Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sporadic posting to continue

Thanks for all of the compliments on my fisk. It only took about half an hour to pound out. Husband's usually take longer, but I felt inspired.

Things are busy around here. Even though we're on a light load for school, there's still plenty to do and one of those is keeping the kids occupied. I know there are only so many days of summer and, while I want the kids to enjoy them, I don't want them to forget everything they've learned. So there's a time drain.

We're trying something new with Dale for reading. The familiar practice of "read independently, do the questions, Mom will check them when you're done" resulted in hours--as in nine, some involving bouts of tears--of non-production. For seven questions.
So we're throwing a little Charlotte Mason into the mix. He reads the questions to me before the passage. I make sure he understands all of the vocabulary (last time he thought a "regiment" was a poor person or beggar--big problem). We use the Mason "narration" practice to be sure he's understanding the material. When I hear the answer to each question, I stop him and ask the question. Since he's just read the answer, it doesn't take him long. Last, he then has to write the answers to the questions.
It only took two hours today, from beginning to end. Yes, it was still a long time for seven questions, but it's a lot better than nine.

I'm also kind of re-prioritizing. We limit the kids' computer time to half an hour per day, and even have a timer on the desk for it. At this point in life they aren't doing research; they're playing games. What does it say if I'm there for hours? Reading blogs, news sites, Facebook status updates, comments, chatting with friends, writing blog entries? I mean, I do have other things to do. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder said in one of her books, "Man's work ends with set of sun; woman's work is never done." And it's true.

So I'm taking a tip from myself with my kids. Yes, I'll still be posting, but don't expect a dramatic uptick in frequency. Thanks for your attention, folks.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Let's try this fisking thing.

Over at Mama Says, she has her commentary on this article. I'm going to try my hand at my beloved husband's practice and fisk it. I don't know that it's as good as his, but it's an honest try.

The case against homeschooling
Homeschooling: great for self-aggrandizing, society-phobic mother…… but not quite so good for the kid.
Already a judgment. Any research to back that preconceived notion up?

Here are my top ten reasons why homeschooling parents are doing the wrong thing:
10. “You were totally home schooled” is an insult college kids use when mocking the geeky kid in the dorm (whether or not the offender was home schooled or not). And… say what you will… but it doesn’t feel nice to be considered an outsider, a natural outcropping of being homeschooled.
So being called "homeschooled" is an insult. Doesn't that indicate a destructively intolerant attitude? "Gay" is also considered an insult despite PSAs to combat it. Rather than stop the practice of homeschooling, we should work on the ignorance of those who hold such condemnatory viewpoints. Maybe we need nationally recognized Homeschool Awareness Month or Homeschool Pride marches.

9. Call me old-fashioned, but a students’ classroom shouldn’t also be where they eat Fruit Loops and meat loaf (not at the same time I hope). It also shouldn’t be where the family gathers to watch American Idol or to play Wii. Students–from little ones to teens–deserve a learning-focused place to study. In modern society, we call them schools.
Gee. Should we outlaw birthday cupcakes and snacks in schools too? Back in my elementary school, we ate lunch in the classroom. Really. Not to mention that he presumes the watching of American Idol (we don't) and Wii ownership (though we're thinking about that).
Where does he think public school kids do their homework, anyway? It's either at the forbidden kitchen table or in their bedroom, where they probably have a TV, stereo, their bed, et cetera.
Not only that, I can think of a couple families who DO have schoolrooms set aside in their homes.

8. Homeschooling is selfish. According to this article in USA Today, students who get homeschooled are increasingly from wealthy and well-educated families. To take these (I’m assuming) high achieving students out of our schools is a disservice to our less fortunate public school kids. Poorer students with less literate parents are more reliant on peer support and motivation, and they greatly benefit from the focus and commitment of their richer and higher achieving classmates.
So he's jealous that homeschooling parents keep their educated, well-behaved kids at home out of public school? While his argument has apparent merit, the more likely scenario is those good homeschooled kids after spending 7-8 hours a day with them will start to act more like their poorly motivated peers.

7. God hates homeschooling. The study, done by the National Center for Education Statistics, notes that the most common reason parents gave as the most important was a desire to provide religious or moral instruction. To the homeschooling Believers out there, didn’t God say “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”? Didn’t he command, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me”? From my side, to take your faithful children out of schools is to miss an opportunity to spread the grace, power and beauty of the Lord to the common people. (Personally I’m agnostic, but I’m just saying…)
While his Bible cherry-picking is an argument used by many Christians, it's also a rephrased version of #8. In response, I ask a question: exactly how informed in their faith does he imagine most kindergarteners are? Or third-graders? Has he seen the anti-Christian rhetoric spewed in some of our schools? Or the pro-multiculturalism where one faith is just as good as another so they're all screwy? How are parents supposed to unteach in a few hours--between arriving home and bedtime--what their children are exposed to for eight?
I suppose I should be grateful he doesn't spout Richard Dawkins and try to argue religious education is child abuse.

6. Homeschooling parent/teachers are arrogant to the point of lunacy. For real! My qualifications to teach English include a double major in English and education, two master’s degrees (education and journalism), a student teaching semester and multiple internship terms, real world experience as a writer, and years in the classroom dealing with different learning styles. So, first of all, homeschooling parent, you think you can teach English as well as me?
As a matter of fact, I think I can teach English better than you can. I recognize the subjective versus the objective use.
Well, maybe you can. I’ll give you that. But there’s no way that you can teach English as well as me, and biology as well as a trained professional, and history… and Spanish… and art… and counsel for college as well as a school’s guidance counselor… and… and…
Maybe true for most of that but I have the Timmy Turner defense: "Internet." Not to mention the public library, the zoo, the local art museum, the local science center, and... and... And we get to go to these places as often as we like when the public schools are in session teaching cooperative learning and fuzzy math.
One last thing on that topic: I really hope I can do a better job of guiding my children to college better than my own guidance counselor did. I can think of no other school staff member so frequently parodied as a guidance counselor. I know ONE who was worth her weight, and I'll bet she'll tell you the same.

5. As a teacher, homeschooling kind of pisses me off. (That’s good enough for #5.)
Your ignorant attitude does the same to me. So there.

4. Homeschooling could breed intolerance, and maybe even racism. Unless the student is being homeschooled at the MTV Real World house, (I wouldn't want to visit there, let alone subject my kids to such an environment) there’s probably only one race/sexuality/background in the room. How can a young person learn to appreciate other cultures if he or she doesn’t live among them?
This is where I get to go all papistical on you. There are Catholic saints from every continent and every ethnic background, going back to St. Augustine of Hippo at least. St. Martin de Porres, St. Charles Lwanga, Blessed Kateri Takakwitha... That's a start. Not to mention the regular visits to all of those places I mentioned back in #6, unless you think we only go to the zoo on Catholic Homeschoolers Day.

3. And don’t give me this “they still participate in activities with public school kids” garbage. Socialization in our grand multi-cultural experiment we call America is a process that takes more than an hour a day, a few times a week. So how much Spanish do they get in your class? Or art? Or gym? Homeschooling, undoubtedly, leaves the child unprepared socially.
Yes, during the waking hours they're not at the dreaded kitchen table, they're trapped in their closet. They aren't going with me to the grocery store, buying things on their own, working at local charities, going to Park Days where the ten-year-old pushes the four-year-old on the swing, or groups of kids from 14 months to 11 years celebrate a St. Patrick's Day party, or any of the other multitude of activities they're involved in. Unlike your peer-socialized public school kids who only play with kids in their grade, they function with a variety of ages.

2. Homeschooling parents are arrogant, Part 2. According to Henry Cate, who runs the Why Homeschool blog, many highly educated, high-income parents are “probably people who are a little bit more comfortable in taking risks” in choosing a college or line of work. “The attributes that facilitate that might also facilitate them being more comfortable with home-schooling.”
More comfortable taking risks with their child’s education? Gamble on, I don’t know, the Superbowl, not your child’s future.
Oh, and every curriculum decision made in public school committees is a sure thing. Same with district-wide discipline/classroom management procedures; they're all a given. That's why new ones are adopted every 3-5 years.
Oh, and we don't see homeschooling as a gamble. We see it as a sure bet.

1. And finally… have you met someone homeschooled? Not to hate, but they do tend to be pretty geeky***.
And Heaven knows, there are no geeks at all in the public schools. Well, not in the hallways. They're all stuffed in trash cans or lockers.

*** Please see the comments for thoughts on the word ‘geeky.’ But, in general, to be geeky connotes a certain inability to integrate and communicate in diverse social situations. Which, I would argue, is a likely result of being educated in an environment without peers. It’s hard to get by in such a diverse world as ours! And the more people you can hang out with the more likely you are to succeed, both in work life and real life.
This in italics may be the only sentence with which I agree. Let me refer you, though, to my comments on #3 above.

One last note, to those homeschooling parents out there: it’s clear from the number and passion of your responses that TeacherRevised is missing an important voice in the teaching community. If any of you are interesting in writing for us, send me an email: I would love to have you as part of our conversation.
Sure you would.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My solution suggestion

By now, everyone reading this has heard of the murder of George Tiller. Like every pro-life blog, newspaper, website, or person I know, I do not condone the actions of his killer and will not make excuse or pardon. I pray for the repose of his soul as well as justice for the shooter.

Considerable and understandable concern has been expressed over how this cold-blooded killing will affect the pro-life movement. Worries that it has been hobbled, set back decades, will now be under increasing scrutiny, etc. have been stated. We will face broad-brushing by the media as murderous nutjobs, armed with sniper rifles, intent on sending barefoot women back to the kitchen or worse. I personally don't think these fears are unfounded.

However, I have a solution to this. What we pro-lifers do is get out and make our presence felt. Instead of hiding and cowering, we need to go demonstrate that we are NOT nutjobs, we are NOT murderous, we are NOT women-hating. We need to show that real pro-lifers are not murderers. We are not out to kill abortionists; while we would rather they find another line of work due to absence of demand, we are not going to kill them if they don't.

I saw two abortion clinics last Saturday while plant shopping with Rachel. They each had maybe five people walking in front of them; at both there was an umbrella stroller with pictures. I noticed rosaries in the hands of some of those people.

This Saturday, I intend to join them. With a rosary, not a gun.

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