Tag Archives: children

The Practice of Learning…the cultivation of the child

Kurt Vonnegut said “The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.”  

I risk a paraphrase of that magnificent quotation…

The practice of Learning isn’t to make a living.  It’s to make your soul grow. 

Inside every human child there is a secret place… hidden… unknown… instilled with a magnificence we cannot fathom…

A place as deep as any ocean… as individual as each child’s DNA… In fact, I postulate this place holds each child’s personal intellectual genetic compass… a pathway that is only found through following the desires of that child’s intellectual heart… 

It is a place not often found… a place found only by the most blessed of people who were reared in an environment that encouraged that mad pursuit of intellectual independence toward what a “particular”  child was created to do… not educated, but cultivated… placed in sacred soil where the child was allowed to grow toward who he “is”…  for those who never find that special gift become those who live incomplete lives and who come to say in their old age those most tragic words… “If only”…

It is a place all but never found… for the soil in which we place most children today is not sacred… rather it is an artificial soil intended to grow discrete skills, uniformity, conformity, and the intellectual joining with the mass of humanity… humanity defined by the industrial definition of what it is to be human… 

They all must read… but they will read…

They all must calculate numbers… but they will calculate…

They all must write… but they all will write…

They all must understand what they need to endure in the world… but they will endure…

and they will learn all those things through the search for that hidden place… the sacred gift that each child is given… what they were made to be… 

These blessed children live in a world not defined by an expert’s definition of what a “graduate looks like”… No, they live in a world dedicated to letting them find the hidden place within their being by following their joy… by following that strong compass bearing holding true in their soul… by following their innate fascination with the creations miraculous paths…

They are the ones who walk the paths reading the compass of their heart… indeed that is the nature of those who found their genius… those who did not find that hidden place look at those who did find it and marvel… and feel the saddest intuition… did I not have something like that in me…

When we look at such a person we are looking at pure joy… we are looking at a being following the light for which they were created… the musician who plays miraculously… the doctor who heals with hands that seem dipped in sacred waters… the teacher who can reach into a child to help them find their hidden gift… the shuttle pilot who rides the thunder into the vastness of space… the carpenter who builds a house to stand the centuries… the cook who creates wonder from the gifts of the Earth… the physicist who listens to the music of the spheres… the machinist who works the elementals into shapes that allow the engines of our world to generate untold power in silence… the pastor who can communicate the eternal or quiet a grieving heart…

All these and millions more gifts are in as many children… But so few ever find that hidden place within their soul… so few… 

So what must we as a civilization do? 

We must remove the bindings of artificiality in what we allow children to learn…

We must renew our faith in art… music… great literature… true science…

We must renew our faith in play…for play is the foundation of creativity…

We must learn to trust that true compass within ourselves that always points to the joy… for as surely as we try to follow another’s compass or definition of learning we crush the joy…

We must give up our belief that there is “One” body of knowledge needed by every child…

We must not confine our thinking about learning to the small and mundane, but rather turn our thoughts to the greatness that could be… in every child… for in every honest and good path there is greatness…

We must trust our civilization to the miracle of the genius that created every child… we must allow ourselves to cultivate every growing child in such a way that they search, honestly search, for their hidden place… their hidden gifts… who they are supposed to be…

We must believe that we were given our minds to develop… 

We must believe above all else that we do feel the tug of the compass within ourselves… 

We must believe that if we follow that tug, that arterial tide within ourselves we will find our genius…

We will know when we have found our hidden place because it will be as if we have a powerful wind at our backs… those who have found their hidden place are the ones we call brilliant… the ones we call genius… the ones who inspire us… 

Should we fail in this we will see no more Galileo’s, no more Bach’s, no more Debakey’s, no more Einstein’s…  and we are failing… 

We are failing because we have believed a lie… we have believed that every child must be measured, cut from the same dull cloth, labeled with any of the hundreds of ways we try to categorize and limit human beings… We have believed that every child must learn the same things and be measured in the same way… and match the image of “what a graduate should look like”.   

We have believed the false premise that a human child can be manufactured through our well-meaning programs and curricula.  We have believed that the fact that we all share DNA makes us like every other… 

We have to learn that our DNA, the very thing that defines us all as human, makes us all as humanly different as stars in different galaxies… for that is what DNA is… it is an individual program… none like another… 

No human child is created like any other…when we found that DNA is a living program we took it to mean uniformity of universal intent when it means exactly the opposite… universal uniqueness…    

 This is why there is a dawning in some hearts lighting the way to another path, an independent brook away from the stream of humanity flowing into a sea of conformity… into the religion of similarity, of artificial counting of bits of knowledge, of sameness…. 

Those are the hearts that beat independently, the do answer to another rhythm, another music of the spheres…..

 The saddest truth is this; we will not see another Galileo, another Bach, another Debakey, another strange walker in time unless we have the courage to rebuild that which we call learning…. in our attempts to create uniformity in learning we will block the next stage in our development as human beings…. as a species specially created by God… each of us with a distinct purpose… each with an inborn joy that is lost to most of us by the time we are teenagers… the result being all the particular problems that do overtake our children because we are trying to actually create a uniform human being… as uniform as the length of each grass blade in a suburban lawn.

We must adopt a practice of learning that is only intent on finding that hidden place, a practice of learning that is independent, that results in the cultivation of the seed that is within every individually created child. 



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Keeping up with your home schooled child while you are away…

Single parenting may be one of the hardest things anyone can take on. It is a task best-managed by two people .  But that is not always possible.  The extended family and good friends can provide endless help.  But, tThere are so many single parents who are just trying to keep bread on the table for their kids.  How can a single working parent home school their children?

Today, I am going to limit myself to situations where the child is old enough or mature enough to stay alone. I am one of those who still believe the world is basically a safe place without monsters behind every tree. I could be proven wrong today, but I am going to pray that my beliefs will be proven true. I also believe it is good for a child to be allowed to take on more responsibility early in their lives.

Home schooling families are generally ones who have many friends. They are actually the families involved in many things outside of the home. Many have trusted neighbors close who may home school. They may also have elders close who might not mind looking in on the kids or at least making a phone call. The most important part of all this is that the child feel safe and is safe when left alone. They should feel that there are other adults to whom they can turn. So if you have trusted neighbors you might try asking them to either check in on the kids or make phone calls at some regular time. They don’t have to live really close to make a phone call. Often all that would be needed would be a simple call to be sure things are ok and on track. A family member might also be willing to do this at a certain time each day. There are also home school consultants who will call to check on your children. They will do this for a fee. What they do is call the child to make sure everything is ok, then call, text or email the parents to let them know how the child is handling the day. Often work places will not allow parents to make such calls.  Because of this, more services are becoming available to parents along with bonded tutors who can be trusted to work with your child when you are not around. All that can take place right in the home.

Please remember that we are really talking about here is the trust you have in your child as well as the safety of the surroundings. But having said that there are other ways parents can keep up with their kids. Cell phones are now nearly ubiquitous. Many of the devices have GPS systems installed in them. This allows the parent to track where their kid is if they have the phone on them. When you discuss these things with your child you may want to assure them that the point is not to keep up with the child but to assure yourself that the child is safe and sound. Having the child phone or text you at certain times of the day to verify what they are doing and where they are will also give you much piece of mind. One easy thing to do is to have the child take a picture of themselves in the house or where they are supposed to be at particular times during the day with their phone. They can then send these pictures to you by mms or by email to let you know where they are. They can bear a time and date stamp. The same thing can be easily done with the web cam and a chat program where you can establish and internet link to talk to the child and see what they are doing. There are a number of services that will do this for you.

Some parents install internet ready cameras in their homes so they can keep up with what is happening over the internet.  This is becoming very common among people who take care of the elderly.  Many care givers who do not want to place an elder person into a permanent care situation will simply install small web cams around the house so they are able to check on their elders.  Many of these systems can be installed so that you can actually talk to your child over the cam system.  It is entirely possibly now to keep up with what is going on in the house from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Many parents choose to involve themselves in a Co-op where children can be left during the day for a fee. The child will do their home schooling assignments, be in the company of other children and adults until you are free to pick up the child again. Many churches are now beginning to figure this out as a way to make extra income or become involved in a home school ministry by providing a place where kids can be while their parent is away.  Check with local home school associations or other home schoolers to track these services down.

If you don’t have a formal co-op perhaps it would be possible to get several trusted families together to provide needed supervision during times you cannot be at home.

Other solutions would be an alarm system that includes a panic feature. But with a reliance on family, friends, and other home school families you will most likely be able to manage well.

There are also excellent churches that sponsor classes for home schooled kids and supervised study halls. Perhaps the best place to start a search for these organizations would be a local home school association or home school stores in your area. A number of stores also have classes and supervised activities.

However, all of that may be unneeded if you feel your child is responsible or if you can check in with your child during the day or the time you are gone. All that leaves you with is the need to organize assignments. When I was a child I loved to organize myself. I even made a schedule out for myself from about the fifth grade. Yes, I was a strange child. That being said every child has a particular need for organization. Some need more while others need less organization.

I like systems that provide everything in one place that a student will need to work on a particular assignment while the parent is away. Some parents use shoe boxes, other use file boxes. One of the best systems is Sue Patrick’s Work Box System. Sue has created an organization system that is bar none as good as anything I have seen. You can find Sue’s materials here

You, of course, know your child better than anyone. You know how much independence your child can accept. I was by myself a tremendous amount when my mother worked after my father passed away. I was fine at those times because I had organized things to do. Remember there is always a solution to every problem. If I can be of help in any way brainstorming solutions or helping you figure out what to do, drop me an email here. There is a solution to every problem.


Filed under home school, independent learning, single parent homeschooling

A Holy Experience…Ann Voskamp’s brilliant blog

A few weeks ago looking for inspiration I experienced a God moment….no recollection at all how I got to Ann Voskamp and her beautiful, moving blog “A Holy Experience” .  God moments are like that….rare…mysterious….without method. 

Ann Voskamp has that incredible, rare ability to go right to the center of your heart.  Her writing quietly speaks of the absolute presence of God in her life and the life of her family….few writers have the ability to persuade and move you spiritually at the same time.  Ann writes with a logic which arises out of a spiritually disciplined heart…poetry embued with logic…She is one of the few writers working on the electronic frontier today who draw you back over and over just because of the beauty of her work, the design of the posts, her masterful photography, and the music one listens to as you read her inspired words….

She calls her writing “scratching in the dark”.  I would expect that of someone like Mrs. Voskamp…humble, sure, guided by an eternal compass.   But her writing is hardly scratching.   I understand what she is probably saying on the spiritual level.  We are all following the light of God out of the darkness.  We find ourselves in a dark world but a world with a bright future…the brightest of futures.  Mrs. Voskamp writes with a voice that comes deep from a place of love….

for her God who she praises continually in the pages of her posts….who she serves through her writing, her child-rearing, her work in her community and being the “mama” of a beautiful family…

for her husband, who is the obvious love of her life…she speaks of him in poetic terms…through her writing, you think you already know him as a man, as a friend, as a father and leader of his family..

for her children, the 6 lucky youngsters who she loves with all the might of a mother’s heart…who are the benefactors of her homeschooling…who are the receivers of her love…and the returners of as much love…

for her home and community…of which she writes with passion…a place made real, visible, and permanent in your mind by her soft, tender descriptions…she writes of it as a spiritual landscape, a place of beauty’s not yet discovered, a place of perfect peace. 

Mrs. Voskamp has raised the bar for all bloggers who aspire to the spiritual, the beautiful, the literary….no, this is no mere blog…A Holy Experience is Spiritual Art. 

Go and soak yourself in her words, her thoughts, her perception of a world filled with beauty, ultimate truth and a reflection of the power or the God we worship.

John…10/08/09…3:09 pm


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Wishes for my kids….my Star Children…

What do you wish for your children?  So many things…love, health, joy, to pursue something that lights a flame in their hearts…..those things, yes, …. but I want to wish for them an obsessed curiosity, a desire to discover, that comes only from reality…not from artifice, the whitewash on the sepulchre we call curriculum….

For now, I’m going to lay down organization learning for a while….I want to wish for their organic, minds of light for a time…

I wish first for them …. wonder.   Wonder is amazement at the way in which nature works, at the way your little dog looks up at you with obvious love…what is she thinking…when I watch her closely I see I think a mind…maybe not like mine, but one that knows, a heart that loves… and I am caught up in wonder at the miracle of this little animal…I study her movements, her expressions, her eyes, her obvious play, her own curiosity at the little bug she chases, but does not harm, and I form questions…remember the “Golden Thread”?  I wish for my children the wonder of the Milky Way….to have that first deep gut-thrill as they see it reaching across the sky like a great shimmering celestial ribbon…ethereal, eternal….I want them to wonder… at the energy that drives our bodies and realize it is the same energy that drives the stars….formed differently but the same….I want them to wonder at their human bodies…. that they can understand the miracle of the kidney…how it recognizes blood chemical levels so they can be adjusted so …we…can…live. I want them to wonder at sodium potassium channels so they understand the miracle of life…. I’ve never seen anyone wonder at a worksheet, or at a powerpoint….but I have shown kids from the dismal city the brilliance that is the Milky Way…I’ve watched the wonder that is so very close to fear as they see the night sky as it really is for the first time…I’ve watched their faces as they hear the voice of wildness itself in the howl of a wolf…. I’ve never seen the wonder of a worksheet… I’ve never seen the wonder of yet more notes on a PowerPoint presentation…wonder gutted…. wonder mortally wounded…. why would you wonder when you havent see the miracle..

I wish for them curiosity…. the curiosity I felt as a boy running through the Piney Woods of East Texas….the absolute outrageous curiosity I felt when I saw the green light in the darkness….first so dim it can’t be there… but it was….Foxfire….then in the light just fungi…How, with a capital W…rotting wood….for a time I learned everything there was to learn about bioluminescence….How?  How does it work…. Why when I lay on my back as a boy looking up at the Milky Way did I not fall out into the fearsome cold of space…out There, with a capital “T”.   Why do we not fall into the depths of space for when we are out “There” nothing is between us and the edge of the universe…but nothing…What saves us from a nightmarish fate…falling into space… a force not truly understood…  Gravity….gravity-does anyone really know what it is?….  What, with a capital W, dragged me underwater 50 yards or more when I was eighteen and immortal…with a fishing stringer attached to a metal chain around my waist….I received my baptism of mortality that day…when my feet could not touch bottom and “What” was out “There”….after terror came curiosity…today I am obsessed by sharks…creatures of terrible wonder…deserving of curiosity…the knowledge of ….”what”….of “out there unseen” came and changed to obsession that has taken me to places I would never have gone.

Obsession…..I wish for my children obsession….the obsession to answer my fear so I swam out beyond the third bar where I lay back supported by the green waters of the Gulf of Mexico….the same waters that offered life to “my” personal shark….perhaps offering my fear to the ocean….within a week I knew the shark species of the entire Gulf of Mexico…but more…were there Great White Sharks….can a shark actually be named “Bull”….when I saw the first one that I caught….the first Bull Shark….I left that beautiful animal in its home….it was a living, breathing miracle….when I saw it, I wanted to know, but also to give the opportunity to live back to it….so I could “know” without guilt….Black tips, Nurse, Hammerhead, Great Hammerhead, Sand….Obsession to this day….now I have been blessed to touch the skin of a Great White….to feel the roughness, but also the life…obsession…brought me to the Pacific to find them…

I wish for my children understanding then desire…..to find that the paint which covers our walls can be measured with the wonderful work of lines, angles, and formulas…to understand what math is for….to understand what they do…mathmaticians and why they do it… I became a boy who understood that the flight of a baseball can be described, even predicted….to understand that rowboats respond to the math of balance…fulcrums, weight, balance beams, centerlines …..that a boat is a gymnast wrestling with the physics of equivalent gravitational attraction that must be Balanced, with a capital “B”…

I wish for them freedom from the artifice of learning that is curriculum….I wish for them expression of the way their DNA made them…..according to the Plan….according to the information that is their personal DNA….that I believe is a plan….that the same energy that holds together the universe holds together their bodies…that before there was the universe there was nothing….darkness and void…all the energy in the universe was in one point…existing…but not existing….then the universe Was….with a capital “W” …in billionths of a second, no trillionths of a second…the universe “Was”…to know that the universe still “Is”…beyond the Hubble Deep Field…the universe “Is”,   still in its outer reaches, unimaginable reaches of time and space ….where the universe “Is” still being Created….that galaxies, stars and worlds are still being Created…yes with a capital “C”….I am too filled with the wonder that is statistics to think randomness….chance…odds….too great to be possible….

I wish for my children Connection…to realize after the wonder…then the curiosity….then the understanding….the connections….that the reality of fire….oxidation….keeps our bodies warm….without our thought…that we are organized…..so we are connected to the fires of volcanos, the reactors that are stars, the warmth in the body of the kitten held and stroked….that the same energy that drives the Earth through its orbit is the same energy that, in changed form, motivates the skeleton that holds the precious bodies of our children together….

I wish for my children to be amazed….that we are created of light, the elements…..so we really are created of the dust of the Earth, the dust of the Earth that is the periodic table made tangible…real….amazed….that photons of light energize reactions in the leaves of plants….that the living tissue of every plant incorporates light….plants are light made real in form…so then are we light made real in form but in this form….intelligence, thought, soul….”souls of light” we are….and as the plants,  those miraculous creations of light, creations of star shine, works of Krebs and his cycle, birthed of nuclear  fusion give their transformed energy to our bodies….so that we take the nutrients of the soil from them and raw energy from the light ….. so we become creations of the light and of the dust of the Earth….

intelligence and thought made of dust and light…

Finally, I wish them to return to wonder…..that in the ferocity of the instant of creation we were formed billions of years ago, we were already there….planned….as we could not be here without…..the moment….the chaos having been made into order…. that we have labeled the Big Bang…that I label “Let There Be Light”…. 

No, I’ve never seen wonder at a worksheet, or divine revelation of the “Connection” through the questions at the back of the chapter…

I’ve only seen wonder when enough chaos, enough reading, enough absorption of thought communicated down the centuries by dye on paper…and the experience of touch, the experience of taste, of smell, of the fear of falling off the Earth as you look up into the night…the realization….eventually become knowledge…that sticks.

When you are next outside at night, look up, realize that nothing is between us and the most fearsome fall….up….into space….that nothing is between you and eternity…..so gravity is here to hold us to our speck of dust…that we are created from….the Earth….we have faith in what holds us…..but we still wonder….

Oh, I do wish, I do wish that every child had freedom to explore the strange avenues given to their minds when the time is right, not when the bell says it’s time to go to the next class…..wonder, curiosity, obsession, amazement, realization, then real knowledge…..so delicate, so easily crushed, …..  

thirst…I wish for them thirst….thirst for “It”, for knowledge, for what lies ahead over the next hill, around the next bend, and for some I believe, sooner than we imagine, across the reaches of space to the next star…..

I wish for my children made of light and dust….my star children, beings of light….that they journey through the universe with a divine obsession to know…obsession to discover…. and finally obsession to know the source….

I wish again freedom for my star children….freedom from worksheets, from bells and boxes of cinderblocks, from artificially created and carefully designed elements, units and tests…

So they can become true star children, the children of Gods’ moment of creation, ….my children of Gods periodic table, of His dust, of His plan…rather than our organized and artificial plan…

Star children…free to “become”….

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Obama’s School Speech seen through Democratic Eyes

First let me say to my best friend….the word is spelled p-r-i-n-c-i-p-l-e.   And thanks for kindly pointing it out.  I was writing in the wee hours of  the morning, Sheesh.  🙂

The democrats are right!  I can hear the ambulance sirens now coming for the hopefully not dead bodies of several of my blogger friends, and my friends who ordinarily take me on about what I write.  I learn much from them.   They always make me think.  And sometimes, though rarely, they are right. 🙂  So I thought for tonight’s little blog about the upcoming Presidential address to captive school children I would take a look at what democrats have rightfully said about past presidential speeches to school children. 

IN 1991 Then President HW Bush spoke to one school.  There were no lesson plans produced for that speech.  The Department of Education didn’t initially suggest that children write letters the themselves about how they could help the President.  This speech was also clearly in violation of my principle that children in school are always a captive audience.  Also, the President can never separate what he does from his office.  So every speech he makes must of neccessity be part of the party line.  It must be political.  Richard Gephardt (D-MO) said “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students.”  The Democrat was Right.  (Distinct sound of more of John’s acquaintances hitting the ground).   There were House Committees that wanted a complete explanation from the Department of Education to explain how its funds were used for the speech.   This committee was right.  The democrats were right. 

Rep.  Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo), chairwoman of the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Familieshsaid that it was “outrageous for the White House to start using precious dollars for campaigns” at a time when “we are struggling for every silly dime we can get”  to educate American Children.  The Democrat was right!

So, the dems are right on this one.  An American President should not be involved in making speechs to American schools.  In America we hold our schools apart from the church.  I believe we should hold them apart from the state as well.  Lets remember that there has never been a president elected by 100% of the American people.  Let’s hope there never will be one elected that way.  If it every happens we are truly and well cooked.  We have to remember also that in America we hold our children to be protected from the ravages of politics.  Yes, even something so seemingly innocuous as the POTUS saying work hard, study, graduate and the come work for the state.  Just kidding. 

So as we have seen in this post presidents have made speeches before to school kids.  They were rightfully opposed.  I was against Presidential speeches to captive school kids when the Bushes spoke, when Ronald Reagan spoke to school kids and I oppose it as President Obama is about to make the same mistake.

Here is something great for home schoolers or anyone else who decides to take their kids with them next Tuesday.  Get a picnic basket.  Fill the basket with loads of goodies.  Get good ham, good bread, chocolate, iced tea to put in the basket.  Then go somewhere beautiful and have a reading of the United States Consitution.  Then spend the rest of the day enjoying your most precious gifts; your children.


Filed under home school, home school law, politics, President Obama, Uncategorized

digital photography, home school, and learning

Parents are always concerned about how to motivate kids with new and unique ways to encourage learning.  The way to their hearts if often through their technology or technology in general.  Digital photography whether it is with a digital phone or a digital camera is a way to get them hooked into a subject using technology.  There is nothing that can’t be made more interesting through the use of photography. 

Our children are certainly members of the technology generation.  The first time I truly felt old was the day I took a phonograph record to school when we were working on sound.  I was really surprised to realize that there were children in the room who had not seen a photograph record.  After I thought about it a while I realized that my seventh graders have always had compact discs.  They have never lived without cell phones.  Most have never had to “dial” a telephone.  Instead they push buttons.  In some cases they simply tell the phone to “call mom”. 

The digital camera provides another way to encourage kids to process information.  Let’s say you are working on sequencing steps in a process.  In the old days you might have the kids list the steps in some process like baking a cake.  That’s ok.  It might even interest some kids.  But the truth is that writing the steps down just might pose a problem with motivation.  But more important a pencil and paper project might not provide the deep processing that we all need in order to completely learn what we need to know. 

You do the same things.  Have the kids carefully read the recipe.  Then gather the materials.  Get everything lined out to do the recipe.  Now is where the process will change radically.  Instead of writing down the steps or recording on paper what is done the child will photograph each step.  An important thing is to encourage your child to set up the lesson just as if he or she were photographing it for Food Network. 

Your child will be motivated, by the technology, to think very carefully about what must come first, second, third and so on.  If it were me I would have the child plan the steps on a computer rather than on paper.  This will allow the child to cut and paste later as they get ready to present their “sequencing” exercise. 

Have the child set up the first step.  You might be the “assistant photographer”.  Perhaps the child would rather use a tripod and use the the cameras time delay system to maintain complete control.  Set up and take the first photograph.  Continue this process until the child is finished with the cake right down to icing it, cutting it and serving it. 

Download the pictures into the computer.  Then use some kind of presentation program such as PowerPoint or the Google Docs application to design a step by step presentation.  The student will then type steps to explain the slides with photographs or perhaps make a movie using an application like Movie Maker which is found with windows. 

Lets say that you are working on a science project involving leaf types.  Often kids are asked to draw the shapes, label them, make cards to drill the types of leaves and try to learn in that way.  Good enough.  But there is a better way.  Make a list of the various leaf types.  Check a guidebook for your area out of the library.  Then take the camera to a local public park to photograph all the leaf types that can be found.  Photograph everything.  Photography even avoids touching the infamous poison ivy or poison oak but still getting examples of their leaf types.  Bring home your samples in digital form.  Down load them to the computer.  Your budding scientist will then use a presentation program or perhaps a word processing program to create a booklet of leaf forms as the completion of the assignment. 

Today I tweeted a hint to encourage parents who were trying to teach their children angles to take your child out with a camera to photograph as many acute, obtuse and right angles as they can find.  These can be presented in any way imaginable. 

Collect pictures of various types of animals at the zoo.  Perhaps the student is working to learn the different phyla of animals.  Off to the zoo you go with the camera to photograph animals you would never have a chance to see in any other way. 

There is no limit to what can be done with a digital camera and imagination.  Any subject—-I repeat —- any subject can be aided with the use of digital photography as a way to motivate you child with a subject. 

In the near future, I will be working with projects involving digital video.  Video may actually be more appealing to your child.  Anything you can do with a camera, you can do with a digital video camera.  You can for instance compile a tour of the historical sites around your city.   Any child could take that recipe idea making a Food Network style show.  Any process can be demonstrated from the steps of a recipe to how to assemble any kind of craft project.  Want to get a child hooked on writing?  Have the child write a script for a digital video program on some subject of interest to the child. 

A few years ago a brilliant teacher had students in the Appalachian Mountains collect information on the “old ways” of their grandparents.  They interviewed each of the elders.  Then they took the interview material to school. There they wrote books that were actually published. 

Can you imagine what you could do with your family history if you had your child do a genealogy project, or grandmothers recipes, or grandfathers hobbies.  Can you imagine how valuable it will be to you to have video taped interviews with all the elders in the family.  Trust me on this nothing will be more valuable in the future as a video record of what has gone before in your family tree.  You will one day be glad you had your child do the project. 

Look for more on this subject in the coming days.  I have also written a small booklet on this subject —  teaching with digital photography —  which will be available here on this site soon.

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Filed under home school, independent learning, nontraditional learning, photography, video

Why worry, your kids belong to you right?

Those of us who are involved in parenting, any kind of  childcare, education or any other endeavor involving kids need to be concerned about events inside our borders and outside.  In the United States and, I believe, throughout the world parents believe they are the people to whom their kids belong.  Kids belong to their parents not as property but as precious and loved developing children.  Parents believe they are responsible for the proper development, training, and well-being of their kids.  We believe that children are a gift directly from God given to parents for proper care and rearing. 

There are a number of things happening in this country and outside the country that parents need to watch closely.  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child includes a number of provisions that threaten the family.  In Germany home school families are being increasing persecuted.  And we now see this in Great Britain.  Government encroachment on the rights of the family are reaching new heights.  Consider this possible agreement parents may be told to sign in the fall of this school year in Great Britain. 

I/We undertake to

  • Ensure that my child attends school regularly and that absences are properly notified.
  • Ensure that my child arrives and where appropriate is collected promptly at the beginning and the end of the school day. 
  • Support the school’s policies and guidelines on behavior and equal opportunities.
  • Support my child in his/her homework and wherever possible promote opportunities for home learning.
  • Ensure that my child goes to bed at a reasonable time on weekdays.
  • Attend Parents’ Evenings and discussions about my child’s progress at school. 

On the face of it the aggrement in itself may seem not so threatening.  But look a bit deeper.  According to a Mail Online article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1201452/Parents-forced-sign-school-contacts-ensure-children-behave.html parents are going to be encouraged to rat out others who they think may not be fulfilling the contract.  There will be a fine of 1000 pounds or a jail term if they violate the agreement.  In the past any agreements between the home and the school have been informal. 

Ed Balls the Schools Secretary indicated that these agreements will become law in the fall.  If the principal of the school thinks the agreement has been breached in any sense charges can be brought.  Parents who fail to sign the agreement can be hauled into court as well.  Mr. Balls says that “those who refuse to cooperate face being made to give up their homes – though they are still likely to be re-housed elsewhere.”  There will be “family intervention” programs where the families will receive 24 hour supervision making sure that all aspects of the agreements are enforced. 

This program is aimed at two things.  First, there is a perception of failing achievement in England just as there is in the United States.  Second, the government is aiming this shotgun approach at misbehaving juveniles and their families. 

But, there is something much more disturbing in this government attitude.  What the government is saying seems to be your children are not yours.  Your kids belong to the state.  The entity which owns the property can take it back from a property holder.  This reduces children to the level of chattel or property not linked by any special spiritual connection to the parents.  The parents are reduced to care takers for the property of the government.  As long as the government says when and where your children must show up, how much sleep they have to get along with a government enforced bedtime, a command that parents support all school policies whether they agree with them or not, and then places demands on free adults regarding attendance on Parents Evenings, then the government thinks it owns and has superior authority over your kids. 

Of course, this is not happening without a fight.  The group Parents Outloud has complained particularly about the idea of parents snooping on each other.  Margaret Morrissey a leader in the group finds the idea of parents “reporting on other children despicable”. 

The principle that is so important here is whether your kids are given to you by God to love and raise or do your kids belong to the government which essentially loans them to you.  What lies at stake here for the British people is the all-powerful spiritual, moral and ethical connection between the parent and the child.  When a government begins to enter the family then there is great danger of unbridled, increasing state control of the most basic of human rights. 

Don’t think it can happen here.  In the next entry I will deal with part of the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child.  What an innocuous title that hides principles that would turn the relationship of the family to the kids in a family on it’s head.  There is a huge movement in certain political circles for us to sign and ratify this treaty.

These issues are at the heart of the right of an individual to make a decision to learn in a group environment or independently whether at ones home or in another environment.  We as individuals are the causal agents of government, not the other way round.

Until next time.

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Filed under home school, independent learning, parenting, school law