This is worth sharing with all of you.  I know it’s mostly politically based, but it still gives you the basic idea.  It’s neither left-biased or right-biased.

Take a good look. Stay away from the stuff down at the bottom, regardless of whether it’s to the right or left.  Limit the stuff in the middle at the bottom.  And be careful with both HuffPo and Faux News.  I avoid them both.  Sometimes on one or the other, you can find something that is really true, but then you can usually find it elsewhere with better analysis and better writing.

This comes from Vanessa Otero, who deserves a big thank you for the trouble she went to. Obviously, these are her opinions as to the placement of each source, but I would personally disagree with little that she has here.


Reading and Children


First, nobody “attacked” the child.  Nobody “mocked” the child.  Nobody “mocked” the content of the books.  They are perfectly fine books—for a three-year-old.

We attacked you, Nicole.  We mock you.  You and Joe are abysmally awful parents.

But I want to play your other game.  Reading and children. That’s the subject, is it?

You quote some stats. You don’t link to any of them, so they are relatively difficult to ferret out.

However, you make some really contradictory statements in there.  First, you insist that reading scores are dropping.  Then, at the end of the next paragraph, you say that “stats haven’t changed much in the past decade.”

Which is it?  Are they dropping?  Or are they staying the same?

Well, the fact is that they are staying the same.  Or at least, that’s how it appears.  There doesn’t appear to be data to tell us what has been going on in the past decade or so, but for the decade prior to that, it held steady.

Now maybe you have data I don’t, Nicole, but you didn’t cite it. You just asserted shit without bothering to tell us where you got it beyond saying “according to the NEAP.”  I don’t care to spend my entire afternoon searching through that website to find that wee bit of info, so I will sort of ignore it.  I suspect you didn’t either.

I suspect you visited some pro-homeschooling (or more likely, pro-unschooling) site and just did a bit of copy and paste.

However, if you look at the stats, they are instructive.

For instance, you blithely quote:

Only 25% of college graduates are deemed proficient.

And then you start the hand-wringing.

But what does that mean, actually?  What is “proficient” when it comes to this data?

click image to link to source

It means really, really good at it. So that 25% figure is not what Nicole thinks it is.  She’s implying that 75% of college graduates are functionally illiterate and that is simply not the case at all.

I knew when I read what she wrote that she was totally misinterpreting the data terribly.  It’s impossible for 75% of college graduates to be unable to read adequately, especially in light of this.

click image to link to source

If 75% of college graduates couldn’t even read, why would they consistently make more money and be more employable than those who hadn’t attained those levels of education?  Why would an employer pay somebody that much more money if they couldn’t function on the job?

If 75% of college graduates couldn’t read, they also wouldn’t have been able to learn any history or much math or much of anything else. They wouldn’t be any more educated than a high school dropout. Yet they consistently earn more than twice as much.

Either employers across America are colossal dumbasses or something is wrong with Nicole’s assumption.

In addition, about 10% of college students in the US come from other countries. Now, either they are extremely stupid and come here to spend lots of money for a very sub-par education where they might not even be able to read when they get done, or something is wrong with Nicole’s assumption.

That’s why I knew that “proficient” didn’t mean what she thought it meant.

That does not mean that “proficient” means the exact same thing regardless of the testing or data you are looking at.  But it does mean that college graduates pretty much know how to read.

She laments:

. . . reading levels aren’t improving and children and even adults aren’t reading for pleasure.

I dunno about that.  I mean, I am not disputing the whole “people don’t read for pleasure” thing, except I would suggest that you need to define “read for pleasure” more specifically.

I am a reader.  A really big reader. I have been ever since the day I was taught how to sound out vowels.  I am a college graduate. I read for pleasure. I enjoy fiction, non-fiction, the phone book, recipe books, I don’t care. I read.

My husband is also a college graduate. He does not read books. We’ve been married for 46 years. I do not remember him ever reading an entire book for pleasure in that whole time.  He reads parts of books.  He looks up stuff. He’s completely literate. He graduated with honors. He reads to keep up with the news. He just can’t bear reading fiction.

“Reading for pleasure” is a great thing. I don’t know how people like Dave survive without doing so.  I just know that they can and do and they are often completely and totally literate.

One thing (reading for pleasure) does not equal the other thing (literacy).

click image to link to source

Here’s some newer figures from the ebil gubmint.  In this case, what is “proficient”?  Does this mean that only about a third of grade-school students can read or do math?


There’s the definition. You decide what that means.

And remember, factored into all this are all the students, not just a select group. So special-needs students count, those who are struggling, and they skew the percentages down.  You’re never going to see percentages in the 90’s or even in the eighties no matter what.


Just as an aside, if you find this stuff interesting, take a look at the page I’ve snipped from and scroll through it.

Then come back and try to tell me education doesn’t matter.

So the argument for stricter homeschool laws completely missed the bigger picture.

And there comes the Great Leap.

Nicole’s assertion seems to be that since most college graduates are illiterate, unschooling is therefore marvelous.

This is ridiculous, of course.

Here are the US rates of illiteracy.

click image to link to source

Note that, 14%.  This is with 91% of our population completing high school.

But here are countries that rely heavily on “unschooling.”


Going to school in one of those countries is tough. Most people can’t.  In many of them, women don’t go ever, period.

But Nicole has told us, time and again, that kids will just learn to read all by themselves. They don’t need any damn teachers.  They just learn.

Why don’t they learn in Afghanistan?  Why don’t they learn in Chad?

And if they just learn all by themselves, why is she even having the conversation at all?  What’s the point?  Just leave the kids alone, like she does, and they too will be reading books intended for three-year-olds when they are nearly ten.






The child who bought these books is almost ten years old. In the real world, she’d be in the 3rd grade.

These books are suitable for pre-schoolers. They aren’t “books” in the sense that the child is expected to read them. They are “picture books.” They are intended for non-readers, for parents to read to their kids before bedtime.

When I first saw this, I wanted to give Nicole the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the kid bought the books for her younger siblings.

But then, Nicole says, that we should notice the theme. In other words, the child bought the books because this is what interests her. Being a mommy interests her. We’re supposed to think that is adorable. It makes me want to cry.  But she’s telling me that the child bought the books, using her own money that she earns making bows and washing dogs for almost nothing, because that is what she can read.

I get the idea that often, for entertainment, children will read below their grade level. I raised a son. He did that sometimes. And sometimes he read books that were actually far above his grade level, especially if they contained information he wanted to know about.

But this is not even close to that.

Here’s a sample from the book on the bottom right, Little Mommy.


The whole book is like this. Two rhyming, very simple sentences maximum per page. Some pages only have one line.

It’s a picture book. You read it to your 3-year-old.

It’s also sort of interesting because the child in the book uses a washing machine and has a kitchen and lives in a real house, but that’s another story.

What does the average ten-year-old read?  Not an exceptional, greatly advanced ten-year-old, but just an average one.

click image to link to source

Here’s a sample.  This comes from a reading list for third graders.


It doesn’t take a genius to see the difference.

No pictures. Lots of words on the page.  Bigger words, like “telephone” and “forsythia.” Numerous metaphors. The number “fourteen.” Greatly descriptive, almost poetic sentences.

Nicole and Joe Naugler are not educating their children. I know it. They know it. The whole world knows it. CPS knows it.  They are simply not educating those kids.

In my view, this is the most egregious thing they have done. Isolating them is bad. Neglecting them is bad. Living in a damned garden shed is horrible. Blaming them for not being able to run a fucking “homestead” is terrible.

But not educating them should be a criminal offense. The fact that the state of Kentucky allows them to get away with this infuriates me.


I have been corrected by several folks, some of whom also have the child’s date of birth, and it seems she would be in 4th grade.  (It’s been a long time since I dealt with school children.)

This, of course, only makes it worse.

Here’s a sample book from that grade level.

click image to link to source





banned books week
click image to link to source

This week is Banned Books Week.  This is a subject near and dear to my liberal, free-spirited heart and Nicole has chosen to talk about it so I am delighted to join in the conversation.

Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association to do a couple of things: make us aware of books that have been banned in the past, for various reasons, and in doing so, spark an interest in and conversation about the idea of censorship.

I despise censorship. I want to be upfront about that from the start. You know how Nicole and Joe love, love, love the Second Amendment?  Well, that’s how I am about the First one.

I was raised by a very religious mother who, fortunately for me, was pretty liberal when it came to reading material. I couldn’t wear slacks, and I couldn’t go to movies, but she didn’t really pay much attention to what I read. And I was a book worm.

When I was about 11, my grandfather gave me a book.  It was a large one-volume collection of the works of Mark Twain. It has really thin pages, sort of like a Bible. I loved it. I still love it, because I still have it. I was going to take a photo of it, but we’re remodeling and my books are stored away in boxes for the moment.

Anyway, I am quite sure that my grandfather never read the book. I know for certain my mother never did. They just saw “Mark Twain” and thought Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer and that was as far as they thought.

Those novels, of course, were included in the book, but so was a story called The Mysterious Stranger. If you are unfamiliar with the work, please click on the link and scroll down to the several quoted paragraphs toward the end of the piece.

mysterious stranger

My grandfather and my mother totally forgot (or didn’t know) that Mark Twain was a cynic and an atheist.

And I read every word of that book, more than once. Please imagine a child of about 11, taught that the Bible is totally true and Jesus is totally real, reading that quote from The Mysterious Stranger after being totally invested in the story. It had a profound impact on me. I’ve never forgotten my horror and it’s been about 55 years.

My point here is this: Just because a child has the intellectual capability of reading adult literature, just because she can read the words and understand what is being said, does not mean that the child has the emotional capability of processing the information without some sort of guidance. It wasn’t that Twain was wrong.  I am an atheist (now) and share his views.  The problem was that I was young and I really needed to be able to talk with some adult about the issues raised and I couldn’t.

I didn’t tell my mother about the story.  I knew what would happen if I did. She would have taken the book away from me.  I didn’t want censorship, but I certainly needed conversation and a bit of guidance.

Keep that little anecdote in mind as we continue.

I think I’ve written about this before, but hell, I’m old, and I can repeat myself if I want. When we lived in Alaska, I volunteered at our local library.  Here it is.


I was not only a volunteer librarian, but I also was the treasurer. I served in that capacity for much of the time we lived there (about 9 years). So I know a little about how libraries work and how they are funded and how to manage one, albeit a teensy one.

library funding

In Alaska, our little library was funded several ways. Our primary funding was via a state grant, given to us by the legislature every year. We were never exactly sure how much we would get.  It all depended on how much the legislature approved and how many libraries applied for funding.

We were required, as a condition of receiving the funding, to raise a comparable amount from the community. During the time I was there, we experimented with several ideas for fund-raising (our least-favorite thing to do), and came up with a sweepstakes, which has remained in place ever since. They, in fact, are getting ready for it right now.  We sold tickets for $100 a pop, and the ticket served as entry to the party (held at the local community club, complete with food) and the subsequent drawing. Multiple prizes were given away, mostly cash.

The third thing we got in terms of funding was E-Rate. That is a federal program which allowed us to have telephone and internet service at very reduced prices. This facilitated offering computer access to the public.

So, the library was (and still is) funded by community donations, by state grants and by federal dollars.

But nobody told us what books to buy or what to offer and what to do about any of that.

The contents of our library were determined entirely by the library’s board, and I was on that board, so I know how the decisions were made.

Libraries are finite. They are not Amazon. They can’t have every book that has ever been printed in them. Shelf space in a library is valuable space and none of us were ever cavalier about the decision to place a book on the shelf or to remove it.

We used to weed books (and that’s what we called it – “weeding”) about twice a year.  We got boxes, divided the library up in sections and began working. We had come up with criteria to help us make decisions, involving how often the book had been checked out (circulation), whether or not it was considered a classic (subjective, but we had to start someplace), and whether or not we had lots of books on the same subject (repetitiveness). A book that just sat on the shelf doing nothing got removed.

And once all the books that were weeded were in the boxes, we all went through the boxes and pulled out those we didn’t agree with tossing. And then we argued about it, politely.

In the end, a whole pile of books left the library to be donated, were sold for really cheap, or went to the dump.

Every now and then, we got a complaint.  It didn’t happen often, but it did happen.  We actually had a form, if I remember correctly, that people could fill out if they wanted to complain about something, and that included the inclusion (or exclusion) of any book on our shelves. Typically, a complaint would come from a parent who thought that a particular book in the children’s section wasn’t appropriate for one reason or another.

When that happened, we would discuss the issue in the board meeting.  Most of us were very pro-free speech and loathe to do any censoring of any sort (a very common feeling among librarians in general), but we did agree that there should be fairly obvious areas for picture books, for children’s books and for young adult books, so that parents could easily determine which shelves their children were browsing. And what generally happened was that we’d agree to move a particular book from the children’s area to the young adult area.

Our reasoning centered around the issue I raised earlier with my little story about Mark Twain and The Mysterious Stranger.

When I was in the twelfth grade, the principal of the school, Mrs. Polly McKay, called me into her office to have a chat. It seems that the school librarian had reported to Mrs. McKay that I had checked out East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Mrs. McKay felt that the book was too mature for my tender years.

I remember being astonished.

I asked her to please explain to me why, if the book was too mature for me, and I was in the twelfth grade, what the book was doing in the library at all.

She had no answer.

Libraries have to make choices about what to put on their shelves and what to either never buy or remove.  It’s a problem that is perennial and thorny.

click image to link to source

Here’s another kind of twitchy problem. Somebody in our little community donated the entirety of the Left Behind series to our library.  You wanna see a really shitty series of books?  Get volume one of that series and start reading. I give you about ten minutes. Awful.

And it wasn’t one book. It was a bunch of books. Sixteen of them.  That’s a lot of shelf space for shitty books.

But if we refused them, we’d be accused of religious discrimination. We knew that. We’d also have hurt the feelings of somebody in a very small community.  We had no desire to do that.

So we tolerated them for a while.  They, naturally, due to sheer shittiness, did not circulate worth a damn, and after a year or so, they began to disappear. I hope they are all gone now.

My point here is that nobody made these decisions for us. We met as a board of directors, we got input from the community, and we took a vote.  It was always difficult and we tried very hard to err on the side of free speech.

And the state government, those folks that gave us our grant, and the federal government that furnished us with the E-Rate credit on our telephone and internet access had zero input into any of this. Absolutely none.

album banned books
click image to link to source

From Nicole’s Blessed Little Homestead Facebook page.

Notice that she insists that “the government” bans books. And then she puts up pictures of books that at one time, some place, were banned. The implication is that all book banning is done by the US government. She doesn’t explicitly say that, but she is certainly implying it.

The US government has not banned a book in decades.

And then she tells us to read banned books, because anarchy.

How about reading, period?  How about reading banned books because they contain often-controversial subject matter?  How about making sure that if you allow children to read that sort of stuff, you also provide them with guidance and a bit of conversation?  How about providing children with age-appropriate books, and teaching them to read in the first place (doubtful at the Blessed Little Property)?

Canterbury TalesIf you’re going to complain about literature being banned, and in doing so, you’re going to use hashtags, spell the name correctly.

There are zillions of books in print. It’s not possible for anyone to read all of them. I know, because I have made a valiant effort to do just that and have failed miserably.

And not every book that has been banned should be given a glance or any valuable time to be read at all.

Here’s an example.

Elders of Zion

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a book I’ve never read, except for excerpts. I have no intention of ever reading it.  If you really can’t bear it and want to read it, Google it and you can find a copy online. I am 67 years old. Why would I want to waste my time, as little as I have remaining, to read a piece of shit like that when beautiful books like The Jewel in the Crown (my current Audible book) are out there beckoning to me?  Why would I waste time with a complete fraud of a book that has led to so much anti-Semitic hatred and violence?

Should the book be banned?  I do not think so.  However, I doubt I’d vote to give it library space if I were still sitting on the library board.

challenged books
click image to link to source

Here’s a list of books that were “challenged” (meaning that some library got a complaint about the book) in 2015. Notice how often the reason given is “unsuited for age group”?  That’s exactly what I was talking about in my Twain story. It’s a very subjective issue and a thorny one. And it’s difficult to know what to do about it, if anything at all. One solution involves making sure that parents realize what subject matter is involved in books their children check out.  Does that mean putting a warning sticker on the front?  (That would increase circulation, I bet!)  I don’t know, but I do know that the issues are real and all sides have reasonable concerns.

Just like we had to do at the library, you have to make these kinds of decisions at your house.  What books are you going to spend time reading? Which ones are worth bothering with?  Which ones will you buy in hard copy form and store?  Which ones will you read and discard?  You can’t eat at every restaurant in the world, and you can’t read all the books.

Choose carefully. Choose wisely.

The government does not care what or how you choose.



And we have this, which comes straight from the Link to Shit That You Cherry-Pick Because You Think It Supports Your Negligence department.

The premise of the article is that children will just learn to read all by themselves, the way they learn to walk. Just leave them alone, let them play, and it will miraculously happen. You don’t have to do anything at all.

Nicole quotes one little paragraph, which, of course, she thinks totally justifies the Naugler educational system known as Do Nothing At All.

The guy’s major points are these:

Children learn at different rates. Some learn to walk younger than others. That’s normal. And some learn to read younger than others. That is normal too.

I have no quarrel with that concept.

If children want to read, they will learn to read. He cites the increased literacy of the European population after the invention of the printing press as evidence.

And again, I get the idea. Certainly, if a child sees a need to do something, be it using a skateboard or reading a book or in our experience, playing a guitar, he will teach himself to do it.


And maybe not.

What about my husband’s step-father? He’s no longer living, but he was functionally illiterate, to the point that he could not read road signs (except the few he had to memorize in order to get a driver’s license). He wasn’t learning-disabled to my knowledge. He held down a very good job, better than either Joe or Nicole have ever had. His job didn’t require reading.

His situation was the result of several things: poverty as a child, sporadic school attendance, and World War II. I don’t know what grade he was in when he dropped out of school, but he wasn’t out of elementary school. He went to work as soon as he possibly could, and then went off to war.

Why didn’t he ever learn to read all on his own? Certainly his life would have been easier if he had. He constantly had to figure out how to maneuver society without being able to read. But he never did.

In many ways, his life mirrored the Naugler children. Poverty. Few opportunities. Work at an early age.

How much reading do you need to play in the woods on the Blessed Little Property? How much reading is required to wash dogs? Exactly when and how are these children being exposed to situations that would encourage them to learn anything at all?

There is a real danger here that this idea, that children will learn when they want to learn, somehow puts the burden of succeeding on the child. If he fails to learn, well, it’s his own fault. It’s not Nicole’s or Joe’s fault for not providing their kids with educational opportunity. It’s the children’s own fault because hell, they didn’t really want to learn.

I was curious about the writer of the article, so I did a bit of looking.


I will admit that I get turned off almost immediately by somebody who calls himself “Teacher Tom.” It’s way too much like “Groomer Nicole.”

But he teaches preschool at a “cooperative school.” What in the hell is that?


So, it’s a private, non-profit school and it has one teacher. In this case, guess who that is?

You’re right. It’s Teacher Tom.


I was curious about Teacher Tom’s qualifications so I tried to find them. I was unsuccessful. He just says that he’s a “preschool teacher.” And the site above says “skilled preschool teacher.” Nothing about his education. I gave up trying. I have learned that when people avoid telling you what their educational level is, it’s either substandard or not relevant. That doesn’t mean that Teacher Tom is a bad teacher. He might be a great teacher. He might also suck dirt. And if he told me that he had a Ph. D. in early childhood education, he might be a great teacher and he might also suck dirt. But avoiding telling me anything at all just bothers me.

Oddly, he has a parent-teacher in his preschool. Here’s what the site says about her education.

I am a graduate of the University of Michigan and am currently gaining more early childhood education knowledge at North Seattle College.

That’s great. Good relevant information. I like knowing that. Why doesn’t Teacher Tom tell us something similar?

But more about Teacher Tom.

supports public education
click image to link to source

Ah, he supports public education.

click image to link to source

Do you reckon Teacher Tom would think that doing nothing at all, providing your children with no toys to speak of, no educational materials beyond some pencils and one Kindle and a few library books, no guidance of any kind, and little to no interaction with other children except for their siblings for their entire childhood is “education”?

I doubt it.

But anyway, we have a guy here who is writing a blog piece about teaching reading. He teaches pre-schoolers. He doesn’t have to teach anyone to read anything. Pre-school children are not expected to learn to read. They aren’t expected to learn much of anything at all that we would consider “academic.” That’s why it’s called “pre-school.”

He is a staunch believer in something he calls “play-based learning.”

Of course he is.

He operates a pre-school. What else, exactly, are they supposed to do there?

But what is play-based learning?

It’s basically the idea that children learn as they play. I don’t argue with that at all. I think everyone learns as they play. Here’s an example, from just last night, involving my decidedly senior-citizen husband. He bought a hornet trap at Lowe’s yesterday. He took it out of the package to bait it and put it together and hang it.

hornet trap

My husband is the “play with shit until you figure it out” kind of person. I am not. I am the “read the damned instructions, you idiot, and you will figure it out in ten seconds instead of thirty minutes” type. We each have our strengths and our weaknesses. In his case, playing with stuff is often very useful. In figuring things out and having used this technique for many decades, he almost instinctively knows how stuff works. He can “see” it. Often I cannot. I have to read the instructions, step-by-step, and understand and do each one. If I skip Step 4, I cannot do Step 5.

As you can imagine, sometimes we drive each other crazy.

And what we’ve discovered over the years is that when it comes to hands-on stuff like building projects, Dave is light-years ahead of me. He can put stuff together rapidly and often effortlessly. We once worked together laying brick for a well house. He did three walls while I did one (I’m slow). And that well house is a testament to how badly I perform when it comes to laying brick. My wall is all crooked and weird. His are perfect. He can “see” level. I cannot.

But when it comes to fiddly, booky stuff like website design or tax returns, I’m the go-to person. That’s because I read the instructions and do not play around and fuck it all up. I get it done faster that way.

Different people. Different styles. We partner and it works great, except when he is trying to put together a hornet trap and won’t read the damned instructions. I intervened and “helped” and he got done way faster. It was one of those times when he just couldn’t visualize the completed device. I couldn’t either, but that’s when you read the instructions.

So back to Dave’s step-father. He, too, was a “play with it until you figure it out” kind of guy. He had to be. He couldn’t have read the instructions. Maybe he was just able to to “play with it until you figure it out” throughout his whole life and never felt any need to learn to read. I’ll never know, of course.

But according to the “play-based learning” folks, you just let kids play and they figure it out.

And frankly, I’ve watched Dave do this for 46 years, and there’s something to it. It’s not a bad thing. I’m all in favor of it.

However, I am also in favor of learning to read well, so when your efforts at figuring it out fail, you can read the instructions.

question trig

This is from a public high school trigonometry class. I find it very intriguing. The teacher obviously is making sure the students understand that there are practical uses for what they are learning.

This is not, by the way, some bullshit thing I found on the internet. This is an actual problem given to me by a friend whose child is in the class.

Here’s that child’s answer to the problem.

answer trig

Several things are happening here.

First, I was pretty much lost at the words “dimensional analysis.”

Second, this teacher has created a situation where this student was able to “try on” the role of defense attorney. He did this in a math class. I am impressed.

Third, the student was able to come to the very good, logical and scientifically sound conclusion that “a hard copy of pure evidence is more reliable than just taking someone’s word.” I was forty before I began to understand that.

Fourth, this is a public school.

best in the world
click image to link to source

Here are the links embedded in that quote.

America’s public school are among the best in the world. . .

Parents are largely satisfied with the education their children are receiving.

Public schools are not failing. . .

So says Teacher Tom.

But he also does this.





The Simple Life

faith questionOh gee, we can help with that.


Here’s a chapter list.


Chapter One Feeling Smug While Doing Fuckall

Chapter Two“Please, Sir, I Want Some More.”

Chapter ThreeDelegating: All Work Becomes Unschooling Leaving More Time For Facebook

Chapter Four – Managing the Hypocrisy: Asking Online Sources for More Online Sources Regarding How to Keep Your Children From Being Attached to Electronic Devices

Chapter Five– Baby-Making and Pyramid Schemes Are More Alike Than You Thought

Chapter Six – It’s All About The Image You Project

Chapter Seven– How To Hide In the Woods: When CPS Inevitably Comes Knocking

Chapter Eight – Zen and the Art of Baby Making  (Without the Hassle of Raising Them)

Chapter Nine – Boob for the Photo-Op, Sippy Cup All Other Times

Chapter Ten – It’s Not Slave Labor, It’s Family

Chapter Eleven -Mud for Christmas: How to Lower Your Children’s Expectations During the Holidays

Chapter Twelve – Use Pencils, Not Tablets

Chapter Thirteen – Who Needs Sports: Tote Those Buckets to the “Compost Heap”

Chapter Fourteen – Grifting: It’s An Art

Chapter FifteenHow to Raise Tech-Illiterate Kids When You Have an Internet Addiction

Chapter Sixteen – Rainy Days and Wednesdays Always Mean a Bath

Chapter Seventeen – Vaccines Aren’t Needed if You Eat at Hardees

Chapter Eighteen – Free-Range: Make Your Neighbors Love You

Chapter Nineteen – The Gentle Art of Scamming: How to Use People to Get Money and Things

Chapter Twenty – Con That Church

Chapter Twenty-One – You Don’t Have to Drag Them to the Library if They Can’t Read

Appendix Whatever You Do, Don’t Forget to Take Your “Me Time”


So, Faith, get over to and follow our “affiliate link” so we can make money off your total gullibility and click away.

You’re welcome.







definition meme

Nicole thinks that if you take a woodsy picture and then add some made-up and borrowed definitions, what you say will be true. Add some silly hashtags and it’s even more true.

But words have meanings. That’s how we communicate. We agree what the meaning of a word is and then everyone knows what everyone else is talking about.

Obviously, some words have more than one meaning. For instance, a “school” (noun) is a building where children/people are taught stuff. But you can also “school” somebody (verb) in website design (synonym for “teach”). In addition, a whole bunch of fish constitute a “school” (another noun). However, no matter how hard you try, or how many memes you make, “school” does not mean “camel.”


The cute little guy is still a camel.

So keeping that in mind, let’s begin at the top.


According to Nicole, who as far as I can tell made up this definition, it’s “living without one or more public utilities.”  Only you have to do this in a “self-sufficient manner.”

Exactly what in the hell does that mean?

public utilities

So, according to Nicole, if you live without obtaining water, sewage disposal, electricity or gas from an “organization,”—any one of those—you are “off grid.”  Oh, yeah, but only if you are doing this in a “self-sufficient manner.”

Well, we live in the country. We get our water right out of the ground from our own well, that we own, using our own well pump. I would say that’s pretty damned “self-sufficient.” In fact, I would say that is way more “self-sufficient” than going around begging, stealing, and threatening the neighbors and finally just getting water from your business in town.

We have a septic tank, right on our property, which we own. I would say that our sewerage is “self-sufficient,” wouldn’t you?

We have a gas stove. We purchase our propane in tanks that we own. We haul them to our property ourselves. I’d say that’s pretty “self-sufficient,” unless Nicole is demanding that we put in a natural gas well in the back yard.

We do have electricity which we buy from the co-op.

But out of four public utilities, we are self-sufficient in three. So we are off-grid, according to Nicole.

I did not know this.

Neither did anyone else, because it’s bullshit.


You would think that somebody who carries on as much as Nicole does about school and how horrible it all is, and how superior it is just to do nothing at all, would know what plagiarism is.

She apparently does not.

unschooling Wikipedia
click image to link to Wikipedia, which is the source of this piece

plagiarism definition

Not only has she clearly plagiarized, but Wikipedia is a terrible source. It’s a great place to begin, but it’s not where you want to end up. The problem with it is that anyone can enter stuff there. You have no idea if the information is accurate or not.  And for some material, the articles just consist of opinions, sometimes at war with each other.


definition homestead

“Homestead” is the noun.

I know that in popular usage, the word has come to mean “living on a small hobby farm” or something similar, so let’s go to Nicole’s favorite source, Wikipedia, and see what they have to say.


Oopsy.  Oh dear.

Nicole plagiarized again. She just went to Wikipedia and copied the stuff in yellow.

She ignored all the stuff in pink, about how it’s “characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs. . .”

That’s because the Nauglers don’t do any of that. They do not do “subsistence agriculture.”  What is that, anyway? Let’s see what Wikipedia says.

subsistence ag

Now seriously, you guys, no matter how you spin it, this is not “subsistence agriculture.”  It’s not even “beginner subsistence agriculture.”

handful veg


For this one, Nicole appears to have made up her own definition. Maybe that explains why, when I punched it into Google, Google was just convinced that what I wanted was articles about “intuition.” Nothing about “faith.”

Here’s the dictionary definition of “faith.”

faith definition

What Nicole is doing here is trying to make herself look all “spiritual” so she can appeal to the religious readers, while simultaneously not setting herself up for criticism because she is, in fact, not religious at all. She and Joe use religion. They do not practice it.

Maybe they could adopt Twain’s wonderful definition. It’s one of my favorite quotes and so apropos here.

Mark Twain

The camel?

He’s still just a camel.



The Word is “Helicopter”

I want to make something quite clear here.

I am not critical of Nicole and Joe’s “parenting style.”  I don’t care what time her kids go to bed. I don’t really care about how they discipline those children, provided they aren’t beating the shit out of them.  I just don’t care.

helicopter title

But if you’re going to present yourself as some expert on “unschooling,” you might just spell-check your titles.

public school

This is called “deflection.” She’s answered this question before, but she doesn’t want to do so here. So she “answers the question” by asking another question. She thinks this is clever.

no public school

There’s the actual answer to the question. And it’s not really what it appears to be. She says she would “allow” private school.  However, Nicole and Joe Naugler can’t even pay their basic bills.  It’s for damn sure they wouldn’t be able to afford private school tuition. The kids would never even ask.

But I will answer Nicole’s deflecting question.

Our son indicated to us, as I’ve described before, how unhappy he was in his private school (the one she thinks would be fine).  So we homeschooled him. And when he came to me and said, “I’d like to go to public school,” I replied, “Okay. Let me look into it a bit.”  And I did. And he did.

So our son had all three types of “schooling”: private, public and homeschooling.


I’m not sure what her point here is, except to use this as filler material. Parents differ. Family dynamics differ.  Yeah. We know that.

some questions

I don’t know anyone who thinks they “have the authority to change how other people parent,” or that if the parenting “has a negative effect. . . we should intervene.”

Children are not – and I will repeat this because not understanding this causes big problems – they are not the property of their parents. At the moment of a child’s birth in this country, he becomes a citizen of this country. And as a citizen, he has rights.

Joe and Nicole love to argue and fuss and whine about their supposed rights. But their children have rights too.

One of those rights that the children have is the right to an education. That was the whole point of the establishment of the public education system, so that every child could obtain a basic education. This leads to an educated citizenry. It means we have an educated work force. It provides us with an educated electorate.

Joe and Nicole Naugler are systematically depriving their children of the basic right to an education. I don’t care what they say about “unschooling.” They are not educating those children.  Joe does not do shit when it comes to any sort of schooling. They scored poorly on the testing done by CPS for only one reason: they didn’t know the answers to the questions.

“Unschooling” does not mean “don’t do anything at all.”  It supposedly means that you tailor the learning to the child.  It’s actually much harder to do, if you do it right, than conventional homeschooling. And it becomes harder and harder the more children you have.

I am tired of Nicole insisting that “everyone who meets the children knows how wonderful and educated and superior and intelligent” they are.  Everyone does not know that. Furthermore, I’ve seen enough of her oldest child’s writing (or what purports to be his writing) to challenge that statement.

This is very like Joe’s insistence that “everyone who meets me loves me.”  No, they don’t.  I have met Joe and I cannot stand him.

If children fail in public school (and children do fail in public school), we know about it. We can see test scores. We can see that the child is not doing well. We can evaluate how well the teacher does. If half her class is struggling, we can try to figure out why. Is it the children?  Is it her?

10 books 3 days

But with Nicole and Joe’s kids, we can know very little. We have her word that one of the children read ten books in three days.

I did some math. I know it’s hard, but I struggled and did it.

In order for what Nicole claims there to be true, and assuming that the child reads at the level and speed of a college graduate, she would have been reading non-stop for 9 hours every day for three days.

I used to take my homeschooled child to the library and he would bring home a box of books that rivaled that one, maybe once a week.

He would then go through those books exactly the way I went through the library books I checked out. He skimmed some of them. He thoroughly read a couple of them. He might read part of one and then quit. Apart from books that he was required to read as part of his school curriculum, I didn’t care. He had the books. Read them or not. His choice. That’s what adults do and that’s what he did.  It’s also what the Naugler child did.

But Nicole insists that she read every word in every book because the child is “exceptional.”

Let’s assume for a second that this is true, and that this kid reads at that speed with comprehension and devours books like M&Ms.

If that is the case, she is even more deprived than we can imagine, because she is not being given opportunities to develop her amazing talents. Instead, she is living in a garden shed with nothing.

Nobody really knows. The child might be doing fine. The child might not be doing fine.  Nobody knows.  The child’s rights are being held hostage by her parents, who believe they are accountable to nobody.

And that’s just education. There are other rights we could discuss.

The reason this stuff is important is because the rest of us, the rest of the citizens, have a stake in these children. Not just Nicole and Joe. Society cares because in a few short months, the welfare of one of their children will cease to be their responsibility entirely and that benefit (or burden) will fall directly on the larger society. And then a year or so later, we’ll have another one. And then another one. And so on, until we, as the larger society, absorb all eleven of them, for better or for ill.


She makes these great leaps of logic.

Do we get a say in how another parent raises their child?

Yes, we do, as Nicole and Joe learned last year when the state of Kentucky came down on their heads and said, “No, you cannot have your children housed a three-sided shanty fit for livestock.” We get a say if a parent is beating the hell out of their four-year-old and endangering the child’s life. We get a say if Mommy is letting her boyfriend sexually abuse her 6-year-old daughter.  Yes, we do.

We go to lots of trouble and have lots of really interesting, good conversations about how to achieve the twin goals of allowing parents as much freedom as possible in choosing how to rear their offspring, while simultaneously protecting the rights of the child and the rights of the large society. We’ve worked at this for, oh, 230 years.  We’re doing okay, I think.

Are we trying to create a society of clones? Do we embrace individualism?

See? “If you make me adhere to even the bare minimum of standards, you’re trying to create a society of clones.  You aren’t embracing individualism. You evil statist.”

The first US public school began in 1821, just 32 years after the country began.  So we’re talking about a system that has been in place for 200 years, most of our history.  Anybody look out across the face of America and see Stepford wives marching?  I don’t. Is “individualism” a trait that most Americans embrace enthusiastically?  I think so.


Let me give you a little hint about something. Whenever somebody starts talking about “sheeple,” it is safe to disregard everything they have to say.

Especially when they purport to have brilliant, educated children with no effort whatever, and can’t spell “helicopter.”





Unschooling Update


A very kind reader has reminded me of this.  It dates, as you can see, from last February, and was a response to a question about the testing that the children underwent during their period in state custody.

I take no stock in those tests. They represent nothing.

And that’s that.  Nicole has spoken.  She just sweeps away any sort of testing as a means to determine what a child knows or doesn’t know.

However, she doesn’t offer any other way to determine such a thing. How would one do that?

It’s fair to say that generally the teacher who works closely with a child (whether that teacher is a ‘real’ teacher or the child’s parent) would be well aware of that child’s strengths and weaknesses.  I certainly knew that Nathan liked English and literature and hated science and math.  As a result, I knew that he would score better in the first two areas and less well in the other two, and I was right.

However, I had no idea at all how he would measure up when compared to his peers.  I had no benchmark.

In “real” school, the teacher not only knows that Billy is weak in math, s/he also knows that Billy is only slightly weak in math, but will do fine compared with Susie, who is much less competent and actually needs remedial work.

Nicole has absolutely no idea of any of this, and has no way to evaluate it.

And it’s even worse because she really doesn’t teach her kids at all. Nobody does.  She admitted that she had no idea how at least one of them learned to read.

I remember when Nate learned to read. My mother was his teacher at the Christian School From Hell for both kindergarten and first grade. But she didn’t teach him to read.

I did.

I did by having him read to me for a short time every evening.  In hindsight, we probably pushed it too soon.  It was relatively slow and a bit painful.  He wiggled and squirmed and would much rather had I just read to him.  A bit of age would have probably improved that immensely.  If I had it to do over, I’d wait six months and try again.

However, he learned well, and loved to read, and excelled in the subject, so it didn’t damage him. It was just a bit of a time-waster.

So, I understand that children really do learn to read on their own time schedule.  I am very sympathetic to that idea.

But at least I knew how he learned, when he learned and what was going on with him. She admits not having a clue.  She’s admitting that she simply does not educate her children at all.

And yes, I said they could have done better. . .

And here we start with the really damning stuff.  They could have done better.  In Naugler-speak, that means they did horribly.  Awful.

And we’re talking about the Great Unschooled Children here. Not regular kids in public school, who might do well and might not, because after all, the public schools are so deficient and horrible and of course, no child reaches his potential in that god-awful environment.

No, we’re talking about children who are being reared in the best, most superior, perfect environment known to mankind.  Nicole has found a few memes that attest to that, therefore it is true.

test scores

Don’t homeschoolers love to post skewed statistics that “show” that homeschooled kids outperform traditionally schooled kids across the board?  Why, they all test several grade levels above their age, don’t they? You know, the homeschooled child who is 9 years old and reads on a college level?

The problems with articles like the one posted above include:

First, homeschooled kids are a small subset of all children in school. A hand-picked subset.  Public schools, on the other hand, have to take everyone.

Second, that small hand-picked subset is even smaller when you consider that in many states, including Kentucky, testing of homeschooled kids is not required.  So, the parents who test may well be those who know their children will do well and the ones whose kids are way behind academically simply place “no stock in those tests” and opt out.

Third, most people have no idea what standardized testing means.

Nicole expresses the common view.

X scored an 8th grade reading level.

That means that X could be in the 8th grade, right? At age 12 (which is 6th grade).  Two grade levels above his peers.  Right?


What X did was show that he could read material that an eighth grader could read.  That’s great.  It’s also not uncommon at all.  Lots and lots of kids who read well score above grade level.  It does not mean that the child is capable of performing well at an 8th grade level.  It just means he’s a pretty good reader for his age.


That tells us that X probably reads a good bit and very likely enjoys reading, which is a very good thing.  Children who read well and like to do so often have an advantage over those who do not.

But X’s math scores were abysmal, 4th grade for a 12-year-old.

What about all the great superiority of “unschooling”?

And Nicole is unlikely to tell us about anyone else’s scores.  She presented us with X’s because he’s her prize self-taught student.  If that’s the best that unschooling can do (two grade levels up in reading, and two grade levels behind in math), excuse me, but I’d pass if I were the parent of a school-age child.

Y did horribly on his tests.

Y is another story. The excuse given is that Y is like Nicole and has a “screw you” attitude.  Boy, that’s going to help him achieve great things in life, having a “screw you” attitude. He, too, can be a disaster.

Anyway, because he is this screw-you person, he just circled anything on the test.  Right.

Here’s what actually happened. Y didn’t know the answers.  He didn’t have the slightest idea. So he became very frustrated and just circled stuff.  This is common among children who simply don’t know the material.  It’s not his fault he didn’t know the answers.  He’s never been educated at all (or very little).  He was being tested on a high school level and he probably has the skills of about the 4th grade.  I’d be frustrated too if I was him.

The fact that he did “well” (we have no way to determine what “well” means) later on simply means that they most likely geared the subject matter to his skill-level.

I still want to know, if unschooling is so wonderful, and if Nicole’s children are the poster-children for how wonderful it is, why Nicole won’t have them tested or evaluated in some other way and then show us how marvelous it all is.

Instead, we get videos of bugs and hearts being literally butchered and a baby crawling.  As somebody said, “At some point Nicole is going to use the hashtag #unschooling for a kid breathing in and out.”

Rise to the challenge, Nicole.  Prove me wrong.  I’ll happily admit it if you do.


Education, Revisited


I have already written a whole page about education, so I’ll pause here while you go read it if you haven’t already.

What Nicole is doing here is called a “straw man fallacy.”

She sets up a supposed conversation/argument and puts words in the “critics'” mouths, totally misrepresenting our position.  She then comes to totally false conclusions and sits back claiming victory.

You are saying that my children are uneducated?

I am saying that Nicole and Joe are not educating their children, at all.  If the Naugler children learn anything, they do so on their own, without help of any sort. It shows in their writing.  I won’t post it now, because these are minor children, but I have samples of the oldest child’s writing and I am saying that these are uneducated kids.

That they aren’t smart?

Notice how she conflates “education” and “intelligence”?  And then has the “critic” clarify?  She does that so she can lead up to her super-califragilistic retort.

So, you’ve interacted with them long enough to come to the conclusion that they are uninformed and unskilled?

Victory!  The critics come back with the lame answer that it’s impossible for children to learn if you don’t “school them” (whatever that means).

And that, of course, is not what the critics say at all.

My position, as a critic, is that the Naugler children are not being exposed to much of anything beyond a filthy environment and some scrubby woods with some scrawny animals that come and go and survive on their own, along with one Kindle Fire shared between all of them, and a few books that fit on one bookshelf.  In addition, they get to go to a dog grooming salon periodically and help wash dogs, or file papers, and mostly babysit their younger siblings.

Are they learning a good bit about survival in harsh living conditions?  Probably.  It’s for certain at least one of them has learned to cook some very basic food on a campfire.

But they are not being prepared to earn a living in the world as they will find it off that weed, trash, and shit-strewn “homestead.”

Nicole brags constantly about “unschooling.”  She uses that as a hashtag for nearly every activity the kids engage in.  Little kid finds a bug:  unschooling. No, it’s not, Nicole. It’s a little kid finding a bug.  Bigger kid cuts up goat heart: unschooling.  Nope.  It’s simply a kid sawing up a heart without knowing anything about what he is doing and without any guidance whatsoever.

But here’s a larger point.

When I was in school, I had to take classes that I had no interest in taking.  Some of them were classes that I not only wasn’t interested in—I actively hated the subject matter. I had to take them anyway.


Why make people learn stuff they don’t want to learn?

Hell, why make somebody study that damned drivers manual and take a test to get a drivers license?  Who actually wants to learn all that?

The answer is obvious. We do it because we want to make sure that somebody behind the wheel of a car is competent to drive it.  We want to be sure he’s literate enough to read the signs, so there is a written test in addition to the practical test.  We have a right to do that as a society because he’s going to be putting the rest of us in danger if he’s allowed to just drive any way he likes.

That’s why we make children learn stuff they aren’t necessarily interested in learning. A high school diploma is supposed to illustrate that the person who has it has mastered a minimum level of skill doing basic things.  He can read, he can write, and he can do basic math. He also has rudimentary knowledge of  history and science, etc.

That, by the way, is how students find out that they like math and hate history, or vice versa.  They often discover that they love history, which they thought they hated, once they are exposed to it by “force” and “coercion,” and they’d never have known that if they’d just been allowed to do whatever they wanted, when they wanted.

The fact that you can whip out videos and statistics showing that American schools often fail to a greater or lesser extent is actually proof of my point, rather than a refutation.  We know when our schools fail because the kids are tested and they fail.

From there, we try to improve the schools.

What do we know about the Naugler children?  Not much. I know that the oldest Naugler child writes terribly, doesn’t understand basic punctuation and has no idea what a run-on sentence is.  He also swears. (So do I. It’s not a criticism, just a fact.)

I know that one of the other children has no idea what the difference is between an artery and a vein, nor any clue how the heart functions.  And he was instructing his siblings.

I also know that the role models they are exposed to consist of a mother who grooms dogs (which is a perfect legitimate way to make money, but nothing very lofty), and a father who is a complete dead-beat.

This is tantamount to appearing at the DMV and saying, “Oh, I already taught myself to drive and I don’t need to take your tests. It’s my right to drive any way I like so fuck you.”

I personally have no problem whatever with people homeschooling, or unschooling, or doing anything they like, provided there is some accountability in the form of annual testing, possibly combined with an in-person evaluation of the child by a professional.

I also believe strongly that once these children (not just the Naugler kids, but any homeschooled children) grow up, they should have the right to sue the hell out of their parents if they realize they are educationally deficient.

But when people begin using force and coercion to spread their ignorance and fear, and it then encroaches on others, it becomes an issue.

See how she concludes that it’s “ignorance and fear” on the part of the critics that motivates us.  And we’re using “force and coercion” (which are the same thing—look up “synonym”).  Bad, bad us.

Yes, we’re ignorant. We’re ignorant (meaning we do not know fully) about how the Naugler children are being educated. The stuff Nicole posts would indicate they are not being educated at all, in any meaningful way, and that what little they pick up is done entirely on their own.

I’m not “afraid” of this.  I just don’t like it because I am a Kentucky taxpayer and I am going to have to help foot the bill if these kids get out on their own and become dependent on welfare. I have a right as a citizen to expect that they meet minimum educational standards.  And the children have rights too, as American citizens, to an education.

That’s not “fear” or “ignorance.” That’s the bare minimum that a civilized society demands.

If those children ever decided that they wanted to go to school (something Nicole has already declared she will not permit), they would find themselves seriously handicapped if they cannot test at an appropriate grade level for their age.

So if they are in fact educated, Nicole, show us. Have them tested.  Show us the scores. Brag.   Prove “unschooling” is so marvelous.  Show us what dumbasses we are.  Just think: you could be the poster family for the glories of unschooling. I bet you could make money out of it if you thought hard enough.  We want to know more than “they know how to make bows.”

We’re waiting.

NOTE:  Please be careful with your comments.  No children’s names.  No dire predictions of doom and gloom and jail and all that.