Thursday, February 26, 2009

Et tu, Costco?

This famous line was uttered in shock and betrayal and now I utter them as I skimmed through a recent Costco magazine. On page 16 of the September 2008 edition they have done a two page spread on the topic debating: Should parents be certified to home-school their children?

At first glance my initial response is the thought that this would be great. How can you go wrong in ensuring that these "weirdy" parents are on track in instructing their children. Considering that we have teachers go through an arduous training process to ensure excellence...right?

Sadly, I don't think that's completely true. While it is true that it can be a long (5 years in college) and a somewhat arduous process with the student teaching, it's going to come down to who is sitting in that chair, in that class, "learning" to become a teacher. Either they're doing it for the right reasons or the wrong ones. Either they're going to put their heart and soul into it or they're not. Either they're going to be a good teacher or an ineffective teacher. While we can only hope that that the children will survive and learn in spite of the person at the front of the classroom.

It's actually my sincere belief that either you are meant to be a teacher or not long before you step foot into your first college class but that's for another post.

So, while at first glance I thought I would lean on the pro side. I then reread the article and spent some time thinking about what was actually being said. You had the president of the teacher federation acknowledge that not every certified teacher is an effective educator while stating that "...a homeschool teacher may be a natural teacher but lack training and necessary supervision" My question is, supervision by whom and why is it necessary? The last time I checked with the county you are not required to obtain a license to become a parent. It is assumed that we will be a parent to our child, good or bad, but that appears to be a God given right and only in the cases of neglect and/or abuse is it necessary for the government to step in.

The other side of this question is responded to by a gentleman who is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He counters that states have moved toward more home schooling freedom because research has shown that home schooled students on average score 20-30 percentile points above the national average on SAT's.

How can you argue with that. What is it that parents do that is difficult for all teachers to do?

Let's consider for a moment the benefits a "teacher" has when homeschooling; small class size (1-4 students), flexibility, not tied into a schedule (ie. computers, PE, art, library, assembly, etc. is at a certain time and my possibly interrupt other learning), opportunities to DISCUSS (more on the value of this later) at length, not governed by a bureaucratic school board/principal in what they can or can't teach, autonomy, ability to collaborate with lots of different resources/people, you know who your students are and don't spend the first couple of weeks/months just getting to know them and helping the class bond, and I could probably think of a few more but I'm worried about my run-on sentenece. Hey, Mrs. Johnson, I just think I broke my old record for number of words in a sentence ;-)

Now let's consider the benefits a "teacher" has when working in a traditional school; large class size (18-24 students or more - hang in there Aunt Karen!), inflexibility with the schedules of other classrooms and in coordinating everyone for pull-out classes, addressing a variety of learning styles and abilities, lack of opportunities to discuss topics at length because of the schedule, time constraint, and curriculum goverened and controlled to some extent in what they can or can't teach by a bureaucratic school board/principal, ability to collaborate with the teacher next door to you because you can or can't stand her/him, getting to spend the first couple of weeks/months of school getting to know your students and their parents, and then helping the class to come together and bond - can you say Kum Ba Yah?



So, in the end it comes down to making the decision to teach your child at home being a very personal one. Where we get a lot of debate is from folks who are not able/willing to acknowledge the good and bad of homeschooling and the good and bad of public education. Neither one is perfect but they both can work. Doesn't being able to make your own choice sound great?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flight of Fancy

On a cold blustery day in January Nathan was laying around the house and there didn't seem much to do. So, we gathered the camera,tripod, pitch counter, notebook, and pencil and headed out with the hope of counting and documenting the number of Trumpeter Swans within a one mile radius of our house.

Out we went and right off the bat Nathan had to start clicking away on the pitch counter (device used to count the number of pitches during a game to ensure that your pitcher, or their's, does not go over the maximum number of pitches during a game). There were birds far out in the field and he was counting and I was counting to compare numbers and ensure some accuracy.

Overall it took about an hour to drive that square mile, count, and stop to take photos but it was a lot of fun. I should mention that the photos were taken with a small pocket camera so quality suffers but it was a lot of fun and you're able to see some of the beauty we saw. Final results were:

Trumpeter Swans - 874
Canada Geese - 56
Mallard Ducks -23

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket
Eagle patterned button blanket designed for beauty and warmth. To see more pictures of how he made this click on the picture above.

Rick Miller - Bohemian Rhapsody

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