I recently joined a mailing list about livestock guardian dogs, and many people on the list of course own farms and ranches. Came across this website for the Red Falcon Ranch and lo, they are homeschoolers. What was interesting to me was seeing their particular approach, because certainly we overlap, but they have some different takes on a few things which I think could be useful for us.
Elsewhere I found this fun little blog called Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Because yes, that’s how a lot of the world looks at us. Fine with me, I’m used to going against the grain and having people stare at me; if all you want to look at is the surface, just shows how shallow you are. *shrug*
What brought me to the WUH webpage was this: The Public School Parent’s Guide to Homeschool Parents. It hit home because yes, so much of the critique and criticism of homeschooling surrounds the children, so it was nice to see something about the parents. She’s pretty spot on and I think even-handed in her treatment of the matter, giving fair insight into the mind and life of a homeschooling parent.
I’m not a member of THSC but I am a member of HSLDA. Why haven’t they commented on this? Given HB 253 is having a public hearing today, I phoned HSLDA. Due to the volume of calls they had been receiving, they re-reviewed it and consequently coming out opposed to HB 253. eAlert and website posting with details are forthcoming.
Anyways, homeschoolers… time to get to contacting folks and get this bill opposed. When you read the text of the bill, it sounds “reasonable” on the surface, but the potential impacts of it are scary for parental rights and autonomy.
Nat Hentoff writes a good piece about
public government schools and their “zero-tolerance” policies.
Policies. All about freeing the administration from thinking. It’s really just lawsuit protection and CYA. It’s bad policy. One that goes overboard. Hentoff tells of Andrew Mikel who, because of a spitwad, is being charged with violent criminal conduct and is no longer qualified to apply to the US Naval Academy. Or of 6-year-old Zachary Christie who was so excited to join the Cub Scouts, that he wanted to use his camp utensils to eat his lunch that he brought them to school… but we cannot tolerate such behavior so he must spend 40 days in reform school.
What? Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.
What sort of lesson are you teaching children? Sit down, shut up, conform conform conform. Follow the rules, even the bad ones, even the wrong ones, because we’ll make your life even worse if you don’t. Better to hide behind a policy than think. We’ll ruin you for life for any simple mistake you make. Childhood is no longer a time to make mistakes, to learn, to tolerate and grow. No. You mess up, you’re done. This is what ‘is our children learning’. *sigh*
It’s another reason why I enjoy homeschooling our kids. My kids get in trouble when they do NOT have a pocketknife on them. Learning how to safely handle firearms is part of essential curriculum! But whatever infraction my children make, there’s no blind policy that leaves no room for understanding, no room for them to learn. Yes, we tolerate mistakes. As their parents and chief educators, we’re here to help our children learn and grow. We understand that childhood is full of more mistakes and failures than successes, because this is the early stages of learning and that’s just how it goes.
And people wonder why kids lose their childhood so quickly these days….
There are (at least for now) 2 homeschooling-related bills in the 82ns Texas legislative session.
Quick look and the text appears to be the same in both the House and Senate bills.
No, bad bill. Oppose. I LOVE the phrasing… that leaving the failed public school system for a better education via homeschooling is considered dropping out.
HSLDA is opposing this, but I’m not 100% sure why. My guess is because it enumerates “home school” (in Texas, homeschooling is generally not enumerated, falling under jurisdiction of “private school” and it is best kept that way). I’m going to contact HSLDA for clarification.
Updated: I contacted HSDLA to ask for more details as to why they oppose.
I agree with their reasoning. You can debate the merit of the intentions behind the bill, but from a purely legal perspective they are bad bills.
A friend pointed me to this article by Eugene Wallingford titled “I Just Need A Programmer“.
The Slashdot entry sums it up best:
“As head of the CS Department at the University of Northern Iowa, Eugene Wallingford often receives e-mail and phone calls from eager entrepreneurs with The Next Great Idea. They want to change the world, and they want Prof. Wallingford to help them. They just need a programmer. ‘Many idea people,’ observes Wallingford, ‘tend to think most or all of the value [of a product] inheres to having the idea. Programmers are a commodity, pulled off the shelf to clean up the details. It’s just a small matter of programming, right?’ Wrong. ‘Writing the program is the ingredient the idea people are missing,’ he adds. ‘They are doing the right thing to seek it out. I wonder what it would be like if more people could implement their own ideas.’”
The interesting thing was, before reading this article my friend and I were talking about teaching kids how to program. He’s been studying this nifty 2D graphics library and given how well-written it was, maybe he’d be able to use it to teach his son how to program. Maybe, but the problem I saw there was there was still too much other stuff to deal with, like the language issues, because the first time you try to figure out pointers in C/C++/Objective-C well… it’s mind-bending.
The thing that hit me was the last sentence of the Slashdot summary:
I wonder what it would be like if more people could implement their own ideas.
And as I was thinking about teaching our kids I realized what we need to give them are the tools that enable them to realize their ideas.
One cool thing about programming computers is computers are such general purpose tools, that with a little work you can get them to do almost anything you want. Such is a great thing about learning to program. But kids tend to not see that, they just see they want to play a game. So if they want to write a game, give them those tools.
Daughter is very artsy, so we ensure she has a constant supply of art and craft materials. For example, yesterday morning, inspired by the movie “Tangled”, she took some paper plates and painted some really neat stuff on them. We have to keep brushes, paint, pencils, paper, and all sorts of art supplies around at all times for the kids. I’ve even bought software for them to help them be creative. In fact, I think our Christmas card this year is going to be one designed and assembled on the computer by Daughter.
Or if the idea your child has is to create music, ensure they have instruments or other tools to create their music… even software like GarageBand.
The point is, in whatever realm the kids are having their ideas, don’t let them just dream about their ideas coming true; give them the means to make their dreams come true. And that includes a lot of encouragement and support.
I just returned from an Early Voting Rally. It happened to be sponsored by Texas Republicans… not 100% sure who exactly was sponsoring it (e.g. Travis County Republicans, Texas as a whole, etc.), but it was attended by all your big Texas Republicans: Gov. Rick Perry; Sen. John Cornyn; Jerry Patterson, Texas Land Commissioner; Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller; Attorney General Greg Abbott; Melissa Goodwin, 3rd Court of Appeals; Paul Workman, candidate for Texas State House District-47; Dr. Donna Campbell, candidate for US House Texas District 25; and a host of other Texas Republicans.
Now, I’m not a Republican… and on more than one occasion I wanted to shout out something that would have rubbed folks raw. But this was not the place for such things, and I had bigger reasons to not stir the pot. For you see, I took my children to this event. I was glad to see other parents brought their children too, because this is a lesson in civics. Furthermore, it let’s them see these people close up and see they’re not just a picture on the TV. Besides, you can’t appreciate Gov. “Good Hair” unless you can see him up close.
What I loved most? Oldest. He groaned at the thought of attending this event, but of course he had no choice… he was going. Then I happened to notice during Gov. Perry’s rousing speech… there was Oldest, cheer and applauding with gusto! Yeah, he got into it.
As a random aside, it was fun watching Gov. Perry’s security detail. One guy (you can see him behind Jerry Patterson in the above picture, in the sunglasses) was pretty tough and serious looking. I nicknamed him Agent Franks.
As the rally broke up, I managed to chase down Dr. Campbell to say hello. Introduced Daughter to her as well. I could tell she was a tired lady, but a tough one. I applaud her efforts and hope it pans out in a couple of weeks. Daughter was excited to meet Dr. Campbell. I was also happy that on the drive home we saw a couple more Donna Campbell yard signs in the neighborhood!
For me, that’s the big reason I went this morning: I wanted my children to experience this. Oh sure, I’ve done things like this before, when I was a kid and my Dad was a Congressman; but then it was “Ugh.. can we go home now?”. Today was the first time I attended a rally because I wanted to be there, and I wanted my children to be there. I want them to understand that politics can and does suck, but we cannot ignore it. It’s important to our lives and something all responsible citizens must care about and partake in. Plus, since they had such a good time, I think it left a positive impression on the kids that sometimes yes, politics can be fun.
Was out of town for the weekend. Came back last night and saw this in our Carolina Wren nest box:
Looks like the babies are all grown up.
The thing is, we only saw 2 in there. We’re not sure what the deal was. Are these perhaps the younger 2 and the others already fledged and left? Just don’t know, as we were gone all weekend. The other thing is, you can see they are atop all the nesting materials… that’s not how it was before, so they obviously moved and tramped things down.
As of last night and still this morning, the box is empty and we don’t hear any of the wren chirping. Are they gone for good? Not sure. Going to wait a few days and keep watch on things. If they don’t come back, we’re going to crack open the box and take a look at things. We’re all very curious to learn about how they nest.
As you may know, the Texas school boards are working to rewrite history — literally.
Some of the changes I agree with. For instance, I see nothing wrong with teaching religion in school, from a scholarly standpoint. I learned about ancient religions (what we now call mythology) and studied ancient religious texts. I studied modern religions and texts. We looked at them from a scholarly standpoint because you cannot fully understand other civilizations and history if you do not look at the religions of that civilization. But yes, this implies looking at all of them, not just emphasizing one or another nor does it mean being “sensitive” to one so as to not risk offending it.
Some I don’t, like removing the study of Sir Isaac Newton. How can you understand modern science if you don’t understand Newton!! Good grief!
And some things I think are just appalling, such as dropping “references to the slave trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous ‘Atlantic triangular trade’, and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by Islamic fundamentalism.” Denial or revision (even in the name of political correctness or “sensitivity”) of history undermines the whole point of studying history in the first place.
But whether or not you agree with what the Texas board is doing, it all points to one thing: the growing failure of the public government school system. A few work to gain political leverage, then work in their agenda in hopes of longer-term indoctrination of their view of the world. This is not education, this is brainwashing. This is not education, this is politics, and our children are the sacrifice. But, true education has been dead for a long time.
Just one more reason that the public government school system is a failed organization. We do better when we can have choices, when you can choose what school your child attends. If you want your child to have a particular view of the world, then send your child to that school… be that school one with a narrow view or a broad view. Public government school is supposed to serve everyone, but because of that it serves no one.
I could go a step further and say it’s a greater failing of our social structure, where we demand others teach and raise our children instead of doing that job ourselves. This isn’t to say you have to homeschool, but at least when Junior comes home from whatever school they are sent to, take a look at their textbooks, look at the notes they take, discuss with them what they were learning in school. Get involved in your child’s education. Discuss alternative viewpoints. Expand upon what the school taught. Help them see the world that you want them to see.