Free History/Economics Lesson for Your Teens

There’s a wealth of information in this 15-minute interview with Professor Walter E. Williams. If I were still homeschooling, I’d have my kids watch this interview and then let the discussion go from there; it’s that good.

Note that he mentions Dr. Thomas Sowell, another economic expert who has written many, many books full of common sense. I used his Basic Economics with my younger daughter when she was a homeschooling teen. We both learned a lot from that book.

(Interesting sidenote: the interviewer, Ginni Thomas, is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.)

Homeschooling for Free

It kind of alarms me that some homeschooling parents have a huge desire to homeschool their children for free or as little cost as possible.

I get that they’re trying to stretch a buck; aren’t we all these days? But the determination to homeschool for free (particularly at the high school level) seems a little short-sighted. In answer to such parents’ enthusiasm, all sorts of online businesses have now popped up offering “free homeschool curriculum,” but much of what they offer is worth about what you pay for it.

I won’t name sites, but I’ve clicked on the links people share in response to forum requests for “free homeschooling links,” and as far as I can tell these sites are light on substance and heavy on online advertising. The more people they attract, the more attractive they become to advertisers. Seems like that’s the reason for their existence.

That doesn’t mean that good homeschooling resources have to cost a fortune. There are many great resources available online that are no- or low-cost. If parents try looking for quality resources first and then find the low-cost options among them, instead of just looking for “FREE!”,  they might be pleasantly surprised.

Here are a few sites with resources that are high-quality and free:

Classic literature and history: Project Gutenberg

Free classic literature for Amazon Kindle (List 1 and List 2)

(How to read Kindle books on your PC for free)

Upper level math, science and history videos

Do you have others to add to this list? Please share the links in your comment—thanks!  🙂 

The Cost of Not Teaching History

Schools are increasingly reducing the amount of history taught to today’s children. A while back I noted in one of my newsletters that in North Carolina schools, there’s a proposal to stop teaching events in U.S. history that occurred before 1877. Meanwhile, in England they’re reducing and sometimes even eliminating the study of history in schools.

This is tragic. Are 21st century citizens so self-centered that they think they’re too sophisticated and technologically advanced to learn anything by studying the past? It’s starting to look that way. I guess the educrats who make these decisions have chosen to ignore George Santayana’s warning that “(T)hose who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Thank goodness homeschooling families have the freedom to choose to study history. I like to think that many of our homeschool grads will use the wisdom they’ve acquired from studying history to help straighten out our country when they become adults. We’ll certainly need their help, the way things are going these days.

Facing the Facts

Josh is in our basement workshop, working on a project with my husband. They’re making an outdoor bean bag game to play outside this weekend when our older kids come home for the holiday weekend.  I can hear his happy banter with his dad as they work. Every so often he says, “Ha-ha! I did it!”

They’ve been sawing and painting for the past day, and Josh is very excited to see the project coming together. Most 17-year-olds wouldn’t get so excited about doing this. But Josh isn’t like most 17-year-olds because he has developmental delays.

When he was a baby, I sometimes wondered what homeschooling him would be like. I’d become accustomed to the pace set by his three older siblings. I wondered how much longer it would take him to learn the things they learned by certain ages. Continue reading

Was 20th Century Prosperity Just a Blip in History?

I recently read an article in a quilt magazine about Ida Stover Eisenhower, mother of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It included several photos of quilts made by the president’s mother from the time she was young.

The quilts were pretty, and representative of their time (late 1800s to early 1900s). But what really interested me was the story of her married life.

She met her future husband, David Eisenhower, at college. After they were married in 1885, David sold the prime Kansas farmland his father had given the couple as a wedding gift, raised an additional $2,000 and started a mercantile store with a friend.

The business did very well for two years, but then local farmers began asking for credit after losing their crops to drought and grasshoppers. Eventually David and his partner had to borrow money to keep the shop afloat, but the store failed anyway.

The Eisenhowers then moved to Texas, where David found a job working for a railroad company as an engine wiper for $40 a week. These were hard years for the Eisenhowers. It was during this time that the future president was born.

After two years in Texas, David was offered a job in a creamery in his hometown, and the family moved back to Kansas and lived with relatives for seven years. Then Eisenhower’s brother, a doctor, sold them a house on a few acres at the edge of town. They would raise six sons in that 818-square-foot house. And Ida and David would live in that little house for the rest of their lives.


Ok, it’s a bit of history, but what’s so interesting about it? I think it shows that up until the mid-20th century, getting started in life was tough. People had a hard time making it. If it wasn’t drought and grasshoppers, it was financial trouble. But people persevered and got through it.

However, after World War II, our country became unusually prosperous compared to the past. My generation (the tail end of the Baby Boomers) grew up believing that life wouldn’t be so hard. You go to college, get a degree, buy a nice house, drive nice cars, and as long as you show up to work each day, you’ll keep moving up and getting in a better position financially until you retire comfortably like your parents did.

It’s not working out that way in my family. I’m one of four sisters, three of whom are married. Of the three husbands, two have been out of work for some time and one is watching his business shrink. The unmarried sister is the mom of two boys and has been out of work for over a year. The other two sisters work in the public schools and are employed, for now.

And it’s not just our family. One friend’s husband has had his hours cut and faces an uncertain future. Another quit her church preschool teacher job because of something immoral going on in the church; a few weeks later, her husband was laid off. Friends who retired early had to go back into the work force as substitute teachers because their retirement account took a beating.

Up until recently I was thinking something strange was going on, with so many people I know losing their jobs, and unemployment rates across the country skyrocketing. But now I’m wondering if the “something strange” was actually what happened while I was growing up, when for fifty years or so it was so much easier to earn a living than it had been for most of history.

Maybe it was a glitch, a blip, and now we’re going back to normal, like the normal of Ida Stover Eisenhower’s time, when making a living was a struggle, and you were grateful to have an 800-square foot house to raise your six boys in. I wonder….