Endorsement of public schooling from Rick Perry’s camp — unintentional

February 9, 2010

Poster at the recent Rick Perry for Governor Rally featuring Sarah Palin:

Rick Perry Rally with Sarah Palin, HoustonPress.com

Image from HoustonPress.com

Image from HoustonPress.com.

Storefront schools

June 16, 2008

Why not?

In comments to the immediately previous post, Zhoen says segregation by gender is no panacea for education. But, she wonders at OneWord: Why not storefront schools?

For many years, I have thought the never-will-be-done answer was to have storefront schools. One room schoolhouses, two teachers and a local adult volunteer, no more than a dozen students, all online classes – a national, self paced, curricula. Touring experts and scholars for special lectures and demonstrations. Kid has a problem with a particular teacher, move ’em to the next neighborhood over. Walking distances from their homes, field trips common (easier to arrange with small groups), flexible schedules (let the teens sleep in). A circle of homeschools in rural areas instead of warehouses to haul whole populations into.

Why not? The idea strikes me as similar to Japanese juku, private schools for kids in public schools, where kids get remedial attention or advanced instruction, depending on what they need. I copy the Library of Congress’ description of juku after the fold.

What do you think? Is there an example of storefront schools we can cite either way, for or against the idea?

Comment away.

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Creationism puts faith at risk?

April 4, 2008

Interesting view:  A homeschooler argues that homeschooling parents can do a disservice to the faith of their children by misteaching creationism instead of evolution.  At The Upside Down World.

Those who are teaching their children using creationist curriculum are in particular danger of setting their children up for this fall. To see why, I’d like to offer a challenge. Take your child’s creationist materials and look at whatever footnotes and references are provided. Now take an evening and look up the names of the authors cited. Odds are excellent that virtually all of the authors are creationist scientists. Now, take the names of any mainstream scientists who are quoted or whose work is referenced and attempt to track down their work. Specifically, see if you can find the particular quotes used in your child’s materials. Google books can be a great way of doing this. Now, read through whatever you can find with an eye towards evaluating the accuracy of the quotes provided (ie are words changed, relevant sections replaced by “. . .”). Also try and honestly evaluate if the author of your child’s materials has accurately conveyed the substance of what the author is saying.

If you drink, you may want to keep some strong drink nearby to sustain yourself during this process, because I promise you, you will not be happy with what you find. Unfortunately, the only way creationist materials are able to create the appearance of validity is by only referring to the work of “creation scientists” (who don’t do research, BTW. Their work is limited to analyzing the work of others to look for potential holes which might be able to be seen as supporting a creationist perspective. This is not science.). When creationist materials do refer to the work of mainstream scientists, conducting actual research, they almost uniformly misquote and misrepresent them. If you do not believe me, then take a weekend or two and do the research yourself. The internet is a wonderful tool.

In a later report, it comes out that the biggest problem a Christian mother has raising science-literate kids is opposition from creationists who claim that knowledge is somehow evil.  They just can’t keep their agendas hidden — and there is some ripe stuff in the comments.

Homeschooler says ‘teach kids about Darwin’

March 11, 2008

Thoughtful post from a homeschooler, Geek Dad.  Check out the responses.  The heated exchanges reveal a lot.

Don’t let lesson plans strangle kids’ serendipitous learning and creativity

July 25, 2007

Here’s a woman — a homeschooler no less — who understands that lesson plans aimed at a state test can seriously damage a kid’s education. My only caveat is that in formal classrooms, such serendipitous learnings are encouraged from well-thought-out lesson plans and a very well prepared teacher who can deviate to meet the hot, rising curiosity of the kids in the moment.

At least I hope that’s what she understands.  This post on teaching history, from the ancient and often inaccurate This Country of Ours, by H. E. Marshall, gives me the cause to reserve endorsement of this school.

Carnival still in town? We didn’t miss it?

May 13, 2007

History Carnival 52 was up on May 1 at Clioweb. What sort of a fog have I been in? Check out especially this post at Food History, demonstrating several uses of critical thinking tools as they might analyze the bizarre idea that most meat in Middle Ages Europe was rancid, thereby leading to a rise in the use of spices. Spices don’t make up for stomach cramps, for example. There must be some sort of critical thinking exercise in there for a world history class.

Carnival of the Liberals 38 came online earlier this week, at This Is So Queer. With fires raging in the hills around Burbank — documented with eerily beautiful photography — a fire of war in Iraq, and a fire around the Second Amendment, posts collected at the carnival offer fuel for intellectual fires on big issues.

Moton HS historical markerAnd, the venerable Carnival of Education, issue 118, was up earlier at NYC Educator, with good posts on laptops in school, parenting, administering, enduring, and everything else related to education. (Click on the photo for a larger image — it’s the historical marker at the former Robert R. Moton High School, in Prince Edward County, Virginia — where one of the most poignant of the cases against school segregation began, Davis vs. Prince Edwards County Schools — part of the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education case decided in 1954. Photo from Virginia Commonwealth University.)

Carnival of Homeschooling 71 lolls, at On The Company Porch.

And, of course, if you wish to nominate a post for the next Fiesta de Tejas!, scheduled for June 2, just use this button:

Blog Carnival submission form - fiesta de tejas!

Have a good Mother’s Day — call all the mothers you know. Why be picky?

Carnival of Education #104

January 31, 2007

Gate to Boston Latin school

Median Sib hosts the 104th Carnival of Education. If you’re not reading these regularly, you’re missing a lot in education. Even more useful is checking out the blogs the selected posts come from. This week’s posts include pieces on science education in Florida, the misfiring of the intended incentive pay to Houston Independent School District teachers, standards under NCLB, and more.

And, as EduWonks suggests, one might learn more by perusing the 57th Carnival of Homeschooling at PalmTree Pundit — a couple of good geography teaching posts there.

It’s like this internet thingy is some information highway or something.

Image: Gateway to Boston Latin School, probably the oldest operating public school in America. Ben Franklin’s schooling was obtained at this school (probably in an earlier building!)

Evolution and dogs

January 22, 2007

No, this really isn’t off topic.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has a good website with good materials. On the way to find something else (just what I don’t remember) I found a discussion of the evolution of dogs, and artificial selection in dog breeding.

Dogs and evolution at Los Angeles County Museum of Natural HistoryHere are a few ways the site can be used:

Homeschoolers, you just got a puppy, and the kids are all about learning everything they can about dogs. Here’s a page to sneak in some serious biology on evolution and how it works. Your kids will be reminded of it every time they see a different dog.

Elementary school biology courses can be supplemented with information about how natural selection works to provide the wild dogs native to your area — coyotes for the western U.S., for example (which can lead to a wonderful discussion of how coyotes have spread to all 50 states from the west in just the past 30 years, and how and why that happened).

High school biology students can be directed to this site for supplemental information that I can all but guarantee is not in the textbook — about dogs, an animal that most students will know first-hand.

I had expected that there might be a good, on-line version of exhibits on La Brea Tarpit fossils, but it’s not there. There are a few links on archaeological information, however. The museum seems solid in early Latin American cultures, material that is probably quite useful for junior high and middle school history courses in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and probably Nevada, Utah and Colorado, too.

If you have a local museum with good on-line resources, please drop a line and let me know — edarrell(at)sbcglobal-dot-net.

Maybe homeschoolers have ulterior motives (sometimes)

September 24, 2006

Scripps News carried an op-ed type of feature from a Texas English professor named John Crisp, that questions whether public education is as bad as some crack it up to be, and whether homeschooling is the noble answer to the over-stated problem that homeschooling is cracked up to be. The entire piece is worth reading, but his closing paragraphs deserve emphasis:

Abandonment rather than improvement of our public schools would be an unfortunate choice. I’m attracted to the ideas of the late Neil Postman, who argues in his book “The End of Education” that to the extent that our nation enjoys a common shared culture, that culture has been developed and is passed on from generation to generation at least partly by means of the shared knowledge and ideas that we acquire during our common experience in the public schools.

In other words, because our public schools are a place where we develop a set of common stories, myths and experiences _ George Washington crossing the Delaware, Betsy Ross sewing the first flag, even the fear of being sent to the principal _ they encourage a sense of a shared heritage that helps pull our country together.

Homeschooling and vouchers for private schools _ places that allow the teaching of the things that Roger Moran believes _ tend to pull us apart. All in all, our public-school system has served us well; it would be better to repair its faults than to abandon it.

Today’s civil war in the U.S.: Homeschooling

September 9, 2006

Noting only that there is a vicious fight going on below the waterline at the moment, below the fold I offer two press releases about recent California legislation boosting pre-school programs for at-risk kids. Without my telling you, and without the numbers on the bills being the same, would you know these people are talking about the same bill?

Please, offer your own opinions in comments.
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