Tag Archives: education

Anti-homeschooling or Snowflake?

If the followers of Brave Writer were the start of homeschooling in America, it would have never taken hold and become the parental freedom of educational choice it is today.  Though our forebears fought for and won great victories, our hold on educational freedom is challenged on a daily basis, both personally, as well as on the local, state, and national levels.  Yet, Brave Writer takes us backwards.  Her points in this article outline such gloom and doom, self pity, and hand holding and – well – to use the modern vernacular this describes a snowflake.  This is the wrong direction for home educators.  If we are weak, we will be vanquished.

Early home educators faced criminal charges, allowing and promoting truancy, no curriculum, public shame, few knew of others who home schooled, and a host of legal challenges- they were just out there on their own.  But those parents were certain of their goals for their children and families which bolstered their enthusiasm and commitment to freedom.

Below is a link to an old HSLDA article outlining the history of home schooling in the United States.

Publication Date: 

I. Introduction

Twenty years ago, home education was treated as a crime in almost every state. Today, it is legal all across America, despite strong and continued opposition from many within the educational establishment. How did this happen? This paper traces the legal and sociological history of the modern home school movement, and then suggests factors that led to this movement’s remarkable success.

II. Why Home Schooling Should Have Failed

Today’s generation apparently is lonely, whatever that means.  As a parent/teacher there is so much to learn, teach, share, read, discover, explore, people to meet, places to see, community involvement, youth groups – how could anyone ever be lonely.  Many of us of a certain age, decided to home school to get away from groups, structure, group think, group activities – we had our own family goals and agendas – we didn’t need the approval of anyone nor fear we’d have no friends.  And fear of fitting in?!  For goodness sake, that’s why we home schooled in the first place – we blazed our own path.  But, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be part of a group, but don’t complain if you don’t ‘fit in’ – just move on – it’s not a personal thing.

None of this to say we kept ourselves secluded – far and away, most homes schoolers are involved in a myriad of high profile community, educational, and self growth activities and have earned the respect of their elders.

The more i thought about Brave Writer’s article the more convinced i became that it needed to be challenged and to question her intentions.  Is she a wolf in sheep’s clothing – acting in support of home education, all the while tearing out the foundation?    This article very much sounds like it.  Or one using the foibles of social media to create a downward sucking whirlpool of commiserate negativity  fostering feelings of helplessness so she can sell you some answer?   Anti-home schoolers will thrill to add this gloom and doom piece to their arsenal – for indeed, all that ‘loneliness’ and insecurity will surely harm the children.

To finish my rant, two things: one is that i really don’t think this has anything to do with loneliness and secondly this article does not reflect the ideology of myself and many other parents, who, with wisdom and covenantal commitment, chose to home educate their own children.

Here’s Brave Writer’s article as posted on her Facebook page.

Tonight’s thoughts.

Homeschooling is lonely.

Lonely thoughts: am I doing it right? Doing enough? What if I fail?

Lonely days: you and your kids slogging through, no one entering your house to give you relief, no one else planning a lesson or setting up the art project or supervising PE while you take a break in the teacher’s lounge.

Lonely outings: a field trip of 5—you and your three kids—in a sea of school children and teachers, or alternatively, the only person with kids in tow while people wonder what they’re doing “out of school.”

Lonely self: wanting friends, not sure who will be your friend, wondering how to find them, make them, keep them, coordinate with them, manage the interactions between your kids and theirs, how to fit in when you don’t have the same philosophy or religion or educating style.

It’s a creeping need—at first, the joy of choosing to spend all day every day with your kids is rewarding, fulfilling, and need-meeting. Over time, the craving for adult contact and affirmation becomes profound, powerful, necessary.

The Internet helps—online conversations can tie us together and give us a place to gather—our own water cooler.

Co-ops help—offering a place for parents to chat while kids get instruction you didn’t have to prepare.

Yet it’s more than that.

Underneath the loneliness is this: a craving to be understood, to be accepted.

Can we say our truths, our worries, our different opinions and still be accepted and known by the other homeschoolers? Can we share about our philosophy of education without it raising suspicion or creating rifts?

And what if you are not in the majority homeschooling community? What if you come from a different faith or no faith? How do you find friends then?

The hardest part of homeschooling for me was the feeling that I had to *qualify* to be a member of a given group. The rejection, scrutiny, and exclusion I’ve experienced while homeschooling was excruciating and not unique to me. I know homeschoolers who gave up home education because they literally had no options for community involvement.

If homeschooling is going to thrive, it has to expand and include.

If you are a human being, your beliefs will shift over a lifetime. It’s impossible to guarantee that what you believe is true now will remain in the same configuration for the rest of your life. If you home educate, you are examining those beliefs daily (because you are studying, reading, and discussing ideas all day every day).

When we form groups around beliefs, we teach people to pretend. We say that you must deny the part of yourself that is curious or disturbed or doubts in order to retain membership in the community. That kind of group fosters vigilance to uphold a single perspective, where suspicion becomes a mode of operation rather than support and kindness. Suddenly the strictures of the group become more important than building supportive relationships around home education.

The best homeschool friendships weather change—create space to revise, grow, experiment, and explore—in education models, in religious affiliation, in non-religious affiliation, in various political beliefs, in parenting-styles.

The weakest friendships are built around reinforcing the party-line—and avoiding the discomfort of difference.

The greatest suffering occurs when someone fails to live up to the group’s stated beliefs and is kicked out or shunned or rejected (or is told that their family is now dangerous to others—that one hurt me the most).

We can cure loneliness in homeschool. We do it by building communities that welcome people committed to the daring adventure of bringing education to life for their children. That’s the ground floor of friendship.

Everything else? Fodder for rich conversations over brunch and mimosas at Mimi’s.

Love one another.

 

Making Investments vs Creating a Job

Economic definitions:

Investment – an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth.  to put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.

Job – a paid position of regular employment.  a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price. Everyone has goals in life – some will involve being financially secure.  If you are interested in building financial wealth, there are a few basic premises which need to be incorporated into your plans.

1) Your saved dollars must be put to work!

2) Break free from the bondage of financial slavery by changing your spending habits

3) Invest in yourself – education or your own business

4) Learn to manage the money you do have – more money will not necessarily fix your financial problems

5) Debt is a hard task master – avoid it!

6) Use your income from a paid job to make investments that will gain in value while you continue your paid job.  Later you can retire from your job and enjoy your investments.

Many, many economic experts have different ideas about how to invest, so it’s up to you to decide who or what you want to invest in.

An Argument for Insourcing

Nathan’s Here:  Now, following a long delay, it is finally here!  I actually held off on publishing this because I couldn’t decide whether I should or not.  To be honest, before the week of research I spent before writing this essay I didn’t know very much on the topic of outsourcing.  What I did know, however, was that I was very strongly set against it.  Now, after that week of research, I still oppose outsourcing, but I have a better understanding of how little I know on the topic.  That said, here’s the argument essay I wrote in favorite of “insourcing” jobs back into the United States.

Today more than ever, current and future professionals must face the prospect of their jobs being sent overseas.  In 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor and Forrester Research, Inc. estimate that between 2003 and 2015 over 3 million jobs would move offshore (Young).  No longer is it only low wage manufacturing jobs that are being threatened, but also white-collar positions, from call center operators to paralegals.  As a nation, we must recognize the detriment this “offshoring” trend represents for both our economy and future generations of workers.

With the advent of modern modes of communication, even white-collar jobs previously thought safe from offshoring are being threatened.  From call center operators to informational technology jobs, roles which once could only be filled by domestic employees are now being replaced with much cheaper foreign equivalents.  And it’s not just jobs that require low skill or education levels that are being moved.  Alan S. Blinder, a respected author on the topic of offshoring, comments on the lack of correlation between the required education level of a job and how “offshorable” it is, “… it is easy to offshore working in a call center, typing transcripts, writing computer code, and reading X-rays.  The first two require very little education, the last two require quite a lot” (Blinder, par. 14).  Even employees who don’t face the offshoring of their positions can find themselves being forced to train foreign replacements being brought in from other countries, often on a temporary work visa such as the H-1B visa, or else forfeit their severance package after their inevitable release (Greenhouse, par. 6).

This trend of white-collar jobs being sent overseas also has severe implications for job seekers.  Shortly after the recession of 2008, Don Peck, deputy managing editor for The Atlantic, described the challenge of recovering from the job losses in that period, “Because the population is growing and new people are continually coming into the job market, we need to produce roughly 1.5 million new jobs a year … just to keep from sinking deeper” (Peck, par. 13).  This means that Forrester Research’s estimate of 300,000 jobs offshored every year represented 20% of the job growth needed to prevent the recession from getting worse!  However, the economy has since recovered, and new jobs are being created, though as Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brooking Institution notes, “In a sense, every time someone’s laid off now, they need to start all over.  They don’t even know what industry they’ll be in next” (qtd. in Peck, par. 16).  The increasing variety of jobs which can be done remotely means that higher education is no longer a cure-all, and that many people who spent time and money obtaining a degree now find themselves out of their chosen career field.  Alan Blinder suggests that “the kind of education our young people receive may prove to be more important than how much education they receive” and that “looking forward over the next 25 years, more subtle occupational advice may be needed” (Blinder, pars. 16 & 17).  Where once it was common for students to go to college automatically, now students must consider future career options or else they risk joining a pool of terminally unemployed or underemployed career seekers burdened with student loans.

Offshoring jobs also has the dual effect of diminishing the skills of the talent pool in the U.S. and imparting those talents on workers in foreign nations.  Persons who find themselves displaced by offshoring can find it difficult to find new work, because as Peck asserts, “As a spell of unemployment lengthens, skills erode … leaving some people unqualified even for work they once did well.  This can be made even more difficult by the other effect of offshoring: leveling of the playing field with foreign workers.  As jobs and equipment are sent overseas, those nations receiving them become more competitive with their American counterparts.

Proponents of offshoring argue that importing low-wage, low-skill services (sending those jobs overseas and importing the fruits of the labor) allows companies to streamline their services and creates more opportunity for high-wage, high-skill positions.  J. Bradford Jensen and Lori G. Kletzer, senior fellows at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, speak of a threshold above which jobs tend to be safe from offshoring, stating “Most employment in tradable service activities is above this threshold and thus most workers in tradable service activities are unlikely to face significant competition from low-wage, labor-abundant countries any time soon” (Jensen and Kletzer, par. 7).  They argue that a majority of employees in tradable jobs in the U.S. are above this threshold and hold a “competitive advantage” over comparable employees in those low-wage nations and as such it benefits the economy as a whole to allow those jobs which fall below the threshold to be sent overseas.

While their position is currently true and well-supported, it fails to take into account the trend of higher-wage jobs moving overseas.  Blinder describes this trend, saying, “Offshoring is no longer limited to low-end service jobs.  Computer code can be written overseas and emailed back to the United States.  So can your tax return and lots of legal work …” (Blinder, par. 9).  Where offshoring was once limited to basic services, modern communication has allowed more complex work to be completed in other nations.  How long before this trend surpasses the “comparative advantage” Jensen and Kletzer say protects U.S. jobs which are already considered tradable?

In an era of globalization, it is impossible to prevent at least some jobs from being sent overseas, but if we hope to avoid losing away our economic status and employment base, we must recognize the damage being dealt to the economy by offshoring and find a way to reverse the trend.

Works Cited

Blinder, Alan S. “Outsourcing: bigger than you thought: the outsourcing wave is about to hit the service sector.  To keep good service jobs, we need to prepare the workforce and understand the jobs.” The American Prospect. 17 Nov. 2006: 44+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Greenhouse, Steven. “Offshore Outsourcing Will Cost Americans Jobs.” Outsourcing. Ed. David M. Haugen. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009.  Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. From “Offshoring Silicon Valley.” The American Prospect. 19 Jun. 2008: 18-20. Opposing Views in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Jensen, J. Bradford, and Lori G. Kletzer. “Offshore Outsourcing Can Favor Some High-Skill Service Providers.” Outsourcing. Ed. Jenny Cromie and Lynn M. Zott. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. From “Fear and Offshoring: The Scope and Impact of Imports and Exports of Services.” 2008. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

“Number of U.S. Jobs Moving Offshore.” Free Trade. Ed. Mitchell Young. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009.  Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context.  Web.  13 Apr. 2015.

Peck, Don. “The Recession Has Caused the Highest Rate of Unemployment Since the Great Depression.” Jobs in America. Ed. Debra A. Miller. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Current Controversies. Rpt. From “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America.” The Atlantic. Mar. 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Quotables

“Children are not a distraction from more important work.  They are the most important work.”  Dr John Trainer

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ”  C.S. Lewis

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”  C.S. Lewis

Photo:  St Magnus CathedralKirkwall, Orkney, Scotland

Book Banning and Educational Freedom

Nathan Powell submitting his latest essay for English at Trenton College dual credit course.

Censorship is a topic often associated with totalitarian governments and repressive regimes, yet, in our own United States, many books, including such classics as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, have been banned from public libraries at one time or another for various kinds of objectionable material.  Massive changes in the way society and individuals view once-uncouth topics have drawn the debate over where the line between free speech and dangerous expression lies into sharp focus.  In their article “Counterpoint: Book Censorship can be[sic] Justified in Some Cases,” authors Christina Healey and Tracey M. DiLascio eloquently and convincingly argue for the use of censorship as a precise tool to protect children from concepts and ideas that could negatively affect the child’s development.

Healey and DiLascio emphasize the power of books to influence a culture and the need for parents to be able to choose what books their children read.  They say, “[books] can be used to educate, to inculcate values and transmit ideology, and to stimulate the imagination.  They can instruct in civic virtues or contain instructions to build a bomb” (Healey and DiLascio par. 5).  By this, the authors mean to inform the reader of the importance of the debate over whether books can severely influence those who read them.  The authors state that “ … it is important that parents be given information about the books that are being made available to their children” (Healey and DiLascio par. 9).  Healey and DiLascio believe parents armed with this information would be better able to make wise decisions about what their children are exposed to, and thus, better able to challenge what books should be purchased with public funds and what books should be removed from public libraries.

To establish a framework for their paper, Healey and DiLascio give a brief overview on the history of book banning in the United States, stating, “Book banning in schools or public libraries generally begins when a concerned parent or group of parents takes issue with a literary text on (usually) moral grounds …” (Healey and DiLascio par. 1).  They list several examples of books which have been banned and the reasons why, ranging from inappropriate language to depressing content.  This context they provide is vital for a realistic discussion of a hot-button topic such as censorship, as it allows the reader to understand that the form of censorship in question is not repression of divergent ideologies, but rather is the careful consideration of what topics young minds are prepared to understand, for which there is a strong precedent here in the United States.  This list also demonstrates the variety of reasons that could cause a book to be considered worthy of a ban, and shows that we must not take the power of censorship lightly for fear of overextending across the boundary between protecting our children and oppressing free expression.

Next, Healey and DiLascio discuss some of the issues surrounding young adult (YA) literature, a highly controversial genre, that make the censorship of these books from public libraries seem sensible to some parents.  As they explain, “One is that many books targeted at or assigned to the teen audience have increasingly graphic violence, sexual content, drug and alcohol content, and obscene language” (Healey and DiLascio par. 8).  This dark turn in YA books can be seen simply by investigating the youth adult section of one’s local library.  From post-apocalyptic gladiators to fantasy settings shrouded in shadows, the literature gracing the shelves may capture the imagination, but it no longer does so through inspiration and encouragement, but rather through visceral shock value.  Proponents of these books say that discussing topics that are normally considered taboo can increase awareness of persons in these situations.  However, critics, myself included, contend that books such as these glorify lifestyles and actions which are dangerous and that these concepts should not be perpetuated by public funding in school and public libraries.

Finally, the authors emphasize the importance of parental engagement in their children’s literary pursuits, advocating, “Just as parents monitor the music, video games, and movies to which their children are exposed, parents should be aware of what books their children are reading” (Healey and DiLascio par. 4).  Healey and DiLascio contend that the parental right to educate one’s children in the way one sees fit supersedes the right of free expression where public funding is concerned, so parents should have the right to petition for books to be removed from school and public libraries.  While some might see this as suppression and exclusion, I think the reality is that restricting books that convey negative messages with which a parent disagrees allows parents to better impart their sense of morals to their children.  Rather than relying on the permissive morals of the collective masses to decide when a child is ready to learn about a certain topic, the parent can make an informed decision on a child-by-child basis, which encourages greater diversity of ethics.  In other words, giving the parents the right to control what their children are exposed to can create greater expression instead of repressing it.

The perfect balance between censorship and expression will probably never be struck, but the fact that we have this conversation gives me hope that as a society we will continue to search for it.  In “Counterpoint: Book Banning can be[sic] Justified,” Healey and DiLascio offer a compelling line of reasoning to support parental censorship of children’s reading material and in this specific scenario, I find myself in support of their argument for replacement and restriction to introduce children to difficult concepts in due time.

Works Cited

Healey, Christina and DiLascio, Tracey M. “Counterpoint: Book Banning can be Justified in Some Cases.” Points of View: Banning Books 2015: 3. Web.

Music is More than Fun!

Not surprisingly, music has shown itself to be helpful in learning once again.    In fact, of my three children, Dallas, who has just turned 21 and was diagnosed with Aspergers just last year, but started vocal and piano lessons at 14, showed the most marked improvement, not only in vocal skills, but in problem solving, speech enunciation, concentration, focus, and memory enhancement. (an upgraded WordPress would allow some pretty cool home music performances on here!)  I regret not having started them all on piano and vocal lessons much earlier in life, but no use wallowing in guilt about something that cannot be changed.  However, if our experience will encourage anyone to consider such lessons for their children, starting as soon as possible, that’d be keen.  Formal lessons to start wouldn’t be necessary.  Just sing, clap, tap your toes with your children – you’ll have loads of fun, too!  As they progress, introduce more complicated rhythms and/or a foreign language fun song as well.  Those brain synapses will be stretching and growing all over!  Whether you are a home, government, or private educator – put some music in those young lives!  It’ll last a lifetime!

Nathan (in Yellow coat) as a student in Les Miserable performance by Carousel Productions, Macon, MO in March 2014.  Photo by Kelly Lewis Photography
Nathan (in Yellow coat) as a student in Les Miserable performance by Carousel Productions, Macon, MO in March 2014. Photo by Kelly Lewis Photography

Speech therapy?!   Try SING therapy!

A Musical Fix for U.S. Schools – an essay by Ms Joanne Lipman for the Wall Street Journal  This essay, once again, explains the importance of music in our lives. Sadly, government and some private schools put this on the chopping block far too often.

Jessica performing at the piano at Central Methodist University her freshman year - 2010 - SAI music fraternity annual recital in Linn Memorial United Methodist Church.
Jessica performing at the piano at Central Methodist University her sophomore year – 2010 – SAI music fraternity annual recital in Linn Memorial United Methodist Church.

Jessica was very active in the music department through college, having received a vocal scholarship and was involved with the Chorale group and Conservatory Singers choir.  Now graduated, spring of 2013, she teaches Kindergarten at The American School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she also volunteers to direct the high school honor choir.  She continues to practice piano when she has time.  Dallas hasn’t put his musical skills to work yet, except to enjoy singing and making a joyful noise unto Yahweh!   His voice is well-suited for baritone parts.  He started out not even being able to hear a note on the piano and matching the pitch!  Nathan continues vocal lessons locally and last winter was involved with Carousel Productions in Macon, Missouri.  The six performances were sold out!  Though he had initially been rejected at his audition for singing parts, he showed up and did so much better during practices, that he eventually landed FOUR small parts in the productions.  Les Misérables has always been one of our favourite shows, so it was especially sweet that he was able to participate.

Shabbat Shalom!