Friday, July 26, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
He had indeed a different way of dealing with different kinds of people. Those who thought they had good natural ability and despised learning he instructed that the most highly-gifted nature stands most in need of training and education; ...
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Now it's three years later, and with an almost six year old and an almost four year old, we have a little more experience. We even have a family movie night.
Here's an updated list with movies our kids love:
- Hondo (1953)
- Shane (1953)
- Stagecoach (1939)
- Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
- E.T: The Extra Terrestrial (1982) - The original version only. Helps to have a ClearPlay player for language. though I don't know that the ClearPlay filter would work on the original version disc. I assume they'll make a new filter with the new release which is going to be the original version.
- The Princess Bride (1987)
- Red River (1948)
- Mysterious Island (1961)
- Superman (1978) - For children as young as ours, I'd recommend skipping Lois Lane getting killed in the car. Again, ClearPlay helps for language.
- Fantastic Voyage (1966)
- Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
- Toy Story 2 (1999)
- Toy Story 3 (2010)
- Cars (2006)
- Up (2009)
- Ratatouille (2007)
- Finding Nemo (2003)
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) - This is pretty intense in places. It represents the outer edge of the intensity we permit at these ages.
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
- Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
- Singin' in the Rain (1952)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
- The Red Balloon (1956) - Short.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
- The Miracle Maker (2000)
- The Ten Commandments (1956)
- The Muppet Movie (1979)
- The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
- The Secret of NIMH (1982)
- Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) - Short.
- Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
- The Tree of Life (2011) - Creation and growing up sequences. About forty-five minutes.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
In addition to the toys and clothes, many people also opt to get books for their Angel Tree kids. Having books at home is important.
For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.So then the question becomes, what books? One can always pick a few personal favorites. One might also try to pick strategically. So what are some ways to pick strategically?
One way might be to focus on imparting background knowledge. E. D. Hirsch Jr. has written on this extensively. Here is an excerpt from an article where he has explained the importance of background knowledge:
Consider the following sentence, which is one that most literate Americans can understand, but most literate British people cannot, even when they have a wide vocabulary and know the conventions of the standard language:
Jones sacrificed and knocked in a run.
Typically, a literate British person would know all the words in the sentence yet wouldn't comprehend it. (In fairness, most Americans would be equally baffled by a sentence about the sport of cricket.) To understand this sentence about Jones and his sacrifice, you need a wealth of relevant background knowledge that goes beyond vocabulary and syntax—relevant knowledge that is far broader than the words of the sentence. Let's consider what we as writers would have to convey to an English person to make this sentence comprehensible.
First, we would have to explain that Jones was at bat. That would entail an explanation of the inning system and the three-outs system. It would entail an explanation of the size and shape of the baseball field (necessary to the concept of a sacrifice fly or bunt) and a digression on what a fly or a bunt is. The reader would also have to have some vague sense of the layout of the bases and what a run is. By the time our English reader had begun to assimilate all this relevant background knowledge, he or she may have lost track of the whole point of the explanation. What was the original sentence? It will have been submerged in a flurry of additional sentences branching out in different directions.
The point of this example is that knowledge of content and of the vocabulary acquired through learning about content are fundamental to successful reading comprehension; without broad knowledge, children's reading comprehension will not improve and their scores on reading comprehension tests will not budge upwards either.So with that in mind, what books? These are some of the books I would pick, selecting an age-appropriate title for each point. (Note that I live in Arkansas, and so I am not part of the Amazon affiliate program.)
- The Bible. I am a Christian, but even if I weren't, I would consider this a necessity. If a person is unfamiliar with the Bible, he is culturally ignorant in the Western world and poorly equipped to read Western literature. There is no getting around that. The same goes for the next two suggestions. However, I would probably not get a standard Bible. Most people have at least one of those already; they just don't read it, or they find it too difficult to understand. I'd go for something that imparts the basic stories, like this. Knowing the basic stories makes it much easier to read the real thing.
- Grimm's fairy tales.
- Greek myths. ADDED: This, for example.
- Survey of art, including major artists and most well-known works.
- A concise history of the world. That sounds like a tall order, but there are plenty of options.
- Survey of science, probably an engaging science encyclopedia.
- Math beyond computation. Schools often distill math down to computation, but that's not what math really is, and it's important to know that. Plus, a student is going to feel more confident about mathematics if he knows some interesting things about it, maybe even cool things he can share in his math class. I particularly like this book.
ADDED: A collection of Aesop's fables.
Sunday, November 04, 2012
In that moment I suddenly understood what people meant by “laws of nature.” It was a moment from which I’ve never really recovered. It felt like I was being let in on a secret. There were beautiful, hidden patterns in the world, patterns you couldn’t see unless you knew math.Steven Strogatz in Wired.
“They have 10 different activities, and they never excel at any of them. Americans want everyone to have the same life; it’s a cult of the average."The article is about prodigies, but I think there's a truth in there that applies more broadly. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that it can allow children the time to develop special interests. If my son wants to do math or language related things for three hours, he can. If another mother's daughter wants to practice ballet all afternoon, she can. I think that is important. I think teaching is relational and that people are not best served by having their educations systematized.
I could write a lot more on this topic, but duty calls.
Saturday, November 03, 2012
Friday, November 02, 2012
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Twitter friends are saying I should have tweeted this thing. I think they're right! Maybe I'll have to break out the Twitter next time.
Now it's over. Don't know why Romney would bring up the 47% thing right before Obama's closing so he'll get no chance to respond to what Obama says about it. Looks like in retrospect, Romney may have won the Libya exchange. This is the transcript from the speech they were talking about. The moderator backed up Obama when he said that he called the attack an act of terror. The transcript shows, however, that he did not. That will be in the news tomorrow.
Romney dominated the first half of the debate. Obama came back in the second. Democrats have got to be happy with Obama's better showing this time and the fact that he had the momentum at the end. Republicans must be disappointed that Romney didn't deliver another outright victory.
The disturbing thing about the debates is that candidates can take on the strategy of assuming that viewers do not know anything about what is being discussed. So it goes.
We'll see what happens next time...
9:27 - Romney is explaining how China cheats.
9:24 - Ha. Moderator assist to Obama on assault weapons. Oh my.
9:21 - Will Romney bring up Fast and Furious? Oh, he did. Good.
9:18 - "Weapons designed for soldiers... don't belong on our streets." I guess people forget the actual purpose of the Second Amendment.
9:16 - Unless Romney turns it around, he's flubbed a question that should have been a home run for him. (Libya.)
9:12 - Althouse: "9:09: Crowley calls on someone named "Carrie" and Obama does a "Hi, Carrie" that sounds gentle and it's obvious he thinks it's a female. But it's a big old guy. "Cary," presumably. And he's got the Libya question. Uh-oh." Which was too bad because I think he felt like he was getting on a roll.
9:09 - "Don't turn national security into a political issue." Hrm.
9:03 - Obama went on again about how he's trying. That argument is horrible. "Yeah, everything's awful. But I'm doing my best." That's nice, but your best isn't good enough.
9:01 - Obama: "The flow of undocumented workers is the lowest it's been in forty years." Heh heh heh. True, but it's because the economy is awful. Maybe he shouldn't have brought that up.
8:57 - Once again, you can tell who got used to speaking in high pressure boardrooms and who got used to speaking in college classrooms or bureaucratic meetings. That was a pretty devastating two minutes by Romney.
8:56 - Deficit.
8:53 - President says lack of improvement is not for lack of trying. Is he making an argument for or against himself?
8:52 - Debt.
8:50 - Jobs.
8:43 - Ha ha ha. MKH on Twitter retweets from IMAO: "Romney put women in binders!"
8:43 - Contraception is money out of a family's pocket. So I thought it should be money out of every family's pocket.
8:41 - Romney was ready for this Woman Question. He's Mr. Prepared. Like last time.
8:39 - Ugh. This is the Who Can Pander to Ladies the Most segment. Boring. Too bad you can't fast forward live.
8:37 - Oh, gag. Silly question. "Women make less than men... what are you going to do about it... blah blah blah." Ignores the myriad factors that contribute to that. I'll take these moments to get a feel for how the candidates are comporting themselves.
8:35 - I think going Math on Romney is a big mistake. The Romney-Ryan ticket is nothing if not a Math ticket.
8:34 - Math?! "Blows up the deficit." The strategy must be to speak to people who know absolutely nothing about spending during Obama's term.
8:31 - There are a lot of little, rhetorical shortcuts the candidates take. For example, Romney just said something about "when China is cheating." People who are into politics, especially economics and politics, know what he's talking about. Does a regular person, someone who is not a political hobbyist, know what that means?
8:29 - Obama has clearly has no experience with small business. The question is, however, do the people listening to him have any such experience?
8:26 - Obama doing the popular thing of conflating capital gains taxes with income taxes. Pet peeve.
8:20 - Enough energy already.
8:18 - Ouch. Romney taking Obama to task. Obama says he's saying things that aren't true. Looks like no slap fight though; Obama sat down.
8:17 - Heh. The Obama campaign strategy is to call Romney a liar repeatedly. Romney is making a mad eagle face.
8:16 - Can't tell yet if Obama is better this time. Romney is excellent. He's fully prepared. It shows.
8:14 - Romney responds by pointing out that oil production increases were apart from federal land. On federal land, production has gone down significantly. Both candidates look annoyed with each other. Obama is in danger was falling into a petulant face.
8:13 - Obama says working on efficient energy is going to make gas cheaper. Because clean energy is cheaper... wait...
8:10 - Oh my! Obama: "Romney has a one point plan. And that's to let people at the top play by different rules." Pretty outrageous. And the moderator refuses to allow Romney to follow up.
8:09 - As a friend points out on Facebook, not everyone needs to go to college. In fact, probably fewer people need to go to college.
8:08 - I thought this format wasn't going to have moderator follow up questions.
8:04 - Obama paraphrased: "We need good paying jobs. Like manufacturing jobs." Oh, union ones, I guess.
I bet that wasn't what that guy was thinking about when he asked if he'd have a job when he got out of college.
8:03 - Everyone is from the New York area? Okay.
8:03 - Obama has been told to flash that great smile a lot. Wise.
7:58 - I don't have comments turned on. That means no one can drop in to say that his favorite show is different than all of those other shows.
7:56 - Turned on the television five minutes ago. How does this make any money? Who watches this? It's so gaudy and horrible. I'm not talking about a particular show. I'm talking about all of the shows.
7:41 - Normally you wonder if the guy who lost last time will go too far the other way and be weird. (Gore.) I don't think that's likely here. Obama is too socially adept to be outright bizarre. Surely Biden's performance has him wary of veering off into the ditch of aggression.
7:37 - My prediction: Obama will be much better. He'll refrain from looking down and put out. Romney will be the same. He's a prepared sort of person, so he'll be prepared again.
7:29 - The baby is going to contribute by ringing a bell in my ear. He's practicing now.
7:14 PM - Heck, why not?
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
That picture was taken using a Fuji Finepix F200EXR on a tripod with a pair of disposable "Eclipse Shades" held over the lens. I've taken lots of astronomy pictures lately with this cheap point and shoot camera. They're not great, but I love them, and I especially loved taking them. I write that to point out that you shouldn't feel like you need a lot of expensive equipment to jump into a hobby. Just try things with whatever you have. It's fun.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
It is well for those who have the bringing up of golden lads and girls, to bear in mind always that the leopard does not change his spots. Our facile faith in a regeneration to be brought about somehow, at school; at college, by a profession, by family ties, by public work, is really born of our laziness. That which will be done somehow for young people, we do not take the trouble to do ourselves; we shift our responsibility, and the young bear our sins and their own till the end of the chapter.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
He had the ability to flip the lights on in previously unused regions of your brain. Once lit, the landscape of these unfamiliar regions prove somehow familiar, like they've been laying there the whole time, waiting for you. And you're so grateful to him for showing you what you feel you somehow already knew.Well put.
I think that's the secret to all great teachers. They turn on the lights, helping you reclaim parts of yourself, parts that you know rightfully belong to your person, making you feel more whole than before. Certainly, when you read the Gospels, Jesus does that over and over again.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Classical learning assumes that children are curious and will learn best when they are interested in the subject. But it also assumes that children’s interest may need awakening, through gentle exposure to unfamiliar subjects.I don't know that that's true of "classical learning" in its classical sense, but the sentiment is, I think, true and part of a very short essay I enjoyed today.
A classical teacher knows that writing and mathematics are skills which must be mastered before they can be thoroughly enjoyed. Most of us remember the frustrating early days of learning a new skill — sewing, for example, or woodwork, or knitting, or learning a new musical instrument. Exercising a new skill can yield more frustration than delight — until practice has made the skill second nature. Once you have learned the basic skills of sewing or woodwork, your focus is able to shift away from the mechanics of the skill itself (sewing a straight seam, creating a perfect joint) and towards the production of a beautiful object (a dress or bookshelf).
Monday, February 13, 2012
A few years ago [my wife] and I watched "The Karate Kid Part II", a film I haven't seen since childhood. Though a pale shadow of the original, it's still a decent film; certainly not the fairly dismal flick that was number 3, nor the abomination that was number 4. One wouldn't think a middling eighties film sequel would be the source for an important social insight, but it was through watching this movie that I first really began to understand the importance of ritual.Happy Valentine's Day.
Beforehand, I had been more of your mind. I looked on the ritualistic, from weddings to certain holidays, with a kind of "why bother?" disdain, feeling myself above the grooved-in modes of culture that others seemed to trek through, unthinkingly, as if on some kind of auto-pilot. They were just going along as they were directed, but I was standing on the higher plane above, surveyor of the meaningless random slash marks in our cultural landscape that these poor lemmings were trodding through without a thought. What did they gain from acquiescing to these routines? Nothing? I would skip over them happily. That I felt superior for doing so was only a dimly acknowledged side benefit of my ruggedly individual choice.
But I was wrong. The lemmings were right.
During Karate Kid II, there is a scene where Daniel is undergoing some kind of courtship ritual with his new Japanese girlfriend. I have no idea whether this scene is founded on true Okinawan culture or merely some fertile screenwriter's mind, but that's irrelevant. She is treating the ritual very solemnly, carefully undergoing each step, when all of a sudden Daniel makes light of a certain bit, trying to generate a laugh. But he doesn't get the connection he was looking for. Instead of chuckling along with him, she gives him a look of stern rebuke, chastening him back into the solemnity of the ritual's steps and processes.
For some reason, this little bit, a quite honest moment with the self-aware American trying to make light of an old-world tradition and coming out on the wrong end of the transaction, opened my eyes to what ritual really is. Ritual is a sign of respect, a communication that one is removing oneself from his normal life for a bit in order to demonstrate his seriousness and commitment to something he finds special. The arbitrariness of ritual is its point. In doing a series of steps that are patently unnecessary, and something out of orbit from how one would normally behave, one is putting a stake in the ground, saying "I do this as a symbol of respect, in order to show that this other thing matters deeply to me."
It sounds simple, but I'd never quite seen it that way before. Now, thanks to Karate Kid II, I do.
And so, I will celebrate Valentine's Day tomorrow with my wife. I'll skate the cultural groove along with everybody else, and do so happily. Even though I am aware of the holiday's origins, origins don't always inform meaning, and to our culture, Valentine's Day has become a ritualized day to show the one you love that they are special enough to you that you'll engage in the same societal ritual that the rest of our culture is engaging in on that day; that you'll put aside your own things in order to honor the other on that day. I may be a greeting card slave, but I'm a happy slave, and I'm looking forward to the ritual.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Monday, January 02, 2012
So it is at the end with pregnant women, and I can write that because I am one.
At the very end of pregnancy, the woman usually assumes a shape something like the grotesque female imaginings of R. Crumb. (No, I'm not a fan of his, but I have seen Crumb.) Or, as I said to my husband this morning, something like a series of orbs in a sock.
It is a good trade though. This transformation is usually temporary, and you get a kid in the end.
Unlike the hippopotamus.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
"Only Crazy Helicopter Parents Freak Out About Elementary School Kids Walking Around Cities Unsupervised."
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
This has become the most used computer in my house. It comes out of hibernation instantly, and it boots up from off in just a few seconds. As someone who only has time to access the Internet in short bursts, this is ideal.
This computer cannot replace a regular computer for storing pictures offline or running programs, but it kills a regular computer for accessing the Internet. Because it's a browser in a box, there is no waiting for the browser to load. It's always open. And because there are no additional programs, there is nothing to bog the system down and no routine maintenance to perform. Due to the machine's simplicity, the battery lasts forever.
If I manage to break this one, I will buy another.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
To speak of what “the founders believed,” you have to speak broadly, ideologically, not monolithically. But one thing they knew, to a man, was that they were sinful men. And even those who trusted in their own rectitude, attributed depravity to others. So with each codicil of the Constitution they labored to answer the question: What would weasels do? And then they built a barrier against that tendency. ...For more, and you should read the rest of it, go here.
Men are weak, wily, wicked. Don’t give them any more power over you than absolutely necessary...
By restraining the federal government to a few, specific functions, and setting it up with checks and balances, and yes, negative liberties, we mitigate the harmful effects of human nature. Smaller government is also easier to monitor, and error and evil harder to hide.
The Utopian dreams of the Left perpetually die on the altar of human frailty.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
I don't think you'd have any trouble raising the money. Maybe if one of them is close enough to the edge of running, it would be enough to put him over.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
And then there's this:
Higher ed, he said, was an elaborate scheme to deprive young people of their freedom of thought. He compared four years of college to a lab experiment in which a rat is trained to pull a lever for a pellet of food. A student recites some bit of received and unexamined wisdom—“Thomas Jefferson: slave owner, adulterer, pull the lever”—and is rewarded with his pellet: a grade, a degree, and ultimately a lifelong membership in a tribe of people educated to see the world in the same way.
“If we identify every interaction as having a victim and an oppressor, and we get a pellet when we find the victims, we’re training ourselves not to see cause and effect,” he said. Wasn’t there, he went on, a “much more interesting . . . view of the world in which not everything can be reduced to victim and oppressor?”
I don't get very personal on this blog. I'm not interested in sharing with you my in-depth biography and personal psychology. But this was like a revelation. If I write that it was like a punch in the chest but in a good way, will that makes sense to you? Because that's what it was.
David Mamet sums up in that bit why I can't bring myself to go back to school. I think higher ed, outside of mathematics and hard sciences, has become largely a sham, a fraud.
I was talking to a dear friend the other day with plenty of graduate school credentials. She was complaining that most of the highly educated (read: highly credentialed) now seem to take it for granted that there is no objective reality, everything is a construct of personal experience. Academics aren't about seeking out truth anymore; they're about creating narratives that will further the academic's vision of what reality should be.
Once you decide that there is no truth to pursue, there is no point to academics. At that point, you've become so obsessed with admiring the leaves that you've chainsawed through the trunk to get it out of your way.
So what then? If you want an education outside of the hard sciences, what do you do?
Maybe you can find an exceptional institution truly dedicated to the pursuit of truth. I don't know the way to do that, but perhaps you do.
If not, you have to go out and pursue that education yourself. There are extensive resources for that now, and you don't have to be a rich guy to use interlibrary loan. Good luck.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
For a few people, hard core birthers, that's not enough. I guess they'll have to wait for the 35mm film of Obama's birth with the "Welcome to Hawaii" sign in the background and the bald eagle cutting the cord at the end.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
"Stay-at-home parents are good for society, but I am a smart, capable woman with great promise. Don't I have more to offer the world?"
- If your children don't have a stay-at-home parent, who is staying home with them? Family or, more likely, someone you hired? Is that person a good stand-in for you? If you think you are a particularly gifted person, couldn't you be a particularly gifted stay-at-home parent? Is the person watching your children as intellectually curious as you are? Does that person care about your children as much as you do? The person you choose to be with your child instead of you will have a profound effect on him. That person will affect your child's habits, outlook, speech, areas of interest, exposure to the world, etc. That person is extraordinarily important. That person could be you. Is that a position you want to outsource to someone who you, by your own reasoning not to stay home, deem less exceptional than yourself?
- If you live in the United States and are of average health, you have a life expectancy of about eighty years. Children do not stay very young for very long. Could you pursue your interests as hobbies for a time and pursue outside achievements after your children move out or at least enter school? If so, what's the hurry? The world will still be around when your kids are not.
- It's a common elitist attitude to think that if you're extremely intelligent or successful or creative or wealthy or beautiful or something else, the common rules don't apply to you. Societal strictures are for the little men. But does the world actually work that way? No trait confers harmony, emotional health, or fulfillment of potential on members of a family. Those things require work, and they are often overlooked. Perhaps family work is important enough to merit a sort of family CEO. That can be the role of the stay-at-home parent.
- If you already think that stay-at-home parents are a societal good, and this post is only answering these questions from the perspective of someone who does, what sort of society are you creating if you say that the most promising people should not be stay-at-home parents? If you contribute to the idea that the best and brightest are above the stay-at-home role, are you not creating a society wherein that role is not valued? Who is going to want to stay at home with their children if doing so is viewed by the culture as an admission of mediocrity? You can't help but shape the culture you're in. If you have a vision for the culture, a good place to start molding it is in your own house.