Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to...elude me?

At long last, Charles Webb, author of The Graduate, has penned the sequel The Graduate II: Home School. Interestingly, the plot is centered on Benjamin Braddock's choice to homeschool his two children.

Don't get too excited, though. Citing his lack of control over the film version (the current owners of the film and theatrical rights have rejected the author's overtures) Webb's response to The Observer regarding the sequel's release is the equivalent to "over my dead body." The novel will not be published until after his death. Read on:

"Webb, a Californian hippy now living a frugal existence in Hove, East Sussex, drew from his own experiences in both The Graduate and its sequel...Home School owes its inspiration to Webb and his partner's decision to take their own children out of school and teach them at home, an illegal act which left them on the run from the US authorities and seeking refuge by running nudist camps.

It is this unorthodox subject matter which causes Webb to fear that a film version would wreck the integrity of his creation. 'There's never been a film before about a family that home educates its kids. Very few people in the movie world have had that experience, so I don't think it's a subject that would be treated objectively. It's a runaway, underground, counter-culture kind of thing - that's why it hasn't been done.' "

But that's good, right?

In this excellent article at AHA, Jeanne Faulconer warns against the effects of positive stereotypes on homeschoolers. Regarding the oft-repeated factoid that homeschoolers perform better on standardized test, she says:

"Many people have not thought about why participating in testing can be especially negative for homeschoolers. Besides impacting some children with the testing itself, participating in testing programs can actually “drive” curriculum. Just like the schools that do “test prep,” homeschool families may have to concentrate on certain subjects at certain times so children can perform on certain tests...By encouraging test results to be seen as a primary indicator of homeschooling success, we jeopardize our future freedom to teach according to our children’s learning styles and interests or their own developmental pace."

Here are more articles by Jeanne, a formerly VA, now MS homeschooling mom.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dear John (or Sound advice from a Dear Abby reader)

In an email to a north Mississippi homeschool group, Jeanne writes:

"Now this was a surprise. When I got back from my walk this morning and picked up the paper, I saw that a writer to Dear Abby was quoting homeschooling advocate John Holt:

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from a student who received detention for "respectfully disagreeing" with her teacher during a discussion of world events. In your reply, you suggested that the writer's comment may have been "disruptive," justifying the detention, and advised that it would have been more "diplomatic" to have voiced the disagreement in private. I take exception to your answer.

I am semi-retired now, but as a manager I had tremendous difficulty convincing subordinates that it was not only safe to disagree with me, but that I needed their frank opinions. I trace this to a situation described by John Holt in his 1964 book, "How Children Fail," in which he points out that the education system kills creativity, teaching students to anticipate what the teacher wants to hear and to feed it back to him/her.

I found a link on line if you want to read the whole thing.
I just love it when stuff that supports homeschooling slips into the mainstream. "

Thanks Jeanne!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Blogger is: Out

Taking a week-long hiatus. Happy Spring Break!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

History Channel Rejects Homeschooler's Contest Entry

UPDATE: Contest rules have been changed to include all 9-12 grade homeschoolers.
A homeschooler in Texas recently entered the following contest sponsored by The History Channel:

FDR Scholarship Challenge Coming Soon! Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated much of his presidency to better education, and The History Channel® is showing its dedication to schools as well with The FDR: A Presidency Revealed Scholarship Challenge. We are offering high school students the opportunity to compete for $9,500 in scholarship prizes by writing an essay based on The History Channel documentary special, FDR- A Presidency Revealed, airing April 17th at 9PM/8c. Additional prizes will also be rewarded to the schools of the winning students, including a History Channel "Select Titles" video library!

To participate in this exciting opportunity, email your school name, your full name, address (no P.O. Boxes) and phone number to kbell@gemgroup no later than March 11, 2005. The website is

She received this reply:

Thank you for your interest in The History Channel(r) FDR- A Presidency Revealed Scholarship Challenge. Unfortunately, home schooled students are not eligible for the challenge, per the official rules. The rules state that "the Challenge is open to High Schools Students, grades 9 - 12, who are legal residents of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia, and are currently enrolled in a High School located in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia at the time of Entry."

Should you have further questions please contact us or call 917.256.0768. Again, The History Channel would like to thank you for your interest in this program and don't forget watch the premiere of the two-part documentary special, FDR- A Presidency Revealed Sunday, April 17th 9PM/8C.

Your Friends at The History Channel,
Kim Bell

The mother replied that "according to Texas law a homeschool can operate as a private school and since the rules didn't say 'only public or accredited private schools' my daughter should be allowed to enter." Furthermore, the official rules (including the excerpt that Ms. Bell cited in her reply) does not address homeschoolers specifically.

Is this exclusion Ms. Bell's misguided opinion? Is The History Channel discriminating against homeschoolers? Are they just afraid a bunch of homeschoolers are going to show up and kick some historical ass (ok, now I'm just trying to start something...)? I encourage you to email them and ask them yourself. I'm sure they'd love to know how many of us use The History Channel programs and materials to teach our children.

The History Channel is owned by A&E Networks which is owned by a jointventure of Hearst Publications, ABC and NBC. The President of A&ENetworks is Nick Davatzes. A&E has a consumer feedback address at Their snail mail address is:

A&E Television Networks
235 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017

It has been noted by several that the phone number provided in Kim Bell's reply does not work. Other helpful sites for feedback:

One homeschool mom summed it up like this:

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I have a list of ten homeschooled presidents, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is down here as "being taught at home by his parents." Isn't it ironic that a contest about a homeschooled President is excluding homeschoolers?!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The ‘80s strike back: wear the fashion, ditch the attitude

By Natalie West Criss
Assistant Editor
Metro Business Chronicle

Ascending an escalator in a department store recently, I looked down at the formal wear in the Juniors Department. The racks, newly stocked for Prom season, were bursting with polka-dotted ruffles, bright hues and metallic fabrics. I remember these, I thought. I scanned the section looking for a dress similar to the one I wore to Prom 1987: spaghetti straps, solid beads and sequins for two-thirds of the length, then a burst of tiered, asymmetrical ruffles. It was a festival of fuchsia.

Looking back at it then (and down at it now from the second floor of McRae’s), it all seems ridiculous, but the fashion was representative of the time. We were decadent in our layers, optimistic with our color palette, powerful in shoulder pads, serious in menswear-inspired fabrics and up-and-coming with all that hair. It was all about us. Just ask L’Oreal ®: we were worth it.

What does this return to the eighties mean? Are we about to raise another generation of yuppies? I sure hope so. At least we aspired to something. Wealth was a good thing, not a mark of greed. Success was a goal worth working toward, not a given. Charity was a product of benevolence, not guilt. Even our generation was identified with the highly recognizable “ME” as opposed to the ambiguous, apathetic X or Y that followed.

There is a prevalent attitude of entitlement among today’s youths that goes beyond self-esteem. Having a cell-phone is an inalienable right. Texting, chatting, file-sharing and email are necessary modes of self-expression, without which they would become mute. Technology is as necessary as air and not to be held over disobedient heads as a privilege. They have cars and credit cards, but no jobs, no identity, and no aspirations. Their parents are, surprise, my Prom-mates.

Perhaps we over-corrected. It has been a given in generations past that parents wanted more and better for their children, but the understanding was that those parents would raise them with the means to go out and get it when they flew from the nest. Today, I hear well-meaning fathers say of their sons, “I don’t want him to have to work as hard as I did to get this far.” Well, maybe he should. Perhaps, by not requiring an effort, we are robbing our children of the ability to conquer the world. Why do you think they come back home to live after college?

So what place does this have in a business column for women? I’m glad you asked. Guess who’s coming to an intern program, college classroom, work-study, or summer job near you: kids clad in ‘80s fashions with ‘90s values. Like gold lame’ on a fat roll, it will get your attention, then you’ll just want to quickly look away.

Do the world a favor. Mentor these kids.