Monday, December 17, 2012

Gamers and VERY fine motor skills

Gamers Are Better at Robotic Surgery Than Med Students Smithosonia's blog report:
Robotic surgery—commanding a robotic arm to perform delicate surgical tasks—has become more and more popular in medicine. But are doctors really the best ones to be commanding them? Turns out that gamers might actually be a better bet. ...

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ethiopian village children figure out tablet PCs.

Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
It goes on, but here's the beginning, and it's pretty exciting:
What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they'll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.
The One Laptop Per Child project started as a way of delivering technology and resources to schools in countries with little or no education infrastructure, using inexpensive computers to improve traditional curricula. What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell "neighborhood" properly and whatnot isn't a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn't going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.
Rather than give out laptops (they're actually Motorola Zoom tablets plus solar chargers running custom software) to kids in schools with teachers, the OLPC Project decided to try something completely different: it delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Just like, "hey kids, here's this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!"
Just to give you a sense of what these villages in Ethiopia are like, the kids (and most of the adults) there have never seen a word. No books, no newspapers, no street signs, no labels on packaged foods or goods. Nothing. And these villages aren't unique in that respect; there are many of them in Africa where the literacy rate is close to zero. So you might think that if you're going to give out fancy tablet computers, it would be helpful to have someone along to show these people how to use them, right?

It reminds me of the Indian experiment some years back, but in India English is spoken all around, and there's printed word all over the place. Hole in the Wall
This article has photos of computers and kids in India: Using computers to teach children with no teachers Interestingly, the articles are still talking about "teaching" instead of learning. :-) They aren't "learning by teaching themselves." They're learning. Period.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Video Game Curriculum?

Video Game Curriculum? The Love to Learn Edition

This is based on a presentation given at a conference in 2012 by Tina Boster, whose biography at the conference's website says

Tina Boster is the mother of three children. She has a M.Ed. in Elementary Education, but she left her teaching career to unschool her children when her oldest son was reprimanded by his teacher for spending too much time reading about ancient Rome. She believes strongly in the philosophy of “Follow the child,” and her personal motto is, “I’m raising kids now; I’ll clean the house later.” She is a life-long learner and self-taught knitter. She is also part of a multigenerational gaming family, and she enjoys playing MMOs with her father, brother, husband, and all three of her children.
The article is one of the best I've seen on video gaming, with a long list of learning principles, and their fulfillment by gaming. Her resources list has sixteen links and no one will need to read them all to be persuaded of her point. After reading her blog post, you might not need to read any of them. :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mommy Labs interviews of Sandra Dodd

Two interviews, Part 1 from August 2012, and one new this week and:

Monday, October 08, 2012

Hema Bharadwaj on food choices

Hema's Food Chronicles Part 1

The webpage Hema mentions is

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Living Joyfully

Pam Laricchia has big news on her Living Joyfully site—a newsletter and an introduction-to-unschooling series.

This can serve as an introduction to people who are interested, or as reassurance to friends or relatives, or as an inspiring refresher for those who are already unschooling!

The direct link is here: but it will be more fun if you go to her main page   and click on it in the center on top.  Look around Pam's site while you're there, and if you want to tell your friends about it, pronounce her name this way:  "La RICK ee a"

Saturday, October 06, 2012

"The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling"

"The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling", by Leo Babauta

Blog post, October 4, 2012, at ""

The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling There’s nothing I get asked about more as a parent than unschooling, and nothing I recommend more to other parents.

It’s an educational philosophy that provides for more freedom than any other learning method, and prepares kids for an uncertain and rapidly changing future better than anything else I know. My wife and I unschool four of our kids, and have been for several years.

And yet, as powerful as I believe unschooling to be, I’ve never written about it, because the truth is, I certainly don’t have all the answers. No one does.

The beauty of unschooling is in the search for the answers. If anyone had all the answers, there would be no search. And so what I’d love to teach unschooling parents and kids is that the search is the joy of it all.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: what is unschooling? Why should you do it? How do you do it? What should you read? We’ll talk about all that today.

and he continues....

Monday, August 20, 2012

The "Parental Intelligence" site

This is Bob Collier writing to let you know that the Parental Intelligence website has now become a static resource with the completion of a new home page, where you can view a list of everything that's currently on the website and read something of the story of the Parental Intelligence Newsletter. Every issue of the newsletter going back to July 2007 can be found in the Archive.

Please bookmark for future reference.

Thank you for subscribing to and reading the Parental Intelligence Newsletter. Thank you for the pleasure of your company though we may never have met each other in person. Thank you for your time and your kind and encouraging words over the years.

I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to be of help to you in your parenting adventure and wish you all the happiness and success you would wish yourself.

Bob Collier
Canberra, Australia

Friday, August 17, 2012

A-Level Report by Sheffield teen

A-Level Results 2012: Home-Schooling Is Just As Good As School Argues Student Eli Ingle

Eli Ingle says his exam successes show it is possible to be educated at home right up to A-level.

Hundreds of families across the UK every year choose to take their children out of school and teach them at home.

But but very few continue this past GCSEs into the traditional sixth-form stage.

Eli, from Sheffield, already has two A*s - in business studies and sociology - and is hoping for similar high standards when he gets his psychology result later today.

He said he thought about going back to college for A-levels but he and his family had enjoyed his home education so much he wanted to carry on.

"To me, that was like going back to school in a lot of ways which was exactly what I didn't want to do," he said.

"So it just seemed like a natural progression to move on to doing the A-levels."

There wasn't a byline, but here's the article.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Malaysian Homeschoolers

This article has some great photos of Malaysian homeschoolers:
It takes a 'village' to raise a child
1 August 2012

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Minnesota article on unschooling

The DIY approach to education

  • Article by: ASHA ANCHAN , Star Tribune  

    Friday, April 27, 2012

    India, one brave teen

    Aditi Parekh persuaded her parents to let her drop out of high school, and in India that's a doubly impressive feat.

    It can be cool to ‘unschool’
    Vaibhav Shastry, TNN | Apr 22, 2012,
    The Times of India online


    Unschooling: Aditi Parekh's way to happiness

    When Aditi Parekh ascended the stage at the TEDx conference, no one expected the teenager to have such an impact on the proceedings. Within moments of her talk, the entire audience was buzzing discussing the topic of her intriguing essay — the phenomenon of ‘Unschooling’.

    Coined by prominent educator John Holt, unschooling refers to a philosophy that allows children to learn through natural experiences such as playing, responsibilities and social interaction, as opposed to the more conventional method of school educative systems.

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Defense of Video Games and other obsessions in kids

    Penn Jillette Is Tired Of The Video Game Bulls***, an article at game informer dot com.

    A graphic with a quote from that article is going around facebook, and someone brought the link above as the source of the text.

    (At there's a page called Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions :

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Euronews article

    March 14, 2012,

    Unschooling: the new class of learning

    Good article, and there's a video there well worth watching and sharing.

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Mayim Bialik, interviewed by Juju Chang

    Hollywood Star Talks About Co-Sleeping, Baby-Wearing and Unschooling

    The article begins this way, and ends with Juju Chang admitting her feelings about comparisons to the ways she was with her own very young children.

    Mayim Bialik is not your typical Hollywood TV star. She may be the only “celebrity” who speaks out in favor of attachment parenting. AP is known for a back-to-nature style of parenting — “baby-wearing” and “co-sleeping” and literally meeting your infant’s needs by being attached them as much as humanly possible.

    She’s still nursing her 3 1/2 year old, though she recently blogged about weaning him from the three-to-four feedings he was having every night. When I ask her how people react she says: “I know it’s unusual, but when you surround yourself with other women who are intelligent, educated, loving, have incredible children who they nursed well past three and a half, I can see that I don’t get to say what’s right for someone else.”

    Mayim first won rave reviews as the young Bette Midler in “Beaches.” She starred in her own popular TV show “Blossom” as a teenager. Then at 19, she took the obvious next step and earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience at UCLA studying hormones and bonding and OCD.

    In addition to the article, there is this:

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Casting a Wider Net: Why Colleges are Recruiting Homeschoolers

    By Dori Staehle on February 15, 2012

    What do Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and Duke all have in common? In addition to being top-tier schools, they are just some of the colleges that actively recruit homeschoolers – and offer them scholarships.

    What these colleges have discovered is that homeschoolers represent a very attractive talent pool: These students tend to be exceptionally bright, motivated, and mature. Far from being sheltered and shy (the typical stereotypes), homeschoolers’ applications reflect students who have traveled, taken risks, and studied some pretty intense topics. In addition, they tend to have impressive reading lists and letters of recommendation. Most have volunteered, participated in sports, the arts, and activities too numerous to mention. They are more than likely to have been dual-enrolled in both their homeschool and a community college and have numerous advanced placement (AP) and/or honors classes. Consequently, their GPA’s and SAT or ACT scores tend to be well above average (Note to naysayers: If a student has stellar SAT or ACT scores and a community college GPA of 3.0-4.0, this proves that the parents did not fudge the student’s transcript!)....

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    The problem with studies on school kids

    Pam Sorooshian is an unschooling mom of three young adults, and also teaches college-level economics. Here is something she's written about a new study on video games. The commentary on methodology and controls, and the fact that they're looking at schooled kids, applies to many studies.

    Not all "wisdom" and research applies to unschoolers (because of their relationships with their parents) or to homeschoolers (if they don't have the strict schedule school kids do).

    A new study - once again the big caveat is that this study is NOT done on
    unschoolers. It is presented as a negative - the big point seems to be that
    for about 10 percent of players playing videogames in some way leads to,
    "...some serious problems -- including depression, anxiety, social phobias
    and lower school performance -- seemed to be outcomes of their pathological

    However, it is interesting that they aren't claiming that it is a lot of
    play time that is the problem, it is something about those kids...that's
    about as far as they go in the article, I don't know if the actual study
    looks more careful at the characteristics of the kids who develop problems.

    They seem to be making the claim that it is definitely the videogame
    playing that is the cause of the problems for about 1 out of 10 players,
    but I don't see how they can tell that from the study unless they have
    controlled for things like the kind of relationship they have with their
    parents, how accessible and supportive are the parents, the kind of home
    life they have, and so on.

    Unschoolers are close enough to our kids so that we will know if a kid is
    happily playing a lot of videogames because they LOVE playing videogames
    versus a kid who is depressed, withdrawn, anxious, or socially phobic. The
    same applies to a kid who watches a lot of television.

    I think what they are probably finding is that a kid who is dealing with
    family, school, peer, or identity issues that seem overwhelming to him,
    might withdraw from parent and peer relationships and that withdrawal might
    mean he plays a lot of videogames. The withdrawal from relationships might
    mean he isn't getting the help and support he needs and problems get worse
    and worse. I don't think the research can legitimately conclude that there
    is anything about the games, themselves, that cause the problems, or else
    they are going to have to explain why 90 percent of the players are not

    They use a lot of strong language about videogame playing and it is wrapped
    up in scientific justification (pathological, addiction). I doubt it is the
    games that are the problem for these kids any more than razors or knives
    are the problem for kids who cut themselves.


    After some discussion on studies and problems, at the Always Learning yahoogroup, Pam wrote:

    Jo Isaac had written:
    These researchers almost certainly set out with the mindset that pathological videogaming was a real phenomena.

    Right - because that they even thought they could do the study at all
    assumes that there is something identifiable to study. So they had to
    define it in a way that made it identifiable. Which means they sort of made
    it up first, then went out to prove it existed.

    Still - I don't think it was necessarily that bad a study. I think it is
    possible that 1 out of 10 kids playing videogames a whole lot are in some
    sort of pain or having family or school or identify crises. Kids in schools
    deal with a lot. Videogames offer a way to live for a while in a different
    world where they can have power and control and just forget for a time
    about their problems. Makes sense to me.

    I didn't read the study, just the news report about the study. From the
    news report, it seemed they concluded that the videogames caused 10 percent
    of players to have serious problems. That, I doubt very much. I don't see
    the logic...correlation is not causation and they really would have to have
    a good explanation for exactly how the videogame playing hurt some kids so
    much and others not at all.

    They seemed to say that there was something susceptible in those kids -
    they made it sound kind of random like you would never know if your kid
    might be one of that 10 percent until it was too late. That could be used
    as a justification to limit all kids just in case they were one of the weak
    ones who would succumb to the pathological addiction.

    So - the research itself might be useful - I'm doubting that they can
    conclude what they did from it. I have nothing to point to - this is just
    my personal guess...but I think videogames are just really super good at
    helping a kid forget his real-world problems and so kids with extensive
    real-world problems are drawn to playing a lot. (Along with a lot of other
    people who also love playing even though they aren't avoiding problems,
    just having a load of fun.)

    The researchers probably tried to control for differences between the kids
    - using measurable control variables. They'd likely use grades in school
    for example. But they couldn't have measured whether a kid was gay and
    agonizing over coming out. They couldn't measure whether a kid's parents
    were belittling and dismissive. They couldn't measure whether a kid is
    developmentally not ready for whatever is going in school and feeling
    stupid about it, they couldn't measure whether the child's father is cold
    and distant or the mother harsh or rigid in her demands. They couldn't
    measure if the child is being abused by a parent or relative or older
    student or teacher. And on and on. They couldn't measure if the kid feels
    pushed around and stressed and not good enough and fearful and hurt and
    dumb and frustrated and angry. And there is no way they could tell if any
    of these things that they couldn't measure were what was leading to the
    problems the child was having - and the reason why the child liked to spend
    a lot of time playing videogames.


    Sunday, February 05, 2012

    Playwright who wants to tear up the curriculum

    I'm including the full text because as that's the announcement of a particular performance, it might not be kept on the site.

    Terry Deary is the author of the phenomenally successful Horrible Histories books and a hero to any teacher who has ever struggled to get an understanding of the past into a child's head.

    His 60 titles in the series have notched up 25 million sales in 40 countries by turning children on to history.

    They are as far removed from textbooks as Charles I was from his head. This is history with the boring bits cut and the nasty parts pored over.

    So when his Horrible Histories stage tour returns to Plymouth from Thursday to Saturday next week, schools will empty to pack out the Pavilions' daytime performances.

    Naturally, Deary is delighted – at the schools emptying bit.

    "I am campaigning to have all schools shut down and children set free," he says.

    But if you're waiting for him to laugh, you're in for the long haul. Deary is deadly serious.

    "More schools are failing every week," he continues. "Literacy rates are falling.

    "The politicians say, 'we must pour more money in and rescue these schools'.

    "What is the point? Why pay teachers to childmind for 12 years, teaching them very little that is useful?

    "Teachers are very low-grade people."

    But surely he's cashing in if schools pack out his shows?

    "The trips are an excuse for teachers to put their feet up," he says. "I am doing myself a disservice by saying that, but it's true."

    There is a lot more deeply felt comment on that theme from Deary. He loathes the national curriculum, which he says has promoted the concept of children as empty buckets into which teachers should pour information.

    "It's awful. Children get a mark in the exam if they put the date 1066 down [for the Norman Conquest] and nothing if they put 1096.

    "But what matters is what happened and why, not the exact date.

    "We should be teaching understanding and preparing them for life," he concludes.

    Whether you subscribe to that view or not, there is no argument about the reach of Deary's Horrible Histories as books, the stage shows, which he writes, and the award-winning BBC TV series.

    The secret, he says, is: "I am not interested in history, I am interested in human nature and the lives of ordinary people in history, not just the kings and queens.

    "There is not enough history about ordinary people's lives, especially women and children."

    For the record, Deary, now 65, did not enjoy his own time in school. He says he was bullied and beaten by abusive teachers.

    The Sunderland-born author worked in his father's butcher shop – a good place to develop a taste for gore, perhaps – and went on to become a professional actor, with theatre companies in Wales.

    "For a third of the year we toured to schools," he says. "We ran out of plays for children so I started writing them.

    "We always needed new work and I didn't want to ditch the characters so I thought I'd write a children's book."

    The rest, it has to be said, is history – except that he suffered 24 rejections from publishers before getting into print.

    Much of the established work has dried up – Deary hasn't much faith in publishers, either, at least not in their ability to plan ahead in the face of competition from e-books. Instead he is busy with other writing, including stage work.

    The two Pavilions shows, Terrible Tudors and Vile Victorians, include ground-breaking 3D work – Deary is no Luddite – and he eagerly awaits the impact of his latest, Barmy Britain, which opens in the West End this month.

    "It will play to children and families during the day, leaving the theatre free for [the musical] Chicago in the evening," he says.

    "A summary of 2,000 years of British history in one hour in a two-man show," he promises. That's quite an education.

    For tickets, contact the Pavilions on 0845 146 1460 or go to

    Horrible Histories author Terry Deary, above, and Protestants versus Roman Catholics in his stage show The Terrible Tudors, top

    Friday, February 03, 2012

    Colorado Springs: "What is Unschooling?"

    What is unschooling?
    by Aly Myles
    Colorado Connection (TV station's website, Colorado Springs)

    COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Just like choosing between public or private, chartered or unchartered schools, there's many decisions that go along with deciding to home school children.

    "I think if you asked a home schooling family how they do it, it'd be different for each of their children because all children are different," Yvonne Padilla, director of Mountain Vista Home School Academy, said....

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Australia: "Learning at the home-school of life"

    Beverley Hadgraft From: National Features January 28, 2012 7:00PM

    Descriptions of and quotes from three different families with different homeschooling styles.

    This article was brought here in response to the more alarmist one about homeschoolers not registering in Australia (here). "A more balanced, counter article also appeared in Australia's Herald Sun newspaper," wrote Jo, who sent the link. (Thanks!)

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Newsweek: Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education

    Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Educatiion
    Jan 30, 2012 12:00 AM EST

    They raise chickens. They grow vegetables. They knit. Now a new generation of urban parents is even teaching their own kids.

    Many of these parents feel that city schools—or any schools—don’t provide the kind of education they want for their kids. Just as much, though, their choice to homeschool is a more extreme example of a larger modern parenting ethos: that children are individuals, each deserving a uniquely curated upbringing. That peer influence can be noxious. (Bullying is no longer seen as a harmless rite of passage.) That DIY—be it gardening, knitting, or raising chickens—is something educated urbanites should embrace. That we might create a sense of security in our kids by practicing “attachment parenting,” an increasingly popular approach that involves round-the-clock physical contact with children and immediate responses to all their cues.

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Thousands of parents illegally home schooling

    By Ian Townsend for Background Briefing
    Updated January 29, 2012 13:59:08

    As a new school year begins, more than 50,000 Australian children will be home-schooled and in most cases, their parents are doing it illegally.

    It is compulsory to send children between the ages of six and 16 to school, or register them for home schooling, but more parents are opting out of the traditional school system and keeping their children at home.

    However, thousands of parents across the country are not registered and that means they potentially face prosecution.

    Governments have been reluctant to take legal action, but in a landmark case last October, Bob Osmark from the Home Schooling Association of Queensland was prosecuted for not registering with the Home Education Unit to home school his 13-year-old daughter.

    Mr Osmark had home-schooled his nine children.

    He was charged under the Queensland Education Act that says parents have to enrol children of compulsory school age in a school, or register them for home schooling.

    Mr Osmark was found guilty and fined $300 plus costs.

    "I didn't register with the Home Education Unit. I refused to do that because I see education as something of a parental right," he said.

    "We as parents know and love our children best. It's not some cold faceless bureaucrat in the education department that knows what's best for your child.

    (...and there's more)

    Monday, January 16, 2012