Monday, February 28, 2011

The Language Police...

I am just beginning to read this book by Diane Ravitch. The subtitle is "How Pressure Groups Restrict what Students Learn." So far, it is unbelievable. She is explaining how  sensitivity reviewers decide what is included in text books, standardized tests and all sorts of educational materials that are used in public schools.

Oh, my--it is shocking. For example, a passage for 4th graders to read having to do with the history and use of peanuts.

It describes peanuts as legumes, in the same family as peas and beans. It says they are nutritious, and they were first cultivated by South American Indians, especially the Incas. It explains how the Spanish Explorers conquered the Incas, and Portuguese explorers defeated many Brazilian tribes. Then the peanut was shipped to Europe for cultivation. It goes on to tell how African slaves planted and developed peanut crops and then goes on to tell about George Washington Carver and his peanut work and discoveries.

Although the passages were suitable for the age group and historically accurate, the  bias and sensitivity reviewers oppose the passage for three reasons:
  • A 4th grade student who was allergic to peanuts might be distracted by the statement that peanuts are nutritional and which does not mention the danger of peanuts to those who are allergic.
  • Using the term African slave --it is not considered appropriate. The term should be "enslaved African"
  • The passage that says that the Spanish and Portuguese defeated Brazilian tribes. They did not question the accuracy, but thought it might hurt someone's feelings.
Can you believe it? If these types of things have to be removed to make the readings without bias against any group, what is left? How can history be learned?

As I continue to read this book I will make further postings. It is clear to me that regardless of how your children are educated they need to be exposed to many, many types of literature where they can learn history from a variety of perspectives. When I was reading this chapter I couldn't help think of Sonlight's Intro to American History 1. See information below. Most of these books I love myself.

If you want your children to think critically  then please expose them to great literature, read together as a family and talk about what you read. Who wants kids who don't value the nutrition of the peanut because some are allergic? That is just plain nuts!

More later,

See post 1 here
See post 2 here.  
See Post 3 here.
[See what is in the Sonlight Core package--incredible treasure and a way to protect your kids from the bias and sensitivity reviewers.]


Discover key elements of American history from before the Spanish conquistadors through the 1850s, with a special emphasis on U.S. social history. You may wish to use this program, with modification, as the basis for teaching more than one child in 1st* through 6th grades.

Curriculum Overview:
Sonlight® Core 3 introduces you and your children to the diverse peoples of the United States-those who lived in the Americas before Europeans came, as well as those who came after. It covers the time period from before Christ to about 1850. You will marvel at the way in which all of these peoples shaped our nation's history, and how the land itself shaped the people.
You'll begin your expedition with archeological information coming from hundreds of years before Christ then continuing with some of the significant peoples and civilizations that flourished in the Americas while Europe was in the midst of its "Dark Ages." You'll find out about those civilizations' grisly and cruel religions, as well as their beliefs that parallel the Gospel of Christ.
Of course, you'll accompany Columbus on his famous voyage across the Atlantic. You'll be present as the Spanish conquistadors subdue and ultimately rule and oppress the peoples they find in the land. You'll also watch as English connivers twist the Spaniards' record for their (the Englishmen's) own ends.

You'll find out how and why the Atlantic Ocean served as a highway that linked the Virginia colony to England while, at the same time, it severed the New England colonies from their "mother." You'll learn about the "charity colony" (now a state) that certain wealthy men from England started in order to provide a second chance for London's poorest slum dwellers. You'll discover which state was founded on the loot of smugglers and pirates, and which state (then a colony) was founded by men who believed the Bible taught them never to offer military or police protection when their citizens were attacked.

You'll be there during the American Revolution, watch as the Constitution is written, meet George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others. You'll accompany Adoniram Judson on his trip to Burma (Myanmar) in the early 1800s, and watch, amazed, as the incomparable Nathaniel Bowditch, a self-taught man, revolutionizes the international sea transportation industry! You'll come to know and appreciate statesmen like Ben Franklin; the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark; inventors like Robert Fulton and Eli Whitney; plus dozens of other unforgettable characters — each one brought to life through a compelling biography or historical novel.

Truly, Sonlight® Core 3 offers you the opportunity of a lifetime to enter into our nation's history and enjoy it "live, as it happened."

Besides the more academic and subject-oriented books like former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin's Landmark History of the American People and John Holzmann's Incans, Aztecs & Mayans, you and your children will enjoy engrossing titles like Esther Forbes' Newbery Award-winning Johnny Tremain and Marguerite Henry's Newbery Honor book Justin Morgan Had a Horse.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Top Seven Reasons to Homeschool...

Through the years I have been asked and  nearly interrogated with the question...

"Why do you homeschool?" or "Why would a person want to homeschool?"

So, this year I decided to have a shiny laminated post card made telling the top reasons to homeschool. I came up with seven great reasons, worked with a veteran graphic artist and we put together this card that you can proudly display on your fridge or carry in your purse.

 It conveys seven great reasons to homeschool and is a high quality card that is  laminated on both sides so it will stay nice for a long time.

If you would like one, just let me know. Send me your name and address and I will be glad to put one in the mail for you.

Take care,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I am finally old enough to let you in on a secret...I have never really had my own closet--at least not for 96% of my life. And, now that I am finally getting one I know exactly what I want.

Until I was fifteen I shared a room with one or both of my sisters. Actually, until my older sister went to college  when I was 13, we  had always shared a double bed. My younger sister slept on a daybed in the same room and we all shared a rather boring closet in that small room. When my older sister went off to college, my younger sister moved into the bed with me and the day bed became a couch. We still shared the closet.

When I went off to college in 1974 there were three girls crammed in a tiny dorm room designed for two. Michigan State was overcrowded and so were we. They rebated me something like $60 for the inconvenience, and let me tell you that wasn't much even then. Three teen girls shared a closet that was about 3 feet wide and had two shelves. We had two desks, a set of bunk-beds and a tacky old couch that served as a bed for one of us. We were jammed packed but still thrilled to be on our own.

A year later Bob and I married. We moved into a 10 x 48 mobile home that was so small we had to lay on the bed to open the drawers of the built in dresser. We had a small closet that we shared. I suppose it seemed large after sharing that 3 foot one in college, but I can't remember. We didn't spend much time in that trailer because Bob drove 50 miles [each way] to his job so he could support us and put me through school, and I drove 50 miles a day in the opposite direction to to go college. He had the worst of it because the sun was in his eyes coming and going. I will always be thankful for his dedication. He never complained and he kept his promise to my dad that he would put me through the remaining three years of college.

There was a three year period when I had my own closet, when we moved to a new  house when I was in 10th grade. It was a pretty average closet--4 or 5 feet long, one shelf and bi-fold doors that came un-hooked if you looked  at them sideways. I still remember my wedding dress hanging from the top of that closet  waiting for the big day--but I digress.

Home after home led to varying closets that Bob and I shared. I have had wire racks in closets that hit me in the back every time I tried to walk by them to get to where I needed to be. I had a cedar closet once that was kind of a walk in, but it was so narrow I could never get back to the end of it and even if I did, the light didn't shine there anyway. It was this closet we hid Christmas presents in and it was in this closet that Cris and Dusty, in childhood greed, raced to find hidden presents and ruined Christmas for Chad who didn't understand why Mom and Dad would hide presents in their closet. Chad learned about Santa because of that closet. We didn't find out till about 20 years later, but it still makes me mad.

I have looked at those multi-thousand dollar closet systems at the Container Store that will make you drool, but then really, who wants to spend thousands of dollars so your shoes will have a little drawer of their own? Really kind of a space waster in so many ways and you need a big closet to start with.

But, with the building of our cottage I got my very own closet. The closet of my dreams, you might say. Simple, but practical. So, I am going to share my perfect closet with you.

First, it has NO bi-fold doors. See the two doors, they open up so that there are no dark corners in my closet and they don't come out too far into the room, which is nice.

It has no wire racks, no drawers, no ugly door knobs, and is very space saving. Notice the Polish Pottery handles on my doors. I ordered these special from an importer. I love Polish Pottery.

What I want a closet for is to hold my clothes, shoes and some stuff on a shelf--maybe a bin of socks, or out of season sweaters, etc. Notice the nice smooth rod, not those wire things that only allow 3 hangers in a section. They drive me crazy. Notice the nice wooden shelf that is not wire, so things will not fall through. I painted everything white so it would reflect the light and not have dark corners.  I plan to put some clear tubs up there for any out of season clothes or personal items.

I know that baskets are all the rage in closets--ones that pull out. But really, can you see what is in them? I will use clear totes so I can see exactly what is in each one-no guessing.

Notice the blue pegs on the wall. I have those on both sides. These are perfect for hanging up the clothes I have just taken off but want to wear tomorrow--like jeans, or a sweater, or my nightgown. Also great for hang up my purse so I can find it.

 Bob and I put a whole rail of pegs 12" from the floor. These are my Shaker Shoe Pegs. I can hang 8 pairs of shoes on the pegs without taking any floor space. This closet is in a cottage, after all, so it is only 4 feet long, but it is wonderful to me. My shoes are not hanging in this photo because the pegs were just put up and the glue needed to dry.
  So, there you have it. My low-tech perfect closet. No doors to derail, no wire shelves for things to fall through or to inhibit free hanger movement, great pegs for shoes, clothes and plenty of shelf space to organize whatever I want.

Yes, I am finally old enough to design and appreciate my own closet. Bob's closet is similar, but a bit smaller, no shoe pegs [he thinks I am a bit peg crazy], only one wall with wall pegs and he has a trap door in his that serves as a laundry chute to the laundry room below. Don''t tell him, but I got the better deal.

Take care,