Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sign Language

I'm scratching my head too!

I found this over at Communication FUNdamentals. JoJo Tabares also has a website called the Art of Eloquence where you can find more funnies and tips on effective communication.

Speaking of commuication, I appreciate all the thoughtful comments on the different posts this week. Thanks for making blogging so much fun!

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Conflicting Values

You know there is something wrong when a member of of the mainstream media can see what a member of the minstry cannot.

Steve Jacoby of the Boston Globe

When it comes to the education of children, there is always an agenda -- and those who don't share that agenda too often find themselves belittled, marginalized, or ignored.
Dr. Jim West, Baptist minister who helped compose a letter in support of the public schools

A theologian of the cross says what a thing is. In contrast, a theologian of glory attempts to avoid offense.

In short, in my estimation, the problem with homeschooling from a theological point of view is that it embodies a "theology of glory" and ignores, or even discounts the "theology of the cross". It fears; it lives in fearfulness, and it has forgotten that "perfect love casts out fear". The theology of homeschooling calls for a withdrawal from society because, at its heart, it does not believe. Not really. Not that God can change people and thereby change society through the Gospel. And finally it supposes that society, social structures, and God ordained offices are evil. Indeed, it calls what God has ordained evil and withdrawal good. It errs in so doing, theologically.

Appparently, his theology of the cross doesn't apply to the comment box because it's closed. He's reopened them. But I'll keep it here anyway. The homeschooler doesn't withdraw from society, just the public schools. And we do so because WE BELIEVE

Proverbs 9:10
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One understanding".

Proverbs 13:20 states
"He who walks with the wise becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm."

From Psalm 14:1,
"The fool has set in his heart that there is no God"

Proverbs 22:15,
"foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child."

Luke 11:23
"He who is not with Me is against me and He who does not gather with me scatters."

Deuteronomy 6:5-7
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 6:13-14
"Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you."

Mathew 18:6
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

In short, Dr. West, we homeschool because we believe the Bible. I do not homeschool out of fear of man but out of love for Christ and His Word. God has ordained his Word and given it to us to follow. It you would like to call that evil and follow after the state schools (which believe that there is no God) as good then I ask; who is the theologian of the cross and who is the theologian of glory?

Related Post: Why We Homeschool and The Baptist Division

(Thanks Tina for sending me the link.)

Perfect Attendance

I had perfect attendance most of my K-12 academic career. I think I missed less than 5 days. Most were in third grade, the year I had eye surgery. I didn't miss any in high school. And what did I get for all my hard work? A certificate. That's it. Big deal. Or so I thought.

The certificates were always awarded at a little end-of-the year ceremony. It wasn't anything fancy but mom insisted on coming. She was one of only a few that bothered. Faithfully, she came to them all. I can still see her in my mind's eye sitting in the back of the gym anxiously waiting for one of her children's names to be called so she could applaud. Mom didn't just gently tap her hands together either. She clapped loudly. Loud enough so everyone in the next county knew she was there.

One year a friend asked me, "Why does your mom come to these? They're really nothing special."

I shrugged, "I dunno, nothing better to do I guess."

Nothing better to do? What was I thinking? I mean, what else does a mom with 5 children all within a year of each other have to do with her time?

Never-the-less, she always showed up. And it continued day after day, year after year. She was there to witness my graduation from high school. Graduation from college. My wedding. The birth of my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth...Mom was there for them all. She always stayed extra days to help out too.

One time, she even came back the next day with a smile after I kicked her out for some dumb reason. (I was severely post partum, 'nuf said!)

She wasn't just there for the momentous but the mundane as well. Doctor's appointments. Small get-a-ways. Laundry day. And yes, dumb awards ceremonies in elementary school.

Perfect attendance.

How I wish I could go back in time and answer my friend's question all over again.

"Why does my mom come to these?

"Because she loves me. That's why."

My certificates for perfect attendance are faded and gone. But the memory of a faithful mother and a lifetime of lessons in motherhood, those I will cherish forever.

Thanks mom, it is you who deserves the award for forty-three years of perfect attendance. I don't have a silly certificate to give you and there is no stage to walk across. But I stand up today and applaud you. Loud enough for everyone in the next county to hear. I am honored to be your daughter. I rise up and call you blessed.

With love.

(Spunky's Note: This is my entry in Heather's Mother's Day writing contest to honor our mothers. The deadline is May 1. Looking for more inspiration? Her comments is full of links to other entries.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

HSLDA Membership

In response to my Parental Rights post and a small discussion in the comment box, Piano Steve asked
People had recommended to us that we join the HSLDA as we embark on our homsechooling journey, so is there something I should know about them to make that decision more intelligently?
So I thought I'd open this discussion up for all to share why they are or are not members of HSLDA.

This is not an opportunity to launch an emotional attack against HSLDA. But as new parents such as Piano Steve come into homeschooling, they should have accurate information to make intelligent decisions for themselves.

As for us, I posted last year why we are not members. Our concern is that they have a dual purpose. They defend the homeschool family and they are a proactive political group. From their website about who they are,
HSLDA works to defeat or amend harmful bills, but also works proactively, introducing legislation to protect and preserve family freedoms.
If they want to lobby states for different laws then maybe a separate organization should be set up. There are strong differences of opinion among homeschoolers as to what a "good" homeschool law is. (Section ML 380.1561 is still a sore spot with many in MI.) In the mid '90's Many homeschoolers in MI found themselves at odds with the organization they thought would defend them.

In defense of individual homeschool families they have done some outstanding work. As a politcal action group they have their opinions and are right to express them. However, often the two are mixed together. I would rather see two separate organizations. One for the defense of the homeschool families and a second for political action. It seems a lot cleaner. That way I know my membership is being used in the way in which I intended it - to defend homeschool families. I don't want to possibly fight the organization I paid to join.

If they would like to also proactively promote legislation to preserve family freedoms that's fine. I just feel they should do so as a separate organization. That way it won't appear as though they are speaking on behalf of all homeschoolers around the nation.

In my post last June, Headmistress at the Common Room mentioned the use of dues for the creation of Patrick Henry College. She said,
I won't be a member again because I'm not happy with the use of their dues to support Patrick Henry College. I'm not mad at them- it's their right. But it's also my right to spend my money in places I think it does more good. No matter how good Patrick Henry is, grads from there are going to have to overcome the reputation of their college to work outside the conservative Christian sphere, and I'd rather HSLDA used money I give them for homeschooling insurance to defend other homeschoolers. Exclusively.
That has also been an issue with some as well.

But these are just my thoughts and opinions. If others woul like to share their thoughts to help Steve and others make an intelligent decision feel free to jump in.

There are also other organizations out there besides HSLDA. The NHELD is another legal defense group. Henry Cate at Why Homeschool just interviewed Judy Aron. She is the research director for that group. I'm not affiliated with this group. I just present it as another option to consider.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Baptist Growing Division

One group of Baptists say pull your children out of public school.

A group of Baptists activists who two years ago tried to get the Southern Baptist Convention to approve a resolution urging the faithful to pull their children out of government schools announced they are proposing a similar measure this year.
One of the leaders of the resolution Dr. Bruce Shortt stated,

"The government's schools haven't merely failed; they are destroying our children spiritually and morally. Academically, the public school system is as dead as Elvis. Unfortunately, many Christian pastors and leaders still try to evade the cold, hard facts by talking about 'school reform' and 'salt and light.' Well, we've tried that strategy for 40 years and more, and, after trillions of dollars of reform, anyone who takes a serious look at the consequences of our government school habit can see that the Church has been hemorrhaging children for more than a generation and that the public schools are stuck on stupid morally and academically.
In response another group of Baptists say support your public schools. A letter was circulated among its members.

The letter said it's wrong for church leaders to urge their congregations to abandon public schools in favor of homeschooling or private Christian academies.

"We believe Baptists should recommit themselves to public education, not as a means toward converting school children, but because it's the right thing to do,"

We call on Baptists to recommit themselves to the separation of church and state, which will keep public schools free from coercive pressure to promote sectarian faith, such as state-written school prayers and the teaching of neo-creationism (intelligent design)."

As the public schools spiral into moral relativism, this debate is going to intensify.

The church is the gathering of believers. The state is the government. If people are really desiring the of "separation of church and state" then it would seem that the believer would be separated from the state schools. That, to me, is true separation of church and state isn't it?

Read Why We Homeschool to understand our scriptural mandate to educate our children in the fear of the Lord.

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"I won't grow up...."

I'll never grow up,
never grow up,
never grow up
Not me!
Not I,
Not me!

We are in the midst of Peter Pan plan rehearsals here at SpunkyHomeschool. My three older children are in the pit orchestra for the performance. That means they are practicing their music constantly. And if they're not practicing, one of them is listening to it on CD. The unintended consequence is that my little two year old, Elaina, is singing "I won't grow up" all day long.

It's cute at two and I wish it were true. But how about at 22?

Frustrated and angry, this father attempted to shoot the computer because his son sat around all day and refused to grow up.

Joseph Langenderfer, 44, was arrested Monday afternoon at his home. His 22-year-old son, Tim, called 9-1-1, saying he and his dad were arguing and his dad had just shot at him.The older Langenderfer reportedly told deputies he was mad that his son had not done the laundry and was spending all his time playing games on their computer.
This is so sad for both the father and the son. Thankfully, the father has bad aim and missed both the computer and son. The father is now sitting in a jail cell on charges of attemtped murder. Seems some boys are just not that motivated to work.

A wise son makes a glad father; but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. Proverbs 10:1

However, it is good to know that not all young men are wasting their time away sitting around playing computer games. Such is the case with the wonderful homeschooled teens Jake and Alex at Still Thinking. They just launched the website of Justice Tom Parker. No matter what you may think of Judge Parker's politics, the website is outstanding.

Still Thinking also designed the website of Spunky Homeschool and Regenerate Our Culture. I'm glad to see them grow up and move on to bigger and better things. (Hey Jake and Alex, Do you do the laundry too?!)

Carnival Reminder
The Common Room hosts the Homeschool Carnival
Scribblings by Blair hosts the Carnival of Beauty

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What book would you recommend?

Carmon at Buried Treasure asked a great question on her blog in light of the librarian who recommended the Marketing of Evil to the OSU freshman. She asked,
If you were in charge of the world, what book would you make all incoming freshmen read?
My answer other than the Bible would be Mortimer Adler's book How to Read a Book. This book was first published in 1940. I wished I had read it years earlier. This book provides the framework for how to read any future book. Reading another book before this would be like giving a child the keys to the car without teaching him how to drive. This book is demanding and challenging but worth the effort. In my opinion, it's a must read for every incoming college student.

As an aside, my first assigned book as a freshman at the University of Michigan was Alexis De Toqueville's Democracy in America published in the 1830's. He wrote this of journalists,
They certainly are not great writers, but they speak their country's language and they make themselves heard."
I wonder what he would say of journalists and/or bloggers today. You can read the whole book online here.

So what book would you recommend? (I might just use this list as part of my daughter's final year of high school. )

Parental Rights

Michael Farris wrote a very thought provoking article in the March / April issue of the HSLDA Court Reporter. He believes that the time is right for an amendment to the US Constiution to preserve the right of the parent to direct the upbringing and education of their children. In the article, Mr. Farris gives a brief history of parental rights protection. He then asserts, based on recent Supreme Court decisions, that judicial support for parental rights is thin. That fact coupled with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, could spell trouble down the road for the American family.

The threats to parental rights are real and growing. And we must face the fact that the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is not explicitly written in the text of the Constitution. If we wish to preserve this right, it is my contention that now is the time to put parents' rights into black and white - that is, to adopt an explicit constitutional amendment. If we wait until the threat fully matures, we will have waited too long.
Have we come to the place in our country where this is now necessary? In the past, the law and its writers recognized the unalienable right and responsibility of the parent. In 1841, Francis Wayland President of Brown University, authored The Elements of Moral Science. This book became a standard university textbook. He wrote

While [a parent] discharges his parental duties within these limits, he is, by the law of God, exempt from interference both from the individual and from society.
I wonder how many universities still teach from this text. I bet not many.

Mr. Farris's idea definitely merits strong consideration. The struggle between the rights of the parent and the rights of the state are only going to get more intense.

I would be interested in knowing the exact wording of before I could fully support the idea. I hope that it would state that it was an unalienable right and not just a fundamental right of the parent. A fundamental right would mean that the state and its courts could weigh a competing claim in the care or education of a child. Thus, a fundmanental right would be much more limiting that an unalienable right.

I'm also curious, if such an ammendment were successful, would it nullify compulsory attendance laws as well? That would seem to be the logical outcome of such an ammendment if it were framed as an unalienable right of the parent to direct the upbringing and education of their children free from societal interference. If that's the case, we should all be supporting this.

In any case, read Mr. Farris's whole article. I'd love to know what others think about the ideas he presents. Would you support a move toward a Constitutional ammendment to protect the rights of the parent?

This is a lot to think about. But I definitely agree with Mr. Farris that we need to be proactive in our thinking on these issues. The best defense is a good offense.

(Note: Some information for this post and the quote from Francis Wayland were taken from the book Real Choice Real Freedom in American Education by Kerry Morgan and used with permission.)

Thanks to Jacque Dixon for pointing me to the HSLDA article.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

News in Education

New Edubogger
Edspresso is a new EduBlog that looks to be very informative. Today they posted the first installment in an online debate on national standards in education. For all with a stake in education, this will be a blog to watch.

Tolerance Education
Last week I posted about the textbook changes in California schools. WND is now reporting, Incoming freshman to OSU - Mansfield, have to undergo a "diversity seminar" . Remind me again why my children need to go to college?

Meanwhile the Dutch just show a movie
While the faculty at OSU have a seminar in tolerance, the Dutch just show a movie to determine whether their immigrants are suitable for life in the "socially tolerant" Netherlands.

[G]iven their much vaunted toleration -- the Dutch are ramming secularism down the less-than-enthusiastic throats of immigrants. This has its funny side. There is a campaign to "educate" people in Dutch libertarian values -- including gay marriage. Prospective immigrants are shown films featuring guys kissing in a park to gauge teir ability to fit into Dutch society.
I doubt the Muslim immigrants find that film funny. The clash betwen the Muslims and the socially tolerant Dutch is threatening to collapse the Dutch social structure.

Unschooling Goes Mainstream
From the Washington Post,
Justin will graduate in June from the highly unconventional Fairhaven School with a diploma that may require explanation to a college or future boss. He took no tests in his three years at the private school, received no grades and had no course requirements. But he played electric guitar, read and wrote poetry, made friends and got the last laugh on lunch. "No more tater tots!" he said.
Sounds like my home some days. Only Spunky Homeschool doesn't have any tuition.

The idea of vouchers has been bandied about a step toward choice and true education reform. Many homeschoolers are favorable toward them. I don't endorse vouchers for the simple reason that with the cash comes the control. Milwaukee is a case study in vouchers. They now have a law requiring private schools that accept vouchers to be accredited.
Accreditation will be a way of saying, "If you're going to run a school in the city of Milwaukee, there are certain standards we have to set, and if you're not willing to meet those standards, you should not be running a school," said [former state superintendant Fuller]
Sadly, many private Christian schools seem to accept this as necessary.

"I feel it's needed. I feel we should be accountable," said Michael Hutchinson, the leader of Washington DuBois Christian Leadership Academy. "Since you're dealing with God's most precious possessions, his children, why not take those extra steps?"
I guess being accountable to God and the parents isn't enough for some people. And homeschoolers want to get in on vouchers? No thanks!

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State Homeschool Conventions

April showers...
...Bring May flowers.

What else springs up in May? Homeschool conventions. Most states have at least one major homeschool convention each year. It is usually held in early summer. Michigan is having their convention, INCH, at the Lansing Center May 5 & 6. Unfortunately, we have another commitment that weekend and will not be attending.

My friend and regional homeschool speaker Kathy Morrisey of Courtship Connection will be at INCH, She'll also be in Ohio, and Kentucky plus a few other area conferences. If you get a chance, go to one of her workshops. She's a dynamic mother of 8 with lots to share. If you stop by tell her Spunky said hi! (Heads up: We're also going to do a little Mother's Day contest with Kathy next week so be watching for details.)

JenIg and some of the staff of The Old Schoolhouse are going to the Florida Convention.

Tami said the North Carolina convention is May 25 & 26. in Winston Salem. She'll be a vendor and a speaker.

Shelly tells us that the Virginia hoemschool convention is June 4-6 at the Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, VA.

Robin informs us that the New Jersey convention is May 19-20.

Lisa at Homeiscool tells us that the Arizona convention is July 21-22.

Convicted to Complete informs us that California's CHEA is July 7-9

Homeschooling A to Z also has a list of conventions from around the country. But many states are not on that list.

I've gotten a couple of emails from people asking if I know when their state convention is held. I could google all 50 states and do the work. But I'm being lazy. So if you know when your state convention is then please leave a comment and let others know. If you have a link to the website that would be helpful too. I'll add the information to this post. And also provide a link to your site so that maybe we can get a little blogger networking going at the various conventions.

And while your at it, feel free to share some of your convention surivival tips.

My rule of thumb is set a budget and stick to it. Think of conventions like grocery shopping, have a list and buy the basics needs first. Then if you have any money left over throw in a few desserts. If you can afford it bring your children. I know some conventions don't allow it due to space. However, conventions are an excellent way to build a vision for homeschooling in your children. We've taken ours to quite a few and they enjoy the various speakers and the vendor hall as much as we do.

If you're thinking about homeschooling, a convention is a great way to learn more. Even if you don't end up homeschooling, the information is excellent and the resources are so much better than what's available at a teacher store. Many conventions have reduced pricing if you are just going to the vendor hall.

Also, here's a little convention tidbit. I used to attend computer conventions as a vendor. According to marketing research, the majority of people when they enter a vendor hall go to the right. So we always tried to get our tables on that side of the hall. That's not a particularly useful piece of information to survive the convention but I thought I'd share it anyway.

And just because I like to be extra helpful, here's a website to help you find the gas station with the cheapest gas in your area. All you have to do is type you zip code. Our gas is currently at $2.77 a gallon.

(Note: If you had trouble accessing my site, Blogger was down all morning.)

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

I'm a Disinhibitionist....

...and if you're a blogger you are too!

Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, opines that bloggers are contributing to the slide toward more open "wierdness" and "disinhibition" in our society. And even worse this wierdness is spreading like "crabgrass".

[I]t looks to me as if the world of blogs may be filling up with people who for the previous 200 millennia of human existence kept their weird thoughts more or less to themselves. Now, they don't have to. They've got the Web. Now they can share. (snip)

But there is one more personality trait common to the blogosphere that, like crabgrass, may be spreading to touch and cover everything. It's called disinhibition. Briefly, disinhibition is what the world would look like if everyone behaved like Jerry Lewis or Paris Hilton or we all lived in South Park.

There's even new clinical psychological terms to describe some patterns of behavior,

As described by psychologist John Suler, there's dissociative anonymity (You don't know me); solipsistic introjection (It's all in my head); and dissociative imagination (It's just a game). This is all known as digital identity, and it sounds perfectly plausible to me.
So bloggers are disinhibited wierdos mired in dissociative anonymity. And the blogosphere is really just a solipsistic introjection. But I'm not too worried since this is all a part of my digital identity. Spunky's just a figment of my dissociative imagination and I'm not really here. Really. And if you believe that I am, you're suffering from dissociative anonymity too! It all sounds perfectly plausible to me.

There is one silver lining. If anyone threatens to sue for what I've written, I can just claim I'm mentally ill and therefore cannot be held responsible for anything I say or do.

Oh and by the way, please excuse my absence for the rest of the day. It's been unseasonably warm here and I have to go out and water my crabgrass. This is the best crop I've had in years.

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Monday AM: Blogger is giving me fits today. Hopefully it will work soon.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Culture War in School

Is it necessary for children to know the s*xual orientation of historical figures? Some in California think it is necessary to know those details. A debate and possible vote is scheduled Monday on SB1437 in the California legislature. The bill would require,

"No textbook or other instructional materials shall be adopted by the state board or by any governing board for use in the public schools that contains any matter reflecting adversely upon persons because of their race or ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion." -- SB 1437, Sec. 2
Gender is defined by the California Penal Code as,

"For purposes of this title, the following definitions shall apply:

(c)"Gender" means s*x, and includes a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth.

(h)"Sexual orientation" means heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality." -- California Penal Code, Section 422.56.

Using this definition of gender, saying a person is male or female is no longer enough. Why our children have to know who someone spent time with to appreciate their historical significance is beyond me? Obviously, the purpose of the bill goes beyond just teaching history.

Critics of the bill claim that this is an attempt to change the traditional definition of family. They believe SB 1437 would require school children to learn and accept the idea that there is no natural family with a mom and dad. Supporters believe that the family no longer is just about mom and dad and that textbooks and teaching need to reflect this change.

The attempt to redefine the term family is a dangerous precedent. Further, our schools are not the place for social and gender engineering. But that fight was lost long ago. Why Christian parents don't see that is beyond my understanding.

What is the natural outcome to this redefinition of family? Europe is ahead of the US on many of these social reforms. Let's look at what's happening there to see where we're headed. The Telegraph [London] reports how Spain is handling the new definition of family. The term father and mother are being phased out to a more neutral nondiscriminatory term.

Spain has taken another step in its journey from conservative to liberal bastion by creating new birth certificates to avoid discrimination against same-sex couples. According to an announcement in the Official Bulletin of State "The expression "father" will be replaced with "Progenitor A", and "mother" will be replaced with "Progenitor B"."
Al Mohler muses,

Just imagine the greeting cards. "Happy Progenitor A Day!" The family conversation will be a bit eccentric, too. "Go hug your Progenitor B right now, young man." New Bible translations will be necessary as well. The Ten Commandments will have to be revised so that children are commanded to "honor thy Progenitor A and thy Progenitor B."
The first critics of the change are the "couples" consisting of two women. They feel the term "progenitor" is too masculine and discriminates against them. I wonder how the sages of social engineering are going to solve that? So much for ending discrimination. The war continues.

In a related news story: A Boston parent, Robin Wirthlin, is upset after her second grader was read the book, King & King. The book is about a prince who marries another prince and they kiss at the end. Wirthlin said,
By presenting this kind of issue at such a young age, they're trying to indoctrinate our children. They're intentionally presenting this as a norm, and it's not a value that our family supports.
So now that you know this, why is your son still there?

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reform Math

If the thought of selecting a homeschool math curriculum stresses you out, don't worry you're not alone. Every homeschooler faces the decision of which math curriculum at some point in time. Saxon, Math-U-See, Singapore, there are so many out there to choose from. The choices can be daunting. (We use Saxon.)

Homeschoolers aren't the only ones stressing about math curriculum. In many parts of the country it's becoming divisive in the public schools. It's not just which curriculum but which method, traditional math or reform math. It's the reform math that is creating the stir.

Seattle is the latest to introduce reform math into its school district; leaving many parents confused and unhappy.

Traditional math is just what its name implies. The traditional memorization, drill, and practice method. The teacher teaches and the student learns. Mastery of the basic concepts is believed necessary to teach higher math.

Reform math is a complete departure from traditional math.
Reform math also emphasizes estimating and being able to analyze whether the answer derived is correct and reasonable. Students are urged to use calculators from an early age, "because as adults, that's how we do it -- we either do mental math or use a calculator," said Ruth Balf, who teaches fourth and fifth grade at Olympic View Elementary.
The emphasis is on discovery of concepts by the student instead of teaching the concepts and mastery of them. (We wouldn't want to hurt their self esteem by telling them something's wrong!) So the teacher "guides" and the student "discovers" the answers. Or at least makes a good guess. Here's an example,

How do you convert a fraction to a decimal? Divide the numerator by the denominator? Not in CMP [Reformed] math. That might call for long division. Too difficult! CMP students use "models." They have 9 "fraction strips," with a separate fraction strip for the denominators 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12. Students also have a "hundreds strip." To convert 7/8 to a decimal, the student compares the eighths strip to the hundreds strip, looking to see where 7/8 "hits" the hundreds strip. Answers can be expected to range from .86 to .89. The "right answer" is .87 or .88
To make it even more confusing, it varies from year to year which method is used. This leaves huge gaps in students' foundational math skills. Parents are so baffled by the reform math that they can't even help their children with their homework. "Family math nights" are being offered by the district to teach parents how to help their children.

I tutored a fourth grade public school girl in math recently. I asked her to bring her math book to our session. Her mother told me she wasn't allowed to bring it home. How can you do your homework without the book? Further, she told me all her homework made no sense to her or her daughter. Most of the problems had to be solved in a group. To complicate it even more, her daughter didn't even have basic addition memorized. In desperation the mother came to me looking for materials in basic math skills.

This all reminds me of the "inventive" spelling that they introduced into the schools years ago. Now reformers want to tinker with math the same way. And they wonder why we're behind other countries?

So if you're a homeschooler baffled by which curriculum, take heart. You're not alone. But at least your in control of how they are taught and they won't be guinea pigs for the "dumbing them down" reform math.

If you're a public school parent (and many readers here are) then I would be beating a path to my child's school demanding to see the math curriculum.

Some parents are ready to ditch the public schools over this issue. Here's what one Seattle parent said,

"It would be very depressing to me," she said. She says she's a firm supporter of public schools -- "but if they muck up the math, I'm going somewhere else."
Here's some websites if you would like to learn more about reform math.
Mathematically Correct
The Root Cause of the Math Wars Reform Mathematics

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Can Bloggers Make Money?

Today's free feature at the Wall Street Journal is a friendly debate attempting to answer that question.

Blogs have a lot of buzz, but there's still considerable debate about whether that can translate into profits.

While many blogs remain little more than amateur diaries, several bloggers have tried to parlay their online ramblings into branded businesses. One, Jason Calacanis, co-founded Weblogs Inc., a network of blogging sites that was acquired last year by AOL. Mr. Calacanis has been an outspoken proponent of blogs as business vehicles, arguing that quality content can drive enough traffic to attract advertisers.

But longtime Internet entrepreneur Alan Meckler is skeptical. Mr. Meckler, who is chief executive of Jupitermedia Inc., believes that some blogs may achieve a measure of success, but doubts most blogs will be able to generate meaningful

The two agreed to debate the issue for the Online Journal,

You can read the exchange here.

I think the question boils down to making enough money to pay for my Starbuck's addiction or make enough to pay the mortgage? As long as I'm in one of the two categories, I'm happy.

But someone has found SpunkyHomeschool a valuable brand name and is hoping to make a little profit. They bought the domain name and are willing to sell it back to me for $400.

I'll pass.

I admit to being a little flattered by it all. Maybe one day I'll be famous. You know, Oprah, Madonna, Tiger, and Spunky! I've thought about confounding them and changing my name. Then it would be Oprah, Madonna, Tiger, and the "blogger formerly known as Spunky!" Hey, it worked for Prince!

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The Gender War

We're hearing a lot of buzz these days about the Mommy Wars. The feminists are angry that some women are actually choosing home instead of a career. Apparently they are also angry that some women are not choosing specific careers in the hard sciences.

More men than women, it seems, choose to study math or science in college. Rememer to a feminist, choice is a bad thing if it isn't the choice they would make. So the feminists are crying "discrimination" and threatening to sue the university to end the disparity. For a few days, it even seemed like the Bush Adminstration was going to get involved in fixing the problem.

No stranger to battling the feminist agenda, Phyllis Schlafly shares her thoughts at Town Hall on what's really going on;

There isn't a shred of evidence that women are discriminated against in math and science; there are no separate tracks for men's math and women's math. There simply is a higher proportion of men than women who voluntarily choose math and engineering just as more men choose competitive sports.

The feminists want a quota-imposed unisex society regardless of the facts of life, voluntary choice, human nature, common sense, or documented merit. And they use the power of government to achieve their goal.

Not so says Debra Rolison of the Naval Research Laboratory. She believes women are "experiencing a different climate" than men. To me, that's code for, "they don't cater to us". My heart breaks for these women. Welcome to the real world. I survived the climate and graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Are you saying that women today are weaker than the ones 25 years ago and need extra help?

Schlafly makes a good point later in her article, citing the obvious disparity in the number of women to male teachers in our public schools.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration ignores the gender disparity that is having very hurtful consequences: the precipitous decline in male schoolteachers. The number of male public school teachers has fallen to only 20 percent, and at the elementary school level fewer than 10 percent of teachers are men, giving boys the distinct impression that school is not for them.
And it seems to be working. According to a NY Times, a report is being released today declaring Boys Are No Match for Girls in Completing High School.
Nationwide, about 72 percent of the girls in the high school class of 2003 — but only 65 percent of the boys — earned diplomas, a gender gap that is far more
pronounced among minorities, according to a report being released today by the Manhattan Institute.
If anyone needs a "climate change" it's our boys. So will we hear the feminists demand more male teachers to end the disparity, provide a positive role model, and "save our boys"? I wouldn't hold my breath. While the feminists rage on, our boys sit in bored, Ritalin induced stupers. They, in time, become the unmotivated men that Leonard Sax wrote about in the Washington Post and that the Boys Project seeks to now help.

Thankfully, there is a generation of kids who have escaped the clutches of the feminists and are free to be the young men and women that God created them to be.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Motivated to Work

There's a big milestone coming in our home this summer. My son is applying for a job. If all goes well the "unemployment rate" in our household will drop to 75%. He's a hard worker and done very well at a few businesses he's started in the last few years. But he wants a "real job". He's applying to be a bagger at the local grocery store. It's convenient; you don't have to be 16, and best of all he can walk to work. The main reason he wants to work is that he has a need. He wants to take a few college classes next year and he needs a way to pay for them. Can't argue with that logic.

Teaching children the value of hard work isn't easy. Here's two basic principles we've taught our children that have helped make that life lesson a little more real and understandable.

If a man doesn't work he doesn't eat.
We never paid an allowance to our children. Nor did we pay them for work around the house. We figured they're part of the family and this is what family's do. They work together. Slackers went hungry. We never starved them but missing a meal now and again was a great reminder of how important work really is. Children catch on quick when their tummy rumbles. Hunger drives a man to do great things. Hunger drives a child to do great things too - like clean their room and mop the floor.

Now that they're older their hunger isn't just for food. They need/want other things - like computers and college. This brings me to the second principle.

Without a vision my people perish.
We've taught our children to set goals for themselves and their money. My 13 year old son began saving for his full size violin nearly 2 years before he needed it. It was a tough going at different times. He had to sacrifice impulse purchases because he knew what his long term goal was. And he made it. He was able to purchase a beautiful full size violin with a price tag of just over $1200 all on his own. Now he's set his sights on a computer. He's already passed out lawn flyers and knocked on doors for his lawn business. That along with a paper route should put him at his goal by the end of summer. But he's not taking any chances. He watches his spending just as he did with the violin.

I have to admit, there were times it would have been easy to just pull out my wallet and buy him something he passed on. But that would not have served either of us well in the long term. That's hard to handle in our "buy it now" consumer culture.

Homeschooling Let's the Creativity Out
Homeschooling has helped in this area tremendously. They have more time to do various jobs and can be more creative in their efforts. When my oldest was learning to type, she needed a way to practice her skills. We solicited recipes from friends at church. She typed them all into the computer, and bound the book very nicely with a durable plastic cover. She sold the books back to the ladies for $5 each. Many bought multiple copies to give as Christmas gifts. She made nearly $200. That's a pretty decent profit for just learning to type.

However, the biggest advantage is they are not bombarded by friends on a daily basis with all the latest "gotta have it" gadgets. I mean really, do most 10 year olds really need a cell phone or an iPod? I managed to live most of my life without either one. But more importantly, if they decide they want or need it, they don't automatically expect we're going to provide it for them either. Even when my children expressed a desire for one of the latest fads, by the time they saved up the cash the desire was usually gone.

Recently, the Washington Post ran a story by Leonard Sax, "What's Happening to Boys" about how young men lack any sort of plan or motivation to work. He's also working on a book about "Boys Adrift: What's Really Behind the Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys".

We've got our share of problems over here, but thankfully a lack of motivation to work isn't one of them. I don't share that to boast about my own children but to show that our children will rise to the challenge if we give them the chance.

Don't forget the Carnival of Homeschooling is up at About Homeschooling.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday Musings

Here's a few news items of interest. I also have a question at the end. I'd love to hear your opinion.

Quote of the Day
"In public education, we don't ask kids to think. There is little pushing back on a kid to get him to explain, 'How do you know what you know?' "
So said Chief Accountability Officer Meria J. Carstarphen of the Washington D.C. schools. The quote was in reference to new types of questions being asked on their standardized exams to get children to explain their aswers. My advice: Beware the thought police.

Education News recognizes Why Homeschool
Congrats to Henry Cate for his well done interview with Education News. Nice job Henry.

Reasons to homeschool and political affiliation
According to a recent Harris online interactive survey
Republicans are more likely than Democrats to know someone who currently homeschools their child (40% vs. 29%). Party identification also distinguishes adults' views on parents' motivations for homeschooling their children. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite religious or moral instruction (69% vs. 56%) and student behavior problems (50% vs. 43%) as main reasons behind homeschooling. In contrast, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to cite schools being too crowded to provide individual attention (44% vs. 35%) and educating children with special needs (42% vs. 33%) as main reasons for homeschooling.
Homeschoolers Anonymous
Homeschool graduates who go on to Harvard have banded to together to form their own club. The founder of the group says he picked the name to make fun of the stereotype that "all homeschoolers lack social skills and need support to enter society."

What would you have done?
This isn't exactly homeschool related but I'm curious how others would have repsonded. A few weeks ago I was in church enjoying a bagel after service. I glanced to my left and a young lady about nineteen years of age was sitting with her friends. Obvious, to anyone within a 15 foot distance was the fact that her low riding jeans were, well, riding kinda low. Real low. I hope I don't need to say any more than that. I wasn't the only one who noticed. Plenty of eyes were upon her. I discreetly walked up to her, tapped her on the shoulder, and whispered that her back end was showing. Obviously embarrassed she hoisted up her jeans and quickly left the scene. No more was said. Until yesterday. Her angry mother thought my actions were totally inappropriate and let me know it in no uncertain terms. Her mother was not there during our first encounter otherwise I would have spoken to her directly. But I would have felt awful not saying anything. I was stunned. I was trying to save this young lady from embarrassement. But this mother made me feel awful for saying something and thought my actions incredibly judgmental of her daughter. Saying I should just be thankful she was in church no matter how she was dressed. For me it wasn't WHAT she was wearing, but HOW she was wearing it. Or not wearing it in this case.

So what do you think? Was I wrong to say something? What would you have done?

Further, with summer months approaching how do you handle the public "undressing" of young ladies. My own 17 year old daughter wouldn't consider dresssing in the tops that at one time only worn UNDER something else.. She's not a frump either but has too much self respect to dress in many of today's styles.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ten Commandments for Homeschooling Moms

I am the Lord your God, Thou shall have no other curriculum before Me.
Every homeschooler wants to find the perfect curriculum. God's word is the best one around. Best of all most of us already own it.

Thou shall not make a graven image of the perfect homeschool family.
There is no perfect homeschool family. We all have sinned a fall short of the glory of God.

Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
Don't be a slave to your duties. Take time to rest and enjoy your children and husband.

Honor your father and mother
Even if your parents are not believers or supportive of homeschooling, honor them. It isn't easy, but the example you set now will pay dividends down the road. If they are deceased talk often of your parents and build bridges from the past to the future.

Thou shall not destroy thy children's spirits
Keep a tender eye toward their heart to make sure that their relationships with the Lord, you, and each other remain strong.

Thou shall not compare yourself one to another
Trust me, you'll always come up short and discontent.

Thou shall not commit "adultery"
Stop cheating your husband of the respect he desires by comparing him to other homeschooling dads, speakers, or authors; and then wishing your husband would be different. Love the man you married not the perfect image in your mind.

Thou shall not boast about your accomplishments.
Scripture says, "Let another praise you and not your own lips." The fruit of your work will be raising a generation of servants for the Lord. And the best reward will be when you stand before His throne and He boasts, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of my rest."

Thou shall encourage other families to good deeds, not judge one another harshly
We all make mistakes and have things we wished we had done differently. Seek to find ways to build one another up not tear each other down.

Thou shall not steal the joy of your family
The joy of the Lord shall be your strength. As you delight in the Lord your household will become delightful as well.

I don't pretend to do any one of these things on a consistent basis. God is still working on me but I press on to the high calling that Christ has set before me.

(This was first published on February 20, 2006 but I needed to remind myself of a few of these things so I reposted it today to help me remember them.)

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Switch or a Cross

I have been following quite a few discussions around the blogosphere on the Pearls. A few posts that I would like to highlight are Dana's post Garden of Eden and My Two Cents on No Greater Joy. Definitely worth reading.

Ann also wrote a post called Pearls and Perfectionism . In a very candid way, she explains how the Pearls teachings have affected her. Of the Pearls writing, Ann asserts;

1. Their writings lack clarity.

2. Their writings create sufficient confusion to potentially lead well-meaning, loving parents into abusive discipline.

3. Their writings belittle those who do not subscribe to their paradigm which may cause a parent to doubt any of their own, personal misgivings with Pearl teaching...which is, again, potentially dangerous.

In the comments to the post by Ann at Choosing Home, Jennifer (#67) asked
I often read that people like "some" of what the Pearls say and are uncomfortable or don't like other stuff they put out. I would love to hear some more specifics on what folks don't like about them and why. This is really a question for people who, in general, are supporters or who have been in the past, for people who give them a mixed review.
This post is a small attempt to answer Jennifer's comment from my perspective as one who previously enjoyed the Pearls early teachings but no longer recommends them.

I became acquainted with the Pearls teachings in 1996. Since that introduction, I have read much of the Pearls written material, attended a weekend seminar hosting Mr. Pearl, and listened to a few of their tapes. I don't evaluate as one with a purely negative view of the Pearls. They speak quite a bit about "tying strings" and having a positive relationship with your children. That is always a good reminder.

However, a parent especially a mother, desperate to raise obedient Godly children can come away with the idea that the Pearls way is the only way and not read the material objectively in light of the scripture and her husband's desires. Michael Pearl in the article In Defense of Bliblical Chastisment Part 2 states,
If you do not see the wisdom in what I have said, and you reject these concepts, you are not fit to be a parent. I pity your children. They will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience that mine do.
That's a pretty grave consequence for not following their concepts. No one wants to be thought an "unfit parent" with pitied children! Statements like this don't encourage objective evaluation of his "wisdom" in light of God's Word. No method is completely perfect and true. All ideas should be scrutinized. Some may suggest that this goes without saying. However, when one writes with such an authoritative tone and puts forth such dire consequences for rejecting the concepts, this needs to be explicity stated for humility's sake if nothing else.

Further, their tone in the writing is sometimes a bit harsh and intimidating. This tone coupled with a fear of failure can lead an insecure or perfectionist parent to excessive and harsh discipline. Ann shared honestly her struggle in that very way.

Like Ann, I have also come to a similar conclusion about the lack of consistency and clarity in their writing. It is the lack of clarity in their teaching that is most troubling. After listening to Mr. Pearl at a seminar a few years ago, I came away with a very different interpretation than what I had when I only read the book To Train Up a Child and some newsletters. As everyone does, I took my background and applied it to the material. After the seminar, I realized my idea of training was very different than Mr. Pearls. His method of training and answers to specific questions were not exactly what I thought appropriate in many areas. I began to realize that if I could misinterpret it so could others. While my misinterpretation may not be harmful some else's very well could be. I don't know what is going on in other homes. I began to recommend their materials much more cautiously for this reason.

Last summer, I spoke about this confusion and lack of clarity in my review of Created To Be His Helpmeet. During Part III of the review I stumbled upon a statement by Michael Pearl that caused me to withrdraw my support for them completely. When asked by a woman what to do with an abusive husband Michael responds, (emphasis added)
If you or your children have been hit (other than the children being spanked) so as to leave discernable marks two hours later, and you genuinely fear that he will repeat his battering, you can take legal steps without divorcing your husband....
At the time of that writing and still today it is unclear whether Mr. Pearl believes it is okay for a man to hit his wife as long as he doesn't leave a mark lasting over two hours.

Don't misundertand, this is not the same as accusing Mr. Pearl of hitting his wife. However, his answer does not provide sufficient clarity to leave it without a doubt that a man should NOT hit his wife under ANY circumstances no matter how long the mark lasts. I cannot in good conscience recommend the materials of someone who cannot say in no uncertain terms that hitting a wife is WRONG the first time and intervention of some sort is necessary so he won't repeat it. It may not be the legal authorities but a wife should not have to watch how long the mark lasts or "fear that he'll do it again" before seeking help. He did it once, that's reason enough.

Michael Pearl believes that swift consistent correction the first time leads to a postive change in behavior.
If, and only if, you are absolutely consistent, meeting every transgression with swift penalty, then they will quickly adapt themselves to the new order. They will do the incredible. They will obey. (NGJ, Vol 1, 33)
If a child who disobeys deserves swift correction the first time, why not the same for a husband who violates his wife by hitting her? He is certainly more intellectually aware of his actions than a child.

More recently, I have gone back to the website to see if this had been cleared up. It hadn't. I also read some of their material that I hadn't previously read in print form. Quite a few articles were confusing and lacked clarity. For the sake of brevity, I will highlight only two here.

The Rod to Establish the Authority of Our Word
Spanking a Seven Month Old
A mother writes in a wonders if spanking a seven month old is appropriate. The context involves putting the child to sleep for the night. Debi gives a very maternal answer about nurturing the baby to sleep. Michael provides a very ambiguous answer. He offers the same nurturing advice as Debi but doesn't rule out the need to spank a baby for not laying down when told. His answer is very unclear. Initially he appears to say that it is wrong that a child at 7 months is too young
I do caution: A 7-month-old is too young to be spanked as such - too young to be punished.
but at the end he states,
If the child has been mistrained, or if you have failed to provide a good prelude to sleep, and the child rises up to fight and resist, you should evaluate your whole procedure so as to improve your pre-sleep ritual for tomorrow night. But for the moment, you must constrain the child to obey authority and remain lying down. As a last resort, you may have to prove the power of your word by enforcing it with one or two stinging licks (applied with a small flexible switch) to the child's leg that says to the child, "There is no reward for getting up; Mama means business; she is not going to give over to my demands; the path to greatest pleasure is to go to sleep; there is no alternative; my parents always get their way; what can I say? Good night.
This advice is hardly what I would call a straight answer. He says that 7 months is too young but as a last resort, you must "prove the power of your word" so go ahead and give a few licks. Spanking a 7 month old with one or two stinging licks for failure to lay down when told is just plain wrong. To make it even more confusing, Michael Pearl admits a child at that age has no knowledge of good or evil. Yet, a negative consequence is applied to a child who has already learning the "dark side of self-will". Very confusing indeed.

To a parent desperate for answers his answer is unclear but leaves the impression that it is okay to spank a 7 month old as long as you can do it calmly without anger. Spanking with a "few stinging lick" to an infant no matter the tempermant of the parent is wrong.

The consistent use of the rod seems to be the savior for all problems of obedience, bad habits, and the misdeeds of children.

When advising a mother on what to do with a screaming three year old, they write;

Consistency on your part will break that habit in just a few days. Never threaten, and never show mercy. One squeak of a scream gets a switching. (NGJ, Vol 1, pg 26)
The idea that a parent is never to show mercies leaves only the choice of a rod as the solution to this and most other infractions. However, according to scripture, mercy has a definite place and judgement is reserved for those who never show mercy,
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" James 2:13

Punishing the soul with the rod.

The Pearls establish another use of the rod besides training or chastisement. The rod is used for the punishment of the soul. Here's an example, (emphasis added)

Debi speaks on lying

When our second son, Nathan, was about six years old, we were forced to face the fact that we had a son who was an incorrigible liar. It was difficult to accept because he had the sweetest, most innocent and sincere countenance. And he was smart! I think his bad habit was encouraged by his knowledge that I did not want to believe he was a liar. Consequently, he grew worse until he would actually lie when the truth would have served him better. I realized that somewhere along the line, I had missed the opportunity to deal with him while he was still young enough to easily break the habit. After much soul-searching and many botched ideas, I finally told Nathan that I realized he was a liar, even though I couldn’t catch him red-handed in his lies. I told him that God hated lying, that I hated it, that I had failed him, and that it was very important that he not continue to be a liar. I informed him that everyday for the next seven days, I was going to give him 10 licks at noon. He was to bring me the switch and I would spank him for being a liar.....

.....When the clock struck twelve, I very calmly, and without pity, reminded him, "You are a liar, and lying is an ugly, hateful thing. In order that your soul shall be spared, I'm going to whip you." That was all I said, no praying, no sermons, no "you break my heart' appeals.

She goes on to say how much the spankings grieved her and that after the seventh day her liar was cured of his lying and now hates it. To her credit, Debi admits this may not work for everyone. She also admits, it was HER failure that caused his lying.
I am not suggesting that this is the way to stop lying in all children. This may never work for you, but I was desperate and was willing to try something drastic. If I had been on my toes in earlier child training, Nathan would have never become such a liar.
A lying child is a awful situation. But isn't her son's lying really a result of Debi's failure to properly teach or train him? She claims responsibility but her son paid the price in the form of a swtich. The son hadn't lied on each of the days he was "switched". He was being swatted for who HE WAS not something he did. Nor was there any prayer, repentance, or training involved during the punishment. He was just told at noon to bring a switch.

Michael teaches in Biblical Chastisement part 2

The soul of your child needs to be punished. He feels the need to suffer for his misdeeds.

Where is the switch for Debi's misdeeds. She admitted it was her failure that led to his lying. Shouldn't she get the switch in his place?

Even though Debi believes this may not work for everyone, Michael seems to believe that this is the only way remedy to relieve the guilt of one in this type of situation,
When your child is in the first throes of this debilitating condition, be kind enough to punish him. Care enough and love enough to pay the emotional sacrifice to give him ten to fifteen licks that will satisfy his need to experience payback.
Michael asserts that this can happen to a child as young as three or four but most likely in older chilren. The idea that the soul of a child needs to be punished and paid for by a rod is questionable at best. Mr. Pearl provides no scriptural justification for doing this. Just the warning that if you fail to see the wisdom you are an unfit parent and your children will never experience the freedom of soul and conscience.

I am so thankful that our Savior doesn't deal with me in such a manner. When I was a sinner, my heavenly Father did not chastise me and give me a switching or an eternity apart from Him. Out of love for me, he sent HIS son to die on my behalf. Christ took my sin upon himself and said "I will pay the price." Instead of giving me a "switch", he took my penalty and went to the cross.
He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God.
There is a place for the rod, but it should never replace the cross.

(Note: Anonymous comments without a blog or valid email will not be allowed in this post. Please stay on topic. Off topic comments will be deleted.)

Stay Home

If you missed the Oprah show yesterday like I did. Oprah's website has some of the highlights. Apparently, Bill Gates is a man on a mission,

With a net worth of about $51 billion, Microsoft founder and world's richest man, Bill Gates, and his wife, Melinda (two of Time magazine's "Persons of the Year" in 2005), are determined to use their fortune to change the crisis in American schools. Through their influential Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they are trying to revolutionize an education system that, if it were a business, Bill says, "would be bankrupt."
They Oprah show announced a new orgranization Stand Up to motivate and encourage change. Well, I don't have the money of Bill Gate's nor invites to the Oprah show, but I'd like to launch a new program right here at SpunkyHomeschool. Just like Bill and Melinda I would like to revolutionize the education system. Only I can do it without spending a dime of taxpayer money. The name of my organization says it all, STAY HOME. Want to join me? The pay is lousy but the memories last a lifetime.

(The Gates/ UN agreement for an international curriculum is here.)

Lindsey at Just Enjoy the Journey posted her thoughts on the show here.

And don't forget:

Kim hosts The Carnival of Kid's Comedy at Life In a Shoe.

Tami is hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling. She has done a nice job with a flower theme. Hopefully we'll see the real deal and gets some flowers in Michigan soon.

The Magic School Bus is hosting the Carnival of Education. In preparation for Easter, he has done a passover theme.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Pressure to Perform

Yesterday my children's gave their final homeschool band concert of the season. This performance represented the culmination of months of private practice and rehearsals. Many of them had only been playing their instruments less than a year. As you would expect, the children were eager to look and play their best. My children were excited but nervous. Days before my daughters were trying to decide how to wear their hair and which blouse looked best. They practiced earnestly in the hours before the concert. They knew all eyes were on them and they didn't want to be the one to mess up. The pressure to perform was intense but honestly, mostly self inflicted.

As a parent, I was just proud of my children for participating. It didn't matter how well they played. I would grin, hug them tight, and tell them they did great. Because that's just what a momma does. I didn't hear the mess ups. There weren't any. All I heard were the pleasant tones of children who loved their instruments and the music they played.

As we applauded, my children realized that the nervousness was for naught. The pressure to perform was over and they could loosen up and enjoy the desserts basking in the after glow of parental praise for a job well done.

While I listened to the children, my mind drifted back to my own struggle and the "pressure to perform". It wasn't for a concert but a different stage I was seeking perfection. Every time I left my front door I felt the eyes of the world were upon me. Would I measure up? What will other homeschoolers think of me? Of my children? How about strangers? Would they look at this often bedraggled momma with six children in tow and shake there heads? Of course, most didn't notice anything. They were too busy worried about how they looked and acted to care about me. But my own self inflicted pressure to look and play the part was intense.

This pressure climaxed a few years ago on a trip to Ohio. We were traveling deep into Amish territory to order a kitchen table and chairs. The store was owned by a Mennonite family. We had spoken by phone a few times. They encouraged us to bring the children and make a day of it. Immediately, I grew anxious. What would this family think of me? Of my children? Would they behave themselves after a long car ride? Or would we be the subject of next Sunday's sermon about what NOt to do?

The family greeted us warmly and we eagerly began looking at the wide selection of furniture. My children drifted outside to play for a little while. Their son followed. All seemed to be going quite well. We could see them from the window and slowly I relaxed a little. As we were settling on stain colors, we began to hear strange noises from the back room. They sounded like the muffled groans of an animal trapped in a closed room. The other mother and I began walking toward the sound. As we began to get closer we heard giggles mixed in with the groans. We instintively knew it was the boys and the sound we heard was burping. Loud. Obnoxious. Burping. I knew that it was too good to last. As we opened the door, my son sprang up. "Momma, did you know you could make yourself burp? It's really cool all you have to do is..." The other mother became red faced and very apologetic. Yes, it was her son teaching these city slickers all the latest belching techniques and even how to talk while doing it. He taught them a few other tricks too! And to think I was worried about my children?

With a burp God set me free from the "pressure to perform" and the fear of not measuring up.

Recently, I gave a talk to a small group of mothers. Afterward, one mother confessed that she didn't think she had what it took to homeschool. With despair in her voice she sighed,

"Don't I have to be some perfect mother with perfectly behaved children?"

I knew her struggle and her apprehension. "No," I said with a smile, "You don't have to be perfect just forgiven. There are no perfect mothers. Only imperfect ones who are God's perfect choice to raise HIS children. "

And just as my children realized after the concert was over, we will bask in the afterglow. Our Heavenly Father will welcome us with open arms saying,

"Well done my good and faithful servant enter now into the joy of my rest."

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Punished for Choosing Home

As we watch the steady slide toward socialism in our country, I hope we take a glance over the ocean and look at what socialism has wrought in Europe. For Dutch mothers who decide to stay at home after graduating with a college paid for by the state, that choice may be go to work or pay back some of the money they received for their education.

A prominent female member of the Dutch parliament has proposed fining college-educated Dutch women who choose to be homemakers rather than work. Sharon Dijksma, deputy chairwoman of the Dutch Labor Party, provides yet more evidence that feminism was never about giving women choices but about destroying the family in order to enhance the power of the state."

A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work -- that is destruction of capital," Dijksma said, according to the English-language Brussels Journal on March 31."

If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at society's expense, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished." In the Netherlands, the state pays for college tuition.

Thus, too, the logic of socialism: The people are taxed heavily, then provided with "free" services, and then, because the government has deigned to return some of the people's tax money back to them, politicians and bureaucrats get to run the people's lives.

Many homeschoolers here in the US take government funds to defray the costs of homeschooling. Free money is rarely free. The government expects something in return. It may not be immediately obvious but don't be fooled into thinking their not expecting something in return.

The President's Commission on Higher Education is still at work "reforming" our nation's universities . Part of the reform plan may include subsidizing at least two years of college. Remember, the whole goal is to prepare a workforce to compete in the global economy for the 21st century. When Secretary of Education Spellings introduced the commission she talked about getting a better return on their "investment". Just what is she envisioning? Is a stay at home mom baking cookies and homeschooling a positive return or would that be considered a waste of tax payer money! It all depends on who you ask.

(HT: Homeschool Buzz)

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Education News Round Up

This is definitely my kind of headline.
Exit Exam Revolt Urged. They may not be revolting for the same reasons I would but I'm glad some are willing to think beyond the test.

Bill and Melinda Gates talk education with Oprah
Another more quiet revolution in education is being led by Bill Gates. In a two day special on education ...
Bill and Melinda Gates tell Oprah that they are terrified about the disastrous consequences of American's failing high school education system. Bill Gates says, "I think it's fair to say the future of this country depends solely on renewing our commitment to education."
The Gates' have a commitment to revolutionizing education - the UN way. They have a partnered with UNESCO to design an international curriculum. You can read the agreement at, but Microsoft has fixed it so you can't print it out. It is my earnest prayer that the "Gates of Seattle" shall not prevail against us. Oprah's special will air Tuesday and Wednesday.

Talking Points on Education
I wonder if Bill Gates will mention Sputnik when he talks about education. It's seems that's the latest analogy to describe what our attitutde should be in education. Mitt Romney in the Washington Times is just one of many politicians and educrats to invoke the space wars as a reason to radically reform education. That's the same analogy used in Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat. Seems that is the must read to understand and solve the education crisis. Or atleast talk about it. Funny Mr. Romney mentions Bill Gates too. But to be fair he also mentions homeschooling. He says,

4) Let freedom ring. When parents, teachers and kids are free to choose their school, everyone benefits. Charter schools free of union restraints and, yes, even home schools, teach lessons we can apply to improve standard public schools.

5) Pull in the parents. Teachers tell us that the best predictor of student success is parental involvement. For our lowest-performing schools, I've proposed mandatory parental preparation courses.

So let me get right. Mr. Romney proclaims, "Let freedom ring" and in the same breath proposes mandatory parenting classes! I seriously think there is a thinking gap in this country. Our politicians just don't get it. Mr. Romney if you want to learn a lesson from homeschoolers then get the government out of education all together. It's really quite simple.

This is what I was told when I wanted to go to college.
Pay up, kids: Mom and Dad don't have the cash. I paid my way through the University of Michigan. I missed my senior prom to save money. During college I often worked three jobs and didn't have a car. I only took out one loan my freshman year before I realized the stupidity of what I was doing. Sometimes in life you have to make a sacrifce for something greater. I'm going to be telling my children the same thing.

Speaking of the the prom
I am amazed when I tell people we homeschool our high school daughter how many will say, "But what about the prom?" It really isn't a big deal to us. But I understand to some it is. In fact, homeschoolers in Illinois have decided to organize their own prom. One young man even admitted it was his mother who taught him how to dance! It's not our type of event but I appreciate the intitiative of the children and their parents.

(HT: Education News)

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

More on the cost of homeschooling

My previous post talked about how much you spend on homeschooling. If you haven't already commented, feel free to leave a comment there about how much you spend on homeschooling your family. So far it seems we spend quite a bit less than the $8000 average of the public schools. However, according to an economist we need to hire a better accountant.

Reader Rick provided a link to an econonomics professor who did some investigation and determined the cost of homeschooling to be not much less than the $8000 spent in public school. Here's what Clive Belfield professor at Queen's College in New York factored in:

Belfield's cost-assessment includes up-to-date textbooks and a library of other learning materials, computing equipment, ergonomically designed furniture, additional light, heat and air conditioning, as well as tutors for subjects such as higher-level science and math that parents are least likely to be able to teach.
He forgot to add in the private chef for the lunches too!

Seriously, adding in those types of expenses I could see where he would come up with $8,000. But as far as I can tell, some of those are just the cost of parenting. Or is it just homeschoolers that use heat and run the AC? And don't tell me we use more because we're home all day. My neighbors run their AC and lights even when their gone. And what's up with the erogonimically designed furniture? We call that a couch. I think most homes have those too! (Our last one was purchase at a sale for less than $100 dollars.) I do know some families who join coops for high school but few who hire private tutors. Maybe that's a New York thing. He also includes the cost of getting to and from activities. But again those are costs incurred by all parents and my neighbors with children in school seem to be on the go more not less than our family.

His assessment also included this statement,

that families with more than three children almost universally give up on home shooling and opt instead for public schools. "This suggests that the monitoring and supervisory costs of home schooling are not that low," he says.
I'm not sure that this is universally true. This suggests to me he that his sample for his assessment was way too small.

The article also highlights virtual charters that allow "homeschoolers" to dip into public funds to defray the costs of homeschooling. This is just the sort of thinking that will trap homeschoolers into increased regulation. With government funds come government strings. Better to homeschool on a shoestring than be be tied to the government's purse.

Overall, I don't think this professor's assessment reflects the true cost/benefits of homeschooling which in my not so humble opinion are priceless.

One final note, when my financial planner speaks to families, he encourages them to live life by their convictions not their checkbook. "If you really want to homeschool you'll find a way to make it happen."

Update I: Michelle Malkin's post today makes the cost of homeschooling worth the price. With teachers who show films with obscenities about the president to educate indoctrinate our children, it continually mystifies me why parents are still sending their children to these schools.

Update II: Here's some helpful websites for free or inexpensive materials.
Julie reminds us of the website Free Stuff For Homeschoolers.
Ambleside Online provides a free online curriculum in the style of Charlotte Mason.
Donna Young has lots of free printable resources and organizational helps.
Homeschool Math has free and economically priced math worksheets.
If your learning about the automobile the GMAbility website may be worth looking into.

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