Sunday, April 25, 2004

Really nice article

This one is an overwhelmingly positive piece about homeschoolers in California, with some nice quotes from homeschooled kids, grown-ups, and grown up homeschoolers. It even has a bit of an unschooling bent. Kudos to all those who participated - great job!

Friday, April 23, 2004

Trying to stay calm

I've spent a substantial part of the day today helping my kids learn lines for a play they're performing in. This isn't just a "made for kids" kind of play. It's Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians." Now, my kids and most of the other cast members have an astonishing ability to memorize quickly, but the director is really pushing the limits of reasonability. They're only three days away from their dress rehearsal, and he hasn't provided them with the last TWENTY pages of cut script yet, nor has he completed blocking the play. This kind of thing drives me up the wall.

Yes, I know, it will soon be done and gone. The kids will probably remember the good performances better than anything else and look back on the experience fondly. They usually do, even when things end up less than perfect. I'm the one who's disappointed. It's great that the kids are taken seriously enough to give them real parts and an interesting play to work with. But for them to put so much time and effort into something only to have the person in charge leave them hanging - well, there's just hardly any excuse good enough to justify that.

I know I already have it in my list of links, but today I was getting together information to answer some homeschooling questions emailed to me, and looking through the NHEN website, I was reminded of all the incredible work homeschoolers across the country have done to put it together. There's really a lot of valuable information collected on it.

For those of you who don't already know, the National Home Education Network is an inclusive national organization that has a great homeschooling website. NHEN will never tell you what to think or how to vote. It helps keep homeschoolers well networked and informed, and helps reporters and legislators understand how diverse the homeschooling community really is.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

At the polls

Go take Daryl Cobranchi's POLL about why people homeschool!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Writing assignment

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 23.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

This fun little exercise is making the rounds in the blogosphere. I took the bait and came up with this:

The concepts of "passing" and "failing" are really only relevant to situations where children are coerced into learning, where education is thought of as a series of hurdles to be scaled, and where accountability is the bottom line from an economic efficiency perspective.

That's from Challenging Assumptions in Education by Wendy Priesnitz.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Unschooling surgery

I'm a little late getting to this one, but a few days ago an AP story reported that surgeons who play video games err less.

"All those years on the couch playing Nintendo and PlayStation appear to be paying off for surgeons. Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 percent fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 percent faster than their counterparts who did not play video games.

"I use the same hand-eye coordination to play video games as I use for surgery," said Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, 49, who demonstrated the results of his study Tuesday at Beth Israel Medical Center."

Monday, April 5, 2004

Wisconsin abuse case

Homeschoolers in Wisconsin are getting attention because of an alleged case of child abuse of a 17 year old girl.

"The Necedah case shouldn't reflect negatively on the home-school program because the victim wasn't home-schooled at all, said Larry Kaseman, director of the Wisconsin Parents Association. He said this was one of thousands of truancy cases the state fails to investigate each year.

"Intervention by school and county officials -- not changes to state law -- are what that case required, he said. "Home schooling has a very positive track record in Wisconsin," he said. "You would end up ruining a good law that has worked very well for 20 years to do the impossible."

Critics of the state's home education regulations say the rules are too lax and leave room for exploitation, but they recognize that homeschoolers will vigorously oppose any effort to change it.

Saturday, April 3, 2004

Cave dwellers

The city of Flagstaff proposes an innovative solution to problems of housing, pollution, education, policing, and all other community ills. The city plans to house citizens in caves.


"Flagstaff Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Brownout sees the new community in the forest as a potential location for a magnet school for Future Foresters of America, in collaboration with Northern Arizona University's School of Forestry.

"Magnet cave schools are FUSD's answer to stemming the flow of students to the charter schools while saving money on heat and electricity, Brownout said. At the very least, he said losing the children in the forest would keep them from going to school elsewhere. "

So it's no longer April 1 and I'm a little slow on the draw, but it's a humorous read even after the fact.
Field tripping

This week my 10-year-old daughter Sarah and I volunteered to help out with a city-sponsored program designed to teach elementary school students about caves. We do a lot of volunteer work, but it's always a joy for me to see my kids excited about sharing something they have a passion for.

When we arrived last week for the training and orientation session for volunteers, we discovered there were precious few actual cavers involved. Initially that was a disappointment, but our spirits picked up when we were asked to do some of the more exciting work, since we were the ones who had experience in that area.

So, when the big day came, we arrive early to rig a climbing rope in a tall tree. Sarah put on her gear and climbed and talked and climbed and answered questions and climbed some more, as bus load after bus load of children arrived. She explained how and why cavers learn to climb and rappel using ropes. She climbed many hundreds of feet by the time we were done, and she answered oodles of questions and told dozens of times about her caving experiences. I took a few turns and did the rigging, but mostly I was Sarah's assistant.

What an awesome kid. And what a great opportunity to share what you love and inspire other kids.