Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Homeschooling News and other stuff

Nominations are coming in steadily for the awards. There are so many talented bloggers. This is a way to showcase your favorites. Keep them coming. There is an email option if you would like to nominate that way as well.

Homeschoolers and the Military,
Daryl had an update on homeschooling and military recruitment. There is a homeschool ammendment being put in a Defense Bill that could be a problem for homeschoolers. Make sure you read it.

Homeschool Newsletters
Speaking of the military, did you know that The Old Schoolhouse Magazine also has a newsletter just for those that homeschool while in the military? They do. And many others too. You can get all the information by visitng the TOS Company Couch . They have a a list of them all and a way to sign up. (Scroll down to the bottom of the blog.)

Homeschooling in the News,
From Indiana's Channel 8 comes an interesting interview with a professor who studies homeschooling. He found that 96% of Indiana's public school superintendants believe homeschoolers are not sufficiently regulated and 54% think they should be tested. So a parent can say nothing about what the school teaches but the schools want oversight of the parent? Some doesn't get it. I don't serve the state. (HT: Number 2 Pencil)

A humble thank you,
To Randi at I Have to Say for nominating me for the Blog of Beauty Award in the Homeschool Category. I am a finalist. So I guess for those who were bummed that I took my name out of the running for the Homeschool Blog Awards, here's your chance.

Seven Sevens

Catez tagged me for the Seven Sevens. I"m supposed to answer seven questions and then tag seven people. Here goes.

1. Seven things to do before I die

1. See all my children walk in truth with the Lord.
2. Write a book.
3. Learn to draw better.
4. Take a trip with my parents.
5. Learn how to knit something more than a dish rag.
6. See a grandchild born. Hopefully more than one.
7. Run a 10k race. I'm too lazy for a whole martahon.

2. Seven things I cannot do

1. Jump
2. Say no to Starbuck's Coffee
3. Quit homeschooling my children.
4. Divorce my husband.
5. Decide when I die.
6. Keep up with the laundry. Especially the unmatched socks.
7. Change a flat tire.

3. Seven things that attract me to my husband.

1. He's a man of God.
2. He know's how to change a tire.
3. He loves to spend time with me.
4. He knows how to balance a checkbook.
5. He's never gives up.
6. He loves history.
7. He very organized.

4. Seven things I say most often

1. No.
2. Time to eat.
3. However.
4. Everybody get in the van.
5. I love you.
6. Whatever.
7. Do it immediately if not sooner.

5. Seven books (or series) I love

1. The Bible. - God
2. The Disciplined Life - Richard Foster
3. Stepping Heavenward. - Elizabeth Prentiss
4. A Basket of Flowers - Christoph Von Schmidt
5. George McDonald Books
6, Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
7. The Excellent Wife - Martha Peace

6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time)

Not applicable. I have never been a movie watcher. There isn't anything I have watched that I would watch over and over again.

7. Seven people I want to join in, too

1. Andrea - A Typical Life
2. Kate - Under the Sky
3. Confessor - Confessions of Homeschool Dad
4. Deputy Head Mistress - Common Room
5. Susan - Ladies in Training
6. Barbara - Mommy Life
7. Randi - I Have to Say

Monday, November 28, 2005

Open Blog Friday III

Blog Awards

I haven't done an Open Blog Friday in a couple weeks. This is where you are free to let me know what you're blogging about or comment about anything. In good taste please.

Homeschooling Blog Awards

We're getting a great number of entries in the Homeschool Blog Awards. There are so many great blogs that have been nominated. Some I've never been to before. Keep them coming and thanks to all who are helping to spread the word.

Oh Holiday Tree, Oh Holiday Tree...

How politically correct are you. Okay enough of the Christmas er I mean Holiday cheer. Boltabe asked in a comment if I knew anything about the Christmas boycott of retailers who were refusing to use the word Christmas at their stores. And some stores refusing to even call the 6 foot tree we all decorate a "Christmas Tree". Here's the story from the American Family Association. And they posted an update here on Lowe's removing banners that say Holiday Tree and replacing them.

How to Read a Book

No this is not a new phonics program. It's an excellent book by Moritmer Adler and Charles Van Doren. I found it while cruising Ambleside Online. (Free online homeschool curriculum.) Everyone who ever thought they were well read should read this book. You may find out that that you're really what Alexander Pope called a "Bookful Blockhead." If you found that term insulting then you may find the Greek's term for you a little more palatable - "sophomore". That's what they called those that were widely read but not well-read. But let's not get bogged down in labels, just read the book How to Read a Book and finally begin the education you should have had a long time ago. This book will be required reading for all my children.

Photo of the Week

I love taking pictures. Maybe one day I'll be able to afford a digital camera of my own but in the mean time I loved this photo over at Bi0lumescence. If only I could get my own children to sit so nicely for their annual Christmas photo.

Quote of the Week

There are no boring subjects only disinterested minds - G.K. Chesterton in the Heretic.

Use that the next time your child says that something is boring.

What's a Feminist to Do?

According to retired professor Linda Hirshman, after 30 years feminism has failed.

I stumbled across the news three years ago when researching a book on marriage after feminism. I found that among the educated elite, who are the logical heirs of the agenda of empowering women, feminism has largely failed in its goals. There are few women in the corridors of power, and marriage is essentially unchanged. The number of women at universities exceeds the number of men. But, more than a generation after feminism, the number of women in elite jobs doesn't come close. (snip)

In interviews, women with enough money to quit work say they are "choosing" to opt out. Their words conceal a crucial reality: the belief that women are responsible for child-rearing and homemaking was largely untouched by decades of workplace feminism. Add to this the good evidence that the upper-class workplace has become more demanding and then mix in the successful conservative cultural campaign to reinforce traditional gender roles and you've got a perfect recipe for feminism's stall.

I can't say that I'm surprised. The lie that you can have it all is just not true. Choices have consequences. When a woman chooses a full time career other areas will be given less attention. Most notably the family and marriage.

When the feminism movement began it was about choice. The author appears t0 now view feminism as a failure because woman are seeing the choices and choosing home.
Here's the feminist moral analysis that choice avoided: The family -- with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks -- is a necessary part of life, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government. This less-flourishing sphere is not the natural or moral esponsibility only of women. Therefore, assigning it to women is unjust. Women assigning it to themselves is equally unjust.

To to an enlightened feminist it is not only a wrong choice to decide to stay home but an unjust one as well. I guess I'm not experiencing "full human flourishing in the public sphere." To her that is a failure. I say welcome home.

HT: Joanne Jacobs

Related Links:

You can find my personal story on Choosing Home here.

Confessor is talking about Christian Feminism here. (Jay from Cleveland opines in the comments. Make sure your read them.)

The Choosing Home blog is dedicated to enoouraging women to "flourish in the home". Check them out.

Passing the Word Along

The nominations for Homeschooling Blogger Awards 2005 is up. Make sure you nominate your favorite blogs in each cateogory and help spread the word. The more that know the better the show.

Here are a few other noteworthy events going on around the blogosphere.

Blogs of Beauty Awards
Two Talent Living is having the Blogs of Beauty Awards.

The focus of these awards is honoring the female bloggers who bring beauty to
the world of blogdom.
Get all the details here. Big hat tip to Molly at Choosing Home.

Attention Unschoolers
Andrea at Atypical Homeschool has started the Carnival of Unschooling. Andrea is asking for

links to interesting posts on unschooling from the past month or so. We'll consider anything from October 1st onwards. It can be written by you or someone else. You have until the end of the month, November 30th, to get them in and we'll post them.
Homeschool Symposium
Tenn is hoting an Online Symposium. The topic is What Makes A Homeschooler A Homeschooler. Get all the details here.

I'm sure there is more going on. If you would like to clue me in leave a comment.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Time to Blog

Time to Blog
Every once in a while someone asks how I have time to blog. Here's my answers.

I have a sister who loves to quilt. She spends hours piecing together carefully selected fabric into a beautiful design. She hopes that these quilts will become heirlooms to the next generation. I don't quilt I blog. However, I view my activity the same way she does hers. It is a labor of love for my children. Spunkyhomeschool is a patchwork of posts pieced together to pass down to the next generation. Psalm 78 says,
So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
What I write each day, I write for them. I don't want to forget the things God has taught me. I want them to know them too. I want them to know what I believe and why I believe it. Some posts they will understand now. Some won't be useful until they are parents themselves. Some will be just little bits of history so they will understand the times in which we live. But I blog for them.

Friday Leftovers

Thanksgiving dinner was at my home yesterday. I served up turkey, ham, and all the fiixins' to our family of 8, my sister's family of 8, my parents, and a friend, accompanied by his daughter. It was wonderful. A special thanks to my husband. He saved the day when yours truly put 10 pounds of potato peels down the kitchen sink. He is my "Knight in shining plumber".

While we're working on the leftover food here's a few leftovers from the week that I just haven't gotten around to blogging about.

Wife Swap
Remember the Wfie Swap invitation many of us received back in the summer? There was no way we were going to do the show. The casting director, Lori Malkin even left a comment on my blog doubling the earnings for whoever was chosen. She also tried to downplay any wrong motives on the part of the show. Here's part of what she said,
Everyone's spirtuality is there own and we would never allow someone to push their morals or values onto someone else. And by the way, we are going to be doubling the amount we pay families to $20,000!!!
I didn't buy it then and the claim sounds even less convincing today. Jo's Boys informs us of a lawsuit filed by one of the contestants for mispresresentation by the show. The "wife" they gave him was actually a gay man! The Muskogee Phoenix has the story.

(Hat tip: Kate at Under the Sky)

Fashion Distress
From the Wahington Post,

Mothers voice distress over the suggestive clothing their teen and preteen daughters are wearing, inside and outside the house.
It is truly sad what girls are wearing today. Did someone forget to tell them that camisoles belong UNDER a shirt? Thankfully, Spunky Jr. and the little Spunkettes have no interest in dressing or "undressing" this way.

(Thanks to frequent commenter CJ for the tip.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Homeschooling Blog Awards

I've been sick all day. So this might just be a delirious dream of mine but I thought I would pitch the idea and see if it flies. The Evangelical Underground has their awards and so does Wizbang. But I thought it would be fun and encouraging to have our own little sub-sphere of awards. This isn't just a popularity contest but a way to recognize those that have great blogs and let others know about them. Let's face it blogging is a labor of love. And a little pat on the back every once in a while is a blessing.

So I'd like to open up the whole blogosphere to the
Homeschooling Blog Awards
If there are enough bloggers who think this is a good idea, I'll host it. Here are some of the categories that I thought of.

  • Best Homeschooling Mom Blog
  • Best Homeschooling Dad Blog
  • Best Homeschooling Family blog
  • Best Homeschooling Teen blog
  • Best Informational Homeschool blog
  • Best Inspirational Homeschool blog
  • Best Homeschooling Humor blog
  • Best Team / Group Homeschool Blog
  • Best Homeschool Curriculum / Business Blog
  • Best Homeschool Blog Design.
  • Best Canadian Homeschool Blog
  • Best International Homeschool Blog
More categories can be added or deleted. But I'd only do this if there is enough interest. So let me know what you all think. Maybe I'll even find someone to design a fancy little award to put on your blog. (Volunteers?)

If I do this I will accept nominations for a few weeks. I'll determine the deadline if there is enough interest. And then voting will begin after the nominating time has ended. Any one can nominate a blogger but nly those blogs that are homeschooling (or all graduated) will be allowed to be nominated.

So what do you think? Feel free to pass this along and ask your readers if they would like to see something like this. Leave your feedback in the comments but don't nominate anyone until I am certain this will be a go. I'll post another thread for nominations. Also, if you can think of another category, please share it as well.

Want to move to Texas?

From CBS 11 -
In a long-awaited decision, the Texas Supreme Court today ruled by a 7-to-1 vote that the current school finance plan is unconstitutional. The justices said using local property taxes to pay for schools amounts to an unconstitutional statewide tax.
The state of Texas now has until June to come up with another way to fund its schools. I have an idea, how about they just get out of the education business all together. Let parents take on their rightful responsiblity and let them choose where to spend their own money.

Monday, November 21, 2005

This Story Speaks For Itself

Court clears school of pushing religion with lesson on Islam . Any guess which court they're talking about? The infamous Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Michelle Malkin links to the disputed curriculum. (PDF) here's what it said in the introduction.

The assignment was designed to last 10 -15 days and inlcuded a lesson in Muslim prayers with quotes from the Qur'an. They were also requried to memorize five popular proverbs and explain what they mean. I wonder what the Christian children were supposed to do during this assignment. Their grade was dependent on their successful completion of all exercises. Furthermore, what will Christian parents and children do now that the court has effectively ruled in favor of teaching Islam?

Should Christian children be made to "pretend" to be Islamic and recite from the Qur'an in order to evangelize their fellow classmates?

Choice: What a beautiful thing

(Note: We are having some technical problems. If the site doesn't load properly hit refresh.)

Imagine with me, if you will, that you just bought your first house. You are so excited. The rooms are spacious, the neighborhood lovely, and the surrounding community has the atmosphere of your dreams. The area is loaded with restaurants, museums, orchestras, and cultural opportunities galore. All to entertain and educate you and your children. You walk around your new home staring at boxes and dreaming of the future.

Suddenly, your dream is interrupted by a knock at the door. Wondering who it is, you peek through the door. It's a face you don't recognize. You greet the stranger warmly. He, however, looks all business. "Are you Mrs. Jones the new homeowner?"

"Why, yes I am. Is there a problem? Did my dog get loose? Buster come back!" You yell out the door. "Oh, he loves to explore. Just like my children. That's why we bought this house you know. There's so much to see and do. It's just wonderful. I can't wait to take them on Monday to the Chinese restaurant down the road. Have you been there?" You ramble on hoping to snag his interest and ease the tension in the air.

"No, I haven't and that's just what I'd like to talk to you about." He proceeds to explain that because you have purchase this house at 123 Maple you are only allowed to do certain things. You are only permitted to eat at one restaurant. - The Italian restaurant across the road. The only grocery store you can frequent is Jack's Pack and Save about 10 miles away. The only entertainment venue you can visit is the Starlight Theatre that shows second run movies and has an Elvis week once a month. He also informs you the foreign model car currently parked in your driveway is not permissible on county roads. But don't worry, there is a bus available to pick you up at a designated time if transportation is a problem.

"What do you mean?" You protest. "I can't eat there. I"m allergic to tomatoes. I don't like any of those choices you have selected for me. Why should I have to eat, shop, and entertain myself at those selections simply because I bought this house? And I can't drive my car. That's ridiculous. That's down right un-American. Isn't there anything I can do about it?"

The man smiles slightly and replies, "Sure, you can go pay each of those businesses assigned to your address a fee. We have set up an easy deduction system where the money is taken out of your pay each week. You won't even notice its gone. We have found that to be the best way to make sure that everyone's needs are taken care of equally. Then as long as your fees are paid up you are free to visit any other establishment of your choosing."

You are outraged. "If I pay those establishments I will have very little money left for my own choice. I can't afford both."

"Sorry, that's the way it is. Congratulations on your new home." He hands you a form to sign and leaves.

So if we would never accept this in any other area...why do we accept it in something as important as the education of our children?

More on Parental Choice

A parental choice solution is proposed by a reporter for Fox News to end the intelligent design ~ evolution debate in the public schools. He believes allowing choice in education would end the public fighting over this and many other cultural issues.

We're fighting because the institution of public schooling forces us to, by permitting only one government-sanctioned explanation of human origins. The only way for one side to have its views reflected in the official curriculum is at the expense of the other side.(snip)

The sad truth is that state-run schooling has created a multitude of similarly pointless battles. Nothing is gained, for instance, by compelling conformity on school prayer, random drug testing, the set of religious holidays that are worth observing, or the most appropriate forms of sex education. Not only are these conflicts unnecessary, they are socially corrosive. Every time we fight over the official government curriculum, it breeds more resentment and animosity within our communities. These public-schooling-induced battles have done much to inflame tensions between Red and Blue America.(snip)

Fortunately, there is a way to end the cycle of educational violence: parental choice. Why not reorganize our schools so that parents can easily get the sort of education they value for their own children without having to force it on their neighbors?

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Is the NEA the new Animal Farm?

Robert Novak wrote in a commentary for Real Clear Politics that the Washington DC cell of the Communist Party is holding its monthly luncheon at the NEA headquarters. Here's the scoop.

The District of Columbia cell of the Communist Party USA has been revealed as holding a monthly luncheon in the cafeteria of the National Education Association (NEA), without the sponsorship but not with the disapproval of the huge, politically powerful schoolteachers union. The Communist meetings were reported by Chris Peterson in the Washington City Paper edition of Nov. 11-17. A lawyer attending the September meeting bolted from the cafeteria when he learned a reporter was present.

"We had no knowledge of this," NEA spokeswoman Denise Cardinal told this column, "because the NEA does not screen the patrons of our cafeteria or listen in on conversations. It's open to the public."

I don't believe in guilt by association but a little distance from such a group would be nice. The NEA seems reluctant to even denounce them.

Darren at Right at the Left Coast links to the Washington City Paper article that talks more about the communist group known as the Frederick Douglass Club. One somewhat disturbing fact is the co-chair, Barry Weinstein, is an elementary school teacher in Fairfax, VA. I thought it was interesting that for the interview he wore a white T-shirt with a red hammer-and-sickle logo and "CPUSA" printed on it. Here's Mr. Weinstein's perpsective,
Look at me - don't call me a terrorist, and don't call me less than an American," he says. "I'm as American as you can get, as patriotic as anyone. Even more so!"
What I'd like to know is just what definition does Mr. Weinstein use to teach "patriotism" to his young scholars? As a teacher, Darren also noted that in his state of California "it's illegal for a teacher to be a communist or to advocate communism to students."

I wonder if Mr. Weinstein also realizes that this cafeteria is operated by a capitalist company. The Education Gadfly wrote about this in September (via Edwonk).
NEA Cafe's operation is outsourced to a private, for-profit vendor, Seasons Culinary Services - precisely what the union abhors in public education. This firm's philosophy is worth sharing, both because it's a fine one for a food service outfit and because it reads like the gustatory equivalent of a charter school.
The vendor works hard to rid themelves of the stereotypical cafeteria food image. (aka your local public school.) The Education Gadfly actually visited the cafe and noted, "If the NEA ran its restaurant by its education policy precepts, everyone would be served the same food - and told where to sit."

My children an I have just finished reading Animal Farm by George Orwell. It was not lost on us how the animals began to act like the farmer once they got into power. Maybe George Orwell was really writing about the NEA in 2005.

(Hat tip: Christine Miller)

Because La Shawn says I need one

One of La Shawn Barber's pet peeves is a blog without an "about me" link.

Sooooo in an effort to please La Shawn (my inspiration but who probably won't read this actually read it and commented) and all others who care to know, here's a little about me. (And besides it's Saturday and I have a baziillion things to do today because today is Michigan -vs- Ohio State and I have about twenty people coming to watch the game and my son is turning 15 as well and so that means not only do we get to celebrate a Michigan victory but another year with my terrific son and since what is really important in life won't matter until that game is over which may be before this sentence that is going on so long that the only people still reading it are those that really want to know these mundane facts about me because all others have been run off by my run on sentence soooo.....

I will tell the few remaining people (who must be pretty bored today because they're still reading this) and Jackie (who reads all my posts the good, the bad, and the boring) all the things about me that you never really wanted to know but that La Shawn said I should tell you so here goes! )

I'm a...

...Christian. (I hope this was obvious.)
...Daughter to the best parents in the world. (I want to be just like them when I grow up.)
...Wife to one very patient man. (Who let's me be me and loves me inspite of it!)
...Mom to six adorable Braunadoes (They're on my sidebar.)


...Got my nickname Spunky from my dad when I was 17. Somehow it stuck around. My real name is Karen Braun.
...Holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. (which is probably more BS than CS these days!)
...Homeschools all her children. (I don't think I needed to say that either.)
...Blogs because I have 42 years worth of stuff swirling in my head that my friends have all heard so many times that I need to find a new audience for it all. (Lucky you!)
...Drinks expensive coffee when others are buying (remember I don't have a real job.)
...Believes I am totally right about just about everything I believe. Otherwise I wouldn't believe it. And if you think about it...you do too.
...Is totally normal in every way. It's the culture that's all messed up.

Lives in...
...A house that was too small the day we bought it. (No, it's not the one on my sidebar.)
...A suburb of Detroit
...The United States
...A suburb of the United Nations.

Anything else worth knowing about me really isn't so I'll end here. But if you really want to know anything else about me just ask. I may not answer but at least I'll know what else you're curious about! And as a bonus to those that read to the end here I am.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Who said this?

"We have trouble in the classrooms, we are putting in new text books. Nothing wrong with new books but we are spending more time on them than the Bible; it is drifting to the back of the classroom. We cannot tolerate this in American education. The Bible's morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble."

If you guessed Pat Robertson you'd be wrong.

If you guessed Billy Graham you' be wrong.

If you guessed George W. Bush you'd be wrong.

If you guessed Spunky at SpunkyHomeschool you'd be wrong.

It was Fisher Aimes.

Who is Fisher Aimes you ask?

None other than the author of the First Ammendment to the Consitution of the United States of America. He wrote that in an article called "School Books" for Palladium Magazine in January of 1801. I wonder what he would write about the public schools today?

So for those of you who think that the public schools can be reformed just remember to some they already have.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Notable Quotables

We Are Family!
Here are the words of a public school teacher at the Daily Grind admitting the parallels between the classroom and the family. While this teacher definitely espouses "Christian values" I find it troubling when a teacher seeks to make such strong comparisons between the classroom and the family. Here's some quotes,

Unconditional Love: When a student walks into my classroom, and that is what I am in control of, that student should know that whatever I do as a teacher is for their ultimate good.

On the Importance of Work: I want my classroom to be a place of hard work. True, gritty, work. Isn't that what we are preparing them for, a life of work?

Explore the Future: It is our responsibility to humanity to set the next generation up. We must lead them to it.

When a teacher claims that whatever they do is for the student's good, to prepare them for a life of work, all for the sake of humanity I don't need any more proof that the their goals are not even close to mine. (Hat tip: Carnival of Education hosted by Edwonk.)

Where are the young evangelists?
But maybe this teacher is correct. From the Washington Post It seems more and more schools are having a hard time controlling certain "family" behaviors in their high school students. The administration is perplexed while the teens don't care. Here's a quote.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about students having s*x in a high school auditorium was that other students didn't find it very shocking at all.
And our young "missionaries and evangelists" in the schools are supposed to stand up and say what while this is going on? (Harriet Jacobs blogged about this as well. )

Telling it like it is!
From World Net Daily, Vox Day calls it exactly right on the recent court decisions and the state of education in this country and around the world. If you think I'm blunt about the public schools here's a few quotes from him,

This is why Marx, Lenin and Hitler were all supporters of public schooling in their attempts to permanently secure the individual's services for the State. The standing in line, the bullying, the drudgery and boredom of the mind-numbing daily school routine is not incidental to the education of the schoolchild, it is the education. Contrary to what most parents believe, it is actually reading, writing and arithmetic that are entirely incidental to the true purpose of public school - subservience is the "socialization" of which educationists correctly complain that homeschooled children lack. (snip)

The homeschooling movement was inevitable, as it is only a symptom of the fundamental conflict between Christianity and the utilitarian collectivism that lies below the surface of the public-school system.

Amen and Amen! (Note: This quote was editted from earlier today.) (Hat tip: Jackie)

So to my public school readers (and I know there are a few) how bad does the situation have to get before you decide that enough is enough?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Would you stop homeschooling for this?

A new program just announced this week promises a four year college scholarship to every graduate in the Kalamazoo Public School District (Michigan). They're calling it the Kalamazoo Promise. It is believed to be the first program of its kind in the nation and is funded through private donations. Here's the announcement from their website,
A group of citizens interested in economic strength and quality of life in the City of Kalamazoo have made a tremendous contribution on behalf of KPS students. All students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools, are residing in the district, and have been students four years or more will be given funding for college tuition and mandatory fees. The amount of available dollars depends on years of residency and the number of grades attended in KPS, up to 100% of tuition and mandatory fees. The funds will be available to use at any public university or community college in the State of Michigan.
So now here's the $50,000 question...

If this were offered in your area would that convince you to leave homeschooling behind for a full ride scholarship to a state university?

The Teenage Years of Jesus Christ

The tragic news of the last few days has made it all the more clear why it is so necessary for parents to train their children in wisdom and keep their hearts. From the early news reports it is clear that Kara Borden did not accept her parents decision in regards to the companion she had chosen. In the end the parents turned out to be right. I'm sure Kara sees that now but sadly a few days too late to honor their decision.

The teenage years can be difficult. Our young people are transitioning from youth to adulthood. But does it have to be turbulent? I"m not an expert on that but I don't buy into the idea that they have to be turbulent. My job as a parent is not yet done but we are not experiencing anything different in our teens that has me too worried at the moment. The fruit of our labors has yet to be determined. But I am encouraged by the early signs we have seen. However until my children are walking faithfully with God by their own choosing - I work, watch, and pray.

There is one resource that I have found helpful as we parent our teens. It is a small book by Jerry L. Ross called The Teenage Years of Jesus Christ. This book outlines what Jesus might have done during his "teenage years" based on the scripture from Luke 2:51-52
And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
The author takes that scripture and breaks it down into what each means and encourages young people to examine their priorities in light of these scriptures. He does not provide a "legalsitic" set of must do's for the Christian. But he does examine key areas of our lives and how we behave. For example, he identifies maturity as putting away three "childish things". This affects three key areas - speech, understanding, and thinking.

It was a challenging book for me to read as an adult. We have also had our three oldest to read it. They have all found the book thought provoking. It isn't always easy to confront the interests that we have and examine if they are the best things for us. The culture wants to distract and entice our children with many attractive choices. Many things appear to be beneficial but if they take our heart away from our God and our first priorites are they really beneficial?

The book is wrtiten to the young adult specifically. He does, however, addresss the parents as well. Here's a quote from Chapter 10 A Brief Word to Parents,
Our job as parents is to do everything possible to see to it that our children's hearts and minds are molded to the image of Christ. This is the ultimate goal and the ultimate challenge. To choose any other pattern, even that of ourselves, is to rob our children of some of what they could one day become.
Mr. Ross exhorts parents and chilren both to study the scriptures and the life of Jesus. Jesus grew in wisdom. He exhorts the us to do the same, "
The world by her wisdom chooses to exclude God. Anything that labels itself as wisdom and ignores the teachings of the Word of God is not wisdom. It is counterfeit.
He discusses that wsdom begins with the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 9:10) He then contrasts that with the characteristics of a fool drawing mainly from Proverbs. It is enlightening and very convicting.

Throughout the book he does not promote a "method" or a "pattern" to follow except the life of Christ. Nor does he claim that this book will guarantee anything. But he believes that when a young person examines how Jesus walked with his parents the teenager will be challenged to examine his own walk with the Lord and his parents. We have found this book to be a very helpful in that examination process.

Related Posts:
Don't Bend The Wire
The Three R's of Parenting

In a related story, Nanette let me know about a disaster that was diverted today at a private Christian school in North Carolina. Two students were arrested for plot to kill classmates.
People are wondering how two apparently good kids went bad. "(They were)
from good homes, were doing well academically," said Dr. Ron Allen, the church's pastor.
It is becoming more and more apparent, knowledge isn't enough. Wisdom is what we need to teach our children.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

University Bans Bible Study for RA

I live near the University of Michigan. It is a virtual melting pot of the "tolerant" philosphy in our culture today. Whether in the dorm or around campus it seems that diversity and freedom of expression are thriving. U of M is not unique. It seems most universities today in effort to be demonstrate "diversity" and will allow an encourage just about any type of behavior and belief. However, at the University of Wisconsin, the line seems to be drawn at the bible. A resident advisor has been banned from participating in a private bible study in his dormitory. Here's the story from FrontPagemagazine.com
The controversy began on July 26, when an administrator banned RAs from leading private, non-school-sponsored Bible studies in their dorms out of concern that students might feel "judged" and that Bible study-leading RAs might not be sufficiently "approachable." Undergraduate RA Lance Steiger contacted FIRE, which on October 10 asked UWEC Interim Chancellor Vicki Lord Larson to lift the Bible study ban. Receiving no response, FIRE took the case public on November 2, resulting in public outcry and condemnation of the policy from state and national lawmakers.

Finally, in a November 8 letter, the University of Wisconsin's general counsel attempted to justify the Bible study ban by claiming that UWEC has "consistently followed" a "viewpoint neutral" policy prohibiting RAs from organizing or leading "all organization [sic] or activities." This claim contradicts UWEC's own job description for RAs, which gives RAs the responsibility "[t]o help organize and promote educational, recreational, social, and cultural activities that the students want and need," and asks them to "actively assist" in the "political" programs of the dorm.
So its okay for a high school in CA to have a "condom club" for ninth graders but a college resident advisor cannot hold a private bible study in their dorm room? And these are the people you want to impart "wisdom" to my children? No thanks.

A Club For Every Interest

Berkely High School has a club for the purpose of dispensing devices to prevent pregnancy to young students. A twelve pack each week compliments of the school district with an offer of free food to perk their interest. The district put an announcement for the "Condom Club" in the school bulletin that is e-mailed to the students and parents. The sad thing is that parents are so used to it they barely batted an eye. Just another day in the life of our schools.

The article quoted a conversation with the writer and his ninth grade son in which the father asked the son about the club. After the son told the father he wasn't going to join, the father attempted to teach the son how to use one, the son responded, "Dad, they taught us in sixth grade." Gee, dad how come you didn't know that already!

Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Homeschooler missing, Parents Dead

UPDATE: Kara and her friend have been caught and arrested. Here's the link. Below is also a list of other bloggers talking about this tragedy. Including a father familiar with the family.

Homeschooler Kara Beth of PA is missing and her parents are dead. She is believed to be with an 18 year old young man named Mr. Ludwig. She met him through a homeschool network. Apparently the parents disapproved of the relationship and they had an argument. Quoting for the Post-Gazette,

We don't know whether she has been abducted or is willingly a part of this," Chief Seace said, but he added that until they can determine otherwise, police are 0perating on the assumption that Kara had been kidnapped.
According to Stephanie Mannon, a 16-year-old friend who had worked with the Mr. Ludwig,

He and Kara had been seeing each other secretly. "Their parents didn't approve of them being together" because of the age difference, she said. "It wasn't because he was a shady character, because he wasn't."
So very sad.

Also blogging this story.
Agent Tim shares his perspective as a homeschool teen on this tragic story.

My 16 year old daughter, Spunky Jr. shares her thoughts about respecting a parent's decision.

Local PA father David King talks about how homeschooling is not the answer. Here's a quote
It is not what a man does that either defiles him, nor sanctifies him. His heart, if it is defiled, will produce defiled works. His heart, if it is yielded to the influence of the Spirit of God, will produce works that are approved of God.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Child Wars

We've all seen it happen and maybe even experienced it with our own children. An unruly toddler in a restuarant and the irritated stares of patrons nearby. What to do? Do you leave? Do you stay and try to keep them quiet? Do you get mad at the other patrons for their lack of compassion?

Well, Dan McCauley the owner of A Taste of Heaven in Chicago is fighting back the unruly behavior with his own rules of etiquette for children. . Quoting from an article in the New York Times, has posted a sign saying that

"children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven."
He chose to post the sign because parents have been unable to control their children and he desires a pleasant calm atmosphere in his cafe. According to the article here's what Mr. McCauley has to deal with

Children were climbing the cafe's poles. A couple were blithely reading the newspaper while their daughter lay on the floor blocking the line for coffee. When the family whose children were running across the room to throw themselves against the display cases left after his admonishment, Mr. McCauley recalled, the restaurant erupted in applause.
Unfortunately, some of their regular patrons are not too happy with the "keep our kids quiet or out policy." Here's what one mom had to say,

"I love people who don't have children who tell you how to parent," said Alison Miller, 35, a psychologist, corporate coach and mother of two. "I'd love for him to be responsible for three children for the next year and see if he can control the volume of their voices every minute of the day."
While we have worked hard to teach and train our children to keep quiet in restaurants it does happen. They act loud or inappropriate. But when it does I am not put off by those who get annoyed with my child. It just tells me I have more work to do. I politely apologize for my child and if necessary leave. Other mothers don't seem to see it the same way. Here's what mother of two, Laurie Brauer said,
"I think that the mothers who allow their kids to run around and scream, that's wrong, but kids scream and there is nothing you can do about it. What are we supposed to do, not enjoy ourselves at a cafe?"
So a parent with a loud toddler are allowed to enjoy themselves but the rest of the cafe has to suffer? I remember an experience I had when I was a waitress years ago. I attempted to seat a family with their young son. Every table we tried was somehow unacceptable to the the little dictator. Eventually, the child declared, "I don't want to eat here. I want to eat over there." He pointed to the a restaurant across the street. Obediently, the parents left the restaurant and went across the street! The whole restaurant breathed a sigh of relief.

With a little work you and your children can enjoy themselves.
While I agree that parents can't control the volume every minute of every day, they can teach them to use the proper voice in the proper place. And understand that when their child acts inappropriately they need to do something. We work with our children at home before we take them out. I learned this from my own parents. They would drill us before we even left the house about what they expected. Often my mom would have a menu and practice ordering so we were ready when the waitress came to our table. We've done similar things with our children. Then when we do take them out, they have already learned and developed the restraint necessary to control themselves. If they haven't we wouldn't go to a place where we would be a distraction. It's not that hard really but it does take time. And once they have learned how to sit quietly it is a joy to take them just about anywhere.

I remember one time when I just had my five children. The oldest was about 11. We attended a benefit violin concert. When we arrived the only seats left were right in the first row. I could see the looks of disapproval on the faces around me as we made our way to our seats. Quietly, we sat as the people behind me murmurred loud enough to let me know I had just wrecked their evening. However, at the intermission one elderly lady walk up to me. "Isn't that impressive!" she exclaimed.

I nodded in agreement, "Yes, the violinist sure are talented."

"No! Not my son. Your children!"

I was thankful and relieved that we had done the hard work at home. I don't share this story to boast. Not at all. I am thankful to God that I had parents who were willing to take the time to work with me. They were not the perfect parents and neither am I. But when parents take the time to work with their children, the children rise to the challenge. And in the end we all have a much more pleasant experience.

Friday, November 11, 2005

National Testing

A few people commented after I posted about who should be called a homeschooler. Some thought it trivial or argumentative to make distinctions based on whether the family uses a government provided curriculum or not. Well this article that first appeared in the New York Times this week and now reprinted here demonstrates why it is so important.
Americans must recognize that we need national standards, national tests and a national curriculum.
There is momentum building for a national curriculum and exam. Homeschoolers who use the government provided curriculums would most likely be included in the requirements of a national curriculum or exam. Currently homeschoolers are exempt from a national exam. But the effects would be chilling on those who don't use this curriculum and standard.

The responsibility would shift to prove why the NON government "homeschoolers" should be treated any differently than the government "homeschoolers". A disctinction is necessary. Most homeschool because they do NOT want the government telling them what to teach their children or have them tested. Here's what Chris Klicka said of virtual charters and vouchers
I believe the soul of the home schooling movement is at stake. How we respond to virtual charter schools and vouchers will determine the extent home schooling remains free from government controls in the future.
So it is important that homeschoolers understand that for the sake of establishing "unity" or financial help they may be giving up their liberty as well.

To read more HSLDA has written about it here and here. and here.

Our children as missionaries

Yesterday, Tony left me a few comments and questions that are fairly common among Christians concerning homeschoolers. Here's what he said (in red) my response is below

I have a few questions or points to consider. And please do not misunderstand, I am not opposed to homeschooling. But I am worried about Christians being to quick to withdraw from the world and also being too critical of those "left behind".
First, scriptures tell us that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4) No soldier in active duty entangles himself in civilian affairs. (2 Timothy 2:6) So it is not that we are withdrawing from the world. Our generation is engaged in a spiritual war. Every generation has the same battle to fight. As a parent, I am not going to send my children into a system which says that there is no God to be trained for that war. Our nation would be foolish to send untrained soldiers to the Middle East. The same would be true here.

Further, I am not critical of those "left behind". I am criticial of government education that promotes the state as higher than the parent or God.

Tony then asked these questions,
1. If all Christians homeschool, how do we go minister and provide an example to those in our public schools? These are not evil people, they need Christ as much as we do, but how will they be influenced? Aren't we just abandoning them to the "bad" influences from which we are fleeing? Is this not giving up?
The scriptures tell me to go out into all the world and preach the gospel. I don't limit my evangelism (nor my children's) to the schools or their schedule. The influence our family has on other families is not limited by the need to contain my children for six hours a day in a classroom. We go out into ALL the world. At times that has included our whole family going into the public schools for presentations. (My husband has been to the public schools three times in the last month.)

We are not abandoning those children to the "bad" influences. Their parents are responsible for whatever influences are upon their children. I have not given up on them. However, I'm not willing to give up the discipleship of my children to reach them.

Also, you are assuming that my children are only going to be an influence for good. Scripture says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. That includes mine. They do foolish things that will be a 'bad" inlfuence on others. (Trust me! I see what they do to each other!)

A child doesn't necessarily become wise just because he's homeschooled. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In order for my children to become wise they must learn to love and fear the Lord. And then the knowledge that they learn can be applied with the wisdom of God to guide them. That will come as they learn under the discipleship of their parents not a godless institution that says that there are many ways to God. The curriclum is the "bad influence" as much as any child is.

2. Just because you are a Christian of deep faith and conviction, does not mean you have the skill sets or aptitude to be a good teacher of all the subjects that our children need.

I never claimed to have all the skills necessary to teach all subjects. I don't know many who do. But I sure don't have. My children are quite capable of learning many subjects on their own. Especially since they have not been given the mindless drivel that kills their love for reading and learning.

Your statement also assumes that the schools have hired the teachers with the aptitutde to teach these subjects. I'm not sure that claim can be made in most schools. Is homeschooling the perfect answer? No, there is no perfect education this side of heaven. All educational choices will have gaps. I accept that. And so do those who enroll their children in the public schools. They are willing to exchange Christ and the wisdom of the the Bible applied to their teaching while I'm willing to exchange a state of the art Chemistry lab.

3. If Christians isolate themselves, how do we bring the Kingdom of God to fruition on this earth? Christ clearly calls us to be a light to the world. Do we not think our children are smart enough to eventually detect the hypocrisy of teaching them the song "This Little Light of Mine" behind closed doors? Hide it under a bushel--NO!

The short answer to that question Tony is NO. I don't think my five year old unbelieving child is capable of discerning a lie from the truth. What child is?

They may eventually come to the knowledge of Christ and realize the foolishness of some of what they have been taught. But that doesn't mean that some of the residual effects don't remain. I am a case in point. The effect of what the "classrom" model created in me was not always positive. I learned that the grade was more important than the truth of the information being taught. I learned to compete against those I should learn to serve. I learned to ignore my siblings and prefer my friends. I learned that getting knowledge is more important than getting wisdom. All of these and more were "taught" to me by the schools that tried to educate me.

No Tony, our family is not hiding our light under a bushel. And we're not hiding it in the four walls of the classroom either. The world is our classroom and our lives a daily testimony to HIS saving power. When my son holds the door for a lady; when I talk to the lady in the grocery line; when my daughter prays for her baby sister's "oweee"; when my husband goes into the school and does a Civil War presentation; when my daughter teaches piano to the neighborhood children; when our family takes a meal to a friend; we are living the life of the believer. We are giving a cup of water in HIS name.

When scripture says, "Go out into ALL the world and preach the gospel." that's exactly what we're doing every day.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Are All Parents Homeschoolers?

Apparently some didn't agree with Harvey Bluedorn's second item in the Seven Undeniable Truths of Homeschooling that I posted yesterday. Daryl commented at my other blog (looks identical)
Spunky, I have to disagree STRONGLY with #2. The g-school at home folks are constantly trying to call what they do "homeschooling," thus jeopardizing our
freedoms. In 1994, when this list was compiled, calling all parents homeschoolers might have been safe. No longer.
I replied in my comment back, I understand what you are saying Daryl. But I also think that what Mr. Bluedorn was saying is also true. In that, all parents are providing some sort of an education. All parents are teaching their children. Some are teaching them to rely on the government. But all parents educate. I don't think he was referring to the disctinctions in the home school community. Taken from that perspective, you are correct. Many who use that term do muddy the waters and make the laws difficult to interpret.

Daryl brings up a good point that I strongly agree with. Our freedoms are in jeopardy if we continue to allow the government to define homeschooling on their terms. Should we be working harder to make a distinction between those who "home educate" without the government and those who adopt the "government school at home" model? I understand that some parents choose this option for a variety of reasons. But should we call it homeschooling? How should we define homeschooling and who has the right to define it?

Update: Daryl also referred me to a short post written a while back by Tim that is excellent and worth a read. Here's a quote,
Every family who thinks little Johnny and Jill would simply learn better at home is really taking part in a revolution that fundamentally questions both the competence and the right of the state to determine what and how our children learn.
What do you think?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gatto Coming to Michigan

Author and Speaker John Taylor Gatto is coming to the Mid-Winter Home Educator's Conference in Hudsonville, MI January 27 and 28, 2006. (That's on the west side of the state near Grand Rapids.)

His topics will include The Underground History of American Education", "The Trapped Flea Principle and Other Weapons of Mass Instruction", and "Do You Really Need to Go to College?". They all sound interesting.

Along side Mr. Gatto will be Rob and Cyndy Shearer homeschooling parents of 11 children. I have heard Rob speak at this conference a few years ago. He is very entertaining and absolutely brilliant when he talks about history (my weakness).

I have not been to this conference in a few years. But I"m going to try and make this one if I can. Want to join me? Maybe we can do a mid-winter blog meet-up during the conference. This conference always helps keep me motivated during the grey days of winter.

Seven Undeniable Truths of Homeschooling

While surfing one of my favorite sites, Trivium Pursuit, I came upon the Seven Undeniable Truths of Homeschooling wrtitten by Harvey Bluedorn. Here are the first three with a brief excerpts of his explanation taken from his website:

1. Homeschooling is not Alternative Education
I do not like being listed among alternative options in education. The presumption seems to be that government schools were here first, then private schools were invented as an alternative for rich kids, then religious schools were started for racist conservatives, and finally, homeschools came along for the terminally antisocial.

Well, I am here to say, we were here first, and we have been here the longest. We are just coming back, and we are coming back strong. God put children in the care of parents. Adam and Eve's kids were all Homeschooled. And in Deuteronomy 6:6 we read,
...these words,which I command thee this day,shall be in thine heart:And thou shalt teach themdiligently unto thy children,and shalt talk of themwhen thou sittest in thine house,and when thou walkest by the way,and when thou liest down,and when thou risest up.
If that's not Homeschooling, I don’t know what is.

2, 2. All Parents are Homeschoolers
The second undeniable truth of Homeschooling is that all parents are Homeschoolers. It's just that some parents Homeschool more than others.

3. God Gave Children to Parents as their Stewardship
The third undeniable truth of Homeschooling is that our children are given to us as a stewardship from God. The government did not give birth to our children, neither did the government give our children to us, neither can we trust the government to raise them for us, neither should we let the government take them from us.

"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:and the fruit of the womb is His reward."(Psalm 127:3)

Click here To read the rest of the list ....

The Undeniable TRUTH of Spunky Homeschool:
To those readers coming over from Daryl's site. I DID NOT ban him from commenting on my site. You can read his comment here at my other blog (it looks the same). He posted a comment there and it is still there. Not sure why he thinks I banned him. I did delete a second comment that talked about a typo. I fixed the typo and deleted the second comment. (The first comment says editted by SpunkyHomeschool.) I think he has confused my two websites. Oh well. I hope Daryl will clear that up soon! And maybe take a nap too! I think he must be working too hard.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Siege of Western Civilization

If you are trying to help your children understand world events then I encourage you to get a copy of the video The Siege of Western Civilization by Herb Meyer. Mr. Meyer examines why Western Civilization is under attack and who is attacking us. Quoting from his website, here's how Mr. Meyer explains this threat :

We are under attack from Radical Islam - that's the War on Terrorism. We are under attack from those within the US itself who seek to destroy our traditional culture and our moral values - from those who believe the State is more important than the family or the individual. And we ourselves are acting in a way that will leave our children with a bleak economic future.

I couldn't agree more. But understanding the threat and explaining it all to our children is not always easy. Until we watched this video. Mr. Meyer's 42-minute presentation is well documented and easily understood by any who seeks to know the truth of what is going on in our world today. Like a network news anchorman, Mr. Meyer takes us through events in history in a clear and concise way. He helps "connect the dots" from the the past to the present. An understanding of Western Civilization is necessary to comprehend what's at stake in the world today. The Siege of Western Civilization explains it all.

Herb Meyer is a former Reagan Administration senior Intelligence official. He is also the author of several books and dozens of published essays about politics and economics. Mr. Meyer is probably one of only a handful who can speak with authority on this subject. His experience and perspective bring the issues facing our society to an understandable level.

The Siege of Western Civilization is an excellent resource and an excellent supplement to any history curriculum.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The New "Miranda" Ruling

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a controversial ruling in a case involving the parents of elementary age students.

Apparently, the court ruled that once a parent has enrolled their children in the government schools, the parents only have one right. The right to remain silent.

Therefore, I propose that all parents be informed of their rights before they enroll their child in school. Similar to when an arrest is made and they are read their "Miranda" rights. It could go something like this,

Parent or legal guardian; As you enroll your child in our government system of state indoctrination we are required to inform you of your rights...

You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand?

Everything you say and do will be ignored anyway. So don't waste your breath. Do you understand?

You have the right to an attorney. But don't waste your money either. Most judges are on our side. They know how they got elected or appointed. Long live the NEA! Do you understand?

You have no right to due process or privacy. Just bake cookies (no nuts please!) and attend the PTO meetings and we'll get along just fine. Do you understand?

You have no right to object to any material we present to your child. Everything we teach is pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state. Do you understand?

We will use the full power of the court to establish that the interests of the state are more important than your interest as a parent. All at tax payer expense. (That means you.) Do you understand?

We realize that it may seem awkward to give up control of your child's education. But think about how many more hours in the day you will now be free to pursue your own interests. More importantly, the state is now free teach your child exactly what he needs to do to be a good worker in the global economy. Congratulations! You have just been liberated from your primary obligation as a parent. Go in peace.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Open Blog Saturday!

This was orginally supposed to be another Open Blog Friday, but the sun was shining and we went to the park for quite a while yesterday. But I enjoyed last week's open blog that I thought I'd repeat it again this week. So feel free to let me know what's on your mind or blog. Here's a few things going on around here a few items I just didn't get time to blog about in more detail.

Parental Rights? Not in the public schools: This is a must read post for every parent concerned about the direction of education in this country. This week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a case brought by parents upset over a very explicit survey given to elemenatary aged students. In a unanimous decision they ruled against the parents complaint. It's not suprising that our schools are taking on more and more parental responsibility what's so sad is that more and more parents are just letting it happen.

Heaven Without Christ?: I am reading John Piper's new book, God is the Gospel. (Thanks to Stacy at Mind and Media.) In the introduction he asks the questions. Would you be happy in heaven if everything were perfect, no sin, no sickness, no problem but NO Christ? That's an interesting question especially when so often we live our daily lives as if Christ and His Word do not matter much. However, it is only because of a love for Christ that we can enjoy any of the blessings that are result of God's love for us. I hope we all begin to answer no to this question and live accordingly.

Defying Logic: We are going through The Thinking Toolbox by the Bluedorn's. We're having a great time. I know it doesn't seem right to enjoy logic. I took a fair amount of in college and never remember laughing while I studied it. A few tears maybe but never laughter. But everytime we read a lesson we find ourselves laughing outloud.

More on the Bluedorns: Thank you to Laurie Bluedorn for sending me a complimentary set of the books her daughter Johannah illustrated. They are beautiful (see left photo). I am so impressed with her talent and the whole Bluedorn family. Their father Harvey Bluedorn also has a list on his website that is excellent it's called The Ten Undeniable Truths of Homeschooling.

I'm impressed by my own two year old too: No, she's not doing logic or drawing pictures like Johanna but I think she's equally brilliant. She received a new set of glasses last week with bifocals. We put them on and she looked up, smiled, and said "New bifocals!" I didn't even know she knew the word let alone what they were. Do all parents think their kids are the smartest in the world?
Homeschooling: Ann from Holy Experience sent me a link to an article called Reflections on the Right Use of SchoolStudies with a View to the Love of God. It's all about building a habit of attentiveness in our studies so that we can be attentive in prayer and before God. Here's are two quote that I especially liked,

Students must therefore work without any wish to gain good marks, to pass examinations, to win school successes; without any reference to their natural abilities and tastes; applying themselves equally to all their tasks, with the idea that each one will help form in them the habit of that attention which is the substance of prayer. (snip)

We do not obtain the most precious gifts by going in search of them but by waiting for them. Man cannot discover them by his own powers, and if he sets out to seek for them he will find in their place counterfeits of which he will be unable to discern falsity.

This is almost completely opposite the philosophy of the young man I blogged about a few days ago.

Tapestry of Grace: We are in the midst of World War One and the Russian Revolution. This is one time I wish my paternal grandfather were alive. He fled Ukrainia in 1917 to come to the Ellis Island as a young man of 17. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Detroit and worked as an assemblyman at Ford Motor Company. He died before I was born and never talked about his life before coming here. He left his whole family behind to start a one here. How hard that must have been. I am told I have many relatives back in the Ukraine but unfortunately finding them would be extremely difficult. But the history he left behind would make the history we are studying today so much richer and real.

Congratulations to...:
...Patricia Hunter who just celebrated her 29th wedding anniversary. She actually married the same man twice. Read her inspring story at A Chord of Three Strands is Not Easily Broken.

...Adrienne and the new addition to her family. They recently adopted a little two year old boy.

It's a blog world after all: The blogosphere is growing tremendously. Everyday it's connecting people and ideas faster than ever before. Especially among families that homeschool. The Homeschoolblogger.com website is fast approaching their 3000th blogger. To celebrate they are giving away a prize to the 3000th blogger and the person or blog that refers them. To find what the prize is click here. The time to start blogging has never been more right.

Family Farming: Nancy Carter wrote a post called "If you give a family a farm." I"m not a farmer nor do I ever hope to be one. But many homeschoolers enjoy the farm life and Nancy takes a humorous look at what happens when a family decides to get a farm.

Updating my blogroll: I've had some e-mails and comments from fellow bloggers asking to be added to my blogroll I'll get my executive assistant of SpunkyHomeschool to it some time today. If you would like to be added let me know.

There's alot going on around the blogosphere. I can't keep up with it all. Let me know what you're talking about.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Need another reason to homeschool?

The schools and now the courts are making it so much easier to make the decision to homeschool.

Joanne Jacobs blogged about a recent court ruling in California. Apparently, in 2002, a few parents sued the Palmdale School District after the school surveyed the children about their thoughts on s*x. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case. The court found that parents have no rights when it comes to what their children are taught. Nor can they do anything if the schools teach something that they object to. Here's what the unaminmous court ruling said (PDF) .

We agree, and hold that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants' actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose.
Stop and read the two comments in bold again. And then add to that what the court also said in this decision a little further into their opinion.

As the First Circuit made clear in Brown, once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their childrenis, at the least, substantially diminished. The constitution does not vest parents with the authority to interfere with a public school's decision as to how it will provide information to its students or what information it will provide, in its classrooms or otherwise. See Yoder, 406 U.S. at 205.
Can it be any clearer? The court is looking at the whole issue from the perspective of what is best for the state. And teaching s*x and surveying elementary school children is in their best interest and rational. NOT the child's or the parent's. The interest of the state appears to be the highest concern.
We further hold that a psychological survey is a reasonable state action pursuant to legitimate educational as well as health and welfare interests of the state.
The welfare of the state? The schools are making it easier and easier to outsource parenting. And now the court is making it legitimate. When will parents wake up and see what's going on? The court has just ruled that the parent does not have any authority to interere with the public school's decisions about what to teach and what information it will provide . And parents think THEY are going to reform the schools. Dream on!

And just how old were the children surveyed? Seven to ten years of age! The program was dropped because of complaints. But with this court ruling it will be interesting to see how the schools respond and what the long term effects of this will be on our society.

I"m amazed that more parents didn't join this suit initially. Have we really gotten to the point where parents are this apathetic and the schools and court this powerful?

This is a case that I hope is appealed. But why wait for the courts to rule - just homeschool. Especially if you live in this California district.

The discussion continues at the new "Miranda" rights for parents. Spunky writes a humorous but truthful look at what this ruling means to parental rights.

Also, WorldNetDaily and Focus on the Family Citizen Link have written about this ruling as well.

Curriculum soup

Once the decision to homeschool has been made, the next big decision is HOW to do it. I'm always a little hesitant to answer that because what works for one family doesn't always work for another. I could never be an unschooler like the mother I posted about yesterday for example. We each have different goals and situations that will direct our choices. But curriculum is a big concern. We don't want to waste our money or time making unwise purchases that will frustrate us or our children. So with that in mind, here's how I view the curriculum options that are available.

I love soup. Making it and eating eat. So I will use soup as an analogy to describe the options available.

Canned Soup. This is the pre-packaged curriculum that comes complete in a box. It has all the essential nutrients necessary to teach your children but lacks some of the flavor. There is minimal preparation involved. All the preparation has been done. Just heat and eat. There are seasons of life where it is just nice to reach on a shelf and get something that does the job. Function over flavor without some flexibility.

Soup Starter. This is the unit study approach. You want a good curriculum with some flavor but you need a boost to getting things going. With a unit study approach you get the main ideas from others but you must supply the meat and potatoes. This is a bit more flavorful than canned soup but will require you to do a little more preparation and planning. There is a little more flavor than canned soup but your also putting in more effort.

Homemade Organic Soup. This is the unschooling approach. Without a doubt, home grown, homemade has freshest ingredients. Just as in organic gardening you are willing to grow things up naturally to get them. That means you supply plenty of time for your child and create an environment where learning takes place naturally. This soup tastes great and is full of flavor. But just watching the soup simmer is difficult for some parents. And even a soup that simmers can get burned if left alone too long.

I realize that no analogy is perfect. Neither is this one. But it does help me in different seasons of my homeschool journey I have used each of these three different methods to prepare my children. And I have done different things with different children. That is the blessing of home educating. Just as there is no one right way to prepare soup there is no right way to educate.

But just as with any meal...it is always best to to seek the hand of the creator of the food. Ask HIM to direct your path and be content with the pot of soup HE gives you to tend to.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wild Child

There is a very lengthy feature article in the Dallas Observer titled "Wild Child" looking at one parent's idea of unschooling their son. It's quite radical even by unschooling standards. However, I always find it interesting how other parents view their children's education. But I agree with Patricial Hunter , this article is not for the innocent or the faint of heart. The story features Barb Lundgren and her son Quinn. Here's how Quinn summarizes his education.

"My mother taught us everything without teaching us anything," Quinn says. "Everything I know I've experienced myself, I've taught myself, I've learned myself. The whole childhood was magical."

Further into the article his mother describes her philopshy and her concerns.

Lundgren has heard it all, but, with a few detours, has remained a radical unschooler. It hasn't always been easy. A lover of books, Lundgren admits it bothered her when one child wasn't interested in learning to read until he was a teenager. An avid traveler, Quinn once came home with a tale of living on the streets in Hawaii with a homeless schizophrenic who taught him how to dumpster-dive--a practice he sometimes continues during pit stops at home.

"What I have learned to do is withdraw from the societal expectations that exist for my child and ask some basic questions," Lundgren says. "Does he seem happy with himself? Is he making inquiries into things he's interested in?"

Here's how she describes her philosphy, "

It's all about following the child's lead and not treating him like something that needs to be molded and shaped in my image," she says. "I think that from a learning and education point of view, you always gravitate toward the things that make you feel good and the things you enjoy doing." (snip)

For Lundgren, it was an article of faith that--properly facilitated--each of her children would learn what he or she needed to learn. The gate in their brains would swing open. But as much as Lundgren loves the canon, those Great Books that form the basis of most classical education in the Western world, her three children simply weren't interested. "It's tough to get a kid to gravitate naturally to that," she admits.

Who wants to read Dante when he can play Doom?

So it seems that their interests alone completely directed their learning. I'm not an unschooler but I'm wondering if this is this true of most unschoolers. Do unschoolers completely give up on certain things if their child shows no interest? How do unschoolers determine interest level? For some of my children their initial interest was low. But after they read or explored it further they became very interested. So at what point do you give up Dante? And at what point do you decide that an interest is too consuming or not acceptable?

There was also a disctinction made between unschoolers and traditional homeschoolers that I don't think is quite accurate.

In fact, unschooling is the opposite of the approach taken by many homeschoolers, usually conservative Christians dismayed by the erosion of educational standards and pernicious cultural influences in public and private schools. Most homeschoolers attempt to offer a structured, back-to-basics curriculum in a disciplined environment. They are certainly not child-led (ever hear of Original Sin?), and their educational guru is not John Holt but James Dobson, the evangelical leader of Focus on the Family.
There are a lot of unschooling parents who are also conservative Christians. Further, I don't know many homeschoolers who consider James Dobson as their educational guru.

I'm curious what other's think about this story. I must admit this article made me squirm a little. He talks about wilderness survival experiences, living homeless, and learning to dumpster dive. He seems more like an aimless, wanderer, without much purpose to his life. Here's a quote from the end of the article,
Quinn doesn't see college in his future. He's after something bigger than a bachelor's degree. "I just go and let the universe open up to me," Quinn says. He's shopping for a bicycle so he can travel without relying on oil or other methods of transport. "I always have some new profound experience. That's what my life is about now, a moment-to-moment, day-to-day existence."
I have to be honest, I hope my children have a little higher aspirations than just living for the moment. I'm not saying they must go to college or be a career executive. But one of our goals for our children is that they understand that life is not about them. That the greatest experiences in life are when we are not considering ourselves or our experiences the end of it all. That goal wouldn't change whether I was a structured textbook homeschooler or a radical unschooler. I understand that this is not every parent's goal. But as a Christian, I hope to teach my children that life is not to be lived just for the moment but to glorify the God of that moment.