Tuesday, July 31, 2007

no math til 7th grade?

wow, this is a really interesting article! (that's the link to page 1, the link to the subsequent pages are on the bottom of each page)

it talks about an experiment done by the superintendant of schools in ithaca, NY back in 1929, where he has certain schools eliminate math from their curriculum because, he says, children don't need to use it til later anyway and so he prefers to have them focus on other subjects (english, for one) and work on just casual estimating of distance and such, but no formal math (long division, multiplication tables, etc) until 7th grade. very interesting idea!

i read the entire article and it makes me wonder if there are any schools out there that use this approach...certainly schools like waldorf and enki believe in a delay of academics...but not that long of a delay and not specifically math for that long.

benezet (the man in the story) has some very fascinating points...its very intriguing to me.

it does make me wonder, though, because he is specifically applying his theory to public school children...so the topic is not entirely relevant to my homeschooler, i believe, in that i could find a fun way to teach her about math, very casually (which i think i have in the right start curriculum) and still find a way for her to learn the concepts, casually and thoroughly. but i really like the idea that they really don't need it yet...and that they can catch up on everything quickly in a short amount of time at an older age when they are more able to grasp the concepts.
kinda takes the pressure off.

i definitely will be looking at that list of math concepts that he lists for each grade and see if there's anything in there useful to me.

very very fascinating! wonder what the kids' education would look like if our public schools followed his ideas?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

intelligent design vs evolution

wow, this is really cool...i just learned (and i have no idea when it happened...i may just be late getting the news, lol!) that there was a court ruling against teaching intelligent design in public schools. this just seems so obvious to me, so bizarre to me that anyone would even challenge it. here's the article.

i'm not christian, so obviously i'm not a creationist. well i guess i could still be...i supposed christians aren't the only ones that are creationists...well anyway...my belief system is more of creation AND evolution. i've always believed that they go hand in hand and that the anti-evolution extremists who claim that all the scientific evidence that has been found supporting evolution is fake are just living life in lalaland. i suppose i am a bit of an intelligent design believer...but not at the exclusion of evolution...and i DON'T believe that the theory belongs in public schools...where religion has NO place.

i've had this discussion of creation vs evolution with my dad (recently retired united methodist pastor) many times and he agrees with me....we don't believe its an either/or thing. we believe creation and THEN evolution. seems really silly to us to think that god WOULDN'T create things that were capable of evolving! how can you limit god like that? so silly!

also case in point is that we don't know how long it took god to create things...i don't believe in the bible's account (my view of the bible is that it's a book of mythology that many take literally, but which i personally do not...probably are some truths in there, but i tend to think interpretation and embellishments have made it what it is today), but even if you do believe in the one week theory, which my dad does...we have no idea how long GOD's weeks are (certainly not the same as human weeks!) could easily be millions or billions of human years...and the evolution that we see evidence of could be the actual creation process. makes perfect sense to me.

one thing i'm sure of...no one can say for sure what IS true or not. its all just theory...religious or scientific. and we all just have our own take on it. i really don't know what the "truth" is...if there even is a truth. its all interesting, but i find it beyond ludicrous that the religious extremists keep trying to push their agenda into public schools (which thankfully have no bearing on me as a homeschooler, but it still annoys me) and claiming that its not about religion. yeah, right.

this is just as stupid to me as the people that are trying so hard to keep things like the ten commandments in court buildings and such...HELLO???? "separation of church and state???" this is so friggin rude to those of different beliefs that its not even funny! this is why i get so pissed off at religious extremists because they think that they have the right to push their agenda down everyone's throats and show no respect whatsoever for differing viewpoints. they really seriously don't see how rude it is. so ridiculous!

that's like when i used to hang out in the beliefs chat room on aol (which, by the way, aol is the worst for trolls so i stopped going there a long time ago...they have the nastiest trolls on the planet, i swear...had some guy wish me a second miscarriage on there once...after hearing me talk about being scared about being pg again after losing the last one...nice, eh? some people really don't deserve to exist.) and people would always be quoting scriptures to support their arguments (on various topics)...i kept pointing out to them that quoting scripture as proof of their case to someone that doesn't believe in the bible really doesn't prove anything! so stupid! yet they just wouldn't get it and would continue to spout off about how (those of us that disagreed with them) were going to hell, yada yada....which was laughable because that threat really holds no weight to someone who doesn't believe in hell...but i digress, LOL!

i just really have no tolerance for intolerance, LOL! wow, that's really a contradiction, isn't it? well its the truth...religious extremists make my skin crawl. i'm so sick of the holier-than-thou attitudes that they spew and while i'm not christian, i do have many family and friends whom i love dearly that are, and i do respect their beliefs, and so these religious wackos with their crazy ideas on what is "christian" really piss me off because they are giving a BAD name to christianity...which is supposed to be a religion of kindness (that's how i was raised that it was!) and there is no kindness in arrogantly believing your beliefs make you better than someone else.


anyway, i'm glad to see that there was a court case upholding that intelligent design is just religious belief attempting to be disguised as scientific theory...and that it doesn't belong in public schools where we're supposed to separate church and state. yay judge! :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

wow, education

ok so there's a pattern of interest here that i'm sure anyone that has read any number of my posts is getting...i'm a bit obsessed with the topic of education right now. as well i should be, considering i am the one responsible for my children's education (being the primary caregiver and homeschooler).

well someone just shared this article with our local homeschool egroup. wow. i mean i knew already that our nation's education system was messed up but to have more specifics just really was interesting and horrifying at the same time.

particularly this part where the author says that (the dominant education reform current):

"sees discipline and structure as the keys to school improvement. Reform in this direction starts by asking, "What does the country need, what must all kids know to serve those needs, and how can we enforce the necessary learning?" In this direction, the curriculum comes first, schools are built around the curriculum, and students are required to fit themselves into a given structure, controlled from above. As a social good, it promotes national unity and strength. This is the road we're on now with NCLB." (No Child Left Behind)

That does seem so true though. As I've said before, I've subbed in our local public schools...and while I know I only got a very small taste of what is going on in the schools...I got enough of a taste to leave a bad taste in my mouth. And I know enough from that experience, and from my personal experience as a student, and from just things I hear from parents, (knowing that the stories are very typical)...to know that the American School System is just so screwed up its not even funny. And this is where the majority of children, the "Future of America", spend most of their waking hours during their most formative years. Very very sad. No wonder America's so screwed up. It's all so messed up I wouldn't even know where to begin to fix it, were it my job. Save tearing it all down and starting all over from scratch.

Yet again another reason that I am glad to be a homeschooler. And yet, I cannot completely wash my hands of the public school issue. Because, as someone so eloquently pointed out on one of my homeschooling groups...many of the children that our children associate with are being educated in the public schools. Most of the adults that our children will grow up to work with, have relationships with, have their own children with will have been greatly influenced by the public school system. It's enough to give me a headache.

Ay yi yi, I can't think any further on this today. Here's another good read that approaches the issue on a more personal level. Now I need a break from this dilemma. Its too depressing right now.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

my babies are growing up!

*sigh* my babies aren't babies anymore!

tyren is a computer whiz at the tender age of 2 and maeven is reading herself books now! wow, how they grow!

more and more lately tyren is asking to play on the computer...lately boohbah and noggin are his favorite sites. he has really gotten the hang of the mouse! he knows how to point and click with very good control!! unbelievable! not entirely surprising though. both my kids have been at the computer since birth. first as nursing babies and later as babies banging on the keyboards and now as kids playing games! tyren can't speak in real sentences yet but he can play oobi on the noggin website! LOL! and the computer family that we are, i am totally ok with that. (oh and don't worry, he'll be speaking sentences in no time too...we're an incredibly verbal family too! LOL!)

and maeven...i've not really been able to do the work one-on-one with her that i had planned (yet)...she's going to be 7 this year and i'm still struggling to figure out homeschool time...we did pretty good for a few weeks then the summer heat knocked me off my feet and the toddler was constantly under feet (and climbing all over us) so i just gave up for a bit to regroup again...but i'm sooo excited to see that she still continues to learn despite me! tonite she pulled 3 books off the shelf and read them! these were all dr seuss books (go dog go, the spooky old tree, and are you my mother) and she had never read them herself before, nor had we read them to her in awhile. i think she was very surprised that she was able to actually get through each book completely. so exciting to see her reading to herself! i have been hoping for this day! i'm soooo proud!

she's also having a blast with piano lessons with my dad lately. somehow we thought of the idea to have bompa teach her when she developed an interest in the piano. now i'm glad that we have the darn thing! she goes to my dad's for a lesson every week and then she can practice at home! very low-key stuff so far...he's starting her very slow and easy, which is very good because she frustrates easily. she's so proud of herself! and i taught her chopsticks, lol. i'm one proud mama!

well enough mama braggin...i should get back to trying to get num-nuts (my term of endearment for tyren) to sleep..he's still playing noggin right now and its going to be a real fight to get him off that computer...yay.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

pain, horrible pain

we interrupt your regularly scheduled high school memories to share with you how much pain i'm in today. ugh.

somehow in my sleep i managed to get a horrible pain in my neck. HOW does that happen?

its really quite bad...makes me not want to move my head. i look very stiff-necked. bleh. i'm sure it will clear up in a day or 2...but until then...i'm hatin life.

i also woke up with cramps. weird cuz ever since the last baby i don't get menstrual cramps. but this morning i woke up with a crick in my neck and cramps. fun. the pain got so bad i was literally nauseous! but life as a mommy must go on!

and since i was out of pads, i had to pile my brood into the car and make a run to target. oh THAT was fun. tyren took that opportunity to be very tantrum prone. not that that's out of the ordinary...but there is a certain amount of expectation (as unrealistic as it may be) that the children should be sympathetic to a mom in pain and behave accordingly. oh no, not my 2 year old. (of course i realize how ridiculous it is to expect children to behave when there's a special circumstance...but i never said it was a rational thought!)

one short trip to target and i'm wiped out! i did get some good deals, though, hehe. found some cute rubber boots with bug faces on them for tyren on clearance for $3.47 --dang good deal! they are huge on him now but i figure by the time we get rain again, they should be fitting decently. i also found some cool rolley bags...they are luggage/school bags and i plan to use them for the kids school work. got tyren one too cuz that way he can have his own bag of stuff to keep him busy while maeven works on school stuff. (pretty good deal for $9.99!) now i just have to figure out what to put in it. :)

anyway...i just wanted to moan a little about the pain i'm in today. back to your normal lives. i'm done.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

high school memories and reflections PT 2

so sophomore year was the beginning of a very happening social life for me...a HUGE difference from just months before when i was a sad little wallflower nerd who didn't have any social life outside of my family. i thoroughly enjoyed myself!

my sophomore year, i regularly attended our church youth group with the guys...all of them were usually there as well (except ryan)...i remember that they used to always bring a boom box and blast rap music. (which i dubbed "rap crap"). they'd hang out on the steps outside the church way before the group was starting, with their music cranked, and just joke and hang out. some fond memories--a "lock-in" at the Y (YMCA), where "The Rev" (our pastor) made sure the girls and boys were separate when it was time to sleep and even went so far as to sleep in front of the doorway of the boys room so that they couldn't escape at night. i didn't wear my contacts to that retreat, for some weird reason...i think because i was still fairly new to contacts and didn't feel confident caring for them in front of people. so i was quite blind for that whole event. i remember there was some game that the rev set up for us that he wrote a bunch of things on a large pad of paper and we were supposed to work with that and i couldn't read it, at all! sat there squinting sooo hard and wishing i had worn my contacts, LOL! silly. oh and "walleyball" (volleyball in a racquetball court, using the walls) while blind was interesting too. was it any wonder i didn't hit the ball very often? LOL!! the next day we had a car wash and as i recall we were all soooo dead from staying up all night...(we weren't able to mix the boys and girls that night, but that didn't stop the girls from chatting all night, LOL!)

as time went on, i got invited more and more to go places with the guys (outside of youth group)...and we regularly went all over our area, having fun and causing mischief. tom, one of the guys, was a year older than us and so had his driver's license and a car already...so we had a way to get around, and get around we did!

all the while my crush on chris blossomed and grew exponentially. sophomore year i was still fairly introverted, and i remember that fluttery feeling of every moment i got to spend in chris's presence, LOL! it was a long transition process to the extrovert i became by high school's end. it wasn't til junior year that i gave up that crush since it was obvious he wasn't going to return the feelings (and then what happened? he asked me out! go figure, LOL!) we spent a good amount of time hanging out and just being dumb teenagers...cruisin freehold and the jersey shore in one of tom's many cars.

my friendship with ken grew deeper and deeper and became very physical, in a sibling sort of way...i jumped on his back frequently, he carried me around, we slapped each other (quite hard too! ow!) constantly, and i was a regular recipient of wedgies from him...that sort of thing. lots of snuggling in the back seat of the car on the way home too...but nothing that ever went beyond friendship. i remember ken and i would take turns going by where we knew the other would be hanging out between classes and walloping each other on the back of the head as we passed by ("HI!!") , that sort of thing. it was actually pretty rough but always amusing. :) and i would say we were pretty close, emotionally, as well...though i don't recall any frequent deep conversations...just remember really feeling very very close to him. he was one groovy dude. :)

it wasn't til junior year that things got complicated when ken asked me out and i, stupidly, said no "because i didn't want to ruin our friendship" (DOH!) truth be told, i think all that beating up on each other actually had started to turn into more than friendship for me too, and i did have more than friendship feelings for ken...i just couldn't face them at the time. :( i was absolutely devastated by how i knew i hurt him (i remember having a very very weepy and loooooong phone conversation with ryan about it all...my whole world at the time just fell apart from that incident. big stuff as a teenager.) and ken and my relationship changed significantly after that...it was never quite the same. especially when chris took the opportunity following that to ask me out ("because ken had his chance, and you said no!") and i, stupidly, said yes (guess i never quite got over that silly crush completely)...yeah, never the same after that.

more fond memories from those years--how we used to cram SO many people into those cars...and i was usually the one that had to sit across a row of people, or on someone's lap. i'm guessing we didn't ever do seatbelts, YIKES! one night at pond road movie theater (one of our spots we cruised regularly and hung out at), i remember there were some angry words exchanged out the window to some guy in the parking lot (by ken, cuz he had a bit of a mouth on him and liked to stir things up...musta been a testosterone thing) and the guy came at the car (which was crammed with people) to get to ken and tom drove away but stopped when the guy threw his brush at the side of the car (worried about the paint job, i think)...the guy opened the car door and punched ken in the face, and i got caught in the crossfire since i was closer than ken and he hit my face on the way to ken's. that was fun, LOL! then someone shouted "DRIVE, TOM!!!" and we screeched away with the door open and the guy shouting obscenities at us and ken returning them. i remember feeling very cared for when i told ken that i took some of the sting off the punch for him...because he got very pissed that i was hit. that feeling stayed with me for a LONG time. i reveled in that...that someone cared enough to be pissed because i got hurt. that was HUGE.

man, i just have too many memories...this is going to be a 10 parter, i think, LOL!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

high school memories and reflections PT 1

OK. if i'm going to reminisce, might as well go all the way. it IS my blog, afterall...i can ramble all i want! :)

well, to fully understand who i was in high school we must backtrack a tiny bit to junior high. (*groan* must we? yeah, i think we must)

i spent 7th, 8th and 9th grade in okinawa, japan. my dad was in the navy. i have very fond memories of my time there...we thoroughly enjoyed the culture and the people. during our time there i was turning into a teenager. slowly, very very slowly. my family was still central to my life and i had no social life outside of my family to speak of.

now during this time, my family life was extremely positive, i should note. we've always been a very close and loving family. (my parents, my younger brother and i). my entire social life my 3 years in okinawa was with my family and the people that my family brought into that circle. my dad was the senior chaplain at one of the military bases and regularly scheduled fun field trips, charity projects, movie nights, cultural events, social events, holiday gatherings, picnics, you name it! Just about every weekend had us doing something...we saw just about every nook and cranny on that island and i swear we met just about every okinawan! the things we did were always fun and fulfilling. and though this didn't involve peers, this did involve many many "big brother" marines...5-10years older than me, that adopted me as their little sister and treated me very kindly and made me feel special despite my awkwardness.

but adolescence is about peers...and during 7th & 8th grade (according to my recollection) i was teased at school because of my lack of social prowess (big ole geeky glasses and serious lack of fashion sense, not to mention just overall not "cool" in my mannerisms...i was still very much a little girl...and a dorky one at that.) i was sufficiently beaten down emotionally in junior high to know my place in the hierarchy--down at the bottom of the social ladder...

freshman year wasn't particularly noteworthy. i didn't really get teased, that i recall, but i also just didn't really fit in anywhere. lost in the crowd of a very large high school (which also encompassed 7th/8th grade) .

fast forward to our next duty station...earle, NJ. summer before my sophomore year of high school. HUGE changes in my life, including: move back stateside (culture shock), move to a civilian area and a civilian school (another sort of culture shock, as my brother and i hadn't mingled with civilian kids for 8 years) , ditched the glasses and got contacts, learned how to wear makeup (and wore it every day for the rest of high school, i believe), and got a better hair style and clothing sense (better, not great). suddenly i was getting a chance to finally be a real teenager.

the sunday before my first day of school (which was several weeks into the school year, since it took us months to find a place to live and hence where to send us to school...nothing new for us, but hard nonetheless) i met some of the kids that went to my new school...ken k, chris h, tom m, and i think ryan t might have been there too that first nite, though i don't recall him being at the meetings ever again. it was the local united methodist church youth group...something that really changed my life...because there is where i got my first real teenage social life. (remember my dad was a chaplain/pastor, so church was a central part of my family life...so of course one of the first things my parents did in our new town was join a new church.)

i developed an instant, hardcore, crush on chris h. i swear from the moment i laid eyes on him. very weird to remember that. and somehow i got accepted into that group and became one of the gang..."the guys", as i came to call chris, ken, tom and ryan, became my life. my family was always important still...but this was where my adolescence truly began.

i was SOOOOO happy! in less than a year's time i went from social outcast to socialite! i doubt anyone from junior high would have recognized me. i finally was accepted. and it meant the world to me.

ahhh high school

i recently created a yahoogroup for my graduating class because our 20year reunion is coming up next year. so there's people joining and reminiscing. all different people from all different high school cliques. very interesting to see us all talking as grownups after all the drama of high school when many of us never would have given the others the time of day in high school. or maybe just wouldn't have noticed the others. nice to finally have grown up.

the weirdest part is that there are people on there that i had HUGE falling outs with during high school that i can now converse with like nothing ever happened. well not entirely like nothing happened. i don't think any of us care in current time about all that happened but i imagine there are some residual feelings from what we had to endure in the past.

thinking about my own hurt feelings over a huge blowup i was a part of where i was the recipient of hurt...it makes me feel bad about another situation where i was on the opposite side. from my situation, i can still remember how it felt to be tossed aside and made to feel completely unimportant and reading these people's memories from high school where i'm not a part of their recall (probably mainly because of our falling out senior year...i WASN'T part of their senior year...but i was a big part of previous years, or at least in my memories i was), it just makes me remember that pain, bleh....which makes me think about this other person that probably felt the same way from how WE treated HER! i don't even remember why all of it happened...just that there was a lot of drama and she ended up not being a part of the group anymore and there were a lot of hateful things... *sigh* such is adolescence.

i recently wrote in a questionnaire we're filling out about memories and thoughts about high school..."i was just glad to get out alive!" and that is so true. i do have fond memories of high school...in retrospect i can say that i truly enjoyed high school...but my memories are so interlaced with all the drama and pain that its hard to think of one without the other! stupid things that i shouldn't have been upset about (but at the time, i was a hormonal, immature teen...so of course everything was huge!) and things that i deserved to be upset about but surprised to remember the feelings from after all these years....people that i have fond memories of that don't remember me...ouch...lordy i'm just so glad high school is over and done with, geez!

this trip down memory lane has such mixed feelings...i was thoroughly enjoying it but its just not entirely happy memories anymore so....i think its time for me to go back to present reality.

the reunion's not for another year...i highly doubt that we'll be able to afford it anyway...and if we could, i'm not entirely sure i really want to go...there's some people i'd love to see that probably won't be there...and the majority of people that will be there i really don't know, and don't share memories with so i'm not sure it would be worth forking out the money to go. but i am glad that i'm doing the egroup...its free! :)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

evolution, creation & history, oh my!

so i'm not real happy so far with AO's history books (from their year 1 book list). well i like an island story...but i dropped the other main book...trial and triumph i think? right away cuz its very religious, specifically christian....and i'm omitting the christian aspects out of our rendition of charlotte mason education. my husband and i are not christian and not interested in raising our children christian. i don't have a problem with them learning about christianity...it will be a part of their education, as christianity is such an integral part of so much history, especially american history and the holidays and such we observe to this day...and i've even told my father, a recently retired united methodist pastor, that i'm totally ok with him sharing his beliefs about christianity with my children. as long as he doesn't teach any dogma...which he won't because that's not at all what he's about. he's never been one to shove his beliefs down anyone's throat and i know he respects (doesn't like it, but respects), my husband and my beliefs and so will not try to proselytize to my children. :) i want my children to learn about all the diversity of religious beliefs out there...not just one belief system.

there is a lot of christian conservatism present in ambleside online's curriculum (charlotte mason education in general as well) so i just dropped that. but i continue to be concerned with their overall conservative xtian slant. i initially thought it would be easy to just drop the biblical references and blatantly religious books. but i'm starting to realize there's more to this slant than just a few books. they have a really different focus than i am interested in, so i may just be veering off on my own version of CM soon, away from AO. but that's ok. CM is very flexible with adding your own books and such.

and then i've read a few of the stories now to maeven from the 50 famous stories retold book and i can't say i like any of them yet. actually a little horrified at the violence and themes of war and killing. this is listed on the AO year 1 booklist under history and i know history has lots of violence in it but i am not interested in exposing my 6.5yr old to the gore yet. now granted, 50 famous doesn't' get too gory, but still, the killing and the violence is there, even if not blatantly in your face....and i'm just not getting how its historical either...seems like mythology and folklore...so i am going to be dropping that one as well...i read on ahead and still don't see anything i personally consider quality reading.

so there is a wonderful secular CM list that i'm making good use of. i just post there to get info on what i might not want to include in CM homeschooling and what they recommend to replace it, usually with a secular focus. so i posted about how i'm not really happy with the history for year 1 so far. and someone gave me some wonderful advice! i'm probably going to go with the history curriculum "story of the world" which some friends have recommended and lots of people online, secular and non. but this woman on the secular list also told me that she did a lot of evolution, creation stories from around the world and prehistory before starting SOTW. i'm really liking this idea! so i'm starting to collect some of the books that she recommends, from the library where possible...check them out and see which ones we might like...

i'm particularly interested in checking out the creation stories. i'm all about mythology and folklore from around the world...and i'm ok with including biblical stories with that as well...just not alone. i want to show all the different ideas of creation that people around the world have and let the kids see how beautiful these stories can be!

of course i won't find a thing on evolution on the main CM lists, since most of those people are so conservative and scoff at evolution...so silly to me, but to each his own. so i'll stick with where i can find the info i need. starting to compile a list of good books on these subjects and i'm going to create some CM webpages on fresno family so that i can keep the list online for others to view and also for my own records. i really want to creat a whole section for secular CM homeschooling since there doesn't yet seem to be a lot out there yet. i'll just keep records of what i find to work for us and let others take what they like from it.

so now i just have to get us started working on a book of centuries! that sounds so fun, if i can just get us moving in that direction!