Saturday, December 16, 2006

Out With A Bang

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Thank you to all who have been voting for SpunkyHomeschool in the Wizbang Awards for Best Educational Blog. It was an enjoyable challenge to see if a homeschool mom with a defunct blog, could beat a college professor and noted author. The banter was all in good fun. I hold no ill will toward Mr. Berube or his readers. I would like to congratulate Michael Berube for his hard fought victory.

Unfortunately, there was some cheating by zealous but misguided supporters on both sides in this contest. I suspected that was happening on Thursday when Michael Berube had nearly a 200 point lead which collapsed in less than half an hour. This was NOT caused by multiple people voting in the same house on different computers on the same day. This was done by voters from eight IP's casting 967 votes in two days. The moderator of the awards discovered the cheating, adjusted the votes, and banned the IP's. I was docked 967 votes and Mr. Berube 480. The voting continued until midnight without any more problems. Please don't blame my loss on his decision to delete votes. No system is perfect. Ken Aylward at Wizbang ran a fine contest. I accept the outcome and thank Ken and the team at Wizbang for running a first-class contest.

Thank-you to all bloggers who posted announcements about the awards on my behalf. Your contribution kept Spunky Homeschool in the race. I appreciate your encouragement and support.

I would like to extend a special thank-you to The Rebelution. Alex and Brett Harris created the above banner, rallied the teen blogosphere, and took some heat for supporting me and SpunkyHomeschool. Throughout the week, they consistently conducted themselves with respect and dignity. Their attitude and actions stand out as a shining example to all in the blogosphere.

Thanks again to all for your encouragement, comments, and emails.

Update: US News & World Report's blog, Paper Trail picks up on the blog awards.

Spunky

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

See Ya 'Round

I would like to thank all the readers and commenters who have made Spunky Homeschool a true joy for me. You've challenged, encouraged, and inspired me every day. I hope I've done the same for you. But all good things must come to an end sometime. (Assuming you thought Spunky Homeschool as a good thing.) And today is the day for me to leave Spunky Homeschool behind and move on to new opportunities.

Thanks again for making the last two years so much fun!

Blessings,
Spunky

P.S. No, I'm not dying, getting a divorce, or God forbid putting my children in public school!

UPDATE: Thank you for all the kind and gracious comments. I'm humbled to know that this effort has truly meant so much. For those who felt comfortable enough telling me that the abruptness of the decision was "unfair" and has caused them to lose some respect for me I say thank you as well. I have and always will have great respect for all readers and commenters and appreciate honest feedback good and bad.

Here's a brief explanation as best as I can give one.

I talk very little about my personal life on this blog. That has always been intentional. Unlike other blogs I'm not the subject of the blog that bears my nickname. Education and family life in the world are the subject. I'm just one of God's messengers among many others to spread the Word of Truth. When one writes a book you know when the last page is approaching. Blogs of this sort don't have an ending, the discussion will continue long after me. And it should. Perhaps that's why this may seem more abrupt and sudden. There will never be an end until Jesus returns, thus no time to leave will ever seem appropriate. But ending a blog, just like finishing a good book, often leaves you wanting one more page. But know that the decision was made in obedience to the Lord not from malice or disrespect toward anyone.

Please accept as I have, that at times it's necessary to end one activity and move on in order to continue to walk with the Lord and in His ways.

That's all. There isn't a reason for leaving, but a calling to go forward. What that is will unfold as I obey and take the first step in leaving this behind. Is that being secretive? No. It's telling the truth as I always do. If there were more to tell I would tell it. You deserve that from me.

One final announcement,
Talk about making it tough to leave, I've just been informed that I'm a finalist in the Weblog Awards 2006, for Best Education Blog. I'm humbled to be in the same category with Joanne Jacobs and Education Wonks, two blogs that I read before I began my own and would highly recommend to you. Thank you for your nomination, if you would like to vote here's the place.

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Many thanks again for making this blog what it is. I am truly humbled that my daily writings have impacted so many. More than I could have ever imagined and in so many places.

I will continue to comment on various blogs as time permits. I enjoy reading the posts of various bloggers and their thoughts and opinions inspire and encourage me greatly.

God Bless You All
Spunky

Monday, December 04, 2006

In the News

News from the Internet,
Florida dad, John Daynard, has decided to give up his job teaching art in the public schools to teach his own children at home,
He left his job as a Pinellas County teacher and pulled his sons out of public school because he found the environment chaotic, even threatening, he says. In his short stint as a Pinellas County elementary teacher, Daynard says he saw a student take off her clothes and streak, another slam a student against a wall. If he intervened, he was chastised for not following policy, he says. But he also failed to follow the credo of teachers everywhere: Don't whine. Deal.
His wife now works the night shift so he can homeschool their two children. (HT: Izzy)

Thankfully, they live in the United States where they are allowed to homeschool. Germany just said "no" to a homeschooling family. It is so very sad and it makes my previous post Schools for the 21st Century even more important to read and think about. (HT: Dewey's Treehouse)

And while you ponder schools of the 21st century what do you think about gender-neutral schools? How are schools supposed to handle children who are not sure if they are boys or girls? The New York Times is looking at Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn't Clear.

At the Park Day School in Oakland, teachers are taught a gender-neutral vocabulary and are urged to line up students by sneaker color rather than by gender. "We are careful not to create a situation where students are being boxed in," said Tom Little, the school's director. "We allow them to move back and forth until something feels right."
A society segregated by color, that's so much more appropriate. "I have a dream, that one day children will not be judged by the color of their sneakers, but the content of their character." If these were my kids, the whole school wouldn't feel right to me. (My humble apologies to Martin Luther King.)

News from my e-mail,
Judy Aron, a frequent commenter here a Spunky Homeschool has informed me that she has started her own blog, Consent of the Governed. She's a wonderful homeschool advocate and a great addition to the blogosphere. Welcome Judy!

Blogger Shannon Entin emailed letting me know that she will be on BlogTalkRadio Tuesday evening at 10 pm ET discussing homeschooling. It's a call in show, so if you're available she'd love to hear from you. (My children are at orchestra until 10 so I'm not sure if I'll get to listen or not.)

News from my mailbox,
Blogger and homeschool dad Steve Sensenig's new CD, Christmas Solitude, arrived this weekend. It is absolutely beautiful. Our whole family enjoyed listening to the familiar songs of Christmas played in Steve's warm and inspiring style.

Ann Voskamp sent me a copy of her book, The Glorious Coming. It is a great Advent devotional leading up to Christmas Day. We're a few days late, but we plan to start our Jesse Tree today.

A heartfelt thanks to Steve and Ann for their unsolicited generosity.

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Schools For the 21st Century

(Dear readers: The next time you hear a politician say, "prepare children for life in the 21st century," I hope you read and remember this post and what that phrase actually means.)

Education! Education! Education! That's been Tony Blair's mantra for nearly a decade and he continues to push for more ways to involve the government in the life of the common man. In a new initiative unveiled today he also believes the government should teach "life skills, " how to cook, enjoy the theater, and surf the internet."

I've said it before, why don' t they just keep kids in school full-time and parents can check them out like library books when they want to play with them.

However, even more grievious than just the blatant outsourcing of parenthood, Tony Blair wants some students to be allowed to take an International Exam rather than the British national exam. (Please stick with me and let me explain what that means.)

The International Baccalaureate is administered by an organization in Geneva. (How convenient the UN Education Bureau is right there!) The goal of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is to create IB World Schools. The Director General, Jeff Beard, explains the demand for IBO,
Our programmes are shaped around creating "a better and more peaceful world" with a core determination to develop students who can create this better world through intercultural understanding and respect. In essence, IB programmes are "fit for purpose" for the 21st century!
Started in the late 1960's IBO program is relatively small but the endorsement by the British government is a huge step toward international curriculum and standards.

Defenders of compulsory education might want to rethink their position before US education officials decide to do the same. As a parent, you may find yourself going before an international tribunal to appeal your child's bad grade because he still thinks God governs the affairs of men not the United Nations. But you better hurry, George Bush looks like he has already signed up.

The Bush administration has begun issuing grants to help spread a United Nations-sponsored school program that aims to become a "universal curriculum" for teaching global citizenship, peace studies and equality of world cultures. The U.S. Education Department has issued its first $1.2 million grant to implement the European-based International Baccalaureate (IB) program in middle schools...

Mr. Hill, a former school administrator from Tasmania, Australia, said the role of international education and culture, is to fulfill the vision of UNESCO's constitution in its opening words: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."

The international leaders in cooperation with our "compassionate conservative" President want to construct the minds of our children to conform to global standards of "peace." I like the way Brave New Schools explains it,

The goal of education is no longer to teach the kind of literacy, wisdom and knowledge we once considered essentials of responsible citizenship. It is to train world citizens--a compliant international workforce, willing to flow with the storms of change and uncertainty. These citizens must be ready to believe and do whatever will serve a pre-determined "common good" or "greater whole". Educators may promise to "teach students to think for themselves," but if they finish what they have started, tomorrow's students will have neither the facts nor the freedom needed for independent thinking.
When they say prepare children to become workers to compete in the global economy, they don't mean jet-setting to Paris for a business meeting in the spring time. They want to put the "world" into a world-class education and take God out for the sake of "peace."

Parents are you going to let the United Nations teach your children? Homeschoolers do you want Germany running the future "International Bureau of Homeschooling?"

To see if your local school is an IBO school click here. (Use the Advanced Search to find your state.)

For more information on the IBO click here.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Professing To Be Wise...

...they look like fools.

Students at the Columbia University School of Journalism were caught cheating on an ETHICS exam.


The course, which includes such issues as "Why be Ethical?" and "Tribal Loyalty vs. Journalistic Obligation," is taught by New York Times columnist Samuel G.
Freedman, who could not be reached yesterday.
Did they expect anything less from a New York Times columnist as their professor?

You can't teach a class on ethics without right and wrong being defined at some point. What did this professor base his ethics course on? Christians have chosen the Bible as our standard, believers of other religions have their book as well, but I never could grasp where unbelievers of any sort get their standard of right and wrong. Without an independent standard, it all becomes arbitrary and relative to the situation.

For example, if I asked you to tell me how long a line was, you would tell me your answer, then I would tell you mine. Then we would get a ruler and measure to see who was correct. That's an independent standard. We recognize and accept that a ruler is the standard to measure length. Without a ruler we would have no way of determining the length of a line.

So in a morally relative world, can somone please explain to me why students cheating on a test is wrong? (I'm assuming the professor did not use a religous book to teach his class on ethics.)

Update: The students were given a new exam question. Here it is courtesy of the Washington Post.
..."You are the executive editor of a newspaper," begins Exam Essay Question III, forwarded to a reporter by a student. "You receive a tip from a credible source that one or more unspecified articles in recent editions of the newspaper contain fabricated material. No more details are given." No one admits responsibility. What do you do?
Interesting question. I'd love to read the answers. I hope someone leaks those too.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

The Nativity - ACLU Style

You gotta love the creativity of the Young Conservatives at the University of Texas. An ACLU Nativity Scene is to be displayed next week on campus to raise awareness about the progressive elimination of Christmas in the public square.
"We've got Gary and Joseph instead of Mary and Joseph in order to symbolize ACLU support for homosexual marriage, and of course there isn't a Jesus in the manger," said Chairman Tony McDonald. "The three Wise Men are Lenin, Marx, and Stalin because the founders of the ACLU were strident supporters of Soviet style communism. The whole scene is a tongue-in-cheek way of showing the many ways that the ACLU and the far left are out of touch with the values of mainstream America."

The scene will also display a terrorist shepherd and an angel in the form of Nancy Pelosi.
Speaking of the nativity, are you planning on seeing The Nativity Story? It opened today around the country.

Al Mohler said it was "in season and on message." but it received mixed reviews here. The Daley Plaza, a Chicago marketplace won't show film clips on the grounds that it is too "commercial," but a public high school in Fairfax showed the movie in the school's theatre in the evening with the blessing of the ACLU. This stuff can get so confusing.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who said this?

I believe that reaching into one's own pockets to help his fellow man is both laudable and praiseworthy. Reaching into another's pockets to help his fellow man is despicable and worthy of condemnation.

The bottom line: We love government because it enables us to accomplish things that if done privately would lead to arrest and imprisonment. For example, if I saw a person in need, and I took your money to help him, I'd be arrested and convicted of theft. If I get Congress to do the same thing, I am seen as compassionate.

Can you believe two people on the same day. One is here, and the other is here.

(HT: Amy)

All In The Family

Education has an impact on family life, whether our children are in the home or in public schoool. The effect can be good or bad depending on our perpsective and response.

Are Schools Becoming the New Social Workers?

In the 18th century, schools played a small role in the lives of its students -- unlike today, when school and school-related activities take up the bulk of students' time, Ball State University professor Jill Miels said...

Because schools have a large number of children in one location, the job of teaching children character, proper nutrition and providing health care services -- things that previously might have been dealt with by families, churches or the community -- has been bestowed upon schools, Randolph Eastern Schools Supt. Cathy Stephen said.

As a result of the shift from family to school, children who are growing up too fast - often leaving parents struggling to figure out how to manage their own families.

Is Ten the New Fifteen?,

Kids look and dress older. They struggle to process the images of sex, violence and adult humor, even when their parents try to shield them. And sometimes, he says, parents end up encouraging the behavior by failing to set limits - in essence, handing over power to their kids....

It's an age-old issue. Kids want to fit in - and younger kids want to be like older kids.

Younger children copying older children is nothing new. God designed it that way. But God designed it in the context of a family, to insure that young, impressionable minds were not subjected to every thought and idea before they can understand its meaning.

On the flip side, parents and especially Christian homeschooling parents need to guard against making the family more than it was intended to be. The end goal is not just a wonderful family life.

Worshiping Idols, Family Style,
When we get ourselves backwards and pursue as our primary goal the family-integrated thing, the homeschooling thing, the patriarchy thing, the breeding thing, the modesty/home-baked bread thing, or the "making sure our boys are tough warriors and not wimpy" thing, instead of God's glory, idolatry is just around the corner. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with any of these things I have just mentioned. But they are means, not ends.
Many of the things I read talk about the richness of a family integrated "home-centered" life. They are often a source of inspiration and encouragement. However, I resist the urge to make my home the center of my life. (And it is a strong urge.) If I seek to make my home or family the center of my life, I risk turning my eyes away from Christ and His glory. That may get a few of my goals accomplished, but I miss the larger goal entirely. (HT: Dana)

Finally, a few days late...
The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Common Room.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Unschooling Conspiracy

Call me paranoid, but there seems to be an unschooling conspiracy taking place in the media; all with the intention of creating a little negative buzz about unschooling (and by inference homeschooling) as a legitimate educational choice for parents. First we had Dr. Phil, then the New York Times, and now Bonnie Erbe, columnist and blogger for US News & World Report adds to the unschooling hysteria.

If a 6-year-old wants to play with a box on top of her head for an hour, that is as qualitatively beneficial a learning experience as an hour of Latin, according to unschoolers-perhaps even more beneficial...

My hunch, however, is that very few parents are practically equipped with the teaching skills necessary or the stores of information required to help a child build a strong foundation in grammar, history, physics, biology, languages, physical education, math, etc. For that, it seems one must attach some sort of structure to intrinsically unstructured unschooled learning. It's an entirely larger question whether "unschooled" kids can enter the real and highly structured (or schooled) world and succeed without the requisite navigational skills.

I wish unschoolers well and hope these children become the creative, individualistic thought leaders their parents are preparing them to become. But if they don't, it should be the parents, not society, who cover the cost of teaching them to function productively in society. That is, if unschooling fails to prepare them for life in a structured world.

And who pays when the schools fail to prepare students to function properly in the structured world? Good grief! For a woman who claims to have covered politics since God was a baby she seems pretty naive about life in the real world. Everyday thousands of homeschool families are paying their taxes to produce bus loads of unproductive citizens courtesy of the public schools. Where's my tax refund for the burden placed on us?

And then last week while everyone was busy preparing turkey, a step-mom in turmoil over unschooling decided to perform her own experiment -- one day of "unschooling" her two step-daughters. She posted the results in what I can only assume to be a lame attempt at humor in the Nashville Scene. It's not worth clicking over to read how it all turned out. Suffice it to say, her children were too cool to homeschool and think the word homeschooler is a synonym for "nerd." The mother's conclusion was predictable, unschooling is just an excuse for lazy parenting. Thankfully, her attitude reflects more on lazy research than anything else. (No offense Lindsey, this is all "tongue in cheek.")

Even bloggers who follow education trends more closely can't get a handle on unschooling, calling it "basically homeschooling without the religious focus."

Like it or not, for whatever reason unschooling is getting some attention.

I'm not an unschooler, but I know many readers are. Unschooler Jeanne left this comment on my previous unschooling post:


I think it is probably wise to look at unschoolers as "canaries in the coal mine." If they will come for me (regulate me; prohibit me from customizing my children's education), an unschooler (who lives a very organized life), because *I* am not using a standard enough approach, then "regular" homeschoolers are also at risk.

This includes anyone who decides not to pressure a six or seven year old little boy to read because he's not ready -- but he will be just fine given a little more time to develop, anyone whose children do not perform at a certain minimum on standardized test, etc. And, to prepare for those tests, you'll have to use a prescribed (by guess whom?) curriculum to cover the material. There goes your homeschool freedom.

The truth is, I know few homeschoolers who are not influenced in some way by some of the ideas of unschooling or who do not develop or already possess, on their own, a responsiveness to their children's needs and interests and learning styles that is related to the ideas of unschooling.These homeschoolers act on this responsiveness they feel in wonderful ways, even tho' they may continue to basically use a structured curriculum -- but I think they would find they are far closer to unschoolers than many of them realize, if our educrats and legislators begin to look for ways to limit unschooling.It sort of reminds me of that phrase, "We are all Berliners" -- well, in many senses from the freedom/legal point of view, "We are all unschoolers." If my unschooling is prohibited/limited (and that really was a chilling statement the one authority made in the NYTimes article), then a non-unschooler/homeschooler may find her ability to choose curriculum and customize for her kids limited.

And, I will take the opportunity, one more time, to say that "unschooling" does not mean un-everything. My husband and I provide guidance, discipline, structure to our household -- we just happen to find that it works well to follow our children's interests as far as their learning goes, and we find that respecting their little selves is a great way to teach and model respect.We are not too different from "regular" homeschoolers.

I think Jeanne makes an excellent point. Going after a homeschooling subgroup creates a path to further limit all homeschoolers.

I doubt seriously that there is a conspiracy in the media, but it is time we help these overly sheltered opinion-makers think outside the school yard fence. The reason they cannot comprehend the life of a homeschooler or unschooler is because they themselves have been institutionalized to think learning only happens when a child sits at a desk coloring ovals until a timer beeps. It's time someone told these columnists to stop, put your pencils down, turn in your article, and get outside for a dose of the real world. And if that doesn't help, try putting a box on top of your head and playing for an hour. Your children will love it, but do close the curtains first, your neighbors might think you're a nerd.

(HT: Gary for directing me to US News)

Other bloggers with something to say:
Nancy
Shannon

UPDATE I: We have our first confession. I'm expecting the entire plot to crumble shortly. The New York Times is terrible at keeping a secret!

Update II:
Nancy Baetz also sent me another link to a Health and Business blogger's take on unschooling.
When natural birth advocates include a rigid insistence on home birth and a rejection of OBs, results can be devastating when things go wrong. I'm willing to bet the unschoolers are going to cause society plenty of problems."
Geepers do some people seem jittery at a hint of non-conformity. But let's go with his childbirth scenario for a minute...

Think about it, a girl can have an abortion at 15 without her parents permission and we have to allow it. But let a parent give their child freedom to explore life outside the norm and they go bananas.

And which decision is going to cause society more problems?

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's Big Brother's Job

There is a push on for universal preschool. Defenders of the program say it is necessary so that children come to school "ready to learn." I was told by one policy maker in Michigan that education begins at age zero, the sooner the state can get the children into the system the better they will do in kindergarten and beyond. Even if a parent doesn't place their child in preschool, there still persists the mistaken notion that parenting before age 5 is all in prepartion for kindergarten when the "experts" can finally take over.

From a recent article on getting children ready for kindergarten,

Henderson said sometimes the parents' high expectations, such as wanting them to know the alphabet, tie their shoes or count very high, could hold the child back since it's the kindergarten teacher's job to help them learn these things.
Contrast this teacher's thinking about whose job it is to help them learn, with that of my 16 year old son.

I was busy brushing and flossing my teeth the other day. Into the room walked my son, Jason. Quickly, he grabbed a string of floss and we both faced the mirror contorting our faces to get all the teeth. The next thing I know my 3 year old daughter toddled into the room and invited herself to the impromptu dental party. "I want some too," she said. So my son pulled out a string of floss and handed it to her. She proceeded to wad the string into her mouth and chew it like gum. My son laughed and said, "She's just getting the habit down now. I'll teach her the finer points later."

My daughter wasn't the only one learning a new habit that day, so was my son. He was developing a habit of responsibility as an older brother. He recognized that it was his responsibility to teach his little sister; not just how to floss her teeth, but tie her shoes, and know her ABC's.

On a personal level, one of the best rewards of homeschooling is that "ready to learn" takes on a meaning beyond kindergarten and academic achievement. My son is ready to learn what it means to be a husband and father. In part because of the spontaneous interaction that happens in our home as he teaches his siblings. That is something no school room will ever be able to manufacture or duplicate.

Perhaps if a few more children had these sorts of "big brother" experiences, there would be no need for the other "big brother" to take over and provide the parenting classes we all missed growing up in a school rather than in our own homes. And maybe a new generation of young men will grow up knowing that the freezer is NOT the best place for an infant with a fever.

Update: Have schools turned into the new social workers?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Unschooling

Taking a cue from Dr. Phil, The New York Times ran an article on "radical unschoolers."

"As school choice expands and home-schooling in general grows, this is one of those models that I think the larger public sphere needs to be aware of because the folks who are engaging in these radical forms of school are doing so legally," said Professor Huerta of Columbia. "If the public and policy makers don't feel that this is a form of schooling that is producing productive citizens, then people should vote to make changes accordingly."
The Constitution was established to create a "more perfect union" not a more "productive citizen." It said nothing about education. That's because the writers recognized that parents have the natural right to direct the education of their children. The idea of subjecting a parent's educational choice to the state or another citizen out of fear that they won't produce a "productive citizen" is absurd. (By that standard the public schools are producing far more unproductive citizens than homeschooling or unschooling ever will and at taxpayer expense!)

Homeschoolers are not the only unschoolers either. The Brooklyn Free School is an unschooling private school operating under a provisional charter in New York.

One recent day at the Brooklyn Free School, the "schedule" included the following: filming horror movies, chess, debate, and making caves for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not that the students had to go to any of these sessions.

At this school, students don't get grades, don't have homework, don't take tests, and don't even have to go to class -- unless they want to. Students are required to show up for at least 5 1/2 hours a day, partly so that the school can meet legal definitions, but what they do with their time is up to them.

The Brooklyn Free School isn't quite "free" either. Tuition is $11,000 a year. (Why not just do the same thing at home for a lot cheaper?)

Whatever the location or cost, I think some educators find it a little unbelievable that there are children out there who are motivated to learn without being constantly prodded along. I know when I was in school, "Why do we have to learn this?" and "Is this going to be on the test?" were heard countless times. For most children, the joy of learning seems to end around fourth grade. That's why schools need to offer incentives to learn. Textbooks are not what most kids (or adults) consider "good reading."

Homeschoolers typically believe that given the opportunity and freedom, most children find learning new ideas worthwhile for the information gained and the pleasure of learning it. A curious child cannot help but learn. They are motivated by a purpose beyond just passing the test or getting a grade. Unschoolers allow learning to be completely determined by the desires of the child. It may not be for everybody, but then no one method or structure works for all children.

The state, however, promotes uniform standards and conformity in education. They have to. Conformity produces a controlled order that is necessary to teach the masses. However, the benefit of homeschooling is that order can still be achieved without sacrificing the individual interests of their children.

If we, as a nation, believe that the parent has the natural right to direct the education of their children, it must include forms that others will find radical or even objectionable. Otherwise, the right is meaningless and the state becomes the final authority in a child's education. And that's an idea that all parents should find objectionable no matter how they choose to educate their children.

(HT: Laura A.)

Update: Gary pointed me to an excellent article in The Washington Times, Nurturing learning takes many forms by Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three. Here's how she describes learning,

I like to think of a young person's brain as like a plant or a fruit tree. Situating that tree in a good spot with rich soil and plenty of sunlight and water, and feeding it the minerals and elements it needs to develop into maturity will ensure years of continued good harvests.
Update II: The most grievious example of "unschooling" producing "unproductive citizens" may be this school district in New Jersey (reg. req'd),
The tiny borough here elects three school board members to keep records and divvy up its $261,887 budget. Yet Teterboro has no schools and only 10 students, who are sent to neighboring districts.
Update III: In a related topic, The Deputy Headmistress talks about the importance of giving children the gift of free time.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Farce or a Tragedy?

In a segment of Larry King Live focusing on marriage and the separation of church and state, Larry King and Dr. James Dobson had this exchange.

KING: Why is [marriage] a state institution rather than a religious institution? Why is the state involved? I'm not being...

(CROSSTALK)

DOBSON: Well, it's both. It is both. I mean, you can go...

KING: But we have a separation of church and state.

DOBSON: Beg your pardon?

KING: We have a separation of church and state.

DOBSON: Who says?

KING: You don't believe in separation of church and state?

DOBSON: Not the way you mean it. The separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. No, it's not. That is not in the Constitution. That was...

KING: It's in the Bill of Rights.

DOBSON: It's not in the Bill of Rights. It's not anywhere in a foundational document. The only place where the so-called "wall of separation" was mentioned was in a letter written by Jefferson to a friend. That's the only place. It has been picked up and made to be something it was never intended to be.What it has become is that the government is protected from the church, instead of the other way around, which is that church was designed to be protected from the government.

KING: I'm going to check my history.

I'll help you out Larry, here's a link to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, you won't find it in either place. You might try here.

Larry King isn't alone. I've met a few too many school teachers who believe that the separation of church and state is in the United States Constitution as well. If Larry King and many our school teachers don't know, what hope is there for the ordinary citizen? Unfortunately, it's the schools or the TV where most people get their information these days. And if there is a "wall of separation" it's between the citizen and his knowledge of the rights our great country affords him.

President James Madison said,
A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
So with the knowledge most are given today, would President Madison believe we are becoming a farce, a tragedy, or perhaps both? And if that's the case is there anything that can alter our course? I believe there is.

Update: The Rambling Prophet has a nice round-up of others scrutinizing the King/Dobson exchange.

(HT: Blog from the Capital.)

Did anyone watch Dr. Phil?

The Great School Debate on Dr. Phil aired yesterday. I was busy most of the day and didn't plan on watching the show. (Not shopping, I have more sense than that! I was visiting with a very special friend.)

Unschooler Dayna, the guest that Dr. Phil criticized for her method of homeschooling, left a comment on my blog earlier this week. Here's part of what she said,


To me, Dr. Phil's questions and beliefs just represent and speak for the greater majority of our culture. It was so amazing to be able to share this perspective, even in the face of adversity!

Honestly, it was exhilarating and I really enjoyed the actual experience because I enjoy debating something that I am so passionate about, my children and the respect that they and other children deserve in life. Regardless of Dr. Phil's opinion, I feel that by being on the show we helped to get some gears turning toward change. Baby steps. The first reaction to a new idea is adversity. I did my best to smile in the face of it because I trust the process. Acceptance of our lifestyle will slowly brighten our culture.

You can read her whole comment here.

Here are a few snippets of thought from bloggers who watched the show:

Valerie at Families.com
"But my true disappointment in Dr. Phil today is that they are using the same old arguments against homeschooling: socialization and teacher qualifications. Apparently there is mysterious research that "they" did that says that kids who are homeschooled past 8th grade are not socialized well....Show me the research."

Four Willows Christian Academy
"I particularly disliked the last segment. There was a 26 year old woman who claimed to be "socially retarded" because she was homeschooled. From what was aired, it seemed to me that she didn't have a problem with socializing, rather she was mad because she didn't have a chance to be a cheerleader. It made no sense. She didn't seem to be the least bit shy or uncomfortable."

Christine at the Thinking Mother
"My own opinion as an experienced homeschooling mother is...The show was not as bad as I imagined it could have been..."

Did you watch?

Update 11/27: Leland and Kathie Fleming at Homeschooling Radio devoted today's discussion to the Great School Debate. You can listen here. (Note: The intro is long.)

(In my post earlier this week, I had a round-up of links from various audience members and guests giving their perpsective prior to Friday's broadcast.)

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Friedman on freedom, education, and homeschooling

Nobel prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman died Novemeber 16 at the age of 94. In a previous interview, he talked about the power of economic freedom, education and homeschooling. I thought it would be fitting as many of us get ready to catch the "Black Friday" bargains.
On economic freedom:
In the United States today, the average individual, whoever he is, works from Jan. 1 to the middle of June or late June to provide funds that the government controls.

That is to say, government at one level or another, federal state or local -- directly through spending and taxes and indirectly through rules, regulations and mandates -- controls half the national income and can determine how that is spent.

We're 50 percent socialist. Now, is that half freedom or half slavery? Neither of those statements would be wrong: we're partly free and we're partly enslaved.

On Public Education:
Why should government run the schools of the country? There's no more reason for government to run the schools then there is for government to produce the automobile. And the schools are low quality on the average, just as automobiles would be of low quality if government produced them.

On homeschooling:
[T]he fact that [homeschooling] is a form of competition shows how bad our schools are. Can you think of any other sophisticated product in which the home-made product is superior to the factory-made product?

Enjoy shopping today with the remaining 50% of your hard earned income. In regards to Mr. Friedman's last question and in deference to my children, home-made cards and gifts are far superior to any factory-made product they could ever buy for me.

(If you want to shop without the crowds, check out the "Black Friday" specials at The Schoolhouse Store, where shipping is always free. I should also add that reader and talented pianist Steve Sensenig is also selling his Christmas CD at the The Schoolhouse Store. You can listen to a sample here. My favorite was "I Will Never Be The Same (Mary's Song) It's absolutely beautiful. Wonderful job Steve and Christy!

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Affirmative Action

In the last election Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported Proposal 2, a measure to ban race and gender based preferences in education, employment and contracting. A homechooling mother and acquaintance of mine was the plaintiff in the case that precipitated the proposal (Grutter vs. Bollinger). She was denied admission to the University of Michgian Law School despite her qualifications. Taking her fight to the courts, she lost her battle in the United States Supreme Court, but eventually found victory with the voters of Michgan. Grudgingly, UM will now have to change their admissions policies.

Now we have Young Republicans at Boston University taking a different tactic to fight affirmative action policies at their school. They are offering a "white only" scholarship.

The application itself offers an explanation: "We believe that racial preferences in all their forms are perhaps the worst form of bigotry confronting America today."

According to Mroszczyk, his group is offering the scholarship to point out "how ridiculous it is to have any sort of racially based scholarship."

As of yesterday, there were no applicants for the scholarship. Too bad, college is so expensive and every little bit helps.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. - 1 Chronicles 16:34
To those who are not celebrating the holiday: take time to visit the Carnival of Homeschooling at Tami's blog.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

An Army of Homeschoolers

Did you enlist in the "Army of Homeschooling" when you began to educate your children? I know we didn't.

But I am reading more and more articles that seem to think that homeschooling is this well organized "army" with a secret desire to overthrow the whole US government. (I think they must have us confused with officials at the Department of Education.) Here's the latest example, Home-schooling special: Preach your children well.
The home-school movement is often described as a grassroots effort, scattered among a dispersed group of quiet, rural families. The reality is that the movement is well organised from the top down, led by groups with strong political ties. Taken together, organisations like the Discovery Institute, Exodus Mandate, HSLDA and Patrick Henry College are working to sculpt a new generation of students armed with the skills and the motivation to fight for their religious beliefs and their version of science.
Their real fear seems to be that homeschoolers will think incorrectly about God, and specifically Creation science.

These students are part of a large, well-organised movement that is empowering parents to teach their children creationist biology and other unorthodox versions of science at home, all centred on the idea that God created Earth in six days about 6000 years ago.

This lack of regulation may be skewing science education in US homes, says Alters. "Poll after poll shows that approximately one out of two people in America reject evolution. They think the scientists, teachers and textbooks are wrong," he says. An even higher proportion of home-schooling parents may reject evolution, Alters thinks. "And they're going to be teaching science?"

The reality is, we are not as organized as this writer would like to believe. I don't have any affiliation with any of the groups listed in the article and never have. However, she is right about what many (not all) homeschoolers think and teach their children, but fighting for what we believe certainly isn't unique to homeschoolers. There are many citizens of this great land who are willing to fight for what they believe and they fight at the taxpayer's expense! But isn't intellectual freedom one of the hallmarks of a democracy? Aren't we allowed to think and believe what we want even if others believe it is wrong? Since when did conformity of thought on the earth's origin become a requirement for citizenship in the United States?

The idea that some see the "truth" better than parents and therefore must regulate homeschooling to ensure that our children are taught these "state approved" ideas is a denial of the intellectual freedom to think what we would like to think without interfence by the government. And a growing number of parents successfully do just that and teach those ideals to their children. Of course, this is going to impact our culture. But we don't set out to do that. We just want our children to know the Truth and live a life pleasing to the Lord. If that changes the culture, so be it. But to be honest, there is Someone bigger than Michael Farris commanding that army.

Wayne offers some excellent commentary as well.

(HT: Gary)

Quo Vadis?

Phyllis Schlafly asked in a recent Town Hall column, Where are the public schools taking the next generation?

Public schools are guiding the morals, attitudes, knowledge and decision-making (the elements that determine our culture) of 89 percent of U.S. children. Public schools are financed by $500 billion a year of our money, forcibly taken from us in taxes, which the public school establishment spends under a thin veneer of accountability to school board members elected in government-run elections.

Quo vadis? Whither are the public schools taking the next generation?

Future historians will ultimately answer that question, but some believe it will be straight to the psych ward. Why? More and more schools are screening our nation's children for mental illness without the parents' consent and determining them to be mentally ill.

Listen to this mother, Teresa Rhoades tell her story.



Big Brother is marching forward straight into the minds of our children. They offer the children free pizza and movie passes to take the test using only a "passive consent" form to cover themselves. A parents failure to respond, is all the school needs to perfrom the test. Teen Screen is very secretive about their locations. (Details here.) Parents was your tested without your knowledge? To find out more about Teen Screen and their plan to have all public school children mentally tested, click here.

Related Tags: TeenScreen Indiana mental health screening

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Homeschooling: What's Next?

Home Education Magazine has an article in their new issue, Credentials for Homeschoolers: Problem or Opportunity?
"But you won't have a regular diploma or other credentials!" Such thoughts, Observations, or accusations have occurred or been delivered to many homeschoolers at some point or another. At first, it might seem to be a disadvantage to homeschooling. After all, aren't solid, widely-recognized credentials necessary for college, employment, and various other activities young adults want to do? Won't grown homeschoolers be handicapped and miss out on important opportunities if they don't somehow manage to get such credentials?
This information will definitely be helpful to us as we think about our options for our older children and planning their next steps.

If you haven't already seen it, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has an article on college admissions at MIT and homeschoolers. They also offers OpenCourseWare, free online college courses. I browsed around a bit and came upon a chemistry course that assigned a reading titled, "Death by Chocolate." We'll be starting chemistry soon, I may have to make this course a requirement. They even have the MIT Laboratory for Chocolate Science. Where were these courses when I was in school? By the way, you do not receive college credit for the courses, but they may help advanced high school students in preparation for college.

Speaking of what's next, it's not just the child's life that is changing but the parents too, especially the mother. I'd like to hear from a few mothers who have completed their "formal" homeschooling years with their children. What are you doing now? Did you go back to work? Are you helping other homeschoolers? Do you have grandchilren that are now being homeschooled? I'd love to hear from you. Your story could be part of an article I'm writing for possible publication.

People often assume that I'll just go back to work when I'm done homeschooling? Why would I want to do that? And lose all that good blogging time, guilt-free while I get a masters in chocolate science! Not on your life!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Religion, Public School, and Parents

This weekend I borrowed a book from a friend, Bible Study Course, New Testament for Dallas Public Schools. After an eloquent forward by Henry Van Dyke,

Born in the East and clothed in Oriental form and imagery, the Bible walks the ways of the world with familiar feet and enters land after land to find its own
everywhere...
the book defined the parameters of the course,

Classes may be organized by any Sunday school or church or any other religious organization for the purpose of studying the Bible in their respective organizations with a view to obtaining high -school credit.

The Bible survey course was taught in the Dallas schools in the 1940's, both the old and new testament. In a short 60 years we've gone from having Bible studies for credit, to the place where parents are criticized for creating an independent study from a classical Christian perspective as being possibly unconstitutional.

In response to that situation, Andrilie wondered,

I seldom seen mentinoned in the debate of schools and religion. Since our schools are so largely funded by local property taxes, why can't they more closely reflect the mores of the community that is funding them, i.e. Why can't our local schools sing religious Christmas carols rather than Kwanza tunes if that is the nature of our community? It befuddles me what more people aren't at the school board meeting every month DEMANDING that these bureaucrats create schools that reflect the community that is financing them.
That's the beauty of compulsory government schooling, they take your money and no longer have to listen to the parents. They have no incentive to do so. If our schools truly operated under the authority of the parents, not over them, they would be asking parents in the local community what they want taught to their children. Obviously they don't. It's the other way around, the state tells parents what their children should know.

In reality however, local schools boards are becoming just as irrelevant as the parents. I'll use Michigan as an example.

Our state passed a "reform" measure, Proposal A in 1994. It was a Republican measure, promising lower property taxes in return for an increase in the state sales tax. It passed. While schools are still funded partly by property taxes, the law effectively removed local control. The money goes to the state and then is funneled back to the local districts in a "equitable" manner (wealth redistribution.) It was supposed to help out poorer local districts. It hasn't. But what it has done in many ways, is make the local school board irrelevant.

They are local boards without local control because they don't control the funding. Most of the decisions are made at the state, and increasingly the federal level. The further the money is removed from local control (centralized planning) the less input parents will have. Any input will be a token attempt to appease parents, without taking the ability to take action. They know where their bread gets buttered. So they are looking to meet state and federal demands, not the parents whose children they teach every day. That's why you have library books about gay penguins in the schools over parents objections. It's just one book, but the school administrators are reluctant to remove it.

Thankfully, parents are starting to wise up, they are saying in increasing numbers, "Forget it. You can take my money, but you're not getting my kids."

(Note: I'm not advcoating a return to the schools of the 1940's. We can no more do that than put toothpaste back inside the tube once it's been squeezed out.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dr. Phil (again)

It looks like the good doctor is planning to air the The Great Debate homeschool episode the day after Thanksgiving on November 24. I've been told the show is a hatchet job on homeschooling. Click on Friday in the upper left corner to watch a small video trailer,


Parents want the best for their children, but what's the best way to educate them? Dr. Phil's guests face off in a debate about whether to school, homeschool or unschool. Dana and her husband, Joe, call themselves radical unschoolers. They say education appens as a side effect of life, and they don't believe in tests, curriculums or grades. Are their three kids learning what they need to know? Then, RaeAnn says public schools are death traps and wants to homeschool her children. Her husband, Steve, says their kids are safer at school than they are at home. Can this couple reach a compromise? Plus, Nicole feels like an outcast at 26. She says she hated being homeschooled, and couldn't relate to other kids.
At the end of the trailer he confesses that "he would be a vegetable if his parents did that to me."

Several guests and audience members have written about the poor treatment by Dr. Phil and the way he portrayed homeschooling.

You can read their accounts here:
Kristen's story
Jane's experience
Charles Lowers
Carrie Lynn

Someone also contacted me about a possible documentary about Dr. Phil and people who have been "duped" by his show. You can email me if you would like details.

Other bloggers offering commentary,
Annette has also been keeping up with all the latest information.
Valerie
Christine wants to plan a counter-point to the issues raised in the show.

If you would like to share your thoughts with Dr. Phil there is a message board thread for this show on his website. (Thanks to reader Kym for the tip.)

UPDATE: Dayna, the guest in the trailer video left a comment. Overall, she's sounds glad she participated.

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Truancy & Homeschooling

The US hasn't quite risen to the level of the nursery rhyme police but we may get there yet. Truancy seems to be the crisis "du jour" in education and homeschoolers may be a target. Here's a few examples,

To help curb truancy Mississippi wants to regulate homeschoolers.

Mississippi's school chief said he wants homeschooling organizations to help craft says to ensure homeschooled students are truly being educated.State Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds called some situations "child abuse."

"We want you to enjoy the freedom you have for homeschooling," he said. "But you must realize we all have this moral and ethical responsibility to deal with those situations where clearly it's nothing more than a child abuse situation when parents pull their children out of school, say they're being homeschooled just because parents ... don't want to be involved in the education of their children," he said

Don't they already have child abuse laws in Mississippi ? And from Fresno, CA comes this truancy story.

"Truancy is a gateway to juvenile delinquency and truancy is an early warning sign of drug use, teen pregnancy and educational failure which comes by way of expulsion, or just dropping out of school due to truancy issues."

Ricci Ulrich, Deputy Principal Buchanan High School, says,"So, it could be the student that is skipping school, it could be a child that is giving the parents a lot of difficulty, and unfortunately it can be the parent who is keeping the child at home." (emphasis added)

Philadelphia, no friend to homeschoolers, wants to start mandatory parenting classes for "truant parents" to get wayward children back in the classroom, including home visits.

When the government attempts to "fix" a problem they helped create, watch out - a loss of our freeedom is on the horizon. Too many news stories are using truancy, neglect, and homeschooling in the same paragraph for my comfort.

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Conservatives Outgive Liberals

When it comes to being compassionate, it appears liberals fail to put their money where their mouth is.

In a forthcoming book, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. " Arthur Brooks comes to the conclusion that conservatives are more generous than their liberal counterparts.

"For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice."

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Even here on this blog when I use the phrase, forced benevolence, I get accused of lacking compassion for those who are less fortunate. All because I believe government welfare programs actually hinder the freedom and generosity of all Americans. Our giving must take place after the government has taken their share for their giving. According to Brooks, it appears that religious conservatives are the most willing to give their after tax dollars to help others, irrespective of income level.

Forced benevolence, often called government spending, is never charitable. It is we, not the state, who are told to love and serve our neighbor. Further, government charity is the most inefficient form of help. I pay my taxes, they spend some on administration, and give some to those they feel need the help. Basically, wealthy distribution according to the needs of the state, which may or may not help my neighbor. Isn't it much more efficient if I just help my neighbor and give him the money directly? But the state doesn't believe enough of us will, so they force us to do it through taxation and compulsion. Often invoking the phrase, "for the children" to bolster their claim to our money.

Could it be the guilty conscience of the compassionate liberal "do gooders" that causes them to think this way?
Harvey Mansfield, professor of government at Harvard University and 2004 recipient of the National Humanities Medal, does not know Brooks personally but has read the book. "His main finding is quite startling, that the people who talk the most about caring actually fork over the least,"
Davey Crockett, in a speech before Congress explained why government acts of charity are not charitable at all. Every American should read and understand exactly what Davey Crockett learned from a country farmer.
We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money.
Wouldn't it be nice if members of Congress and the White House thought the same way today?

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Striking A Balance

Seeking to maintain the balance between the separation of church and state, parents in Columbus, Ohio think they've found a solution to the dismal offerings at their local high school. They started an independent study program in the style of "classical Christian education." The school board approved the study for high school credit. Parent Kelly Kullberg explained,

"(For) over 10 years, parents in the community have sensed a trend toward despair and violence in the books chosen" in the school district's English classes, Kullberg said. "They're hungry for hope and if that includes questions of faith and God, then my view is that is perfectly legit in a classroom, because education should be about the search for truth."
Predictably, others are not as thrilled with blending public and private education for high school credit, even though no public funds are being used.

"If what's going on is not unconstitutional, it's skating very close to the line," said Gary Daniels, litigation coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. "The real problem here is that kids receive credit for this."
Sounds like they'll be meeting in the courtroom soon. Clearly some do not recognize the parents' natural or Constitutional right to direct the education of their children. If the state really recognized the parents' right, they wouldn't need the school's approval to teach these subjects or get the credits. And why does the ACLU care? Whose civil rights are being violated? These parents are not insisting all children attend these courses, so where's the violation? If the answer wasn't already obvious, it's because it's not civil liberties, but Christian liberties that are the problem.

As I sat at the library the other day I overheard some high schoolers talking about an upcoming test. One student was quizzing the other on the Five Pillars of Islam. Where's the ACLU when you need them?

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From the Washington Post

Washington Post education writer, Jay Mathews, and his friend want to be brought into the 21st century and discover this "new opinion delivery system" called blogging. To help them along, they want to know who your top five education bloggers are. Joanne Jacobs would be the first on my list. She was the first edublogger I read and I still read her today.

The Washington Post, in partnership with Newsweek, is also doing an interesting series on religion and public life. They are asking a very diverse panel a series of questions. Here's the first,
If some religious people believe they have a monopoly on truth, then are conversation and common ground possible? If so, what would be the difficulties and benefits of such a conversation?
Not surprisingly, Al Mohler's answer, The Truth About Truth has generated quite a bit of feedback and commentary. Other panelists include, a rabbi, a Wiccan, an Episcopal Bishop. This series should be interesting to follow.

I live in a very diverse neighborhood with Muslims, Hindus, Jews, atheists, and Christians. Religion comes up occassionally in conversations. I see a lot of common ground in our values, but on absolute Truths there is little compromise on either side. Still, we understand that as neighbors we need to respect the beliefs of the other, even if we don't hold those beliefs ourselves. For some reason, I actually find those without any strong convictions or beliefs to be the most difficult conversations. How about you?

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Where Does Learning Take Place?

Dear Spunky,
My husband and I are new to homeschooling (we hs'd one year a few years back) and he is very supportive of this. However, we are having a little "debate" about where the learning should take place. He feels there should be one room designated for school (like we can even have that in our 1100 sq. ft. military housing!) and I know that "school" and learning should take place everywhere we go whether it be the grocery store, in the car, etc. He agrees the world is our classroom, but at the same time he says he feels certain things need to be done in a room set aside just for school. TO me that's too close to a traditional classroom setting that I want our children away from! He agrees he doesn't know much about homeschooling and he hasn't read any research, blogs, etc. I'm not saying I'm an expert by any means, but I know in my heart our children need to be able to adapt to whatever enviroment they are in and learn. They need to be able to do schoolwork if we are waiting at the doctor's office, etc. What are your thoughts?
The world is indeed our classroom, and children need to adapt to whatever environment they are in. But given that your husband is a military man, he also recognizes that there is a certain amount of discipline in education. He equates that discipline with a "classroom" setting. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. I'd suggest you both sit down and discuss your philosophy of education and your goals. Just because your husband has not read many books or done as much research doesn't mean he doesn't know what he wants for his children or have good ideas. As you each listen to the thoughts of the other, you'll get a greater understanding of how each approaches education and a workable arrangement for your family. There is no right answer to where learning takes place in homeschooling. So debating isn't helpful. Creatively look for a solution that meets the needs and goals of your family. It may not end up being "like the books" tell you to do it, but that's okay. That's the beauty of homeschooling.

Where does learning take place in your home? Do you have a separate room or desks for each child? If you could also include your a bit of your educational philosphy (ie. unschooler, classical, etc.) that would help other readers understand the different approaches to home education and now they make it work for their family.

We have converted our living room / dining room in our home into a library. There is a table in the center, bookshelves all around, and just this year we have added a few desks for my older children. But that doesn't necessarily mean that this is the only place my children learn. As my son said once, "School is life and life is school, you never stop learning."

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Florida, I weep for you!

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? When did you finally decide? Was it in eighth grade? Probably not for most of us. For the first time, Florida eighth graders will be asked to select their career major.
That's because Florida's eighth-grade students, including more than 13,000 in Palm Beach County, will be the first in the country who must select high school majors. The statewide majors are a provision of Gov. Jeb Bush's "A-plus-plus" plan designed to make Florida schools more relevant to children.
There will be more than 80 "state-approved" majors. And what about a child who wants to do something that isn't "state-approved?" I noticed mother, missionary or pastor were not on the list. And I wonder how much longer they'll offer ROTC and the military as an option. The list actually looked more like the offerings for those headed to the local community college not a university. The comment of one school board member was telling,
"As long as we encourage students to think about it and let them know they have choices, and as long as we keep it flexible, I don't think it will do too much damage."
Too much damage? Is that how government intrusion into our private lives is now measured? It's none of the government's business what a child wants to be when they grow up. Career majors are part of the process of tracking students from preschool through college. (P-16) into a seamless educational system. This has nothing to do with encouraging children, but everything to do with creating a managed economy according to the needs of the state. Florida is the first, but every state is in various stages of implementation in the same direction. (More about that here.)

Interesting, even charter schools need to comply with this requirement. I know Florida has a Florida Virtual School (FLVS) which is part of the public school system. According to their data, 22% of the students enrolled are using the curriculum at home. But since FLVS does not grant diplomas, it's unclear how this requirement will apply to them. In any case, all homeschoolers will be affected by these reforms in one way or another. Even if they don't require them to declare a major, colleges and employers will begin to consider only those who have the credentials that go along with the diploma.

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