Saturday, April 19, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at The HSBA Post.

This will be the 434th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

Oh, it looks like Blog Carnival is having trouble again so it is best to mail it to:

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

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pretty sad - public school teacher puts out a hit on one of her students

A kid bad mouths a teacher and she arranges for some other students to beat him up.

Teacher who ‘ordered a hit’ on 7th grader gets fired starts with:

Florida’s St. Lucie County School Board officially fired veteran teacher Dru Dehart after their investigation found that she encouraged six 8th grade students to beat up 7th grader Radravious Williams, WPTV NewsChannel 5 reports.

The incident occurred on March 20, 2013 and was caught on a Northport K-8 school surveillance camera. Footage shows the teacher pointing to the victim, instructing the students to go after him. Williams is then seen on the hallway floor being pummeled by a group of boys. "I looked at them and I was like, ‘Are you serious?’" Radravious told WPTV during an April 2013 press conference . The older boys, ranging in age from 11 to 15, were once Radravious’ friends but were instructed by Dehart to “teach him a lesson.”

I think most parents realize that government schools may not be safe places for their children, but then expect the teachers to protect the children.  Too often parents are surprised.

I do have one complaint that it took a year to process this.  The investigation and school board decision really should have taken only a couple weeks.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The thousand flowers edition

Mama Squirrel is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Dewey's Treehouse.

She starts the carnival with:

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is inspired by Spunky Homeschool's post Common Core Curriculum is coming. "Time is short. School districts are scrambling. Tests are coming. The situation is 'near-impossible,'" Spunky warns. She also refers to a study in Education Week where curriculum researchers state, "Letting a thousand flowers bloom isn't consistent with ensuring that all teachers are using high-quality and well-aligned materials."

Apparently I've been living under a bit of a rock, because I had never heard that quotation about the thousand flowers and had to look it up. It is a misquotation of a policy of Chairman Mao Zedong: "Let a hundred flowers blossom."  At that time (1957), the Chinese government was actually encouraging constructive criticism from various respected thinkers, and that was the official (and very springlike) way of saying it.

In Ontario, homeschoolers are not required to test or to teach particular subjects or to particular standards. Puzzled non-homeschoolers say, "But then how do they know/you know that you are doing it right?"  They are often quick to agree (with each other) that there needs to be more standardization, that homeschoolers should be more accountable to authorities, and so on.  Their minds are obviously wandering to the exceptional cases where an abused child "slipped through the cracks," or where teenagers doing nothing educational at all are excused by their parents in the name of homeschooling. However, and I try to explain this whenever I do get the chance, the fact that we have that right is exactly the point. The freedom to learn at home, without undue interference, is much like a thousand flowers blossoming. Who would want every petal to turn out exactly the same?

Well, maybe some people would, and this is the concern of Spunky and others.  I don't usually get all political on this blog, but I have to say that those quality-control "concerns" are almost always more about control than about quality or about real concern. They are nanny-state rhetoric for standardization, in education and in other areas as well.  How can "the state" be sure that unregulated  home schools are doing a good job?  Well, it can't be sure...and it shouldn't be. Thank God for the freedom to succeed or fail, and to accept the challenge of that freedom as part of our responsibility to our own children..

And the Carnival of Homeschooling, in all its diversity, is a perfect illustration of that freedom. Let a hundred or a thousand or a million flowers blossom!



Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, April 14, 2014

Two down! Two to go!

Our oldest daughter will start serving a mission for our church in two days.  My wife and I have been reminiscing some the last couple days.  While during their high school years our oldest two daughters both took online classes, the two of them have taken very different paths on their road to higher education.

Both of our older two children started taking classes at the local junior colleges when they were sixteen.  Our oldest finished up her high school and switched to going full time at the local junior college.  Today as Janine and I were talking about the road to higher education our oldest daughter said that she saw no point in investing in an expensive university when she didn't know what she wanted to study.

Our second daughter has known for six years that she wanted to do speech pathology.  She did attend two of our local junior colleges, but she has always been firm in her goal of going off to a university as soon as she finished her high school education.

One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is a built in understanding that children are different and can march to different drums.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Dewey's Treehouse.

This will be the 433rd edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Cool - it appears that asteroids can have rings

The Astronomy Picture of the Day site reports that it appears scientists have found an asteroid with rings!

A ring system discovered around (10199) Chariklo from Lucie Maquet on Vimeo.

So cool!

Another example of problems with public schools

It used to be that many people would attack homeschooling because they claimed parents couldn't teach their children as well as the public school system could.  Examples like College-Readiness Not Keeping Up in California pretty much destroy this argument.

The article starts with:

 Fewer than 4 in 10 California high school students are completing the requirements to be eligible for the state's public universities, fueling worries of a shortage of college-educated workers when the value of a bachelor's degree has never been higher.

To meet entrance requirements, high school students must complete 15 classes with a grade of C or better, including foreign language, lab science, intermediate algebra, and visual or performing arts.

At the current rate, educators and policy experts say, far too few students are finishing high school with the minimum coursework needed even to apply to a University of California or California State University campus.


Interesting tool: Graphing the popularity of TV shows

I found Graph TV interesting.  I plugged in several of my favorite TV Shows, like Columbo.

Hat tip: Instapundit

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Homeschooling & Farms edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is being hosted at Petticoat Government.

The carnival starts with:

With spring finally here--although I fully expect some more snow before the month is out because that's just how weather is in Colorado--for this Carnival of Homeschooling, I thought I'd look at intersections of homeschooling and farming.

Many parents, homeschooling or not, have a strong desire to teach their children about nature in-depth. My father liked to take us hiking, and my parents had us children grow a garden and raise chickens. One year we even raised a steer in our backyard for a while. He was rather bad-tempered (I wonder if he understood our nickname for him, "Dinner") and got out sometimes, wandering up and down our residential street, which taught us the importance of locking up gates securely.

While this is by no means solely a homeschooler phenomenon, I've seen many of my friends and relatives who lean towards homeschooling raise chickens and/or other livestock, grow big gardens, and dream of the little farm they're going to have someday out in a rural setting. Here are several blogs I found of homeschoolers living (or at least pursuing part of) that dream:


Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, April 07, 2014

Looking for many solutions

Last week I compared software development with homeschooling. The point of the post was that with both it is important to step back and consider your goals.

Over this weekend a couple things happened to me which reminded me a basic principle in software development that is good to teach our children: Look for more than one solution.

Many problems in life have more than one possible solution. For example we can hand water our lawn. But this takes a lot of our time. We had pay a neighbor child to hand water the lawn. This saves our time, but would be fairly expensive. Another option is we get a sprinkler. Now we can turn on the sprinkler, go off and do something else for a half hour, then come back and turn off the sprinkler. This takes very little of our time and isn’t that expensive. Another possible solution is we put in a sprinkler system with an automatic timer. This takes a significant amount of time and money up front, but then it will take very little time in the months to come.

A month ago I started a new job. I’ve been taking the train. The new job has been a lot of fun, but we’re still learning new rhythms and patterns.

Last Friday Janine took the girls up to the big city to see some art. My new job is about half way between our home and the big city. I wanted to take the family out to a nice restaurant in the evening, since our oldest daughter is will be leaving our home next week for a mission. Scheduling was a bit challenging. The first solution we came up with was for Janine to pick me up at a train stop close to our home or another one somewhat near the restaurant. Then I thought maybe Janine should just pick me up from work. But she pointed out that for her to pop off the highway into where my new office would cost her about a half hour. Then I thought about taking the train up to the big city. The down side for this was I’d have to leave work much earlier. As I’m still new on the job I’m trying to be very focused and get off to a good start. Friday morning Janine had an idea just before I was about to get on the train to head off to work. She would leave one of our cars at the train station near the restaurant. She would take another and go off to the big city afterwards she pick up our son and head directly for the restaurant. In parallel I could leave work, head for the station near the restaurant, pick up the car and go to the restaurant. It worked out just fine. It was the fourth solution we came up with which made things go smoothly.

This morning I learned the lesson again. I was taking the train to work again. My sister sometimes take the same train. I wanted to take my children over to my parents tonight, so I was going to have my children pick me up at the train station and then we would go to my parents. My sister said I could catch the train home with her and she could drop me off at our parents. This would allow my children to leave earlier and spend more time with the grand parents. Here the second solution was much better than the first.

This is something we often find in software development. Often it is the second, third or fourth solution we think of which does a better job of solving a problem.

And it is a good lesson to teach our children.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A funny sketch in a company setting

One of my co-workers recently shared The Expert at work.  The sad thing is everyone at work said they had experienced similar situations.  We watched as a group at lunch yesterday.  I think we'll be making references to the sketch for weeks to come.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Petticoat Government.

This will be the 432nd edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Paul Jacob explains Why Homeschoolers Make Good Citizens

Paul Jacob has a nice column on Why Homeschoolers Make Good Citizens.

He starts with:

Horace Mann promoted the “common school” not primarily to increase literacy or prepare kids for college. No, the movement that gave birth to the modern public school system in America was designed to inculcate good citizenship by putting all kids through a “shared experience.”
A few years ago, Mann’s notion was re-iterated by a college professor in an essay called “The Civic Perils of Homeschooling.” Public schooling, he wrote,
is one of the few remaining social institutions . . . in which people from all walks of life have a common interest and in which children might come to learn such common values as decency, civility, and respect.
Are we really supposed to believe that public schools instill decency, civility, and respect?

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

Jamie is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at momSCHOOL.

She starts the carnival with:

April the first stands mark’d by custom’s rules,
A day for being, and for making fools: —
But, pray, what custom, or what rule supplies
A day for making, or for being — wise?
(Rev. Samuel Bishop, 1796)

This is one of the earliest known mentions of April Fool’s Day. Though the exact origin is a bit cloudy, most historians trace a general air of tomfoolery back to antiquity.The Romans celebrated a festive holiday during the end of March known as Hilaria. The Jewish festival of Purim is also celebrated during this time and incorporates costumes, carnivals, and pranks.While I’ve heard that an ancient Dutch poem mentions April Fool’s and was written in 1561. So, in any case we can see that playing pranks and making all sorts of general merriment is the custom for this time of the year!

I personally just love April Fool’s Day, and at our house we are always on the lookout for some fun and exciting ways to celebrate this quirky holiday. So, in conjunction with our typical article submissions we’ll have some great ways to celebrate this silliest of all holidays!


Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, March 31, 2014

Homeschooling and software development

Three weeks ago I joined a new company.  I am a software engineer and build tools to check the quality of databases.  I have been assigned to a new project.  Most of the successful projects in the industry go through some basic phases.

The people involved in the project build a list of requirements.  They may talk with customers to find out what they want in a new application, or what additional features they want in an existing application.  They may talk with experts in the product space to understand how the software needs to perform.  They may check other existing applications.  They may do combinations of these, and even try other options.  Inexperienced development teams will jump right into writing code only to find they are wasting time building a product which doesn’t meet the market’s demands.

Once they have a concrete, specific set of requirements they will create a design for the software.  This is typically done by senior software developers or even by people who have the title of software architect.  Normally several designs will be considered.  For complex projects it came be an iterative process.  One design may be picked, modified, folded in with another design, being changed and changed again until a final design feels right and gets approved by various people.

Then the software developers will divvy up the project and start writing code.  If the requirements are clear and the design is well thought out the process of creating the software will go so much easier.  Over the years seasoned software developers have learned the value of nailing down the requirements and spending a serious amount of time to come up with a good design.  Without these a project can take much, much longer and end up with a buggy piece of software which customers won’t buy.

So what does this have to do with homeschooling?

Well as parents I think before we jump into trying to teach our children it is good to step back and really think about what it is that we want.  We need to ponder our own requirements for a successful homeschooling experience before we jump in.   We can consult with others to get some ideas.

And once we figure out our goals we then need to work on how we will homeschool.  It is also valuable here to get suggestions for others.  We can design our curriculum to match our goals.

Once we have figured out our own requirements and come up with a good approach for homeschooling then we can start in on the homeschooling process with a much better chance of success.

With both software development and homeschooling it is important to be flexible.  After a couple weeks or a couple months we may realize that we missed an important requirement.  Or that a requirement we thought was important turns out to be something we don’t really care about.  And it is OK to change the design.  Sometimes we just need to tweak it.  Other times we may to toss the design out and start all over.

If we'll be thoughtful about our end goals for homeschooling and how we do it, we'll have a much better chance of success.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at momSCHOOL.

This will be the 431st edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I took the AP US History test before it became a brain-washing session

This is sad: New Advanced Placement Framework Distorts America’s History:

A dramatic, unilateral change is taking place in the content of the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. history course. In fall 2014, almost half a million high school sophomores and juniors will learn a very different version of U.S. history from the course of study now in place. Currently, a five-page topical outline gives teachers clear guideline for their course. This long-established outline conforms to the sequence of topics state and local boards of education have approved. In contrast, the new, redesigned Framework is a detailed 98-page document that does far more than list required topics. 

 This change in format is best described as a curricular coup that sets a number of dangerous precedents. By providing a detailed course of study that defines, discusses, and interprets “the required knowledge of each period,” the College Board has in effect supplanted local and state curriculum by unilaterally assuming the authority to prioritize historic topics. This inevitably means that some topics will be magnified in importance while others will be minimized or even omitted. If concerned parents, educators, and elected public officials do not speak out, the College Board (led by David Coleman, generally considered the architect of the Common Core national standards) will continue to develop similar frameworks for its 33 other Advanced Placement (AP) courses and thus become an unelected de facto legislature for America’s public and private high schools.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Homeschooling in the age of Common Core

My local school district is one of the many who have jumped on the Common Core band wagon in the hopes of securing money from the federal government.

There are people more sophisticated and experienced than me who are sounding the alarm. I agree that Common Core is a train wreck coming down the track which will cost money and do harm.

How will this effect me as a homeschool?

Before Common Core, I rarely looked at and never followed the state standards for what should be taught and when it should be taught.  I don't think that will change.  I ignored them before and I will continue to ignore them.

Since we use community college transcripts to get into college, I don't think the Common Core will have much effect on us either.  Community college doesn't use ACT or SAT scores.  [As a result of Common Core, the ACT and SAT tests are changing, mostly in the dumbing down direction. ] Community colleges use their own placement tests and I imagine they will continue to do so. Those tests might change under the influence of Common Core, but the material is so basic that I don't think they can do much harm on that level.

Common Core will influence the educational materials available to homeschoolers.  Since we don't use many of those kinds of resources, the impact on us should be minimal.  [However, I really hate the changes to Saxon Math that have already been made, so I imagine it will get worse under Common Core.]

I'm predicting that Common Core will fall out of favor very quickly.  Because of the legislation involved, it could take years, if not decades to undo the damage.

In the end, Common Core may inspire more parents to pull their children out of public school to homeschool.

I like this thought

Recently posted on Facebook:

Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our hear rather than a piece of our mind.

Life Humor 2.R

From the Henry Cate Life Humor collection:
Life Humor 2.R was originally posted 18 February 1988


"We trained hard, but it seemed every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization"

From Petronii Arbitri Satyricon AD 66. Attributed to Gaius Petronus

Gaius Petronus, a Roman General, later committed suicide!


     A few years back, some poor fool decided to rob a bank on a Friday afternoon. Stupid fellow that one.  If he had looked across the street, he would have realized that this bank was next to FBI headquarters, and it was payday. Virtually every person in the bank was an agent!  Needless to say, this hapless fool got a quick lesson in law enforcement technique...


     This reminds me of the stories which appeared in the press a few years ago during a garbage strike in N.Y.  Apparently, the cabbies started wrapping up their garbage and putting it in the back of their cab. It was always gone by the end of their shift.


     The stupidest tricks I've heard of, though, are always bank robbers. Like the guy who was caught walking back to the bank with a can of gas after his car ran out of gas while he was in robbing the bank.


     They managed to enter the place without setting off the alarm, but they were unable to crack the safe by drilling holes in it or trying to hear the tumblers fall.  So they decided to blow the thing open.  After a loud explosion the safe was still locked tight, but the alarm had been set off.  When they got to the getaway car it wouldn't start.  So they each ran off in a different direction as the sirens approached.  The police had no problem identifying and apprehending them, though.  One of them had left his wallet on the front seat of the getaway car.


     How about the bank robber in Champiagn IL. who robbed the bank one day and return to the same bank the next day to deposit the money into his account and even went to the same teller. Well the teller keep him busy while someone called the police.


A couple of TAC pilots were flying F-102's in escort with a B-36 bomber and were chinning with the pilot of the bomber to pass the time.  Talk fell to the subject of the relative merits of their respective aircraft with the fighter pilots holding that their planes made for more interesting flying because of the maneuverability, acceleration and the like.   The B-36 pilot replied "Yeh?  Well this old girl can do a few tricks you  guys can't even touch."  Naturally, he was challenged to demonstrate.
"Watch," he tells them.

After several minutes the bomber pilot returns to the air and says,"There!  How was that?"  Not having seen anything, the fighter pilots  say, "What are talking about?"  Reply, "Well, I went for a little stroll,  got a cup of coffee and went downstairs for a chat with the navigator."


"Are you going to see him Samoa?"  "Don't be Sicily, he's a Spain in the neck."

"I don't Bolivia."  "Denmark my words, you'll regret it."

"Swell town you got here.  Lots of big men born here?"  "No, only babies."

"May I see you pretty soon?"
"Don't you think I'm pretty now?"

"How should long girls be courted?"
"The same as the short ones."


Did you realize that bank robbers are all going to Canada now?  That's the only place they have Toronto.

The local banker really likes the Swiss slogan: every little bit Alps.

He used to have her picture over the fireplace, then he proposed, and she gave him the negative.

He's rather good looking, in a way.  Away off.

He fell in love with her when she ignored him.  It was love at first slight.

"How did you find your steak?"  "I found it under the potato."


The doctor won't be back for a long while, he's out on an eternity case.

A young women at the hospital was given a private room, she was too cute for wards.

Tomas R. Marshall, Vice-President to Wilson, dedicated one of his books: "To President Woodrow Wilson from his only Vice."

A book review: the following are taken from "The Washington Wits" edited by Bill Adler, 1967

     Thumbing through a promotional pamphlet prepared for his 1964 Senatorial campaign, Robert Kennedy came across a photograph of himself shaking hands with a well-known labor leader.
     "There must be a better photo that this," said Kennedy to the advertising men in charge of his campaign.
     "What's wrong with this one?" asked one adman.
     "That fellow's in jail," said Kennedy. (p 10-11)
     On the campaign trail during 1964, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater stated, "The immediate task before us is to cut the Federal Government down to size ... we must take Lyndon's credit card away from him." (p 88)
     A favorite 1964 campaign stunt of Barry Goldwater's was to poke a finger through a pair of lensless blackrimmed glasses, saying, "These glasses are just like [Lyndon Johnson's] programs.  They look good but they don't work." (p 88)
     Somewhat alarmed at the continued growth of the number of employees on the Department of Agriculture payroll in 1962, Michigan Republican Robert Griffin proposed an amendment to the farm bill so that "the total number of employees in the Department of Agriculture at no time exceeds the number of farmers in America." (p118)
>What's even funnier is that the amendment FAILED.

     Republican Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota reports that the citizens of East Berlin, who have their eyes fixed upon the prosperous Western sector as a symbol of freedom, have managed to retain their optimism and a good sense of humor.  He tells the story of a young East Berliner who had been told that his "mother" was the East German "Republic" and his "father" the Communist party.  Asked by Brezhnev what his ambition was for the future, he replied, "I would like to be an orphan."  (p118)

Friday, March 21, 2014

college statistics

Here's a few statistics I found interesting:

One in four college students has an STD
44% of students attending 4-year colleges drink alcohol at the binge level or greater. However, about half (49%) of American college students don’t drink alcohol on a regular basis.
1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries.

Every year, 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol, while more than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

Each year, college students spend about $5.5 billion on alcohol.
Student loan debt will hit 1 trillion in 2012.
Nearly 1,100 suicides will occur on college campuses this year.

Nationwide, 40 % of students (and over 60% of students from urban districts) are required to take at least one remedial course upon entering college. Most students enrolled in remedial college course work had good grades in High School. In California, 84 percent of students enrolled in community college are required to take remedial English coursework.

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Janice Campbell  Taking Time For Things That Matter.

This will be the 430th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

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.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling