When I read the story of Melissa Busekros, I wonder anew why some people are so anxious to subject our country to the authority of international governing bodies.  Fifteen-year-old Melissa was ripped from her home by German police, committed to a mental hospital, and placed in state custody, all because her parents, concerned that the chaotic environment of her school had contributed to her failure in two subjects, chose to have her tutored at home the next year.  She was (and apparently still is) cut off from contact with her parents and siblings, with the excuse that she is suffering from "school phobia" and contact with her family would exacerbate the problem.

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany.  That's bad enough for German citizens, but could be disastrous for the rest of Europe if the German philosophy gains the upper hand in European Union politics.  And should the United States decide to submit to the authority of the United Nations or another international authority, we would put ourselves at risk of similar tyranny. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, February 9, 2007 at 9:15 am | Edit
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The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child.  Volume 3:  Early Modern Times, by Susan Wise Bauer (Peace Hill Press, Charles City, Virginia, 2004)

Once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler.  Sometimes I can't help checking out the curriculum explosion that has taken place since the younger days of our own home education experiences.  As one might expect, some is awful, some great, and much in between.

Based on this one sample, Susan Wise Bauer's history books are on the high end of in between.  In addition to the five-star praises, there are some harsh reviews on Amazon for the first volume of this series.  Some of them clearly have an axe to grind on issues that don't bother me; some I agree with but find minor (such as her overuse of exclamation points); others I think refer to faults that were largely corrected by the time she wrote the third volume. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, February 6, 2007 at 8:43 am | Edit
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Check out this essay by Andrew Pudewa on teaching writing.  I've been perusing his site, which I find very interesting, and was struck by this common-sense view of how to encourage children to develop good writing skills.  I'm especially pleased that he managed to drag in most of my favorite writers of educational philosophy:  Dorothy Sayers, Maria Montessori, Glenn Doman, and Arthur Robinson by name—and John Holt is well represented, though anonymously.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 10:40 am | Edit
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According to this WebMD article, napping helps babies process and retain new information.  Extrapolating to all ages, maybe a good book or educational video, or a stimulating intellectual discussion, would be a profitable pre-bedtime ritual.  And maybe we should stop being so hard on students who snooze during class....
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 9:53 am | Edit
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I do feel sorry for Lake Brantley High School's band. When our kids played in it, many of the members secretly (or not so secretly) wanted the football team to lose so they wouldn't extend the marching season by making the playoffs. (An understandable side effect of the unreasonable rule requiring students to play in the marching band if they wanted to be part of the concert band.)

Still, even the hardest-hearted (that would have been me, had I known) must have felt a thrill when Brantley became the first Seminole County football team to play in a State Championship game, which was held at Miami's Dolphin Stadium last night. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, December 10, 2006 at 7:29 am | Edit
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In the past few decades, the number of college-bound students has skyrocketed, and so has the number of world-class schools. The demand for an excellent education has created an ever-expanding supply of big and small campuses that provide great academics and first-rate faculties.

So says Newsweek, which procedes to list 25 top schools it calls the "New Ivies," rivaling the traditional powerhouse schools in excellence. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you might find your alma mater on that list, which includes Carnegie Mellon, Colby, Kenyon, Vanderbilt, Davidson, RPI, and my own University of Rochester. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 7:05 am | Edit
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At our children's elementary school, the administration made it clear that parents were not particularly welcome to visit their children’s classrooms, although occasional visits would be possible if special arrangements were made several days in advance.

Not long afterward, the school sent home a pamphlet about choosing daycare, in which it was stated that under no circumstances should children be in a daycare situation in which parents could not drop in at any time, without warning. If such visits were not allowed, the pamphlet warned, parents should suspect that the daycare provider had something to hide.

As far as I know, no one in the school’s administration appreciated the irony.
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, September 24, 2006 at 1:55 pm | Edit
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Even young children can benefit from music lessons. I knew that, but it's nice to read about this McMaster University study of twelve four- to six-year-old children, half of whom took Suzuki violin lessons. The tiny violinists performed better on both a general memory test and on a measurement related to attention and sound discrimination.

Twelve students is a small sample, so I'll add one more. When I administered early kindergarten "readiness" tests for our local elementary school, the one little boy I knew was a Suzuki violin student showed a marked superiority on the tests of listening skills and auditory processing.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 1:05 pm | Edit
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Back in 1990, just before we took the plunge into homeschooling, I sat down one day and typed out every reason that came to mind for our decision. My purpose was not to make a reasoned argument for homeschooling, but to have something written down to which we could refer when the going got rough, to remind ourselves why we had made that choice.

At the time, I posted the list on the good ol' GEnie Education Round Table, my online support group. Now that I have my own blog, I thought it would be fun to publish it again. The list is specific to our particular school situation in places, and somewhat dated, but most of the reasons would still be valid were we beginning our homeschooling journey today.

At the time of writing, we had one child going into sixth grade and another going into third, both at our local public school. The elder had completed kindergarten and first grade in a private, Montessori school. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 9, 2006 at 8:23 pm | Edit
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I'm cleaning out old computer files, and came upon this article by Paula Rothermal of the University of Durham. Unfortunately, I no longer have any idea where I acquired this comparison of home- and school-educated children in the UK.

For reasons of copyright, the above link goes only to an abstract of the paper, but I'm posting a few interesting quotes that I believe fall into the "fair use" category. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, September 3, 2006 at 6:07 pm | Edit
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Let me make clear up front that I'm glad our grandchildren are on schedule for most of the currently-recommended childhood vaccinations. I can be pleased with that because their parents have taken the time to research the issues, and decide which vaccines they think are worth the risk, and which are not, and are willing to pay the extra costs—in money and time—to spread the vaccinations out rather than subject their children to the assault on the immune system caused by receiving many vaccines on the same day. Moreover, the children are breastfed, which helps their immune systems deal with the vaccines.

Vaccines have prevented much suffering and death, and they do work; witness the frightening polio outbreaks in Africa when immunication efforts were hindered by Muslim clerics skeptical of both the vaccines and the good will of the vaccinators. But they are far from risk-free, and the government and the medical community are doing parents a disservice by pushing vaccinations as if they were entirely safe and absolutely essential for their children's health. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, August 3, 2006 at 7:35 am | Edit
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When Larry Summers, then President of Harvard, dared suggest that genetic differences between men and women might, in general, predispose them to greater abilities in different fields, I had no problem with that. When he was pilloried and forced to resign, I was appalled (though not surprised) at the continuing evidence that liberals aren't necessarily liberal, those who call loudest for tolerance aren't tolerant, and "academic freedom" is an oxymoron. If the presence of a Y chromosome instead of an X can make differences that are visible and obvious, to insist that it can't possibly make more subtle differences, and to forbid inquiry into the matter, is as bad as the Catholic Church in Medieval times. Worse, because I don't think the Church ever claimed to be open-minded.

Yet as fast as Harvard tried to distance itself from Summers' heresy, there are more serious worms in its own apple. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, July 15, 2006 at 7:05 am | Edit
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It's been a while since I've posted a Frazz comic here (I always worry about the line between fair use and copyright violation), but it's one of the best comic strips ever, and deserves all the publicity it can get. Though set in a public school, it often captures what homeschooing is all about, and today's strip made me shout in acclamation:

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 16, 2006 at 7:04 am | Edit
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During my lifetime I've watched the Deaf community teach the world to see them as people, rather than as people who can't hear. This was brought home most forcefully to me in the story of the two young children, one deaf and one hearing, who met one day, and each went home to report the other's disability. The hearing child explained to his mother that his new friend could not understand him when he spoke, while the deaf child expressed to his own mother his amazement that his playmate could not understand him when he signed.

Today's Orlando Sentinel showed me that blind people are beginning to accomplish the same feat. An article on teaching very young blind children to use a cane describes an encouraging departure from the conventional model of mobility for the vision impaired. In the old, vision-centered model, young children are taught to depend on those who can see to lead them around, and only later learn to use a cane. This trains blind children in habits of dependency at a stage in life which for most children is the golden age of mobility. The new method introduces the child to using a cane at an early age, even as young as when he first learns to walk. In this way the skills needed for independence come naturally and thoroughly. According to advocate Joe Cutter, retired from the New Jersey Commission for the Blind, "What matters isn't the vision you have. What matters is the skill you have. You have to observe your own movement, do it solo, to get those skills."
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 27, 2006 at 7:24 pm | Edit
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Thomas Edison said that genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor at Florida State University, would agree. His studies of what makes someone really good at something are discussed in the May 7, 2006 New York Times column, A Star Is Made, by Freakonomics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt. (The New York Times requires registration before you can read their content, but it's free and worth the effort.) (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 at 1:21 pm | Edit
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