In this 19-minute TED Talk delivered by the ever-brilliant Sir Ken Robinson, he argues that we have a culture of compliance, not curiosity.
And further, he states, "I just don't believe it's (ADHD) an epidemic...if you sit kids down hour after hour doing low-grade clerical work, don't be surprised if they start to fidget..."
This and many more things he will say to get you thinking...and make you laugh all the while...
An interesting infographic put together by KnowledgeWorks forecasts, in part, that "Learning will no longer be defined by time and place..." and that "...radical personalization will become the norm." The time frame? The next few years...
In the fall of 2012, I piloted a math circle curriculum for young children developed by the founders of the Art of Inquiry. You can read my review HERE. (Here is more information on what a math circle is and why they provide a better basis for understanding mathematics over a traditional computational textbook approach).
Starting December 2, you can engage with the organizers in a two week open on-line course for parents and teachers via the Open Minds Course.
The second week of the course will give you the opportunity to lead your own math circle with your kids and friends. The curriculum is best suited to children ages 8-9, but it can work for other ages, as well.
About the course (taken directly from the course web-site):
The course is technically "free" but even small contributions ($1++) are most welcome. Contributions help to crowd-fund Julia Brodsky's book on problem solving. Pay $1 or more to receive the electronic book, and your name will be on the list of supporters in the book. Pay $25 or more to receive the paper book.
I found our experience last year with the Art of Inquiry to be incredibly valuable. I received no compensation to pilot or review the materials, or to write this post.
If you have any questions, please contact the organizers directly via the course web-site.
For my personal view of how to approach math at home see: Stop the Math-ness!
On October 19, we attended our first Texian Heritage Festival in Montgomery. What an event!
At the bargain rate of a $1 per person donation, it was one of the best living history presentations I have ever witnessed (and I've witnessed a few!). Highlights of the festival included: Texas Independence battle reenactments (complete with Mexican and Texian army encampments), a tableau of women of the Civil War in period costume, booming cannons, firearm demonstrations, Native American dancers, blacksmiths, musical performances, harvest-time activities for children, and so much more.
A display of 19th century school books and materials included a McGuffey's Reader. Dating as far back as 1836, these Readers underscore a harsh reality. We are losing things like literacy and civility at a breakneck pace. I actually attended a school in the 80's (not 1880's, either) that used some of these Readers as part of its language arts curricula. For some great historical fiction, also of this time period, check out the works of G.A. Henty. Many are available for free via the Gutenberg Project. We read The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades a couple of years ago and found it enjoyable. The books make great read-alouds to younger kids as the writing style and vocabulary can be quite foreign to our modern ears.
A reenactor and fellow homeschool mom shares a wonderful story about the scarcity of coffee during the Civil War (this canister would have been worth $50 -- Starbucks ain't got nothin'!) and, more importantly, the real cause of the war (i.e., not slavery). "Think for yourselves," she admonished. "Don't trust history books to tell you the truth." Amen, sista.
The Arnold-Simonton House -- one of the oldest houses in Montgomery County was built in 1845 in the Greek-revival style.
A bonus of the festival is "free" admission to all of the structures at Fernland Historical Park. These structures are always locked up and normally require a fee and scheduled tour in order to appreciate them. There are two log cabins (Crane and Jardine) that are just fascinating -- the craftsmanship is impressive.
I'm sorry that you'll have to wait an entire year until the Texian Heritage Festival returns to Fernland Historical Park in Montgomery. Perhaps I will see you there!
Montgomery is located approximately an hour north of Houston.
For more Homeschool Houston field trip reviews, click HERE.
In the early days of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we took our kids down to Zuccotti Park. No, we aren't crazy and no, we weren't offered any drugs or harassed by half-naked protesters.
Were there communists and socialists there? Yes. Were there anarchists? Yes. Were there advocates of a return to the gold standard, Ron Paul supporters, college students, and new age hippies present? Yes, yes, yes, and yep.
Were there people there who were disgusted with our government? Yes, indeed.
In fact, according to demographics cited on Wikipedia:
Early on the protesters were mostly young, partly because social networks through which they promoted the protests are primarily used by young people. As the protest grew, older protesters also became involved. The average age of the protesters was 33, with people in their 20s balanced by people in their 40s. Various religious faiths have been represented at the protest including Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Rabbi Chaim Gruber, however, is reportedly the only clergy member to have actually camped at Zuccotti Park. The Associated Press reported in October that there was "diversity of age, gender and race" at the protest. A study based on survey responses at OccupyWallSt.org reported that the protesters were 81.2% White, 6.8% Hispanic, 2.8% Asian, 1.6% Black, and 7.6% identifying as "other".
According to a survey of occupywallst.org website visitors by the Baruch College School of Public Affairs published on October 19, of 1,619 web respondents, one-third were older than 35, half were employed full-time, 13% were unemployed and 13% earned over $75,000. When given the option of identifying themselves as Democrat, Republican or Independent/Other 27.3% of the respondents called themselves Democrats, 2.4% called themselves Republicans, while the rest, 70%, called themselves independents. A survey of 301 respondents by a Fordham University political science professor identified the protester's political affiliations as 25% Democrat, 2% Republican, 11% Socialist, 11% Green Party, 0% Tea Party, and 12% "Other"; meanwhile, 39% of the respondents said they did not identify with any political party. Ideologically the Fordham survey found 80% self-identifying as slightly to extremely liberal, 15% as moderate, and 6% as slightly to extremely conservative.
A study released by City University of New York found that over a third of protestors had incomes over $100,000, 76 percent had bachelor's degrees, and 39 percent had graduate degrees. While a large percent of them were employed, they largely reported they were "unconstrained by highly demanding family or work commitments". The study also found that they disproportionally represented upper-class, highly educated white males. Said one of the authors of the study, Ruth Milkman, “It’s a pretty affluent demographic and highly educated. Many were the children of the elite, if you will.”
On a quiet Sunday afternoon on September 25, 2011, my family sat in on an OWS meeting in Zuccotti Park. The meeting was primarily an organizational one -- the "campers" were trying to figure out the best way to communicate with one another without bull horns or microphones. We participated in the "human mic" and learned a few hand signals. Interestingly, this video was taken the day we were there, but I don't think this was the same meeting we attended -- there were several throughout the day.
Take a look to see an example of a human microphone in action:
Of course, we would never do anything to put our children in danger, and a few weeks later Zuccotti Park would not be an appropriate place for a "field trip" but that day we became more aware of the diversity of the movement. This wasn't something that was often portrayed in the media. True, there were people there that I did not agree with, and some that perhaps I only agreed with in part, but the idea that only radical bums were inhabiting the park was patently false.
Two yeas after OWS we can't say that anything material was accomplished. It was an idealistic movement that never stood a chance. Many of us agree that the bank bailouts were ridiculous and inexcusable -- corporate welfare in the extreme -- but have little idea of what to do about it. At least the folks that camped out in parks across the country (and even worldwide) felt they were doing something to express their discontent. Perhaps it was ineffective, perhaps it did bring attention to the situation, but at the very least, several thousand people felt they were making their voices heard.
And not all protesters were socialists, or communists, or "extreme" liberals:
"That’s why a new breed of educators, inspired by everything from the Internet to evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and AI, are inventing radical new ways for children to learn, grow, and thrive. To them, knowledge isn’t a commodity that’s delivered from teacher to student but something that emerges from the students’ own curiosity-fueled exploration. Teachers provide prompts, not answers, and then they step aside so students can teach themselves and one another. They are creating ways for children to discover their passion—and uncovering a generation of geniuses in the process."
Not far outside the classic Texas town of Navasota, across the Brazos River, sits Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park -- the birthplace of the Texas Republic. In 1836, 59 elected delegates met to declare Texas's independence. They met in an unfinished building in the town of Washington on the morning of March 2, and without debate, unanimously declared that the people of Texas were free from Mexico.
For 10 years (1836 - 1846), Texas existed as a separate and unique nation. The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site includes Independence Hall, Star of the Republic Museum, and Barrington Living History Farm.
This summer, we made the pleasant one-hour drive to the park with the hope that the Star of the Republic Museum would yield some interesting finds. While the museum is not large by some standards, it is well-maintained and contains many interesting artifacts from the time period. I recommend taking advantage of the entire park when you go, including the Barrington Farm -- we only toured the museum, which can easily be done in an hour or so.
If you're lucky, you may catch a special exhibit, such as Toy Time. The exhibit included life-size folk toys and focused on history, culture and science. My two spent the bulk of our time in the museum testing out and playing with all of the toys and games. It's a great hands-on way to explore and appreciate a time when no electricity or batteries were needed. One station offered several wooden "puzzles" that were nearly impossible to solve! The exhibit closed on September 30.
Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.
After we had our fill of toys, we checked out the rest of the museum. There is an upstairs area that contains several fun items, such as clothing and furniture from the time period. Also, for fans of Chuck Norris (or Chuck Norris jokes), the museum holds one of his jackets from the old television show: Walker, Texas Ranger.
Most importantly, every Thursday in October, The Star of the Republic Museum and Barrington Living History Farm will present a program specifically for home school families. Childhood in Early Texas, is an interactive, hands-on program for the entire family. You can discover what life was like for a child in the mid-19th century, learning about childhood chores, clothes, and schools, even making some old-fashioned toys to take home. At Barrington Farm, you can experience life on an early Texas farm, complete with a stroll through the cotton field, picking a boll or two along the way.
Curriculum materials including lesson plans and activity sheets will be available on-line to help continue the learning experience at home.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Cost: $6/adult, $8/child
No minimum group size
Limited space available
Reservations & pre-payment required (registration for individual families only)
Call 936-878-2461, ext. 236 for reservation
For other nifty (and nearly free) things to do in the Houston area, check out our Homeschool Houston field trip review series.