Smart Kids Being Dumb

I homeschooled my two boys, Noah (17) and Collin (13) from 2003 to 2009 before putting them in school. The school thing did not go well. Collin got on the B honor roll once which was the extent of either of their success with the whole thing. Noah seemed to think that not getting straight Fs was a high enough goal for him. Collin was bullied by both students and teachers. Noah contented himself with trying to make everyone scared of him so they would leave him alone. This last year I allowed them both to start doing online schooling which came with its own new set of problems, but they are finally getting the hang of it. Of course, for those who always KNEW I was making a mistake with homeschooling them, their lack of performance is proof-positive that homeschooling them was a horrible mistake which has most likely ruined their ability to become productive human beings who don’t live in someone’s basement playing video games.
If I had it to do all over again, I would never have put them in school. I would have gone straight to online schools once I could no longer continue homeschooling them myself. Noah had been on track to finish high school a year early had we continued homeschooling and now will barely eek out graduating. Collin discovered that he really was smarter than most people, including a lot of adults, and became nearly insufferable. After being in school, both of them are extremely concerned about the moral and intellectual development of their younger sisters who are just finishing kindergarten and 1st grade this week. They were not impressed with the end result of the school system to say the least.

In Which I Call Creationism Demonic

From “Thinking SciFi”

“O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.” (Psalm 139:1)

Perhaps the most frightening attribute of God is that He knows everything about us. Everything! He has “searched” (literally “penetrated”) us and “known” (“understood”) us. . . Furthermore, He is everywhere around each one of us (vv. 7-10), wherever we are or could be. He fills all space, and there is no escape.

Go ahead, ask me where I found that quote.  Or even better, how ’bout I up the fun quotient and give you some options. Was it:

a. A site promoting atheism

b. A humor site skewering religion 

c. A devotional piece from the Days of Praise blog put out by a Creationist advocacy group

I’ll give you a moment to figure it out. . . Oh wait – did I give it away?  Yep, this “be afraid, Be very afraid” moment has been brought to you by none other than The Institute for Creation Research; a highly profitable venerable institution promoting creation “science”.  The very same people whom a federal judge recently said  are “entirely unable to file a complaint which is not overly verbose, disjointed, incoherent, maundering and full of irrelevant information.” Good to see our tax dollars hard at work there, eh?

This upsets me.  My opinions about the theological viability of creationist interpretations aren’t something I’m shy about.  I truly believe that it’s demonic.  Whether you understand that to be a metaphor for our ability to create and perpetuate evil or as satan whispering in your ear, the answer is the same; it is demonic.  Continue reading “In Which I Call Creationism Demonic”

Today I’m thinking about school – Update

Last week, I wrote about my irate child who was very unhappy about being back at the local public school.  As I basically said, I can’t say that I blame him.  But, I have been uncomfortable with the idea of him returning to homeschooling because I still think he could have a good school experience.  So, here’s the update: After thinking about it for a … Continue reading Today I’m thinking about school – Update

Jiu-Jitsu for the Bullied

I homeschooled my boys for years and have always caught flack for it.  However, the one group of people who rarely criticized my decision were other parents with school-aged children.   More often than not, they seemed to feel compelled to offer an apologetic explanation for why they weren’t homeschooling their own kids.  Why?  Because they were well aware that we live in a world where … Continue reading Jiu-Jitsu for the Bullied

Summer Camp and Peer Socialization

My 9 year old spent last week at a nearby nature center for summer camp. It ran from 8-4 with an overnight camp-out Thursday night. It was really the first time he’s spent that much time in that short a period away from his family. He had an absolute blast, got along very well with the other kids and only had one serious discipline problem … Continue reading Summer Camp and Peer Socialization

In Search of the Perfect Curriculum – Help!

Ok, so I’ve decided to bite the bullet, pay the cash and invest in some actual curriculumn for my boys’ homeschooling for the next year. However, the problem is what curriculum. I’m not really interested in “school at home” type curriculum like A Beka. For kids my sons’ age (particularly the older one), I like the approach of The Well Trained Mind. However, as much … Continue reading In Search of the Perfect Curriculum – Help!

Gifted in Public

My kids and I took a little trip today to a local cave.  It’s a sight seeing sort of place with some cool geology and stalactites and stalagmites and such.  We’ve been there before, but not for a couple of years, so it was new enough for my boys for them to enjoy it again.  I was, however, kind of disturbed to learn that they let the bats that overwinter in the cave stay in the attached gift shop as well.  At least I think they said they let the little guano machines hibernate there – I was a little distracted corralling my girls.

What was interesting about this trip for me, however, was to watch the reaction me and my kids got from the various people on the tour with us.  You see, half of the group was attending through a local Young Mensa field trip group.  The other half were just random folks who had the bad luck to take the tour at the same time as us.  My kids were the youngest ones there and, as usual, they made a spectacle of themselves.  My girls (almost 2 and 3) did get obnoxious towards the end, but that was just a part of the problem.  You see, my boys are just very outspoken – quick to answer any question, even the rhetorical ones.  And they ask enough questions to get a reference librarian to tell them to give it a rest.  Plus they say odd things like, “I find these stairs more disconcerting than I remember them being last time.”  (The 9 year old.)  or “I can’t wait to get off of these stairs so I can put my feet back on terra firma.” (The 13 year old.)  The (almost) 2 year old pretended to be a cat-dog (a puppy that meows)  most of the time and dramatically warned us, “no touching” if we got too close to walls or “look out – monsters!” when we were warned about a creepy part coming up.  The 3 year old suggested that there might be a tiger behind a gate leading to a dark area she couldn’t see and pointed to every calcium carbonate formation in the place.

What I noticed and what I finally have something of an answer for, was that half of the group did not seem to enjoy our presence.  One older woman in particular repeatedly glared at me and my kids.  Her husband kept shaking his head at us as if to say, “what has this world come to?”  These are the responses I have become quite familiar with: the disapproving looks, the stares which seem to say “why don’t you make them shut-up!”, the averted eyes which indicate that we’re embarrassingly weird.  I get them everywhere I go it seems.

However, I noticed a quite different reaction from the folks with the Young Mensa group.  I caught of lot of knowing smiles and some rather reassuring nods from the parents whose kids had already made it through the younger, more rambunctious years.  They too probably knew what it is like to have kids who talk too much, ask too many questions, are too smart for their own good and unnerve the more normal people around them.

I live in a part of the country which is largely populated by much more somber, serious and conformist people that I am used to.  There’s a joke which captures the flavor of a lot of the people here which goes: “Did you hear about the Norwegian farmer who really loved his wife?  Yeah, he felt so passionately about her that he almost told her.”  We, on the other hand, are from Chicago.  We were socialized by intense, argumentative Poles, lively, talkative Irish and rowdy, playing-the-dozens African Americans.  Even if my kids weren’t the sort who go around using words like “undulate” and “non-sequituer” in a sentence, we still wouldn’t fit in real well here. Continue reading “Gifted in Public”

10 year old boys are right: word problems are evil!

A couple of years ago, I stopped trying to get my older son to do word problems. He just didn’t get them. Plus, they often required really convoluted thinking to figure out. I decided that once he knew algebra and knew how to create equations, we’d give them another try. Now he’s in algebra and we’re starting to re-introduce them. Knowing how to create an … Continue reading 10 year old boys are right: word problems are evil!

African American Homeschoolers

Joanne Jacobs points us to a story in The Village Voice about the growing number of African American homeschoolers.  If you can get past the first paragraph which is as bad a display of provincial ignorance as one is likely to ever encounter, it’s an interesting, in depth story.  Given the abysmal job the public school system is doing of educating African American boys in … Continue reading African American Homeschoolers