March 2009


So in my catching up on old news, I read tonight a blurb about the Texas school board passing an altered standard on evolution.  It is a big deal, financially and ideologically, because Texas approves the same textbooks statewide.  Publishers therefore tend to write for Texas and then market to other states whatever it was Texas wanted.

Now what puzzles me, is that no one seems to notice how comic this is.  How very far from education our nation has moved.

When I teach, I expect every word I say to be tested.  If one of my students misunderstands me, I expect to be held accountable even for the misunderstanding.  I try, therefore, to make sure that whatever I teach can be documented — can be proven to be correct.  If I offer an opinion, I aim to be perfectly clear that is my personal opinion only.  I’ve been known to refuse to give my opinion, when the jury is still out on a topic and I think students will be led astray by my supporting one side or the other.

I expect my students, their parents, and my supervisors to be judging my teaching based on how accurate it is.  I expect them all to doubt me, to go look for themselves. To try to gather evidence against me.  Not out of any malice towards me (that’s another topic), but because they want the truth.  Because what I say can be tested against outside evidence, and ought to be.   I’ve no right to teach any other way.

So here we have the state of Texas, issuing carefully worded statements about what students will and will not be taught concerning evolution.  And textbooks being approved based on their conformity to those standards.

This is education?  A tremendous current of scientific thought reduced to a few simple statements, to be conveyed to the student by thought-police-approved textbooks, for consumption and regurgitation?

Forgive me, but this is very telling.  A high school biology student is somehow unable to read multiple sources and weigh evidence?  Recall these are teenagers, perfectly capable of questioning every assumption and practice of their progenitors, as their parents will readily confirm.  And yet somehow after eight or nine years of education they are unable to read and think and evaluate? At all?

Pardon me, but where are the critical thinking skills our children are supposed to be learning?  That reading ability?  Are they still entirely undeveloped so close to graduation?

And what kind of teacher — what kind of principal, what kind of superintendent — can dare to teach something based not on evidence, or truth, but on the vote of a committee?

When I teach I expect to be tested.  I’ve no right to teach any other way.

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Quickly bringing you up to speed on your missed articles.

Castle news: All is well.  Children are learning things, parents are doing things.  Ailment is boring. SCA = busy, Latin = stalled, garden = in progress.  The house is not as orderly as some bloggers might like.  The reading pile is not as well-tended as some bloggers might like.  The cat is not allowed in the house as often as some cats might like.  Lent has been good to us.

Saving money with cloth diapers: Buy the ones you can afford and that you will actually use.  Cottonbabies.com is a good source, and all the other links I was going to give you happen to be either suppliers or distributors for Cotton Babies, so you can save me a lot of time by starting there and doing your own wandering.  I’ll lay it all out in more detail some other month, if there is much interest.

Happy April.  I find myself woefully short of comedy today, my apologies.  I suppose it isn’t helping that the wider world is robbing me of satire.  Meanwhile I am trying to think up a sympathetic way to write about Mongol Invaders, and having not much luck.  SuperHusband says go with Plan B, Charlemagne.

Diapers, castle news, yes yes, I know.  I owe you.   We’re on the mend, but I’m still catching up. Think of this as your realistic view of what homeschooling is like. Sort of an on-line version of a messy living room. Have a good weekend, and I’m going to try again here next week.

‘nuf said.  Will catch up later.

No pun intended.  Anyway, the excuse this week is that my article on “Saving Money with Cloth diapers” is delayed because, well, my washing machine is broken.  Very broken.  Fortunately we are keeping a spare child this week, who comes with a key to her house down the road, where the washing machine works great.  (Yes, Mrs. R, your house is our laundromat.  Best laundromat ever.  Except we can’t figure out how to turn on your TV & DVD player.)

Anyway, that and other routine excitement (another babysitting job in addition, company coming Saturday, different company coming Sunday, spring fever, etc etc) is my excuse of the week.  Your article is written, just not edited and posted.  Those of you who couldn’t care less about saving money with cloth diapers should just go do something else this weekend, and tune in for next week’s monthly installment of castle news.

–> When you might find out whether the SuperHusband has successfully repaired the motor to our laundry machine, or whether we will be shelling out for another round of washing-machine lotto.  You’ll be pleased to know that Consumer Reports shows all the major brands give you as much as 9 chances out of 10 that your machine will work the whole first year you own it.  Lovely.   Basically since no manufacturer makes a reliable machine, their suggestion is to buy the least expensive one that washes well.

Hmmn, or maybe  I should just send Mr. Boy with a pile of quarters when he goes to play at Mrs. R’s house Wednesday mornings, and he can do our laundry there.

Added to the sidebar, Pauline Press’s collection of printable activity sheets for kids.  Haven’t tested them yet.  Recommended by a local homeschooling friend, thanks for the link you know who you are.

Finally got Prince Caspian DVD last Friday – takes awhile when you are tenth in line for the requests at the library. Good movie; not unlike the Lord of the Rings movies, or The Sound of Music, it is important not to think about the book too much while watching the film.

So the other day, Mr. Boy comes to me – having finally decided to start schoolwork after quite a lot of getting ‘carried away’ through the morning – in search of a penmanship sheet.

“I gave you one this morning.”

“It disappeared.”

Disappeared, eh?

And this is when I realized we were living in Narnia ourselves.  Aslan having opened the hole in the tree, and things from one world vanishing as they travel to the next.

Understandably, things from Mom World are always trying to get back home.  After all, they feel quite out out place as they fight against the forces of all that is good and right in Mr. Boy’s World.  Homework list, penmanship sheet, literature book – these are constantly trying to make holes in Boy World and slip out into the nether regions of the universe.

Luckily I have special powers, and was able to re-open the door between worlds – in this case by moving the laundry hamper on his bed (do not ask why there is a laundry hamper on his bed, it makes sense in his world)– and pull the lost papers back into Boy World.

But they’re only visiting.  Soon enough they’ll have to be called back to Mom world, before they accidentally slip away again.

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