Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 239th Carnival of Homeschooling

The SchoolmarmThe Headmistress at the Common Room is hosting The 239th Carnival of Homeschooling this week, and she includes a special theme: the history of homeschooling.

Our own personal history with homeschooling began because we had a precocious but demanding child. When the future Baron was a rug rat, Dymphna was working, so I took care of him. He was smart and inquisitive, and insisted on being read to a lot, or otherwise demanded that I entertain his mind.

When he was four years old, out of my own self-interest I taught him to read. I had been reading Calvin and Hobbes to him for a year or so, and he was absolutely riveted by the strip. The fB was a compliant child, and there was something compelling for him about Calvin’s persistent naughtiness and disregard for adult instructions. He had memorized many of the most important strips, and I showed him how he could find the words he knew so well in the speech balloons. He was an eager learner, because it allowed him to find and decipher other interesting panels without waiting for his annoying father to get around to reading them to him. Within a few months he could read Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry on his own, and he was reading the Hardy Boys before he was six.

So when the time came for school, we were faced with a conundrum. There is nothing fatally wrong with the schools out here — we live in the country, and our school system is not as ideologically corrupted as those in the city and the suburbs. But the fB was so far ahead of his cohort that he would either have had to skip a couple of grades or be reduced to agonizing boredom. Since he was going to be a freak in any case, we felt it was better that he be freakish at home. We bought a curriculum, and I taught him literature, history, poetry, math, basic science, geography, etc., until he was twelve. At that point — when he needed real expertise in chemistry and physics — we sacrificed in order to send him to private school.

I’ll relate some more anecdotes about our homeschooling experiences in a future post, but it’s time to get back to the Carnival.

I always zoom in on the math first. The DreamBox Blog talks about teaching kids estimating, which is a very important skill. The ubiquity of calculators has greatly reduced children’s ability to estimate, and has consequently impaired quantitative analysis skills in the last generation or two of young people.

Let’s Play Math takes a look at probability, which is an entertaining but counterintuitive discipline. The author rightly begins instruction in the skill at an early age.

In addition, there’s a review of math textbooks for homeschoolers.
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After math, I moved onto art, which is my other favorite topic. I learned that Lionden Landing is teaching a child about the painting techniques employed by Giotto.

I also noticed a post about helping kids make their own books.

The above is just a small sampling — there are entries about science, literature, geography, and PE, all with an emphasis on the history of homeschooling. Stop by the Carnival to read the rest.

I recommend visiting the Common Room on a regular basis. The Headmistress and her family have much information about home-schooling, but their posts touch upon many other subjects as well.


Anonymous said...

The best essay on schooling I have yet seen:

(and, to my mind, an excellent guide for a parent considering home schooling - it guides my own ideas on the subject)

Nilk said...

This is a timely post, Baron. I've just had the parent-teacher night, and Magilla is reading and writing at least 2 grades above her age group (she tuned 8 last weeken), and her math is a year ahead.

Problem is, the teacher knows that she could do the harder math, but my girl doesn't want to, and has difficulty with the higher number groups.

Now I need to find ways to deal with that while keeping her engaged.

I've got cuisenaire rods, but we've never used them. I now have some blog links to search through and see what we can find.

Thanks :)

Juniper in the Desert said...

I wish I had small children again: I would definitely have followed your example, Baron, your post is so interesting!

EscapeVelocity said...

Thanks for the links.

From what I understand, reader primers from the 60s or earlier are free of the purging that the radical feminists and racists did in the 70s.

There is one series in particular, of reader primers that focussed on American history and patriotism, which is often considered Politically Incorrect these days.

Do you know which series, I am talking about?

I think that there is going to be a huge demand for reprints from the pre 60s textbooks, in the coming white Euro folks get back to celebrating their own culture, stories, historical narratives, and heritage.

EscapeVelocity said...

I bet that children's book burning legislation, purporting to be about lead in childrens toys and items....was crafted with the extra benefit of expunging historical memory from the white Euro community.

Now only bowdlerized by New Left Radical Racist and Feminist books will be widely available to children.

Nilk said...

Escape V, I've been buying up kids books and old text books from the 70s and earlier. Even math texts from the 50s.

Ebay and Amazon 2nd hand books. There are some amazing bargains out there.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Baron, thanks so much for the link. I love reading about when you homeschooled the fB. He sounds like a delightful person.

Homeschoolers have been regulars at library booksales where purges of the good old classics have been going on for decades. Our own library (our home library) is 8,000 strong for that reason, but it wasn't racial concerns that motivated me (my godsons are black and I homeschool them and they live with us five days a week).

The language is simply so much better- more advanced, more complex syntax, more thoughtful ideas and just overall much better literary style.

But I would suggest looking much further back than the sixties- the forties and before.

EscapeVelocity said...

Indeed headmistress,

One can look back at political speeches and rhetoric and debates from the 19th century and see just how much more sophisticated it was, and how the references to the Western Canon and Christian philosophical heritage are so much more common.

Clearly these folks were well educated, and not estranged from there cultural inheritance.

Unfortunately, the Left has dumbed down society and debased its citizens, pursuing self esteem, social engineering, social justice, and multiculturalism.

What a shame, that we have allowed the Left to debase our culture so thoroughly.

1389 said...

Great - thanks for posting this!