Those “Crazy” Unschoolers

I realize I am probably one of maybe 100,000+ people who are going to blog about this today, but what can I say?…OCCASIONALLY I fit in with the crowd. 

If you even vaguely keep your ear to the grindstone of the homeschooling world, you probably heard about the Good Morning America story this morning on unschoolers.  I actually watched it in real time because a friend called to let me know it was coming on.  So I got ready to watch.  I even called in Uber to watch with me.

And we sat there excitedly waiting – – in awe that they were doing a feature piece on unschooling on morning television! Then, our awe slowly turned to confusion, and then basically to disgust as we realized that not only were they profiling the two most radically “unschooled” families in the universe, but that they were actually generalizing that all unschoolers looked like that.  Even worse, the commentators decided to drop out honey-soaked judgmental condescensions every chance they got.  (“well-meaning”, “crazy” (thanks George!), “playing hooky”)

What bugged me the most was that the piece really had very little to do with unschooling at all.  I’m guessing GMA edited out all the parts where the parents outlined the benefits of this form of education, the parts where they quoted liberally from Holt, and the parts where they show the children actually able to put two sentences together that make some semblance of intelligent sense.  At least I HOPE they edited out those parts.

Instead, they decided to focus on the ridiculousness of parents who don’t really make their children do chores, or have house rules, or even attend to personal hygiene.  If that’s the case, then I don’t know what the big deal is.  It’s basically just natural selection at that point, right?  The universe is bound to weed out those whose teeth fall out before they are 12 anyway, and leave behind the strong, publicly educated children who eat the healthy foods from the school cafeteria and ALWAYS follow the rules.  It will all work out in the end.

GMA is doing a follow-up on this story tomorrow where all the crazed teachers whose egos this story threatens can call in and ask questions of these model parents.  I’m going to sleep well tonight knowing that these two will be speaking for me and all my unschooling friends as they field questions about the legal and societal implications of their decisions. 

You know those teachers who have been out of work since the economic downturn?  The ones who have been struggling to find some meaning in their life since their time in the classroom?  The ones who have time to sit around and watch GMA in the mornings while they scan the want-ads. Whatcha wanna bet they may have just found a cause they can all rally around and start campaigning against in their spare time??

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R-T’s Man Crush

I’m not a naturally jealous person.  Well, at least not in the sense of checking the hubster’s collar for lipstick stains, or foraging through his pockets for any stray hotel matchbooks. (I guess the mere fact that I used such clichéd examples of jealous wives shows that I’m not even green-eyed enough to figure out what it is wives are supposed to do these days when they suspect infidelity!)

However, even my unsuspecting personality has been on slightly higher alert the last couple weeks.  I mean a woman just KNOWS these things, whether or not there is any substantial evidence.

And R-T has been feeling slightly depressed ever since his doc temporarily quarantined him from his favorite hiking haunts.  So, I guess it’s not that surprising that he would seek out someone to make him feel alive again – – virile – – dangerous.  When one name started to come up more than once or twice a day in conversation, I admit my ears perked up.  Even worse, I actually caught him watching video covertly in the bedroom not once, but twice.

Finally, I just decided to confront my questions head on.

“Do you have a man-crush on Bear Grylls?”

Like any man, he avoided the question altogether at first.  “Did you know that he has skydived onto every continent on earth??  And was one of the youngest Britons to ever climb Mt. Everest?? And that was AFTER he broke his back in three places and doctors weren’t even sure if he would ever walk again!! Is that not freakin’ amazing??!!”

While I stood there with my mouth open, not able to find the words to respond, R-T got up the nerve to confess everything.

“I’m thinking of sending in an application to join him on his show.  He’s asking people to send in letters and videos and explain why they deserve to get to go on an adventure with him.  I really, REALLY want to go with him.  I think I would be the perfect candidate! Don’t you?”

Instead of breaking down or lashing out, though, I started trying to rationalize my husband’s disloyalty.

It had to be the pain medicine they gave him for the broken ribs – – that, and his recent restlessness and despair.  He’s hallucinating, of course.  Thinking that I would EVER let him go on an adventure with Bear Grylls – – he’s moved past depression and is now in full-blown psychosis!!

Rationalizing only gave me so much comfort, though.  Especially after I discovered the letter he wrote to Bear.  I’m including it, here, in case you had some lingering thoughts, dear readers, that perhaps I was paranoid and just imagining my husband’s man-crush.

Dear Bear,
I believe you should pick me to be your guest on one of your televised survival adventures. Americans have this whining thing down to an art form. I have no doubt you will be inundated with letters from this side of the Atlantic by very noble people who have selflessly overcome many challenges and probably deserve a chance to go adventuring with you. That stuff might work on Oprah, but not on someone like you who eats raw maggots from the rotting intestines of mountain goats. Let me be blunt. I don’t deserve it at all. Consider this: How would you feel if one of those noble, selfless candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize ended up croaking on one of your wild survival treks? Could you really live with that guilt? Why not take an ordinary guy like me and not risk years of emotional self-flagellation if I slip through one of those ice crevices? Instead of boring you with some really sad story about why I am the most deserving contestant I am going to cut right to the chase and appeal to your ego. Obviously, you have a massive ego. Anyone who breaks his back in two places and then goes on to become the youngest British person ever to climb Mt. Everest in order to write a book about it has to have an ego to match that lofty summit.
In trying to appeal to your ego, let me first just say what a cool name you have. It’s right up there with Crocodile Dundee. Americans rarely get named after ferocious animals and when they do it’s usually just a golfer named Tiger (although I recently heard he changed his named to Cheetah) or someone like that. Also, I must add that you have single-handedly restored my faith in British masculinity. Before Man vs. Wild, my opinion of your country had been largely formed by my wife’s obsession with Jane Austen’s Victorian England and those Notting-Hill-Love-Actually-Bridget-Jones movies that she is always watching. Based on those, I used to think that all British men ran around like Hugh Grant speaking in a posh accent while fretting over paper cuts or getting exercised about the bread crust on cucumber sandwiches. Then you came along, biting through the spinal cords of raw fish with your teeth, eating worms and drinking your own urine. Wow! You taught us what it means to be a real Brit of a man by showing us that when some of you say “bloody” it’s not just an expression, but an adjective that is going to describe supper on tonight’s episode of Man vs. Wild.
I also happened to notice that before you parachute out of planes or paraglide off the side of a helicopter you make the sign of the cross. So I suspect that if you are a religious man living in England that you must be an Anglican. What good fortune it is that I just happen to be an Episcopal clergy person. Having me on your show would help strengthen the Anglican Communion. There’s no question that it could use some of your survival skills. Now to be honest, those of us who are in the Anglican Communion really have no idea what that is other than to use one of our favorite phrases: “It’s a profound mystery.” However, like all good Anglicans, we believe that if it is really old then we must somehow work to preserve it. That is where you and I come in. Countless Archbishops and ecclesiastical hierarchs have held numerous conferences and drafted endless parliamentary resolutions seeking to ease the strain on the bonds of the Anglican Communion, but what it really needs to jump start the process is for an Episcopalian and a member of the C of E to go out and leap over a pit of rattlesnakes together or make our own zip line through a rain forest somewhere. I do not know the Archbishop of Canterbury personally, but I cannot help but think that you would earn some good will within Lambeth by doing your part to foster the Communion. You could even rename our joint episode and call it, “Man of the Cloth vs. Wild”.

Thank you for your consideration.
R-T

So, as you can see, I am completely justified in my jealousy.  I am not sure what recourse to take, at this point.  Do I give him an ultimatum??  Wild Man or Topsy??  or do I take the if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em tactic and offer to go ahead and move with him to the mother country for the sake of the children??

Think of me, will you, as I ponder these things in my heart?  Who knew that a few broken ribs could also lead to a wife’s broken heart??

Awww…They’re Human Again

Parthenon from west

Image via Wikipedia

So yesterday, I gave into the whine that had been building up, and gave it free rein.

But today, I have been privileged to sit on the sidelines and watch and listen as my two wonderful young men have made their plans for learning today.  Thanks to the suggestion of Stone-Age Techie, we have begun to read aloud the first in the Percy Jackson series to supplement Uber’s current interest in Ancient Greek culture.

This read-aloud has led to a natural interest on H-T’s part in Ancient Greece as well – – especially the different gods and their attributes. So, the boys have added a documentary on Ancient Greece to the Instant Watch queue on Netflix.  Then, together (yes I said TOGETHER), they have decided to watch that documentary over the network, on our new BluRay player.

Then, as I have sat hear quietly eavesdropping from the bedroom, my two free-form scholars have begun watching and making the most awesome comments back and forth about things like airborne illnesses, Sparta, and the Coliseum.  It is a beautiful thing to listen to!

So I think at least PART of the prescription for the illness that is teenage-dom must be taking charge of one’s own education.  Perhaps it meets some of the cravings for independence that are so common at that age.  Whatever the reason, I’m feeling pretty doggone happy about this educational experiment.

For today, I have my young men back.  And I have unschooling to thank.

 

p.s. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to head back to Monday’s Topsy-Techie birthday giveaway to enter for a chance to win the Martha Stewart cake decorating kit!

 

Nobody told me it could be like this…

I don’t know what your take on the Blu-Ray players is, but mine has always been…what’s the point?  I mean DVDs work perfectly fine.  They are definitely a step above VHS because of the whole no rewinding thing, and they take up less space in the entertainment cabinet, so I see no reason to change-over to Blu-Ray. 

UNTIL…our DVD went kaput.  Then there was a choice.  Do I plunk down money for another DVD player, OR move with the times and get a Blu-Ray?? Decisions, Decisions.  And with my birthday coming up in just a month, I knew that this new gadget would be attached to the celebration, so I decided it had better be one HECK of a gadget!!

Thus began my search.  After a while I realized that for the most part, a Blu-Ray is a Blu-Ray is a Blu-Ray. 

LG bluray UNTIL…I found it.  A Blu-Ray that was most definitely NOT just a Blu-Ray.  This Blu-Ray had network access.  Which means it connects to your home network, and lets you watch YouTube, Netflix Instant Watch, and even new releases via CinemaNow.  Oh-ho-ho-ho!!  Now that was a Blu-Ray worthy of my last year in my 30’s!!

With one flick of my remote-hovering thumb I have basically TV-on-demand – – especially with YouTube offering more and more network shows, and Netflix having plenty of reruns of stuff I’ve been meaning to catch up on.

This is the way TV was meant to be.  What you want, when you want it.  Sometimes, a techie just can’t resist the temptations and seducements of the “next big thing.” 

I mean have you seen those refrigerators with the internet screen built right into the door?????

Has Anyone Been Wanting to Try Out Netflix?

If so, now’s the time!

Netflix sent me a promotion code that I am allowed to email to friends and family.  The code is good for one free month of Netflix subscription.

If you’ve been wondering whether Netflix is for you and your family (how good the movie selection is/how easy it is to rent/how quickly the movies will arrive), then this is the perfect opportunity to find out.

All you need to do is leave me your email address in the comments, and the promotional free month of Netflix is yours. (Feel free to put any necessary spaces with your email to prevent spamming.  And I’ll delete all comments after one week just to be on the safe side)

I LOVE the incredible amount of educational DVDs available via Netflix.  And it is usually pretty easy to get a new release, as well.

Happy Renting!!!

I’m Not Talking To Myself…I’m Having A Parent/Teacher Conference!

Having been a homeschooling family for pretty much all of my sons’ educational careers has left me with a few nagging questions.

There are certain “quirks” my kids have that I never know whether to chalk up to their individual personalities or to the fact that they haven’t had the opportunity to have those idiosyncrasies teased, mocked, or beat out of them on a daily basis.

One in particular that is starting to cause me some consternation is H-T’s constant need to talk to himself.  He started this trend as a toddler.  He would repeat any and all dialogue from whatever TV show or cartoon he was watching.  H-T was late to talk, and required no small amount of speech therapy in his early years, so I actually thought his little habit was not only cute, but productive, as well.

The “little habit”, however, stretched out into most every moment of every day – – playtime with his imaginary friends, bath time with his floating tub-buddies, deep discussions at bedtime with whatever companions were busy helping him keep the monsters under his bed at bay.  Still, I knew he would grow out of it, and simply smiled at his vivid imagination.

But…fast forward to the present time, where a very-tall-for-his-age 13 year old is having full-blown conversations with the computer in his room and I begin to wonder – – just possibly – – if we might have a problem, Houston.

So to make myself feel better (and less guilty for aiding and abetting a serious personality disorder), I’ve begun making lists of jobs where talking to oneself might actually be a plus.

  • Truck Driver – staves off loneliness AND keeps one awake during long shifts
  • Telemarketer – even when you aren’t selling every appliance warranty in your catalog, your boss at least thinks you are
  • Businessman – I know that’s a pretty vague job description, but  one thing I’m certain of is that you are required to wear one of those Bluetooth thingies on your ear and are always talking to someone invisible anyway
  • Psychiatrist – So I’m not saying that I have any personal experience with this, but when psychiatrists talk all day long into those personal voice recorders, they definitely seem professional
  • Coach of a Professional Sports Team – Have you ever noticed that coaches ALL talk to themselves?  Yeah, I know that supposedly they are talking to the refs (who are across the field) or the players (who can’t possibly hear them over the cheerleaders), but they are actually just talking to themselves, aren’t they? 

So there is hope for H-T, right?  The fact that I have basically let him become his own radio DJ hasn’t turned him a into a total freakcase, has it? 

You WOULD tell me if it had, right?? 

 

What do King Crabs and High Fashion High Schoolers Have in Common?

They are both – – strangely – – my television addictions of the summer. 

I’ve always had eclectic tastes in music, movies, and television, but this summer’s crop of Netflix rentals has even me asking: “What the…”

I’m a cynic.  I hate starting a show and getting involved with the characters and plots only to have a network yank the show from the air.  So I wait.

Wait to make sure the show lasts at least one season.  Wait to see if fans are as excited at the end of a season as they were at the beginning.  And summer is my time to catch up on things that have passed muster.

So this summer my two new obsessions are Deadliest Catch and Gossip Girl.  They both seem from first appearance to be shows I wouldn’t be caught dead watching.  DC is a reality show, after all, and as a rule I DETEST reality shows.  But there is just something about that dead bait and those yellow vinyl jumpsuits that just “hooks me” right in, and I can watch any and all episodes of those stinky, swearing sailors and their pots of crab. 

And Gossip Girl is basically just another teen soap opera.  Isn’t it???  Well, maybe not.  First of all, like most teen shows these days, most of the actors look like they haven’t seen their teens since Bill Clinton was in office.  And I hope to God no real teenagers manipulate, gyrate, and copulate like these do, and that even less of them have that much money to waste at their disposal.  But even with all of this, these over-sexed brats have made me care.  How, HOW did they do it??  I don’t know, but until then, my DVD player will just have to take cold showers between episodes.

So what are your summer can’t miss shows?  Anything else I should add to my Netflix queue?  Just remember, to make me fall for it, it has to be “out there.” Maybe some kind of cooking show/horror movie mashup?  Heck, obviously I’m game for anything this summer!