Thursday, March 31, 2011

Great advice

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

        Resolve not to be poor: whatever you
        have, spend less. Poverty is a great enemy
        to human happiness; it certainly destroys
        liberty, and it makes some virtues
        impracticable, and others extremely

        Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British
        author, lexicographer. Letter, December
        7, 1782, to James Boswell. Quoted in
        James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson

(Anyone think of the Gilligan Island episode where they produced Hamlet?)

Pat Farenga has the audio of one of John Holt's speeches

John Holt was one of the earlier supporters of Homeschooling in America.

Pat Farenga has posted John Holt Speaks to Swedish Teachers About How Children Learn.


Review of The Cartel

The year 2010 had several documentaries on public education.  They ranged from being mildly condemning to very harsh against the public education system.  The Cartel hammered the government schools in New Jersey.  Janine and I watched this awhile back and thought it was well done.

Bob Bowdon, the producer, opens with some scary statistics:  Some 37% of high school seniors are reading at eighth grade level.  A third of high school students drop out.  While the US is tops in spending, we do poorly against much of the rest of the world in how much children learn.

The movie makes the point that tons of money is poured into public schools, but little of it reaches the classroom.  For example when you divide the total amount of money by the number of classrooms you get between $300,000 and $440,000 per classroom, depending on the school district.  But typically only $55,000 is spent on the teacher's salary.  There is little oversight.  Often janitors are making more than the teachers.  One audit showed that almost a third of the money was wasted.  Part of the problem is school boards are very free with taxpayer money.  And even worse than janitors the administrators have high salaries and great benefits. 

Recently New Jersey cut the state budget but was still able to increase school budgets.  Unfortunately over a billion dollars got lost in school construction.  It was completely unaccounted for. The movie went on to share more stories of corruption.  For example there where ghost salaries to people who didn't exist. 

Because of unions it has become virtually impossible to fire teachers, especially once a teacher has tenure.  Unions always fight for the teachers and the students suffer. 

Lots of school boards hold elections on off days because they will get a low turnout and thus have a better chance of influencing who ends up on the school board.

Bob Bowdon concludes with a call for vouchers and charter schools.  By giving parents more options and greater power the government schools will have to improve, or die. 

While the movie is a bit depressing with the constant shock of problem after problem with public schools, I felt it was worth watching.  If you get the chance, check out The Cartel.

Here is the trailer:

After watching a movie like The Cartel, I am so glad we can homeschool.

Update I: 25 June 2011
My reviews of the 2010 Education Documentaries:
Race to Nowhere - Students are kept extremely busy.
The Cartel - Problems with public schools in New Jersey.
Waiting for Superman - Public schools are broken, but no one is powerful enough to save them.
The Lottery - Many oppose a successful charter school and the children suffer.

A strong argument for homeschooling

Antonio Buehler comes out with both guns a blazing and pulls no punches as he answers the question Who SHOULD Homeschool?

His answer is everyone!

Hat tip: Miazagora

A few other homeschool carnivals

Here are a few other recent homeschool carnivals:

A homeschooling carnival is up at Garden of Learning.

The Homeschooled Kids Blog is up at Home Education Resources.

More on teaching your children Origami

Natalie West Winningham left a comment on one of our posts about Origami.  She recommends these sites for learning Origami:


Here are my favorites:

(The first lily fits beautifully inside the day lily and you can curl the petals of both flowers.)

Japanese Kusudama:




Chess is a good skill to master

My father loves chess.  We have pictures of me at two and three years old playing chess with him.  Evidently I knew the moves well enough.  I could make legal moves, but didn't really have a clue.  Evidently I did know the ultimate goal.  I would take turns "playing" chess with my father, and then after five or ten turns I would just reach over and take his king.

My father still loves chess.  He coaches a number of classes for schools in our area.  And he coaches the co-op my daughters attend.  My older two daughters will play each other, on their own, without any prompting.

Improved Math Scores Through Chess? argues that chess is a great game to master and will help in many facets of life.  The post starts:

First of all, Math provides the building blocks and foundation that children will need throughout their lives. If you think that the basics are adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing - think again! Today, we live in an information age where it's reported that information is doubling at a rate less than every two years. The basic skills need to function in the workplace today are decision making, problem solving, critical thinking and deductive and inductive reasoning along with the ability to make judgements and good estimates. We haven't loved math but we've certainly loved our games. That's when Chess comes into the picture.

Hat tip: MiaZagora via Facebook

Update I - 19 April 2011
Misty has a review of a Chess program that looks pretty good.

A warning to be careful when commenting on Facebook

Facebook comments seemed to have taken on new functionality.  When you comment on something a friend put up on their wall, it may look like you visited some blog that you normally never would have visited.

In The death of Web anonymity Robert Cringely explains:

Log into a site that uses Facebook Comments and a few things happen. One is that you'll be able to use Facebook as a universal one-time log-in for any site that uses its plug-in -- no more logging in multiple times to different sites each day. Deux, your Facebook profile pic will appear alongside the comments -– in fact, the whole comments field will look like a chunk of Facebook has been plopped down at the end of each story. Trey, you'll see less spam, thanks to Facebook's built-in filters. Quatro, if you leave the "Post to Facebook" box checked, your pithy witticisms, incisive analysis, or (in my case) sophomoric jokes will also appear on your Facebook wall –- and any replies your friends make on your Facebook page will also appear under your comments on that third-party site.

In other words, your friends' Facebook mugshots could end up on sites they've never visited –- though they'd have a heck of a time proving that to the rest of the world. So be careful when responding to comments on, or you might have some 'splaining to do.

Hat tip: The Risks Digest.

This reminds me of the question about measuring the height of a building with a barometer

I was looking for a job last year.  I must have interviewed at close to ten companies before landing my new job a couple months ago. Every so often I'd get a question trying to see if I was creative.

I enjoyed this hypothetical account of how Richard Feynman might respond to such a question.

Oh, if you haven't heard of the quiz about using a barometer to measure the height of the building, check this out.

Helping your children earn some money

Our older two daughters, ages 16 and 14, often get babysitting jobs from people at church, especially during the dad.  Each daughter now has a regular gig where every week they babysit in the morning.  Janine and I think it is very important for our children to learn how to work hard and earn money.  An important part of life is learning how to control your impulses and manage money.

Nancy Carter has some good ideas on how to help your children Make Some Extra Money.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The power on one blog - the mother of Hnery Granju takes on the establishment

Sitting in front of my computer I wonder at times just how much affect our blog has on the world.  Sitemter shows we get decent traffic, a couple hundred hits a day.  Many of those hits are by people who stay and read awhile.  Yet it really is impossible to know what kind of difference our blog makes.

Every once in awhile I'll hear of a story where it is clear what kind of effect one blog has on the world.
Henry Granju died last year from a drug overdose.  A sad death.  His mother was not satisfied by how the police investigated the death, and extremely unsatisfied that the police have not prosecuted anyone. 

A Mommy Blogger Seeks Justice for Her Son shows that one blog may be have an impact.  Thousands of people follow Katie Granu on her blog and on Facebook.  Many of them call the district attorney's office.  The pressure is being felt. 

My heart goes out to Katie.  Her pain is one I hope never to feel.

Hat tip: Instapundit

A history of Academic Freedom helps put things in perspective

Save Academic Freedom has the fascinating history of Academic Freedom and then concludes with:

Nearly a century ago, the AAUP predicted that failure to ensure professional integrity would license the regulatory intrusions of trustees, legislators, and others. Now that is happening. And while the professoriate’s collective abdication of responsibility is not the sole explanation for these intrusions, it is a shamefully neglected piece of the puzzle.

Academic freedom belongs to the public — it is not the property of academics. Professors must explain why academic freedom is vital to our democracy — and prove that they deserve it.

Beset by budget shortfalls, rising tuition, poor learning outcomes, and scandal, our colleges and universities are under more scrutiny than ever. Demands for accountability have never been louder. Failure to meet those demands has never had a higher price tag.

Professors must decide how much academic freedom is worth to them. Is it worth policing themselves — consistently, consequentially, and transparently? If so, academic freedom might just have a future after all.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Tea Party surge in last election may not be a one time event

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 69% are Still Angry At Government's Current Policies.  Here are some of the findings:

Most voters favor repeal of the national health care law as they have every week since Democrats in Congress passed it just over a year ago.
Only 27% of voters now think the government bailouts of banks, auto companies and insurance companies were good for the United States.
The majority of voters for years have said that cutting taxes and reducing government spending are best for the economy. Fifty-eight percent (58%) says it's better to have a partial shutdown of the federal government than to continue spending at current levels.
The number of voters who think America's best days still lie ahead is now at its lowest level in 17 months. Just 21% of American Adults believe today's children will be better off than their parents.

Personally I'd love for Congress to be shut down for a couple years.  I think 90% of the time they pass a new law it hurts our country.

Hat tip: Beltway Confidential via Instapundit

Janice Campell reviews some writing programs

Being able to express yourself is such an important skill in our society today.  Much of what we do we have to work with others.  Our children need to learn how to write intelligently and persuasively. 

If you don't have a writing program or are you looking for a new one, check out Janice Campell's reviews of several writing programs that she likes. 

Any people wonder why parents are slow to trust public schools and universities

We hate you. Now give us your kids so that we can turn them against you starts with:

The late American philosopher Richard Rorty (d. 2007) in describing his assessment of the role of university professor wrote:  “When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures.  Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization.”  The re-education imperative is one that he, “like most Americans who teach humanities or social science in colleges and universities, invoke when we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own.”  Rorty explains to the “fundamentalist” parents of his students:  “we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable.”  He helpfully explains that “I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents.”
Hat tip: MiaZagora

Have you considered creating a homeschool charity for the tax exempt status?

The HomeschoolCPA Compares 501(c)(3) Charity to 501(c)(7) Social Club and looks at the IRS code for Are Homeschool Support Groups Automatically Tax Exempt?

Good thoughts on getting children to do their work

HomeschoolBytes has three posts up on How to Get your Kids to do Their School:

Part 1 - The White Board
Part 2 - Media Time
Part 3 - Stickers

Some good thoughts.

How do you reach a conclusion?

I like this thought:

There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.
-Soren Kierkegaard, philosopher (1813-1855) 

Hat tip: A.Word.A.Day

Education on Radiation

With Japan's nuclear power plant problems there has been a lot of news recently about radiation.  It has gotten so bad that some people think any kind of radiation is bad. 

This Radiation Dose Chart helps put things into perspective.

Hat tip: Jerry Pournelle

Disturbing trend: More money for education, less money in the classroom

One of the most constant demands for improving education is more money.  Teachers, politicians and even parents will say that we just need more money to "fix" education.

Byron Schlomach goes a bit deeper in Shortchanging Arizona's students:

Arizona’s Auditor General Office recently pointed out how, with each passing year, less of each education dollar gets into the classroom. This begs the question: How can school districts claim they need more money for the sake of children’s educations when they keep diverting money away from the classroom?

The Auditor General recently released a report showing that, after a long upward trend, average spending for each student in 2010 declined by 4 percent. You would think priority decision-making would dictate that the proportion of each dollar going to the classroom would rise, but it didn’t. The amount of money spent in classrooms dropped another penny from 56.9 cents to 55.9 cents of each dollar spent by taxpayers. The national average is almost 61 cents.

Think about that.  Fewer and fewer of our tax dollars are making it into the classroom.  They get diverted to all kinds of other programs.  Maybe if we cut the other problems then we'd have more money for the classrooms. 

Parents are just saying no to standardized tests

CNN has a short video on how some parents are saying no to having their take standardized tests.

Hat tip: MiaZagora via Facebook

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Under the Golden Apple Tree.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Amazing - the Ant death spiral

Circling Themselves To Death is an NPR article about how ants sometimes will follow each other in a circle and eventually die.  Here's a video of the phenomenon:

Face Aging Simulation Increases Retirement Savings

Meet 'Future You.' Like What You See? reports on a fun study:

Tessa Price, a 22-year-old college senior, is gazing into a mirror in a virtual-reality laboratory at Stanford University. Looking back at her is Tessa Price—at the age of 68.

Staring into a mirror today and seeing yourself as you will look in the year 2057 is unnerving. But that may be just what it takes to shock Americans into saving more. At Stanford and other universities, computer scientists, economists, neuroscientists and psychologists are teaming up to find innovative ways of turning impulsive spenders into patient savers.

They found that by showing people pictures of what they might look like in fifty years they were more likely to increase how much they saved.

I wonder how long this will last?

Hat tip: FuturePundit via Instapundit

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I think this is good news: Copyright Troll Opens Floodgates to Mass Reposting

Copyright Troll Opens Floodgates to Mass Reposting reports an interesting change in the legal issues on how the news is reported and shared:

Las Vegas-based lawfirm Righthaven has been suing everyone from bloggers to commenters -- anyone who has posted even a portion of the text or images to which it owns the rights. Righthaven doesn't actually make anything, they just buy the rights to stories and images that have gone viral on the web.

Now, according to the Las Vegas Sun, Righthaven has scored what Ars Technica aptly describes as an "own goal": Not only did a Federal judge reject Righthaven's case against the non-profit Center for Intercultural Organizing, the judge also declared that non-profits may re-print entire articles from news outlets under certain circumstances.

Since I often post snippets of news articles on my blog, with links back to the original article, I have worried a bit about Righthaven.  It is nice to see the judge reining them in.

Interesting idea: "flip" the class - watch education videos at home and do homework at school

I have found another video for my daughters to watch:

Salman Khan suggests students watch the lectures at home and go to school for help with the homework.

Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs

March Money Madness

Much of the United States is excited by the college basketball playoffs.  March madness.

The Pope Center has an interesting twist with their March Money Madness.  They look at which colleges are the cheapest to attend in terms of graduating with low student loans.  In their playoffs Hampton comes in at first with an average of only $4,783 of debt per student.

Hat tip: Instapundit

The insight - Why Free Enterprise works

I like this thought:

"The strongest argument for free enterprise is that it prevents anybody from having too much power. Whether that person is a government official, a trade union official, or a business executive. If forces them to put up or shut up. They either have to deliver the goods, produce something that people are willing to pay for, are willing to buy, or else they have to go into a different business."
--economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

Hat tip: The Patriot Post

Anyone moved their blog from Template to Layout?

A year or two ago Blogger provided a new method for providing the framework for blogs.  When Janine and I started about six years ago Blogger had this "template" approach.  Now they were moving to a "layout" approach.  At the time I was pretty busy and didn't make the switch.  I'm now thinking about changing to using the layout approach.

Did anyone else make the switch?  Was it painful?  Any suggestions on things to watch out for?


Book review: America Alone by Mark Steyn

America Alone by Mark Steyn is a warning cry of the end of Western Civilization in Europe.  This focuses on Europe become Muslim.  Mark warns that because most people with European roots have few or no children, while on the other hand the Muslim immigrants are having large families, over the next couple decades Europe will shift from a Western civilization to a Muslim civilization.  There is great power in having lots of people. 

This concern floats around a lot today, but I don't think it was as popular back in 2006 when Mark wrote the book.  Mark says one big cause of this problem is most countries in Europe have stopped worrying about primary issues like defense, a hard value, and instead have focused on touchy-feely issues like welfare, softer values.  In 2006 he predicted that the European Union would dissolve by 2020.  Given the current economic situation I believe it will happen sooner.

Mark writes that Hilaire Belloc wrote in 1912 that the long term cost of welfare in the infantilization of the population.  Mark believes that one of the reasons the European people have stopped having children is that the cradle to grave welfare discourages people from having children. 

Mark also believes that the complete tolerance of all divergence life styles is a huge mistake.  He believes that Europe should stand up to the constant cries by many Muslims in Europe to be allowed to practice Sharia.  To drive home his point he tells how almost two hundred years ago the British responded to cries for multi-culturalism.  A General Sir Charles Napier said:  "You say that it is your custom to burn windows.  Very well.  We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them.  Build your funeral pyre; beside it my carpenters will build a gallows.  You may follow your custom.  And then we will follow ours."

Mark writes well.  It is a quick read.  Mark makes good points.  If you would like to learn more about the Muslim situation in Europe this seems like a good place to start.

John Stossel on The Government Education Monopoly

Worth watching: The Government Education Monopoly

Hat tip: MiaZagora on Facebook.

Interesting trend in education, part time virtual classes

Virtual education boom hits the states starts:

A few years ago, when he was governor of West Virginia, Bob Wise attended a graduation ceremony at Pickens High School in Randolph County, a tiny school on top of a mountain where the graduating class consisted of only two students. As he was leaving, he asked the principal how the school was able to attract foreign language teachers.

"He laughed and said, 'We have one of the best Spanish instructors in the country.' And I said, 'How could that be possible here on this mountain?' And he pointed to a satellite dish and he said, 'She comes in every day at 10 o'clock from San Antonio, Texas.'

"That's when I learned the power of distance learning," says Wise, now the president of the Alliance for Excellent Education.

One of the cool things about technology is it gives us more options. 

Fascinating video: Beautiful Minds: Stephen Wiltshire

A friend on Facebook linked to Beautiful Minds: Stephen Wiltshire:

Just fascinating.

Here is Stephen Wiltshire's web page.

It is now easier to homeschool in South Dakota!

Good news!  Governor Daugaard Signs Bill Repealing Requirement that Homeschools be Individually Approved:

On Monday, March 7, South Dakota Governor Daugaard signed HB 1133 into law repealing an archaic South Dakota law that prohibited families from homeschooling their children until the local school board individually approved each family.

Requiring individual family approval wastes resources and creates more opportunities for individual rights to be violated. South Dakota was one of only 3 states requiring prior approval.

As of July 1, 2011, the effective date of the new law, South Dakota will enter the mainstream. Families will be able to initiate a homeschool program immediately by filing the appropriate paperwork. Other requirements remain in effect.

Under the prior system, school boards did not have the discretion to withhold approval. Despite this, one or two school boards delayed or denied approvals this school year. This created the impetus to remove the approval requirement altogether.
Hat tip: MiaZagora on Facebook

Who are the most valuable people in your network?

Books like Linked and The Tipping Point explore how people are connected.  Places like LinkedIn and Facebook give us practical insight in the realities of our connections.

The Most Valuable People in Your Network has an interesting thought.  The people who can give you the best ideas, or access to new products, or help in some other way often are those who are not connected:

Age-old wisdom suggests it is not what but whom you know that matters. Over decades this truism has been supported by a great deal of research on networks. Work since the 1970s shows that people who maintain certain kinds of networks do better: They are promoted more rapidly than their peers, make more money, are more likely to find a job if they lose their own, and are more likely to be considered high performers.

But the secret to these networks has never been their size. Simply following the advice of self-help books and building mammoth Rolodexes or Facebook accounts actually tends to hurt performance as well as have a negative effect on health and well-being at work. Rather, the people who do better tend to have more ties to people who themselves are not connected. People with ties to the less-connected are more likely to hear about ideas that haven't gotten exposure elsewhere, and are able to piece together opportunities in ways that less-effectively-networked colleagues cannot.

A month or so ago I passed 500 connections on LinkedIn.  The article suggests that the people who might be able to provide the most help are those who have few connections.  Interesting idea.

Hat tip: Whitney Johnson.

Good column about parents parenting

Janne Faulconer has some great thoughts in her column In Defense of First-Person Parenting.

Hat tip: Natalie

Way cool technology: Quadrocopter Ball Juggling

My brother posted this on Facebook Quadrocopter Ball Juggling:

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Homeschool Journey Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Consent of the Governed.

Judy starts this carnival explaining:

This edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling offers some fine "nuts and bolts/back to basics" blog posts about homeschooling our children (teens included). Everything from remembering why we chose homeschooling to how we do homeschooling to how we celebrate our choice to homeschool (and more), is presented in this carnival this week.

What you will glean from this week's entries is that homeschooling works.

It is not just comprised of lesson plans though, it is about families dedicated to living life and learning together. It is all about how families weave together the challenges of life and learning with hearth and home... and for the most part make it fun and rewarding.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Have you seen BBC's Human Planet?

This is pretty cool:

Hat tip: one of my brothers.

An't this the truth

Fun thought from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

You can educate a fool
but you can't make him think.

-Heard at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering
Submitted by Herr Kemper

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not clear getting rid of the rubber rooms is an improvement

New York City has a big problem with not being able to fire horrible teachers.  Rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to fire one teacher, only to lose in court, the adiministration has been paying the teachers to sit in rooms and do nothing.  These are infamously known as "rubber rooms."

Teachers Set Deal With City on Discipline Process says an agreement has been made to get rid of the "rubber rooms."  But it doesn't seem like things are really any better:

The union did not appear to sacrifice much in the deal. While the agreement speeds hearings, it does little to change the arduous process of firing teachers, particularly ineffective ones. Administrators still must spend months or even years documenting poor performance before the department can begin hearings, which will still last up to two months.

As the schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, has increased efforts to get rid of teachers the city deems ineffective, the number of teachers in rubber rooms has grown. There are now about 550, costing the city $30 million a year.

While teacher unions claim to care about the students, they really only care about the dues teachers pay them.  And the unions will block the firing of even teachers who have committed crimes. 

It is a sad state.

Problems with our colleges

A Perfect Storm in Undergraduate Education, Part I starts with:

Unsurprisingly, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 2011), by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, reveals that at least 45 percent of undergraduates demonstrated "no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills in the first two years of college, and 36 percent showed no progress in four years." And that's just the beginning of the bad news.

Universities continue to be more and more expensive, but yet too often after all the money is spent, there is little to show for it.

At some point this will have to change.  The trends can not continue.  I wonder if some day we'll have a homeschooling option for advance learning?

Hat tip: Instapundit

It pays to watch what the experts do

In any endeavor it is worthwhile to watch what the experts do. If people who spend all their time studying the financial market start to buy a given stock or commodity, it is worth considering to also buy. Or if all the farmers start planting, it may be time to plant.

So when 40% of Chicago Public School Teachers Send Own Kids to Private Schools you have to stop and wonder just how broken is the Chicago public school system.

Warner Todd Huston points out that:

So, while Chicago Public School teachers are consistently voting to force destructive union rules on the Chicago Public Schools, those same CPS teachers are sending their own kids to private schools where unions are often less prevalent.
I would love to know what the statistics for numbers of homeschoolers in Chicago as compared to the rest of the US.

Hat tip: Consent Of The Governed

A benefit of homeschooling: Flexibility!

One of my goals for my children is they have a deep understanding of our world. I want them to be able to look at current events and see today’s issues in the context of historical events. I want them to be wise in their investing. I want them to have great strength of character. I want them to be able to see pass the superficial.

Homeschooling allows us the flexibility to have our own personalized curriculum. It can even be unique for each child. One of the techniques I’ve tried to foster in this search for a deeper understanding of the world is to have my older two daughters read worthwhile books. For example here are some reviews by my daughters of The Tipping Point, Animal Farm, The Fred Factor, Carnage and Culture, and The Law. This worked well last summer. They had more free time. I think each daughter did close to a dozen books.

After school started I tried to continue this approach through the fall, but it wasn’t working well.

Because we homeschool it was easy to decide it was time to change, and then change the next day. I often cringe when I hear about children in public schools struggling with broken processes and listening to people say it will be fixed next year. Suffering for several months under a broken program just seems wrong.

So a couple months ago we tried a new approach. We had picked up a NordicTrack Elliptical for Christmas and our daughters will diligently exercising several times a week. Often they would watch TV shows on Hulu. I asked them to watch a TED talk and write up an easy. They were happy to give up the responsibility of reading deep books, and agreed to try watching a TED talk while exercising.

Below are the essays my older two daughters wrote on the same TED talk.

I am so happy that with homeschooling we have the flexibility to try something and quickly adjust if there is a need.

My oldest daughter's review of Steven Johnson's talk on where

Steven Johnson has spent the last several years studying where good ideas come from. While much of the populace wants to describe their good ideas with words like the stroke of genius, epiphany, or eureka, Johnson has found that good ideas are more like a network.

Timothy Prestero founder and CEO of Design that Matters is the inventor of the Neonatal Incubators. It wasn’t a revolutionary design. It was simply creating a normal Incubatory for premature infants out of car parts. What Prestero had found was that third world countries managed to keep their cars in working order and as such will have car parts to act as spare parts for the Neonatal Incubators. Prestero didn’t invent a Incubator that would break, but rather networked a Incubator out of other good ideas.

Kevin Dunbar, professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, conducted an experiment. He recorded every second scientists spent at work. He found that the scientist made their most important discoveries not, as they reported, in their labs at their microscopes, but at the conference table during the end of week reports. He calls it the Liquid Network.

Darwin himself tells his story as a eureka moment. His autobiography has him reading Thomas Malthus’s Natural Selection when the basic algorithm for natural selection just pops into his head. But Howard Gruber looked over Darwin’s notes. Darwin had the full theory for months just sitting there in his notes.

The problem is that people like to tell the epiphany stories. Perhaps knowledge should be less restricted, less of a property, easily shared and easily grown.

And here is my second daughter's review of the same talk:


I watched where good ideas come from, a TED talk by Steven Johnson. He opens with explaining how in 1650 Grand Cafe in oxford opened, it was the first coffee house in England. He went on to explain how the switching from alcohol to coffee or from a depressant to a stimulate opened a new time period of ideas called the ‘Enlightenment.’  But more importantly the coffee house became an environment for creativity and brainstorming. Ideas are more of a network then a epiphany. Often people describe how they got an idea as a flash or eureka when in truth it’s a slow build up of information to support an suspicion. Dunbar did a study and found that most of the good ideas of a certain science lab came from the weekly conference table when they were discussing problems they were having. Good Ideas come from brainstorming and build up of information.

If you are interested, here is the TED talk:

A mind boogling case of Zero Tolerance

I have no words.

Chivalry Is Dead Was Murdered by Zero Tolerance reports:

A Virginia middle school student has been suspended for . . . opening the door for a woman whose hands were full. 

Well, maybe a couple words:  I think the administration should be fired. 

Hat tip: Instapundit

Raising the Debt Ceiling: It Just Makes Sense. NOT!

Both a brother and a brother-in-law linked to this:

Two very important traits to develop in our childre: Self Control and Creativity

Childrens’ Self Control and Creativity: Two Seeds of Intelligence is a book review on what looks like a book worth reading.  It starts:

Most par­ents want the best for their chil­dren and hope they will be healthy, happy and smart indi­vid­u­als. And most par­ents won­der what they should do to make sure this hap­pens. In Brain Rules for Baby, John Med­ina (author of Brain Rules), pro­vides a good sum­mary of cog­ni­tive sci­ence find­ings that shed light on how a baby’s brain grows from 0 to 5.  In this book you learn as much about fac­tors inher­ent to a child that par­ents can­not con­trol (the seeds) as about fac­tors that par­ents can con­trol (the soil). What fol­lows is an excerpt from the “Smart Baby: Seeds” chap­ter in which John Med­ina describes the many “ingre­di­ents that make up the human intel­li­gence stew”.

Interesting point in: Who are these people?

Knowing how hard it is to fire bad teachers, teachers who commit criminal acts, it is clear that many government workers enjoy great job security. 

I found Dave's thought in Who are these people? and interesting point:

I saw this Rasmussen poll which included the findings that "66% of respondents believe government workers have more job security than private sector workers."
What intrigues me is not the 66%, but the 34% who don't think that government workers have more job security. Having been a government worker and having worked in the private sector, my experience is that public employees have much greater job security. It is nearly impossible to fire a public employee once they've completed their probationary period unless they commit a crime at work whereas my boss could terminate me tomorrow and I'd have no recourse other than to make funny faces at him on the way out.


Other recent carnivals on homeschooling

I find it very exciting that there are so many other carnivals which also have posts about homeschooling.  Here are a few:

The recent Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival was held in Peru at the Fisher Academy International blog.

The recent Homeschool Showcase was held by the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

The recent Hands-On Homeschooling Carnival was at Mountaineer Country.

The recent Classical Homeschooling Carnival was at Baby Steps.

The recent a homeschooling carnival was held at Garden of Learning.

Remember your email may be at risk

Google is one of the biggest high tech companies in the world.  Their search engine is used by millions of people.  Yet even they have trouble creating 100% reliable applications like GMail.  Pretty much everyone who uses a free email service needs to remember that your email is not totally secure.

Google Glitch Disables 150,000 Gmail Accounts reports:

Google, we have a problem. About 150,000 Gmail account holders woke up to a nightmare this morning, with all their e-mail, attachments and Google Chat logs gone. What happened?

Google explains that “less than 0.08%” of all Gmail users were affected by the bug, which completely reset accounts, even down to the detail offering a welcome message to those users when they first logged on today. They, and especially visitors to the Gmail Help Forum, were not amused.

But there’s good news here. The way Google is explaining it on its Apps Status Dashboard: “Google engineers are working to restore full access. Affected users may be temporarily unable to sign in while we repair their accounts.”

I don't have a great solution, but I think this is a simple way to reduce your risk.
Hat tip: Jerri Ann Reason posted the link on Facebook.

Great idea! A blog for each congressman

Tea Party Bloggers Aim To Monitor Every Member of Congress reports:

After playing such a pivotal role in the November elections, Tea Party activists vowed they would keep a close eye on Congress. They weren't kidding.

The Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest organizing groups of the movement, want to assign personal bloggers to track every member of Congress, not just the ones they supported.

The group will launch a recruitment drive this week coinciding with a weekend policy summit being held in Phoenix for state and local coordinators. Shelby Blakely, a stay-at-home mom from eastern Washington state who is organizing the project, said she has little doubt they will be able to round up enough people to tackle a job that she describes as "citizen journalism meets adopt-a-congressman."

I poked around the Tea Party Patriots web site but didn't find a page listing blogs.

Does anyone know if this ideas has gotten past the conception stage? 
I would love to follow details of what my Congressman is doing.
Hat tip: Instapundit

John Stossel on The Real Bully in the Classrom

John Stossel talks about The Real Bully in the Classroom:

Hat tip: Consent Of The Governed

Humor - The chicken police

Valerie Bonham Moon posted this on facebook ysterday:

The Chicken Police

Scary graph of the day

I don't believe anyone understands what two trillion dollars of additional debt really means.

Obama’s Budget Means the Burden of Government Spending Will be $2 Trillion Higher in Ten Years

Hit tip: Instapundit

A great reason for homeschooling

I love this thought:

There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
-Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher (1788-1860)

I believe I have a responsibility from God to teach my children.  And I am very slow to trust the government.

Hat tip: A.Word.A.Day

Amazing - rebuilding a Jeep in under four minutes

One of my brothers posted this on Facebook: 

I wonder how many times they practiced.


I'm back, I think

Some how about three weeks ago I seriously hurt the rotator cuff on my left shoulder.  It was pretty painful.

For the first couple weeks I iced my shoulder four times a day, and got through two seasons of Columbo. 

My shoulder has felt good for the last week so I'm going to try doing some light blogging. 

Well, maybe no so light, there is a lot of pent up posts waiting to be written.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Consent Of The Governed.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Friday, March 25, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Green Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The HSBA Post.

The carnival explains the theme:

With the green starting to bloom all around, so many of us are having Green {spring} Fever. Energy levels are rising, attention spans are shortening, and the little people {and the big people, alike} are itching to get outdoors. God’s world is bursting with freshness! Let it energize you. Use this restless energy to mix things up a bit. Add a few outdoor field trips to the calendar, take the books outdoors, or schedule a picnic lunch in the backyard to help break up the day. What better time for a nature study, eh?

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, March 21, 2011

Educational Resources

Here's my current top 10 internet educational resources.


This is a great math program, though it is a bit expensive. We use this in conjunction with Saxon Math. I have to go on record that I hate, hate, hate the changes that have been made to the Saxon Math programs. The books are not as well made and the changes in the content seem like an excuse to make you buy new books since you can't buy the old answer keys.

2) Starfall

This is great, free phonics program. My youngest daughter taught herself to read using this program.

3) Brain Pop

This is a great resource for grade school age kids. The have good basic explanations on just about any topic. You can try it out for free here.

One day I walked in to find that my youngest daughter who was 6 at the time and her friend had watch the segment on "Where do babies come from?" It was very tastefully done. So you might what to check out a few topics ahead of time.

4) Spelling City

I use the batch entry option to enter long spelling lists that my daughter than can practice with on her own.

5) Mango Languages

This is an online language program. We get free access through our local library. They have dozens of languages to choose from.

6) Start American Sign Language

The program is free, but we bought the books.

7) Rosetta Stone

This is a good language program, but very expensive.

8) SAT Question of the Day

This is free and a great way to prepare for the college entrance test. I kind of enjoy it too.

9) Latin Word of the Day

My children get an email every day with a new latin word and phrase. I do it just to torture them. I think it does a word of the day for many other languages as well.

10) TED Talks

We give our children assignments to watch and report on specific talks. You may have noticed that we mention TED Talks frequently on our blog. I don't necessarily agree with all their presentations, but the vast majority are great. This is one of my favorites.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at The HSBA Post.
Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Wish List edition

Renae is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Life Nurturing Education.

She shares some of her wish list with us:

Office supplies make me giddy. Going to the library is my fondest errands. Bookshelves are my favorite pieces of furniture. Can you relate? If so, you may be a homeschooler.

In this edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling, I consider my wish list while highlighting posts submitted by the homeschooling community. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a smattering of what blogging has to offer.

The homeschool community is diverse and I’m sure my wish list is vastly different from yours, but whatever you desire I hope we can all agree on the importance of liberty.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, March 14, 2011

ADHD and diet

I hope this study gets a lot of attention.

Study: Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

Kids with ADHD can be restless and difficult to handle. Many of them are treated with drugs, but a new study says food may be the key. Published in The Lancet journal, the study suggests that with a very restrictive diet, kids with ADHD could experience a significant reduction in symptoms.

The study's lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, writes in The Lancet that the disorder is triggered in many cases by external factors — and those can be treated through changes to one's environment.

...According to Pelsser, 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food. Researchers determined that by starting kids on a very elaborate diet, then restricting it over a few weeks' time.

Someone made an insightful comment that the title of the article should be "Diet May Help Misdiagnosed ADHD Kids More Than Drugs?"

I just cringe when I here a parent report that their child has ADHD, as if that explains everything behavior or learning challenge. It seems like every problem at school is the result of ADHD.

This article has more information about the particulars of the study:

Healthy diet may reduce ADHD symptoms

Since some children have negative physical reactions to certain foods - such as eczema, asthma and gastrointestinal problems - that affect different organ systems, it has been suggested that foods may also affect the brain in a way that results in adverse behaviour. To test this theory, the researchers recruited 100 children from Belgium and the Netherlands. The children were between the ages of 4 and 8 years, and all had been diagnosed with ADHD. Most of the children were boys. The children were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was placed on the restrictive elimination diet, and the other group served as a control group and received advice on healthy eating.

The restrictive diet (containing no processed foods) began with a diet called the "few foods diet," which included just rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water. The researchers then complemented this diet with certain foods, such as potatoes, fruits and wheat. The restrictive diet lasted for five weeks.

....Forty-one children completed the restrictive phase of the diet. Of those, 78 percent had a reduction in their ADHD symptoms, compared with no improvement in the controls. Nine children (22 percent) didn't respond to the diet. On an ADHD symptom scale that ranges from 0 to 72 points, with a higher score indicating more severe symptoms, the average reduction was 24 points.

This is a great reminder that I need be vigilant about what we all eat. Homeschoolers have a leg up on this kind of thing. We have more control over what our children eat. It would be very hard to even monitor what your children eat if they spend 6-8 hours a day away from home.

Blogging will continue to be light

Last week my doctor diagnosed me with having a rotator cuff sprain.  As part of the recovery process I've cut way back on typing.  It looks like I may need another week or two, so blogging will continue to be light.

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

You have just a little over eight hours to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Life Nurturing Education.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Mardi Gras edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Time 4

The carnival starts off with:

It’s Mardi Gras!!! What an amazing coincidence that we are able to kick off Mardi Gras, or “Carnival Season” here at Homeschool Online by hosting our very first Carnival of Homeschooling!! We are thrilled to have the opportunity to have you visit us here at our humble, little abode and share our blog with you. Homeschool Online is written by three homeschooling moms who share a passion for their kids, their friends, their families, and their favorite online homeschool curriculum.
But enough about’s Mardi Gras!! That means it is time to celebrate!! (did that Kool and the Gang song just pop into your head, too??) And when it comes to homeschooling our kiddos, there are all KINDS of things to celebrate, so pull out your masks, throw on your beads, and get ready for the parade to begin....

Drop in and enjoy the carnival.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, March 07, 2011

Reminder: send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

You have just a little over four hours to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Time 4

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Friday, March 04, 2011

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Thanks for the Inspiration

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Notes From A Homeschooling Mom.

The carnival starts with:

Welcome to the March 1, 2011 edition of carnival of homeschooling.

I am happy to be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling once again.  As a homeschooler of 8+ years, I find the Carnival as my best source of inspiration and education when it comes to homeschooling.  From new Ideas to encouragement, you fellow homeschoolers truly inspire me.  I am entitling this Carnival, Thanks for the Inspiration for that reason.  I am truly appreciative.

Swing by the carnival is soak up this week's inspiration.