Monday, June 29, 2009

Books about Change in Thought

In a discussion on the Always Learning list about choosing what is natural over what is false or constructed (grey hair for older people; natural learning for anyone), some books have been discussed. I thought to bring them here so that those who would like to consider unschooling (or the role of homeschooling in the greater culture) could read some more direct, more basic ideas.

The authors aren't homeschoolers or unschoolers, but they're writing about ways in which a culture can adopt and nurture ideas without really looking at them.

How did so many people for so long believe the earth went around the sun even when evidence to the contrary was available?

The books named thusfar (with some of the descriptions from the list, so those descriptions have to do more with this particular angle than about the book in general, and so I will link them to the Amazon site where there will be other reviews and comments):
Chaos James Gleick: This is talking about revolutionary new science but could refer to many things. newer edition; fewer reviews

p38.: To some the difficulty of communicating the new ideas and the ferocious resistance from traditional quarters showed how revolutionary the new science was. Shallow ideas can be assimilated; ideas that require people to reorganize their picture of the world provoke hostility. A physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Joseph Ford, started quoting Tolstoy: "I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to othes, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives"

This really reminded me of the reaction of many to unschooling when I read it.

The more I deschool, the more clearly I can see this, even with close friends and family who feel threatened by change.

If I recall correctly, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is all about that, about scientists/thinkers being invested in certain belief systems, and how that affects their abilities to think and to do research, and to evaluate the research findings of colleagues. And so, progress is very, very incremental. Great big, new, different ideas are just too difficult to accept.

It's hard to consider that the earth goes 'round the sun if you are absolutely convinced the other way around.

That sounds like an interesting book that would go along with what I am reading now–Agnotology [The Making and Unmaking of ignorance] edited by Robert Proctor and Londa Schiebinger...What we don't know and why we don't know it. It's not one of those books about what you should have learned in school and didn't but more the control of information and the manipulation of information to create doubt and change history etc. It discusses military secrecy, Native American paleontology, female orgasm, global climate change, racial ignorance etc. Just finished the section on the tobacco industry. I'm getting into the military stuff. The military had information that it withheld from the public that would have helped confirm the theories on plate tectonics. It took some years for that information to become available for researchers. That was mentioned in Kuhn's book description that I just found on Amazon. Guess Kuhn's book needs to be next in line for me to read.

I haven't read that book, but it fits my view that science advances through attrition. Death. The old scientists defending their beliefs/worldview die and new beliefs are allowed to sprout in the minds of younger scientists.

I can see that being somewhat true, but as I read Agnotology I think it is even more complex than that. What areas get funding for research.... what is the monetarily favored areas to grow knowledge..... What falls out of fashion.....Who controls information.?I know some very complex knowledge of the people that lived before us is essentially lost. I'm think of some of the agricultural practices that worked very well in the Amazon mentioned in the book 1491:New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann. Some of this knowledge is being rediscovered, but I'm betting a lot more has been lost. I'm not sure that "science" is always advancing. It seems as if we are always losing previously well know information as we learn the new.? Our brains can only hold so much knowledge/information but I think our collective brains only hold so much knowledge/information to.

By the way 1491 made the history I learned in school seem like some weird
fabrication of reality and I think Agnotology will explain some of that.
The discussion is here:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Amie Coomer, in Ode Magazine

In the June/July 2009 issue of Ode Magazine, there is a small piece on unschooling and on Amie Coomer's blog. Either image below can be enlarged with a click (and then again with another click).


Thursday, June 18, 2009

A New Blog-Carnival

These online "carnivals" are sets of related writings. The monthly listing itself becomes a destination and jumping-off point.

This one is being organized by Susan Gaissert.

New York and Connecticut

Unschooling Playgroup in CT and Western Mass ;)

We are hearing a bunch of people say they would like an unschooler's
playgroup formed here in CT. We would be happy to organize this. Since it's
summer, let's start with outdoor places and find somewhere indoors later in
the year. (We have a few options in mind.)

How about everyone emails us privately and says what days do and do not work
for them? We will pick a day that works for most people. We would love to
make it a weekly or biweekly thing.

Also email where you live and we can pick a nice playground/park in the
middle of everyone.

We can't wait to get our kids together. Our kids have gotten so much out of
being with other unschoolers at conferences. We would love to have that on a
more regular basis.


Esther and Jean Elizabeth
and Ethan (age 9) and Ryan (age: 1 week until I'm 6!!)
NYC show "Snoopy" - All Homeschooled Cast!

laurie.marg AT gmail DOT com wrote:
My daughter and some of her friends are in this Off-Off Broadway Homeschool Production. Ticket prices are reasonable and you may be able to find parking on the street.
West End Theatre at Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew
263 West 86th St.
New York, NY 10024

Show Opens:
June 23, 2009
Show Closes:
June 27, 2009

Running Time: (includes 1 intermission)

Ticket Price: $10.00; $15.00 Opening Night

Tickets by Phone: 212-352-3101
866-811-4111(toll free)

Tuesday 6:00pm
Wednesday 7:00pm
Thursday 7:00pm
Friday 7:00pm
Saturday 12:00pm & 6:00pm

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Badman Report" in England

Jude sent this from England:
home educators are currently threatened with the draconian recommendations
of Graham Badman's report to the government - link below

Included are compulsory registration, monitoring including automatic right
of entry into the home on pain of criminal charges, and the enforcement of
a 'suitable education' (whatever that's supposed to mean). And the
recommendations are particularly short-sighted and plain ill-informed with regard
to autonomous approaches. Worse still is the conflation of home education
with child welfare issues - we're all being smeared as abusers, and the
onus seems to be on us to prove our innocence.

I wonder if the delightful (!?!) Mr Badman might appreciate an invite to
the London Unschooling Conference to hear some properly informed debate.

This is not the link Jude sent; this is a summary from the government press release site:

What Jude sent is a PDF of the entire "Report to the Secretary of State on the review of Elective Home Education in England by Graham Badman"

These seem to be still at the level of formal recommendations, but if people have follow-ups, please do leave comments. Also, clarification of whether this will affect other parts of the UK or just England itself would be good. —Sandra

Monday, June 08, 2009

The gradual demise of SAT requirements

Loyola College Latest to Dump SAT

Loyola College in Baltimore is the latest of over 800 four-year institutions to make their admissions criteria SAT (and ACT) results optional. The change comes about six months after Monty Neill of Fair Test submitted invited testimony to the Maryland Board of Education on the "Limits and Dangers of High-Stakes Graduation Tests."

FairTest's testimony on graduation tests to the Maryland Board of Ed.

Better assessment methods are needed if high schools are to develop higher level skills students need for college and work. Unlike standardized exit exams, the use of assessment methods such as performances, exhibitions and portfolios has been shown to promote the development of skills, knowledge and disposition actually valued in college and employment (Wood, Darling-Hammond, Neill and Roschewski, 2007; Darling-Hammond and McCloskey, forthcoming). Employers have said they are more interested in examples of student work and problem-solving, such as portfolios, than they are in test results [or grades] (Peter D. Hart, 2008). Similarly, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (n.d.) has outlined a range of knowledge and skills students should acquire, much of which clearly cannot be measured with traditional paper-and-pencil tests – but can be assessed using other means. Only with a range of strong and flexible assessments can students or schools be fairly and comprehensively evaluated and learning outcomes improved

These links were sent by Kathryn, an unschooling mother of four. Thanks!

Friday, June 05, 2009

"The Impending Demise of the University"

By Don Tapscott
For fifteen years, I've been arguing that the digital revolution will challenge many fundamental aspects of the University. I've not been alone. In 1998, none other than, Peter Drucker predicted that big universities would be "relics" within 30 years....(the rest of it)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"101 Reasons I'm an Unschooler"

I've just bought and happily read a new book by PS Pirro called 101 Reasons Why I'm an Unschooler. It's sweet, it's short, and it's full of irrefutable information about school in the first section (school-related reasons to unschool) and life at home and in the real world in the second.

Those who have wished for something they could give relatives to read might have found the answer in this.