Saturday, February 13, 2010

No Us v. Them in Homeschooling, please

The Diosa Dotada Endeavor has a number of posts in response to the Robin West article -- I believe this was the first post on the subject on this blog. My focus is to archive my comment on my blog, but her response is well worth reading.

And now to my comment

fantastic response! I’m so glad you had stats to back you up. Here Robin goes on and on about the Fundamentalists Protestants and yet she uses their (HSLDA and NHERI’s) data — to the degree she uses any data, which is very little.
I really tried to read her article, but the opening page was alarmist and emotional and then she makes a rather bland statement that her thesis is about regulation.
I am not a Fundamentalist Protestant but she clearly has an ax to grind against them – but even her concerns make no sense. On the one hand, they can raise a political army, on the other hand, they are uneducated and lack skills. Which is it? Are they a potent enemy to reckon with, or hapless and ignorant?
She wonders why no one is worried about the looming scourge of homeschooling. Well, maybe because it’s not a looming scourge? Maybe what’s going on in the public schools is of greater concern? Maybe people are worried about health care or the war on drugs, whether homosexuals can marry, international foreign policy, or anything other than whether or not the local homeschoolers are teaching creationism. Honestly, I’m not a creationist but I really can’t see why anyone cares so much as to whether people believe in evolution. Maybe I feel this way because I’m not a scientist, but it’s just not had a huge impact on my life.
I’m also wary of anyone who wants to start and us vs. them with homeschoolers. Oh, you liberal types, you’re okay, it’s THEM we’re worried about. Well, freedom is freedom, no matter what anyone’s personal, political, and religious views are.
Oh, and can someone please explain to me why the critics love to carp on teaching credentials? What do they actually do, teach classroom management techniques? Tell you how to get a large, diverse group of students with different learning abilities interested in a subject? Someone please explain to me how a certification which helps teachers teach classrooms of kids is necessary in a homeschooling environment. But then she lobs “over-educated” at us — which is it? Can we teach our kids or not? Or is it just that she thinks we should be doing something else (like contributing to the sexist media machine, consumer-driven culture by having more spending power with the money we earn at jobs that are more deserving of our time than our own children)?
Thanks for the forum! and thanks for your posts and the dialog you’ve begun with Robin.
Homeschool on! Ever seen that t-shirt “The Revolutionaries will be homeschooled!”? I love it, except that it drives me nuts because shouldn’t it be “The Revolutionaries will have been homeschooled.” Opps, must be showing my over-education!

Fleshing out the feminist bitch-slap in the Harms of Homeschooling

Just for the sake of archives on unclimber, since I refused to link myself when I made the comment.

This is a link to The Diosa Dotada Endeavor, another post that discussed the aforementioned Robin West article and another place where I left a comment. Many homeschoolers and other commented and once again, my comment is not easily found (though it is easily linked).

yeah, I, too was wondering about the “over-educated” comment of hers. How is it a feminist professor can label some women as over-educated and what makes her different from the paternalistic professor of the 60s who pointedly asked the women in my mom’s class why they were there, taking up a seat that could have been filled by a man? The irony of it all. And I’m a homeschooling mama who is, was, and always considered herself to be a feminist. Why do some feminists think that all women need to listen to them and do as they say and what makes that any different from the current paradigm of male-domination? Sorry, but I don’t see it as an advancement for women to stop doing what men say in order to do what some “feminist” tells us to do. Makes no sense – isn’t feminism about women thinking for themselves? And I choose homeschooling for my daughters.

The Scary, Scary Harms of Homeschooling

At the risk of giving publicity to an article I don't agree with, I am posting about a slightly dated article The Harms of Homeschooling by Robin West. A friend of mine called my attention to the article and pointed me to a blog post commenting on it. I was quite pleased to see that West herself commented on the post and she did so in a way that suggested a far more reasonable mind than her original article. Despite my normally shy and reserved demeanor, I couldn't help commenting on it also, within the comments section of the post. The comments continue, because I just received notice of another one, which is what reminded me to write this post.

When I first read the article, I was surprised that it was published and even more surprised that it was written by a law professor. It was very alarmist, not terribly factual, highly anedoctal, and mostly just a rant. As anyone who has read the earlier posts on this blog, you'll know that I recognize that style of writing because it's so similar to my own. But I publish on a personal blog, not a university journal. Clearly I have some career soul-searching to do.

I just want to pull out my comment from the comment field and reprint it here because I like it, it makes me proud (up until the end when I go a bit nutty) and because there are so many comments that if I just leave this here hoping one of my blog's readers will find it, they might lose interest. I'm kicking myself for not linking this blog to my name but I was worried it would reduce the impact of my comment if it became clear it was posted by a nutcase.

- if I counted correctly, it's the 14th - this link might take you directly to it, but I've reprinted it below

Robin, I appreciate your comment here. I was disturbed by the alarmist nature in the PPP article and hope that the full treatment of it in your work does not sound as emotional and poorly reasoned. I’d also be interested in seeing your legal reasoning and hope you have more comprehensive coverage of the laws regarding homeschooling. As a homeschooler, I have only focused on the laws of my own state, Virginia, and have not had the time nor inclination to research beyond that. I would caution you against relying on the HSLDA (or NHERI) for your homeschool facts — many homeschoolers disagree strongly with that organization, it’s approaches, tactics, political and religious views, and how it derives it’s data.
I’m not certain why you feel that testing is the only way to give adequate evidence of education – in Virginia, it is but one option. Another option is an evaluation with an accredited evaluator. Personally, I believe in the value of learning to take tests, but I don’t see how that ensures a literate and numerate citizenry any more than a meeting with an evaluator.
I’d also love to hear more discussion about the state’s legitimate interest in education and how best to ensure that. I’m always curious to learn how private schools are regulated and why they are free from the concerns that plague homeschooling.
Finally, I think when you mention the “children of the over-educated and under-employed suburban mothers who simply would prefer to do this work for themselves than delegate it to the state” you show a fundamental lack of comprehension (and interest) for why many choose to homeschool. Simply stated, a homeschool education can be richer, deeper, and more individualized (and often has little to do with religion or conservative politics, which seem to be your greatest concerns). To comment on the mothers seems to underscore the emotional nature of the piece and sounds more like an attempt to ignite the Mommy wars than a reason why homeschooling should be regulated. It strikes me as poor reasoning that one moment you seem disturbed that homeschoolers are not accredited to teach their children and then you comment that some of us are overeducated (but I understand that advanced degrees are not teaching credentials. However, most homeschooling mothers have fewer than 30 children in their families, so perhaps they don’t really need teaching credentials. Which raises the question of what teaching credentials are and what they are for – a question no one ever seems to examine, they just seem to assume that homeschoolers should have them).
Thank you, Milton, for calling my attention to this article and for providing a forum for comments.

Scarf of many patterns

This is a work in progress but I'm just playing around to see if my Ravelry notes come over cleanly with cut and paste or whether I'll get a vast wasteland of broken links.

Oooo....lookie, it's been so long since I've used blogger -- is it possible you can actually put the pictures anywhere within the post and not just at the top?

Note to non-Ravelers, if you do not have a free account with Ravelry, a few of these links will not work for you because they are to project pages in Ravelry. If you don't have a Ravelry account and you don't knit or crochet, then you needn't worry about it. If you aren't on Ravelry and you do knit and or crochet, then you should get an account. If you click a broken link, my guess is it will take you to a page where you can request an account. Or google Ravelry, or click the button on the upper right of this blog (not the post, the blog).

CO 24 per pattern
here’s a video of how to do the pattern
1/30 Used straight needles even though I use circs for everything. It was difficult for me cross over the dropped stitches on the circulars - everything felt too floppy. Also, I have found dropped stitches difficult on circs – on the next row, all the drops cross and can be difficult to slide up off the cable and onto the needle. It’s a pain to constantly stop and try to work them up onto the needle.
Modified the pattern. Following it through Row 10. I follow Row 11 as directed by the pattern except that I only wrap it 3 times to keep the length about the same with the crisscross rows (figuring the crossing eats up about one wrap). Row 12, I just drop and knit the stitches, I don’t criss-cross them.
For the next pattern repeat, I modify row 6 by slipping the 8 stitches back to the left needle and inserting the right needle into the 4 furthest stitches and cross them over. The result is that every other criss-cross row has the outside stitches slanting in opposite directions (see picture – the bottom row slants from left to right and the upper row slants right to left).
Of course, if I had it to do over, I’d alternate the criss cross rows as per pattern, which would give me a “2 diamond” criss cross row, a straight drop stitch row, then a “3 diamond” criss cross row, then straight, then 2, then 3 and so on. This project shows clearly how the criss-cross rows alternate.
I may do this when I get to the other end of the scarf, symmetry be damned.
1/31 I don’t know if I have the patience for a scarf. I like how this looks, but I’m toying with the idea of switching patterns every so often – it might be a great way to try out some new patterns while incorporating them into a scarf.
2/1 okay, I’ve calmed down and decided to focus. I like the drop stitch pattern I’ve got going for the ends. I like to be able to wear my scarf up over my head to cover my ears. This stitch pattern is too holey for that, so I’ll switch to another pattern for the middle section of the scarf and then return to my drop stitching.
After much pattern research, I’m going with the Prismatic Scarf, but I think I’ll use TexturedKnitter’s modificationfor it.
2/7 decided it’s time to switch to the Prismatic pattern. Increased to 30 sts because this is narrower than the drop stitch pattern and I want this to cover my ears.
2/9 bored. Decided to modify prismatic scarf by doing pattern rows 1 through 12 and then reverse back down to 1. This pattern narrows the scarf considerably. Adding the 6 stitches makes the scarf the same width of the first pattern.
Based on the prismatic projects, I have to say that reversing the pattern isn’t as pretty as doing it as written, but I think it works with the criss-crossy, zig-zaggy nature of this scarf.
Due to concerns about running out of yarn and boredom, I’ve decided to switch to garter (because garter is such a scintillating stitch!). Seriously, this will widen the scarf and I’ll knit it long enough to go over my head and ears then I’ll return to the prismatic scarf pattern, doing rows 1 to 12 then reverse back down to 1 and then go back to my drop stitch pattern.
2/13 did a whole bunch of rows in garter. Got the book 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders so I could look at thecross-stitch scarf. Decided to rip back most of the garter and give cross-stitch a try. Pattern is very difficult to understand and after some internet and ravelry searching, I decided to use the directions for the 2 st-left cross found here for free and for the second row, follow the pattern. This pattern was nearly impossible for me until I switched to a smaller left needle on my interchangeables (one of the things I love about interchangeables).

To be continued, because it's a freakin' scarf and it goes on forever and ever the same as it ever was, unless you go all add and keep switching patterns.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I don't know what the hell is going on but it seems pretty cool to me

I was bumping around TED because a friend recommended an Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk. I enjoyed the talk, but in my time on TED, I saw a picture of Jane McGonigal who will be speaking at an upcoming conference. Maybe because she's pretty and I wondered who she was, I investigated further - I don't know exactly but somehow I found my way to this statement on the website about her, Reality is broken, says Jane McGonigal, and we need to make it work more like a game. Her work shows us how.

Fascinating to me. I'm not a gamer but I like games and I've been intrigued by role-playing games and even spent some time researching them on-line. Too much work to learn to play one, I decided. Fascinating, but I don't have the inclination to invest the time, I thought.

So now I'm internet stalking Jane McGonigal, trying to figure out who she is and what she's up to. She has an interesting blog and that has information about some of her past games and the upcoming on-line game, Evoke. The idea of using gaming as a social tool to solve real or potential problems seems absolutely wonderful to me. So wonderful, my expression of wonder is limited to that.

Google provided me with more sites, and I ended up watching the video on this site about another fascinating game she did a few years ago, World Without Oil. Chasing the rabbit further down to hole, she mentions Clay Shirky and a recent (this was in 2008) essay he wrote about cognitive surplus - that extra time we have since we don't have to spend our entire lives fulfilling our basic needs. This led me to this post, which I partly skimmed, but from which I picked up the idea that those who mock and wonder how we have the time to do what we do (a topic I recently chatted about on Facebook) are missing something. At least we are doing something rather than passively accepting/viewing/absorbing something.

....It's better to do something than to do nothing. Even lolcats, even cute pictures of kittens made even cuter with the addition of cute captions, hold out an invitation to participation. When you see a lolcat, one of the things it says to the viewer is, "If you have some sans-serif fonts on your computer, you can play this game, too." And that's message--I can do that, too--is a big change.

This is something that people in the media world don't understand. Media in the 20th century was run as a single race--consumption. How much can we produce? How much can you consume? Can we produce more and you'll consume more? And the answer to that question has generally been yes. But media is actually a triathlon, it 's three different events. People like to consume, but they also like to produce, and they like to share.
This may be where I go over the edge, but in my mind, this sort of connects up with the ideas I expressed last year about the potential of technology (okay, just Facebook) to create community/intimacy/make connections/find God. Perhaps not one in the same, but I really like people who can see the positives where others see negatives (and a waste of time). Even better, people who can not only see it, but create something that utilizes the positives. This is exciting to me. See what's there, consider the potential and give it a try. I don't know if I'll ever be a gamer, I'm barely technologically literate, but maybe I can live my life this way. Maybe that's part of what I'm doing by homeschooling.

Who knows, but I'm sort of excited about Evoke.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Mathematician's Lament

From the linked paper:

Sadly, our present system of mathematics education is [a] nightmare. In fact, if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done— I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul- crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education.

Dreaming of Solomon's Knots

Looking through a crochet stitch dictionary, I saw Solomon's Knot. I think it's beautiful but didn't think much else about it until days later when I saw a woman wearing a poncho in Solomon's Knot. She couldn't confirm that that was the stitch as a friend made it for her, but I'm pretty sure it was the stitch.

I just found a youtube video on how to make it and thought I'd post it here for when I get around to making something in this gorgeous stitch.