Monday, October 31, 2011

The Nerve

I was surprised to get a call early this morning on my mobile phone. The caller ID said it was some area code that I had never seen before so I didn't know who was calling when I answered it.

The caller was rambling and I couldn't understand what she was saying. Finally I asked who she was trying to reach and she said some woman's name that is not me. She said we just spoke "at your work" and that "I gave her this number to call to talk about it with". I told her I had no clue what she was talking about and that woman is not me. She responded something like "Yeah right! We just spoke! You gave me the number!"

I asked who she was and she gave me her name and firm name. I told her that I have never heard of the firm before and have never spoken to her in my life. She kept repeating that we needed to discuss "the matter". I said, "I am trying to tell you that you are calling the wrong number!" She would not stop rambling and I asked her to never call this number again and she hung up on me.

My head was spinning becuase the coffee had not even kicked in yet, and because I'm foggy headed from a head cold at the moment.

Customer service people can be so rude!

I checked the number using Google and it is owned by a debt collection agency. I saw reports that they had been placing harrassing phone calls to people who claimed they didn't even owe money.

I am sick of customer service reps who do not follow basic etiquette rules and are so unprofessional. The bill collector should have realized she was being duped by the deadbeat but that said deadbeat was not me!

I know that some deadbeats are not only just behind on bills but can be liars and cheats, but that's no excuse for bill collectors to be unprofessional and downright nasty when they are calling the wrong person!

This reminded of the time a rude bill collector was calling my landline in Connecticut and I figured out she was calling the wrong area code, the deadbeat lived in the region with a different area code. That bill collector was so determined to believe that I was lying and that I really was not Linda S. that she didn't realize that the town that Linda S. lived in had a 860 area code not 203. I told her of her error (I was researching this on Google while she rambled) and she then turned nice and thanked me. She maybe should have used her time to double check the accuracy of the phone number before dialing? Google's search engine is a wonderful thing. People should use it more often.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Autumn in Houston

Here are some scenes from my backyard that I photographed in mid-October 2011.





This is the first time in my life that I was not living in New England in autumn. I am trying to adjust. As a naturalist, me being here and not there is not just about being away from friends and family in a new place, it is about living in a place that still looks and feels so other-worldly to me. I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

I am experiencing a blend between thinking of what I am missing that seems just wrong to not see (brightly colored fall foliage and colored leaves drifting on the wind and crisp air that smells delicious and fallen leafy).

I am trying to love this new place. I am paying attention to what I am seeing here, and trying to appreciate the beauty of it. The 2011 drought is said to be the worst since some year in the 1950s and it has caused some of the brown ugliness. Yes, some of this is ugly. Dead sixty foot tall pine trees make me feel sad. Entire oak trees filled with brown leaves worry me; are they in temporary conservation mode or dead?  I'm not sure which parts of what I'm seeing are drought problems or are normal scenes of fall, to be honest.
I'm trying to shift my mindset. I am trying to learn to love this place. Perhaps it will be better when we own our own home here and I have my own real piece of land to garden and tend to?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Suggestions for New Boy Scouts Who Hate Parental Separation During Camping

This post is inspired by a blog comment I received that stated:

(My son crossed over last spring and loves Scouts) "...but - he HATES the camps. he feels it's alot of hurry up and wait. he also is quite the home boy and doesn't like to be away from us for more than one night. it's a conundrum for us b/c scouts is the only activity he likes and will participate in gladly. i'm not sure how much he'll get out of scouts if he continues to avoid the camps
p.s. he loves to camp, light his fire, cook his food, etc. just wants US there too :) "


There are a few issues here so I will separate them and offer possible solutions.

1. It could very well be true that the camping trips are boring.

The question is who is planning these trips and what are they doing?

If it is a boy-led Troop perhaps the boys are not planning things well.

Has your son complained to the SPL that the trips are boring and given suggestions as to what he'd like to do?

Ideas:

a. work on Scout skills (the Scout asks other Scouts to help him learn new skills required for rank advancement, or help practicing what he has once learned, i.e. knot tying)

b. play organized games as a big group

c. smaller informal games like Frisbee or tossing a ball

d. bring card games and other portable games to play with others, then he initiates the game playing (i.e. Milles Bournes, poker)

e. have an Assistant Scoutmaster teach a merit badge

f. organized hike

g. bring a book or comic book to read if he has gaps of time and wants to be alone

2. Certain camping activities and responsibilities take a certain amount of time and so not every minute can or will or should be entertainment filled with activities for the whole group.

For example if your son is not the one washing dishes he may be bored with the time the others who are assigned to that duty are using to wash dishes. In that time he will have to entertain himself or do activities with other kids like read a book, play frisbee, or play a card game, or just have a conversation. That is not unreasonable. He could always offer to help out, even if it is not his assigned job...

If your son's patrol packed up quickly but some other patrols are dawdling and the trailer cannot yet be packed up to leave he will have to entertain himself.

Kids need to learn to entertain themselves sometimes. Also, being bored is sometimes a good thing. Having spare time to just think is good. Learning to cope with downtime and boredom is a skill I think some people have not yet mastered.

3. Have you (the parent) gone camping with the Troop yet?

Troops often will allow a parent to come along on a camping trip, especially if you have a private talk with your Scoutmaster explaining that your son loves camping but is struggling at the camping trips and feels he needs you there, at least in the beginning, not as something you see as permanent until the boy turns 18 and ages out of Scouting or until the day he earns his Eagle!

If you go camping, you should (must) follow all Troop rules and respect the leadership's authority.

For example in our Troop the boy still had to sleep with the Scouts and the parent had to sleep alone. I know one Scout in another Troop who was so scared he would not sleep apart from his mother (who went on the trip as he was afraid to camp without the mother or father, so that Troop let him share a tent with the parent. I would not have approved of that even if my son's Troop allowed it.

I myself am not a helicopter parent and I do not like helicopter parenting. I am an active parent who meets her children's needs. So, when my older son joined Scouting, as was typical for his personality since he was born he was a bit worried about being without one of us for the camping trips. He was used to being with us as the Cub Scout rules forced one of us to go camping with him.

So, at the beginning my husband went on the camping trips but kept a distance. My husband did NOT do my son's work for him and he did NOT interfere with Troop activties such as overriding what leaders said. For example the boys cooked their own food and if it burned my husband didn't go over there to help them cook or to teach them how, as it was the duty of the SPL and ASPL and other more experienced Scouts. My husband did not pack up our son's gear or do other tasks that Scouts were supposed to do for themselves. My son was happy knowing that my husband was there in case he was needed.

The first year my son went away for a week for summer camp the Troop needed a second female volunteer leader so I went. I did not go because my son needed me but he was happy to have me there. (That was a month before he turned 11 since he has an August birthday so he was younger than some of the others.) I was very hands off but he knew I was there if needed.

By the fall camping trips in that first year of Boy Scouting my son didn't need or want me or my husband on the camping trips.

My younger son is very different and really independent. Although our Troop asked me to camp at summer camp the first year after he crossed over, to help out my younger son asked that I not attend. I told the Scoutmaster what my son said and asked if the Troop would have a hardship if I did not go camping. When he heard that he said he was sorry to not have me help but he loved my son's independence and thought it was best for my son to be allowed to spread his wings and fly solo. The Troop found another female to help them (they like the balance of some female energy at summer camp and it is good to have a mom there to comfort the kids who are homesick or having some problem). As it turns out I was busy packing for our previously-unplanned move that week and would have really had a problem if I'd had committed to be away at camp all week so it worked out best for me also to have stayed home.

The gentle separation and us not being helicopter parents on the camping trips helped my older son become more independent and to not feel that he needed us there. A month before his 13th birthday he went to the 2010 Boy Scout Jamboree for 12 nights away from home with no mobile phone or internet contact with us and he had the time of his life. I was the one worried because I didn't know if he was alright or not, even though the Scoutmaster promised to phone us if some emergency happened and my phone had not rung. We wound up gong down to visit at Jambo (only because my husband wanted to see what it was like and to see the big 100th year anniversary show). My son was happy to show us around but got sick of our slow pace walking and such; he felt we were inhibiting him from doing what he wanted (!) and didn't at all "need" us there. He was happy to be back to being totally independent when our short visit ended! A boy we knew was terribly homesick and after his parents visited he was happy and when they left he had a great time and was over his homesickness.

Also if you go on the camping trips you can observe what goes on there. Is the Troop a mess with camping, are they disorganized? Do the camping trips really stink? Perhaps you could talk to the Troop Committee Chair and the Scoutmaster about your concerns and address whatever the issues are. If the issues are serious I would suggest finding a new Troop.

4. Does your son have a problem making new friends and having conversations?

Some quiet kids who are shy would rather sit alone than talk to another kid. He should be gently encouraged and directly taught to learn social skills.

I think it's sad when some kid sits alone and chooses to not even talk to anyone then later they complain they are lonely. They need to realize their role in the situation and learn to take responsibility for making a change in their own lives rather than acting like victims who are being intentionally ignored and excluded.

Why do some kids expect that others should reach out to them and pull them into what they are doing when they have never made that same effort with someone else? Have they ever considered that when they sit alone and look unhappy that others may read their body language that they are not an approachable person and the way they act may look like they are someone who is either not nice, unhappy, or even mean?

All Scouts should be encouraged to find a circle of friends and to be comfortable with peers. If the boy likes the company of more mature people maybe he would be accepted by older kids in the Troop? There should be one or two kids that he likes enough to pal around with. He should conspire with his friends to make a committment that they will all go on that camping trip. In other words they make plans ahead of time and make sure they are all going together, that is a good way to have peer pressure, it's called making plans to have fun.

I note that usually the "only children" seem to like to hang around with adults rather than make an effort to make friends with same-aged peers. Also the really smart kids (gifted kids) seem to favor adult company over same-aged peers. With that said, in my opinion those kids (and all kids) need to learn to stretch outside their comfort zone and make a concerted effort to become more social with their peer group. Everyone can benefit from improving their social skills.

If your son can't find one or two kids to befriend then perhaps you need to find another Troop, but only if your son has made a real effort using to reach out and open up to make friendships. Learning how to make small talk, learning how to initiate activities like starting a card game and things like that are good skills for all kids to learn.

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If a parent goes on a Scout camping trip the Scout should not hang around all day with the parent, or look to the parent to direct activities that are more exciting or different than the leadership has planned.

The parent should follow all Troop rules, policies and procedures and the parent should not override the leadership's authority.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Homeschool Supplies and Book Storage in Our Temporary Home

In our temporary rented house we have little storage room. Contemporary open floor plans do not have as many walls as traditional colonial homes and the floor to ceiling windows rob potential storage space from exterior walls.

There is no basement storage in the Houston area and there is no attic, if there were, it would be too hot to use to store most things, including books, whose glued bindings would break due to the heat.

Before the move I owned over 8000 books (which I had listed in an Excel spreadsheet so I'd know what I owned) and maybe even over 9000 (since I book collected for years before creating that spreadsheet). I donated about half of the books to charity, to four different public libraries for their used book sales which fund the purchase of new books for the library's collection and library programs such as children's summer reading programs. More books were donated to two charity thrift shops.

I also gave away almost all of our bookcases, to a local homeschool "co-op" and I had no choice but to leave behind many built-in bookcases. I now realize I had it better than I'd realized with lots of walk-in closets, under-the-eaves storage closets and a dry large unfinished basement.

In the new house I have just three places for books inside the home.

1. This main bookcase (purchased from IKEA for this house) holds the majority of our books. The books we are currently using for homeschooling are here as are books I am reviewing and some computer software and audio books. That fluff of orange on the top shelf is one of my cats.



The house is so small that I created a wall for this bookcase by blocking off the sliding glass doors that led to a patio. The windows had no window treatments, so I blocked the light by pinning long curtains in front of the glass, so the sunlight would not fade and ruin the books.
That patio was not a place I ever wanted to visit as it was about 8x8, with sides of two house walls and an 8 foot high fence. It was more like a little jail cell with the added benefit of having the clothes dryer vent blowing hot air on you while you sat there.

2. This second bookcase (purchased from IKEA for the Connecticut house) holds my books only. The topics are: cookbooks, knitting, photography, gardening, herbs, wellness, birds, trees, plants, nature, and some fiction.




The fact that I could pare down my cookbook collection and other nonfiction reference books we use to this was nothing short of a miracle and to fill gaps in what I need to know I'll be websurfing and using library books.


3. This third spot holds the least amount of books. It hosts some cookbooks and family recipes.



The three Target ITSO bins at the bottom are homeschool materials with some books in there. When in Connecticut this held more books but here it is being used for some files and office supplies since we have little space for those items.

The drawers and the cabinet hold fine art supplies. I do not have an art and craft closet here as I did in our fomer home and I have no basement to stash supplies. .Some nature collection things and some family hand me downs and a few decorative plates are on the main shelf (just as they were before).

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Well, that's it folks. I hardly have any books in this house. Can you believe it?

We are focusing on living and using what we have. I no longer bookhunt for a hobby.

We read and use what we have then I decide if it is worth keeping or not. It is nonsensical to save stuff that we have to pay even more to keep, meaning, it is stupid to hold onto things that must be stored in a storage unit when we're already shelling out over $600 a month in storage unit fees! If I keep accummulating things I'll need to add a third storage unit!

I have not yet unlocked the mystery and skill of mastering the use of the local library system. I've been told what to do but have not put time into actually doing it. For the library here, there is a game that must be played involving getting cards from surrounding towns (in person) then using multiple websites to request interlibrary loan since the local library has (in my opinion) slim pickings.

It is easier to just buy what I need from Amazon with one click of the mouse then it appears on my doorstep thanks to the men who drive the brown trucks. I have to be careful to not over-buy though.
Where are the rest of my books?

Presently the garage holds perhaps 60 boxes of homeschool books. They are staying there for now but if I have to, they will move to storage unit B (I hope they fit). So far due to the Texas drought it has been dry and they are safe from water and humidity there.

Those books were books I thought we might use this school year. I didn't have enough time between my husband getting the job and our move prep to also plan the entire school year's mateirals and find them and sort them out, so I took everything I thought we may use and put them in the garage so that after we unpacked I could go through them in a more leisurely manner.

Thousands of other books await future use in storage unit A. That unit is stacked floor to ceiling and is large. It is unpenetratable unless I hire strong workers and disassemble the whole thing in search of the homeschool books that are mixed in and among the furniture and other belongings.

The plan was to sell the Connecticut house and buy a new house here before March 1 and move everything out of storage into the new bigger house and use it. There are things in that unit that I thought we'd need in March. Our real estate agent had convinced me and the kids to move out in the summer as the house would show better vacant as it would look more like a new house. We moved out quickly so as to get it on the market before summer was over so hopefully someone would buy it and move in before the school year started (so their kids could enjoy the highly rated public schools in town). I was told the house would sell fast if we prived it aggressively and were not asking too-high prices out of greed. I was told we'd close before Labor Day! It's nearly Halloween and the house is still on the market...

I am praying that the Connecticut house sells so we can move on with our lives. My fear at the moment is that the real estate market will stay flat and dead (which I was told started in August) and we'll have to renew our lease in this too small for our needs house.

The idea of having to go through the storage unit that is packed up ten feet high and solid like a brick in order to find next year's homeschool books and curriculum is a scary and tiring thought. It would be easier to buy everything new, but if we're still pinching pennies due to maintaining two homes on one income that wouldn't be a frugal thing to do...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Star Ratings vs. Actual Opinion in Amazon Reviews

Someone commented on a customer review I submitted to Amazon. There was discussion about what star rating to choose.

I did not like the product but I did not hate it. I explained that I did not like it in the body of the review. I gave it a 2 star review. Why? Amazon has the following rating system, which I found in their recommendations area.

5 stars = I Love It
4 stars = I Like It
3 stars = It's Okay
2 stars = I Don't Like It
1 star = I Hate It

The person acknowledged that I didn't like it but said I should have given it a higher star rating than a 2. Really? When submitting information to companies I use their own keys and definitions. It is an attempt to use standard language.

I often see star reviews that don't align with the body of the review. Here is one example showing a 5 star review but the review contains criticisms and the user admits she dislikes this product so much she doesn't use it anymore.

Customers are picky and they want information. Thus when I don't like something or even think it is okay or when I like it but don't love it I explain why. Then readers of the review can see what I said and relate it to how they feel.

For example I once read and used and reviewed a cookbook from an author who makes gourmet food and slow food that takes time to make from scratch. I happened to love the book as I am a slow foodie. Another reviewer slammed the book because it was not a book of fast food recipes. By reading her review and my review a person could indeed be helped by both, whether they are looking for quick simple recipes or whether they like gourmet complicated cooking.

What differs is it is fair to the author or publisher to irrationally rate a product or book. For example if I bought an economy compact car with high gas mileage would it be fair to rate the car poorly saying I love the high gas mileage but I really needed a car for carpools and long car travel that can hold 6 or 7 people comfortably? If you review a knitting book of complicated knitting patterns is it fair to slam the book if you are a brand new knitter who only wanted to make garter stitch scarves?

Something different though is when the marketing for a book or product says one thing but the item does not do that. Also, if claims are made that you can do something with the product but you cannot do it because it is non-functioning or it literally doesn't perform that operation then that's a problem.

Back to the star ratings. I think there is some deeper psychological reason going on with some reviewers and those stars. Too many people seem overly genererous giving high star ratings when their real opinion of the thing is at least one star rating less. Some people mince no words and have strong opinions but the stars give a different impression. At first I assumed they were using different definitions for the stars than Amazon did. I now suspect there is something deeper happening. Maybe some people are scarred after years of grades in school and think that giving "grades" out in the form of numbers and stars is something they are less comfortable with than using text descriptions to explain their detailed opinions. I don't know, that's just one idea.

What do you think?

P.S. Amazon does not allow half star ratings. That person told me she'd rate it with a .5 in the rating. Well that is not an option so...I use what is there...with their definitions. If someone actually has a problem with me using Amazon's rating definitions, well, I don't understand that; it leaves me speechless actually.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Maybe Tracking is Good? Some Education Reform Ideas

In my recent post A Conversation With My Kids About School the issue of school and tracking came off negative. On the other hand, I support tracking. How can I feel that way?

The answer is: this is a complex issue!

Note: The above blog post was republished on the Off Beat Mama website retitled by the editor as: The Importance of Discussing WHY You're Homeschooling Your Kids With Them on 10/25/11. The article is getting a lot of comments there. Perhaps you want to join the conversation?

After I wrote that post I was thinking about tracking and drafted this piece, which I'm finally publishing today.

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I am going to tell you the bottom line before I even get into the tracking discussion. I think the core issue is that no one wants to have a kid at the bottom. Some people also don't even want an average kid. Everyone wants their kids to succeed. Most parents want their kids to have opportunities to grow and learn to the best of their ability. Parents think that if their child is allowed to be all that they can be they will be something fantastic and something not-average and definately not something sub-par.

The reality is, if we believe in the bell curve, that most people are average and a low number are at the bottom and a low number are at the top.

The challenge of designing a school system for the masses is that the population pool ranges along the entire spectrum. Not all students can flourish in the most rigorous classes. However no one wants to think their child may have the potential but is being prevented from accessing the education that would allow them to develop fully. Who wants to accept knowing that their child could have thrived taking a high level math class but was locked out of it (for any reason, one reason that has no relation to the student's intellect or school performance being school budget constraints)?

Another frustration point could be when the student works hard at school and does all they are supposed to but does poorly on testing. After taking a year of AP science how could they score a 3 or a 2 or a 1? They worked so hard! Why didn't they "learn"? The school provided that class! The school spent money for that instruction! The student had opportunity. They worked hard and their score is too low to show to college admissions officers, in fact, it looks perhaps worse to have studied college level material in high school and failed than if they had not even taken the class in the first place!

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So about tracking which I talked about in a negative way recently, is not even done at every public school anymore, which is a switch from when I was in public school in the 1970s and 1980s.

Not all parents I know with kids in school know if tracking occurs. Do you know if your school system does tracking?

Even if tracking per se is not done, not all classes are open to all students. In high school there seem to be more and more AP classes now compared to when I was in school in the 1980s, but the question is who gets to take those classes? Some criteria must be used to determine who can take those. Also, access to certain science classes depends on past math coursework. There are sometimes gates to pass through that only some may enter based on past coursework completed, if the student is looking to take upper math or upper science or more rigorous classes in English or history. So, gatekeeping is alive and well, and I don't see a way around some of it.

Earlier this year, I had a discussion with a smart guy who has two bachelor's degrees in science who wanted to help kids learn about science, so he got a master's in education . While working as a student teacher he gave me some insight as to what goes on in classes where the school does not track. The school has a policy to not allow tracking.

The student teacher was assisting a high school science class and he said it was an absolute disaster. It is said that America needs more strong science students to go on to study science in college and to work in the career field as adults. However, he said it was very hard to teach the class in order to get the students to just meet the goals that the state laid out for what the course should encompass. He feared the kids were not being prepared to be able to do college level science. He worried that the kids who truly were interested in science and who wanted to study it were not being prepared (for why, read on).

He said that the students with learning disabilities and others who struggled held the whole class back. (Before I go further I need to give a disclaimer that I have a son who has learning disabilies so in no way am I putting those kids down.) An example was kids who need something explained two or three times or needed things so watered down that higher level discussions could not take place. Meanwhile other kids would drift off and lose their attention span while they were trying to help bring the struggling kid's level of understanding up to some medium level.

There were also gross lapses in writing and math ability. They were unable to write up the labs properly as they had forgotten the metric system. One (non-LD) student had a hard time explaing why his measurement total could not be correct. He reported 8 ml total when one liquid was 3 and the second liquid was 3. It took several minutes to explain that 3+3 equals 6 not 8. The student insisted and kept repeating that when they poured the two liquids into one container he read it as 8 ml so he indeed was correct to say there was 8 ml! The student teacher said the lapses in general logical thinking skills were enormous and frightening.

In other cases he said it was clear that kids didn't even want to be in the class and they did things to disrupt the class that held back the kids who actually were interested in learning. They seemed to have no interest in taking the discussion to a higher level. So the science geeks were not getting the best education in that class either.

I was told that all this meant that about only half or a third of the content could be taught in one class, so it would be impossible to actually cover the entire scope and sequence and to get through all that should be taught in that year. Do the math! They just could not cover it all.

He said it was hard to watch some of the science-savvy kids who were perfect for careers in science or engineering going out of their minds and being completely under-stimulated and under-challenged. He felt that they should have been in an honors class but the school did not offer honors science since tracking was eliminated in trying to provide all students with an equal education.

(This was in a wealthy Connecticut town in a 90+% Caucasian community where the majority of parents held one or more college degrees. This was a supposed "good school".)

What is to be done? I don't have the answer.

I think that the problem truly stems with grouping students by age into grades. This is not really equal either due to red-shirting (holding a student back in Kindergarten so they have a developmental edge over the other kids OR so they can achieve success if the parent felt they were too immature to start formal school).

There are also issues of when the birthday is. A January birthday kid is older than the June or August or November birthday kid. (The state where I lived had a cutoff of December 31 so some entering Kindergarten were 5 years and 11 months while others were 4 years and nine months. That is a huge developmental disparity at that age!)

The school system of having everyone in the class work at the same pace clustered with certain numbers of students to a teacher is a problem because some skills and subjects should be more matched to skill level, so the grade or age is irrelevant. However this insistance on keeping kids in grades based on age prevents that.

Changes would require a major paradigm shift for public schools.

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Some options available today for students in America:

1. Magnet schools, get out of the traditional public school and enroll into a magnet school that focuses on your child's area of strength. Whether it is the arts or math or science, let them specialize.

However magnet schools or charter schools usually are in high demand and rely on lotteries to enter, and not enough exist for reasonable (under 30 or 45 minute each way) commutes, for all students.

(Why are magnet schools not expanding?)

2. Private school: use one that focuses on your alternative education views or traditional schools with rigorous academics if that is what you are looking for. Parochial schools may suffice to meet your needs and can be less expensive than non-religious private schools.

Money is an issue however those in certain income brackets may qualify for scholarships.

In any event not everyone wants to pay a dime toward an education above what they pay for property taxes. They want a free education, so they don't consider this option. They dismiss it as they want to dismiss it.

3. Homeschool your child and do what you want within the limits of your state's education law.

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Two education reform ideas that I don't think American schools would let happen:

1. Change the school system to be more like a university model. Students sign up for classes based on skill level. Perhaps the classes are not year long, they have maybe three sessions a year so if a student still struggles with a skill like writing essays they would not progress up to the next thing but would do more work to hone that skill. Those who did the work well and are ready for the next thing would move on to the next thing.

In order to make the teacher to student ratios do-able, they may have to mix with kids of other ages since students have different ability levels.

For at least middle school and high school this would help the students who are at both the top and the bottom of the bell curve.

2. Seriously address learning disabilities. All teachers would have some minimum level of training about them with an eye toward early identification and intervention. Majorly change the way education is delivered to help each child with a learning disability excel.

The method of removing kids from a class to get special help on target areas only to have them fall behind in the areas they missed out on learning is not sufficient. The entire model of delivery should change.

Another example of a failure is when it is known that kids can be greatly helped with dyslexia with targeted instruction for 8 hours a day at the top notch private school for dyslexics which uses special instruction methods, but what is being done in public school is nothing like that and is "a drop in the bucket". If we know what it takes to best educate a child in order to help their areas of weakness but schools refuse to do it, it seems criminal to me.

3. Build upon children's strengths. Instead of considering the artistic dyslexic kid to be a failure at reading dense education how about making use of their heightened talent in creativity and art?

4. Consider vocational trade skills training expanding down to kids younger than 18. A mechanically minded kid who wants to do repair work perhaps should start learning about that earlier and not wait until passing through a general liberal arts education through age 18.

Not all people have the goal of attending a liberal arts college at age 18. What do they want to do? Can this start at an earlier age?

(I was hoping this would come more from the student than the system forcing it upon kids.)

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For further reading I recommend:

Essay online, free: The Six Lesson Schoolteacher by John Taylor Gatto. Gatto was New York State's 1991 Teacher of the Year.

This book has stories written by parents of what really went on in the schools their kids attended and how they tried to fix them.

From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth About America's Schools edited by Baldwin





Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto




A Different Kind of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto




How Children Fail by John Holt (and anything else by Holt)




Real Education Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality by Charles Murray



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grade 9 Son's Curriculum and Class List

Older Son's Grade 9 Homeschool Plan

2011-2012


Math

Algebra I

He started Algebra I in grade 8. Resume and finish the Algebra I course.

Main Text

Art of Problem Solving Introduction to Algebra by Richard Rusczyk (the first half of book is Algebra I)




Online Class:

Art of Problem Solving Algebra I (uses first half of AoPS text)

Supplemental Materials (use when needs help):

Visual Math Dictionary by Balka et al




Algebra Flippers




Key to...Algebra workbooks




Khan Academy (free) videos and online math practice (if sign in with a Google account or with a Facebook ID)

Saxon Algebra I student and teacher materials



Algebra Survival Guide by Rappaport



Algebra Survival Guide workbook for practice by Rappaport



Algebra I DVDs published by The Teaching Company / Great Courses

Teacher manual:

Art of Problem Solving Introduction to Algebra Solutions Manual




Math Supplement:

Code Breakers Level A by MindWare Publishers




Algebra II

Start and finish Algebra II.

Main text:

Art of Problem Solving Introduction to Algebra (Algebra II uses second half of text)



May take Algebra II online class with Art of Problem Solving (to be determined based on how he/we like AoPS Algebra I course)

Teacher manual:

Art of Problem Solving Introduction to Algebra Solutions Manual (see above link)

Science

High School Biology with Lab

Main Text:

Biology by Miller and Levine; Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall




Supplemental materials for this text by same publisher designed for this course:

Reading and Study workbook A




Laboratory Manual A





CD-ROM Virtual Lab




Lab equipment from various suppliers

Teacher Manual:

Biology by Miller and Levine Teacher's Edition




Teacher's Edition for Laboratory Manual A

Goal: Use the entire text (40 chapters), one chapter a week.

Lab goal: Complete a minimum of 25 labs with write-up.

Plan: Take the SAT II standardized test for Biology in June 2012

Study Guide:

Barron's SAT Subject Test Biology Exam E/M




Supplemental Readings:

Biology including Human Body, Chemistry, and History of Science:

(in no particular order)

The Disappearing Spoon by Kean (chemistry)




Charles and Emma by Heilgman (evolution)




The Elements by Gray (book) (chemistry)





The Elements by Gray (card set) (chemistry)




Guinea Pig Scientists by Dendy and Boring (history of science)




The Story of Science (trilogy) by Joy Hakim (history of science, narrative format, chronological timeline history)









The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Wiker (chemistry)



Great Scientists by DK Eyewitness Publisher (history of science)




The Way We Work by Macaulay (human body)




Visual Dictionary of the Human Skeleton (human body)




Visual Dictionary of the Human Body (human body)




Skeleton by DK Eyewitness (human body)




Human Body by DK Eyewitnes (human body)

(no Amazon link at the time of this writing)

The History of Medicine by Tunis (history of medicine)




English

Writing Composition

Teacher materials to aid my teaching of parent-teacher assignments:

Institute for Excellence in Writing Teaching Writing Structure and Style DVD series

(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)

Bravewriter techniques from The Writer's Jungle teacher sourcebook

(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)

Student materials:

Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Writing Intensive DVD course (student watches DVD as course material)

Writing Supplemental Materials:

A Writer’s Guide to transitional words and expressions by Pellegrino




Writing assignments related to other coursework to be assigned by parent-teacher

Poetry Analysis

Teacher Materials to use in teaching:

Sound and Sense by Perrine for reference




The Discovery of Poetry by Mayes




Student:

Poetry for Young Readers, multiple books in this series, i.e. Emily Dickenson, Langston Hughes




all the small poems and fourteen more by Worth




poemcrazy by Wooldridge




Literary Analysis

Teacher Materials to use in teaching:

Story and Structure by Perrine




Teaching the Classics a Socratic Method for Literary Education DVD Course by Adam and Missy Andrews

(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)

Reading Roadmaps a Literary Scope & Sequence for K-12 by Adam and Missy Andrews


(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)
Course I designed: Dystopian Literature

Teacher Materials to aid in teaching:

Dystopian Literature a Theory and Research Guide by Booker




How to Read a Book by Adler




Cliff's Notes for various books we're analyzing

Student Reading List

(see link to prior blog post I published)

Grammar for review

Write Source 2000 (public school curriculum)

(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)

Write Source 2000 Skills Book (workbook)

(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)

Editor in Chief B1 workbook by Critical Thinking Press




Writer's Inc Student Resource book and Teacher's Edition

(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)

English Grammar Flipper




Punctuation and Capitalization Flipper




Eats Shoots and Leaves by Truss




Homophones Resource Book by Anthony (using it as a workbook)




Grammar Supplement, other:

Punctuation the Write Stuff! by Basher (for a younger audience but it’s fun so he’s reading it)




Mad Libs for fun game playing and learning




Spelling

Main curriculum:

Spelling Power curriculum working at his level




Spelling supplement:

Bananagrams game for fun game playing and learning




Vocabulary:

English From the Roots Up Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Greek and Latin Roots) memorize all






Worldly Wise 3000 Level 7 vocabulary curriculum, do workbook and memorize all words.

(not available on Amazon on the day of this blog post's publication)

Biology vocabulary terms from Biology textbook: memorize

Penmanship

Cursive practice using workbook Pentime 8 by Rod and Staff

U.S. History:

Chronological Study 1700 to present

Spine: A History of US by Hakim series volumes 3-10




Reading various living books ranging from adult books to middle grade readers, nonfiction (reading list TBD)

various historical fiction books

Texas history:

Visit The Alamo September 2011

The Alamo Imax movie, September 2011

More detailed plans TBD

Foreign Language:

TBD (Have been using Rosetta Stone Italian since the second half of grade eight, I but this is not working out. Have not been able to find an online course or local course to take a class. Looking for options. It seems we may have to abandon Italian and switch to a more popular language such as French or Spanish in order to access classes.)


Other Classes:

Keyboarding Skills:

Goal: Reach 40 wpm, 98% accuracy

Typing Instructor CD-ROM


Fine Art:

TBD

Physical Education:

Crew, competitive rowing team: fall, winter and spring seasons

Extracurricular:

Boy Scouts:

Started year as Star rank with 17 merit badges. Goal is to earn Life Scout rank and finish all Eagle required merit badges.

Study and Organization Skills:

Will use Study Smarter Not Harder by Paul




Memorization work aided by studystack.com free online study activities work

Tracking own work completed in Microsoft Excel

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on Article "Teenage Brains"

Article: Teenage Brains: Beautiful Brains
by: David Dobbs
Published in: National Geographic October 2011 (cover story)
(picture gallery here)

The article discusses teenage behavior and brain science including newer technology's brain scans and what they reveal. It starts off discussing inconsistency in behavior including mood swings.

"These studies help explain why teens behave with such vexing inconsistency: beguiling at breakfast, disgusting at dinner; masterful on Monday, sleepwalking on Saturday. Along with lacking experience generally, they're still learning to use their brain's new networks. Stress, fatigue, or challenges can cause a misfire. Abigail Baird, a Vassar psychologist who studies teens, calls this neural gawkiness—an equivalent to the physical awkwardness teens sometimes display while mastering their growing bodies.

The slow and uneven developmental arc revealed by these imaging studies offers an alluringly pithy explanation for why teens may do stupid things like drive at 113 miles an hour, aggrieve their ancientry, and get people (or get gotten) with child: They act that way because their brains aren't done! You can see it right there in the scans!"


...

The next section and the major focus of the story is about thrill-seeking behaviors, why teens put themselves in physical danger and seem to lack logical thinking when choosing to do such things.

"Let's start with the teen's love of the thrill. We all like new and exciting things, but we never value them more highly than we do during adolescence. Here we hit a high in what behavioral scientists call sensation seeking: the hunt for the neural buzz, the jolt of the unusual or unexpected."

The article addresses why teens seem so peer-obsessed instead of adults-in-their-world-obsessed.

"Yet teens gravitate toward peers for another, more powerful reason: to invest in the future rather than the past. We enter a world made by our parents. But we will live most of our lives, and prosper (or not) in a world run and remade by our peers."

I found this interesting, and it makes sense, about why teens would choose to behave in risky ways.

"The move outward from home is the most difficult thing that humans do, as well as the most critical—not just for individuals but for a species that has shown an unmatched ability to master challenging new environments. In scientific terms, teenagers can be a pain in the ass. But they are quite possibly the most fully, crucially adaptive human beings around. Without them, humanity might not have so readily spread across the globe."

Why hadn't I ever thought of that before? Teens must be willing to charge boldly out into the world to make their own place in it. If they were more careful and timid they would just be adult versions of the toddler peeking out from behind their mother's leg.

I appreciated that at the end the article discusses how parents should react to all of this.

I myself, fear that in the experimentation times, my children may pay too high a price.

"This adaptive-adolescence view, however accurate, can be tricky to come to terms with—the more so for parents dealing with teens in their most trying, contrary, or flat-out scary moments. It's reassuring to recast worrisome aspects as signs of an organism learning how to negotiate its surroundings. But natural selection swings a sharp edge, and the teen's sloppier moments can bring unbearable consequences. We may not run the risk of being killed in ritualistic battles or being eaten by leopards, but drugs, drinking, driving, and crime take a mighty toll. My son lives, and thrives, sans car, at college. Some of his high school friends, however, died during their driving experiments. Our children wield their adaptive plasticity amid small but horrific risks."

(emphasis mine)

So what are we parents to do? All parents want their kids to survive the teenage years!

"We parents, of course, often stumble too, as we try to walk the blurry line between helping and hindering our kids as they adapt to adulthood. The United States spends about a billion dollars a year on programs to counsel adolescents on violence, gangs, suicide, sex, substance abuse, and other potential pitfalls. Few of them work."

...

"Yet we can and do help. We can ward off some of the world's worst hazards and nudge adolescents toward appropriate responses to the rest. Studies show that when parents engage and guide their teens with a light but steady hand, staying connected but allowing independence, their kids generally do much better in life. Adolescents want to learn primarily, but not entirely, from their friends. At some level and at some times (and it's the parent's job to spot when), the teen recognizes that the parent can offer certain kernels of wisdom—knowledge valued not because it comes from parental authority but because it comes from the parent's own struggles to learn how the world turns. The teen rightly perceives that she must understand not just her parents' world but also the one she is entering. Yet if allowed to, she can appreciate that her parents once faced the same problems and may remember a few things worth knowing."

(emphasis mine)

After reading this article I was reassured that the parenting style that my husband and I have forged is a good one. Well, we thought so before this but it is nice to see what we've been doing seems in line with what someone else is recommending.

In our family, we have rules and limits, reasonable ones. We offer guidance and advice but don't shove it down our kids throats. We let them have their freedom within certain limits and it kills us to watch them make mistakes, but they do.

We let them use their free will, and we let them learn from natural consequences, although sometimes it takes making the same mistake over and over. We are raising kids who are independent with their thinking and with their actions, so, making mistakes is inevitable.

We have provided our kids with an opportunity for a peer network, we don't isolate our kids, despite the stereotype that homeschoolers are isolated, ours are not. Yet we do not have our kids living lives of peer-dominance either. Our kids time ratio is more time with one or both parents than time with peers, and very little time totally alone with peers (which is when they get into the most trouble).

My husband and I are here to listen and to counsel our kids, not to be dictators or controllers of their body and minds. We are always here for our kids even when they screw up.

Most importantly we love them unconditionally.

Active parenting is hard work. Attachment parenting has been hard work. I think it is worth it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thoughts on "Academically Adrift"

Article: Academically Adrift
by: Scott Jaschik
Published: Inside Higher Ed 1/18/11


"If the purpose of a college education is for students to learn, academe is failing."
...



"The main culprit for lack of academic progress of students, according to the authors, is a lack of rigor."
...


" They review data from student surveys to show, for example, that 32 percent of students each semester do not take any courses with more than 40 pages of reading assigned a week, and that half don't take a single course in which they must write more than 20 pages over the course of a semester. Further, the authors note that students spend, on average, only about 12-14 hours a week studying, and that much of this time is studying in groups."

"Students who study by themselves for more hours each week gain more knowledge -- while those who spend more time studying in peer groups see diminishing gains."

This cements my intention and plan in our homeschooling, to teach my sons to be good readers, to be able to handle reading and consuming a decent volume of written text every day, and to learn how to study independently.

Hat Tip: A post by MK on the hs2coll (homeschool to college) YahooGroup.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How to Successfully Transfer from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts

Over the last four years I have watched this cycle repeat and think I've found a formula for a successful transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. I used this tactic with my sons and it worked. Unfortunately some families who do not do this wind up confused or misunderstanding Boy Scouting or have sub-par or negative experiences, then quit. So, I suggest you give my method a try.

First, pick a Troop carefully. If you can camp with them first, you will learn a lot. As BSA requires a parent must camp with a Webelos Scout so while the parent is there I advise that the parent both observe what goes on and also use that time to discuss the Troop with other parents and the leadership.

Before I tell you my plan, I want to urge you that if your son does not like the Troop you have chosen, after making a serious effort (which I will describe below) before quitting Scouting please try another Troop. If he did like Scouting but just isn't clicking with this Troop, find another to try. Doing that also teaches the boy to not give up and quit but to work toward what they want which sometimes means trying plan B. Each Troop is a little different so finding a right fit sometimes takes two tries.

First, upon crossing over from Webelos in the spring, attend every single Troop meeting until summer break. Your son will get to know the other kids. Sure, not every other Scout may attend every meeting but your goal is for your son to get to know those established Scouts. By not missing meetings your son will not be out of the loop with communication either.

Second, the parent should stay at the meeting if possible, not to spy or to babysit your son, but to talk to the leadership and other parents. Ask questions about Boy Scout program. You, the parent, need to understand the process of rank advancement and the processes and procedures that the Troop uses. Even within the structure of BSA there is wiggle room as to how the Troop operates. If you understand the hoops that need to be jumped through you can explain them to your son so he can achieve success in his Scouting experience. As an adult your may find the policies and procedures complicated to learn all at once, so imagine your ten or eleven year old son's possible confusion.

Sometimes a boy is overwhelmed at the activity at a meeting and he may miss important announcements such as what fee to bring to the next meeting for the campout food charge or if a permission slip is due on a certain date or that a camping trip is happening in two weeks. They may miss a sign up for a camping trip or some other activity if they don't hear the information as they are distracted or not listening. Boys who are ten and eleven years old sometimes miss details like that which are important if he is to fully participate in the program.

Your son should attend every camping trip that first spring. There are many reasons to do this. First, your son will be able to bond and make friends in the Troop. A lot of bonding goes on at camping trips that don't happen at Troop meetings. Also, Troops sometimes do special activities at spring camping trips to help the brand new Scouts learn mandatory Scout skills required for rank advancement. If your son misses that window of opportunity they may have to either work hard in a privately arranged session to learn them or they may have to wait for fall. For example if they miss the opportunity to earn the special requirement to carry and use a knife or to make fire, it can negatively impact them for the next 3-6 months when the next chance may be to earn those.

If your Troop does a summer residence camp, they should attend. Your son will make friends and bond with the Scouts in the Troop in a week of summer camping far and above what happens in a weekend camping trip. Scouts also get to do more things than they often can do with the Troop such as kayaking, water trampoline swimming, rock wall climbing and shotgun shooting to name a few. Lots of good memories are sure to occur and horror stories of bad rainstorms or bad camp food or other such things will be things to laugh about later. They will learn more Scout skills required for rank advancement. They will earn their first merit badges. If your son is ten or eleven and has never slept away for a week this can be a safe and responsible opportunity. Remember they are not going away with strangers, they will be with leadership from your Troop that you will have gotten to know over the last three to five months.

In the fall continue to attend all the Troop meetings (or nearly all). In the fall new Scouts usually join a Troop. Now your son will feel like a veteran member of the Troop and the newer kids will (temporarily) feel like outsiders. Your son will feel confident and suddenly instead of being a newbie they are looked up to by the newcomers. This is confidence and self-esteem building. Your son can begin acting like a leader to these newer Scouts.

Fall campouts usually offer different opportunities than the spring camping trips did. More Scout skills will be learned. Any rank advancement Scout skills can usually be worked on if your son initiates it, and camping trips are sometimes perfect opportunities to practice skills and then to get signed off on completing them.

The first Court of Honor held in the fall will be ego boosting for your son as by now he will have at least earned the Scout rank if not also the Tenderfoot rank. If he went to summer camp he should have completed at least one merit badge.

At this point one or two months into the fall, your son should realize if he enjoys Scouting or if it is not for him. Having toughed it out by going through things such as rainy camping trips and eating burned food that he made, he will have built some character as well and will have some memories to laugh about with his fellow Scouts.

It may feel uncomfortable to join a new Troop not knowing anyone or knowing just a few people but it is a good social skill for kids to learn to tough this out and forge new friendships and acquaintences in the new Troop. He will get through it if you nudge him to attend regularly and to actively participate in the various activities. He may learn to love camping trips when he previously assumed he'd not like camping.

My suggestion is to Troop shop and pick a Troop that you think is a good fit that has good leadership and a good group of Scouts. Then dive in and fully participate.

I suggest active parenting not helicopter parenting. Let your son have independence and learn to advocate for himself as he navigates his way through the rank advancement process. It is one thing to help your son organize himself and to learn to listen to announcements for important details about activities and opportunities but it is another thing to do all his thinking for him. This is a time for a boy to start learning more independence and autonomy in a safe environment.

I wish your son(s) good luck with Boy Scouting. I hope they have as much fun as my own sons have been having.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ordinary Days Are Fun Times

Pumpkin picking on Halloween so we could get the big discount. My kids were aged 10 and 7 then.




Photo taken by ChristineMM on 10/31/2007 at a pumpkin patch near Sherman's Farm in Easton, Connecticut.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crew for Older Son



Joining the crew team has (so far) been my older son's primary social opportunity since we moved to Texas. The rowing team is a community team for high schoolers from various public, private, and magnet schools, and homeschools. The mix means that the team is not clique-y and the fact that there are other homeschoolers and now-schooled/formerly-homeschooled teens means that my son is not an outcast due to his education method.

I am grateful for this opportunity. It was not happenstance as some people tell me that it was, so I correct them. Before choosing to live in this town I investigated junior rowing teams in the Houston area and found just two. I didn't even realize the other one has a junior program but it is rec only and doesn't allow juniors to row in regattas; this town had other good reasons to move to it so I chose that our family would live in this place.

Here is my son rowing competitively at his first regatta in October 2011, a huge affair held in Oklahoma City for juniors as well as college and masters levels. Olympic trials were held at this event as well. They also had a fun night sprints event for qualifying teams, so the place was hopping with activity.

I keep saying it people: kids grow up fast. Here is my young man.












He needs more training and more practice of course, that will hopefully move him out of competing in singles and competing in doubles and quads. Maybe this will not be the only silver medal he'll ever win.







The Devon Boathouse in Oklahoma City



Our entire family had a fun time at the regatta that weekend. It was the kid's and my first trip to the state of Oklahoma. I am having a good time getting to know the other parents on the team, so this is a social opportunity for me as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chaga



Something I've learned about through my autodidact pursuit about learning about trees is what chaga is. Here is a photo of young chaga on a birch tree in my Connecticut woods. I took the photo in December 2007 but didn't know what it was until a few months ago. I was curious about it back then but never took the time to figure it out until this year. Chaga has medicinal properties and has been used by people around the world for thousands of years. I have not yet wildcrafted chaga myself or used store bought chaga.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On This Day Seven Years Ago vs. Today

My kids took an experiential nature class at an Audubon Center (one in a series) looking at life in a river, at Bent of the River in Southbury Connecticut, seven years ago today.

The leaves were turning and falling, and it was overcast but still a lovely day.


Above: my sons helping each other collect pond water samples.


Above: my younger son, then aged four, getting a sample of pond water.


Above: my older son then aged seven with the seven year old daughter of Polly Castor.


The class with older siblings and parents tagging along, heading through the meadow, toward the river.

October 14, 2011

Today, here in our new Texas home announcements of nature classes and zoo trips for the wee ones abound on Yahoo Groups and other internet discussion boards. After a quick skim I hit the delete button. Been there, done that, my kids have outgrown it.

Homeschooling high school and middle school and dealing with parenting a teen is a whole other ball of wax. We are not participating in homeschool co-ops or classes; we are going it alone this semester. Thus, it is much harder to get established in a new community with other homeschoolers when we are doing such different things with our "homeschooling time". Yes, I get it. My husband told me I planned it this way, and it's my fault. (Well that's not really true as my kids didn't want the co-ops but a few weeks in they asked for them.)  Yes, I have sequestered us to do lessons at home so we are not out and about with other homeschoolers. I had goals for this fall to fill some gaps and work on certain skills that are most efficiently learned at home. Maybe I am making a mistake to not have sacrificed academic progress and making an attempt to plant new social roots with other homeschoolers?

My kids are connecting with local kids based on their interests, things done outside the home, which right now is a sport team for one and Boy Scouts for both. This Troop's teen Boy Scouts are busy people with other areas of their lives (school, homework, and sports) so attendance is (unfortunatly) very low for the grade nine and up Scouts, so making friends through Scouting so far has been a dead end for my older son.

I am so busy doing homeschool lessons at home that it is leaving me exhausted mentally and physically. I am busy cooking, house cleaning, parenting, and being a wife. There is barely any time left over for "me time" to just breathe and be alone with my thoughts let alone time for me to cultivate new friendships for my own personal social needs. When I'm busy doing this or that with my family I am not taking time to somehow making friends for my own self. I also feel like everyone here is established in their own lives and they have their own routines they are not necessarily looking to make room for new friendships with the woman who just moved here.

My younger son and I are very social people. We are not introverts. My older son is socially extroverted when with others but he does need a certain amount of time alone for creative pursuits and to recharge. He burns out when with other people for too long. On the other hand my younger son and I never tire of being around others, it actually invigorates us, it gives us energy. The exception is being around jerks too long, which we find annoying and energy sapping. When I have too many idiots around me (this includes driving around on roads with bad drivers or road ragers and such), I am all too happy to be alone and do my own thing hiding away from the world for a while, then I need people again. (Web surfing, blog reading, Facebook and Twitter do not suffice.)

I think I can accurately say that my sons and I feel we are in survival mode not thriving mode. That is not good and I don't know what I can do about it.

My husband on the other hand, is thriving. He has friends of 15+ years who live here in Houston that he is thrilled to be around (so he is not alone or lonely). He loves his new job and is so happy to be working there. He is busy doing what he loves and what he feels his purpose in life is: working at his career and providing financially for his family. On his time off from work he wants to be with me and the kids.  

My sons and I are putting in our time and doing what we should be doing, taking it one day at a time. I can only hope that sometime soon the three of us will also feel that we are thriving here and are out of survival mode. I also pray that I don't wreck our relationship with too much intensity here at home cramming homeschool lessons in the meantime.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Charlotte Mason's Religious Musings

I received this blog comment. I am sharing it here in case any of my blog readers are interested. I have not investigated this website other than to verify it is a working site. I am too busy with life to think about any of this, but maybe it would be of interest to some of you.


Dear ChristineMM,

My name is Benjamin Bernier, I am a pastor, and homeschool dad of seven boys, who made his doctoral dissertation studying Charlotte Mason's Philosophy.

I came across your blog looking to contact people interested in Charlotte Mason's philosophy who may like to know about my recent publication: Scale How 'Meditations' by Charlotte M. Mason, http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/scale-how-meditations/15100538#detailsSection

The meditations are a record of a series of Sunday talks delivered by Mason during the year 1898, at the House of Education, "Scale How" in Ambleside Uk, where she presents a verse by verse commentary on the first chapters of the Gospel according to St. John. I found this collection while doing research at the Armitt library in Ambleside. Most people are not aware that Mason wrote these, and that they are an amazing source of devotional inspiration, a direct disclosure of Mason's religious views and instructive in the art of Christian meditation. That is why I am spreading the word so that more people may benefit from this important resource in Charlotte Mason's work.

Let me know if you have any question, You may find more information at my blog: http://educationforthekingdom.blogspot.com/

Thank you for your time and attention, At your service, Benjamin Bernier--

“This duty of devout meditation seems to me the most important part of the preparation of the mother or other teacher who would instruct children in the things of the Divine life.”Charlotte M. Mason. ===== The Rev. Dr. Benjamin E. Bernier

benbernier@providencerec.org

http://educationforthekingdom.blogspot.com/