Category Archives: Education

An interesting dream/idea

I had an interesting dream last night. I was at a science museum with various family members. One of the items we saw was a windmill that didn’t really rely on wind. 

Its blades were made up of multiple weights on tracks that slipped around as it turned so that the balance was off just enough to make it keep turning. Kind of like the “Wonder Wheel” on Coney Island in terms of the weights tracks, though it keeps itself moving because of gravity.

I’m not much of an engineer, so if anyone wants to play with this idea, have fun, but let me know how it goes!

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Parenting

Father in Training (Hometown Heartbreakers Book 3)” by Susan Mallery –

“Her head snapped up. “You’re not a parent. How would you know—” 

“Having a child of your own doesn’t give you instant access to magical skills, so quit acting like it does,” he interrupted. “I might not have raised kids, but I’ve been around them my whole life. I see messed-up ones on the job just about every day. You make it sound like you were out with me while the house burned down. Chances are, even if we’d never met, you still would have sent the kids to camp. They wanted to go.””

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$1,000,000 Bible Tract

As I opened a letter today to reply to one of my pen pals, a Bible Tract fell out. It wasn’t a surprise given who this pen pal is, but as I browsed the Tract, I couldn’t help but giggle.

The Tract in question is one of those “$1,000,000 Question” ones; it looks like a $1,000,000 bill (U.S. Currency), with the pitch on the back. This one has Thomas Jefferson on the face, which immediately struck me as odd because when he was running for president of the US, his opponents people (because it was the “people” who did the campaigning, not the candidate back then) labeled him an atheist.

Thomas Jefferson wasn’t an atheist, but he’s certainly not the first president (or other founding father) I’d associate with an Evangelical Bible Tract! I mean, this is the man who literally cut apart a Bible (possibly 2 or 3 because I think he included the Greek and Latin (and Wikipedia hints at the French as well) translations) to create the “Jefferson Bible” which reorders the story of Jesus into chronological order (combining Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John into one continuous story) while removing all the supernatural events. This was his way of making sense of Christianity.

So, reading the back of this tract made my head explode because it includes “Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death”, but Jefferson ended his Bible with the tomb stone being rolled closed, which means that he rejected the resurrection of Jesus, a key tenant of traditional Christianity!

But, I think that LivingWaters.com has received complaints about this particular Tract because it’s not amongst the 65 Tracts that are currently up for sale (this post was written on 11/6/2016). I found this out when I went to find a link to the Tract and see what it’s “billed” as. It looks like they’ve replaced Jefferson with Benjamin Franklin (who apparently wrote a letter now titled: Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress).

I’m starting to think that maybe I’ve missed the point of these particular Tracts. Maybe we’re supposed to reject the front part ($1,000,000 and the “stately Statesman”) and instead focus on the message on the back…I guess I need to ask this pen pal for clarification.

Fairness

I just saw this Louis CK meme under the heading “Parenting Done Right”:

I have to say that I totally disagree with this meme and this idea of fairness. This says that fairness is an idea that will never happen and that kids should just accept that as a fact when really it’s mentalities like this that CONTRIBUTE to fairness being a pipe dream!

Let’s start at the beginning. The girl complains that someone got something and she didn’t. That implies that they’re literally standing right next to each other, were doing the exact same thing, and one girl got the gift and the other girl was left out. Hell right this isn’t fair! It’s also discrimination unless the only reason the other girl got the gift is because her name was randomly picked in a FAIR drawing (which would then make the gift giving FAIR).

Now, if Louis had explained, “Well honey, it’s her birthday and you’ll get gifts on your birthday,” then it’s a different ballgame! [Insert whatever hypothetical reality you want that gives a reason for one person to deserve a gift over another person while still being considered fair. Yes they exist as I’ve just given one above.]

The concept of fairness is that two people in identical circumstances deserve to be treated identically. This is what we need to teach our kids, NOT “life’s not fair, get over yourself”. Because honestly if we just ACCEPT that the world can NEVER be fair, then the world will never BE fair!

If people like me didn’t step up and say “what makes that other girl so special?” then girls like this one will continue to make less than their male counterparts WHEN DOING THE EXACT SAME JOB, poor black men will continue to be killed by police at a rate higher than poor white men WHEN COMMITTING THE EXACT SAME CRIME, etc. Unless, of course, folks like Louis CK want this reality for their children.

Proof that some people are morons:

I got this from the Washington Post.

— In next door Maine, Gov. Paul LePage (R) actually said yesterday that “authoritarian power” may be needed in the United States. “Sometimes, I wonder that our Constitution is not only broken, but we need … [Trump] to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law,” his longtime supporter said during a radio interview. “We’ve had eight years of a president, he’s an autocrat, he just does it on his own, he ignores Congress and every single day, we’re slipping into anarchy.” (Portland Press-Herald)

Umm…if Obama has been an “autocrat” and “ignores Congress”… wouldn’t that mean we’ve already had 8 years of “authoritarian power”?!? I think Mr LePage needs to pick up a dictionary and a history book. He’s obviously clueless.

Anti-Choice is misogynistic

 “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik –

“Unable to win majority support, over time anti-choice advocates began to justify restrictions on abortion as protecting women and not just the unborn. Kennedy’s opinion reflects the influence of this new anti-abortion argument. 

This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution— ideas that have long since been discredited. 

RBG is calling out the rationale for prohibiting abortion as “protecting women.” She says that this kind of anti-abortion argument reflects and reinforces the very stereotypes about women’s decision-making capacity and social roles that the court struck down as unconstitutional in sex discrimination cases— including in ones RBG argued herself. Once again, women are being told not to worry their pretty heads about it, this is for their own good.”

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All great journies begin with a single step.

 “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik –

“RBG learned a lesson that would stay with her for the rest of her life. She had been trying to teach the justices, and she wouldn’t give up. But as she later acknowledged, “one doesn’t learn that lesson in a day. Generally, change in our society is incremental, I think. Real change , enduring change, happens one step at a time.” She would have to be patient. She would have to be strategic. And maybe a little deaf.”

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A Christian Education

I’ve always had an interest in education. Back in middle school I wrote an essay in English arguing in favor of year round school. I still support this in all cases because it’s not about of having more days school–with year round school it’s the same number of days that we currently have, just spread out more so that instead of a single long 3 month break, there are more frequent week and 2 week long breaks. The downside is that there’s no chunk of time for remedial summer school classes, but the benefit is that less time is spent reviewing the stuff that is forgotten over the long break. If more effort is spent catching students before they fall behind, there’s no need for remedial classes.

But I’m not here to re-hash a middle school paper. Or even discuss public school education. Over the past few years I’ve been interested in Christian homeschooling and it’s pros and cons. The biggest con being the disregard for a secular education, but again, that’s a discussion for another time. Nah, what this post is about is some information I sought to get straight from the horses mouths. Or in this case, a homeschooling mom who likes to give her opinion and a Christian University that caters to formerly homeschooled students.

Let’s start with the homeschooling mom. Her blog post was all about how “You can do this!” when it comes to homeschooling your kid. That is debatable, since there’s no real consensus when it comes to what kind of qualifications parents should have when they undertake the task of teaching their children.Some states require a college degree. Other states don’t even require that the student be considered being educated (Virginia had like 6000 children legally classified as “not enrolled in school” a few years ago). So, even a single state test to ensure that the student is receiving an education are at times non-existent.

I take a moderate view of this form of education. That is, an ambitious parent with a moderate amount of education can teach their young child the basics of elementary school–reading, writing, arithmetic. Basics of science and history. Simple stuff that doesn’t involve too much outside knowledge; just read the textbook and help the kid learn the information. But at some point in middle school, a turning point occurs. This is when student should start learning how to write a decent essay (and there are many different forms). History should start to get complicated. Mathematics start entering the realm where people either “get it” or they don’t. Science starts entering the realm of theories and research. At this point, I think parents need to seriously consider where their child should go to school.

When a student’s only teacher is their parent, they are limited by their parents limits. I think I wrote a post earlier describing  how my entire education was influenced by something like 150 different teachers. Knowing that this particular homeschooling mom is very Christian I was curious as to how she’d encourage her older children to explore higher education. Turns out, she doesn’t.

My question, specifically was how she’d teach her oldest children Chemistry and Calculus, since I took honors high school Chemistry in 11th grade and Dual Enrollment Chem and Calculus (meaning I was earning college credit at the same time I earned high school credit) my senior year. Her reply was this:

“My oldest actually is there. He is doing chemistry this year, and completed pre-calculus last year but has no interest in going on to calculus because it does not tie in with the field of work he is wanting to go into. Calculus is actually college level math. High School curriculum only runs through pre-calc, and few students even get that far unless they are very advanced in math.

It depends on the student, as well as the teacher. By the time children are doing such advanced High School courses, they ideally should have learned how to teach themselves from their textbooks, all of which explain new concepts step-by-step, give examples, etc.

Many of the higher level courses also come with instructional videos (DVDs or online lessons). Solomon used the DVDs taught by Art Reed for all his higher level math. There are often also local resources available through homeschool co-ops that teach classes on advanced coursework for those who are still struggling with learning on their own from a book.

Unless the parent is a whiz in any particular advanced subject and enjoys teaching it, and also has the time to teach the student who could get the same information by reading the textbook rather than it being conferred to him by the parent, most parents will pass the torch of learning to their child sometime during the earlier High School years. In fact, that is one of the main goals of High School – to transition to life after school, where you have to learn on your own, motivate yourself, and take responsibility.”

First, notice how she justifies her son not going into calculus because a) he’s not interested in it and b) it’s not required for high school because it’s a college level class. So, in other words, that kind of education is pointless and therefore not worth spending time on. Later she goes on to explain that by this point, her son should be teaching himself and that it’s not her responsibility to ensure that he gets a well rounded education. I’m not sure at what point she quits playing an active role in what her children learn, but I’ve read enough stories on Homeschoolers Anonymous about how little some parents pay attention to their homeschooled children’s education. Not all, but one is enough for me to be pissed.

I didn’t choose to go into calculus, I was placed there by my guidance counselor because of my desire to be in orchestra. Half my classmates in our “college bound” clique went into AP Statistics instead. Was it a waste of time? It’s debatable. Because I got the college credit in high school, I didn’t need to take it when I went to college, thus freeing up that time for classes that I actually enjoyed. I did well in the dual enrollment class in high school; I probably would have failed the same calculus class in university. Will I ever use calculus? Well…literally, no. But considering that I call myself a historian, insanely interested in the way life has changed over time (which is the definition of a derivative–one of the key parts of calculus), I can appreciate what calculus is. I have a broader view of the world because I took calculus–I know that the mathematics work, even if I don’t really understand how and why; it’s not magical speech meant to confuse the uninitiated.

I agree that students should be interested in what they study, but at the same time, anyone who only learns what they’re interested in will never have the chance to be inspired by something new. Disregarding classes as not important, for whatever reason, is harmful. And few people, even those who are very intelligent, can teach themselves with a textbook. I got straight As in calculus and thought I grasped the subject well, but I missed a couple of classes because of illness and tried to teach myself the content I’d missed. It was incredibly difficult and it turned out I didn’t do the best job. I was correct in my algebra, but my notations weren’t correct. So, it was like I was doing the problems in Spanish instead of English, though no one but me would understand it.

The problem with homeschooling is that, for the most part, parents only require the bare minimum. Since so much extra effort is needed to access tougher classes, they’re rarely sought after. Now schools, public or private, charter or co-op, are offering any number of electives and honors courses in order to give students the best chance to connect with something bigger than themselves, since they’re expected to spend 4 years there anyway. Meanwhile, homeschool students usually finish their classes early, graduating at 16 or 17, and have to take the GED test to be considered educated by their future employers.

Anyway, my second source is Verity University, a Christian university. I was surprised when looking through their course information that their Biology study guide included a table of ages consistent with standard science “old Earth” dating. So I shot them a question asking about their belief system since this seemed to contradict their “young Earth” mentality on everything else. The response I got was that the “Biology study guide’s introduction provides a Biblical worldview with which to equip our students as they study the CLEP exam materials. CLEP has secular worldviews, but it is necessary to understand the world’s perspectives in order to pass the exams.” In case you don’t know (I didn’t), CLEP is 33 tests that the College Board (organization that manages the SAT tests, AP tests, and other things I consider “college prep” rather than actual college) offers at $80 each as classes you’d take during your first 2 years of college. In other words, the College Board offers these exams as a stand-in for when you want to opt out of taking an intro-to class in college. These are similar to the AP test or dual enrollment in that they can be accepted or not by a university.

Does anyone else find it questionable that’d you’d pay any amount of money to go to a “university” that claims to teach one thing (Biblical Worldview), but has so little accreditation that they can’t teach what they want, but have to teach the secular test that can be transferred. By the way, I haven’t seen a study guide like this since like 6th grade. After that, my classes were required to make our own. In any case, if I’m going to go to a university, it’s going to be one where a) they teach their own stuff and write their own tests and b) when they do that their credits are more or less transferable at the discretion of the receiving university.

Open Question: Climate Change Deniers

As this year marks 100 years of the National Parks in the US, NPR has had many articles on various parks that have been noticeably affected by climate change since their establishment (Glacier National Park and Joshua Tree National Park immediately come to mind). My question is “Since there’s so much evidence that the climate is changing, what are the various ways that climate change deniers blow off the evidence?” Of course, there are many different flavors of deniers: the ones who agree its changing, but say humans have nothing to do with it; the ones who flat out deny that the climate is changing; and the ones that say the climate can’t change are just a few. So, to best answer this question, it’d be important to specifically identify the type you’re talking about.

Thanks a bunch and I look forward to reading your answers!