice quotes from homeschooled kids, grown-ups, and grown up homeschoolers. It even has a bit of an unschooling bent. Kudos to all those who participated - great job!

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Trying to stay calm

I've spent a substantial part of the day today helping my kids learn lines for a play they're performing in. This isn't just a "made for kids" kind of play. It's Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians." Now, my kids and most of the other cast members have an astonishing ability to memorize quickly, but the director is really pushing the limits of reasonability. They're only three days away from their dress rehearsal, and he hasn't provided them with the last TWENTY pages of cut script yet, nor has he completed blocking the play. This kind of thing drives me up the wall.

Yes, I know, it will soon be done and gone. The kids will probably remember the good performances better than anything else and look back on the experience fondly. They usually do, even when things end up less than perfect. I'm the one who's disappointed. It's great that the kids are taken seriously enough to give them real parts and an interesting play to work with. But for them to put so much time and effort into something only to have the person in charge leave them hanging - well, there's just hardly any excuse good enough to justify that.

Friday, April 23, 2004


I know I already have it in my list of links, but today I was getting together information to answer some homeschooling questions emailed to me, and looking through the NHEN website, I was reminded of all the incredible work homeschoolers across the country have done to put it together. There's really a lot of valuable information collected on it.

For those of you who don't already know, the National Home Education Network is an inclusive national organization that has a great homeschooling website. NHEN will never tell you what to think or how to vote. It helps keep homeschoolers well networked and informed, and helps reporters and legislators understand how diverse the homeschooling community really is.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

At the polls

Go take Daryl Cobranchi's POLL about why people homeschool!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Writing assignment

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

This fun little exercise is making the rounds in the blogosphere. I took the bait and came up with this:

The concepts of "passing" and "failing" are really only relevant to situations where children are coerced into learning, where education is thought of as a series of hurdles to be scaled, and where accountability is the bottom line from an economic efficiency perspective.

That's from Challenging Assumptions in Education by Wendy Priesnitz.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Unschooling surgery

I'm a little late getting to this one, but a few days ago an AP story reported that surgeons who play video games err less.

"All those years on the couch playing Nintendo and PlayStation appear to be paying off for surgeons. Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 percent fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 percent faster than their counterparts who did not play video games.

"I use the same hand-eye coordination to play video games as I use for surgery," said Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, 49, who demonstrated the results of his study Tuesday at Beth Israel Medical Center."

Monday, April 05, 2004

Wisconsin abuse case

Homeschoolers in Wisconsin are getting attention because of an alleged case of child abuse of a 17 year old girl.

"The Necedah case shouldn't reflect negatively on the home-school program because the victim wasn't home-schooled at all, said Larry Kaseman, director of the Wisconsin Parents Association. He said this was one of thousands of truancy cases the state fails to investigate each year.

"Intervention by school and county officials -- not changes to state law -- are what that case required, he said. "Home schooling has a very positive track record in Wisconsin," he said. "You would end up ruining a good law that has worked very well for 20 years to do the impossible."

Critics of the state's home education regulations say the rules are too lax and leave room for exploitation, but they recognize that homeschoolers will vigorously oppose any effort to change it.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Cave dwellers

The city of Flagstaff proposes an innovative solution to problems of housing, pollution, education, policing, and all other community ills. The city plans to house citizens in caves.


"Flagstaff Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Brownout sees the new community in the forest as a potential location for a magnet school for Future Foresters of America, in collaboration with Northern Arizona University's School of Forestry.

"Magnet cave schools are FUSD's answer to stemming the flow of students to the charter schools while saving money on heat and electricity, Brownout said. At the very least, he said losing the children in the forest would keep them from going to school elsewhere. "

So it's no longer April 1 and I'm a little slow on the draw, but it's a humorous read even after the fact.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Field tripping

This week my 10-year-old daughter Sarah and I volunteered to help out with a city-sponsored program designed to teach elementary school students about caves. We do a lot of volunteer work, but it's always a joy for me to see my kids excited about sharing something they have a passion for.

When we arrived last week for the training and orientation session for volunteers, we discovered there were precious few actual cavers involved. Initially that was a disappointment, but our spirits picked up when we were asked to do some of the more exciting work, since we were the ones who had experience in that area.

So, when the big day came, we arrive early to rig a climbing rope in a tall tree. Sarah put on her gear and climbed and talked and climbed and answered questions and climbed some more, as bus load after bus load of children arrived. She explained how and why cavers learn to climb and rappel using ropes. She climbed many hundreds of feet by the time we were done, and she answered oodles of questions and told dozens of times about her caving experiences. I took a few turns and did the rigging, but mostly I was Sarah's assistant.

What an awesome kid. And what a great opportunity to share what you love and inspire other kids.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Lottery scholarships in Tennessee

A Tennessee bill equalizing homeschool eligibility for lottery awards recommended for passage by the Senate Education Committee Wednesday. It is now headed for the Finance, Ways and Means Committee and still must be heard by the House committees before it comes to a floor vote. Currently, homeschoolers are required to score a 23 on the ACT, when students attending traditional schools are only required to score a 19 to be eligible for lottery scholarships. You can read more about it and get updates here. Thanks to Kay Brooks and TnHomeEd for the info link!

Not a homeschooling story but too ridiculous to pass up, schools in Merrillville, Indiana ban pink clothes.

"Administrators last week told students at the city's high school and two middle schools to avoid wearing pink clothing or accessories, said Michael Berta, associate superintendent in the Northwestern Indiana district.

"There is no evidence of gang activity. But because of the growing use of the color pink we decided to be proactive. Girls and boys are supposed to avoid wearing pink," Berta said Monday.

"None of the district's 6,500 students have been disciplined for wearing pink, he said.

"Berta said the issue came up at a recent administrator's meeting when a principal remarked that there were more students wearing pink. "Not only were there more kids wearing pink T-shirts and pink hats, but also pink shoelaces, which was unusual," he said."

Monday, March 29, 2004

New Mexico says homeschoolers can't compete

    "High school freshmen Heidi Lewis and Brian Davenport have a winning speech competition routine, but it didn't do them much good at this year's state tournament.
    "The entire Jemez Mountain Homeschool Speech and Debate Team can no longer compete in tournaments because they are not members of the New Mexico Activities Association.
    "And, as home-schoolers, they can't become members under the current regulations."

Disappointment and debate ensued when the homeschool teams were excluded on short notice. Team coach Paul Kressin believes homeschoolers are being discriminated against in violation of state law, which says, "The rules established by the New Mexico Activities Association for the organization, regulation and enforcement of interscholastic activities shall support equal educational opportunities for every student."
Grace comes to Stafford, VA

Homeschooling families in Stafford, VA are in the process of starting Grace Preparatory, a Christian high school hybrid program. It's a university model school where students will attend classes three days a week with homework assigned for the remaining two weekdays. Noted in the article is the controversy over whether such programs should be considered homeschooling.

"Celeste Land, a member of the Virginia Home Education Association's board of directors, said she doesn't consider Grace Preparatory to be home-schooling.

"It's not really home-schooling. I would call it flex-time private-schooling," she said."

About 25 such schools affiliated with the Texas-based National Association of University-Model Schools are already in operation across the country.
At home in shanghai

A fledgling homeschool cooperative in Shanghai is growing enough to consider starting another. Eighteen children ages 8 to 18 are in the current group, and a new "community" is planned for children ages 10 and under.

"Parents design the curriculum according to their personal interest and teach their own child or children from Tuesday to Thursday.

"These kids, regardless of age and nationality, gather every Monday and Friday to have two-day collective lessons such as Chinese literature, maths, arts and sports."

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Homeschoolers for Elvish

News editor Christopher Smith tells a tale about his imaginative young son and why they homeschool. Smith's delight and facination with his son's fanciful ways is sweet, and he seems sharply attuned to the value and fragility of his child's drive to be creative.

When "The Boy," as he calls him, draws pictures for answers to math problems, complete with a key at the bottom of the page to his Elvish numerical system, Smith concludes,

"And I guess when it comes right down to it, that's the main reason we're homeschooling: Silmarieth oloni Quenya alaphereth (None of the local schools offer Elvish)."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Well, I tried

I spent a lot of time talking to April Austin of the Christian Science Monitor about a story she wanted to do on homeschoolers and political action. Initially, she wanted only to talk to evangelical Christian homeschoolers to ask them if political activism was part of their schooling. She did broaden her story to include some mention that other homeschoolers "are troubled by the idea of taking an organization - the HSLDA - that purports to support all homeschoolers and making it the feeder system for an evangelical Christian political network," but her article Homeschoolers keep the faith ultimately never breaks free of her original intent.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Feeling bloggie?

We had great fun today checking out the best of the blogs, thanks to the reveal of the Fourth Annual Weblog Awards. Definitely worth Blogrolling, Boing Boing took three Bloggies, including the top award. But don't miss some of the also-rans - there's a lot of good free reading out there.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

More of a revolution than you thought

From Amber Pawlik's lengthy rant at mensnewsdaily.com on the homeschool revolution we glean these gems:

"There is a home schooling revolution in this country. And the leftists know it. And it drives them nuts."


"Home-schooled children are also grounded in principles and morals, something anathema to the left.

"The success of the home schools drives leftists nuts. First, it proves one does not need to be an “expert” to do something as simple as teaching a child K – 12 course material. Leftists become increasingly unable to make parents feel inferior in parenting and raising their own children. Most of all, though, leftists know one thing: home-schooled children tend to come out Republican."

Pssst... Amber! Wake-up call! Many homeschooling parents are leftists. And their children too. Pretty revolutionary, huh?

Friday, March 12, 2004

Yo! Canada

From the "don't you just love it when they don't quote sources" file we have a homeschooling study in Canada that found - surprise, surprise - Headline: Home-schoolers win the academic battle. "Most home-schooled students outperform their peers in regular schools, but it's the opportunity to teach beliefs and values that is driving parents to educate their children at home," the Calgary Herald says the study finds. So, all you Canadian homeschoolers, is it true that 85% of those who opt for homeschooler are Christian, or was there some of the same old bias problem in this study we've seen in ones done south of the border?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Slogging Back to the Blog

Slogging Back to the Blog

It's been ages since I've kept up with posting regularly, but I'm intending to revive this blog. Look for controversial issues and news commentary in the near future.