All Ag Online

Archive for category Mary Leppert

Richer Resources Publications — Classics, Art, Poetry & Children’s Books

http://www.richerresourcespublications.com/

 

Richer Resources Publications is an independent publisher dedicated to producing dynamic and intelligent books for the discriminating reader. High-quality in form and content is the distinguishing feature of Richer Resources’ volumes.

 

They produce books in a wide variety of genres, including classic titles in translation, gift books, art books, poetry, finance titles and children’s books. They also produce art prints and greeting cards of both

classic images and modern, contemporary works.

 

Classic authors include Homer, Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Ovid and many of their best-known volumes. Machiavelli and Goethe are also represented here.

 

Modern poets are also offered, including Kevin Taylor, whose book “Between Music & Dance” is both playful and thought-provoking and “Insectomania” by Sally Zakariya, in which she sets forth observations pithy and sometimes somber about the lives around us we barely notice – except when annoyed!

 

As an example of how broad RRP is, right alongside the great Greek classicists, they publish a 10-book set called Phonics Readers, for teaching young children how to unlock the magical world of words and thoughts on paper.

 

Richer Resources Publications is devoted to enriching the lives of those who love to read and think as they do. “As an independent publisher, we are bound by a sense of integrity and quality to produce products which enhance the lives and vision of individuals everywhere.”

Share

, , , , ,

No Comments

The Unconventional Learner: Hidden in Plain Sight

By Sylvia R. Cadena Smith, Ed.D.

 

Students who perform below their intellectual capabilities are often considered underachievers, lazy, or just not very smart. These students tend to be among a hidden group of learners that have difficulty with visual processing of information delivered via conventional means (i.e., in a manner typical of traditional classrooms). Frequently, these students are mislabeled as being unwilling or incapable of learning when, in fact, they can learn, but are ‘unconventional’ in how they process information.

 

Identifying “unconventional learners” in the classroom has been challenging due to the fact that little was known about how the brain processes information. In the last 15 – 20 years, brain research has found that the ability to ‘visually process’ information is critical to learning. It is now understood that the act of ‘visual processing’ is primarily a physiological issue that is not related to

an individual’s intelligence or ability to cognitively process information. Therefore, when students’ visual processing is weak, their overall ability to cognitively process information delivered in a traditional classroom format is negatively impacted. This is largely due to a ‘disconnect’ in how information is originally received and processed by the brain.

 

A common challenge faced by these learners is their limited ability to visually process information in a logical and organized manner due to irregular or overactive saccadic eye movements. Robinson (1981) states “The purpose of the saccadic system…is to reorient the eyes quickly in space. Since vision during saccades is poor (no information is captured by the brain), this system has specialized in making eye movement very rapid to minimize the time during which vision is lost.” If the saccadic eye movement does not reorient quickly and accurately during reading, the processing of visual image(s) presented in a fixation (the pause in movement between saccades during which the brain captures information), will be disrupted.

 

‘Unconventional learners’ may have difficulty reading due to their disrupted visual intake process. This is because the act of reading is a complex visual and cognitive task that involves the seamless integration of specific receiving, processing and memory skills, including the critical eye movements that the brain uses to estimate the proper distance to move the eye from one focal point to the next.

 

Hochberg (1970) described the eye movement process required to read print or view a landscape as a series of installments. This series of installments is described in the article “Eye Movement Makes Reading Possible” as: “The three types of ocular-motor eye movements that occur during reading:

 

1. Fixations – when the eye pauses momentarily on a line of print to take in information or integrate information across fixation pauses.

 

2. Forward saccades – when reading English script, the eye seems to jump from left to right on a line of print to bring the eye to the next fixation pause.

 

3. Regressions and rereads – where eye movements occur backward from right to left.” (Samuels, Hiebert, & Rasinski, 2010)

Fowler (2000) proposed that the importance of identification and localization of these three key elements includes not only eye movement, but also the cognitive skills of memory and association of meaning and language that are intricately involved in the act of reading. These visual processing skills play important parts in producing a stable image of the word on the page and enable smooth tracking of the eyes along a line of print. Efficient left-to-right tracking and the smooth-downward right-to-left ”sweep” are critical visual processing skills for students to become fluent and comprehensive readers.

 

Students who struggle to control their fields of vision, resulting in word and line skipping and/or pattern glare (words appear to move on the page), due to irregular or overactive saccadic movements are likely to be poor readers, impacting their performance in virtually every academic area.

 

According to the 2000 National Reading Panel Summary Report, fluent readers possess the ability to read text with speed, accuracy and proper expression. A key inference by the National Reading Panel Report for reading instruction is that “Children who do not develop reading fluency, no matter how bright they are, will continue to read slowly and with great effort.” (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000).

 

Students who do not respond well to a ‘conventional’ classroom environment often become frustrated, frequently due to problems with reading fluency and comprehension. They know they can learn but struggle to demonstrate it in a traditional school setting. As a result, many of these students drop out from learning and may exhibit negative social behaviors, creating a downward

learning and social spiral.

 

Improving teachers’ and parents’ recognition of the multidimensional aspects of how the human brain processes visual information positions them to better understand and meet the needs of students.  Helping students to recognize and adjust to their own unique visual processing styles will empower them to embrace an “I can” and not “I can’t” attitude in the classroom. This awakening will help educators, parents and students to begin to constructively solve the mystery of why students struggle to

retain information as they read and will reveal the potential of the ‘unconventional learner’ that is hidden in plain sight in every classroom.

 

For more resources and tools for improving reading and spelling, see the See-N-Read® Reading Tools website www.see-n-read.com.

 

REFERENCES

• Fowler, S. (2000). Visual problems associated with reading and spelling difficulty. Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (Information Sheet Number 5).

• National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

• Hochberg, J. (1970). Components of literacy: Speculations and exploratory research. In H. Levin & J. P. Williams (Eds), Basic studies on reading (pp. 74 – 89) New York: Basic.

• Robinson, D. A. (1981). The use of control systems analysis in the neurophysiology of eye movements. Annual Reviews Neuroscience. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

• Samuels, J. S., Hiebert, E. H, & Rasinski, T. V. (2010). Eye Movements Make Reading Possible. Hiebert, E.H., & Reutxel, D.R. (Eds.). In revisiting silent reading: New directions for teachers and research. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Share

, , , , ,

No Comments

Kicking Your Brain “On” for Academics Through Exercise

[This information is taken from Sparking Life's website, http://sparkinglife.org/page/the-new-physical-education.]

 

There is a revolution occurring in education — slowly, as all institutional changes do — that homeschoolers need to be informed of. It is the connection between vigorous exercise BEFORE learning, that creates a heightened state of attention.

 

Developed and explained by Dr. John Ratey, a clinical psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School in his book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”, wherein he presents an understanding of neurobiology with worldwide research to inspire the reader to embrace exercise as a means to achieve optimal brain performance.

 

Dr. Ratey and  the late Phil Lawler, high school teacher/coach in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, presented Dr. Ratey’s concepts to Mr. Lawler’s young students to great effect.

 

Vigorous exercise BEFORE learning, helps create a heightened state of attention. Scientific fitness studies document academic improvement linked to movement and exercise, generating worldwide interest in the Sparking Life movement.

 

Here is an excerpt from the Sparking website:

“Your goal is to run your fastest mile…your average heart rate should be above 185.”

Those are the instructions offered to the Naperville Central High School freshmen students participating in the New P.E. – an hour before classes to give these kids a boost in reading ability and in the rest of their subjects.

Two girls named Michelle and Krissy pass by, shuffling along side by side. A kid with unlaced skateboarding shoes finishes his laps and turns in his watch. His time reads eight minutes, thirty seconds. Next comes a husky boy in baggy shorts. Nine minutes. When Michelle and Krissy finally saunter over, Krissy holds up her digital watch for the P.E. teacher. Ten twelve.

What the teacher doesn’t say is “It looked like you two were really loafing around out there!”

The fact is, they weren’t. When he downloads Michelle’s heart rate monitor, he’ll find that her average heart rate during her ten-minute mile was 191, a serious workout for even a trained athlete. She gets an A for the day.

Research shows that all sorts of exercise aids in this brain boosting process, but running is the simplest to perform. Please visit the Sparking Life website for complete information on this fascinating and worthwhile aspect of “education”.

 

Share

, , , , ,

No Comments

THANGSTGIVING & The Holidays – It’s Not Just The Pie That’s Crusty

By Diane Flynn Keith, www.homefires.com

(Diane is a featured speaker at our 2015 Homeschool Conference in Westlake Village, CA. Don’t miss this humorous, insightful homeschool mom.)

For many of you, the Thanksgiving feast, with its traditional marshmallow sweet potato casserole was the first of many sticky situations that will last throughout the holiday season. You’ll be served a smorgasbord of confrontational relatives who subject you to snide comments and questions that may include:

• Insisting that your kids will not be well-socialized (even though they are in the next room happily playing and interacting with their cousins).

• Testing your kids to see what they know.  For example, your father-in-law channels Alex Trebek as he asks, “What’s the third digit of pi?” or “What’s the capital of Serbia?” or “When did colonial Governor William Bradford issue the first Thanksgiving Proclamation?”

• Accusations that you’re over-protective and admonitions to enroll your children in school where bullies (possibly armed with assault rifles) can “toughen them up for the real world.”

• Comparisons of your 8-year-old emerging reader to your brother-in-law’s child who spontaneously read at 2. Or pointing out with some disdain that your 11-year-old daughter still plays with dolls for goodness sake, while your sister’s more mature and popular middle-school daughter can do a great impersonation of Britney Spears as she sings all the lyrics to Womanizer.

• Asking your children, “Don’t you want to go to school?” Or commenting, “Gee, your grandpa and I really think you should go to school.”  Or, as one 7-year-old boy I know was told by a 70-year-old relative, “Homeschooling is for poo-poo heads.”

• Carrying on about the weird homeschoolers they’ve met – implying your kids will turn out weird, too.

All of the above situations can be especially challenging when you have to “make nice” with snarky relatives to preserve some civility at holiday gatherings. Other than too much eggnog, who knows what possesses family members to ask intrusive questions and dish out unsubstantiated opinions? Nevertheless, you are expected to politely eat it, as evidenced by the following stories.

Pass The Turkeys Please

A homeschool mom (S.C. of Central Florida) recounted her family’s experience…

I have been homeschooling my three children for seven years. My in-laws live within ten miles and we see them frequently. My parents live 600 miles away and we see them on holidays.

When we announced that we would homeschool our then pre-K daughter, we were met with resistance. My in-laws were concerned about socialization and suggested local preschools. My parents grimaced, but kept their comments to themselves.

As first grade approached, my in-laws offered to pay half of the tuition at a private school. We declined. My parents were disappointed that we were homeschooling and their questions came more frequently. “What about learning to get along with her peers?” “What about field trips?” “What about science?” “Cousin Jenny is learning about the California missions, have you taught that yet?” “How long are you going to homeschool?”

Our third, fourth and fifth year of homeschooling were the same – we received tuition offers and critical comments. They questioned us about testing and evaluations.

Holidays are the hardest. My dad is the most vocal and hurtful. He will ask about testing, socialization, and mentions certain topics and says, “They should know that.” He always asks, “How long will you
homeschool?” He never leaves without saying, “I just don’t think they are getting the education that they need!” Most of the comments he makes are in front of my kids.

Another homeschool mom, who asked to be identified only as “ST”, to avoid stirring up any more trouble in her family, wrote:

My aunt and uncle are the worst . . . they’ve asked all the typical questions at holiday gatherings. I should preface what follows with the disclaimer that I am rather sarcastic and my son shares my sense of humor. I do not condone rudeness, disrespect or sassing — but there are times when sarcasm is truly the best way to handle their questions.

They have done the quizzing thing . . .“What can you tell me about George Washington?” To which my son has replied, “How much time do you have? Do you want his early life or just the years that he was President?” Or they will say, “Your mom tells me that you’ve already started learning Algebra. If I told you that 3x + 4 = 7, can you tell me what x equals?” My son’s answer was, “Yes.” When further pushed to produce the answer, he explained that the question that was asked was could he do it, not would he do it. (Oh, he makes a mama proud!)

They have asked my son if he is afraid that he’ll be behind if he goes back to public school. His answer was, “I talked to a junior in high school last week who is learning the same thing in history that I am. I’m not afraid of being behind, I’m afraid they’ll never catch up!”

My aunt has made comments to me such as, “I don’t know how you do it. When my kids were that age I couldn’t wait for them to go to school. How do you handle being with him all day, every day?” With the most serious, deadpan look I could muster I simply stated, “I love him.”

My aunt and uncle have asked, more times than I can count, about gaps in my son’s education. I have my response memorized! “Every education has gaps in it. If at the end of the day, I have taught my son how to learn and to love learning he’ll take care of the rest.”

Do you have relatives who are real turkeys too? If so, the following suggestions for dealing with people who would rather smash homeschooling than potatoes may prove helpful.

Squash Objections with Kindness

Joyce offered this advice: “When relatives do have concerns and ask questions, I try to take them seriously and let them know what we do to address those same concerns. Sometimes they actually make valid points and offer suggestions I can use. No matter how it comes out, I try to remember that their concerns are rooted in love and hope for my son’s well-being. So as long as they are respectful, I am respectful back.”

Debbie, who homeschools in southern California, wrote, “My sister-in-law is a life-long public school teacher, so when we visited her for the holidays, we just didn’t talk about homeschooling at all. We avoided the subject and kept the peace. It worked for us.”

Carolyn, a homeschool mom in Ohio, turned her skeptic parents into allies. She asked her mom to teach her kids how to paint with watercolors – her mom’s favorite pastime. She cleverly asked her dad, a mechanic, to teach her children how to maintain the family car. When they saw how eager the children were to learn, they offered to help with other “subjects” like gardening, music, and math. Their family looks forward to holiday gatherings now.

Add Some Gravy

Pour on the charm. Don’t forget that most people would rather talk about themselves and their own children than listen to you talk about yours. Use that to your advantage. If a relative asks about homeschooling, give a quick, pleasant reply and ask them, “How are your kids doing? What are they up to?” Change the subject. Instead of talking about education, ask if they’ve seen any good movies or television programs – or find out if they’ve read a good book lately.

Ladle on active, reflective, and assertive listening techniques to promote or minimize communication. Just spoon on simple responses such as:

• Oh, I see…

• That’s interesting…

• Good point…

• You may be right …

• I hadn’t thought about that…

These phrases will keep polite conversation flowing minimally (even if it is one-sided) while helping to avoid arguments.

Remember that while you cannot control other people, you can control your reaction to people, what they say, and circumstances. You are responsible for your own feelings and behavior and the results you ultimately get.

 

More Stuffing?

Fran Wisniewski, a homeschool mom of three and list moderator for the Natural Learner Yahoo Group, said, “The best advice I can give to other homeschooling families who must deal with difficult relatives during the holidays is to read, read, read!” Stuff your brain with information to reinforce your position and gain confidence. Here are some resources that will help:

Suggested Books:

• Deschooling Gently by Tammy Takahashi

• Homeschooling: A Family’s Journey by Gregory and Martine Millman

• Learning All the Time by John Holt

• Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto

The Homeschooling Almanac 2000-2001 by Mary & Michael Leppert

Have Some Dessert

Homeschool mom, Ariana, passed along some ideas for celebrating holidays that are sure to sweeten the pie. Instead of worrying about confrontations over homeschooling, simply focus on making everyone feel special and a part of the celebration.  Here’s how…

Holiday Helpers

At Thanksgiving or other holiday celebrations, get everyone involved (even the kids) by writing a specific task on a place card or index card and placing one on each plate. Tell each person to find
his/her plate and do their assigned task. Examples could be, carve the turkey, clear the dishes, bring out dessert, etc.

Leaves of Gratitude

Cut leaves out of autumn-colored construction paper and make one for each guest. Ask each person to write down or draw a picture of what they are grateful for on a paper leaf, and place it in a basket on the dinner table. Take turns reading them during dessert. Then, as an after-dinner activity, place them in a scrapbook. Do this each year. Everyone will enjoy looking back through the scrapbook and reading their comments.

Tablecloth of Thanks & Wishes

Place a light-colored cotton tablecloth on the table and give everyone a “Sharpie” permanent marker (they come in a variety of colors). Have them write down something that they are thankful for or a special wish for the New Year on the tablecloth. Children can draw a picture. Date each message. Use this tablecloth annually. Everyone will enjoy reading the messages year after year.

Don’t Forget the Leftovers

There are many positive and helpful articles about homeschooling available on the Internet for free. Read them yourself to boost your confidence and relieve anxiety. Select a few and print them out for family members. Put them in a doggie bag with the leftovers. It will give them something to chew on the next day. You’ll find terrific articles archived at these suggested websites:

• The Link Homeschooling Magazine www.homeschoolnewslink.com

• Homefires ~ The Journal Of Homeschooling www.Homefires.com

• Home Education Magazine www.homeedmag.com

• Learn in Freedom/ Articles www.learninfreedom.org/hsarticles.html

• Best Homeschooling www.besthomeschooling.org

   • The Way Home E-newsletter (sign-up at www.homeschoolmagazine.com)

Decline the Invitation And Make Your Own Holiday Magic

There will always be families for whom holiday gatherings are simply not an option. Read these comments on the topic posted to a homeschool support group discussion list:

“When my kiddos were younger, we had a time when we just didn’t go to family events that were going to prove to have added stress due to these kinds of confrontations. Did it hurt feelings? Yep. But, having my kiddos have good memories was more important than subjecting them to the kind of destructive behavior that can occur at these events.”

“We have a long standing rule that goes like this: If a family member is cruel, destructive, bossy, exceptionally rude, vulgar, aggressive, or is just wanting to pick a fight, we don’t subject the kids or ourselves to that family member. We do not go to homes where we know the environment is hostile. I don’t want those to be our family Thanksgiving memories.”

I suspect that it’s not just homeschooling that is a bone of contention in these families. Anything that is perceived as threatening, different, or “not the way we do things” would probably catch flack. Homeschooling is just an easy target.

There are so many dynamics that produce supportive results in families — including individual confidence, attitude, self-esteem, comfort with the unconventional, fearlessness, gratefulness, and understanding, that each and every one of us (including our family members) have the right to determine their own unique purpose and live a life that supports it.

A family member who possesses such qualities and understands those concepts will always be supportive of others. A family member who does not, may be in such pain (often unrealized) about his/her own life and circumstances that they simply are unable to support anyone else who may be on the path to living an extraordinary life. And homeschooling can certainly result in an extraordinary life for you and your children.

We have, to some extent, been socially conditioned to believe that we cannot have what we want and achieve our dreams. Oh, we pay lip service to telling people that they can live their dreams — but watch what happens when they try. We criticize, speculate, judge, condemn, and come up with a thousand reasons for why they can’t or shouldn’t. We beat them down with our objections and “logic” and when that doesn’t work — we resort to insults, cynicism, sarcasm and disparaging, hurtful remarks. And what’s really crazy is some of us do that to the people we claim to love the most – our family!

Anytime you take the path less-traveled, you’ll meet some resistance, as many homeschoolers will attest. The best thing to do is ignore it (and the people who dish it out) and follow your heart. That takes great courage of conviction and absolute dedication to the belief that what you’re doing is in your best interests — especially when it is plain as day that following your path doesn’t harm anyone else, and actually helps others. I could make the case that homeschooling does exactly that.

Of course, telling you to persevere in the face of detractors is easy. Doing it, and risking being shunned and criticized — and accepting the possibility of having the love and approval of a family member withheld from you or your children as a penalty for your non-conformity — is much harder to do.

I think some people are able, through quiet determination, dignity and resolve, to get through rough patches with relatives — with great results. Their relatives come to see that homeschooling is not the pariah they imagined, and may even become advocates.

Others get sucked into the drama created by the nay-sayers to no one’s benefit — especially not the children’s.

Rather than endure another “festive” gathering that dishes up a plate filled with spite, doubt, bitterness, fear and disapproval, take the “angst” out of “Thangstgiving” and refuse to participate. It’s okay to decline invitations to dysfunctional family gatherings to create healthy, loving holiday memories among like-minded, supportive friends that your family will cherish forever.

Here’s to a happy holiday season! D.F.K.

Copyright 2008 and 2014, Diane Flynn Keith, All Rights Reserved.

Share

, , , , , ,

No Comments

John Taylor Gatto’s The Empty Child, Part 3

by Cathy Duffy

[Ed. Note: John Taylor Gatto’s book, The Empty Child: A Schoolteacher’s Intuition about the Problem of Modern Schooling, published by Simon & Schuster in 1999, was another powerful milestone by one of the foremost thinkers and social commentators in the alternative education world. Below, is an article by one of the field’s most formidable product reviewers, Cathy Duffy, that introduced this excellent book.]

Scientific behaviorism, the brain child of B.F. Skinner came on the scene at just the right time for such purposes. Schools learned to play their new role as purveyors of “mental health.” Desired responses could be programmed into children by the use of rewards and punishments.

Gatto tells us about Edward Thorndike, who might be considered the founder of educational psychology: “According to Thorndike, the aim of a teacher is to ‘produce and prevent certain responses,’ the purpose of education was to promote ‘adjustment.’ In [Thorndike’s book] he urged the deconstruction of emphasis on ‘intellectual resources’ for the young, advice that was largely taken by school people over the years.”

Gatto admits to being a past student and purveyor of behaviorism —you’ll find a story or two in the chapter titled, “The Empty Child” —which clearly taught him some unintended lessons about real people and the ways they act.

After demolishing educational theories that assume that man is little more than an animal, Gatto turns to the alternative: The spiritual side of man. His chapter titled “Absolute Absolutism” is a significant investigation into the nature of man, free will, and ultimate purpose. A key paragraph will give you an idea of where this leads: “The ancient religious question of free will marks the real difference between schooling and education. Education is conceived in Western history as a road to knowing yourself and through that knowledge arriving at a further understanding of community, relationships, jeopardy, living nature, and inanimate matter. But none of those things has any particular meaning until you see what they lead up to, finally being in full command of the spectacular gift of free will: a force completely beyond the power of science to understand. With the tool of free will, anyone can forge a personal purpose.”

Gatto labels the godless, behavioristic schools as “psychopathic.” The language sounds a little strong until you consider the events of the past eight years or so, beginning at Columbine High School in Colorado: A perfect example of psychopathic behavior. Having witnessed years of social pathology in schools —some of which he shares in vignettes about different students  — Gatto speaks with the authority of experience when he lists eight pathological results of modern schooling (which I list in greatly abbreviated form):

1) “children indifferent to the adult world of values and accomplishment,”

2) “children with almost no curiosity” and short spans of attention,

3) “children with a poor sense of the future . . . who live in a continuous present,”

4) “children with no sense of the past,”

5) “children who lack compassion,”

6) children who can’t stand intimacy or frankness and masquerade behind fabricated personalities,

7) materialistic children,

8) “dependent children who grow up to be whining, terrified, dependent adults. . . ”

Gatto describes the results of pathological schooling as a “conspiracy against ourselves.” In one of the most significant insights of this book, Gatto charges those who believe that the system is “fixable” with being part of the conspiracy: “Before you can reach a point of effectiveness in defending your children or your principles against the assault of blind social machinery, you have to stop conspiring against yourself by attempting to negotiate with a set of abstract principles and rules which by its nature cannot respond. Under all its disguises that is what institutional schooling is, an abstraction which has escaped its handlers. Nobody can reform it. First you have to realize that the values you cherish are the stuff of madness to a system. In systems-logic the schools we have are already the schools the system needs. The only way they could be improved is to have kids eat, sleep, live and die there.”

Gatto opens his chapter on “The Politics of Schooling with a quote from Elwood Cubberly: “Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.” He then proceeds to demonstrate how this came about. He identifies three categories of “players in the school game”: government agencies, active special interests (e.g., Carnegie and Ford Foundations, Businessmen’s Roundtable), and the knowledge industry (e.g., teacher-training colleges, researchers, testing organizations).

For all these players, schooling is an excuse to raid the public pocketbook to push their own agendas. They do this through the political process. Such efforts have resulted in conscious, carefully-orchestrated manipulation of society. Manipulation and control actually prove that schools have been successful in achieving the goals for which they were designed in spite of opinions among the general population to the contrary. As Gatto says, “The system isn’t broken so no amount of repair will fix it.”

Gatto’s stories about Benson and Walden, small towns in Vermont, serve as living proof that schooling exists to support agendas other than those of parents and local communities. He tells about the forced elimination of one-room schools that were both efficient and effective, in favor of a more expensive, centralized school in Walden.

In Benson, taxpayers revolted over outrageous costs of education in their new modern school; they weren’t pleased with supporting at least 18 full-time staff to teach 137 children. Political manipulation and dishonesty were used to create schools in both instances, which probably has something to do with the fact that Vermont’s per capita cost for education (in 1995) was well above average for even government schools at $6,500.

At the end of this chapter Gatto says, “As schooling encroaches further and further into family and personal life, monopolizing the development of mind and character, children must become human resources at the disposal of whatever form of governance is dominant at the moment. That in turn confers a huge advantage on the leadership of the moment, allowing it to successfully reproduce itself and foreclose the strength of its competitors.” I suspect that if you have any lingering doubts about the folly of allowing government to be involved in schooling, you will have abandoned them by the time you finish this chapter.

Homeschoolers have already answered the question posed in the chapter titled, “What is an Education?” Gatto uses many illustrations from the Amish to applaud real education that supports one’s own view of life and its purpose. The next chapter is a continuation on this theme, addressing the role of teachers. Gatto says, “Teachers are agents…they sell ritual procedures and memorization as ‘Science’ to kids who will never know any better. A different kind of teacher would set out to help kids design original experiments, test hypotheses, predict from theory, search for truth. Imagine millions of children unleashed to follow the road to discovery in millions of uniquely personal ways, a breathtaking image. Of course, any teacher who really did that would be hunted down like a wild animal and shot.”

He goes on to describe real teachers as teachers who teach “who they are,” helping children to learn important things about themselves and about life.

Gatto continues with encouragement to “break out of the trap.” Dropping out of school might actually be a good thing. If Gatto is correct, schools are purposely keeping young people in suspended immaturity to keep them out of the job market and complete their indoctrination.

He addresses fears about “earning a living” with stories of people he knows who defy all classical stereotypes —young people and adults who found better ways to learn what they needed to know than what schools told them.

Gatto quotes Bertrand Russell (from his book Authority and the Individual) to make a point that summarizes a key theme of this entire book. “. . . [P]resent tendencies toward centralization may well prove too strong to be resisted ‘until they have led to disaster.’ Perhaps, said Russell, ‘the whole system must break down, with all the inevitable results of anarchy and poverty, before human beings can again acquire that degree of personal freedom without which life loses its savor. I hope that this is not the case, but it certainly will be the case unless the danger is realized and unless vigorous measures are taken to combat it.”

Gatto ends with a list of 13 radical suggestions for changing the direction of schooling and a challenge: We can follow the lead of the English General Braddock to a “regression to a royal destiny we escaped three lifetimes ago” by rejecting freedom and choosing the authoritarian security and control of the State. Or we can follow the example of George Washington who rejected the lure of Empire and control, choosing freedom and self-responsibility.

He relates stories of true community —the old lady who wasn’t afraid to scold young John for shooting a bird with his BB rifle, and earned his respect in the process. Learning moral values was the result of “rubbing shoulders with men and women who cared about things other than what money bought….” He says, “They talked to me. Have you noticed nobody talks to children in schools?” Impersonal, instrumental commands take the place of real interaction between adults and children in schools.

Gatto’s own classically dysfunctional family, the uncertainty and occasional unheralded uprootings that he experienced, surprisingly, serve as evidence of the importance of true community in helping children develop a moral base. Gatto strenuously challenges the impersonal, government-directed “village” as a substitute for real-life communities.

Gatto learned some of his most important life lessons in the real world. Because of that, he rebelled against the artificiality and rigid control of the school system in favor of trying to teach kids as individuals.

Gatto’s ideas about schooling are sometimes ambivalent. A year spent at Xavier Academy, a Jesuit boarding school, revealed the contrast between the “watery brain diet of government schooling” and education that assumes children have the dignity, free will, and power to choose right over wrong. Gatto writes, “Materialistic schooling, which is all public schooling even at its best can ever hope to be, operates as if personality changes are ultimately caused externally, by applications of theory and by a skillful balancing of rewards and punishments. The idea individuals have free will which supersedes any social programming is anathema to the very concept of forced schooling.” At the same time, Gatto recognizes the harshness in some of his experiences at Xavier Academy, especially for a seven and eight-year old boy. Weighing the “good and the bad” he says, “Had it not been for Xavier I might have passed my years as a kind of freethinker by default, vaguely aware an overwhelming percentage of the entire human race did and said things about a God I couldn’t fathom. How can I reconcile that the worst year of my life left behind a dimension I should certainly have been poorer to have missed?”

Share

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Our Students Finish on Average Two Grades Ahead

With GiftedandTalented.com, Kindergarten through 12th grade students have access to premier online and adaptive learning tools developed by Stanford University, in a variety of subjects including Mathematics, English Language Arts and Writing, Physics, Computer Science and more.

 

A recent study found that GiftedandTalented.com’s Tutor Supported K-7 Mathematics program helps students advance an average of two complete grade levels beyond their chronological grade. The Independent Study Mathematics program helps students accelerate one full grade level. “The findings of this analysis are truly extraordinary, yet they confirm what we have known for some time: Our courses are uniquely effective at accelerating students toward mathematical mastery, ultimately helping them meet their maximum potential,” said Matthew Mugo Fields, Founder and President of GifttedandTalented.com.

 

Our courses support all types of learners.

GiftedandTalented.com offers a Tutor Supported curriculum that provides students with their very own Stanford-trained tutor. These tutors mentor students, guiding them through the courseware and coaching parents on study tips and learning strategies. Tutors are passionate and experienced educators in their subjects and work with students through email, phone, chat, video conversations and online digital classrooms. Often, tutors work with students throughout the school years, creating educational bonds that extend beyond academic studies.

Independent Study courses are best suited for self-motivated advanced learners. Here, students can work on their own, advancing as quickly as they can or slowing down and focusing on foundational knowledge when needed, via the patent-pending adaptive technology.

Join the thousands of students who benefited from adaptive learning technology.

Built on a foundation of over 50 years of research at Stanford University, GiftedandTalented.com has helped thousands of students with its adaptive learning program. Students have shown to score higher on average—in some cases by 45 percent—on standardized achievement tests, compared to those outside the program.

What courses should students start with?

Younger students are encouraged to start with GiftedandTalented.com’s award-winning EPGY K-7 Mathematics and English Language Arts & Writing courses. These courses include a personalized curriculum, progress reporting and an introductory, digital classroom session. Based on the age and ability of the children, they are automatically placed into the appropriate grade level. More advanced students should review our Tutor Supported courses in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Computer Programming.

Enrollment periods are three months at a time and can be automatically renewed to ensure ample time to complete courses or grade levels. Courses can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer and many mobile/tablet devices, so students can learn at home, in school, or on the road.

As the premier online community for advanced learners, GiftedandTalented.com also shares ideas and resources on its website for gifted families. Built by education specialists, Challenge Zone engages students with fun and interesting math and logic games. Current students and alumni are featured under Spotlight for accomplishments both in and out of the classroom. Expert Picks is curated weekly, to provide parents with relevant articles, events, apps and additional resources, to support the development of their child. GiftedandTalented.com recognizes the need to build community around gifted and talented students and looks forward to supporting the growth for each exceptional learner.

Enroll in our Stanford research-based online K-12 courses today!
Receive up to 20% off tuition when you use promo code ORANGE and join our automatic renewal program. (Expires 12/13/14)

Share

, , , , ,

No Comments