Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Not to Panic Anyone But...

If you've got any of the following symptoms call your doctor:

Any unusual changes in your breast including redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange).
If you're nursing a baby, don't just assume that it's a clogged duct or mastitis that will clear up on its own. I'm guilty of having done that with DS. Fortunately, it was just a clogged duct in that case but I still ought to have called my doctor. Especially be concerned if your baby refuses to nurse from that side.

WhyMommy over at "Toddler Planet" was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer back in June. She has an almost 3 year old and a 6 month old and is now undergoing chemotherapy- please keep her & her family in your prayers!

(HT: MC Milker over at "The Not Quite Crunchy Parent")

10 on Tuesday: 10 Countries I'd Like to Visit

The theme of this week's 10 on Tuesday is "10 countries I'd like to visit". I got a chance to travel overseas a bit in my teens and hope to be in a position to do some more soon. In alphabetical order, here are some countries I hope to visit someday:

1. Australia
2. Austria
3. Belize
4. China
5. Czech Republic
6. Germany
7. Hungary. Note: I made a bone-head mistake when I first posted this, thinking that Budapest was in Romania. That would be Bucharest, duh!8. Ireland
9. Israel

10. Russia
Where would you like to visit?

Carnival of Homeschooling #83 is Up!

Summer over at "Mom is Teaching" is hosting this week's 83rd "Carnival of Homeschooling: School Physical Edition". She did an excellent job, and as always there is a multitude of intriguing posts!

Monday, July 30, 2007

For Women Who Love to Read

Leticia over at "Cause of Our Joy" gave a heads-up to a call for submissions for an anthology entitled Women Who Love to Read, the proceeds of which will benefit the University of Alberta [Canada] Pain Center. Those selected for inclusion will receive a copy of the anthology and the knowledge that they are helping patients in need. Details are listed over at "Rickety Contrivances".

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ron Paul Supports Homeschooling!

I know he's got a snowball's chance in Hades of winning the election, but Congressman Ron Paul absolutely has the right idea when it comes to education. Here are some great quotes from him:

"I am absolutely convinced that the key to an educationally prosperous nation is found not in a federal government program, but in the right of parents - consulting with teachers and local administrators - to effectively utilize their moral responsibility for their children. By so doing, we will foster a philosophy of independence, self-reliance, and local responsibility; a philosophy which will permeate our classrooms and our government."

"One of my main goals in Congress is to return control over our children's education to parents and teachers in Texas and across America. Unfortunately, as the federal government continues to increase its influence over education, the role of parents and teachers becomes more and more limited. Over the last 30 years, this increased federal control has proven harmful to education standards while wasting taxpayer dollars. I believe that parents and teachers can better educate our children than federal education bureaucrats and politicians."

"Each time we are presented with a new education proposal from Washington, it involves another layer of harmful federal bureaucracy. No big-government spending program can or will solve our nation's education problems. One-size-fits-all programs simply do not work. I want to give parents the freedom to choose the best options for their children. I want teachers to know that their services are valuable to our nation without making them subservient to federal bureaucrats. And I want to encourage local residents to get involved with their local schools through educational programs and scholarship funds. My agenda of returning control over education dollars to the American people is the best way to strengthen public education."
I call on the other candidates to embrace a similar philosophy when it comes to education!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The BlogHers Act Issue is "Global Health"

At the 2007 BlogHer conference in Chicago yesterday, the BlogHers Act issue was unveiled: "Global Health".

This is definitely an extremely important issue than needs to be addressed both here in the U.S. and around the world. The biggest challenge here in America is how to ensure affordable coverage is available to everyone without hurting quality or timely access to needed services. Having endured 5 years of the military healthcare system, I wouldn't wish socialized medicine to become the norm.

If physician compensation is capped at the rate that military doctors and doctors in countries with single-payer healthcare systems receive (in France the average physician salary is a mere $55k/year), you'd find a huge "brain drain" out of the profession into more lucrative careers. We've experienced this type of "brain drain" before- in the teaching profession. As soon as better-paying opportunities opened up for bright young women (including medicine), there was a marked decline in the quality of those entering the profession. Cap physician salaries and many of the best and brightest would choose to become lawyers, investment bankers, management consultants, etc. instead. It's a simple matter of pure economics.

Also, are Americans willing to tolerate long waiting lists for access to needed services? According to recent data about the National Health Service in the UK, 52% of patients have to wait 18 weeks or longer for needed services. In many cases, the wait exceed a full year! In Canada, the average wait time is 17.9 weeks (starting to see a pattern here?) and would be even longer if affluent Canadians did not travel to the U.S. for treatment.

The only time I've ever had trouble getting timely access to services was, you guessed it, when I was covered by the military system. I had a suspicious lump in my breast back in 2000 and was told I'd need to wait 5 weeks for a biopsy. That was unacceptable to me, so I decided to pay out-of-pocket for a 2nd opinion from a breast oncologist in private practice. He was able to get me in to see him within a matter of days AND was able to tell just from a clinical exam & ultrasound that the lump was benign (unlike the incompetent Army doctor who recommended the biopsy).

A huge thing that would help contain healthcare costs is tort reform. Malpractice suits drive up costs both directly and indirectly by encouraging the practice of "defensive medicine". An example of this is the overuse of Cesarean sections by OB-GYN's. Almost 1/3 of deliveries are now via C-section when the World Health Organization recommends the rate be no more than 15%.

Another way to contain healthcare costs would be to limit pharmaceutical marketing. Only 22% of employees of pharmaceutical companies work in research & development; by contrast, 39% work in marketing. In her book The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, Dr. Marcia Angell of Harvard Medical School notes that the top U.S. drug makers spend about 2.5 times as much on marketing and administration as they do on R&D. In 2004, 11 major pharmaceutical companies spent the following:

CompanyMarketing costsResearch and Development
Pfizer$16.90 billion$7.68 billion
GlaxoSmithKline$12.93 billion$5.20 billion
Sanofi-Aventis$5.59 billion$9.26 billion
Johnson & Johnson$15.86 billion$5.20 billion
Merck$7.35 billion$4.01 billion
Novartis$8.87 billion$4.21 billion
AstraZeneca$7.84 billion$3.80 billion
Hoffman La Roche$7.24 billion$4.01 billion
Bristol-Myers Squibb$6.43 billion$2.50 billion
Wyeth$5.80 billion$2.46 billion
Abbott Labs$4.92 billion$1.70 billion

Media outlets wouldn't like it, but I see no reason why there needs to be ANY direct-to-consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals. Here's some startling statistics courtesy of the Organic Consumers Association website article "The Great Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising Con". Between 1999 and 2000, prescriptions for the 50 most heavily advertised drugs rose six times faster than prescriptions for all other drugs, according to Katharine Greider's book, The Big Fix. Sales of those fifty intensively promoted drugs were responsible for almost half the increase in Americans' overall drug spending that year. Spending on direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising was $7.5 billion in 2005, a more than 1200% increase in one decade (the FDA changed its rules about drug ads in 1997). A study done by Kaiser Permanente found that 30% of those surveyed had requested a prescription for an advertised drug from their doctor. Nearly half had received the requested prescription, even though there are often cheaper alternatives that are equally effective.

Marketing to physicians should also be sharply curtailed. Journal advertisements are fine to a certain extent but there is no reason that pharmaceutical companies should be spending $7,000 per doctor on direct marketing. For an eye-opening look at some of the outrageous practices read "Following the Script: How Drug Reps Make Friends and Influence Doctors" from the Public Library of Science: Medicine journal.

If there was reform of pharmaceutical marketing and malpractice torts, that would go a long way to reducing healthcare costs in America without needing to institute socialized medicine.

Yet Another Reason to Homeschool...

Through the "Thursday Thirteen" meme, I discovered a very interesting blog called "Unabridged Opinions". The lady who writes it is named Jennie S. and she teaches middle school in San Diego. I believe she's an English teacher because she talks a lot about literature but I'm not 100% certain about that. Anyways, she wrote a post a few weeks ago that just gave me one of those "Thank you Lord for allowing me to be in a position to homeschool" moments when I read it:

"I had spent significant amounts of time during the school year trying to convince my principal, other teachers, and even a few parents that READING was the point of the class--not some sort of mystical demonstration of 'rigor'. I had a particularly tough week when I was being told that I should model my classroom after another teacher who is termed the 'worksheet queen'. This, in my department, is a term of endearment. The woman has a worksheet for everything, and her students get very, very good at filling them out. I find it really difficult to work that way, and I have a hard time convincing myself that time spent working on worksheets is better than time spent reading or talking about books."

And people wonder why so many former public schoolteachers decide to homeschool their own children...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm"....

I've seen a bunch of recommendations recently for the book Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons on Classical homeschooling websites & email lists. So I decided to borrow it from the library today.

As I turned to the table of contents, I was very excited to see that chapter 1 is entitled "Bent Twigs and Trees Inclined"! Imagine my surprise when on page 34, Mr. Simmons attributes the quote not to Virgil but to Alexander Pope:
"'Tis education forms the common mind. Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined."
Alexander Pope lived roughly 17 centuries after Virgil. So either Pope ripped off Virgil or the quote was falsely attributed to Virgil. I was able to find the Bartlett's Quotations citation of Pope's quote: Moral Essays, Epistle I, line 149. By contrast, Bartlett's does not list the quote in their selection of Virgil's quotes. It's all over the 'net as being attributed to him, but none of them contain a full citation of where it supposedly came from.

I still like the quote no matter who originally said it, but perhaps a revision of my header is in order!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TT: 13 Books I Have Read in 2007

Thirteen BOOKS I HAVE READ IN 2007

I've been a voracious reader ever since I can remember. My mom says I taught myself to read at age 3 and from then on it's been one of my favorite leisure activities. Here are some of the books I've read so far in 2007 and some brief thoughts on each.

1. Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home by Dr. Pamela Stone. Excellent study of why so many highly educated women leave successful careers to become stay-at-home-moms. Contrary to the media portrayal of it being by choice and emblematic of a "new traditionalism", Dr. Stone shows how many of them quit reluctantly because they were unable to find positions offering part-time/flexible hours, interesting work, and potential for career advancement.

2. Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child by Alissa Quart. Interesting but frustrating book. Problem #1 with the book is that Ms. Quart is childless, so she second-guesses what parents are doing without ever having been in that position herself. Reminds me of that great title I saw of a recently-published book: I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids. I'd like to see whether Ms. "Holier-than-Thou" Quart get a bit more sympathy when she has her own child(ren). She also lumps together a bunch of different issues that don't really have all that much to do with each other. It's like she can't decide what the focus of her book is- true prodigies, garden-variety gifted kids, or the average IQ offspring of affluent parents.

3. The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Dr. Madeline Levine. Excellent read for any parent trying to raise children in an affluent neighborhood.

4. The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School by Dr. Neil Postman. Thought-provoking but I did not agree with the author's emphasis on "social cohesion" over individual needs in education.

5. "Doing School": How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Kids by Denise Pope. Very interesting profile of how traditional schools, particularly ones in affluent areas, foster a hypercompetitive atmosphere detrimental to true learning.

6. Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Should Teach by Dr. Nel Noddings. Thought-provoking but scary. I found the book to very full of deliberate misinformation about Christianity. The author keeps claiming that she wants to foster "critical thinking" but what she means by that is teaching skepticism towards beliefs with which she disagrees and indoctrination of impressionable young minds in furtherance of her own agenda. This book should be required reading for Christian parents who have children in government-run schools!

7. Reclaiming Childhood: Letting Our Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented Society by Dr. William Crain. I don't agree with everything that the author says, as he's a bit on the permissive side for my tastes. He definitely appears to hold a Rousseauian view of human nature that I do not share. But Dr. Crain does make some excellent points in the book.

8. The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins. This is very similar to the Denise Pope book mentioned above and just reinforced my desire to keep my kids away from such an unhealthy atmosphere in traditional schools.

9. Tough Choices or Tough Times: The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce Report by the National Center on Education and the Economy. Definitely not an easy read, but it got a lot of press earlier in the year about the commission's recommendation to end high school in 10th grade for most kids. It contains some interesting ideas but I very much disagree with the vocational focus and the recommendation for universal government preschool. Also, I'm not convinced that the average student is ready for college at 15 or 16.

10. God's Universe by Dr. Owen Gingerich. Another one that is not an easy read as it's written by a Harvard professor of astrophysics adapted from lectures he gave on science & faith. But it's an excellent work on how the two fields are complementary, and some of the evidence for why Dr. Gingerich believes that the universe shows Design.

11. Homeschooling- Take a Deep Breath, You Can Do It! by Terrie Lynn Bittner. I've read a bunch of intro to homeschooling books and this is by far the best! She is very down-to-earth and reassuring unlike certain other authors whose tone comes off as pretty intimidating. She also deals with issues that are pretty common but not generally discussed in homeschooling books such as how to convince a skeptical spouse and how to defuse rivalry between homeschooled and traditionally-schooled siblings. I also appreciated how Mrs. Bittner recognized the importance of religion/spirituality in homeschooling without advocating any one particular faith. The problem I have with most homeschooling books is that they either completely ignore religion or else they are written from a certain worldview (typically fundamentalism). Mrs. Bittner's book is religiously neutral, but recognizes the centrality of faith to the homeschooling of many families.

12. Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card. I took a break from the parenting & education non-fiction genres to read this latest novel in the Ender series. While it's not my favorite in the series, I did find it entertaining.

13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. Another foray into fiction from one of my favorite series.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
*Please note that I take no responsibility for the content of other blogs*

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Pope Benedict XVI Speaks Out on Evolution

The more I hear from Pope Benedict XVI, the more I like him! I'll admit that I was a bit unsure of him when he took over from John Paul II because he seemed to lack the warmth of his predecessor. However, I've come to believe that he is absolutely the right pontiff for a post-9/11 world. With Christianity under attack from militant Islam and also secularism, we need a strong defender of the Faith.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to around 400 priests in the Diocese of Belluno and Feltre in Italy. He vigorously defended the idea that Reason and Faith are complementary ways of knowledge:
Christians believe that human beings are special precisely because they have a capacity for puzzling over and groping for meaning in a way that goes well beyond concern for their material needs.

"Our being is open," [Pope Benedict XVI] said. "It can hear the voice of being itself -- the voice of God. The greatness of the human person lies precisely in the fact that he is not closed in on himself, he is not reduced to concern about the material and quantifiable, but has an interior opening to the things that are essential, has the possibility of listening."

Pope Benedict also told the priests that evolution and the existence of God the creator should not be seen as two ideas in strict opposition to one another.

"Evolution exists, but it is not enough to answer the great questions," such as how human beings came to exist and why human beings have an inherent dignity, he said.

Father Lombardi said the pope had told the priests that when they encounter young people who think science has all the answers and they do not need God, priests should help them see "the great harmony of the universe" and ask if science alone can explain how it all works together and leads to such beauty.

"A world without God would become a world of the arbitrary," the pope told the priests.
This is what makes me glad to be Catholic! We are not forced to ignore science in the name of faith, but realize that they answer different questions. Science deals with "efficient" causes (HOW something happens) while faith deals with "final" causes (WHY something happens). To use Dr. Owen Gingerich's example from God's Universe, it's the difference between saying that water is boiling because it has been heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and saying that the water is boiling because I want to make a cup of tea.

Video Games & Stand-Up Comedy as Academic Disciplines?

I thought the proposed revamping of the British national middle-school curriculum was bad, but this is utterly ridiculous!

In place of traditional subjects such as history, 14-year-olds will be able to take a media course in which they examine 'the historical development of computer games'.

Sixth-formers taking the advanced media diploma will be encouraged to 'critically respond to a range of computer games' and discuss why enthusiasts like playing them.

Other suggested activities include printing banners for a party and performing stand-up comedy routines.

Okay, designing computer games is a valid academic pursuit. Programming, digital animation, and multimedia skills are in demand and I have no problem with them being taught as electives in schools. But the history of video games? Stand-up comedy? Makes one wonder what Schools Secretary Ed Ball has been smoking...
Alan Smithers, a professor of education at Buckingham University, warned: "The purpose of the diplomas is deeply confused. The concept is academic learning through applied knowledge but it means diplomas are neither one thing nor the other. They have been dreamed up by bureaucrats and are not sufficiently demand-led by employers."
I'm leery of letting corporate interests dictate what students in government-schools study, but Professor Smithers has a point. Students need to have a diploma that is worth something to potential employers.

CHBM: We All Scream for Ice Cream

The folks over at Crazy Hip Blog Mamas have decided to change the name of the CHBM Carnival to the CHBM "Collaboration". I suspect it's because there is no official host like most blog carnivals have. Anyways, the theme of this week's 41st edition of the collaboration/carnival is "ice cream".

As I did a MommyCommunity "Friday Fave" about my favorite ice cream flavor a couple weeks ago, I'll relate my favorite ice cream anecdote.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I got a major craving late one evening for ice cream. Now, I could've easily just run down to the local 24-hr convenience store for some Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry's. But no, I had a craving for some homemade ice cream. Problem was, I did not own an ice cream maker. So I fired up the old computer, surfed on over to Cooking.com and bought one. I paid up the wazoo for rush shipping but I didn't care. This is what hormones will do to a woman! I got it a day-and-a-half later and was very annoyed to find out that I had to chill the bowl for 24 hours before I could use it :-(

I can distinctly remember the taste of the strawberry ice cream I made when the bowl was finally ready. I don't think ice cream has ever tasted so good to me!

That was 5 years ago now, and I've only occasionally used the ice cream maker since. It's actually been up at my parents' vacation condo since last summer. I'll have to bring it back with me when we go visit them in a few weeks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Homeschool Meme- "Tell About Your Homeschool"

Jacque from "Seeking Rest in the Ancient Paths" has started a new homeschool meme called "Tell Me About Your Homeschool"

I started homeschooling (years ago or year)

Last September.

I homeschool __ of my children

Both of my children. DD will be in kindergarten and DS I'm just very gently introducing him to basic preschool concepts like colors, shapes, numbers, letters, body parts, animals, etc.

I teach my children to read at age(specific age or not?)

I look for readiness signs, but I would get concerned if the child was not reading by age 7 or so.

A few of my most favorite homeschool teaching resources are:

Library card, family memberships to museums, The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding, RightStart Math games & manipulatives.

Do you write out goals for school each year?

Well, I started them but have not yet finished. I've been having a hard time figuring out what are realistic goals for my DD since her abilities are all over the map.

What time do you start school each day? Do you have a specific schedule?

Mid-morning usually. Right now we're pretty informal, but I'm planning to make things a bit more formal since DD will be in kindergarten. Right now the plan is for daily instruction in religion, language arts, and math; history 3x/wk; and science 2x/wk.

I have used ___ math programs. My favorite is:

We have not yet started formal math instruction but are planning to use Right Start Math Level B in the fall.

I have used ___ science programs. My favorite is:

We have not yet started a formal science program. We're going to be studying biology next year using "living books" and hands-on experiments from Biology for Every Kid and The Human Body for Every Kid by Janice Van Cleave.

I have used ___ grammar/english programs. My favorite is:

We used The Writing Road to Reading by Romalda Spalding for phonics. I'm planning to use First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Language of God Level A from Catholic Heritage Curricula next year. I looked at Michael Clay Thompson's grammar series from Royal Fireworks Press but they seem just a bit too advanced for DD right now. We'll probably use them after we finish FLL.

I have used ___ history programs. My favorite is:

We have not yet started formal history study. I looked at a bunch of different programs but couldn't find a complete one I liked. So I'm putting together a bunch of unit studies in chronological order.

What months do you homeschool during?

I'm planning to homeschool year-round but go lighter in the summer and during Advent.

Favorite homeschool method?

A hybrid of neo-Classical and Charlotte Mason. The two approaches really complement each other IMHO. I like CM's emphasis on "living books", short lessons, hands-on activities, nature walks, narration, and copywork. I like neo-Classical's emphasis on the Great Works, memorizing math facts and spelling & grammar rules, the 4-yr cycles in history and science, and the early introduction of Latin and logic.

Do you/plan to homeschool all the way through high school?

We'll cross that bridge when we come to it! I like what I hear about Stanford's EPGY on-line high school so that may be an option for homeschooling them through high school.

Have you noticed specific learning styles in each child?

Yes. DD is much more social than DS. She wants to discuss things, while he wants to be left alone to figure things out for himself. She's also more verbal while he's more mechanically inclined.

Do you keep specific or general records? Or none, really?

Here in CA the official records are minimal, but I'm going to be keeping a portfolio for our own purposes.

Do you teach Bible, art, journaling, phys. ed.?

The Bible is definitely part of both our study of religion and of history. Creative art and physical fitness are done on a daily basis but are not formal subjects. DD takes a dance class and will be on a soccer team this fall plus we're probably going to do swimming lessons too. I don't think we're going to be doing journaling just yet.

Where do you like to shop for homeschool books and resources?

Emmanuel Books, Catholic Heritage Curricula, Our Lady of Victory, Ignatius Press, Rainbow Resource, Amazon, Teacher Created Resources, Learning Through History, Calliope.

What resources have you been itching to try?

  • History Links- I'm planning to use their "Early Medieval" unit and hopefully their "Late Medieval" unit will be available by the time we get to that part of history.
  • RC History's "Connecting with History"- I'm planning to use their Volume 2 assuming it's finished by the time we get to that part of history.
  • Minimus Latin
  • Michael Clay Thompson's books
  • CTY and EPGY courses

*Do you use and/or like to use E-books?*

I have not yet used any, but I would consider them.

Do you have anything to add?

I'm going to be trying to teach DD chess using WinterPromise's "Knights of the Square Table" curriculum. Should be interesting as my dad tried to teach me chess as a kid but I just never got into it. I keep reading though about research showing chess makes children smarter so it's worth giving a shot!

82nd Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is Up!

"Tami's Blog" is hosting the "82nd Carnival of Homeschooling: State Flower edition" this week. Very pretty theme!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Whose Brains are "Wired for Success"?

"Girls must resist their brains' innate biology if they are to be happy and successful."

That's the provocative message of Dr. JoAnn Deak, school psychologist and author of Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters as quoted in the Australian newspaper The Age.

Dr. Deak claims that
"the brain function of girls can hold them back and damage their self-esteem."
How she comes to that conclusion is a bit of a stretch.
"The part of the brain known as the amygdala, which regulates survival reactions, is more active in girls, making them, on average, more fearful when faced with challenges. Conversely, boys respond to threats with a surge of testosterone, which, she says, makes them more competitive and aggressive."
No problems with this from a neurobiology standpoint, but notice that she uses the word "challenges" when talking about girls and "threats" when talking about boys.
"Boys tend to be less afraid, she says, as their prefrontal cortex, which mediates inappropriate risks and thinks about rational details, is not mature, plus there is a testosterone surge. In contrast, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex of girls becomes more active."
Dr. Deak clearly considers the male response to be preferable, but this recklessness is a major reason why teenaged boys have significantly higher rates than teenaged girls of car crashes, juvenile delinquency, dropping out of school, homicide, and suicide. Overall, the mortality rate for adolescent males is more than twice than that of adolescent females.

As a parent, it seems to me that the caution of teen girls is generally more conducive to success than the recklessness of teen boys.

If one believes in human evolution, it makes sense for male brains to be less risk-averse than female brains. Early hunter-gatherer tribes were polygamous, where a few high-status men had the lions' share of reproductive opportunities and many men had none. Men, therefore, had little to lose and much to gain by taking risks. By contrast, women tended to all have very similar reproductive opportunities so long as they survived to adulthood.

Here in America, we like to hear stories of people who took risks and had them pay off- the Bill Gates and Sergey Brins who drop out of school to start their own companies and wind up billionaires. We don't like to hear about people who gambled and lost. Statistically, however, the number of young men in jail or hurt/killed as a result of recklessness FAR exceeds the number of startup successes.

Perhaps Dr. Deak is focusing her efforts on the wrong gender!

The 8th Homeschooling Country Fair is Up!

Meg L. has done a great job with this month's edition of the Homeschooling Country Fair. The theme is "Post about the 'other' activities in your life." Happy reading!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Whose Fault is it That Teen Sex Rates Have Stopped Declining?

Just as the debate heats up in Congress over funding for abstinence-only sex ed programs, the Washington Post has an article entitled "Teen Sex Rates Stop Falling, Data Show".

According to a new Centers for Disease Control analysis requested by the WP, the percentage of teenagers having sex began to plateau in 2001 after falling steadily for more than a decade.

John Santelli of Columbia University found similar results in his research, comparing the trends between 1991-1997 and from 1999-2005. "It seems clear that the trend seems to be faltering in the most recent period of time," he told the WP.

Dr. Santelli is among the many in the WP article insinuating that abstinence-only sex ed programs are failures:
"At a certain point, it becomes really hard to change basic human behaviors. I think what we're seeing is the limits of the emphasis on abstinence as the primary message."
The WP article notes that 2001, the year that teen sex rates began to plateau, was also the year that the Bush administration began its push for expansion of abstinence-only programs. There is only one brief mention in the WP article of cultural factors:
"Teenagers today live in an MTV-driven culture and are bombarded by sexual messages that say it is normative for them to get involved sexually," said Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council. "We need a message that sexual experimentation as a teenager is unhealthy."
It is clear that pop culture has become even more oversexualized in the past decade, and the message has been aimed at a much younger audience than in previous years. This has been epitomized by the "Bratz" dolls, which debuted in 2001. Is it any wonder that the generation raised on Bratz dolls and idolization of "party girls" like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is having difficulty rejecting the societal glorification of casual sex?

Also, there is NO discussion in the entire article about parental attitudes towards teen sex. Since teen sex rates rose dramatically in the 1970's and 1980's, it stands to reason that the parents of today's teens are much more likely to have had teen sex themselves than the parents of earlier generations. Are the Baby Boomer parents of today's teens more permissive towards teen sex as a result?

Research has shown that teens whose parents clearly convey their disapproval of teen sex are significantly more likely to remain virgins at age 18 than those whose parents do not. Are fewer of today's teens receiving that message than in the past?

I did a Google search, and was unable to find any research on whether parental attitude towards teen sex has become more permissive. Anecdotally, it seems like it has. Wendy Shalit profiles several young women whose moms put pressure on them to be more sexual in her book Girls Gone Mild. The attitude I've personally encountered among many Baby Boomers takes it for granted that teens will have sex.

This WP article is so typical of the bias against traditional values in the elite media. If it were clearly labeled an op-ed piece, it would be okay for the author to "spin" the data to support his argument against abstinence-only sex ed programs. However, this article was in the national news section! Whatever happened to objectivity, to providing a "fair and balanced" look at things?

Who is truly at fault that teen sex rates have stopped falling- abstinence-only sex ed programs or permissive parents & an oversexualized pop culture? Common sense would place the blame on the latter!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Couldn't Put it Down!

My body's going to hate me for doing this a few hours from now, but I pulled an all-nighter to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. J.K. Rowling is such a good story teller that I just couldn't put the book down!

I'm not going to give any spoilers but let's just say that I was pretty satisfied with the ending. The way she wrapped up some of the storylines were perhaps a bit on the predictable side; however there was one plot development I didn't see coming, which made one of the major characters more interesting IMHO.

Happy reading to those who have not yet finished the book!

Off to Read the New Harry Potter...

Just got back from the release party with my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 784 pages, wow! I know it's a fairly quick read, but still!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Are Home Educators "Self-Absorbed" or Self-Sacrificing?

The May/June issue of Stanford magazine had a first-person column written by home educator and former public schoolteacher Jason Weaver '93. It's a fluff piece, but it elicited a nasty letter to the editor from one Ms. Marilynn Rose. The alumni directory identifies Ms. Rose as a staff member in the Stanford Management Science & Engineering department.

Ms. Rose's letter reads (emphasis mine):

"Jason Weaver’s essay is about him, his wife and their journey in homeschooling. In no way is this decision about their daughter, her needs or her future. Being an aunt of five homeschooled children, I can verify that the self-absorption (and hubris) of the parents is clearly the common denominator among the homeschooled."

Excuse me? The Stanford magazine piece was primarily about Mr. Weaver because that's the point of that particular column! Each issue, there's a first-person account by an alumnus or alumna about some aspect of his/her life after graduation. Mr. Weaver is no more self-absorbed than any other of the column's authors. Probably less so than most because he's not boasting about his career like this issue's guest columnist, who talks about being a writer on the sitcom Frasier, or March's guest columnist, who talked about being a CNN medical correspondent.

Anyways, Ms. Rose obviously has a beef with her sibling/sibling-in-law that probably has very little (if anything) to do with homeschooling per se. If I had to hazard a guess based on her education & occupation, I suspect that Ms. Rose is a "second-wave" feminist who bashes women making different life choices than her. If Ms. Rose's sister/sister-in-law has 5 children, she most likely hold traditionalist religious beliefs, which Ms. Rose likely considers to be "misogynistic" and "backward". So the true objection is probably not about academics but cultural values.

It is infinitely easier to outsource the education of one's children to the government than to take responsibility for it oneself. Parents must sacrifice a lot in order to homeschool- foregone wages of the primary teacher; the money spent on curricular materials and activities; and the time & effort required to do planning, teaching, and documenting. If the parents did not care deeply about the children's education and their future, they would not bother to homeschool. They'd just dump the kids in the local government school like so many other parents do.

I'm certainly not trying to insinuate that *ALL* public school parents are neglectful when it comes to their children's education. Let me make it clear that there are plenty of caring and concerned parents out there! The point I'm trying to make is that the parents who DON'T care are not going to be willing to make the sacrifices needed to homeschool. They will take the path of least effort for them, which is public school enrollment.

Self-absorbed, lazy, and neglectful parents don't homeschool. Only those who actually feel that their children's future is worth the present sacrifices are going to be willing to do so.

Interesting Looking New Book for Current or Future Career "Relaunchers"

I got an interesting email from a lady named Carol Fishman Cohen in response to my post the other day about Leslie Bennetts' The Feminine Mistake: Are Women Giving Up Too Much?

Ms. Cohen is the co-author of a recently published book called
Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-At-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work. While I'm not planning to go back full-time in the near future, it's possible that circumstances may change. We do have life and disability insurance on DH but I'd still probably need to go back at some point should God forbid he be unable to work.

Also, as my children get older, I may decide that I want to relaunch my career. Just because right now I feel it's in my family's best interests for me to be a full-time homemaker doesn't mean I'll always feel that way.

Anyways, I've requested Ms. Cohen's book through the inter-library loan program to see what suggestions it might have for things I can do during this career break that will help should I need or want to reenter the workforce in the future.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sen. Obama Believes Sex Ed for Kindergartners is "Right Thing to Do"

I just saw an unbelievable clip from MSNBC's Hardball (scroll down the page & click on the clip called "'Age appropriate' sex ed & politics") on Sen. Barack Obama's telling Planned Parenthood that he supports "age-appropriate" sex ed for kindergartners. There's been a lot of controversy over what exactly he meant by that, but Sen. Obama's spokesman Bill Burton specifically referenced the Sexuality Information And Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) curriculum.

So what exactly are in the SIECUS guidelines for young children? A lot more information than most parents would want their 4-, 5-, or 6-yr old to know! (Be forewarned that the link contains some pretty graphic language)

I'm not a big fan of Mitt Romney's but he absolutely has the right idea when he said at a Colorado campaign stop:
"How much sex education is age appropriate for a 5-year-old? In my view, zero is the right amount. Instead of teaching about sex education in kindergarten to 5-year-olds let's clean up the ocean of filth, the cesspool in which our children are swimming."

Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser to Romney told ABCNews:
"Let's let our 5-year-olds be 5-year-olds. When students are old enough for sex education they should be taught abstinence as part of their health curriculum and that marriage should come before babies."

Sen. Obama considers himself to be a Christian- so why is he calling on government schools to promote behaviors condemned by Scripture to innocent young children?

It's really too bad that Sen. Obama holds such dangerous beliefs because he seems a very bright and charismatic man :-(

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Thursday Thirteen

Image from "Fond of Snape"
Thirteen Things about ME & HARRY POTTER

1. I'm a huge fan of the series but I've never actually read the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
2. I did not see the Sorcerer's Stone movie until it was on HBO.
3. A bunch of people had tried to convince me that I would love HP but I dismissed it as a kid thing.
4. They were right and I was wrong.
5. I only watched the Sorcerer's Stone movie because DH was away doing some Army training and I was bored.
6. After I saw the movie, I immediately borrowed my mom's copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
7. After I finished that, I wanted to borrow Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban but we searched everywhere and couldn't find it.
8. So I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire next.
9. Some things in #4 had not made sense to me so I bought #3.
10. I recommend reading the books in the proper order, LOL!
11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the first of the series I read at its initial release (late to the party, I know!)
12. I'm taking my 4 3/4 year old DD down to our local bookstore on Friday evening to attend a release party. We'll stay for a couple of hours and then I'm going to put her to bed and go back closer to midnight to pick up my copy of Deathly Hallows.
13. Friday will be the first release party I've ever attended, and I guess the only one unless J.K. Rowling changes her mind & writes another book!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
*Please note that I take no responsibility for the content of other blogs*

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Incorporating My Life Into Homeschooling Rather Than the Other Way 'Round

The theme for the 8th edition of the Homeschooling Country Fair is "post about the 'other' activities in your life." The intent, I suppose, is to show that home educators have a "life" outside of teaching like traditional schoolteachers do.

The thing is, I'm not very good at "compartmentalizing". I don't put on my "teacher's hat" at 8 or 9 A.M. and take it off again at 2 or 3 P.M. We're not "unschoolers" but I do agree with the philosophy the there should be no artificial segregation between "learning" and "living". While we do a certain amount of more formalized lessons, I also look for "teachable moments" as they arise in the course of our day-to-day activities. Pam Sorooshian has a great quote about this:
"Learning is learning whether or not it's planned or recorded or officially on the menu. Calories are calories whether or not the eating is planned or recorded or officially on the menu"
Anyways, I've looked for ways to incorporate my own interests into our homeschool. Many of the things I enjoy are educational in and of themselves- reading, visiting museums, listening to classical music, attending fine arts performances, exploring nature, cooking, and so on. These are things I grew up sharing with my own mom, and in turn I'm now sharing them with my own children. I don't always do them with the kids, of course. I like reading adult books, seeing adult plays, and so on. The specifics obviously differ when I do them with the kids vs. without, but the general activity is the same.

Other hobbies require a bit of adaptation for use in our homeschool. The scrapbooking techniques I use in my photo memory albums can be used to do lapbooking in our homeschool. At least, that's our plan for the upcoming school year! My DD is still a little on the young side so we'll have to play it by ear :-)

Perhaps when my kids get older and more independent, I'll decide to take on an ambitious project such as starting my own business or pursuing a graduate degree. My mother-in-law decided to start a doctoral program in her late 40's when my DH (her oldest) left for college. Right now, however, I'm focusing on my children's academic, social/emotional, life skills, and spiritual education. That's my vocation at this stage of my life. :-)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

R.I.P. Dr. Raymond Moore

I was very sorry to hear from Henry over at "Why Homeschool" and Elena over at "My Domestic Church" that Dr. Raymond Moore passed away last Friday at age 91 after having suffered a massive stroke in June.

While I don't agree 100% with Dr. Moore's educational philosophy, he was one of the pioneers of the modern homeschooling movement. His efforts, along with others such as the HSLDA, helped to make homeschooling legal in all 50 states. I'll end with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Moore:
"In general the best teacher or care-giver cannot match a parent of even ordinary education and experience. No schoolroom can match the simplicity and power of the home in providing three-dimensional, first hand education. The school, not the home, is the substitute, and its highest function is to complement the family. The family is still the social base, and must be, if our society is to survive."

British Christian Loses Appeal to Wear Chastity Ring

Back in May, I discussed how British teen Lydia Playfoot was banned from wearing a chastity ring to school, even though the school allows students of non-Christian faiths to wear religious adornments. She challenged the ban in court on the grounds of religious discrimination. Unfortunately, Deputy High Court Judge Michael Supperstone ruled against her, saying that the purity ring was "not an integral part of the Christian faith".

I agree that a chastity ring is not a required religious adornment, but it is quite clearly an expression of Lydia's Christian faith. It's got a Bible reference engraved upon it (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4) and it's a symbol of her pledge to live by Biblical teaching against premarital sex. How is banning her from wearing it NOT interfering with her freedom of worship, something protected by the European Convention on Human Rights?

After the judge ruled against her, Lydia said:
“I am very disappointed by the decision this morning by the High Court not to allow me to wear my purity ring to school as an expression of my Christian faith not to have sex outside marriage. I believe that the judge’s decision will mean that slowly, over time, people such as school governors, employers, political organizations and others will be allowed to stop Christians from publicly expressing and practicing their faith."
She is considering an appeal of the judge's decision. I hope she does, and I pray that the appeal will be successful!

81st Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is Up!

Dana over at "Principled Discovery" has done a superb job with the 81st Carnival of Homeschooling: Teacher In-Service Edition. Cute theme!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Memo to SAHM Basher Leslie Bennetts...

Eve Tahmincioglu's "Your Career" column on MSNBC.com this week has a feature on former stay-at-home moms who are having difficulty re-entering the work force. She quotes Leslie Bennetts, journalist for Vanity Fair magazine (not exactly a respected scholar) and author of The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up too Much? Ms. Bennetts claims that:
"the majority of women who give up careers to stay home will end up on the wrong side of the odds" pointing to the 50 percent U.S. divorce rate.
Hold it right, there, Ms. Bennetts! For the subset of women being discussed, the divorce rate is NOT 50%. According to research done by sociologist Russell Martin of the University of Maryland, the divorce rate for women holding a bachelor's degree or higher is only 17%. So of the women who've "opted out" (a misnomer as I discussed here), 5 out of 6 will NOT experience a divorce. While there is indeed a risk of divorce, it is not even remotely close to what Ms. Bennetts claims.

It is true that during the 1970's and early 1980's, the divorce rate was much higher than it is today and many Gen X women have bitter memories of their moms struggling to enter the workforce after a divorce. Reading the reviews on Amazon this theme keeps coming up in many of the ones who gave the book a high rating. Times have changed, folks! What your mom experienced in 1970-something is indeed tragic, but not all that relevant to today's generation of SAHM's.

Neither of the letter writers in Ms. Tahmincioglu's column who are trying to re-enter the workforce after a divorce have a college degree. Well, yeah, people with only a high school diploma are going to have a tough time finding decent-paying jobs! That doesn't mean that a highly educated former professional-turned-SAHM is going to face nearly as much difficulty landing a job if she wants (or needs) to go back to work. Yes, she'll likely pay a financial penalty when compared to what she would've been making had she not "off ramped". But a survey done by Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Work Life Policy in New York found that 74% of stay-at-home moms who want to go back are able to. Most who don’t get jobs are looking for part-time or flexible jobs, which are notoriously difficult to find.

Leslie Morgan Steiner made an excellent point in her blog post about Ms. Bennetts' book (emphasis added):
"maybe we [employed moms] want stay-at-home moms to suffer a penalty for taking time off. Moms at home are the devil on every working mother’s shoulders: the women who chose their children over their jobs. Their decisions make us feel guilty about our own. Psychologically, maybe working moms seek to justify the superiority of our own, often guilt-ridden, anxiety-driven choices to continue our careers uninterrupted by disparaging stay-at-home moms for their foolish 'feminine mistakes.'"
Bingo! I've been both an employed mom and a SAHM (I hate the term "working mom" since ALL moms do valuable work, whether or not they earn a paycheck). I have vivid memories of the guilt I felt over having to work full-time outside the home and not being able to be my child's primary caretaker. It strikes me very much as "sour grapes" when Ms. Bennetts and Professor Linda Hirshman bash SAHM's for making different choices than them. Which, as Professor Pam Stone found, these moms often are making reluctantly as a last resort (being "pushed out" rather than truly "opting out").

I'm just finishing up Prof. Stone's book Opting Out? Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home and will post my further thoughts on it soon. Stay tuned...

Politically-Correct Tolerance Training for 3 Year Olds?

The Los Angeles Times has an article today entitled "Nipping Bias in the Bud" about a program operating in 14 cities called A World of Difference Institute. This program started in 1985 as a joint campaign between the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and Boston TV station WCVB to fight prejudice. The AWDI program aims to "teach tolerance, respect and inclusion" to children as young as 3 by "lessons on cultural, racial and religious diversity".

Of course bullying, teasing, and excluding other children on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion are wrong. Children need to learn to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and to love one another regardless of differences. What I find disturbing about the AWDI program is that rather than stressing our common humanity to promote colorblindness, it specifically focuses on differences in an attempt to teach appreciation of and respect for them.

At 3 years old, my DD certainly noticed that her peers did not all look the same. She has friends of a number of different races and ethnicities but we do not focus on skin color any more than other physical characteristics such as eye or hair color. Several of her friends are bi- or multiracial or a combination of very different ethnicities (such as Egyptian/French/Mexican). Why should it be any bigger a deal that her friends F. & K. have a mom with very fair skin and a dad with very dark skin than the fact that her friend W. has a mom with red hair & green eyes and a dad with light brown hair and brown eyes?

Biologists have concluded that race is not a scientifically useful concept. The genetic variation within a given "race" far exceeds the genetic variation between "races". Particularly here in America, genetic composition cannot be predicted from self-reported ancestry. In one study, 30% of subjects who considered themselves to be "white" have less than 90% European ancestry and the typical "black" subject had only 80% African ancestry, with some as low as 20%. Race, therefore, is primarily a social construct.

In today's society, shouldn't we be trying to move beyond past misunderstandings of what surface characteristics like skin color signify? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously spoke of his dream that someday his children would be "judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin." How can we achieve a colorblind society if young children are taught by well-intentioned but misguided programs such as AWDI to focus on differences?

In our homeschool, our children are taught that everyone is equal before the eyes of the Lord. The Gospel reading yesterday was Christ's Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told it in response to the question "Who is my neighbor?" Clearly, the answer is that everyone is our neighbor and deserving of kindness and respect. This is the message I want my children to learn!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Are You a Geography Whiz?

Test your geography knowledge with the online quizzes at "I Like 2 Learn".

The "Game of the Week" this week is "Asian Lakes, Rivers, Bays, and Seas". I found this one a challenge, and only scored 53%.

I did significantly better on the Asian countries quiz, scoring 92.5%. I mixed up Cambodia and Laos, and two of the former Soviet "stans" but I feel those are fairly understandable mistakes since they are neighboring nations.

I got 86% on the "hard" version of the European countries quiz, mostly because I mixed up the various Baltic and Balkan countries. In my defense, these did not exist as free countries when I studied geography in elementary school but rather were part of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, respectfully.

I did score 100% on the U.S. states quiz, woo-hoo!

Charity Begins at Home

Isn't it a wonderful feeling when one gets confirmation that the lessons one is trying to teach one's children don't just go in one ear and out the other?

After Mass, our parish offers coffee & donuts in the community center as a way of encouraging fellowship among parishioners. As a privilege, my children get to have a donut assuming they've behaved themselves during Mass. It's not an explicit bribe, but they do know that we go home straight after Mass without getting one when they are naughty. The Alfie Kohns of the world may object to this practice, but it really does work!

Anyways, we had to get home because DH was going to a networking brunch with a grad school classmate so we took the donuts with us out to the car rather than staying to socialize. I put DS' on top of the bulletin on the car roof while I was getting him into his car seat. A big gust of wind blew them onto the ground. Being 20 mos, he immediately started howling. DD (age 4 3/4) saw that he was upset at the loss of his donut and without anyone prompting her to, offered him the rest of hers! :-)

I was so proud of her for doing this! In our homeschooling, I talk a lot about Christ's teaching us to love one another as He loves us. I try to model kindness and empathy for our children, though being human it can be hard at times. I felt so grateful that God allowed me to see that my efforts are indeed making a difference in my children's lives :-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Call for Submissions to the 8th Edition of the Homeschooling Country Fair

Meg L. is looking for submissions to the 8th edition of the Homeschooling Country Fair. The theme is "post about the 'other' activities in your life". Submissions are due by this coming Friday, July 20th. Email to hscountryfairsub@yahoo.com with the subject "8th Country Fair" or post your link in the comments section here.

Britain Dumbs Down National Curriculum

I've been reading about Britain's proposed revamping of its middle school curriculum, which aims to "make subjects more relevant by introducing modern day issues."Now there is nothing wrong with showing students that traditional academic subjects have practical applications in the "real world". However, the British plan appears to go beyond simply incorporating real-world applications into lessons to actually replacing traditional curricular topics.

In the revised history curriculum, there is no specific mention of the Wars of the Roses, Elizabeth I, Henry VIII and his wives, Winston Churchill, Adolph Hitler, or Josef Stalin. Greater emphasis will be placed on Islam, slavery, the United Nations, and the European Union.

Math is to be taught as a "creative" discipline and calculator use is expected.

In science there will be less emphasis on electricity and magnetism and more emphasis on highly controversial topics such as genetic engineering, In Vitro Fertilization, embryonic stem cells, animal experimentation, and "sexual health". Call me a cynic, but somehow I doubt that these will be given "fair and balanced" treatment in government-run schools.

In English classes, students will no longer have to learn about the Bible, Arthurian legends, or the Greek myths. New authors on the curriculum include Bill Bryson, Philip Pullman, Zadie Smith, and Meera Syal. Students will also be taught to use computerized "spell-check" programs.

In geography, names & locations of countries and their capital cities, rivers, and even continents are out and the Olympics, climate change, third-world trade, and the effects of the 2005 Asian tsunami are in.

While traditional academic disciplines are being gutted, space is being made in the new curriculum to

"equip young people with 'the personal, learning and thinking skills they will need to succeed in education and in adult life' Under this heading come new classes in financial literacy and money management, Urdu, cooking, and 'understanding racial differences'."

A convention of history, English and science teachers on issued a plea on July 5th for traditional subject disciplines to be protected.

Some educrats, however, feel that the new curriculum is not radical enough. Mary Bousted of the the Association of Teachers and Lecturers criticized the the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), who oversaw the development of the proposals:

"By hanging onto a subject-based curriculum the QCA makes it hard for teachers to meet the differing learning styles and needs of individual children - to personalise their learning. The new national curriculum also fails to move away from the current overemphasis on academic subjects and downplaying of vocational skills."

Now I agree that there ought to be better integration across subject disciplines and more individual tailoring but that doesn't mean that traditional subjects should be eliminated!

This is yet another example of the "dumbing down" of the curriculum. I predict that homeschooling will continue to boom in the U.K. as a result. The number of homeschoolers has tripled over the past 8 years, and current estimates range from 50,000 to 150,000.