School year 2015- 2016

There has always been one part of homeschooling we as a family do and that is involved our children in the decisions whether it is curriculum or to continue with homeschooling. We not only value their opinion but also they see themselves as having something to offer. This isn’t a complete democracy. My sons are young and wisdom is earned with experience and years.

We were leaning towards sending our last child to a private school. There were many well thought out reasons for us to do so. It was understood what we would sacrifice in order to gain in other areas of need. Approaching our child, he balked at this decision. He was allowed to state his case. The discussion lasted for a short while, and his argument did not hold up. His brother even decided against him. Yes, we have appeals. It is to come back with a stronger case and win the main educator over. The next day I was presented with the new argument. The Educator and I discussed this idea of my son’s. It is not perfect but workable. There are doubts to my son’s logic, but it is good enough to continue one more year.

What is the reward for my son? He must take another AP course, and we are trying to get him to concede to a second. As I stated in an earlier post, this class is more for college acceptance than gaining a credit. These AP courses are a validation to potential schools that our son has been educated. He must participate in sports. Sports is an outlet to interact with actual humans rather than virtual humans (friends through electronics). There is a group of homeschoolers that meet on Tuesdays to play sports. He must now attend these functions. Also, he has me looming in the distance with mathematics. I’ve already told him that I will be more strict with him than his brother. I learned a valuable lesson with my oldest.

Okay, the lesson is never be soft. I allowed my oldest to occasionally use math formulas when taking an exam. This doesn’t help reinforce the education and causes struggles later on in math. The oldest won’t admit it, but he knows I was correct. He admitted, he thought we were punishing him at the time. I don’t get that one. Never punished a child with more or harder school work. School should be as fun as you can get.

The youngest son has so much educational potential. He is also requires a heavy dose of social interaction. He is unable to entertain himself. It continues to be my belief that mental health needs to be taken care of with homeschooling or any type of schooling or even non-schooling situations. My youngest needs to feel liked and wanted where my oldest does not care what you think. Funny how children from the same family can have different strengths and weaknesses.

We will begin a new school year in August. Actually, my youngest has required reading throughout the summer. It actually begins now whether he is ready or not. We feel better at reinforcing positive morals for one more year. It is a shame to see so many children whose morals suffer because of public and even private school. I am not referring to religious morals but morals on how we treat one another, integrity, empathy, compassion and kindness.

Do not believe everything you are told.

Years ago I was researching global warming. Most of it was through online sources which led me blogs. These were the most prevalent and may be so today. There was one site I connected with because the blogger had similar interests with me and lived nearby. He always noted that he was a publicized expert, though I took it with a grain of salt.

Reading a few of his anger filled global warming posts, I decided to do more in depth research using his sources so I may understand his side. I asked for his resources, after all he was making extraordinary claims which required extraordinary evidence. A request for his sources is a valid request. Any researcher or reader would like to have the opportunity to vet the research or whatever else it may be. I saw this as an opportunity to learn, understand and maybe even agreeing with his point of view, though not as angrily. It was a moment for me to educate myself. Kindly, I asked for his sources in order for me to learn and understand.

A day later he responded to my comments. It was typical of his blog posts. There was much anger and insults thrown at me for not already knowing the “truth”. If I didn’t know where the sources were, he wasn’t going to waste the time to provide them. He basically denigrated me and made every attempt in his return post to invalidate me. A vitriolic attack for a simple and valid request. There was no hint of doubt or accusation to his posts. I just wanted to see the information myself.

He hasn’t been the only global warming person to act this way. I have seen it everywhere from the internet to the television to people in my community. These people treat anyone not blindly believing in the most acrimonious and belittling manner. Local people are not as angry in many instances, but they have their denigrating movement and quip to insult you especially in front of people.

What is the most disappointing are the academic people advocating change on behalf of global warming with biasness. There is one young mathematician that believes in global warming that she’ll sacrifice his knowledge in order to push for a cause that she doesn’t clearly understand or know. She sticks her nose in areas she is not familiar with or prepared for. She is blinded by a propaganda belief and willingly follows this belief to the edge. Shame on her for her actions, but she is unapologetic for the mythical cause is most important.

These people understand little of what is going on because they choose not to understand. Their religious belief in global warming overwhelms everything else. Earth is an interesting lab where changes 100 years ago are displaying the effects today. If we rehabilitate our land, that is putting wetlands back in or allowing for streams and rivers to overflow onto the flood plains for example, we can solve many issues we see today. If we listen to people more familiar with the environment, the Inuit or similar groups, we may avoid making tragic mistakes.

I can’t confirm CO2 doesn’t affect the climate, but I can say the way we have altered our landscape around us has. Deforestation has done more to increase temperatures than CO2. Changing whether by accident or intentionally a waterways natural flow or path can affect the microclimate. A single railroad bed through a wet land can change the hydraulics, so can a major city, wind mills or even major solar power centers. Instead of chasing a red herring, we should focus our money and efforts on the problems we can fix and improve our Earth.

Categories: Outdoors Tags:

Difficult Choices

Two homeschooling families I know have sent their teenage sons to school. Both sons asked to go to school and are enjoying this experience. One goes to a public school while the other is attending a private school. The families still homeschool but with one child in a school. What happened and what went wrong?

The answer is nothing went wrong and nothing happened in the household. What these parents recognized is a social need on their teenagers part. Not all children are alike and should not be treated as if they are the same. Homeschooling parents need to recognize this as much as public school parents need to recognize what is best for their children.

My oldest thrived in the homeschool setting. My wife and I know if our oldest had gone to public school, he would have never succeeded. Part of this is his learning style and another part is the poor quality, public school. He would have gone to a private school but success would not be guaranteed. He is a type of learner that public schools are not designed to deal with. It is not cost effective to adapt education to him. Public school is not for everyone!

My youngest is different than his brother. His learning style is 180° from his brother’s style. We have had to change how we educate. He would thrive in a public school. In the local public school, he would be a 4.0+ student and never learn. His full potential would never be reached even if we send him to a private school.

There is one area where my youngest suffers. This area is in socialization with those of his own age. Unlike his brother, a few close friends does not help his mental development. With the oldest being away, the youngest is now alone with two adults and few youths his own age to interact with. This is not healthy. Sports and activities are not as helpful as we had hoped for it doesn’t give him enough interaction time to develop socially. He thrives on new intellectual experiences and not with those holding the same views. Now may be the time to make a switch.

We will sacrifice great potential in education for what I believe is mental health if homeschooling is stopped. Our local homeschool groups do not offer the contrasting views we want our son to experience. A school will open my son to unwanted experiences about sex, drugs and even violence. Their is lying and deceit at school. We are hoping our educating our son in morals for all of these years have been entrenched and will prevent the negative views from developing.

This is not about homeschooling hindering socialization. It is more about a human needing more than what we could provide for. These other two boys needed more for their well-being. These three boys, my son included, need something in addition to what they were getting while homeschooled. The first two families have thought a sacrifice was worth the mental health of their children. There are times we must recognize that homeschooling may not be the solution.

For my family, we are left to ask, “Is homeschooling best for our son, Youth2?”

Potpouri of Homeschooling

March 29, 2015 Leave a comment

Graduate school has be writing each week and reading well over 100 pages each week. It is much to as I work full-time and help to manage a family which includes residence maintenance. I’ve seen over half of my class drop out this term. For some it is not what they think and others the time required for the class is too much.

The one thing about having a ninth grader taking a higher level AP course is the chance of running into an area where the student has never studied and therefore can longer proceed without instruction. What am I talking about? In the world of science and math, you encounter sections such as logarithms where you may need it in one area of science or math but not in others. Geometry doesn’t really require logarithms and you can get by without understanding logarithms in calculus but you will hit a snag with calculus or even statistics where there is a section requiring some knowledge. Now I must enter the world of math and tutor for a short time. Talk about running out of time for graduate school.

Score one for homeschool on the college front. My oldest, formerly Youth 1, has been doing well in college thus proving homeschooling can work. What is more important is a professor’s statement about how my son, a homeschooler, provides well thought out discussion comments unlike non-homeschoolers. This is a validation for homeschoolers wondering if they are doing the right thing.

Need more proof of the positives of homeschooling. Youth 2 is experiencing the negatives of public school through his sport. The group of youths he played soccer with are treating him rudely and ignoring him. He has taken this in stride though it may hurt inside. Since he is on a team with players from different communities, he has had no problems getting along with the other players. We see on a daily basis the bullying, rudeness, poor actions and closed mindedness by the public school students. My sons go out of their way to not alienate as well as show empathy and kindness to others. They have always provided encouragement to those with lesser skills at sport or education. The background for all of this is not only my spouse and me providing our morals to our sons but the reduction in negative influence on them because of homeschooling.

Our educational system in America is suffering on many grounds. We will never truly fix the problem, but we can improve upon the problems. The first thing we need to do is get parents and teachers to wake up. Most parents have no clue how close their teenage youth are to being arrested because of their actions like bullying or even fighting. These are the same parents that tend to believe their teenagers are more adult than child. Sadly, they like most people are unaware that teenagers do not and cannot think like adults for their brain is still under development. The decision making process is not complete, and they need adult supervision. Even in our Twenties, we are still developing mentally and need guidance. Without guidance teenagers are more prone to error. This does not mean helicoptering but moral guidance and structure. What morals should apply? That is not up to me to decide. I could give what I think are proper morals, but would everyone agree to my morals?

Finally, we have had a nice year of schooling so far. Everyone in the family is worn out from education. This is just our style. We start early and get it done so we are not stuck in doors in May. I’m the only outsider on this one since I’m intending to school year round. Why am I doing this?

Categories: Homeschool Tags:

The Weather Did It

March 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Weather influences everything on the planet whether it be a fish, reptile, animal, plant or even a stone. Weather will affect whatever it may be. It is no secret weapon or any such utilized instrument to perform a function designed by man. Weather is very unpredictable and cannot be used as a consistent weapon of choice. This does not preclude weather from being involved in events involving man or man’s idea of using weather to gain an advantage. Weather is there and humans are only a flip of a coin away from benefitting or suffering from weather.

Reading Genghis Khan’s Secret Weapon Was Rain article on the National Geographic website, you are left with the impression the Mongols saw an opportunity with the weather and decided to wait for the rain and actively use this weather to their advantage. “The Mongols saw their opportunity and seized it,” is an inaccurate statement on many accounts. The Mongols, though aware of the weather, did not decide to go on a rampage because they saw an opportunity. It was not as simple as that. Before Genghis Khan took power, the Chinese were dealing with Mongol raids. Why hadn’t the Mongols taken the opportunity before Khan? Even Khan himself did not see the weather as providing the impetus for him to conquer so much.

Amy Hessel, a professor at West Virginia University, is quoted as saying the change in the weather, “must have created the ideal conditions for a charismatic leader to emerge out of the chaos.” This ignores the skill and determination Khan was possessed with. She is correlating the change in weather from drought to wet as causing Khan to come from nowhere to develop such a powerful army. This is simply wrong. History has shown Genghis Khan was an intelligent man with a drive to succeed. The change in weather did not develop this in Khan. What the weather could have done and has done for many other successful and unsuccessful leaders is provide a window of opportunity for a man to succeed just as men have used terrain in battles to become victorious. There is nothing remarkable about this. Khan was going to succeed without this wet period. What we can’t say is would Khan have been as successful without this wet period?

History is full of crossroads that affect the future. Weather is only a part of the puzzle. There is no need to make it as this amazing game changer of history. The weather has always played a role in human decision just as terrain has done. It just didn’t do what the article says it did for the Mongols.

The article mentions the data 1211 – 1225, but this does not coincide with Khan’s rise in power. It is in 1186 when Temujin, Genghis Khan, is elected khan of the Mongols at the age of 24. By this point, he had been fighting for a number of years. His power was growing as he consolidated the tribes. In 1197 he suffers defeat and is soundly defeated. Like any king or leader, they either go into hiding or lay low until they can build up strength.

To this point, I would say Khan is learning to be a leader and learning how to win. He is learning the science of war. He would learn an idea that weather could not teach. He would begin to delegate authority based on one’s merit as well as loyalty. This decision alone would be the factor that would drive Khan to conquering as much as he did. We can look at Subutai as an example of Khan’s understanding of leadership. The wetter climate was not the reason. It may have made conquering easier but not the opportunity as the article mentions.

Khan continues to battle the factions within the Mongol lands. Finally by 1206 Khan completes the unification of the Mongols. The Mongol Empire is born. This is before this climatic change that supposedly caused the Mongols to see the opportunity. What Khan saw was available resources. The weather may have helped provide the additional resources, but it was Khan who saw the opportunity years earlier. As Khan attached the Chinese kingdoms, he saw the weakness in each kingdom and acted accordingly. Khan would continue his magnificently, brutal conquering for years

The change in weather in Mongolia may have assisted Khan in some ways, but I would find it very surprising to see if another Mongol tribal leader would have been as successful if they were in power instead of Khan. The change in the weather and Khan’s rise to power was a coincidence. Without the wetter weather, Khan would have been successful just as without Khan there would not have been a great Mongol Empire. There was no “it’s rainier than normal and we have a surplus. Let’s go and conquer!”

Weather plays a role in history but not in the capacity as described. What happened with the Mongols took a man with the ability to learn, lead and conquer. The weather was ancillary with respect to the Mongols conquering as much as they did. It is also a coincidence that the weather event ended around 1225 and Khan died in 1227 at the age of 65.

The Calculator

February 28, 2015 4 comments

When I entered college some years ago, the calculator was not in major use. The popular calculator then was the old TI-30. This calculator is still in my possession today. The value of the calculator has been worth it weight in gold. I continue to use this fine calculator even though it does not have the features of the new calculators. The best part is the joy of knowing I don’t have to charge or replace batteries.

Calculators are a necessity in today’s educational world. Long gone are the slide rules which I believe is better for learning. Now we have calculators to do the simple math I used to do it my head. This truly is not an advancement for humanity. These calculators are pushing us downward towards ignorance and stupidity. Look at our youth and see how many can do mathematics in their head. I still function faster than their attempts to use a calculator. Unlike my days in college where a calculator was primarily used to speed the work up and seldom if ever used during a math test. Today it is expected.

This brings me to a requirement for students going into the sciences or engineering fields. You need a good calculator but not one that is too good. Look at the SAT approved calculators for what a student should own. I have one child using a TI-83 and another using TI-84. Each of my sons has used this calculator since their high school years. Precalculus is one such class and AP statistics is another. You can get away without using one in precalculus but the textbooks and lesson plans are no longer geared for a calculatorless student. Even at the universities, there are classes where the calculator is a primary tool.

This is where I hoped parents emphasized what I call mental math during the students early math years. This would include algebra and early trigonometry. If your child can do calculations in their head then I would say the parent did well. Sadly, I do not see this with the public school students I interact with. They don’t have the ability to do the math in their head.

I highly recommend students using the TI-83 or TI-84 calculator if they are going into the fields of science or engineering. Use these calculator well before you need it. These are complicated computers that need understanding. It is painful to take a class and struggle using the calculator. Go to online sites where tutorials are given. My youngest struggled early on with his AP statistics class, because he was unfamiliar with the calculator.

Calculators are nice objects to have. I won’t deny that. Like any other tool, these items can cause unforeseen issues down the road. We become to reliant upon technology and cannot effectively integrate ourselves in a way to get the most out of ourselves. We lose the understanding and ability thus opening up the possibilities of failure whether it is upon us or what we design.

Stop the texting!!

February 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Youth 2 has been a strong speller since birth. Yeah, I’m using birth. Believe it or not, he was able to spell at a very early age. Indeed, his older brother relied on him for years to help spell words. This went on for a period of time until my youngest started to get close to the teenage years. Having the sense of humor, my youngest began to have fun with his older brother. You may have guess it. The youngest was beginning to provide bogus spellings to his brother much to all of our laughter. Some of the words were really, really funny. Yes, we did have to correct our youngest and plead with our oldest to concentrate on spelling while not relying on spell check. That is another story and a funny one, too.

Youth 2 converses with quite a few friends through the use of a phone, XBox (there are some good things about this), computer and an iPod Touch. The touch is mostly used for texting. After school is finished and his friends get home, the communication begins. Soccer has been the biggest initiator of this mass communication. There is one side effect – my youngest is losing his writing skills. He no longer capitalizes, punctuates properly and spelling occasionally goes awry. The Educator has noticed a similarity between texts and essays. What is normally texted is written in the essay. Spelling suffers because of the shortcuts in texting. We have a growing problem as my ninth grader is entering the important years of education. He needs to communicate through writing. His AP class requires his writing, and these errors cannot be tolerated.

There is a upside to this story. Unlike a public or private school where a teacher has more difficulty in directly influencing the student, we have direct access to my son. We can work on his regaining the skill that has deteriorated more efficiently and effectively than a school teacher. His work is monitored by us and if no improvement is made, the iPod goes away. In fact, we can remove the cause in order to ensure his writing skills no only improve but return to normal.

I was aware of this issue about texting. There have been many articles over the years about this subject. It was never an issue, so I didn’t bother thinking about it. When his grammar grades slipped, no started off poorly and differently than what his standard is, the Educator and I needed to take action. Fortunately, we caught on very quickly. This serves as a reminder to us parents that we must keep vigilant on education.


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