Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Have Your Cake and Eat Pi Too

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Cupcakes of psi, pi and tria (3)

Mandi sure can bake.  Those are cupcakes with chocolate icing.  Isaac asked for an “alphabeta” cake for his birthday.  Isaac wanted a yellow cake instead of pumpkin cake, and Mandi offered white or chocolate icing.  Isaac chose chocolate.

The photo to the left has psi and pi on the top.  The bottom cupcake has “tria,” or the Greek word for “three” on it.  We had no idea Isaac would want Greek alphabeta cupcakes.  Isaac also helped Mandi put the ingredients in and counted with her while mixing them.

Children develop their own interests.  Isaac for now is interested in
helicopters and Greek letters.  I figure Why not? Not everyone agrees.  A couple of people on Facebook commented that his interest is weird.  The ironic thing is they spelled it “w-i-e-r-d.”  Any child-initiated opportunity for learning is a good thing.

A wise Chinese proverb says “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Isaac and an Innate Curiosity

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Isaac sitting on a park bench

Isaac is almost 3 years old.  He is very curious about how things in the world work, sometimes to our chagrin–especially when it involves water or a piece of electronics.

Still, even through the headache and expense, his curiosity and interest is amazing.  He can operate either Mandi’s iPhone or my HTC Droid phone and get what he wants.  He can even remotely control (as can his older brother) our Mac Mini that runs our TV.  This is our second Mac Mini since Isaac helped the first one bite the dust.

Isaac repeatedly asks for  the”Alphabeta” video lately.  Here it is.  The pronunciation is off in a few places, but it is still fun (sounds a little like the 80s pop song “I’m Too Sexy”).  We are working to insure this curiosity is preserved.

A Holy Curiosity

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Levi found my middle school yearbook yesterday, and managed to color several photos fuschia before I caught him. As I flipped through to survey the damage, I paused to reminisce.  One page spread showed pictures from various classes: physical education, math, science, social studies.  Aside from the captions, I couldn’t tell most of them apart.  Here, I’ve shared the picture labeled “Science.”  Pardon me, but I don’t see much science happening in this picture.

Contrast this with yesterday’s outing with the kids.  We took a nature hike, snapped some family photos, and took in the beautiful fall day.  They experienced firsthand the flora and fauna of a temperate forest, our local biome.  They experimented with physics by throwing small rocks over a ledge and widely missing the lake below.  They collected pods from locust trees and shook them, listening to the seeds rattle inside.  True, there is something to be said for systematic learning, and some science facts (e.g. the periodic table) must be memorized.  We’ll do plenty of both over the next several years.  Still, there is no replacement for observing one’s world, guided by innate curiosity.  Perhaps Albert Einstein said it best when he said:

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

As Nate and I educate our children, one of our goals is to preserve and enhance that curiosity.  I am concerned that the type of “science” occurring in this yearbook picture would stifle it.

Sweetest of Gifts

Friday, October 15th, 2010

The kids playing at the park

“Of all nature’s gifts to the human race, what is sweeter to a man than his children?”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

We apologize for the lack of posts the last few days.  We had a power outage among other things.

Cicero is right, children are sweetest of gifts.  They can be frustrating and annoying, reminding us that the apple didn’t fall far enough from the tree.  They are also amazing and worth the time and effort.  My 2-year-old (almost 3) recites the English and Greek alphabets with the phonetic sounds.  Children are full of surprises.  On the other hand, pieces of wallpaper have been ripped from my living room wall.

Most parents in my experience do believe their children are gifts, and that gift should be cherished.  We are going to go on a picnic with the kids and enjoy this lovely weather.  Have a good day.

The World that Works vs. The World that Fails

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I was reading an article on the HSLDA site in response to an article written by a Pastor Tom Stein.  I encourage you to read both of them for yourself.  I am reminded of a speech given by Newt Gingrich a few years ago about the world that works and the world that fails.

One particular statement from the Stein article that troubled me is “So I ask: is it in the interests of the state, to keep an eye on [homeschooling]? I say yes.”

To this I say NO!  I have read both the U.S. Constitution and the Indiana Constitution.  The U.S. Constitution says nothing about this. Only Article 8 of the Indiana Constitution mentions “by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.”  If you read Article 8 it pertains to the availability of Public Schools to all without charge and directs the funds to be used “profitably.”  I am not taking issue with this.  I question whether the average student or taxpayer is profiting much from them.

I take issue that any state has a “right” to make parents answer to the state for the education of their own offspring.  Really?  Homeschoolers on average rate at or above the 85% percentile on standardized testing, exceeding even privately schooled students.  Is there anywhere in life (except government) that those who are failing (public school system) tells those who are succeeding how to succeed?  That would be comparable to a homeless crackhead trying to tell Mark Zuckerburg or Bill Gates on how to make a billion dollars.  Does this even make sense?  I think not.

He tries to point out neglectful parents who homeschool.  Funny, I didn’t see any real examples of that.  It seems easier to me to send kids to school on the yellow cheese wagon as we used to call it.  Could there be parents not educating their kids?  Possibly, but even unschooling demonstrates that children are naturally curious and learn much on their own.

He points out that the public schools are trying to classify students as homeschoolers to fix dropout rates.  So we trust those to regulate homeschoolers that are trying to hide their own failures by artificially padding their graduation numbers and declaring “dropouts” as homeschoolers?

Pastor Stein further writes:

“As with many issues these days, we tend to run to the extremes.  One side might say, “Do not touch my home-schooling!” The other side might say, “Just outlaw it!”"

Pastor Stein, in closing, makes a false attempt at moderation.  He makes a point of wanting “reasonable” regulations.  Others want to outlaw it.  Both ignorantly trample the rights of parents to educate their children without the strong-arm of State telling them how to do it.  This has been the Hoosier way for over thirty years, via law and case precedent: the Department of Education is not neutral and only the courts have the power to determine if a child is not receiving an “equal” education.  I believe this is wise and works.

I say to Mr. Stein, if you want to improve education, you should focus on the public schools that serve 90% of the population and leave the 10% of us private schoolers alone.  Our track record as a group speaks for itself.

A Rendezvous With Destiny

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Levi running up a mountain trail

Levi wasn’t certain about climbing a mountain or even what exactly was the mountain.   Once he got going he did start to enjoy the walk or run.  It was work, but the reward made the climb worth it.

As I said in my first article, the time is soon at hand that Levi will “officially” start preschool or as Well Trained Mind calls it, K4.  This means a little more “systematic” teaching and taking attendance.  Although technically attendance is not required until he is 7 years old, we will keep those records starting Monday.

We have been reviewing various curricula covering language and math.  The boys seem to taken well to most of the items we have reviewed with them.  The spreadsheets are ready to track educational progress and attendance.  We still have some work to do on age appropriate ancient history resources, but we will get those in order soon enough.

I believe we are prepared for this endeavor with our children.  As Ronald Reagan said, “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.”  And so we do, together, as a family.

No Cable? No Problem!

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Something we had on vacation that we don’t have at home was cable.  We have no religious or ethical opposition to TV–we just don’t need it.  We’d rather put that money toward super-fast Internet. ;)   After this trip, I can now confidently say that I’m glad we don’t have it.

It’s not that we don’t consume our share of media as a family.  We have our TV connected to a computer so we can watch shows online.  We are able to catch episodes of some of the more popular shows on  Hulu also offers a variety of good family movies like Benji.   When watching online, we are able to save less age-appropriate shows for after the kids are asleep.  Most popular kids shows are not available (legally) on the Internet, so we don’t generally see them.  Both our cabin and our hotel room had cable or satellite.  We watched a few cartoons, more out of novelty than anything.

I was more annoyed than offended by what I saw.  Most of it came across painfully stupid while at the same time preachy and didactic.  I can’t remember seeing one adult character that wasn’t portrayed as stupid or clueless or cruel.   And there were ads–wow, were there ads!  Online, we see one ad (or at most two) every ten minutes or so.  Most of these sell household products or grocery items.  Nearly all of the ads shown during cartoons bombarded kids with yet another piece of plastic crap that they need.  A Barbie with a built in video camera?  Really?  I’d almost rather they watch adult shows.  “Inappropriate” humor is usually disguised so kids don’t understand it.  Materialism, on the other hand, reaches up and slaps them in the face.

Could we have just turned it off?  Absolutely.  Should we have?  Probably.  Sometimes you just can’t look away.  Thankfully, we don’t usually have to make that choice.

Not Just Parents

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

The boys playing a game with Grandpa

Today we had a nice Sunday afternoon with the boys playing at their grandparents’.  As many homeschooling parents can attest, it’s not just parents who teach their children but aunts, uncles, friends and grandparents as well.

This teaching varies from an outdoor game that would be a form of physical education to even teaching a trade.  The possibilities are endless.  I believe our Secretary of State wrote a book that it takes a village to raise a child.  I disagree;  it takes a family to raise one.

Its nice for the kids to spend an afternoon with their grandfather and play.  Its not just parents who teach their children and its not always traditional academics.  Sometimes its just playing a simple game.  Even Albert Einstein thought that play was the key to success.

Who am I to argue with Einstein?
“If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.” -Albert Einstein