Friday, February 24, 2006

The Best Thing About Blogging...

is the archive feature. It is time for me to revisit Winter Weight Gain. We must stem the tide and hold fast or we will gain 15 pounds in a decade of annual pound-or-two creep.

Fear not, it is not difficult if nipped in the bud. Lets not think about slowing metabolism, inability to exercise, or the need for chocolate. Stand strong with me. Somehow we will eat less, move more, and eat small amounts of super-dark chocolate.

This has been a public service announcement.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Teaching to the Test -- Its a Good Thing

Its nice to the know that the education writer for The Washington Post uses level-headed reasoning when writing on the topic of standardized testing. He doesn't know why people demonize the idea of 'teaching to the test' but 59.2 million google hits tell him that there are a bunch of sissy alarmists out there.

So why do we still talk about how terrible it is to teach to the test? I think it comes from our fear of the unknown. Those of us who are not teachers don't know what is going on in our children's classrooms.

Why don't they know? My state's standards of learning are available on the state's Department of Education website. My county also have a website to help parents keep in the know. Is the author indicating that these websites aren't enough to let parents know exactly what is going on in the classrooms? If so, it might cause us to wonder what use these standards of learning actually have.

Why don't the parents know what is going on in their children's classrooms? I have a hard time imagining that the author is claiming to be a bad parent who doesn't pay attention to what his kids bring home from school in terms of class assignments and projects. Is it that the schools don't share this information -- shroud it all in secrecy? Well, that would be fearsome indeed.

The author continues his thinking with --
And teachers don't know what harm might come to them from the test results, as interpreted by often-wrongheaded people such as principals, superintendents, politicians and, particularly, parents.

What? Principals and superintendents are wrongheaded with regard to test results? As the managers and executives of the educational system that is downright terrifying. Shouldn't they be able to understand the test results?

If parents don't understand the test results, it makes sense to me that they wouldn't support teaching to a test the results of which they don't understand.

Why is teaching to the test so bad? Perhaps for the same reason that asking "will this be on the test" is so upsetting to teachers. It means the students aren't learning in a meaningful way. It suggests that the material isn't really understood; the students don't care about it; and they just want to get a good grade on the exam. I can't tell you how many things I learned for tests that I forgot almost immediately after taking the test, because, well, I forgot them.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

PE and Music

As I was making a purchase today at a museum shop, I asked if they offer a discount to homeschoolers as I heard them offer another customer a teacher's discount. The sales clerk was very nice and said that she would. She started chatting with me about homeschooling. Its always so interesting to hear the different responses and questions that people have when they learn I homeschool.

This sales clerk hit me with a question I hadn't previously been asked -- she wondered about physical education and music. The PE part was a no-brainer. My kids get to play at playgrounds far more than they would if they were in school. My eldest takes a gymnastics class. In nice weather, they play outside a lot with other kids -- tag and hide n' seek being favorite games.

Music was a bit harder -- what do we do for music? We listen to a lot of music -- all different kinds. Suzanne spends time with a book titled, Story of the Orchestra and has listened to the CD a bit. We love the Classical Kids CDs and they've learned bits about some major composers. We have a piano and piano instruction books in the house and I've plucked out some tunes with Suzanne though she has mostly worked on her own. I'm thinking my kindergartner has had more exposure to "Music" than she would have had if she was enrolled in the half-day kindergarten program offered at the public school in our district. I suppose some private schools may do more in the music department, but people aren't usually thinking about private schools when they ask homeschoolers these kinds of questions.

I couldn't help point out the concern that many public schools are cutting back on PE and music in order to allow more time to review before tests like the SOLs.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rethinking Homeschooling

After reading this article in today's Washington Post, I'm very concerned that I'm denying my daughters important socialization lessons by homeschooling them. I was especially bothered by this:

In the affluent McLean elementary school where she used to work, girls judged one another on whether they had a new Louis Vuitton bag.

How will my daughters ever succeed in the world, let alone get ahead, if they aren't exposed to this? I've got to stop coddling them.

In other news, drugging your kids may have a downside. Who knew? Well, maybe its not so bad.
[A] spokeswoman for the advocacy group Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, cautioned that patients should not be alarmed by the warning.

I might add that smokers should pay no attention to those little warnings on the side of a pack of cigarettes. Its alarmist and for some people nicotine is an important part of a very effective treatment for the rigors of modern life.

"[Patients] should definitely not stop taking their [ADHD] medications," she said. "They should consult with their clinician if they have questions, but for so many people these medications are an important part of a very effective treatment."

And for many pharmaceutical companies, they are an important part of an effective shareholder return. I wonder if there is any connection between advocacy groups and pharmaceutical companies? Probably not.

Friday, February 03, 2006

And I Thought He Didn't Love Me Anymore...

...Robbo hasn't been around in a long time. So long, in fact, that I decided to go back to my husband. It was beautiful while it lasted.

Well, just as Mr. unclimber and I were settling down to a nice reconciliation, this pops up. Not only does Robbo seem to be showing some interest, he's inviting me into the mud-wrestling pit with some minx named Ann. Well, Robbo, if thats what it takes...

Seriously, I think it would be so much fun to go to a cocktail party filled with Ann's commentors. FUN people, I think. At least it would be a packed party, unlike my little soiree over here at unclimber. Wow, and I was worried that I'm a control freak.

Now, if you don't screw up your kid at the tender age of 5 or 4 or 3 by institutionalizing them, then, yes, you will have a Nailah. But I wouldn't believe it either if I were them. Many kids in school do have interests as diverse and deep as Nailah's, they just don't have the time to pursue them since so much time is spent lining up, shutting up, and filling in bubbles with no. 2 pencils.