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education | Paradise Found

Archives for education category

Fabulous Resource for Teens

I can’t recall if I’ve mention iTunes U here or not? It’s a large collection of free lectures and educational videos downloadable for free via iTunes. No need to have an iContraption – you can watch them right on your computer. I thought that was a great find.

Today, I ran across Academic Earth. Free online video courses from an assortment of colleges on topics like math, architecture, history, and more.

Modern technology changes education daily, doesn’t it?

Are We Bad At Math?

I just ran across an article on MSNBC, Why American consumers can’t add. It’s worth a read. It certainly inspires me to make sure my kids are covering the bases of the basics.

Check this out:

*Only 42 percent were able to pick out two items on a menu, add them, and calculate a tip.

*Only 1 in 5 could reliably calculate mortgage interest.

*1 in 5 could not calculate weekly salary when told an hourly pay rate.

*Half of 17 year olds couldn’t do enough math to work in an auto plant, according to President’s National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

The author even touches on the education and requirements of teachers in the public school system:

*In 18 U.S. states, not even one elementary math class is required for certification.

*Some teaching colleges allow admittance as long as students have math skills equal to their future students — that is, as long as they could pass a 5th grade math test.

*It’s possible in some states to pass the teacher certification exam (Praxis) without answering a single math question correctly.

Interesting, yes?

Rethinking Plans

I think as home educators we are constantly re-evaluating what works and what doesn’t. We’ve been struggling around here with a lack of “enoughness.” The kids feel like they’re not doing enough. They are asking for more from me in the way of guidance than they have in the past. And, in spite of all of the great stuff that’s going on, homeschooling has just been a little flat for us. What to do, what to do?

THEN I happened across this post by Miranda. Exactly!

Time for us to do a major revamp of what we’re doing to make sure that we’re moving forward instead of sideways.

Love of Learning

Brad is away this week at a Hawaiian music workshop for which he was granted a scholarship. He doesn’t much like to talk on the phone, and getting details from him can be painful. We’ve been before as a family, so I know the kind of experience he’s having – hands-on learning with access to some of Hawai‘i’s wonderful musicians. I discovered yesterday that he finagled someone’s computer so he could put a post up on his website (but no email to me, alas). Here’s what he wrote:

I am posting from Keoki Kahumoku’s music workshop in Pahala, HI. I am having a great time. So far I’ve picked up some new vamps and tips from Uncle Sonny Lim, insights from Uncle Herb Ohta Jr., and a finger boot camp from Uncle Moses – opening a coconut by hand and finger exercises. This morning we chanted the sun up at Punalu’u beach. Every night we’ve been singing Hawaiian choir with Auntie Darci Baker; it’s been so much fun – she makes it easy for us to sing well.

Can you just feel the joy in learning oozing from him?

Author Holly Robinson (The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir) has a great essay up on *HuffPo about school and boys and essentially how unsuitable schools are for boys. The author “can’t help seeing school as a necessary evil instead of an inspiration.” Even so, she knows exactly what the perfect school for boys would look like:

Classes would be small and held outside half the time. Boys of all abilities and temperaments would build, paint, draw, take things apart, play computer games and listen to music while reading if they felt like it. If they wanted to write about volcanoes instead of the weather, or study the Civil War in January instead of September, why not let them choose? And, if they wanted to do math standing up or run a few laps between exams, why not?

But, she states:

Oh, wait. Our boys couldn’t do that. That would be breaking the rules.

Actually, I think that’s called homeschooling. Legal, in fact, in all 50 states. Join us, Ms. Robinson! ;-)

*I hesitate to link to HuffPo and have avoided doing so many, many times because they seldom pay their writers. A travesty, don’t you think?

Blog Nod: Becky at Farm School

The Case for Working With Your Hands

Becky over at Farm School posted about this awhile back, and pointed me to it in light of my recent post about getting Brad started in college. This article from the New York Times is worth a read. This particular portion caught my eye, as it’s something I’ve said out loud (though far less eloquently) more than once:

One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

You may need to register to read the article (I didn’t, but now when I click to it, I’m getting a sign in box).

Frank Lloyd Wright Legos

Got a kid who’s interested in architecture? Or one who just loves legos? Check these out!Some of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous designs are soon to be available in miniature thanks to Lego.

According to the folks at Wired, the sets are now available exclusively at the Guggenheim Museum where the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit “From Within Outward” is underway. The exhibit runs from May 15–August 23, 2009. Maybe the sets will be available in time for the holiday season?

I know my Lego Junkie will want to check these out!

On Reading

[Hey! Look! An actual post. About homeschooling, even!]

Yeah, well. Kind of. But mostly it’s going to be a link over to another post that I think some of you may find useful. Miranda addresses the issue of teaching kids to read – or not – over at Nurtured by Love.

My eldest was very much like her kids in the reading department. Always with a book.  Reading avidly and always, from the time he was around four. It just happened.

My youngest? He was slow to read. He like to listen to stories, but reading and putting the letters together to form words was hard for him.  Something about the visuals (for math, too!) just made him freeze up. And yet, now? Always with a book.  Reading avidly and always. It just took him until about the age of eight or nine to get there.

If you’re concerned at all about your child’s reading skills, go read what Miranda has to say!

Over the weekend I took they boys and a friend of theirs to a youth summit with a group of Tibetan Monks who are in town. Before the workshop started, we had a chance to watch the monks working on a sand mandala. It’s absolutely incredible – if you ever have a chance to see a sand mandala in progress, go! They work with long, narrow, metal cones that have a hole in one end to release different colors of sand. The image is amazingly intricate. I didn’t think to bring my camera, but here’s a look at the construction process (Our monks didn’t wear funny hats. Matter of fact, one was wearing a Nike shirt under his robes, which my kids thought was funny).

During the youth summit, kids had a chance to ask questions. I was taken aback at the angst in the room. Teens asking about stress, depression, death – I remember the angst of being a teen, but it’s not something I see a lot here. I don’t know if that’s because I have boys or because our homeschooling life  eliminates some of those issues.

One of the responses really hit home. A girl of about 15 asked about handling stress, and after questioning, it turns out that much of her stress was about school. The answering Monk was great. He asked her if her test scores or grades in school would really matter in 100 years. They may be important at that moment (and maybe mostly to the teacher and parent!) but in the big picture, not so much. And he discussed the fact that some subjects just are not that interesting to some people – boring even! – and it’s not the worst thing in the world to get a lower grade in a subject that’s of no interest. He also touched on finding that one thing that makes a person come alive, that subject or hobby that really makes a spirit sing. His suggestion for finding that? Try lots of different things. Have lots of experiences.

That sounds like it’s just shy of a ringing endorsement for unschooling, don’t you think??

Yesterday I received a newsletter from the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii (forwarded to me from my old homeschool group). I skimmed it, and found reference to something called Skeptics Unite! [their exclamation, not mine]. This group is hosting the Global Warming Skeptics Conference, sponsored by The Heartland Institute.

The 2009 conference will serve as a platform for scientists and policy analysts who question the theories of man-made climate change.

Now, I am a big believer that the human footprint is way too large for this delicate world to continue to sustain us, long term. Man made chemicals, emissions, and by-products can’t help but impact the air we breathe and the water we drink. But I’m no scientist, and if a group wants to organize a conference, then more power to ‘em.

Ironically, as these things tend to happen, this morning I landed on a site called Breathing Earth that simulates births, deaths, and CO2 emissions on a map of the world. Quite opposite of the skeptical bunch, they say:

Global warming (aka climate change) is probably the most important issue to face our generation, and quite possibly any generation in history. The worldwide scientific community is virtually unanimous in its agreement that global warming is happening, and that it’s our fault. If we let it get out of our control, the consequences – which will already begin occuring in most of our lifetimes – will be catastrophic. Just some of the consequences that can be reasonably expected are rising sea levels, more frequent and more severe natural disasters, large-scale food shortages, plagues, massive species extinctions, unprecendented numbers of refugees, intensified ethnic and political tensions, and a global economic depression the likes of which no one has ever seen.

So, what do you think? Are the skeptics deceiving themselves? Is the earth ours to use up? ARE we using the earth up with our way of living? Or is it our responsibility to teach environmental responsibility to our kids?

 

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