Vatican Admits Evolution Compatible With Christian Creationism

13 02 2009

“The Church of England is seeking to bring Darwin back into the fold”. . . see story here.

Too bad it comes too late for this poor sap.

BREAKING NEWS: Vaccine Didn’t Cause Autism, Court Rules

12 02 2009

Vaccine didn’t cause autism, court rules

* Story Highlights
* NEW: Autism not caused by specific vaccines, special court rules
* NEW: Panel of “special masters” issues decisions on three test cases
* Cases involved children with autism that parents say was triggered by vaccinations

(CNN) — A special court ruled Thursday that parents of autistic children are not entitled to compensation in their contention that certain vaccines caused autism in their children.

“I must decide this case not on sentiment, but by analyzing the evidence,” one of the “special masters” hearing the case said in denying the families’ claims, ruling that the families had not presented sufficient evidence to prove their allegations.

The decisions came in three test cases heard in 2007 involving children with autism that their parents contend was triggered by early childhood vaccinations.

The three families — the Cedillos, the Hazlehursts and the Snyders — were notified Wednesday night that a decision had been reached, as were the more than 180 lawyers collectively representing the 4,800 families with claims in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceeding, said lead plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas Powers. . .

“Teaching Without Teaching” Even When It’s Math

12 02 2009

New Puzzle Challenges Math Skills:

Mr. Miyamoto said he believes in “the art of teaching without teaching.”

It’s also described as his “philosophy of not instructing” so that students can puzzle through problems by trial-and-error, itself a crucial thinking skill and not just in math.

He provides the tools for students to learn at their own pace using their own trial-and-error methods. If these tools are engaging enough, he said, students are more motivated and learn better than they would through formal instruction.

Engaging, playing at their own pace, reinforcing rather than killing motivation to persist, cool.

And isn’t this what video games are designed to do, too often accomplishing that goal so well that traditional parents and teachers tend to fear their power? I learned something new myself this week, that Spunky and some commenters ban video games in their Christian homeschooling as eroding virtue and work ethic, therefore scripturally sinful.

But I see a new comment this morning, describing a mom’s trial-and-error video game epiphany and repentance:

“. . . to be honest a major component was we couldn’t afford it. (We should all be honest about our reasoning.)

I am now in the camp of thinking I was too extreme in my former banning of all video games. No regrets, no guilt, but to be honest I didn’t know a lot about the games to have formerly hated them so much.”

I’ve been happily puzzling through a series of brilliantly designed video chess mini-games on the computer, having a WONDERFUL time! Judging by Read the rest of this entry »

I Need Advice About Kids Handling Cash While in Europe

11 02 2009

Anybody? We’re having a teachable moment and need to make arrangements very soon for two young female backpackers with a Eurail pass visiting several different countries, without credit cards or bank accounts of their own.

When I went back in the 80s, it was all travelers checks plus my credit card, but I was an adult. Before the Euro (does that make it better or worse now?) and there were no online service models then, are there now? They won’t be taking laptops but can access internet cafes in some places, if that matters. So does anyone know from experience, or at least know of a forum or something where we can get some recommendations, about what works and what doesn’t, pros and cons of different methods, etc?

Unschooling Europe tag

Scholastic Pushing Junk on Kids in Classrooms

11 02 2009

Marketing in schools is a privilege and not a right,” Ms. Linn said in an interview.
“Scholastic is abusing that privilege.”

I don’t see why marketing in schools should be allowed at all. And doesn’t anyone read Alfie Kohn anymore, hmmm, or maybe teachers these days buy “Punished by Rewards” just to get some little plastic tiara packaged with it? 😦

Bribery, Authority and Other Teacher Scripts

Can Unschooled Kids Make the World Less Miserable?

Watch Out Moms!

Thinking Parent Sweet Waffle Kohn Awards

Wonder Bread, Twinkies and My Father’s Oldsmobiles

School Breakfast Stories

School Breakfast Story Part Two: Get Out of My Kitchen

Florida School Science Under Sneaky Dominionist Wedge Strategy Again

10 02 2009

It’s ba-ack!

Just in time for Darwin’s 200th birthday celebration worldwide. . .

Past snook-cocking on evolution under attack by the Discovery Institute’s secret-agent spyscope Wedge Strategy:

Florida Follies: Billions of Years and Dollars VANISH!

Let’s Play Lose Ben Stein’s Movie

Wonderful Tradition of Philosophy and Science

The Freeing Discipline of Wonder

JJ’s Evolved Homeschooler Wiki Page

Intelligent Design? Obama Epitomizes It

10 02 2009

Words matter and statistics don’t lie, says the managing editor of Political Base. 🙂

Then I ran Word’s readability tool.

Guess what?

Bush’s answers were spoken at 7th grade level. Obama’s at a 10th grade level.

He’s got charts too, go see! This seems to bear out in cold hard numbers what the new president often articulates: that what we need now isn’t bigger OR smaller government, but smarter government.

Remember this? We Thinking Parents had a blog reading level meme making the rounds, based on the same general analytics:

And did you ever see the headache Sarah Palin’s gibberish gave a Slate wordsmith trying to formally diagram her sentences (as having any coherent meaning at any level, much less as “actual responsibility” for intelligent government.)
Are you ready yet, to matriculate from junior high to high school government, or will you give up, drop out and grumble about eggheads and how “street smarts” and bootstraps outweigh liberal education, and the bible is the only book that matters anyway?

If the latter, will you serve your children’s best educational interests or in fact stunt them with your own ignorance by Read the rest of this entry »

“Pro-Choice? Quit Crying About Your Miscarriage”

7 02 2009

Here at Snook we’ve talked lately about “respect” — you know, what respect means, how we manifest it, and who owes it to whom for what.

We’ve talked about respect for marriage and/or divorce; for education choices and achievements, from charter schools to doctoral degrees to a politician educating his own children any darn way he sees fit regardless of party rhetoric; respect for the office of the presidency and/or respect for diametrically opposed inhabitants of that office; respect for neighbors who do or do not report criminals in their midst; respect for world-class musicians who use pre- or post-recording technology to give us their best despite weather at its worst; even respect for and respect shown by, personal wardrobe choices such as audacious hats, suitcoat or shirtsleeves. . .

Here now is a disrespectful post about human life, drawing attention from humans who seem to respect inhumane beliefs ABOUT human life more than actual human life: Read the rest of this entry »

Bill Gates’ Change Checklist: Mosquitoes, Education, Sleep

7 02 2009

Bill Gates video at TED this week on how he personally is working to change the world. Yes, this is the attention-getting, audience-unsettling mosquito release stunt you heard about. . . and it’s all about education too (schools, libraries, teachers, and btw, praise for those KIPP charter schools that unions want back under collective bargaining controls.)

His service themes are mind-bogglingly well-funded through his foundation of course, but also for the most part they’re focused on smart, creative, pragmatic change, and what I might call “pro-life through choice” thinking. He is quite literally saving the lives of women and children worldwide, and making a world-changing difference in the lives of many millions more.

Bill Gates hopes to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using a new kind of philanthropy. In a passionate and, yes, funny 18 minutes, he asks us to consider two big questions and how we might answer them. . .

Read the rest of this entry »

School Folk Fighting for Control, Yep, Fits Right In

7 02 2009

“Perhaps the standoff should not be a surprise. Charter schools, which are publicly financed but operate independently, were founded in opposition to teachers’ unions; many of the movement’s supporters view union contracts as a fundamental flaw in public education that keeps ineffective teachers on the job.

And KIPP [Knowledge Is Power Program] like many charters, has hired teachers without traditional training and requires long hours and weekend work, usually for extra pay. . .”

With unionization heating up as the next big battle in federal politics as soon as our pesky economic crisis is addressed, this skirmish fits right in — see pro and con politics of union card check fight, and you might think the interests of you and your child to live free and peacefully don’t figure into it much, for either side.

Are public or private (government or corporate) controls on your side as an individual, or is the deeper truth that in the never-ending battles and/or collusions between them, we as self-governing individuals just keep losing, no matter which front is the news of the day?

What Would You Take to the Streets to Reform, in Education?

6 02 2009

French University Strikes Intensify:

Today’s industrial action is the latest in a long-running campaign of demonstrations among French education professionals. Just last week, thousands of primary and secondary school teachers took to the streets during a national strike to protest against job cuts and wide-ranging school reforms.

Industrial action is expected to continue in higher education, with unlimited strikes carrying on and a national demonstration scheduled in Paris next Tuesday.

Before the current economic crisis, JJ blogged her thinking about university (and automotive) strikes in America. See Hell Is Not Working:

Are these work lessons only Life can teach, or could the schools and culture do more to help the young learn about work as heaven rather than hell?

“If you think something’s supposed to hurt, you’re less likely to notice if you’re doing it wrong.”

And speaking of rage in the streets, colleges and cars, and the social reforms that might make political reforms possible instead of the other way around, Read the rest of this entry »

Most Powerful Drive in the Universe: Sync!

5 02 2009

Have you seen the TED video of mathematician Steven Strogatz describing how complex, perfect patterns can be created by individuals moving in unchoreographed, spontaneous synchronicity?


As I watched the video, I was reminded of network theory discussions we’ve had at NHEN and across our blogs, about human hubs and nodes communicating without hierarchy or leader or rules as freely synching-up individuals in education advocacy, for homeschool support and other parent involvement projects.

Imagine if School started to support spontaneous sync as “socialization” rather than compulsion, standardization, rewards-and-punishment accountability! OTOH, maybe school peer pressure (good and bad) is a natural manifestation of these sync rules too, hmmm. . .

Spontaneous sync

1. All individuals are only aware of their nearest neighbors

2. All individuals have a tendency to line up

3. All individuals are attracted to each other but do like a small separation or distance

And there’s a fourth rule that makes spontaneous sync work in swarms, that kicks in when a predator appears: get out of the way!

If you watch to the end, you’ll find out that you don’t even need a brain or to be animate, to participate in the spontaneous synchronicity of nature . . . so you’d think we humans could manage it a bit better than we do, right? 😉