Tag Archives: senior high

It’s never too late, independent learning, Grandma Moses

As I said in yesterdays post one of the things I wonder about is time.  I’ve spent my life trying to figure out what learning is and how it happens.  It has been at foundation of my most recent profession.  I am at a place where I feel close to really getting a grip on what motivates kids to learn, what the best techniques are to learn a field, and can you really teach anyone anything.  I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t teach anyone.  The single thing you can do is make them want to approach the warmth of your life and how you use your intellect.  But I said I wanted to write a few words about time.   It’s 2:00 a.m. in the morning.  I won’t sleep until I get a couple of thoughts in electrons. 

Time is the bane of any scholars life.  Remember when I use the term scholar I refer to anyone who has a serious interest.  I am now 58 years old.  Sometimes I do lose sleep questioning my accomplishments, my ability to accomplish what remains, or to start anything new.  Reasonable thought all.  Thank God I am not a reasonable person. 

Neither was Anna Mary Robertson who was born in Greenwich, New York, on September 7, 1860.  I have loved Anna Mary since I was about 16 years old.  I just didn’t realize her practical significance to my life until the last few days.  She was one of the reasons I found school to be a prison.  Because I would rather have spent time with her than almost anything back then except music.  You see her colors fascinated me.  She spoke to me about the life of my grandparents who I loved so deeply.   When I looked at her work in a book I checked out of the little library in Galena Park I saw my grandparents home for some reason.  I saw my childhood that was fast fading into the background of my existence.  I saw a way of life that I secretly wanted to live.  But it was my secret. My school in particular was not one that took a kindly view of 16 year olds who liked primitive art.  I protected that part of myself.  Until I escaped my prison into symphonic music, art, learning what I wanted to learn, and being around people who were giants to me in symphony orchestras, the worlds of music and art and at university.  The woman whose work I was in love with is better known as Grandma Moses.  She died just before I entered high school in 1961.  

And she had no real formal education.  Thank God she had no real formal education.  She would have probably been ruined.  Yet she is one of the most influential of America’s painters.  To me she is the equivalent of Norman Rockwell whose work I also love.  Her first painting was on a wall in her house.  She was wall papering but she ran out of wallpaper.  What a fortuitous problem.  Because she hung a sheet of white paper on the wall.  She painted a scene on that paper to finish out the decoration in the room.  What a finish it was. 

The scene is called fireboard.  If you want to see it you must go to the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont.  I will go there one day.  When I go I will whisper a thank you to Grandma Moses for helping me realize that it is never too late.  You see it took me nearly 20 years of my 30 year career to begin to think there were other ways to learn except in a classroom.  I came late to home schooling and independent learning.  But I am here now.  And even though I work in a classroom now I also work with many kids who have never seen the inside of a classroom.  And I know something I didn’t know when I was young.  There are other ways to learn save in a classroom. 

But back to my Grandma Moses.  The point is this wonderful American artist painted her first work in her 70’s.  After 70 years of life she started the work that would change the art world.  She found herself at the beautiful sunset of a quiet, worshipful, country life.  Grandma Moses started painting, in fact, because of the common illness of old age – arthritis.  Her husband who she loved dearly had passed away.  She became to old to farm. Grandma took up embroidery to fill her time.  But, soon, age cast its shadow over her again.  Her arthritis would not allow her to work her needles.  So she began to paint at the age of 76.  She once said:

What a strange thing is memory and hope; one looks backward, the other forward; one is of today, the other tomorrow. 

I want each of you to come down on the side of hope.  She also said:

If I didn’t start painting, I would have raised chickens

Thank God she didn’t raise chickens. 

And thank God you, my older readers, aren’t going to raise chickens.  Well, unless that is what your life long project is going to be. 

I am 58 but I am going to reach forward to the outer edges of what can be found out about how kids learn.  I am going to open a lot more doors.  And in that process of opening doors I am going to write as much as I can, speak as often as I can, teach as much as I can, take as many pictures as I can, learn how to use curves in Photoshop to make some of my more lousy pictures look presentable, see as many birds as i can, cut as much wood as I can and annoy as many adults who believe there is only one way to learn as I can. 

I can see the sun has past its zenith.  But I also see there is a while before sunset;  Barring some dump truck with my name on it.  If you are 20 or 40 or 50 or 80 there is still time.  Presidents have been elected in their last decades.  Many, many artists do their best work in their last decades.  So do scientists.  And so many of you, my friends, still have a work to do.  A short time back one of the people I most admired died in his late 90’s not a long time after he had performed his last heart surgery.  Dr. Michael DeBakey passed away near 100 have worked his entire life doing his best work late in life.  I saw him once in the Houston Medical Center bounding up a flight of stairs with a group of breathless, slobbering, gibbering medical students trying to keep up.  All kids.  All kids who couldn’t follow their aged professor and mentor up a flight of stairs; whose hands could not perform the miracles done daily by their demanding mentors’  hands. One of the young doctors said under his breath “what is wrong with that old man there are elevators.”  Being me I yelled out as he disappeared up the stairs “There’s nothing wrong with him.  He’s a force of nature.  He’s alive and living it all!”

For Heaven’s sake don’t give up.  I mean that literally because even if you are 58 or 59, you still have intellectual gifts to give the world.  You still have a path to mark out; a territory to claim.  Claim it!   

Live it all.  Find your project then live it. ………………………Home work will be checked :).

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Give your life to a purpose, passionate living, home school, independent learning

I have a great challenge for you tonight.  What do you want to give your life for.  No, I’m not talking about dying a noble death.  I’m talking, no, I’m asking you to find something worth living for, not dying for.  I want you to find one or more passions; things worth spending your life doing or learning about.  Something worth dreaming about for hours during the day.  A thing worth planning years ahead, plotting, laying out a trail to lead to a golden end.   I have three.  First, the life of the mind takes center stage.  How do we actually learn.  Why is it that so few of us live exciting intellectual lives when I believe that most of us could live a passionate intellectual life.  And, on the practical side of it.  How do kids best learn.  I am convinced it’s not at school for most kids.  For me, school was a 12 year long prison sentence.  As  a teacher I work everyday of my life to try to make schools – or at least my little corner of the school world into a vibrant place that young people love.  Second, I practice two arts; photography and woodworking.  They are my connections to sanity as well as an extra income stream.  I am fascinated by the beauty of transcendent craft in wood.  The beauty of an artfully produced photograph always stuns me.  I drift from one to the other.  The third is bird watching.  Bird watching is as much a connection to God as the church.  In birds I see the magnificence of His creation.  I see the infinite variety, infinate adaptations, transcendent colors and the thing I dream about most – flight.  The photography, the woodwork, and the bird watching are for me.  The study of the mind as well as how it learns is for the world.  I want you to find something to change the world. 

Egotistic you say?  Not at all.  The field I have set for myself is impossible.  How people learn, how they make knowledge their own, then grow into experts is so hard a mine to explore that I will not live long enough to make a change I fear.  That is probably one of my greatest nightmares; that I know I will die before I have learned it all or made the difference I want to make to kids and other people who are trying to learn.   Not all people do learn.  Some shut down after the 12 year prison sentence that school was for me.   They never want to pick up a pen or pencil again because we have squeezed the guts out of the pleasure.  By the time many kids get out of school they find themselves ready to cast away the vestments of school to run as far away as possible.  To be naked of school is their goal.  But so many never find the joy out of school.  These unfortunates have been so convinced that learning cannot be a thing of transcendent joy that they look upon learning as a child looks upon vomit.  So they run, ridicule and resist any further intellectual life.  They have had enough.  They have fed at the table of knowledge and found it poisonous. 

What I am asking you to do, if you are one of the   many who have started to follow these electronic scribblings, is to find a new passion.  It’s there.   Somewhere in the darkest, cobweb infested mind there is a corner where a dim flame still burns waiting for holy breath to blow it into raging flame.  You had something you wanted to learn to do, or say, or perform at one time.  When you were a little child still resisting the poison of industrial education you still had it.  You looked at it with love.  Perhaps it was a love for a subject or a project that was so deep it went beyond love into obsession. 

You will find something to take out of that corner which can be dusted, made new and shiny, ready to be loved again.  You will find something as beautiful as I find discovering what it is that really, genuinely brings out that passion in a child.  That passion that says I have to do this thing or I will just wilt.  My life will die.  Look around you on your commuter train or look from your car.  Look at the faces of those going to work at jobs where they will labor with a sense of quiet desperation.  Perhaps you are one of those.  Stop it!  At least devote some of your time to the thing that makes your soul soar to the Heavens when you are doing it.  I’m not telling you to quit your job.  No, but, I am telling you to become an independent learner with a purposeful life seeking to add to human knowledge. 

Eric Hoffer discovered his passion.  Hoffer wrote ten books while he labored as a longshoreman.  His “True Believer” which set the standard in the social science study of self-esteem as it effects fanatical movements.  While he labored on the docks he contemplated the rise of totalitarianism and the loss of the self.  His postulate was that fanaticism had its gnarled, arthritic claws firmly planted in self-hatred, self-hate and insecurity.  All of this Hoffer did with little formal education and a labor job on the docks.  Eric Hoffer is now a major figure looked up to in the social sciences.  Had he let himself believe that he was less worthwhile for lacking the college degrees and the paper expertise of the dilettante, he would never have changed the course of American social thought. 

Frans Lanting is a photographer.  He discovered his passion in the Albatross.  These magnificent seabirds of the deep oceans are slowly yielding their secrets to Lanting.  He has made photographing them, documenting their lives his life’s work.  As he developed his photographic skills he came back to them over and over.  He is now the leading photographer of this magnificent species as well as one of the world’s foremost experts on the Albatross.  All through his pursuit of photography he intended to show the world the magnificence of the bird he loves.

Don’t live a life of quiet desperation.  Discover your passion.  Perhaps you left it years ago feeling that I can’t make a living at that.  You were probably wrong.  But, for whatever reason, you left it.  Maybe you wanted to become a premier doctor in some medical field. And maybe the time of medical school has passed you.  But you can still form a foundation to raise money for the field.  You can still write scholarly articles and books to help the laymen understand what it is that you want them to know about your passion in medicine.  You can also help them by writing passionately about the disease from which they may suffer.

In the next while we are going to explore how to do this.  We are going to look for a life project.  This will be something that will be significant to you perhaps to no one else.  It doesn’t matter.  You are going to use your full talents for something that will give life meaning to you.  Give your life a renewed purpose, a new hope, a new direction.  Pick your field, master it and make it your own.  Thousands of men, women and young people such as yourselves have done this without the Ph.D.’s  Don’t be intimidated by the terminal degrees.  Often these degrees take the joy out of the hunt for the people who earn them.  They focus so finely on one small swatch of the fabric of their discipline that soon they may know the most about nothing among all the experts in the world.  Being the master of a cubic  centimeter is not a match for having a broad understanding and feeling for the width and breadth of a whole discipline.  Hang on for the ride is going to be fun and bumpy.   But what a ride it will be. It will be the ride of your lifetime – a lifelong learning project to take you down roadways yet unknown.

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Obama activities, public schools and the Presidential address to American Schools

As we all know by now the President of the United States will address American school children on September 8, 2009.  Many questions have been posed regarding the appropriateness of this address.  Spirited debate has erupted around the internet, on the various media outlets and most certainly on the internet.  Much of the debate now centers on the materials that have been prepared to accompany this speech.  While many school districts have made what I think is the right decision to let parents decide to let their kids view the address I believe it is still important to know what is in these materials.

I think it would be admirable if President Obama wishes to simply encourage students to work hard, study and succeed.  However, I think that any responsible parent would want to know what is contained in the speech that their child will view.  I also think that responsible parents want to know what is contained in the materials prepared for their children.  What are the learning objectives?  Is there a political bent in the materials?  Are the materials Obama centric?  Are the materials intended only to inspire and motivate the kids?   Let’s look at a few excerpts from the prepared materials.  The full body of prepared teaching materials can be found at the United States Department of Education website.  I encourage you to examine the complete set of materials for yourself.    First, let’s look at the high school lesson plans.

The plans start generically.  Then it is suggested that 

  •  Teachers may post in large print around the classroom notable quotes excerpted from President Obama’s speeches on education.

This seems to beg the question is this about inspiration or President Obama.  My primary complaint in the last post was the idea that a president cannot be non-political.  By the very nature of the job it is impossible to separate the President from the politics.  Here teachers are being asked to research President Obama’s speeches about education in order to feature the words of President Obama. 

Let’s look at a couple of other things.  A bit further on in the secondary materials we find this:

Create a “concept web.” Teachers may ask students to think of the following:

  • Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?
  • How will he challenge us?
  • What might he say?
  • Do you remember any other historic moments when the president spoke to the nation?
  •  What was the impact?

The questions trouble me because they seem to be as much about President Obama as they are about inspiring school kids.  The questions do lean toward a positive view of President Obama.  They have to.  The speech is being given by an American President.  What is the educational purpose of the question about “historic moments”?  Why are the questions worded so that they are more about President Obama than his subject?  “How will he inspire us?”   The assumption is that the President will inspire all the kids.  But what does that do for the kids whose parents did not vote for President Obama or who may not be happy with the Presidents’ plan for the country?  What does a teacher do with a child who says the President did not inspire him?  Do these materials leave room for interpretation?  What grade will a teacher give a student who thinks the President is not inspirational?  A wise teacher would grade on grammar, construction, support of ideas or validity of the students argument.  But what do you do with the teacher who is devoted to the cause of President Obama.  What do you expect a teacher who is an Obama ideologue to do with this kids result?  On the other hand what would a teacher do who absolutely disagrees with everything the President is doing?  Can you expect complete objectivity?  No.  While the vast majority of teachers are fair, good people there are those who are so devoted to a cause that they cannot see past the cause itself to be fair to a student who disagrees.  It will happen.  There will be students who will be sacrificed on the altar of someone’s ideology.  In America we do not hold kids hostage to a politician.  A sitting President cannot ethically give a speech to children who are legally obligated to attend.  Further, how can a President then have his Department of Education distribute materials that one must assume will be taken for a grade by many teachers?   This is a travesty. 

One might well ask why I would spend time in a blog designed to focus on independent learning and home schooling instead focused on a Presidential speech to public schools.  I do so because this is the reason that many parents are opting out of the public system.  Many, many parents do not want to subject their children to any form of political machination.  And, many parents will rightly object to their children being held legally liable to attend a Presidential address.  Personally it mystifies me that anyone of any political stripe would stand for this on principal. 

Here are a few other examples of things the Department of Education has included in the study materials.  You be the judge.   But please visit the Department of Education site so that you can look at the materials and make an intelligent decision about what you are going to do with this event.  My bias is known.  I congratulate the school districts who are opting out. 

 

  • What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What lines or phrases do you remember?
  • Is President Obama inspiring you to do anything? Is he challenging you to do anything?
  • What do you believe are the challenges of your generation?
  • How can you be a part of addressing these challenges?

 

From the elementary materials:

 

  • Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama.
  • What can students do to help in our schools?
  • What is the president trying to tell me?
  • What is the president asking me to do?
  • What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about? What specific job is he asking me to do?
  • What do you think the president wants us to do?
  • Does the speech make you want to do anything?
  • Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
  • What would you like to tell the president?

 

As we should all do when making decisions please go to the site and look at the rest of the materials for yourself.  I have obviously selected the things that bother me most.  There are other parts of the materials that strike me as innocuous.   But, this is a President like any other elected by some of the people, opposed by others who is making the presumption that American parents all want him to address their children while they are legally obligated to be at school. 

 

Your children are a captive audience for the President of the United States.  And there is not one thing your child can do about it.  You can do something about it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Does the speech make you want to do anything?
  • Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
  • What would you like to tell the president?
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    Home School encourages independence in learning and life

    Imagine raising a child who is so independent that he not only graduates early from high school but then proceeds to do something almost no one else has done — sail around the world alone.  And, become the youngest person in the history of the world to sucessfully complete the journey.  Such a young man is Zac Sunderland.   There have been so many times in my career as a teacher when I looked out across a group of students sitting passively in their desks then asked myself “what could these young men and women be doing if they were not locked up here”? 

    Young men and young women are capable of so much more than most people believe.  They are capable of running businesses.   Many are quite capable of making fully responsible decisions for themselves.  Most are extremely motivated to succeed when they are given the chance to work on those things which are their natural gifts.  Young people are completely capable of regulating their own habits if they have been allowed to grow up.  America now delays any opportunity for young men and women to grow up independently.  Instead we now regulate their comings and goings as if they are cattle. 

    Thank God, there are young men and women like Zac Sunderland who have been given the opportunity to develop into an independent, fully developed person at an appropriate age.  Thank God also, that he had parents who provided him with the disciplinary training and sense of purpose needed to succeed independently.  A book could be written about successfully rearing kids like Zac.  I hope that his parents will write that book.  American parents and American schools need it desperately. 

    Zac was home schooled online.  He is a shining example of what can be done with technology in this modern age if it is used properly.  Zac has a high school diploma as well as a great education.  But most importantly incombination with the incredible example of his parents he developed what the vast majority of young Americans will not develop —- independence, personal self-discipline, along with the knowledge that he can accomplish what he sets out to do.  His parents also appear to have instilled in Zac and his siblings a strong faith foundation. 

    Zac is living proof that young people are capable of far more than we believe.  They can, in fact, follow successfully that which they see as their own destiny.  They do not have to be policed every minute of their lives.  Their time doesn’t have to be divided up into descreet 50 to 90 minute intervals designed around a completely artificial schedule of learning.  They do not have to be harrassed about their hair cuts, their shirt tails, the color of their clothing.  They are trustworthy to go to the bathroom when they need to go.  They are quite capable of going from one location to another in a building without being supervised. 

    The reason so many young people have so much trouble is because their natural development into competent adults has been delayed artificially to fit factory schooling modes.  They have not been given opportunities or instructions in how to be adults.  We have kept them as infants because of our fear of them and our over-supervision of them.  Some will argue that Zac and kids like him are not the norm.  I will differ.  I think that Zac is the norm for 17 year olds in this country.  He is a properly developed young man.  I emphasize the term man.  He has been given the opportunity to develop according to the schedule God set forth for him.  As he acquired the ability to accept more responsibility his parents appear to have granted it to him until when he desired to attempt his circumnavigation of the world his parents drew a deep breath, said a prayer for their beloved son and said yes. 

    Zac is part of a fortunate generation of kids whose parents chose to forgo government factory schooling to let their children develop with independence along the course of their own developmental schedule.  These are people who are themselves independent thinkers.  They are more likely to rely on themselves as well as challenge themselves to do better throughout their lives.  These are the independent, fully functioning people who have learned of the personal power with which they were endowed by God.  Their children are able to do what the government would tell them is not possible or advisable.  They make their own decisions without government hand holding.  They are complete adults who are able to run their lives successfully.  And, they rear children who become fully functional, literate and educated adults. 

    Zac Sunderland’s website is located here.  Then look at your own kids.  Look at them with new eyes whether they are currently home schoolers or in public or private schools.  Think about what could be.  And then go accomplish it.

    Here is the youtube video of the interviews and expressions of faith from Zac’s father and family upon his arrival home.

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    THSC Convention and Open Education Resources begin

    The Texas Home School Coalition is going to be held in the upcoming weekend of August 6 – 8 at the Woodlands Marriott Hotel.  If you are new to home schooling or independent learning of any type this is the perfect place for you to be.  This convention is resource and information central.  There are so many opportunities there that you can get no place else.

    Check here for the convention program.  You will see so many things to do, learn, and absorb.  The website for the Texas Home School Coalition can be found here.  If you are not a member of this excellent advocacy group please take time to become a member.  And if you can make this convention if you are in Texas please try to be there.  You will not regret it. 

    Now on to another rising tide in the independent learning movement.  Perhaps the most exciting thing happening on the web in this age of information are the open education resources that are bringing about real change.  Open education is concerned with making information available to all learners on the web.  What is happening now on the web in terms of open education resources is equivalent to the development of the Gutenberg Press.  We are entering an age when information – real information – that will make up entire courses of study are becoming available on the web. 

    Information is no longer in the control of schools, universities, text book publishers and the major domos who have controlled access for so long.  Nor is it expensive.  Here is the site for one of the best Open Education Resources on the web.  From this site you can find any resource you may need that you can imagine.  From the page that will open click on finding OER you will find a page that gives you access to a multitude of search engines that will let you find anything that you need.  In particular you might want to click on ccLearn’s Collection of Education Search Engines.  Just to give a search a try put in math in the first search box to the right of OER commons.  This is what you will find.  You will see page upon page of resources to choose from at any level your child or you might need.  Then you might want to refine your search with elementary or secondary math.   Explore.  You will be astounded to discover that the whole world of education is out there ready for you. 

    Today I want to feature a web site that is one I love.  It is called AlgebraHelp.com.  This is a superb web site that offers a complete course of study for algebra.  It can be used as a tutorial or a complete introduction to the concepts in algebra.  The website offers a wealth of resources including a lesson series that can be used in sequence to carry a student through a complete introductory algebra course.  This is just one example of the excellent resources that are available on the web for learners who wish to pursue their education independently.

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    Home school socialization – Not to worry

    One of the first arguments you will hear against home schooling is your child’s socialization.  In my last post I did a little informal figuring regarding the time that many people wind up spending with their kids in our modern world.  This world is one in which we have given over almost all aspects of rearing children to other institutions.  In this post I want to deal with the myth that schools offer better socialization than good home school environments.

    Often a typical school day begins with a hectic race to get children ready to catch the school bus.  In many places the bus comes as early as 6:30 in the morning.  Some kids spend two hours or more of their day riding buses to and from school.  Unfortunately, in my experience, school bus environments have become much more aggressive and violent places.  As the bus driver tries to keep his or her attention on the road, it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of many more students than would ever be placed in a normal classroom.  Cameras in school buses are often cited as a way to keep students safe.  In actual fact they function as a way to identify kids who do violence to other kids.  They don’t stop the violence or misbehavior.  They just record it.

    Often 30 to 40 students are placed in school buses. A school bus is a small enclosed place that cannot be easily supervised by the bus drivers who are often doing the best they can with limited support.  Keep in mind that I am a teacher with over 30 years experience.  I know what I am talking about in this post.  The bus ride is where a lot of school socialization occurs.  This is the environment where kids are most likely to come in contact with profane language, violence and bullying.  Don’t blame the bus driver.  The bus driver is driving trying to get his or her charges safely to and from school.   Whey they arrive they pile off the bus to meet hundreds of other kids in an unpridictable variety of moods and mental states.

    Then the 8 hour day begins at the school.  There are many, many dedicated people in schools who love working with kids.  So many do the very best they can do but they are grossly outnumbered.  There are just too many kids to watch.  When classes dismiss hundreds of kids are released into the hallways.  This is another critical time when there are multiple opportunities for bullying and other kinds of negative behavior.  The vast majority of teachers do an excellent job of doing what is essentially impossible.  They are charged with standing at their door supervising kids entering their classrooms.  At the same time they are charged with monitoring the activity in the hallway.  They cannot leave the kids in their classrooms without assuming a great liability.   If a kid is injured while they are away from their rooms they are considered responsible.   Nor, can the teachers see or hear everything that goes on.  If a fight breaks out or if there is another kind of disturbance the teachers will immediately take action to stop it.  But to do so they have to leave their rooms.  Often there are 700 to 1000 or more students with a faculty of 50 or 60 teachers.  Those numbers tell the story. 

    Kids in modern schools are thrown  into an environment with every kind of societal influence concentrated in a building where the staff and administrators are just overwhelmed.  They are subject to every cultural problem that exists in the surrounding environment.  If it exists in the surrounding cultural environment it will show up inside the schools. 

    Imagine an environment in which every type of social and cultural problem is brought together in close proximity.  The socialization of a public school is a social science experiment gone wrong.  Anything can happen.  Schools as they exist today are concentrations of all the good and the bad that exists in our society.

    Additionally, government regulations force schools to categorize, grade and sort kids according to various characteristics.  Our government has mandated that every child in America be stamped with a test score each year that is nothing more scientific than a gross and imprecise estimate of a childs achievement.  Unfortunately, the scores are not diagnostic they are final.  A child is given a number that categorizes them permanently.  Some of the kids will pass.  Some will fail with one or two points off the passing score.  Any kind of failure removes the child from the mainstream.   They are put into a labeled category that is treated differently than those who pass the test.  The kids who pass the test my have a false sense of security because too often their time is coming. These actions are requirements of the government regulations regarding these tests.. 

     A child cannot help feeling some emotion about such an event.  There are so many variables.  The kindness and competence of the teacher to whom they are assigned is so important.  The degree of maturity of the child will impact the effect as well.  Often classes are formed of students who have failed one or more sections of the test.  Then, due to regulations, these classes are reduced to concentration on the areas of the test they failed.  The motivation of these students will often be low.  Their morale is damaged.  Behaviorally these classes can become very difficult to manage. 

    None of this has to happen.   Kids develop at different rates.  The government regimentation does not take that into account.  The test is nothing more than a crude snapshot of a kid on one day of his or her life.  Some kids test well, some do not.  Often kids who have parents who are highly educated do better than children who come from more difficult environments.  Kids who speak little English are often required to take these tests in direct confrontation with native English speakers.  There is nothing uniform about the current fad of high stakes testing.

    Take two kids who are in the seventh grade.  One child fails the math portion of their state test.  Another kid passes the test avoiding all the negative implications of failure.  Let ten years pass.  You will find that the test that labeled the child who failed has no predictive value.  Nothing about all the things that may happen to the child who fails the test has any value in telling you how successful he will be compared to the student who passed.  Yet, he is labeled a failure in his own mind.  Too often, he is labeled a failure by the school.  Far too many people in the profession believe these tests mean something concrete.  Far too many kids have come to believe that the tests tell them something real about themselves too.  I can attest to this psychological reaction from my own experience.

    When I was in elementary school I suffered from what was then called Croup.  I missed a tremendous amount of school.  In the fourth grade I missed enough school so that I was placed in a special tutoring group.  I will never forget the day I was taken out of my class.  All that went through my mind was that I was “stupid”.  My behavior changed to such an extent that my mother had me placed back in my class regardless of the warnings of the school.  I had the most wonderful teacher I could have been blessed with that year.  Her name was Mrs. Burnes.  She took me under her wing, tutored me and encouraged me as much as she could.  I did better with my work.  But I never got over that year.  There may be some reading this who will talk about me seeing myself as a “victim” falsely.  To those people I will say you haven’t been through it so you can just go jump.  To the “seat of the pants” people who will argue that the kids should just get over it and improve I say the same.  They are people of little understanding of kids and even less humanity. 

    One more incident comes to mind.  One of my seventh grade students had a surgery of some sort a few years ago.   I and the students family were great friends so I was at the surgery.  I will never forget the moment that this wonderful boy was coming out from under that anesthetic.  He was a model kid.  He never used profanity, was never aggressive to his parents, and was one of the most cheerful kids I have ever met.  As he came to consciousness his mother leaned over to say something motherly to him.  His reaction to her was anything but sweet.  A stream of profanity and anger came from this kid that I cannot describe.  I am thankful that I was standing behind his mother because she actually started to fall backwards.  The boy went back to sleep.  Thankfully, he didn’t remember what he said to his mother nor will I help you with that here.  You can use your own imagination.  Suffice it to say he included most of the common expletives known in the late 90’s.  I couldn’t help but break into laughter.  His horrified mother turned around to ask where did he learn that language.  I stopped laughing long enough to say “he hears them everyday at school”.    

    That is the socialization of the modern school.     

    I want to stress something here.  There are so many people in schools who work so well with kids, who love kids and who truely care.  My problem is not with those who work everyday of their lives in a failed system.  My problem is with the government and its social experiment we call public schools. 

    Unfortunately, the government has made teaching nearly impossible.  There are so many regulations, tests, categories and so much red tape now that everyone is caught up in the mess.  Teachers are given point by point curriculum lists that coincide directly to the state tests.  They are told they have to stick with those trivial bits of daily information or else.  All of this flys directly into the mountains of research now being done regarding how the brain actually learns and deals with information. 

    Education has been reduced to a one size fits all formula that fails virtually all kids.  The tragedy is that the American public has become so brain-washed that they can see no other form of education.  And, unfortunately, the kids are the ones who take the hit in the teeth. 

    The kids are the ones who are being placed into a petri dish of social experimentation where they are socialized to believe about themselves what they government code tells them to believe about themselves.  The more independent learning becomes and the closer kids stay to the family the more positive socialization becomes.  Don’t worry about the myths that home schooling doesn’t properly socialize kids.  

    Soon to come will be posts on specific techniques as well as new pages of links to resources of all types.

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    Home Visitations in the Health Care Bill Threaten Parental Rights

    Why you might ask would I be concerned about HR 3200 which is the commonly known National Health Care Bill and it’s possible impact on home schooling families as well as other independent learning families.  Section 440 of the bill starting on page 837 is entitled HOME VISITATION PROGRAMS FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN AND FAMILIES EXPECTING CHILDREN.  This is a grant program designed to improve the well being, health and development of young children and expectant mothers.  To get these funds the states will have to identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families or a high incidence of child maltreatment.  Wouldn’t you love to have your community defined by the Federal Government in that way. 

    These programs will provide referrals to other services as deemed appropriate by the inspectors doing the home visitations.  The following information represents the main points the government intends to accomplish through home visits within these defined communities.  The bill would provide parents with knowledge of  “age-appropriate child developmental, cognitive, language, social, emotional and motor domains.”   This would include how well second language learners are acquiring skills in the English language.  Further the bill would provide parents and prospective parents “realistic knowledge of age-appropriate expectations of behavior.”   Further, parents and prospective parents would be schooled in wellness issues.   Translate into the federal government deciding if your child is overweight, underweight, fed the proper diet and whether you are providing your child with government approved health care.  

    I almost strangled with laughter when you consider the thousands of persons needed to bring about this training and the practicality of teaching those who have been defined by the government as financially poor or abusive parents.  Can you imagine the people who will be showing up in your house to do the following things.   “Modeling, consulting, and coaching will be provided on parenting practices”.  These practices will be intended to provide parents with the skills to interact in age-appropriate ways with their children.  The parents will be given help so they will be properly trained to identify issues related to the health, developmental delays, and social, emotional, and behavioral skills of their children.  And above all parents will be given “activities designed to help parents become full partners in the education of their children.”   So, in addition, to everything else the government wants to control we now will have government employees who will be judging whether or not your parenting comes up to federal government standards.  The founding fathers have to bouncing up and down in their graves not just spinning.  I try to envision in my own mind the people who must have been sitting around desks with premium coffee deciding that the government just has to help all we ignorant, helpless citizens out here to learn how to raise our children the government way. 

    So envision for a moment the millions upon millions of families who will fall into these vague categories.  Then try to bring to mind the size of a bureaucracy that will have to be put into place to carry out even the smallest part of this provision of the bill.   Further, imagine being one of the families deemed inferior who have to open their doors to government “consultants” who by federal law are going to model and coach parents in appropriate parenting practices.  I am just sure that the government is going to provide us with the very best parental role models for these modeling and coaching sessions.  Ah, in fact, they promise to do so.  Later in the bill we find this; the government will “employ well-trained and competent staff, maintain high quality supervision, provide for ongoing training and professional development, and show strong organizational capacity to implement such a program”.  Can you just dream the size of the government agency that will try to bring this to pass.  I should note that different qualifications exist for Indian tribes.  Bless their hearts we’ve done enough to Indian tribes already.

    So what is the problem with the state being able to develop a nation wide program of home visitations to a qualified class of inferior families.  First, the bill does not define anything about what really qualifies such a family as poor or abusive.  What are the income levels that will be the trigger points?  How will income levels be determined?  But more worrisome is what will constitute abuse?  Will it be whether or not you choose to send your children to school?  Don’t doubt for one moment that home schooling will likely be in the crosshairs of the federal government. 

    In other countries with similarly socialistic tendencies home schoolers have been defined as abusers of children.  The simple act of not wanting to expose your children to the inferior educational programs in schools has become a criminal act in Germany.  Families are being openly prosecuted there for simply wanting to providean excellent home education for their own God given children.  So people who are devoted and interested enough to provide the best education they can for their children in the safety and love of the home environment are criminals against the state.  Every day during the school year in America somewhere a school district tries to prosecute home school families under truancy laws.  In my opinion, if you believe this cannot here, you are deluding yourself.

    Do you now have any doubt what is happening here.  The “State” is taking further control of children in defiance of the natural rights of families to raise their children as they see fit.  The “State” is saying to you and I that we are not able to raise our own children in a developmentally healthy way without help from the “State”.  We are inferior to the “State”.  There is an extremely great risk here.  Specifically, Americans are in danger of seeing a slow but sure erosion of the sanctity of home and family.   I would wager that most people have not idea that these ideas are part of this horrifying bill.

    If the United States government is successful in passing legislation that wrenches more control of the children of our country from their parents we are further along the road to complete government control.  Call me paranoid, so be it. A families home must remain it’s castle without governmental control other than existing laws that already cover child abuse and maltreatment.  Be vigilant America.

    Home schooling parents need to oppose this bill because they are very likely to be defined as bad parents because they do not want to subject their children to the joys of government schooling.  Your basic parental rights are under direct assault in this bill.  The Health Care bill would give the government control of our families that has nothing to do with the general health of American.  This is simply making an institution of the governments desire to control more and more aspects of our lives. This bill does have an underlying purpose.  Simply put, HR 3200 America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 is a Trojan Horse. 

    This bill has become a poorly disguised attempt to remake the way of life of American families in the image the govenment sees as ideal.  Can you imagine the attitude it’s implementation will take toward independent learners and home schooling families?

     

     

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    Filed under home school, HR 3200, independent learning, parenting, practices