Thursday, June 19, 2008

Geeking Out

First, I am overwhelmed by the response to my previous post on homeschooling. I value your support more than I can express, and wish I could respond to all your wonderful comments. Because of you, I am feeling much more confident and, well, happy about our decisions. My searches, fueled by your help, have found there isn't nearly the dearth of secular philosophy and curricula out there as my first investigations suggested. Someday I'll find some time to check out blogs and other links given to me to expand my homeschooling bloglist.

So, now I'm freer to dream and scheme about lessons and discoveries.

Since my mind is racing with ideas on how to better teach my kids arithmetic so that someday my retirement will be secure when one or all find the secret to cold fusion, I developed a simple matrix that shows addition and subtraction tables to ten, and multiplication and division to fifteen. I figure estimation will come easier if they can see how numbers work together better than just memorizing tables.

In the monotonous typing exercise of creating these tables, I realized I never gave division its full due. There are some really interesting patterns to be found when dividing a number by nine, or how numbers divisible by three have a dependable pattern of .333 or .156 to follow. Sure, all (ok, some?) of those computer geeks are all over binary code, but threes are pretty darned cool if you ask me. Now that I see it, that is.

Enjoy this little trip into arithmetic geekdom.

Here's the file should anyone want it to print out for your own use.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

In which I find I am not the farthest outlier on the bellcurve of normalcy

For the past, oh, nine months or so the Big Feet household has been pondering homeschooling. There are various reasons for this. I made a big, long, boring list, which upon rereading, meant nothing other than to myself and my family. Suffice it to say, school violence, ineptitude, culture, and fantastical dreams of happy, fulfilled, vibrant kids dancing through fascinating home-based learning opportunities have brought us to this decision. All but the latter are very real. The trailer is just a dream, which I'm sure will be squashed with the first, "But I don't WANT to write an essay on twelfth-century Welsh royalty!" complaint. Still, that's got to be better than the already achieved "But I don't WANT to do this boring, repetitive, unreasonable homework I already know how to do!" complaint.

So, with the public school year over (and the ground squirrels dropped off at the local wildernessy park hopefully close enough to humans to discourage many wild predators and far enough away from homes to discourage house cats), after daydreaming of homeschooling for months, I am now faced with the stomach-churning reality of actually having to do it. At first, I thought perhaps my recent-and-not-quite-finished bout with yawning in technicolor/praying to the Porcelain God/feeding the fishies/general gastronomical malaise was due to my having to actually *make* the decision as opposed to just thinking and daydreaming about the decision. Now, two of the Tarsals are in similar discomfort. So, with some abashed relief that my body isn't trying to tell me I'm making a terrible mistake, I return to finding more about homeschool curricula.

The first thing about homeschooling I found out with actual research, instead of just my own biases and prejudices based on gossip, heresay, and a few honestly-hip folks I know who do homeschool, is that my own biases and prejudices are to a reasonably large extent justified. Most homeschool sites, playgroups and curricula I have found have not just a decidedly Christian bent to them, but even a militant Christian bent to them. A homeschoolers convention set to take place nearby next week has not only featured speakers expounding the virtues of bringing God into all your works, but also a few lectures on the Second Amendment. That was new to me - I can now add to my prejudicial list of homeschooler traits the thought that homeschoolers belong to militant compounds. Yah, that's right, every. last. one. of. them. Those cool hip homeschool folks I already know obviously haven't read the memos.

As a Paganish Humanist, full-time working mom with a stay-at-home-husband, in a male-dominated field, with a zoology B.Sc. AND an MBA, I was already feeling quite marginalized before I became determined (sort-of)to homeschool my kids for a better-rounded, safer, more interesting and comprehensive education. This isn't like having a zit in junior high and feeling like a freak, I really am an outlier, at least, in my neck of the world. Then, to find I am even *more* of a freak in the world of what much of polite society (from my observations) view as social misfits that homeschool, well, that's a bit much for my fragile ego.

So, I was very relieved to find an even farther outlier than myself the other day while searching for secular homeschoolers. Doc's Sunrise Rants is a current blog by not only a secular homeschooler, but a retired, liberal, molecular biologist, agrarian lesbian homeschooler at that! Really, though, aside from the feeling of relief of having a little company on this end of the bellcurve (working, heterosexual, macrobiologist who only dreams of a llama farm though that I am), she addresses some of my concerns in a personal way, and she has a great list of resources that I will attempt to find some time on which to graze. There are a few other secular homeschool sites, but many of them have not been updated for over a year. Not to say that The Iliad ever goes out of style, but links and resources do come and go, so Doc's extensive lists are (irony intended) a Godsend. Thanks, Doc. My tummy feels a bit better.

More on this later, I'm sure. Life speaks, as do three little girls.

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