The Internet is Wrong:
I Am Right
First Annual Smrt Lernins Conference on Me-o-centrism
Topics covered will include:
Me-o-centrism: They Know It’s All About Me, But They’re Denying It
Introduction to the Mechanics of Me-o-centrism
Scientific Experiments Showing Homeschooling Parents Are Motionless at Their Laptops
Scientific Evidence: I Am the Center of the Universe
Answering Common Objections to it Being All About Me
Homeschooling: You’re Doing It Wrong/Parenting: You’re Doing It Wrong (a course in two parts)
Being Wrong on the Internet: You Can Do It, Too!
Why Can’t You Just Shut Up and Accept My Word As Good Enough Proof!
Validation for Homeschoolers (limited seating available)
Evidence For a Literal Interpretation of My Blog: What Does the Script Say?
The Internet is Wrong: I Am Right is a detailed and comprehensive treatment of the scientific evidence supporting Me-o-centrism, the academic belief that I am the center of the universe, and that it does, in fact, revolve around me. Garnering scientific evidence from the Well Trained Mind forums, Facebook, YouTube, and the people who read my blog, The Internet is Wrong shows that the debate between me and the rest of the Internet is much more than a difference of opinion. It’s also that they’re all wrong. So very, very wrong.
Placing myself at the center of the universe is not only scientifically awesome, but is a very stable model that works out pretty darn well for me (and we all know, it is all about me). Me-o-centrism is supported by the vast web pages that show that everything I know is right, that everything you know is wrong, and that if you don’t agree with me, you’re just closed-minded.
The best part about The Internet is Wrong: I Am Rightis that I don’t even have to leave my house for this conference. It all comes right to me! Embrace the science of me-o-centrism, and the world will come right to you, too.
In the expanding files of “stuff I learned on the WTM forums,” today I have learned that eight is too young an age at which to expect a child to work independently.
Not “work independently on all subjects, all day, but to work independently at all, according to some forum members. Expecting an 8-year-old to work alone is apparently an unreasonable expectation. One woman said her 8 year old needed her mother to sit with her for her entire day of work in order to get things done. Another said her 9 year old had a similar need for constant supervision. To the best of my understanding, both children are typically developing and working on an age-appropriate level.
Is it really unreasonable to expect a child of 8-9 to be able to work independently for most, or even part, of the day?
Captain Science, who is now 9 and was 8 when we started homeschooling, definitely has days when he needs frequent check-ins (or frequent “Hey, do your work!”s) to stay on task. He’s a bit of a daydreamer and a confirmed procrastinator, and his mind wanders to bigger, better things. Most days, however, he’s pretty motivated to move through his work, and a simple “have you finished your…” is all it takes to get him going again. Rare is the day that I have to glue myself to his side in order to keep him working or answer a ton of questions for him. If I had to do that, I’d seriously start reevaluating if what we were doing was working.
If it were a matter of constantly having to answer questions, I’d look at whether the materials were above his level, presented in a suboptimal way for his learning style, or poorly written/organized/designed.
If it were a matter of having to babysit him, I’d look at the reasons he needed to be micromanaged — difficulty in staying on track? distracting environment? learned helplessness/realizing it’s easier to whine to me for answers? some issue on my part, like an inability to trust him to manage his time?
If it were a matter of my child needed me right by his side emotionally, I’d look into the roots of that insecurity and constant need for reassurance. We’d work on ways for him to become a little more emotionally independent. We’d look into possible fears or worries that were resulting in that great a need for assistance.
I would not just assume it’s normal for a child of that age to need constant attention and management, every single day, to get through his school work. Surely I am not the only person who thinks it’s a little wacky to think a typically-developing 8-9 year old needs that much hand-holding. I know, I know, every kid is different, but if your kid (again, typically developing, no mental/developmental/emotional issues) can’t get through any work without extra help or without a mom-parrot sitting on her shoulder, that might be a sign for a little deeper delving.
I don’t mean the things that we long for, but the things that we homeschoolers tend to overlook.
When I had to get up at 6:15 to get Captain Science off to school in a timely fashion and received a backpack full of reminder notes every day, life was quite different for us than it is now. More predictability. More routine. That’s not to say that we don’t have a routine now, but it’s different each day of the week, as we have co-op on Tuesdays, science at Patchfire’s house on Thursday, piano lessons two days, things here and things there. It’s not 7:45 to 2:15 every Monday through Friday. It’s not on someone else’s time.
This sort of nonreliance on the schedule of others is wonderful in almost every aspect, save one…we’re totally, completely responsible for keeping track of stuff for ourselves! That means that, sometimes, things just don’t get done. We don’t think about them. We don’t remember them. Here are some examples:
1. Picture Day. There is no official homeschool picture day. As a result, Captain Science is almost through with his 4th grade year and has not had formal pictures made. We keep saying we’re going to get them done, but that just hasn’t happened.
2. Hair cuts. Without planned picture days and school field trips, for which I didn’t want my child to look like he was being raised by stewbums, hair cuts tend to fall by the wayside. I wasn’t the best about scheduling them regularly as it was, but at least three times a school year (for first day of school, fall pictures, and spring pictures), Captain Science got a really nice hair cut. Once we got that “picture day is coming” notice, we’d schedule the hair cut. Now, it’s more like Officer Daddyman spends weeks complaining about Captain Science and Tank’s ever-growing hair, I swear I’ll make an appointment to have it done, Daddyman gets frustrated and just takes the boys to his barber, at which point I complain about their hair being too short. OH THE JOYS OF HOMESCHOOLING!
3. Watching what we say. If the boys were in full time public school, I think I’d watch my mouth a little more carefully. Since they’re home so much, I have developed an unfortunate tendency to just say the things I’d normally have saved for times I wasn’t in their presence. My worst offense is, “So’s your face,” which my brother says is the appropriate response to absolutely everything (and the response to “So’s your face” is “Your mom”). Captain Science will announce, “Mama, I’m done with math,” and I’ll say, “Oh yeah? Well, so’s your face!” Captain Science will say, “So’s your mom,” and Tank, who is the classiest among us, yells, “So’s your BUTT.” I know I should correct it, simply because it’s not socially acceptable for my kids to say that, but it’s not like they’re going off to school and saying it to their teachers, right?
4. All that important non-curriculum stuff that kids still need to learn. Did you know that you were supposed to make sure your kids memorized their address? I know I totally didn’t think about it until Patchfire told me Eclectic Girl was six before they realized that she didn’t know her address. Oops! Public schooled kids get it drilled into them in kindergarten, but our homeschooled children are going to grow up with no clue as to where they live. Someone needs to put together a checklist of non-curriculum stuff that our kids need to learn. That list will also include how to spell their last name, their parents’ names, and their phone number.
5. Cops and firemen. Unless you’re luck enough to have an Officer Daddyman in the house, your kids may be missing out on the awesome public school experience of fire fighters and law enforcement officers coming out to the school to teach your kids about safety and how to dial 911 while mama and daddy are sleeping late (they say that’s not what they’re doing, but you KNOW that’s what they’re doing). There’s always the option of trying to get your co-op in to the fire station, I suppose.
6. Fire drills. You should be having these for your family anyway, but I bet you don’t. I know I don’t. At school, your kids would be having fire drills. They’d learn to “stay low and go” and to “stop, drop, and roll.” Maybe when you plan that visit to the fire station that you aren’t actually going to plan, you can make sure the firemen address those topics.
What things do you think that you’re missing as a homeschooler? What critical gaps in your child’s education (academic or social), appearance, or experience are you completely overlooking?
Daisy asks, “Should I join a homeschool advocacy group like HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association)?”
In a word, no.
Please forgive me if I become too wordy or impassioned, but this particular topical splinter has been digging into my brain for a while now. What comes out might not be pretty. As a secular homeschooler, I’m not ever going to be on board with the HSLDA. As a liberal homeschooler, I’m not ever going to be on board with the HSLDA. Honestly, as a homeschooler in general, I’m not ever going to be on board with the HSLDA.
HSLDA is a religious group and has, in my opinion, some rather sinister ulterior motives that go much further than protecting or extending the rights of homeschoolers. It’s not just “rah rah, homeschooling!” but a lot of unpleasant cause mixing — they’ve either directly worked against, encouraged members to work against, or celebrated legislation outlawing/limiting gay marriage, gun-free school zones, abortion, and more. Not only does this stand against things I believe in, ethically/morally and politically/legally speaking, but really crosses the line from supporting homeschool to intervening in the lives of others — ironically, the very thing they seem so convinced the government is set on doing. A 2004 article in the Boston Globe addresses many of my concerns with the organization and what I feel is an exploitation of homeschooling families and homeschooled children to push the HSLDA’s ultraconservative agenda.
What does abortion have to do with homeschooling, exactly, outside of the topics of health or religious belief? The HSLDA has an entire page on their site celebrating “partial birth abortion” ban. HSLDA president Michael Farris hopes, in his own words, that “homeschooled young people will help reverse Roe v. Wade.” Again, I’m curious as to what Roe v. Wade has to do with mathematics, science, language arts, or any other aspect of home education. How is Roe v. Wade, or abortion in general, an issue that should be addressed by a homeschooling organization?
Why does an organization charging around $100/year in membership dues, supposedly to pay for legal defense for homeschooling issue, instead shunt that money into stopping abortion or gay marriage, or championing non-homeschool-related political causes in general? HSLDA funds the National Center for Home Education, which is a lobbying organization, and Generation Joshua, which is designed to indoctrinate homeschooled students into the Farris’s specific set of conservative beliefs and recruit them for conservative grassroots movements.
You’re better off knowing your own rights and retaining your own counsel, IMO, unless you want to fund the above. Obviously, I’m addressing a general “you,” or more specifically, answering the question of whether I would join the HSLDA, because I certainly wouldn’t want to fund the above. Even some of my politically conservative, Christian friends won’t join the HSLDA, because they feel uncomfortable with the degree of political involvement and the related pressure on member-families. Sadly, the HSLDA presents itself as the only game in town and the only group standing between homeschoolers and terrible, crushing demise at the government’s hands. Yes, homeschoolers do have it pretty rough in some states, but the intrusive, rabidly conservative approach of the HSLDA strikes me as a way to worsen, rather than improve, conditions for homeschoolers.
Daisy also asked about joining the HSC (Homeschool Assoc of CA). This group appears to be inclusive and to genuinely focus on advocating for the rights of homeschoolers. If you really feel that joining a legal/advocacy group is important, the HSC sound like a much better bet to this [Smrt] Homeschooler.
I’m sometimes amused by some of the ways in which people stumble across my blog. I use Google Analytics to track my site statistics, so I get a nice breakdown of search terms used to find my site. While I’m usually glad to grab a new reader, I’m not sure I’m really the site that some of these people are searching for in their great Googling adventures.
The search terms may be completely straightforward:
smrt lernins blog
patchfire eclectic girl (who was looking for you and got me instead, Patchfire?)
Sometimes the search terms are curricula-centered:
can abeka be secular?
building poems m clay
ellen mchenry “the brain” homeschool
compare just write and writing strands
life of fred math overly christian
jesus in math class/jesus mathematics/jesus math/bible verses on mathematics (four separate searches)
Sometimes, the searcher clearly has…let’s just call them “strong feelings” on certain topics:
unschooling failure (well, yes, I do give some examples of that here) are there unschoolers that are not hippies (yes, but the other unschoolers killed and ate them) being unschooled did not prepare me (Am I the only one who is terribly curious for what this searcher was unprepared?) are home schooled children to sheltered (My answer: No, but they are able to distinguish between “to” and “too”) homeschooler sheltered (also “sheltered homeschooler”) pitfalls of unschooling (better than “pit traps of unschooling”) unschooling idiocy (this works on a few levels, so please feel free to insert your own joke here)
And finally, the downright bizarre:
“a lot of pee” (their quotes!) captain underpants valuable lessons learned (lesson learned: Don’t read Captain Underpants) lern sex (No! Learn spelling!) distilling urine (Ok, fair enough. I do have a post tagged with this) etymology of sexy (I’m pretty sure it derives from the word “sex”) in the event of this tough situation (break glass, remove homeschooler) seculat thrusday (yes, I know this is just a matter of typos, but what a glorious combination of typos!) why is math hard for pretty girls (because God doesn’t give with both hands)
Then there’s the one search that really tugs at my heart strings, because I could have been the one who searched for it about a year ago:
homeschooling parents who feel panic and anxiety (You aren’t the only one out there! I’m here! You aren’t alone!)
If you found my site through a search engine, how did you get here? If you were searching for my site, what do you think you’d search for?
I’d like to talk to you about a radical new homeschooling method called trampschooling. That’s right, education through trampoline.
Trampschooling is an alternative method to traditional homeschooling. Instead of using rigorous curricula, the child engages with the world through endless days spent bouncing on a trampoline. By bouncing, a child is learning all he needs to know about the real world. Trampschooling is excellent preparation for college and, most importantly, real life.
Leaping into the air is like leaping upwards into knowledge! Not only will your child learn important physical skills (what P.E. class could teach what a trampoline teaches about balance and core strength?), but s/he will learn basic principles of math and science through practical application. Physics taught through books and even fabricated lab kits is divorced from the true mechanics of the natural world. Trampschooled children learn about physics through self-directed experimentation. Nothing teaches a child more about force and trajectory than miscalculating a bounce and flying off into a fence. Not only that, but the subsequent emergency room visits will teach your child important information about modern medical science!
Trampschooling requires little financial investment, but full commitment to trust your child’s ability to direct his/her own bouncing. You can purchase a trampoline for as little as $150, though some savvy trampschooling parents have found them on Craig’s List or even Freecycle! As your child grows in trampschooling, you may want to replace your trampoline with a larger model, so s/he can better stretch, leap, and explore the world.
One of the most important aspects of trampschooling is respecting your child’s autonomous right to take risks. Pure trampschooling means eschewing the so-called safety enclosures — they’re little more than cages meant to oppress your child and minimize his/her learning experience! Give your children the gift of true knowledge and the freedom to fly!
If you’d like to learn more about trampschooling, check out the new trampschooling forums at Mothering.com.
Special thanks to Isarma for opening my eyes to this empowering new mode of homeschooling. We’re selling off all our curricula next week, buying a trampoline, and never looking back.
The group was previously called “I homeschool and I believe in evolution,” but there was dissent amongst members and potential members over the word “believe.” Evolution isn’t something that someone needs to believe in. There’s no element of faith involved. Evolution is an evidence-based scientific theory. Saying you believe in evolution is like saying you believe in gravity, relativity, or germs. A few possible name options were bandied about, but “I homeschool and I teach the science of evolution” was the overall favorite and most of the members seemed quite happy with it.
Then, of course, enter that handful of we’re-never-happy-unless-it’s-100%-our-way unschoolers (you know…those unschoolers. Not the “we’re following our child’s natural pattern of learning” unschoolers, or the “I let me child direct the course of his education” unschoolers, but the “I’d rather be illiterate than have had my parents teach me to read” Doddist unschoolers) with their panties in a twist over the use of the word “teach.”
“Teach,” you see, is a big, bad word among a particular subset of unschoolers. These unschoolers do not “teach.” Never, ever, ever. They lead such enriched and depth-filled lives that their children all learn exactly what they need to learn through their vibrant social lives or it wasn’t important enough to learn to begin with. The use of the word “teach” in the group name was apparently offensive enough that several unschoolers (probably the ones my friend Heather calls the “radical XTREME unschoolers”) left the group.
Complaints about the new name included:
“I don’t teach anything, I support my children as they explore their passions and interests.”
“We don’t *teach* our kids[...]We fill their lives with rich experiences, and they reach their own conclusions.”
“I’m uncertain if we ‘teach’ any of the subjects. We facilitate.”
Really? Really? You know what that sounds like? A group of people finding the most circumlocutious way possible to say they teach without ever actually using the word “teach.” And what exactly is so wrong with “teach,” anyway? Let’s take a look at the dictionary entry for the little word:
1. To impart knowledge or skill to: teaches children.
Hmm…imparting knowledge to your child. Sounds dangerously similar to telling your child how to think. Yes, I can see why that might be threatening to the [radical XTREME] unschooler.
2. To provide knowledge of; instruct in: teaches French.
Well, “providing” knowledge doesn’t sound as bad as “imparting,” but you’re still thrusting all that knowledge upon your children when they might not want it.
3. To condition to a certain action or frame of mind: teaching youngsters to be self-reliant.
Aha! We have stumbled upon it. Conditioning your child? Conditioning is what Pavlov did with dogs, and your child isn’t a dog, right? Teaching is practically like making your child drool at the dinging of a bell. Horrifying!
4. To cause to learn by example or experience: an accident that taught me a valuable lesson.
But…but…wait a minute! I thought [radical XTREME] unschoolers wanted their children to learn by example or experience. Isn’t that what unschooling is supposed to be about? I thought it was about natural learning, modeling, learning contextually, learning through life experience and all that jazz. If “teach” can mean “cause to learn by example,” why would unschooler have a problem with that word? Now I’m really confused. It must be a product of my public school education’s failure to “teach” me how to understand crazy people on the internet.
Not all (or even most) unschoolers are coocoo for Cocoa Puffs on Facebook, of course. Most of the unschooling members of the group were very supportive of the name change. One unschooler even pointed out that, “Someone better go tell Holt (from my understanding, the person who coined the term ‘unschooling’) to change the name of his book, “Teach Your Own” since the word “teach” is bothering so many unschoolers here.” Virtual fist-bump, sensible unschooler.
I’d like to say something to those unschooloonies who gasp and clutch their pearls over the use of the word “teach.” You may hate the word, but you’ve inadvertently taught me something very valuable today: You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time, because some of the people are just plain ridiculous.
Technically, I sustained my injury while doing some reorganizing of Captain Science’s binders and our mutual workspace. Unbeknownst to me, the Tank had taken a pair of scissors to the metal coil on the back of one of Captain Science’s creative writing notebooks, leaving the metal coil untucked, slightly sharpened, jagged, and serrated. I sorted through the grammar binder, cleaned up the table, was in the process of handing Captain Science the notebook so he could bring it up to his room.
He grabbed the notebook out of my hand more quickly than I had prepared for, so I didn’t release it fast enough. The sharp metal sliced across the meaty of the palm just below my left index finger (does that have a name? I think I used to know the palmistry term for it, but I’ve since forgotten) and across the bottom joint of my finger, leaving me with two deep, painful cuts. The pain was unexpected and shocking. I admit to some yelping and tears, though I think I managed to avoid dropping the F-bomb on my children, for which I believe I should be commended.
The worst part, really, is that the sudden, sharp pain triggered an anxiety attack, which I’ve spend my evening trying to tamp down and ignore. Smile like you mean it.
I now have a patchwork of different sized bandages and a wounded pride that I got hurt so badly on a freaking notebook. Homeschooling is very dangerous, y’all. Beware.
I think I’ve figured out the crux of Captain Science’s issues and it mostly comes down to the above statement. Captain Science always thinks he knows a better way to do things, and when his way isn’t actually better, he has a very difficult time accepting it. The roots of this are buried pretty deeply in his psyche, so I’m not sure how we’ll dig them out, if we even can.
I’ve seen a lot of chatter on the WTM forums lately about the difference between “gifted” and “just bright.” Several people insisted that giftedness comes down to “the way they think.” I am inclined to agree, because I’ve seen Captain Science’s brain working. He really does think differently and has a hard time relating to people who are more “inside the box” thinkers (or people who have difficulty getting the whole box of concepts immediately*). The upside is that it makes him a great abstract thinker and problem solver, when he applies his abilities confidently and diligently. The downside is that it has created an unwarranted sense of his own mental superiority, which manifests as the stubborn insistence that he can always, for every subject or activity, find a “better” way to do it. He’s also constantly on the search for shortcuts, even if those “shortcuts” end up requiring 10x the amount of work as just doing it the normal way.
We saw this a lot when he was little. When Officer Daddyman would teach him martial arts, he would usually respond with, “But I can show you a better way to [roll, stand, kick].” Eventually, he did have to acknowledge that, at five or six, he really didn’t have the knowledge to school the 4th degree black belt in martial arts, but before he could get to that point, there was a lot of headbutting and chest pounding (mostly on his part, as Daddyman isn’t generally going to dignify the young monkey’s attempt to show up the big gorilla).
We’re seeing it now with math, and today it proved to be the trigger for his absurd display of hissydom. He is perfectly competent in mathematics and math foundations, so the last two days, when he suddenly couldn’t do multiplication correctly, we knew something had to be up. Apparently, he decided he could develop a better (and more importantly, faster and easier) way to do multiplication. He would only do multiplication in his new “better” way, despite the fact that the answer came out wrong every single time. The more someone tried to demonstrate that his new method wasn’t working, the angrier he became, until suddenly, he went utterly nuclear. How dare we, the simple-minded parents of his great and hideous oppression, try to act like we knew better than he? How dare we say his way wasn’t hands down the single biggest mathematical innovation EVER in the history of the world?
I’m not exactly sure what to do about this. I’m glad he wants to try new methods, but insisting they’re the right or best ones, when they obviously aren’t, has got to stop. Captain Science is probably too aware of his intelligence, which was partially avoidable (too much praise from family and teachers, too involved in his own test scores during the grade skipping and gifted class testing process) and partially unavoidable (when you’re in a class environment, it’s really not hard to compare yourself to other children, and see that your capacity or performance is different from theirs). I do think that homeschooling will help somewhat in that respect, though — instead of being the gifted kid in a mainstream classroom with diverse ability levels, he’s one several. If Eclectic Girl’s math abilities don’t poke a little hole in his delusions of grandeur, then nothing will. I also hope that being with other highly intelligent children, working on higher-level work, will start encouraging him to rise to the challenge more, rather than finding short cuts.
I agree with Patchfire when she says an IQ of 300 doesn’t matter if all you do with it is sit around and play video games. “Gifted” may describe a certain, special way of thinking, but what does that really matter if the result is a smug attitude and the constant search for cheats and shortcuts? I was a “gifted” student, too, but by high school, I was cutting so many corners in order to put in as minimal effort as possible that I was performing at a significantly lower level than the “average” students in my classes. By college, I was making no effort at all, and I’d managed to functionally dumb myself down through sheer force of “couldn’t be bothered.” The brain is like any other muscle, and if you don’t exercise it to its full capacity, it starts losing that capacity and getting mushy. I don’t want that for Captain Science.
I’m happy for him to look for a better way to do things. I don’t want him thinking his way is automatically going to be better, simply by virtue of it being his way. I definitely don’t want him falling out with the red ass any time someone points out his way isn’t an improvement over the original way of doing things.
*When Captain Science was three, his preschool teacher told me about an incident in the classroom where his frustration with another classmate’s difficulty in mastering the colors came to a head. Nick had incorrectly identified something blue as green, prompting Captain Science to say, with great exasperation, “It’s blue, Nick. B-L-U-E, blue. Not blew like the wind. Blue like the color.” A warning sign of trouble to come?