I’ve been a fan of the Mars Hill Audio Journal since the early 90s, though only an intermittent subscriber.  I enjoy and appreciate its insight into life and culture, but generally prefer to receive information in printed, rather than spoken, form.  Plus I was tired of finding places to store the cassettes.

Recently I re-subscribed, because they now offer an mp3 version.  This I can take with me on my walks, and it takes up no physical space in the house.  Works for me. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 20, 2008 at 10:23 am | Edit
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Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Liberty

Whether you attribute that quotation to Wendell Phillips, Thomas Jefferson, or Patrick Henry, it's the truth, and no less true when it comes to the rights of parents to educate their own children. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 18, 2008 at 9:02 am | Edit
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I am on an Andrew Pudewa kick.  I first discovered his Institute for Excellence in Writing through an online forum for early childhood education, and—as usual—once I'd heard of him, his name started coming to my attention in other ways.  A friend of ours is the principal of a private Christian school which emphasizes academic excellence as well as a solid Christian worldview, and she and her teachers waxed so enthusiastic about his program for teaching writing that she even sent me a sample videotape of one of his lectures.  It didn't take me long to get hooked.  For the first three minutes, I found Pudewa's voice to be annoying; after that I was so intrigued by what he was saying and how he was presenting it that it didn't matter.

Now I'm not averse to spending money on educational materials for our grandkids, but they're not yet old enough for the writing materials, which are a bit pricey to buy on speculation, especially since there might well be a subsequent edition or two by the time they would be used.  Fortunately for my curiosity, one of our favorite homeschooling families was impressed enough to try it out, and I'm looking forward to hearing about their experiences. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 3:05 pm | Edit
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Those of you who begin each day with my Morning Coffee page are already familiar with the Geography Zone challenge.  Thanks to DSTB you will now see a new geography quiz in the list, National Geographic's GeoBee.  This is a tough one, not only because it covers more than locations (natural resources, culture, and religion for example), but because the questions are not always multiple choice.  Not only is it necessary to come up with the answer on one's own, which is much more difficult than merely choosing, but spelling counts.  I mis-spelled "Montpelier."  :(

Gambate!
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 22, 2008 at 9:37 am | Edit
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It's been a while since we paid college tuition (though the loans linger on), and even longer since we paid for private schooling pre-college (Heather's kindergarten and first grade years), but the desire to compare the cost of a trip to Antarctica to other forms of education led me to some shocking discoveries.

The educational system in America, like the health care system, is in terrible shape.  Don't get me wrong.  I have yet to be convinced that the situation is better in any other country, and the number of people who flock here from overseas, both to our doctors and to our schools, is ample evidence that I'm not the only one.

What's more, anyone who knows me knows my strong belief that the solution to neither problem lies in more governmental funding and/or control (it's always "and," anyway), but rather in more freedom of choice.  Despite my passionate thoughts on the value of home education, the three-fold cord of public, private, and home education is much stronger than any one of them separately.  Equally important is always to be thinking outside the box, and that (at long last) brings me to the heart of this post:  the cost of education. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 22, 2008 at 8:08 am | Edit
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I like my customized Google News page, the keyhole through which I see not only major world and U.S. stories, but also the latest news on specific topics of particular interest to me, such as home birth, home education, and Basel, Switzerland.  That's how I occasionally come upon little gems I'd never find otherwise, such as Homeschooling Grows Up, an article from today's Catoosa County News.  Have you ever  heard of the Catoosa County News?  How about Catoosa County itself?  Me, neither.  (It's in Georgia.)

Not that the article says anything spectacular or new to those already in the home education field, but it caught my eye because of a conversation I had recently with Janet, in which she noted that in her lifetime home education has gone from being considered extremely counter-cultural to being so common some people homeschool simply because that's what's expected of them, at least in their own circle of friends.  It's hard for me to imagine the latter, but apparently in places it's true.  I can't get too upset by that—I don't see it as being any worse than sending your kids to public school because "that's what's done"—but admit it does pose some risks as the pool expands.

Be that as it may, Homeschooling Grows Up struck me as a nice summary of the diversity of homeschooling experiences available today.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Edit
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I have over 200 e-mails in my inbox, and though sometimes I can deal with a lot quickly when I put my mind to it, progress came to a screeching halt when I'm confronted with one from my brother, alerting me to the FreeRice vocabulary game.  It's a simple, multiple-choice vocabulary quiz that adjusts to one's abilities, making it suitable for a wide range of players.  For each correct answer, 20 grains of rice are donated (funded by advertising on the site) to the United Nations World Food Program.  All at one site: good turn, mental workout, and addictive distraction.

This game is particularly useful when there are so many other things you need to be doing that your mind can't concentrate on any of them.  :)  In my introductory session, I spent about half an hour and got up to Level 49 (of 50) and 3300 grains of rice.  This is much better than the Reader's Digest "Word Power" for challenging me. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 5:37 pm | Edit
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[Part 3 will be the last, at least for a while, since the book must go back to the library.  Here are Part 1 and Part 2.]

[The best state of mind to promote if you want to encourage someone to be successful is] a fully realistic assessment of the difficulty of the challenge ahead of him, and, at the same time, an unrealistically optimistic belief in his ability to overcome it.

This one is suprising, and no doubt controversial, yet resonates so well with my experience that I am compelled to write about it. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, December 17, 2007 at 7:13 am | Edit
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The One Thing You Need to Know...About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success, by Marcus Buckingham (Free Press, 2005)

[This is Part Two.  Part One is here.] 

The mediocre manager believes that most things are learnable and therefore that the essence of management is to identiry each person's weaker areas and eradicate them.

The great manager...believes that the most influential qualities of a person are innate and therefore that the essence of management is to deploy these innate qualities as effectively as possible and so drive performance. 

I find Marcus Buckingham's belief in the essentially unalterable effect of our genetic makeup on our abilities to be disturbing, to say the least.  However, that doesn't change my appreciation of his observation that we spend too much time and effort trying to shore up our areas of weakness, and not enough building on our strengths.  True, we can't afford to ignore our weaknesses, and well-directed efforts at overcoming them are often in order.  Spending the majority of our energy on our strengths, however, generally leads to the most progress, the most satisfaction, and the most achievement. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 8:41 am | Edit
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The One Thing You Need to Know...About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success, by Marcus Buckingham (Free Press, 2005)

Reading, for me, is not a luxury but a necessity, like eating.  Ideally, meals should be eaten slowly, savored, and appreciated, preferably in the company of good companions and interesting conversation.  So it also should be with books.  All too often, however, under the pressures of the day, we gulp a hasty meal and move on. Alas, I have not done justice to The One Thing You Need to Know, but when I read about it on the Prodical Kiwi(s) Blog, I knew I had to grab what I could from it now, and hope to give it a better reading later. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 10:22 am | Edit
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I'm designing a playroom, and have been for years.  I don't ever expect to see it, since (1) our children are grown, and (2) my design takes no account of cost.  Nonetheless it's fun imagining what I'd do if I could, kind of like mentally spending lottery winnings (even though I never buy a ticket).

My playroom would be as much outdoors as it could be while still being usable in all seasons—lots of large windows or sliding glass doors with screens, perhaps, and an indoor/outdoor connection.  The latter could be a door, but wouldn't a tunnel be fun?  There would be a large art/craft section, and music (instruments for playing and a CD player for listening), and a brachiation ladder; well-stocked bookshelves and perhaps a sunken reading pit with comfortable cushions; a timeline all around the room and many maps and pictures on the walls. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 15, 2007 at 9:18 am | Edit
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I don't believe I was aware of the launch of the first Sputnik 50 years ago.  I do remember going outside with my father two and a half years later to watch Echo 1 traverse the sky.  That marked the first of many excursions with him to look at phenomena in the sky:  satellites, lunar and solar eclipses, comets.

When Sputnik aroused consternation in the United States and set off furious attempts at educational reform, I was a month into my kindergarten year, so I can't speak accurately about consequent changes in our public schools.  There are some comparisions I can do, however, looking at the three generations I know. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 7:23 am | Edit
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Throughout my school years, I hated the study of history.  Perhaps that's not quite accurate; I remember in elementary school enjoyable units on Indians and on Early Settlers, and a large and informative project on Ethiopia.  Progress after that was mostly negative, however.

A 10th grade World Cultures teacher was fairly inspiring, despite his other incarnation as a baseball coach.  Other than that I'd have to say that my history teachers could hardly have done more to make the study of history dull and tedious.  On top of that, I somehow picked up the idea that one was either a "math and science person" or a "history and English person," and it was not possible to be in both camps.  I staked my claim squarely in the math and science camp.

It was not till well after I graduated from college that I discovered that the story of our past is vital—in the sense of being full of life, as well as in the sense of critical importance.  I also learned the foolishness of limiting one's interests by someone else's categories. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 11:18 am | Edit
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Central Florida is the most dangerous place in the country, at least if it's lightning strikes that worry you.  The tragedy of a girl who was struck by lightning just after descending from her school bus is still fresh in our memories, so it's no wonder the Orange County school board policy errs on the side of caution:  No student is allowed outside until 30 minutes after the last lighning flash, if thunder follows the lightning within 30 seconds.

They are wisely reconsidering the policy, however, after a recent debacle.  A long-lasting storm coupled with rigid enforcement of the rules kept some 2000 students trapped at two schools until nearly 9 p.m.  Snacks were trucked in (the district apparently caring less about the safety of their employees), and no doubt many of the students thought the excitement high adventure—at least for the first hour.  But most of the children—not to mention the teachers—must have been anxious to get home to their families, with not a few kindergarteners crying for their mommies. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 8:23 am | Edit
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Mommy, It's a Renoir! was the title of a book about art appreciation for children that I fell in love with many years ago.  To my chagrin, by the time I decided we could afford to buy the set, it was no longer available.

Thus I was thrilled to discover that the program is back in print.  Once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler, especially when one has nephews and grandchildren to consider.  For reasons I can't imagine, the exciting title has been changed to How to Use Child-Size Masterpieces.  Could they have tried to make it sound more boring? (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 9:59 am | Edit
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