History, Homeschooling and the Internet

I’ve been addicted to reading since I was three years old. I can’t help it, it’s what I do. 

For many years, well into adulthood, I spent several hours each weekend reading the voluminous Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune. But it’s now a shadow of its former self, thanks to the Internet, which is where I do most of my reading these days.

I love having such a variety of interesting things to read. Once in a while, however, I hit on something really good, something someone has written that is so spot-on that I just have to share it with others. And have I got something good to share today.

Prolific writer and economic historian Gary North has written an awesome piece entitled “Public Education is Going Down” that clearly explains how the rise of the Internet is slowly killing public education. His theory is that, thanks to the growing availability of knowledge online at an increasingly lower cost, we parents are regaining the educational control that was lost centuries ago:

Home schooling is a throwback to the fifteenth century. It lets parents choose the content and structure of their children’s education. But it goes far beyond anything available then. One size does not fit all: all parents or all children. There is enormous diversity today, and it is getting even more diverse.

Read the entire article for yourself, and be sure to catch his last line. It made me smile  🙂

Productivity

I used to think that once the kids were grown I’d be the queen of productivity, cranking out quilts and books left and right once I didn’t have little people who needed me 24/7. But I was wrong.

I’m behind on everything. Our two kids at home still need me, though not the way they once did. Having to move twice in two years also messed with my concentration. For a while I spent more time on realtor websites (first trying to sell our house, then trying to find somewhere to go) than working on my own. I’m still homeschooling one child, and people still need to eat, so I don’t have as much free time as I thought I would.

Ultimately, though, the problem is me. I think all the years of living with kids every day (i.e. constant interruptions to my train of thought) left me so scattered and easily distracted that I could no longer concentrate.

To make matters worse, I started hanging out on the Internet, which allowed me to look up anything I was curious about….ever. Once I learned about tabs, I soon found myself opening tabs, even while I was reading something else, whenever an idea occurred to me. I learned a lot, but I also trained my brain to skip from thought to thought like a hummingbird visiting flowers. I think the Internet made my attention span shorter.

It became clear to me that I’d have to make some changes if I was going to be more productive. Having spent almost my entire adult life homeschooling, I do have some information to share with other homeschooling parents, and I’d like to get it out there before I forget it! I’d have to find some ways to become more productive before it was too late.

The first thing I did was to give up the Internet on Sundays. While I had not worked on Sundays because of it being the day of rest, I still surfed, read and wrote email, and basically goofed off. But I decided that I spent enough time online during the week, so I gave it up cold turkey on Sundays. I’m happy to report that not only have I survived the shock of this, but I now do other things on Sunday, things I used to do, like taking a nap, reading for fun, hanging with the family and watching old movies.

Tomorrow: the other change I made.

Prayers and Smiles

We have a couple of medical issues in our family lately, plus we’re having trouble finding a house (we’re supposed to be moving in a month!) So please pray for us, if you feel led to do so. (Thanks!)

In the meantime, I’m looking for smiles wherever I can find them. Here’s something that made me smile, and I want to share it with you:

Great Tools for Financial Literacy

 

I’ve been using Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers with dd17 for the past 18 months or so, and we’re almost finished. We’ve been having a lot of fun with the projects.

Funny how using Life Prep has been a different experience with each of my children.

Our eldest was very eager to get out on her own, so we emphasized the rent, food and utilities projects over the others. Our son was completely college-minded, so we stuck to more reading and less projects. Dd17 is not in a big hurry to be out on her own, but she’s not sure about college either (she’s already racked up a few credit hours and isn’t sure if she wants to keep going), but she really gets into all of the projects.

She has run a couple of small businesses, so she understands the need to watch your expenses and make prudent choices. She seems to really get into studying how loans work, and how you can save a lot of money by prepaying them.

While working on the projects from the book, she enjoyed playing with some online financial calculators at Bankrate.com. They’re wonderful! I plan on adding mention of them to the next edition of the book when we update it again in a few years.

Interesting Websites for Homeschooled Teens

One of the joys of homeschooling is watching your kids take the initiative in learning new things. Here are a few fun and interesting sites where homeschooled teens can learn something new:

Wordspy.com keeps track of all the latest phrases entering our collective vocabularies. Those who love words will appreciate new words and phrases such as brickor mortis (slow housing market), adorkable (adorably dorky) and e-fence (the online sales of stolen items), along with others already in regular use such as bridezilla and McMansion.

The ultimate how-to site, Instructables is the place to go to learn to make anything from realistic, reusable latex wounds (just in time for Halloween—ugh!) to a solar thermal water heater for less than $5 (great science project!)

For those who are into the works of Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Insultor will keep you humble.