Maybe If We Had Known That We Didn’t Know. . .

28 10 2011

This is headlined as “The Boomer Parent’s Lament”:

“Maybe if I knew that our children would be coming of age in an economy that would crush even the best and brightest among them, I would have cared a little less about their score on an advanced placement history test, and a little more about helping them find happiness in moments at the margin.”

UNSCHOOLING boomer parents though, knew this all along and we aren’t lamenting any such thing. Finding happiness in the moment and the margin AND smack-dab in the middle of the morning too, while everyone else was sweating yet another test — that was the whole program, the whole point, the whole power of our story.

Didn’t JJ just finish saying something like that? 😉

There was a book excerpt in the NYT Sunday magazine so stunning that I ordered the book online. I was waiting to read it before blogging anything about it but it’s been on my mind in every current conversation, now including this one. The book is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and its professor author Daniel Kahneman was a 2002 Nobel laureate in economics.

The big point is that we humans tend to hold fast to (often false) confidence that we’re doing the right thing and that we can “know” what that is, even when we’re smart enough to SEE that we aren’t, and don’t, and can’t.

The Hazards of Confidence:

We rarely experienced doubt or conflicting impressions. . . [but] as it turned out, despite our certainty about the potential of individual candidates, our forecasts were largely useless.

The evidence was overwhelming. . . our ability to predict performance at the school was negligible. Our forecasts were better than blind guesses, but not by much.

What do you think about the right way to school kids and prepare them for quantifiable success? How confident are you that you’re right about that? 😉





“Thinking Thoughts No One Has Thunk”

6 07 2011

NPR
July 6, 2011
by Robert Krulwich

Charles Darwin did this, slowly and painfully, and so can you.

Every day we walk through the world. We look around. We think we see what’s going on, but it is hard to remember how routinized we are as we look, how we automatically see things from our accustomed angle, never thinking of alternate possibilities. . .

Darwin knew what he wanted to see, but he knew there are many ways to weigh the evidence. And so for the next few decades he would look at his Big Idea from every possible angle, supportive, contrarian — every way possible. Just to make sure he wasn’t missing a point of view. Just to test his guess against all the other guesses.

There’s a stubborn, happy bravery in that.





“Homeschoolers Are Weird”

6 06 2011

Visit Chris O’Donnell’s blog for a wonderful presentation he made on the freedom to be weird.

http://www.odonnellweb.com/2011/06/homeschoolers-are-weird/

Nance





Worst Homeschool Stereotypes Get Booster Shot From Bachmann

27 05 2011

Sigh.

Scott Bailey, president of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, said while Bachmann’s experience with home-schooling her own children gives voters “an initial interest and makes them want to know more,” the connection won’t automatically translate into caucus support.





Old Ideas Won’t Win the Day

5 04 2011

Ben, the problem you have is that JJ is smarter than you. She is miles smarter than you, me and the next six people combined. JJ develops ideas and new thinking about life and education as she experiences them. You fall back on shopworn phrases — being taxed is having your money stolen, there’s nothing wrong with vouchers going to religious schools, JJ’s tone is elitist, etc. And you hide behind religion and deny its importance as it supports your argument.

The sad part of all of this is that JJ is not the one being injured. She’s a strong woman, capable of thinking about what you write without getting upset about it.

The people being injured are those who are stuck on the treadmill with you, rehashing old ideas which were never very good and have soured with time.

And those liberals, like me, who agree with you. At least in part. I think, once I get past the tax bluster and the vehement anti-public school rhetoric, you have a few points to make. And they will never make it into anything like a productive discussion. They are weighed down to the point of sinking under the old notions, the ones that are all about taking the tack that ends up supporting your politics, right or wrong. These ideas are not about learning and changing and growth. They are about making sure the other political wing is demonized.

Me? I’m a bleeding-heart liberal born and raised to value unions and everything government does to help those in need. I vote Democratic.

And yet I have wondered why teachers weren’t protesting in the streets until their rights and income were on the line. Public school has sucked for a very long time. Teachers complain about it as much as anyone. And yet. . .

I don’t see the same fights you do. I don’t see people still not acknowledging that charter schools are public school. Just as I don’t see homeschoolers contending that virtual schools will be the end of homeschooling as we know it. Maybe I don’t move in the right circles.

What I see are very wealthy people manipulating our system of government to get their way. Over and over again. Among their preferences, like you, is that they pay as little in taxes as possible. Now, they don’t spout off about theft. They hide behind the old chestnut that tax money in their hands will trickle down and all will prosper.  And they have the lobbyists and the clout and our collective taxes decrease along with the government’s ability to function properly.

Maybe some of them hope to starve the beast. You know that line. The impression I get is that they just don’t care. It isn’t changing anything in their life if my child doesn’t have access to a quality public school. At least in the short run. And that’s as far as they seem to look. Or they feel they will be safe, no matter what. Let them eat cake!

Try really seeing that middle class people and working people and poor people are constantly set against one another and feeding into that fight is just as wrong as starting it in the first place. Urging people to vote against their own interests, to battle over scraps, to encourage anger instead of  “doing unto others” as JJ advises, this is only helping those wealthy members of our society who are happy to fund the fight and pick up all the pieces while everyone is distracted.

We can do better than this. It will be very hard work and we may even need some help from an “elitist” or two. But we can do better.





Monsters and Men in Morals of Money and School

3 04 2011

“There’s nothin’ worse than a monster
who thinks he’s right with God.”

–Firefly captain Malcolm Reynolds, episode 13,
seen on Netflix last night with Young Son

Closing the computer down for the night later, I spotted this in my feed reader:

“I guess all I want at this point in the debate
is a little intellectual and moral honesty.”

–Conservative Christian homeschool dad Ben Bennett,
Admit It, Liberals, You Hate School Choice

And this morning the Sunday NYT business section has just given me Cornell economics professor Robert H. Frank’s thoughts on gauging the pain of the middle class with The Toil Index:

Context matters because the brain requires a frame of reference to make any evaluative judgment.

Yep, just like a frame of reference to define the difference between monster and man.

Rising inequality has shifted the context that governs. . . the cost of achieving basic goals, like sending one’s children to a good school. School quality is an inherently relative concept, too, and good schools tend to be in more expensive neighborhoods.

The toil index rests on the positive link between a neighborhood’s average housing price and the quality of the school that serves it.

This link implies that the median family must outbid 50 percent of all parents to avoid sending its children to a below-average school. Families that failed to rent or buy a house near the median of the local price range would have to send their children to below-average schools. The only alternative to seeing their children fall behind is Read the rest of this entry »





Blind Pig Homeschoolers and Truffles of Ham

25 03 2011

Even academically indefensible homeschoolers sometimes wind up doing the right thing for the wrong reason or put another way, even a blind pig sniffs out a mouldering truffle now and then (this is a childish play on the man’s last name, get it, get it?)

Either way, if banning Ken Ham for life from churchy corporate-corrupted homeschool conventions is wrong, I don’t wanna be right . . .

Ken Ham, the man behind the Creation Museum and the future Ark Encounter amusement park, has been disinvited from a homeschool convention in Cincinnati next week because he made “ungodly, and mean-spirited” comments about another speaker, according to the convention’s organizers.

Ham also will be excluded from future conventions, according to a statement by Brennan Dean of Great Homeschool Conventions.

Here’s my favorite part though. Guess who Ham’s ungodly and mean-spirited comments were meant to discredit, the man who was also invited to speak and has NOT been banned?

Read the rest of this entry »





“Derailing for Dummies” — How to Sabotage Civility and Ruin Conversation!

30 01 2011

Derailing for Dummies is a major collection, not one article. Here are the section headings:

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have. . .

Read on, and learn, and remember… you don’t have to use these in any particular order! In fact, mixing them up can really keep those Marginalised People™ on their toes! After all, they are pretty much used to hearing this stuff, so you don’t want to get too predictable or they’ll get lazy!

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn
If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me
You’re Being Hostile
But That Happens To Me Too!
You’re Being Overemotional
You’re Just Oversensitive
You Just Enjoy Being Offended Read the rest of this entry »





“Homeschooled Whiz Kid” on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360

25 01 2011

Aired January 24, 11 pm

–What do you think about when you’re in school?

–I think about getting the work done so I can come home and play.

Transcript excerpt as just posted to the intertubes, no video that I see yet:

Well, you may not know this, but an estimated 1.5 million students are home schooled in America. In tonight’s “Perry’s Principles”, you’re going to meet one of them who’s considered a whiz kid. He wants to graduate college at the age of 16.

Here’s our education contributor Steve Perry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Like any typical teen, Stephen Stafford loves video games. But unlike his peers, this 14- year-old is a sophomore Read the rest of this entry »





Unschooling Lion in Winter: Deb Lewis Is Classic

14 01 2011

Chilly cock of the snook to one of the two unschooling yahoolists I still actively enjoy, where I was reminded of Sandra Dodd dot com having EVERYTHING. It’s been so cold even in Florida this winter, that I thought it was a good time to highlight this.

(I don’t know how old the list, is but if I were updating it now I personally would add something new to us this winter, something fun for which I’m thanking the FSM while the light is thin and it’s stuck at freezing outside: Netflix!)

Deb Lewis’s List of Things to Do in the Winter:

I have found so many interesting things to do around our little town just by talking with people and asking questions. . .

The man who runs the local green house lets us help transplant seedlings. He grows worms too, and lets Dylan dig around in the worm beds.

The guy who works at the newspaper speaks Chinese and draws cartoons. He’s given Dylan lots of pointers about where to get good paper and story boards, etc.

The old guy at the antique shop was a college professor and is a huge Montana History buff; whenever Read the rest of this entry »





Can Parents Stay Home, With Kids in School?

29 12 2010

One of my administrative responsibilities for the large southern school system I served in the 80s (as a paid professional, not as a volunteer!) was “parent and community involvement.” I supervised a fulltime coordinator with a small office staff helping 40 schools and centers with volunteer issues.

But is it volunteering when it’s systematically coerced or even mandatory?

As local and state economies continue to struggle, budget cuts to rich and poor school systems are increasing the reliance on unpaid parent help. . .

Many parents are happy to volunteer uncoerced, and most everyone recognizes the worthiness of the cause. But the heightened need and expectations are coming at a time when many parents have less and less time to give.

America’s public school systems are funded by all taxpayers just as America’s military and justice systems are funded by all, regardless of individual use or personal involvement. And the collective’s claim on individual citizens isn’t limited to our money. The dormant military draft remains the law; registration still is required, and it still could reactivate its public claim to your literal life. Jury duty is not voluntary now; under force of legal penalty, you come when called and stay until dismissed, for involuntary hours, days, months or — if it turns into an OJ Simpson trial — even years of your real life, away from your real life.

The public schools certainly do tax us, heavily compared to other public “goods” imo, but our law so far hasn’t empowered schools to draft parents (much less the general citizenry) into direct service, too. School donations and personal volunteering have actually been “voluntary.”

Maybe not for long.





Homeschool Dad Sam Sending Sons to School

22 12 2010

Nance and Lynn, Meg and Beta are homeschooler moms who also sort of parent schooled kids. And sooner or later many of us get far enough along in homeschooling to see kids off to college and university (yep, sorry, schools!) and to see that not as giving up identity but the opposite, and such a GOOD thing.

So Sam will have a lot to talk about with all sorts of Thinking Parents, going forward after the holidays. Meanwhile in his signature introspective style, here is how he sees it:

A huge part of my desire to continue homeschooling, I have to admit, is that I’ve allowed homeschooler to define my identity to such an extent. . .It’s like that whole homeschooler thing. I don’t really think that I’m losing the identity or becoming not a homeschooler, I’m becoming more, maybe?

I admire Sam, more and more. Like a homeschool-to-school parent I wrote about here in town, he’s thinking about some school for himself along with his children.

The first time I encountered Sam, he struck me as a young dad who still had a lot to learn about parenting and homeschooling as identity, vastly richer and messier than clear, tidy fundamentalist labels can define and delimit:

Last night an unschooling dad . . .finally sniffed at me and Nance, said even his eight-year-old son understands how calling something by a different name doesn’t make it so.

This dad, let’s call him Sam — because he says that is his name, although it might be an online alias, and I once knew a schnauzer named Sam, but hey, it’s not my business to research and relabel this fellow homeschooler, or worry about whether the name he chooses to use in this context is confusing, disingenuous, or possibly outside the LAW as documented on his official government birth certificate — DadSam says Nance and I are clearly wrong, and he figures we know we’re wrong but won’t admit it and he’s done listening or thinking. . .

. . .who has more to fear here, the definers or the defined?

Now DadSam has learned so much about labels that he can leave them behind and as he says it himself with the wisdom of well-earned education — not mere schooling! — he isn’t losing his individual identity. He’s becoming more, maybe.

Here’s how I had described for Sam, what our son was learning at home, whatever anyone wanted to label it:

He already grasps at some level that learning about the world and negotiating it through relationships with all its inhabitants, no matter how you do it or what you call it, doesn’t mean being TOLD WHAT IS RIGHT.

It means thinking and feeling for yourself, and the words you eventually choose to express it all must be yours and yours alone. Don’t let anyone tell you different, son, no matter what they call themselves or you or your education, your work, play, politics, parents or future children.

Vaya con Pasta. Go with the FSM, Sam and sons. It really is about home, not school, and we’re all traveling companions on the roads home that count.