Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What is Going ON???!!!

Joplin, MO, about 40 minutes from me had a school shooting! A 13 year old took an [edit it's an AK-47-like wepon with an altered 30 round clip that may have caused it to missfire saving the principal's life] into school and fired one shot in the ceiling. In a Middle School! A 13 year old! Thank God no one was injured. Thank God the school had a competent and brave principal.

Riverton, KS, High school, about 15 minutes from me, had 5 boys arrested for planning a "Columbine-type" shooting. On the news last night some mother of a Joplin Middle Schooler was crying and she said, "That's it. I'm homeschooling."

Is an inner-city school now safer than a small-town school? When I was 14 (about 1979) a friend brought a switchblade to school. But he kept it hidden from teachers and most other students. It was to show off to friends, not to threaten anyone. Most of us carried pocket-knives to school, but we never thought about hurting someone with them.

I even had friends that had guns in their car at high school, but no one thought about using one unless one's life was endangered. No one wanted to lose the gun to the authorities I suppose.

What has happened that so many students feel so disconnected that they are willing to go to such extremes to get attention or revenge? How are these kids not getting the message that there is an entire life to be lived? And that taking that life from someone else is serious business? I know that the teen years are self-focused, but, empathy can still be there.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Goals for Parents

Here is something my wife wrote:

Good, Better, Best
Most people seem to think if a parent clothes and feeds his/her children well, gets them to school on time, and makes them do their homework then the job is over. My parenting philosophy has evolved a lot from that over the past few years, both from things the Lord has been teaching me and from things I have been learning from other godly parents I’ve met who are striving to protect, teach, and enjoy their children.
I believe that a parent seeking the BEST level:
—protects children from harm and evil influences at all times as far as humanly possible, no matter the criticism from others and prays for God’s protection to cover what the parent cannot.
—trains children in all life skills necessary to function in a capable and excellent manner in their adult lives.
—teaches children to love God wholeheartedly and to serve Him first and fully.
—ensures children learn everything academically necessary to succeed and excel in the purpose God has for each one. Another person might do the actual teaching of the skills, but the parent is responsible to see the children are educated.
—loves children in all the above mentioned ways, as well as being deeply affectionate and spending great quantities of time lavishing attention on the children in the forms of working, playing, reading, learning, and laughing together.

Any thoughts?

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kids say

The other day we made pizza. There were two pieces still on the table when we were finishing up. Erik (9 years old) called the plain cheese piece for lunch the next day. Joshua (10 years old) started to call the sasuage and pepper slice, but I said I might still eat it tonight. Joshua looked at me and said, "You wouldn't deprive me of my lunch, would you?" What could I do? He got it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Carnival Of Homeschooling is Ready

Patricia at Pollywog Creek Porch has the new Carnival of Homeschooling using the Everglades as the theme. Check it, it's informative as always.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Alternative School Year Plan

Many people have asked us, "Have you started school yet?" or "When do you start back up?" We do things a bit different here. We work on a schedule of 3 weeks on, 1 week off, with 3 weeks off for summer and 2 weeks off at Christmas. So we pretty much school most of the time, but with lots of "breaks" to allow my wife (who does most of the teaching) a chance to recover and plan for another short burst. This is what works for us. You may have to do something different. If you are an unschooler, this is probably irrelevant to you.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Big Famililies are OK and More

Here are a few links I would like to let everyone know about. The first two are from Christianity Today.

The Case for Kids and A Counter Trend—Sort Of.

In other news on college: Walter Williams and Don't Think Outside the College Box By Debra J. Saunders

And Chuck Colson on Kansas and Evolution, Michael Medved on gay marrigage
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Here's a Book for You...

Contemporary Critics of Education. edited by Howard Ozman. Danville, Ill., Interstate Printers & Publishers [1970] Contents:
How to read a book, by M. J. Adler.--The house of intellect, by J. Barzun.--Educational wastelands, by A. E. Bestor.--The process of education, by J. S. Bruner.--I and thou, by M. Buber.--The citadel of learning, by J. B. Conant.--Compulsory mis-education, by P. Goodman.--The conflict in education, by R. M. Hutchins.--Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, by A. Huxley.--The miseducation of American teachers, by J. D. Koerner.--Education at the crossroads, by J. Maritain.--Education and human relations, by A. Montagu.--The secret of childhood, by M. Montessori.--Summerhill, by A. S. Neill.--What are they doing to your children? By M. Rafferty.--Education and freedom, by H. G. Rickover.--Education and the good life, by B. Russell.--The science of learning and the art of teaching, by B. F. Skinner.--The aims of education, by A. N. Whitehead.

Kinda old, but the criticisms stand. Not all the critics agree with each other either. It's amazing to me just how many of our current problems were being written about 50 years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same. See if you can find the book, perhaps through Inter-Library Loan. At least 329 libraries own it.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

A nine year old on abortion

Nat Hentoff tells about a 9-year old boy who sees clearly.
A longtime friend of mine is married to a doctor who also performs abortions. At the dinner table one recent evening, their 9-year-old son — having heard a word whose meaning he didn't know — asked, "What is an abortion?" His mother, choosing her words carefully, described the procedure in simple terms.

"But," said her son, "that means killing the baby." The mother then explained that there are certain months during which an abortion cannot be performed, with very few exceptions. The 9-year-old shook his head. "But," he said, "it doesn't matter what month. It still means killing the babies."


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rebecca Hagelin warns us about what we let the kids read. I prefer the classics myself.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

On Prop 82 and Universal State-Funded PreSchool

Jennifer Roback Morse on Prop 82.
These same kinds of studies are used to browbeat stay at home mothers into placing their kids in preschools or daycare centers. "Am I harming my child by depriving him of the enriching preschool experience?" mothers ask me all the time. No, I always reply.

After all, we wouldn’t want to give credit to parents. Everyone knows parents are the problem. The sooner we get kids away from their parents and into government run schools, the better off everyone will be.

Proposition 82 requires preschool teachers to have approximately five years of college. Proposition 82 funds would pay a half billion dollars to colleges and universities to develop new courses. There is no proven benefit to this increased credentialism.

Also Nathanael Blake is one of the best young writers out there, even if I don't always agree with him.
Conservatives generally hold to the traditional perspective of homosexuality being something one does (i.e. sexual acts with others of the same sex), for liberals, homosexuality is something one is. The whole point of morality is the suppressing of wrong or inappropriate urges, and the encouragement of good ones.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Texas Vacation Highlights

We went to Texas last week to see my dad. He has an antique store in Taylor called Wooden Heart Antiques, and he and his wife were on HGTV a while back.

Anyway, while we were there we went to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum and the Dr. Pepper Museum, both in Waco. As a former Soda Pop Bottle collector (I have about 400 bottles), I really liked the Dr. Pepper Museum, but they didn't give free samples. Two years ago we went to the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory. They gave free samples. The Texas Ranger museum had lots and lots of guns. Pretty neat, especially for 4 boys.

In Austin, there is a cool Austin Science & Nature Center that is free. In addition to fossils, lots of trails and some wild animals, they also have a sand pit where kids can dig for cement fossils. We then went to the overpriced Austin Children's Museum. It's not so much a museum as it is a big play house with some science thrown in. It was $33.50 for two adults and 4 kids. I don't think we will go back to the Children's Museum. The kids seemed to have as much fun at the park, but, the park isn't air conditioned.

Of course, all the museums count toward homeschool hours.

We also ate some really good food. Mexican, barbecue, and real hamburgers that will spoil you from the fast-food junk forever. The city of Taylor has a very nice park that is very shaded. A good thing to have in Texas. The temps were in the mid-to-high 90s all week.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Supreme Court of the United States has Already Said Marriage is Between One Woman and One Man

U.S. Supreme Court MURPHY v. RAMSEY, 114 U.S. 15 (1885) This case deals with a law in Utah not allowing bigamists or polyamists to vote. This is toward the end of the decision, 4th paragraph from the bottom. And we know that once the Court decides, by golly, that is binding LAW.
For, certainly, no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the co-ordinate states of the Union, than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement. And to this end no means are more directly and immediately suitable than those provided by this act, which endeavors to withdraw all political influence from those who are practically hostile to its attainment.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Links on Education

Don't give us government childcare for Mother's Day by Carrie Lukas. It's amazing to me how many people find ways to get what they want without the government's involvement. People who make due with less, or women who find ways to earn money at home. Why should my taxes be used to pay for your kid to be picked on and ignored? If that's what you want then pay for it yourself.
"[F]eminist author Kate Millet argues, children are better served by “professional” caregivers: “The care of the young is infinitely better left to trained professionals rather than to harried amateurs with little time nor taste for the education of young minds.” American parents disagree. Harried amateurs that we are, we tend to think that young kids are better off at home—and even many career mothers wish for more time with their children. "

Star Parker writes about the NAACP's fight against private school vouchers. In Florida,
"During the past school year, 740 students participated in the Opportunity Scholarship Program, of which 64 percent were black and 30 percent Hispanic. The students are practically all from low-income families."
Let's see, 64+30=94. So 94% of kids using vouchers were minorities and low income. The NAACP can't let that happen. Such a thing might weaken the bonds between them and the NEA. Why there is a bond there I don't know. Any union or group that kept my race from advancing for the last 50 years wouldn't have my support.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Debra J. Saunders on Raising Education Standards

Debra J. Saunders talks about the crazy world of California. Specifically, the education and judicial systems. Seems a judge has put a halt to the test all people must pass to graduate.
"It's sad but true: All California schools are not equal. The question is: What do you do about the inequity? Do you sanction the inequity by allowing students to graduate ignorant? Is that fair? Or do you require that all graduates be able to read a news story and know what it means when a sale sign says "25 percent off"?"

I hope to actually write some soon, but in addition to my full time job, I've been hired to do some writing for one person and web site designing for another, so I have other priorities at this time.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Links for Families and Luddites

To begin, Jerry Large wants to push "pause" on all the new stuff. Specifically all the new stuff that has too much stuff. Meaning, a dishwasher with more than 3 buttons. Call me a Luddite, but it's overkill. Why is it that you can't buy a high-quality, well-built item that doesn't also do 20 things you don't need it to do? I want a well-built, comfortable car, but I don't need each seat to have it's own thermostat. I want a VCR with a fantastic picture and sound, but I don't need 800 programming options. Can I get the one with out the other?

Second link, An Education that May Pay for College. Straight forward investing, without all the bureaucracy.

Third link, and a good one, Rebecca Hagelin reviews Christian Ethics in Plain Language.
It may seem like the height of sophistication to think that we can (or should) load our children with facts and figures and then leave it up to them to decide what'’s right and wrong. In fact, it'’s a moral abdication of our duties as parents.

And of course the Homeschool Carnival, week 19. Some good thoughts on raising boys this time around.

And lastly, but never leastly, The Carnival of Kid Comedy.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Links that make you say "Oh My!"

Good grief! Jeff Jacoby talks about "public schools vs. parents' values." Man, can you believe the arrogance of the school teachers?
"We couldn't run a public school system if every parent who feels some topic is objectionable to them for moral or religious reasons decides their child should be removed," LexingtonÂ’s superintendent of schools, Paul Ash, told the Globe. "Lexington is committed to teaching children about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal."
I like the first line. They can't run the schools now! Jacoby responds with
"But homosexuality and gay marriage are not like arithmetic or geography; they cannot be separated from questions of morality, justice, and decency."
Much as I love Car Talk and This Old House, I would never live in Massachusetts.

And there's the war between Creationists and ID proponents. See here and here.

And the Carnival of Homeschooling. Some really, really good posts, and I'm only 1/3 of the way through it.

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"Sexy Poker" to Tweens?

I see over at The Travelin Librarian that something wrong has happened. A game called Sexy Poker is marketed to tweens (kids from 8-12) via cell phone. There is something very, very wrong here.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Links for 4-25-06

I've been very busy lately and will try to get some posts up this next week. I am planning a series on parenting styles. Until then, try these links.

Rebecca Hagelin on some Bible story books

Suzanne Fields on manners

Jennifer Roback Morse on the differences between men and women.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Links for 4-19-06

I thought I had four links, but can't find two of them.

First, Rebecca Hagelin talks about the librarian being investigated for sexual harassment for recommending a few conservative books. As a conservative academic librarian this story is intrinsically interesting to me. More on this story here.

Second, Maggie Gallagher brings up the question, "Who is Caitlin Flanagan and what planet is she from?" Ms. Flanagan writes about stay-at-home-moms, but the ones that "she knows and writes about are educated, liberal, at-home mothers who too often proudly announce: "I'm home taking care of my kids, but I'm sure as hell not home to care for my husband."" And for Spunky who often writes concerning educating for the corporate world,
"For Caitlin, the point of having a mother at home is not so that your children will get into Harvard, or score that big executive job. A home is not a factory for producing children for corporations. The home is not a mere means; it is one of the great things in life you can have, create or give to someone you love. The real point of having a mother at home with children is that children get to be home with a mother who loves them."
And my favorite quote,
"You need to understand something about men," Caitlin tells me. "Men really want to help women. Yes, there are bad men in the world. Avoid them. Most of them show their stripes very early." (And if women weren't busily being sexual with men they hardly know, adds Flanagan, they might find it easier to spot the cads before they moved in with them. But that's another story.)
I read Flanagan's article in The Atlantic and thought it was quite insightful.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Teacher's Union Won't Let John Stossel Teach

Well, John Stossel took up the teacher's union's challenge to teach, but they pulled the carpet from under him. The network should sue for lost time. There was a lot of beauracracy to wade through, then, they cancelled. I bet Mr. Stossel would be a great teacher.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Evolution Creationism

The LA Times is covering the evolution/creationism controversy in Kansas and Missouri. They still don't understand the Kansas Board of Education standards on evolution. Here is the story.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

4th Carnival of Kid Comedy

The 4th Carnvial of Kid Comedy is up at Life in A Shoe. A very good one this week!

Friday, March 31, 2006

A Funny Story

Talking to the kids at lunch the other day, I asked what all they had covered in school. They were telling me things and asking me if I knew this-or-that; things they knew the answer to. The 4 year-old piped up with "What's a lower case three look like?" "I don't know, what's it look like?" I asked, over the other kids hollering "There is no lower case three!" Four year-old says "A straight line on the top and a silly line on bottom." "Oh," says I. He must have got that idea from the refrigerator magnets, which have 3s with the flat line on the top.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pensacola Christian College and A Beka in the Chronicle of Higher Education

In the same March 24, 2006 Chronicle of Higher Education, there is an article on Pensacola Christian College that makes them sound rather draconian and Big Brotherish. I am aware of some possible bias, but it seems to me that PCC is beyond the pale. Encouraging snitching on fellow students for minor infractions and changing rules as you go don't sound to me like the way a Christian college should be run. I worked at a fairly conservative Christian college so I know what rules are for and like. But when you call Bob Jones University liberal, and won't let your students leave without signing out, it sounds to me like you are heading toward cult status. They claim Baptist beliefs, but are not part of any Baptist denomination. They developed A Beka curriculum, and that supports the college. I don't think I will allow A Beka in our house now. I'd love to hear some opinions.

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Chronicle of Higher Education on SAT Scores

The March 24, 2006 Chronicle of Higher Education has a front page story on the College Board and the SAT errors. College Board Finds Hundreds More SAT Scoring Mistakes. My favorite quote is from Robert A Schaeffer, of Fair Test, "It should cause all Americans to rethink the heavy dependency on standardized testing in education." No doubt. I never took an SAT or ACT. I took some classes while in the Army, then went to college as a transfer student. However, when I graduated, I had to take about 3 tests, each costing a bunch of money, and all this after passing all my classes that I had paid money for. Then there are more tests to get into graduate school. It seems someone has duped the schools, and is making a ton of money off this. And it isn't fair.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

13th Carnival Of Homeschooling

Growing up a contrarian, I always liked the number 13. I embraced it as my own lucky number. Therefore, I am happy to announce the 13th Carnival of Homeschooling. Look for my post.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Sabbath Book Review The Rest Of God by Mark Buchanan

Is the Sabbath a day devoted to God? Or, a day devoted to Rest and Re-creation? Or, a day like any other? A few years ago I started seriously looking at how I keep the Sabbath. I decided that we would no longer spend money on the Sabbath. If we are out of milk, we are just out of milk. Planning ahead is key. No going out to eat after church either. We usually have leftovers or sandwiches. Only necessary chores are done on Sunday.

This is more of a rule than a law. If we are on the road, we stop at fast food joints and gas stations. If we have company in town, we sometimes go out to eat. A few times each semester I have to work a three-hour shift at the reference desk at work. But these are the exceptions, not the ‘rule,’ and they keep me from being legalistic.

I’m not sure what to do with football yet. I really enjoy watching pro football, but does it help me focus on God? I have backed off my mental and emotional commitment to football so it is just, simply, enjoyable, not something to get uptight about.

For these reasons I was excited to receive an offer to review Mark Buchanan’s The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring the Sabbath. (Purchase here or here.) The Rest of God is not a Bible study on the Sabbath, parsing every verse that mentions the day. It’s more like a personal journal, written to convince others of the need of Sabbath rest. Mr. Buchanan’s writing style is occasionally lyrical, and very personable. (“...your principal memory of [the Sabbath] is of stiff collars chafing at the neck and a vast, stern silence that settled on the house like a grief.”)

Each chapter ends with what the author calls a Sabbath Liturgy. Others would call the liturgy the practical application. Each liturgy is designed to get us God-focused. As he says, “Liturgy is by me...but it’s not about me.” “The first orientation for good Sabbath-keeping, ... is to practice, mostly through thankfulness, the presence of God until you are utterly convinced of his goodness and sovereignty, until he’s bigger, and you find your rest in him alone.”

The Bible has a lack of specifics on Sabbath-keeping. Buchanan finds this interesting. He decides “Sabbath-keeping is more art than science. It is more poetry than arithmetic.” This isn’t a lot of help for those who prefer lists of what is OK and what is verboten. After a discussion of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, and that healing making the Pharisees mad enough to plot his death; he says, “For the longest while I felt a smug pleasure in sitting in judgement of these legalists. And then I realized I was one of them... I developed some rules... prided myself in keeping them... then I started to find fault with those other people... when they dared to feel tired or stressed. Well, if you had kept the Sabbath holy – as I do – you wouldn’t feel that way, now, would you? It’s not too far from here to plotting murder.”

Buchanan wants us to get the big picture, “God gave us the gift of the Sabbath – not just as a day, but as an orientation, a way of seeing and knowing.” The author uses both meanings (day & orientation) in his exploration. Mostly, though, the book covers the orientation. “God is more interested in changing your thinking than in changing your circumstances.” Buchanan does not get involved in what day of the week Sabbath should be. That is not his point here.

“One of the largest obstacles to true Sabbath-keeping is leisure... Leisure is Sabbath bereft of the sacred.” Here he brings out the point about how many times we return from our vacations or other leisure activities more exhausted and drained than before. This is a good place to discuss football. Does it make me a better man to watch three to six hours of something complete with loud, annoying, materialistic commercials, or would that time be better spent in silence reading, talking with the wife, or playing with the kids? I think I’ll end this now. Ouch.

Recreation, or re-creation is another matter. Something that energizes you, even if it takes physical exertion, can be good. Buchanan works at a desk all week, so he enjoys mowing the lawn on his Sabbath. I can’t stand mowing the lawn, so that is not a re-creational activity for me. Not that I would be legalistic about it.

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Jobs to EncourageYour Kids to Look Into

For those wondering what kind of field to send your kids into, ones that will have a long-term opportunities, check out this column by Marty Nemko. It's good to look ahead, but of couse, you never know what the future holds. Nothing beats a hard-worker, except nepotism.
"Well-above-average employees in nearly all fields. Even in offshore-prone fields, some jobs will remain in the U.S. but will go primarily to those who are exceptionally capable, hardworking, or extraordinary networkers."
My Grandfather made a good living as a heating/air conditioning person, and I have a brother-in-law and a cousing that have gone that route also. People will pay for comfort.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids

I am going to write a magazine article on this, but thought I’d throw this out now.
Ben’s Guide, http://bensguide.gpo.gov/ is a kids web site sponsored by the Government Printing Office (GPO). An excellent educational tool, Ben’s guide has sections for every level of student. There is a lot one can discover just looking around: for example, Why Yankee Doodle “Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni” has always puzzled me. What did the Colonists know of macaroni? But at Ben’s you can discover that macaroni was a style of fancy dress. So, really, the song is calling Yankee Doodle a country rube. Read about it by going here. One can listen to the song or view the words. Viewing the words allows you to see definitions of some words in the song. Your student can also view primary sources such as the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Federalist Papers. There are also links to other Government web sites for kids. Many of them are really nice, including the National Park Service. The CIA also has a section for kids!

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

NEW FLASH! Divorce is Bad for Kids!

As if this was something people didn't know, divorce damages kids. Even when they deny it. CT has a good interview with author Elizabeth Marquardt here. Marquardt is the author of Between Two Worlds : The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce
"How do the children of "good" divorces fare worse than those from unhappy, low-conflict marriages?
"They're far more likely to get divorced themselves one day compared to those who grow up in unhappy, low-conflict marriages. They are far more likely to say they were alone a lot as children, to say they missed their fathers, to say they had to protect their mothers. They had more responsibility to care for younger siblings than those from intact families.

Some people might be surprised to hear that, because a prevailing attitude among some in recent years is, as one academic put it, "A good divorce or a good marriage-it matters not." Many experts have said, wrongly, that both situations are fine for kids."
My folks divorced when I was 21, and it affected me seriously. I don't see how anyone can deny what happens to the children when parents divorce. Human blindness is amazing to me.

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I'm No Fan of the United Nations, but...

In this Times (UK) story, this paragraph appears
"If as a parent I think faith is fundamental, why should I not be free to shape my child’s education according to a religious ethos rather than a secular ideology to which I don’t subscribe? This is precisely why Article 26 in the UN Charter of Human Rights guarantees parents the right to choose the kind of education their children receive."
Aren't liberals the ones who support the United Nations? Aren't liberals the ones who support forced public schools? There appears to be a conflict of interests here.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SAT Test Scores Wrong

The SAT got several thousand test scores wrong. This was discovered when two (that's 2) students challenged the scores. It turns out that 27,000 scores were wrong on one test. How often has this happened and not been caught?

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More John Stossel on Education

John Stossel isn't done with the teacher's unions yet. But, of course, they aren't done with him either. Anytime someone makes such a high-profile show about education that doesn't tow the give-us-more-money-and-leave-us-alone line they are sure to get heat from the NEA and the AFT. I like the vouchers idea, but I'm not sure I would use the money for homeschooling. Anytime you take money from the government, there are strings attached. I'm not fond of strings.

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Fathers are Important

Kathleen Parker has noted a trend in the New York Times, and it is a sad one. It appears as if modern culture thinks that Fathers are optional. There are many reasons for this, but how long can society go with dads not being around for the kids? A dad helps complete the parenting, keeps strong-willed children in line, and teaches boys how to be men. There are so many unfortunate families where dad is taken out of the picture by death or illness, but why force him out? Or as some women are choosing, not even have him around to begin with?
"These are sad stories that reveal symptoms of a diseased culture in which human relationships have no moral content and children are treated as accessories to adult lives. Yet, these trends are portrayed as the latest gosh-gee fashions.

A society in which women are alone, men are lonely, and children don't have fathers is nothing to celebrate."

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Monday, March 20, 2006

What is Education and Liberal Learning in the Renaissance

Suzanne Fieldswrites today in TownHall about Rediscovering the Renaissance.
"What's astonishing in these revived texts is how they testify to the changes in attitudes toward what we should learn. The humanist writers saw the study of art and literature as necessary for teaching virtue and building character...Petrarch might have been writing about politically correct professors when he observed that the more educated men become, the more aggressively perverse they become. It was more important to Petrarch to be a man of character than a learned man."
Harvard UP is actually reprinting sellections from the Italian Renaissance that discuss the purpose of Education. And it isn't jobs, which is what Spunky is fond of saying.

There is also some controversy over Gideons giving kids Bibles -- of course. Read about it at CT Weblog

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Joyeux Noël

Another movie reviewed by Christianity Today that I want to see. Joyeux Noël


Carnival of Kid Comedy #2

The second Carnival of Kid Comedy is up over at Life in a Shoe. I've even got one of mine there.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Interesting Links for St. Patrick's Day

First, Laura Hirschfeld Hollis, Maybe it isn't the teachers; maybe it's you. Ms. Hollis writes that part of the problem with public schools is the parents. There are a good number of lousy parents and they raise lousy kids.
"When I say that "parents aren't being parents," I mean that in the most basic sense: children come to school not properly fed; their clothes aren't clean; no one makes them do their homework or go to bed at a decent hour each night; there is no discipline or organization (and children desperately need both)."
I have several friends who are school teachers. One who teaches kindergarten had a student throw a desk at her. In kindergarten.

And from Why HomeSchool, a link over to Friends of Dave and his argument that Testing does help students retain info.

And now for something completely different, Gene Weingarten writes about a guy who will send messages to the afterlife for you.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Couple of Columnists on Education

First, John Stossell responds to the Teacher's Union.
"[T]hey wanted me to go into a school and teach for a week. "Teach, John, teach!" they chanted. I wasn't expecting that ."

And Walter Williams has an update on indoctrination.
"Preaching instead of teaching might go a long way toward explaining why in civics, math, reading, writing and geography, nearly a quarter of all students leave high school with academic skills that are "Below Basic," the category the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) uses for students unable to display even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at their grade level. In science, 47 percent leave high school with skills Below Basic, and in American history, it's 57 percent. I'd like for Jay Bennish's supporters to explain how his indoctrination will help that."

And Thomas Sowell discusses the differences between brainwashing and teaching.
"Some say teachers should give "both sides" -- but they should give neither side if it is off the subject. Academic freedom is the freedom to do academic things -- teach chemistry or accounting the way you think chemistry or accounting should be taught. It is also freedom to engage in the political activities of other citizens -- on their own time, outside the classroom -- without being fired."

What an abomination considering that the front page of the Chronicle of Higher Education, School & College Section B for March 10, 2006 says, "The facts are stunning. More than 40 percent of students arrive on college campuses needing remedial work." Read here for more.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

Christianity Today has reviewed Sophie Scholl. This looks like a movie I want to see. A strong Christian woman stands up to the Nazis. A true story, there are over 100 schools in Germany named after Sophie.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

10th Homeschool Carnival

Wow, 10 weeks gone! The 10th Carnival of Homeschooling is on at Palm Tree Pundit!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kansas Law Allows Mothers to be Mothers and Nurse their Children

Do we really need a law to allow breast feeding? Amazing, but at least Kansas is taking care of it now, and not waiting until something stupid happens and it becomes a big brou-ha-ha.

Christianity and Culture

Frederica Mathewes-Green writes a really insightful article about how Christians should interact with Culture at Christianity Today called Loving the Storm-Drenched. Comparing Culture to the weather Green writes,
"As Mark Twain famously remarked, everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. I think much of our frustration is due to trying to steer the weather, rather than trying to reach individuals caught up in the storm."
Despite the hyphenated last name, I really like her writing.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Glory of Public Schools - and Why Only Trained Educators Should Teach

From Why Homeschool, we have a link to a report summerizing just the last six months of the public school record from news reports. Is We Educating Our Children Good? has 11 bulletin points. I'm sure there are many more that for one reason or another didn't make the news in the last six months. Just imagine what 12 years of this would do (has done, is doing, will do) to people.

I know the common thing is to think that your local school district isn't so bad as "those" schools. That's what I thought. Then, in the Army, my best friend Tim was from Southern California, just north of LA, Ventura County. What he calls middle class, we in Kansas call upper class, but perhaps not wealthy. Tim was also a public school graduate. However, the books he had read, and the vocabulary he had, and the general knowledge he had, made me look dumb. I was mad that I hadn't been exposed to things he had. His parents weren't intellectual types, his dad was a sanguine salesman, not given to much reading. Tim wasn't an above average student, but his schools were a lot better than mine. How was I to know my education was sub-standard? It was all I knew. By the time I got out of the Army and into college I had pretty much educated myself, and that continues today. Why shouldn't I educate my children? Why make them wait until they are 19 and feel like idiots before they get themselves the education they should have?


Friday, March 03, 2006

Rebuilding New Orleans

Here is a little write up on my trip to New Orleans that I promised a few weeks back. I sent it to our Kansas Nebraska Southern Baptist Convention Baptist Digest, but it keeps getting bounced back. So, I guess I won't be published there. Anyway, here it is.

New Orleans is a mess. That is the simplest way of saying it. The volume and magnitude of destruction is mind boggling. Have you ever seen The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston? This 1971 movie shows a world where most of humanity is gone and the buildings are vacant. Driving around New Orleans, I felt like I was in The Omega Man. Only with traffic. Like there are only automobiles, and vacant buildings.

As we drove into town, the first things we noticed were blue roofs. Most roofs have a blue tarp on them. At first I thought, "Why haven't they fixed the roof yet? It's been six months." Eventually I realized that many of them may not have the money to fix it yet. Some insurance companies are slow to pay and are paying only part of the actual cost. Many buildings may have also flooded, and therefore, the owners are waiting to see what FEMA, or the insurance company, is going to do. Many owners may not be able to get people and/or materials together yet, as there is a waiting list for everything construction related. The scale of the problem is so large, that the wait for someone to do any kind of work to your property is months long.

When I first heard reporters claim "10 years to rebuild," I thought that was exaggeration. But now that I have seen the scale of destruction, I believe them. Imagine if Wichita, KS or Omaha, NE had three-quarters of the town made unlivable in one day. Not just homes, but businesses as well. How long would that take to rebuild? Where would the people go? How would they earn a living? Where would they get supplies? All those small owner-run shops that were just staying afloat, that were the sole income for many families, are now gone. What will they do?

Wherever one goes in New Orleans, there are piles of trash along the streets. Everything in a flooded house (meaning 3/4 of the city) is hauled out to the curb in a pile waiting for the city to pick it up. Looking at these piles you see every material possession that these families owned. Every single material possession. Except the literal clothes on their backs. Everything they have worked for, saved, collected, treasured, or inherited is gone. What an opportunity to see what is truly valuable.

I am proud to be a (very small) part of the rebuilding effort and proud to be working with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Regenerate Our Culture Is On The Way!

Regenerate Our Culture is new blog/web site/magazine from Agent Tim Online, Spunky Jr., Alex King, and Jake Smith. All four are around 17-18 years old and burning to change the world. Best of luck to them, and perhaps they can mentor my kids in a few years.

Drip, Drip, Drip of Popular Culture

Suzanne Fields writes about the corrosive effects of our electronic popular culture. Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, by Steven Johnson, says that electronics make us smarter, but the book ignores the content of the electronic messages. "Content is King," as the saying in writing circles goes. Yet, Mr. Johnson ignores this very basic concept in his effort to glorify technology.

As a side note, when people say that Jesus faced every temptation we do, I have my questions. It seems that the sins are the same, but many are easier to get away with now. Jesus didn't have the internet. I'd love to hear some thoughts on this.

EDIT: There is also an Unplugged Carnival that everyone should at least look at.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Star Parker on School Choice

Star Parker discusses the need for school choice for Blacks and low-income families.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Teachers Behaving Badly

Walter Williams lists some more crazy indocrination from the schools here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

School Choice and NCLB

Rebecca hagelin discusses School Choice here. It's a column about renewing No Child Left Behind.
"Choosing how your children are educated should be as routine in America as the ability to choose your neighborhood, your church, and your place of employment."

She does mention homeschooling as well as private schools. She provides lots of links to reports and studies as well.

Speaking of No Child Left Behind, sounds like a popular book series. No wait, that was my co-workers book Kiss My Left Behind

Monday, February 13, 2006

New Orleans is a Mess!

I was overwhelmed with the destruction of New Orleans. After a 17 hour drive down there with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief crew from my home church, we spent a week working on houses and a ministry building that will help with housing more volunteers. There will be a need for volunteers for many years. I didn't really believe that when I first heard it, but now that I have seen the extent of the damage, I do believe it. Unless you've ever seen something like this you have no idea how devastated the city is. I will be writing on New Orleans and my time there in the coming weeks. I hope all of you stick with me and read these.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I'll Be Gone For a Week

I'm leaving Sat morning at 4:00 am to go to New Orleans and help with the rebuild. This is the 5th team my small church is sending (three chainsaw teams and two cooking teams). My first time to go. We were supposed to go to Japser, TX, but that got changed a couple of days ago. Pray for me and the others.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What would Jesus Buy?

What would Jesus buy? That HDTV? Those no-nutrition snacks? And where would He buy whatever it was He bought? TASTE AND SEE What Would Jesus Buy? Saving the world one cashmere sweater at a time. by Agnieszka Tennant attempts a way-too-short answer for this.

I'm not a Wal-Mart basher (OK, I am) but there are consequences regarding where we buy things. I have written about Wal-Mart before, here, here, here, and here.

Good News! God is a Republican!

This story tells about a man that signed his voter registration "God," and now has to explain himself to the County. Sounds to me like this man is in very grave danger. via Relevant Magazine.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The New Homeschool Carnival

The 5th Carnival of Homeschooling is up. Some good ideas for homeschoolers in this one.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, Part 2, the Review

Well the Lovely Wife (LW) took the two older boys to see Chronicles of Narnia Friday night. LW said that Aslan should have been bigger, had a more majestic main, and been more "golden." There were a few parts where the kids said, "This wasn't in the book." But overall, they loved it. A few of the changes were needed to get the story moving quickly enough for a movie, but a few were unneeded, so claims the LW.

We don't take our kids to the movies very often, that was clear. They didn't quite know what to do with the tickets, they thought they got two tickets and could come back, they spent way too much (of their own money) on popcorn and soda, but it was a big night for them.

I didn't go. I will probably see it on video, but I'm not over anxious. I thought the books were ok, but I'm not really into that kind of stuff. I'd rather watch Casablanca again.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Kansas Trivia

In my box today, a photocopy of something from Kansas State Secretary, Ron Thornburgh. I have adapted it here.

  1. What is the state song?
  2. What does the state motto "ad astra per aspera" mean? Come on you Classical Homeschoolers!
  3. What Kansas Woman was first to to fly her plane across the Atlantic Ocean?
  4. How many Kansas have been the Republican Party candidate for President of the United States? How many have won?
  5. Which Emporia journalist won the Pulitzer Prize?

  1. Home on the Range, of course.
  2. To the stars through difficulty
  3. Amelia Earhart
  4. Three ran; Alf Landon 1936, Dwight D. Eisenhower 1952 & 1956, and Bob Dole 1996. Only Eisenhower won. Too bad, Dole would have been a good one.
  5. William Allen White

Let's see some quizzes on other states.

End of the Spear Reviews

Christianity Today Movies rounds up reviews of the movie End of the Spear. Read them here. They include links to most Christian reviewers and some secular reviews.

Thursday, January 26, 2006



I was worried that I wasn't getting any comments, but somehow I just stumbled across several today that I had to "approve." If you have commented, I'll be sure to read them. And figure out why they need approving when I turned on the random letters thing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Outsourcing Parenthood

Spunky has written about this, but here it is again. Jacob Sullum writes about parents suing Dora the Explorer. Actually they are suing Viacom, Nickelodian and Kellogg. (I really need to think of some corporation to sue. Just one nice settlement and I would be comfortable, but not happy with myself.) These people want the courts to take over for the parents who obviously can't say "No" to the kids.
"While I have no doubt that advertising encourages children to request certain products, what happens after that is up to their parents. Neither Viacom nor Kellogg has the power to dictate whether SpongeBob SquarePants Wild Bubble Berry Pop-Tarts are purchased, how often and in what quantities they're eaten, what else children eat or how much exercise they get."

Now we have bought our kids Scooby-Doo fruit snacks (they aren't true fruit, I know), but we don't give them a steady diet of that kind of junk. Even if we did, is that the fault of some corporation, or worse, the courts? Of course if we all just got rid of the TV our kids wouldn't know who Dora, or SpoungeBob, or Scooby-Doo is. Then they would just want any sugar source, not a particular sugar source. That would be better. Right.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Carival of Homeschool #4

The 4th Carnival of homeschooling is up at the Common Room. What amazes me about this one is how many new blogs there are, like there is a whole other wing of publishers that I didn't know about. x-posted at Robert's Rants.

Children who Rebel

No Greater Joy has several articles on Children Jumping Ship. This is the fourth installment. Links to the other three are at the bottom of the page. I am aware there is some controversy over the methods that the Pearls use, but you should read these articles. They contain a lot of wisdom about what it takes to keep kids "on your ship." I'll flesh this out a little more later. Hopefully later today.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

3rd Carnival Of Homeschooling

The third Homeschool Carnival is at http://whyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2006/01/carnival-of-homeschooling-week-3.html Enjoy! Lots of good stuff, just like the last two.

Raising Cain on PBS. A Show About Boys

Raising Cain was on PBS last Thursday on my local station. I thought this programt might be kinda goofy, the tag line went, "To understand boys, we must understand their psychology." However, the show was quite good. There were parts that were very depressing and it was especially hard to watch as inner-city teens teach 9 year-old boys to be cruel. There were also some scenes from a nice suburban high school that makes me glad I homeschool.

One good point that Michael Thompson makes is that schools used to have two recesses, now they have one, and some schools are going to no recess. That is not the best way for boys to learn. They need that time to run around and expend excess energy. If that energy is used, then they can concentrate better during class. This applies to homeschooling as well, but we are much more flexible than the traditional school. When the boys get wound up, they run laps, or they get a recess, either way, the energy is burned.

Another thought that came to me was "How can anyone live in the inner-city?" Surely there must be a way out. Rent is cheap in smaller towns, there is less violence and less overt trouble. Yes there is drugs, and trouble, but not in the concentrated form it is in the inner-city. There was an 11 year-old boy that rides two buses and two subway cars to and from school each day. Almost an hour each way. Just so he can get away from the bullies and anti-academic nonsense. There has to be a better way.

The next night I watched the John Stossel 20/20 show on Education. Read about that here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Standardizing Education Lowers the Standards

I am an academic librarian, but we frequently host local public school classes that come in for a day to research. It's good for my university, it's good for libraries, and it's good for the middle-to-high school students.

We had a teacher in today with her 8th grade class that told me this is the last year they will be here. Now the students have to take some reading-assessment test. So, she has to "teach to the test," rather than have the kids do a research paper. She is not happy about it.

In order to make sure everyone makes it to a certain level of learning, students have to take an objectively scored test. While real learning happens while doing things like; going a huge (for these kids) library, doing research with computers, old magazines and microfilm, learning to put words together in a way that an adult can understand, and getting feedback.

I have taken several standardized tests in my day, and I remember filling in dots at random, not finding out the results, and not really caring about the results. It's just sad that these kids will miss out on a great opportunity in order to satisfy some over-achiever in Washington. Or Topeka. Or wherever educational over-achievers are found.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Homeschool Carnival submissions requested

Go here to submitt a blog post for the next Carnival of Homeschool entries.

Go here for the current Carnival.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A not too good picture of us on someone's birthday. Posted by Picasa

Me and my lovely wife. Posted by Picasa

My Ideal Major?

You want to know a little about me? Here you go. This isn't exactly acurrate. They don't have History listed. And Dance? I'm a Baptist! Not that I mind dancing, but I never learned and looked absolutly goofy on the dancefloor. Not that I care. And I don't really read much fiction, so English maybe isn't ideal. I would put Sociology up higher.

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com

Large Families and Movies

The Opinion Journal of the Wall Street Journal has a great article on large families in the movies, but takes on more than that. Here are a few excellent quotes:
Today fewer than 10% of Americans live in households of five or more people and only 1.8% in families of seven or more. That means that if your family consists of a mother and father and five children, you live where I do, which is statistically on the lunatic fringe. "Omigod, five kids?" people gasp when I tell them. "Are you nuts?"
They really freak out at the two couples we know with 9 kids each.

In this latest litter of movie features, we are shown that the more children in a household, the more deranged and uncivilized it becomes...The odd thing is that, off the screen, large families are seldom the ones with wildly misbehaving children.

Spunky Homeschooler has written on this topic as well.

Monday, January 09, 2006

How did we end up homeschooling?

Why we homeschool. We actually sent our first two kids to public school for a couple of years. I had only heard of homeschooling about a year before the first one started and thought it sounded like a great idea. My wife said, "Never."

Our oldest, Joshua, is a "spirited child," or "strong-willed," or ADD, or unique, though not as bad as some kids we know. He did not adapt to the public school system at all. I don't mean, a little, I mean, at all. When his first grade teacher had my wife come to class to watch him, he was sitting upside down in his chair, not doing anything that required a pencil, and was generally a problem. In addition, we couldn't believe the amount of work they were sending home for us to have the kids do after they had been in school for 7 hours and wanted nothing more than to run, fight and get dirty. Joshua had all the work he didn't do during the day in addition to all the work they send home. Lezlie said "I feel like I am homeschooling them"

Then we went to parent-teacher conference. That was when the first-grade teacher said the fateful words, "Drugs can do wonders." I couldn't believe it. You can believe it. I decided right then that we were homeschooling. By this point, my wife was in total agreement.

The first year we only homeschooled Joshua, but then realized that Erik was missing out on lots of time at home with the family, and lots of Bible training as well. So we brought him home the next year. Now we are committed to homeschooling all of them. Erik sometimes misses his friends at school, but Joshua says he never wants to go back to public school.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Anti-Homeschool Pressure & God's Involvement (should be 2 posts, probably)

Reading the Carnival of Homeschooling, I was struck by how many people have to defend homeschooling. We haven't had any complaints, protests, or even awkward looks. There were a few family members we thought would question our decision, but no one has. I guess we've been lucky (blessed).

I do think that God is doing something with all this homeschooling. I was very involved with a campus ministry while in college and worked with them for a few years afterward (mid 1980s to mid 1990s). A couple a years ago we had a reunion. Of about fifty couples there, all but one or two were homeschooling or planning on homeschooling. Lezlie and I only knew of one other homeschool couple before we went and expected to be the odd ones. Now to fully appreciate this, you need to understand that we had never heard of homeschooling while in college. It was not discussed, no one was planning on homeschooling, in fact, the university we attended is known as an education college and most of us were education majors. So in less than ten years time, we went from a complete ignorance of homeschooling to almost 50 couples homeschooling. That is something, and I think, a work of God. Feel free to disagree.

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling has started at Why Homeschool. Check it out to see many different homeschool blogs of interest.