Nicole has written a treatise on education.
I’ll quote from it a little bit. I am going to refrain from doing what I want to do, which is to totally critique the writing and red-line the hell out of it, but I will just point out one pet peeve of mine instead.
In the first paragraph, she says “We use to consider ourselves eclectic homeschoolers.”
Nicole, the expression is in the past tense. Look that up if you don’t know what it means. It should be written “We used to consider ourselves. . .” There is a “d” on the end of the word. Really, they are free. Go ahead and use one. Please.
I point this out because it’s one of the most common errors Nicole makes, and there is a reason for it.
She does it because she, as she says elsewhere, writes like she talks.
She doesn’t read.
My guess is she almost never reads. It’s for damn sure she often posts shit on Facebook without ever reading anything but the headline. She doesn’t read actual, real books.
As a result, she hears “We use to consider ourselves. . .”
The last part of the word “used” (the “d”) blends in with the t-sound of the word “to” and she doesn’t hear it. Since she never sees it written, she doesn’t know it’s wrong.
And yes, I’m nit-picking.
How many gallons of gas can I get for $20 is an algebra problem?
This is a similar word problem. It’s a very simple division problem, and it’s taught in the second grade.
This is an algebra problem.
If you cannot tell the difference, Nicole, you don’t need to be homeschooling. Really. You aren’t capable.
And her retort might be that nobody in the real world ever wants to figure out anything like that, but they actually do.
The really basic stuff (addition, etc) is something you cannot even function without in our society, but higher math helps a student develop the ability to do things like calculate risk, something that Nicole would have found very handy just a matter of a few weeks ago. Higher math can help a student determine more easily when a politician is lying to him about statistics. And it is for certain that anyone who aspires to college is going to have real trouble without actual algebra, some geometry and preferably a bit of trig and calculus as well.
If Nicole’s children write like their father, they do not write coherent sentences, because he most assuredly cannot do that.
I totally agree that the best way to expand your vocabulary is to read. Conversing doesn’t do it. Talking to your siblings won’t do it. Reading will, but the reading has to be challenging. If you only read stuff that is written for the web, you’re not going to expand very much. Most journalists write at about a sixth-grade level, because if they get anywhere above that, they lose their audience.
You can’t just hand children books, or worse, let them pick out books, and just read whatever they want and expect them to significantly increase their vocabulary and skill. You have to push them outside their comfort zone. And you have to do it repeatedly. Just like learning to swim, some kids will venture into the deep water all by themselves, and the only problem is making sure they are safe. But many, maybe most, kids won’t do that. They won’t go into the deep water or put their head under without some coaxing.
Did anyone else have to read Ivanhoe in high school? God, what a slog that was. I still remember it. Just in case you missed that particular pleasure, here’s a sample, from the first chapter.
The situation of the inferior gentry, or Franklins, as they were
called, who, by the law and spirit of the English constitution,
were entitled to hold themselves independent of feudal tyranny,
became now unusually precarious. If, as was most generally the
case, they placed themselves under the protection of any of the
petty kings in their vicinity, accepted of feudal offices in
his household, or bound themselves by mutual treaties of alliance and protection, to support him in his enterprises, they might indeed purchase temporary repose; but it must be with the sacrifice of that independence which was so dear to every English bosom, and at the certain hazard of being involved as a party in whatever rash expedition the ambition of their protector might lead him to undertake. On the other hand, such and so multiplied were the means of vexation and oppression possessed by the great Barons, that they never wanted the pretext, and seldom the will, to harass and pursue, even to the very edge of destruction, any of their less powerful neighbours, who attempted to separate themselves from their authority, and to trust for their protection, during the dangers of the times, to their own inoffensive conduct, and to the laws of the land.
I cannot remember what grade I was in when we read that, but I remember how hard it was, and how at first I hated it, and then how I began to understand the cadence and some of the language, and then how much I enjoyed it. I remember it now as my introduction to Really Hard Books and I’ve read a lot of them since.
If you want a child to learn something that is hard, any skill that is difficult, you don’t give them shitty equipment, no supervision, shoddy materials and expect them to make any significant progress.
Let’s take dog-grooming for an example.
Nicole has been teaching her oldest daughter to groom dogs. I bet that when she started doing that, she did not turn that child loose with the cheapest pair of clippers made, a plastic shitty comb, a cheap pair of scissors that wouldn’t cut paper, and a dog who was prone to nip and matted to the skin.
My bet is that she provided her with top-notch professional equipment because it’s easier to do a good job when you have the right tools. She let her practice on the calmest, best-natured dog she could find, probably one of their own pets, and gradually she encouraged her to try harder and harder skills, helping her when she needed help and stepping back out of the way when she didn’t.
The same thing applies to reading and literature. Give a child inferior equipment and shoddy material and the result won’t be a master’s degree in English literature.
. . . we have less mispronounced words that[sic] heavy readers tend to have.
What she is saying here is that neither she nor Joe nor the kids, none of them, are heavy readers.
Yeah, we know.
What follows is just sort of astonishing.
Her argument is basically this.
Science and history are both big subjects. There’s a lot of material to master. It’s really hard to prioritize, so fuck it. We just ignore them both.
For one thing, “Adam and Eve” weren’t real and are not historical figures. They are religious myths.
For another thing, in both disciplines, there are basic concepts. Take science, for example. How about beginning with the scientific method? What about learning the difference between the word “theory” as used in popular speech and the same word used in science? In fact, begin by combining a bit of history and learn about how the early scientists began to explore the world and figured out how to utilize the scientific method.
There. I just put together a whole unschooling lesson that involves vocabulary, reading, science and history. Analyze a study or two, some simple ones, and you’ve added math.
Do that little teensy bit, and you’ll come away with a greater ability to determine how to sift through the stuff you find on Facebook and discard the bullshit that you’re currently swallowing from sites like Infowars and those silly mothering sites.
And then you might be better at assessing risk.