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.

My thoughts on my limited knowledge of AP History

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

I see some AP history classes require a textbook. I do not know if all of these classes require a textbook. The fact a textbook is required has me wondering the value of AP History. Only one college history course I took or my son has taken required a textbook. The professor of this textbook explained there were no books that explain the period and therefore the textbook was more of a reference for the students.

As an undergraduate, I was required to read multiple books for a history course. My oldest have five or six books for his class. I had as many. We listened to lectures and read books. I was expected to follow the syllabus. We didn’t always discuss the book in class. Names and dates were important, but it was the concepts that held most value in class. Sadly, I was struggling with names and dates.

None of my exams were multiple choice. I remember one test where I had a choice of five problems of which I needed to answer three. I had two of the Blue Books with me for the test. I had to write a bloody essay on each problem. My high school never prepared me for this, and I never truly got the hang of it. I was too busy with the wrong concepts. In fact, I was not prepared.

Interestingly, I didn’t do many papers for history. I am not sure why and thankfully I didn’t. Again my public school failed me there. I got a B on one paper. This was the history class that used a textbook. It could be that they recognized the lower history courses were fillers for students and not the main subject of study.

In graduate school, reading is a main part of the class.  I do a lot of reading and then discuss the reading. In fact, I feel like I’m studying philosophy more than history. Another part of graduate school are the essays I write. For one class I wrote seven or eight essay and one thesis. After the fact I enjoyed the class.

From what I have discovered in AP history, it is not so much a college history course. Some do require a fifteen page paper, but I wonder what the format must be in. I am held to strict standards which I believe should be taught in high school. Chicago style if you want to know. Times New Roman, 12 font and 1.5 spacing. As for textbooks, I don’t see the value since you need to read from a variety of sources. I guess I should investigate this course in more detail.

Categories: Education, History Tags: ,

What NOT to do on a resume

February 12, 2015 Leave a comment

It has been a while since I last posted. Graduate school, hard drive crash (still working on it) and other parts of life will do that to you.

It is resume and interview time for me. Right now, I am at the resume reviewing period. These are the resumes that get through the first round of cuts before they come to me. I am the person that will determine whether or not we should take time out to talk to you. This is my second resume to review and it is a doozy. So, if you are a college student take note.

First, if indeed you are a college student USE your school for resume work. Many schools even offer practice interview sessions. Take the opportunity to do this!

Now onto this resume. Keep in mind your resume is like a puzzle to me. I am putting pieces together to get an idea of you.

1. Though I can google the state you are from, I won’t do it. If you are going to include your address the by all means include the state. Yes, I notice these little errors as do others. If you choose to leave out where you live at least include our phone number.

2. Your summary of qualifications or additional skills are best when done with bullets. I’m busy and do not want to rummage through a poorly written paragraph to determine your skills. I’d rather surf the web than continue with your resume.

3. If you are going to tell me when and where you graduate as well as your major, keep them together. It is easy for me to miss your multiple degrees in your summary. See, I only skimmed because I want to walk the halls. You don’t have to provide your gpa if you have had ten years of experience or more. Fresh out of school, your gpa tells me something.

4. Skills, experience and professional experience. If you separate these I am liable to not understand what you did. Having a list of companies and dates without information means nothing to me. So you did stuff with computers or digital communications, and electrical design. If these aren’t tied to anything I’m not really caring.

5. You may think writing an eleven line paragraph for each task is appropriate. Refer to number 2. You lose me very quickly, and I skim over your gibberish. I want to hit the vending machine for a snack. The only good thing about my not covering your paragraph like an English professor grading a paper is I do not see the poorly written sentences that work best with bullets.

6. If you job hop I am likely to be wary of you. I don’t want someone that disappears after two years. Five jobs in a little over nine years is another strike against you. I don’t need someone leaving a half finished job for me to handle when I want to be talking with a friend in a nearby cubicle.

You want to catch my eye. Keep it simple and stay to the facts. I don’t understand the context of the word “commissioning” as you write it four times in the paragraph. It has no meaning, so keep the words easy to understand. If I have to take time and study what you write, it becomes easier for me to delete your resume. This is why I like bullets with a phrase attached or at least a short sentence. It is easier for me to read. Oh, try not to have a resume the size of a book. I am likely to not even read it beyond your name.

Try resume building sites online. You can do a few for free in a limited way. A professional looking resume may get you the interview. Don’t pad your resume with unnecessary baloney. I don’t care that you washed cars at a dealership during your summers. If it is not pertinent to what you are applying then I don’t care. Eagle Scouts! Do not believe in the myth that this helps you get a job. It will if the interviewee is scout related and values titles. My son is an Eagle Scout, but I don’t care if you were unless it relates to the job. I can tell you that I interview zero Eagle Scouts even though we had quite a few resumes from Eagle Scouts. What you did at ages 14 to 17 have little meaning ten years later. Besides, I know how much of the work was your effort. I was involved in helping out on many projects, and as a reminder my son is an Eagle Scout.

Now back to “work.”

Categories: Education, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Free Community College

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment

President Obama is proposing to make the first two years of community college free. Sounds good doesn’t it? This would be very helpful to prospective students. It would be a boom for community colleges and quite damaging to universities. Is this a really good idea? I don’t the entire plan for the pres hasn’t provided the details to my knowledge, and I am relying on the media.

Here is the propose deal as I have read. You can get two years of free community college. You need to be half-time to qualify and maintain a lowly gpa of 2.50. There is also something about making steady progress towards completing the program. Our ever intrusive federal government would kick in 3/4 of the cost while our states are expected to fire in 1/4. There are to be grants for those going into technical fields.

Right off the bat I have some issues. Why should we set the standard so low? Why not have the students maintain a 3.00 gpa? You’ll quickly discover who is serious. Shoot, I could go to a community college and maintain a 2.50 and learn little. If President Obama wants these people to work for this free education then make them accountable for the education. I go even further, no sports or extracurricular activities. I do not support a athletic education even though I am likely contributing to it with my son’s education. No, he is contributing. I would even support a graduated tuition rate. If the student is 4.00 then free. As the gpa goes down take some free money away. A downside is the community college will likely lessen the education system to provide 4.00 for all. Schools have ways of scamming us out of money.

What is considered to be steady progress? This needs to be defined. I know of plenty college students that change direction in their first two years. Many of my son’s college friends have gone from engineering to business because engineering required them to work with their brain. This is where the 3.00 helps out. As long as they have a strong gpa, there is no issue with progress.

Do we think states are going to go and kick in 1/4 of the cost? Show me a state with financial issues, and I’ll show you a state that will balk. Okay, a Democratic state will likely have less of an issue. Running in the red for them means higher taxes. In reality, the cost all comes from the same group of people – the taxpayer. If you are cash strapped, you’ll suffer. The cost of this program is not cheap especially if everybody and their brother goes into this program. There is a way to deter students, which we should. I’ll talk more about this down the road. As for grants, I say throw the grants to technical schools. These schools train students in a field that is more like a guild. (Sorry, I went blank on this sentence and couldn’t finish it properly.) Not all community colleges have the same tuition. Will our federal government mandate they charge the same? They cannot. I am sure a community college in the middle of nowhere costs less than the community college near the urban regions. Another point to make, what will keep the community college from raising their tuition? Again, a mandate on tuition could hurt the school if there is a legitimate need to raise the cost. If the government monitors the schools, then we have a major leak with the cost of this program going to the feds who love to hire people and still make poor decisions. To throw more onto this cost issue, I am sure they will change the free to if you can afford college you don’t get the “free”.

Do all prospective students need to go to a community college? The answer is an emphatic NO! We have this misguided idea that a college education is for everyone. The reality is far from this. Years ago, I met a young man, 18, on the assembly line at a manufacturing job. He was smart but had no interest in furthering his education. He just wanted to work and collect his paycheck. College for him was worthless. I have met many people like that. To them, education was more of a hassle. They don’t care if they never own the large house, go to Europe for vacation or even own a Mercedes. They want a simple life and a job. Why should we encourage these people to go to a community college? There are quite a number of people like this. Sending these people to school is a waste of money. There are also those that will not take it seriously, but not maintaining a 3.00 knocks them out. You just lose on a first semester tuition.

Losing the first two years of students hurts many higher learning institutions. I would expect some to go under. Others with branch campuses like a community college would suffer as well. Will our Federal government helped these branch campuses out even though they are tied to a major university? We could see a backlash where major universities will not accept the credits from community colleges. We have that now, but it could be worse.

I have only touched on a few of the issues I see. Before our government can implement this, the issues need addressed and the politics of it removed. This on the surface is not a bad idea, but seldom do we go deep enough to see the consequences. Too often, idea like this are the worst decisions for they make matters worse. We should not see this program implemented within four years if it is even implemented provided their is proper study. Honestly, I am not confident that this will work out. It will be politicized and little effort placed in looking at the consequences. It will become a economic issue dealing with what families make in salary. If this free education happens, my youngest would take it, but I can almost guarantee we won’t qualify.


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