let kids watch beauty and the beast

HST Notes, California, the Olympics, homeschoolers at school and the gifted

Update: This week’s show is posted, but there is some dead air at the beginning of the program after the intro.  Once I got the sound working, I didn’t realize it was working so you can listen to the introduction twice, at least until I have time to edit it.  If you fast forward to about ten minutes into the program, you will have sound.

Home School Talk Notes

Join me Monday, August 18 at 1PM CST to discuss news, homeschooling “as it should be” and homeschooling the child with special needs.

Coming feature: The show should soon be available via iTunes.  My understanding is that it can take up to a week to be included and may not immediately show up in searches, but I will announce as soon as the show is there.

Last week’s show (8/11/08), available here:  Home School Talk, The Gifted Child

I.  California Appellate Court ruling regarding homeschooling

The first article I read regarding the decision actually popped up in my feedreader from OneNewsNow, a conservative Christian news site.  After summarizing the case, I focused on the closing paragraph of their report.

Farris says groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, HSLDA, and Focus on the Family teamed up and were armed with new information that compelled the court to uphold parents’ constitutional right to educate their children at home.  OneNewsNow

From the beginning of this case, I was impressed by the ability of so many disparate groups to work together for one common goal.  HSLDA and the three statewide California homeschool associations were even able to issue a joint statement showing their commitment to the preservation of homeschool liberties for all.  But suddenly, now that the case is over, the only ones of relevance are conservative, Christian groups?  Rather than commending the efforts of California homeschoolers, all recognition goes to a handful of national interest groups.  Annoying, and I’m not even from California.

II.  The Olympics

In 2004, the US diving team failed to bring home a medal for the first time in 96 years, raising concerns that perhaps the program needed to change.  One of the biggest challenges the team faced was the fact that US athletes tend to train part time whereas athletes in other countries train full time.  The answer?  Homeschooling.

USA Diving established a national training center three years ago in Indianapolis and continued to identify young and talented athletes.  Wingfield and Chen started to sell athletes and their families on the idea of training full-time and being home-schooled.  JCOnline (original article removed)

For students who see homeschooling as a sacrifice to be made for their Olympic dreams, they seem to be doing pretty well.

My daughter also had a comment on the story, but you will need to listen to the show to hear her (along with her lovely introduction to the show, of course!)

Links for lessons:

Summer Olympics 2008 Lapbook

Debbie’s Digest, with a variety of links and information

III.  An Unschooled Child’s View of School

This was a brief discussion of Kevin Snavley’s essay “Education From the Free Eye,” and included some thoughts on the introduction, which I discussed here last week in A homeschooled child’s view of school.

IV.  Gifted education

My guest this week was Susan of Life on the Planet who spoke from her experience homeschooling a gifted child.

If you have questions, comments, show ideas or would like to be on the show, please email my at homeschooltalkshowATgmailDOTcom.  Or leave a comment here.  Also, if you have any lessons you would like to share or have come across, let me know.  I would like to at least occasionally feature lesson plans and unit studies, especially when they are relevant to the news of the day.

let kids watch beauty and the beast

Human interest stories, abuse, homeschooling and public opinion

After commenting on the number of human interest stories about homeschooled youth doing what any other American kid does around graduation time contrasted with two horrific abuse cases which made news last month, I noted:

Most stereotypes are built on ignorance rather than overt hostility, and personal experience goes a long way toward shaping a person’s opinions of homeschooling. While having a friend who homeschools is likely the best way for non-homeschoolers to see homeschooling in a more positive light, these sorts of human interest stories probably rank a close second to meeting a friendly homeschool family at the doctor’s office. Over time, these snapshots of the lives of real homeschoolers may go a long way in building a more positive image of homeschooling with the public.

What do you think?  It is only a hypothesis of mine, but I suspect that these articles go further in balancing public opinion about homeschooling than many of the arguments we present after an abuse case makes news.

let kids watch beauty and the beast

Homeschooled, museum-schooled

wedding at stuhrA small human interest story appeared in the Grand Island Independent about homeschooling on Sunday that I rather enjoyed. Recently it seems that homeschoolers doing what any other American teenager does (put on a play, go to prom, graduate and go off to college) are getting a lot of press. But young Aaron Beye is a little different.

After all, his parents started homeschooling because no one could figure out what school district he was in. Apparently the district lines weren’t drawn to include the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, a living history museum in Grand Island, Nebraska, where Aaron Beye and his family live on the premises as museum caretakers.

What is it like being raised in a museum? I don’t know. That was the dominant question in my mind after reading the lead paragraph, but it was the one question not really answered. Instead, we find out where he went to school. As if “homeschool” weren’t clear enough.

Most of his classes were literally in his home at Stuhr Museum. Beye Himself: Student lives, works and attended school at Stuhr Museum

Literally. I still can’t help but wonder what that would be like. We have gone to the Stuhr Museum for some of its events, including a civil war reenactment and a food festival celebrating life on the Oregon Trail. In fact, the Grand Island Independent photographed the children sampling home made jelly for their website last year. Imagine this as part of your daily life rather than a field trip. We don’t always appreciate the every day experiences. As Nurtured by Love explains in her entry Homeschooling Envy:

…there’s no way I would report on my kids collecting the eggs and feeding the hens as a notable learning experience, because to them it’s really no more notable than brushing their teeth or putting their dirty clothes in the laundry hamper. Whereas for her kids, tending and collecting eggs from a small organic chicken flock would probably have been a highlight of their learning week.

So I suppose all of the interpretive events likely took on a bit of normalcy for the Beye children. But at least no one asked whether he was going to experience a bit of culture shock moving to the twentieth century. That seems to be the concern of many when homeschooled children leave the home, let alone the museum.

Instead, they just made sure to point out that his initial consideration of commuting to college was not because he was reluctant to leave home.

At one point, he said, he talked to Hastings College officials about living at home and commuting to his college classes in Hastings. Aaron said his interest in commuting was strictly financial and was not linked to any reluctance to live away from home.

Once he discovered his scholarship covered room and board, he quickly opted for dorm life. Ibid.

He has a great, built-in summer job, too, an historical interpreter for the Victorian era.

Image from the Stuhr Museum website.

let kids watch beauty and the beast

Public opinion of homeschooling slipping?

HarrisInteractive released the results of its May 2008 survey of over 2000 adults regarding the status of American education on Monday. Public schools, it seems, are not doing well in the eye of the public.

Public schools fall to the bottom of the list when it comes to the quality of education they provide. Just one in six U.S. adults (15%) say public schools, grades K-6 provide excellent or very good education while 13 percent say the same about public schools for grades 7-12; Are Public Schools Flunking or Passing?

Worse even than charters and homeschooling. The overview is interesting. Peter Shafer, Vice President and Head of Harris Interactive’s Youth Center of Excellence finds the results of the survey appalling and a call to action.

The continued decline in the public’s perception of the quality of education should be a call to action for administrators and policymakers at all levels of government. It is appalling that one of the best areas of performance in public education the quality of gym classes. Ibid.

Which I might be inclined to think as well, except this is merely an opinion poll. The same adults were asked to rate homeschools, charter schools, public schools and private schools (both church-related and non church-related) whether or not they had any specific experience with any of these forms of education.

Looking at the tables more closely, however, reveals a potentially disturbing trend. After all, homeschooling has made steady gains in successive opinion polls, demonstrating increasing acceptance. In this poll, however, homeschooling seems to have slid back a little bit.

homeschool opinion

The percentage of people rating homeschooling as “excellent” dropped, as well, but still did not upset our ranking above both charter and public schools. The differences are small…almost statistically insignificant. However, in some of these areas, the “approval rate” for homeschooling approaches the statistically insignificant.

I find it interesting that when adults are asked for an opinion of the general state of education, they rank public schooling so poorly. Broken down, however, it is clear that homeschooling ranks far behind public school. So we are better “overall” but not in any of the specifics? Something does not add up.

let kids watch beauty and the beast

Homeschooling without credentials leads to educational anarchy

Educational AnarchyIt isn’t just that we’re “well meaning amateurs.” The National Education Association (well, at least the California Chapter) has real concerns about what homeschooling will do to the entire educational system. As reported by the Pacific Justice Institute, the organization representing Sunland Christian School:

For instance, the California Teachers Association claims in its brief that allowing parents to homeschool their children without requiring a teaching credential will result in “educational anarchy.” Meanwhile, in another brief filed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and the California Department of Education, it is argued that the law allows parents to homeschool on their own – but not with the help of a structured, independent-study program such as the one represented by Pacific Justice Institute (which was utilized by the L. family in this case). Pacific Justice Institute

Now what, pray tell, is educational anarchy? Excerpted from Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary:

an·ar·chy

from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler

1 a: absence of government b: a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c: a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government

2 a: absence or denial of any authority or established order b: absence of order

Interesting. Maybe they have a point. I do believe that the absence of government in private homes is generally a good thing. And when specifically applied to education, I do deny that the state has any authority with regards to how I instruct my children at home. But will this lead to a general absence of order? A denial of any authority? A complete upsetting of the established order?

I think the CTA will have a tough time arguing that point since homeschooling has existed in this nation since its beginning, and recognized in our state laws for twenty years or more, predominantly without the requirement of a teacher’s certificate. And I am yet to see one single state’s education system dissolve into anarchy. In fact, we are having to fight rather diligently to slow the trend of increasing government intervention. Maybe the NEA should join us in that fight since they have similar interests in preserving teachers’ freedoms in the classroom.