Saturday, September 22, 2018

Edumacation


In spite of the reality of the modern age of instant accessibility to uncountable amounts of information, the stigma of HOME SCHOOLING remains. Even when all the arguments are presented and then summarily rebutted, the naysayers will toss out their hidden ace - socialization - what about kids socializing with others so they can become NORMAL. 

Right. 

I’ll move on to the real point of this rant so as not to expose the naysayers standing over their dead horse. 

Recently a nervous new homeschool mom, who pulled her daughter out of public school because of vicious bullying, came to observe our Enrichment Thursday. Her sweet daughter joined our cooking and art classes and ‘socialized’ joyfully with us. 

While the kids were working on a project, the mom and I talked about homeschooling. She is understandably worried that she won’t do a good job. She has always sent her daughter off to public school and therefore blindly trusted that her daughter was being  properly educated. 

She fretted that she didn’t know what curriculum to start with. What should she be teaching her daughter? 

I asked her - “What do you want her to know?” She looked perplexed and then replied, 

“I want her to know how to take tests so she can go to college.”

After I digested that for a few seconds, squelching my internal fury rising up over how the last several decades of teaching-to-the-test has destroyed centuries of basic knowledge building,  I replied, “What if ten highly credentialed educators were asked to form a list of 500 things all children should learn between kindergarten and 12th grade, do you think there would be ten identical lists?”

“No, of course not,” she replied.

“Why not?”

“Well, they would all have their own ideas about what kids should learn,” she concluded.

“So, which one would have the correct list?” I tossed out.

She had no answer.

And that, then, is the point. In this era of abundant and easy access to information, and given the rise of home schooling, the hundreds of options for available curriculum online and work books and learning materials, the what/how-to-teach is not the issue. 

“What is knowledge?” is the question that begs to be addressed.

What do you want your child to know? How about how to make change? There are plenty of high school graduates who work in fast food restaurants who cannot make change without a calculator. Who cannot read cursive. Who do not know who the vice president is. Who have no idea where England is on a map or even how to use a map. Who cannot read and follow instructions. Who have no idea what time management is. Who have no idea how to balance a checkbook. 

The ultimate goal of education is more than acquiring information. It is learning how to learn, creating the desire to continue learning and the ability to use the infinite resources available. 

What should kids learn in school? Curriculum depends on who is in charge of their edumacation.


For Him,

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Last Straw


Sitting in the Vet’s preliminary exam room while Auri was being given the once over in another room, I occupied myself by reading the colorful informative posters on the calm gray wall. One in particular provided an extra bit of mental diversion though it doesn’t take much to set my brain off on a pondering trail. 

The graphic, artfully done, presented a fat dog looking up at an equally fat cat sitting on a scale. Instead of numbers on the scale there were words like diabetes, heart disease and other scary health conditions. The banner above the photo claimed that obesity in pets is serious business. Especially American pets. Amazing how so much can be implied in the fewest of well assembled words. Smaller print defined obesity in an animal as a mere 2 to 4 pounds above normal. Whew! Even more impact!

Before my eyes fully adjusted to the smallest print at the bottom - the reason for the poster - the sales pitch - I tried my hand at guessing what the point of the heart tug was. Healthier pet food and/or exercise program? Diet pills? Some new vaccine that helps cut down life threatening extra weight in dogs and cats (with a long list of possible side effects listed somewhere else in even finer print?) 

Would you like to guess?

Okay, I’ll tell - it was for pet insurance. Crazy me why didn’t I automatically assume that health risks in pets equal huge vet bills? So, according to this advertisement, the solution to pet obesity is PET INSURANCE. Ta da!

Exhaling as I slumped into a vague sensation of defeat I mulled over the possibility that we have, at long last, lost our way. 

If it is possible that we could be so easily persuaded by compelling words and visual, that the least likely conclusion and solution to a problem would convince us to part with our hard earned money, we have been finally and completely conditioned to abandon all semblance of common sense. 

Advertising techniques seem to reveal that we don’t (can’t?) think a thing through anymore. Since advertisers spend big bucks analyzing our weaknesses - the most effective way to herd us - can we conclude that they know exactly what they are doing? That they know us better than we know ourselves? Does that not sound an alarm? At least a tinkling bell?

What is worse, we aren’t able to stop ourselves from being herded even as we admit we know we are being herded by ominous sounding terms, like ‘algorithms’ and ‘data mining’. 

Then my mental jog took a sudden segue down a darker path. I applied the herding concept to other ways we allow ourselves to be artfully managed. A well-conditioned populace is more easily diverted, for sure. 

Example: criminalizing the use of plastic straws as the panacea to global plastic pollution because controlling or even outlawing the manufacturing of disposable plastic products is much too logical. 

Putting people in jail for using a straw makes such perfect sense. Well, certainly as much sense as buying pet insurance to thwart the growing threat of pet obesity. Right?  

Some things in the human condition never change.

(Matthew 23:23) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone.  (23:24) Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!      (23:25) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess.  (23:26) Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also.      

For Him,
Meema

Thursday, July 26, 2018

All Things Possible


If you live long enough, you’ll likely experience the unexplainable at least once if not a few times. Things that go above and beyond mere coincidence. When all the strange unrelated bits come together to make a remarkable definable turning point that’s forever etched in your memory bank. 

I can admit to a few but one in particular stands out like a cucumber in a pile of string beans.

My first website, and what I refer to as my HTML PERIOD, was a gathering place, a digital warehouse where I stored the results of my many and varied attempts to express and share my interests. I could add and delete pages with a few strokes on the keyboard. Even as it was a learning curve, it was my substitute playhouse, a grown up version of my childhood retreat. 

Makinghome.com morphed numerous times over the coarse of eighteen years, as my interests and bright ideas called for exploring new art forms. And then, one day, when I knew I was done, I redesigned it and handed it down to my daughter, who is now carrying the torch with more style than I could ever boast.

Many think (erroneously) that having a live website is the open door to hoards of people flocking to your home page. Nope. While search engine bots do roam around 24/7 scooping up info in hidden meta data, given the plethora (millions) of available sites to check out, the equalizer, as in all things, is still money. When you type in a word or phrase in a search engine, the top referrals are paid for. Which means, the bazillion little sites never get exposure to potential viewers.

I’m explaining this up front so the zinger at the end will mean more. 

In the early 2000s, we had a small sail boat that we no longer wanted. This was before I knew about Craig’s List. Not expecting any response I made a page in Makinghome listing the boat for sale. I made only one link to it from my home page because I didn’t want to take the time to add it to and re-upload all the other pages. Nothing happened.

And then ... something happened. 

We found out that a relative needed a bit of financial help and my husband and I agreed that we would give the proceeds of the sale of the boat to her when it sold. I decided no one would ever see the listing on my obscure web page so I was drafting an ad to list in a boat resale site when I received an email inquiry. Someone saw the page and wanted to discuss buying the boat. 

Wait for it - it gets better.

We exchanged more emails - I provided more photos. They agreed they wanted it. I lived north of Atlanta. They lived in Salt Lake City. We agreed on a price, they bought airplane tickets, flew into Hartsfield, rented a truck with a hitch, drove an hour to us in a raging storm and arrived at our door, after dark, exhausted and drenched. We welcomed them in, fed them, offered them our guest room for the night. 

The wife was pregnant, btw. You can’t make this stuff up.

The next morning we fed them breakfast, helped them hitch up the sail boat and watched them start a very long three day journey home. 

Here’s my take on this - I know for sure we might never have found a buyer for the boat, especially not from listing on one page in over 4.5 billion on the web, except that God had a plan. You see, when we recite “nothing is impossible for God’ we can’t fully grasp how huge and far reaching that is until we get a chance (honor) to be in the middle of the impossible and watch as it actually unfolds around us and before our wide opened eyes. 

I’ll never get over it. When the world is too much with me I remember this and then I have to smile. There is NOTHING too big or too small for God to use as He is artfully crafting His will into being. You see, He doesn’t operate within our framework of time, space, clocks or calendars. That's tough for us to embrace.

But isn’t it awesome?

For Him,

Meema