Why We Choose to Homeschool?

By Jeff C. Palmer 

Interest in school choice continues to grow as the political and social milieu surrounding it gains momentum. What was initially an idea that seemed almost unpatriotic, at least in the eyes of the majority of our publicly schooled populace, is now an increasingly acceptable American practice. Indeed, it is a serious mistake to ignore or discount the recent growth in school choice options and the reasons increasing numbers of Americans are choosing alternatives to conventional public education.

The dominant reasons for parents choosing homeschooling as an alternative to public schooling involve concerns about pedagogy, the negative influence of peers, and Christian beliefs. Taken together, these concerns are inherently ideological because what constitutes acceptable pedagogy, negative peer influence, and religious beliefs are value-laden constructions. They are inextricably linked, based on fundamental presuppositions about what constitutes a worthy curriculum or course. The perception of this growing population is that ideological alignment is more critical than teacher certification. Effective teaching - the ability to bring about desired educational outcomes - is defined in fundamentally different ways based on fundamentally different presuppositions (Cooper, 2003).

Parents who recognize deficiencies in the teaching profession, relative to their ideological frame, demonstrate a degree of sophistication about curricular issues. Though some of the homeschooling parents interviewed did not adequately appreciate the complexities and demands of the task of the public educator, the fact that they focused on the educational needs of their own children seems reasonable. These parents were inclined to extend their parenting to formal teaching, given their deep concerns about meeting the unique educational and emotional needs of their children, the influence of the peer drug culture, and the overall effects public schooling might have on their children's beliefs. Homeschooling addresses these concerns.

Perhaps the aforementioned observations suggest that inviting parent involvement would be a place for public school educators to begin. If done well, inviting parental involvement in the classroom could help parents feel more secure about school culture (as they become partakers in it) and could lighten the instructional load for the teacher (as parents assist students). Moreover, if invited, some of these parents would likely be happy to share their faith-based beliefs and, in turn, might come to see the value in being one of many religious voices expressed in the public sphere

The idea that religious or ideological issues are important parental concerns is as old as the common school movement itself. Horace Mann's effort to appease the religious voices of the nineteenth century by promoting daily Bible reading in the common school was problematic for American Catholics who asked, "Whose Bible?" It has long been known that beliefs and values are closely linked to the decision to home school one's children. What is notable is the ever increasing diversity in American culture juxtaposed with policies that do not adequately embrace that diversity. The expectation that public schools should leave no child behind by assuming that politically derived standards are no longer problematic ignores lessons gained from curriculum history as well as critical theories that "deconstruct" the taken for granted assumptions made by the dominant culture (Derrida, 1972). These issues need to be carefully examined and debated by various stakeholders. The increasing growth in alternative schooling arrangements may suggest a failure to include diverse voices sufficiently in the public conversation related to education.

The purposes of public schooling are multifaceted, not simple. If public schooling were only concerned with promoting democracy and tolerance, that would be challenging enough. Meeting the needs of each learner, as many school mission statements profess, is an extraordinary challenge. Some of the homeschooling parents interviewed keenly grasped the inherent contradiction between the mission statements of the public schools and their actual ability to deliver on them. School administrators interviewed also expressed a realistic view of their schools' capabilities. Parents, community groups, and schools need to undertake an open and ongoing conversation to clarify what constitutes the healthy and reasonable purposes and boundaries of public schools. As these conversations develop, perhaps diversity will be viewed as an opportunity for civic engagement rather than separation or disintegration.

Again, the implication is that parental involvement needs to be broad and inclusive, not relegated to the innocuous parent-teacher organization, whose function is readily limited to bake sales. Parents need to be empowered along with students, and a culture of civic involvement needs to be nurtured. Both public school educators and parent educators who homeschool their children need to come together to consider how the shared civic community can be more effectively shared.

References

Cooper, J. M. (Ed.). (2003). Classroom teaching skills.

Derrida, J. (1972). Discussion: Structure, sign and play in the discourse of the human sciences. In R. Macksey & E. Donato (Eds.)., The structuralist controversy (pp. 247-272). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Marshall, J. D., & Valle, J P. (1996). Public school reform: Potential lessons from the truly departed. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 4(12).

Jeff C. Palmer is a teacher, success coach, trainer, Certified Master of Web Copywriting and founder of https://Ebookschoice.com. Jeff is a prolific writer, Senior Research Associate and Infopreneur having written many eBooks, articles and special reports.


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You Are Never Too Young

By Carolyn Molnar 

I was surprised to learn the young man who'd asked me such an interesting question was only 17 years old. His curly hair hung down to his shoulders, and he wore the kind of tie-dyed t-shirts I used to wear when I was 17. But his inquisitive brown eyes were filled with wisdom, and when I looked at him, I felt I was gazing into the spirit of an old soul. Our brief chat was enough to give me hope that, yes, a new generation of light workers out there are eager to learn about how to spread love, hope and wonder.

This happened at an event where I was promoting my book Compassionate Messenger, taking questions from the audience about mediumship and spirituality, and delivering a few messages from spirit to people in the audience. We sandwiched about 35 people in the basement of a bookstore, between shelves filled with paperbacks.

After opening the floor for questions, I received the usual inquiries asking me how I got started in mediumship, do I believe protection is important, and how do I know when I'm really connecting with a spirit?

A young man sitting near the back of the room raised his hand, then put it down, looked at the floor for a few minutes, then raised his arm again. And then put it down again. The third time I saw his arm go up, I immediately went to him.

He spoke clearly and confidently, yet there was also a tentativeness in his voice. "Can a person be too young to decide if he wants to develop psychic abilities?" he asked. "Or do you have to wait 'til you're older?"

I had to smile. "You're never too young to begin developing intuitive abilities," I said, then told him about how I'd seen spirit lights when I was eight years old, and how I felt lucky to be born into a family who didn't discourage interaction with spirit. My grandmother was the hairdresser of the medium who used to visit P rime Minister McKenzie King, who was a Spiritualist, and when I was 19 my father introduced me to his psychic, Sadie, a medium who would become my mentor for the next two decades.

I turned to my husband and asked if he had anything to add. "I began reading tarot cards when I was 16," he said. "I can't remember now what drew me to them, but even as a child I was always fascinated by all kinds of cards." And then he looked the young man in the eye. "And what do you mean by older, sonny?"

Everyone had a good laugh. Afterwards, the young man sought me out. Craig told me he was only 17 years old, and had several experiences he couldn't explain. But rather than being unnerved by them, he wanted to know more about the spirit world.

I encouraged Craig find a mentor, or join a meditation group or a developmental circle that had positive-thinking, like-minded individuals who would help him develop his gifts - gifts, incidentally, that we all have (but not all of us are aware of).

I hope Craig finds his mentor or his group. I also hope he feels confident enough to explore his curiosity about psychic abilities, and that his parents are supportive of their son's desire to pursue his burgeoning talents. If so, I congratulate his parents for being open enough to let Craig discover if being a light worker is the path he'd like to walk. And if so... well, as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Carolyn Molnar is a Toronto based Psychic Medium and Spiritual Teacher. She has over 30 years' experience. She provides readings and also teaches others how to tap into their intuitive abilities.

Her book, 'It Is Time: Knowledge From The Other Side', has made a real impact in how people understand intuition. She has been featured on radio, television and in print. Carolyn believes intuition is accessible to everyone.

Please visit Carolyn at http://carolynmolnar.com/ and sign up to receive her monthly newsletter, "A Psychic's Message", and learn more about how to develop and use your intuition in a practical way.




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An Examination of the Impact of Block Scheduling

By Jeff C. Palmer 

The current interest in block scheduling arose in part out of two landmark publications, Prisoners of Time, produced by the National Education Commission on Time and Learning (1994), and Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution, a report from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (1996). These reports suggest that the quality and quantity of classroom time are of particular concern, given the fact that U.S. students spend significantly less time in core academic subjects than their counterparts in Germany and Japan, countries that outperform the U.S. in international assessments.

Some educators argue that altering the arrangement of instructional units and changing time parameters for teachers could increase the likelihood of reforming teaching practices and programs. Larger blocks of time might lead to more project and problem based learning activities, and to increased opportunities for student collaboration and individualized learning. An increase in integrated and interdisciplinary instruction might be another indirect result.

A review of the literature presents opposing views. On the one hand, O'Neil (1995) suggests that block scheduling can improve a school's overall climate and can be a catalyst for innovation in the classroom. Likewise, Buckman, King, and Ryan (1995) indicate that schools can expect to observe significant changes in the instructional approaches employed by teachers with the adoption of block scheduling. Mathews (1997), on the other hand, suggests that not all schools will benefit from block scheduling arrangements, and calls for more rigorous studies to substantiate claims of effectiveness.

In order to ensure a thorough assessment of the new model, district educators looked closely at outcomes from other schools where block scheduling had been adopted, and formulated a few expected outcomes into three general categories: (a) changes in instructional approaches used by teachers; (b) changes in the curriculum experienced by students; and (c) changes in the climate of the school.

Teacher Survey

Major findings from the Teacher Survey include changes in teacher perceptions related to the following:

- Classes involve more learning activities.

- Teachers are more willing to try new strategies.

- Students spend more time working with each other.

- Opportunities for independent projects are more plentiful.

Student Survey

Many positive findings were noted by the Student Survey:

- Students spend more time working with each other.

- Classes involve more learning activities.

- Teachers use more and different methods of instruction.

- Teachers seem to know students better.

- Students are more involved in learning activities.

- Opportunities for independent projects are more plentiful.

- Students are given more time to understand concepts.

School Records

The percentage of students earning honor roll status during each marking period increased substantially for academic year. Over-all, the percentage of students on the honor roll increased during the period in which block scheduling was implemented. An increase in final grades in all core academic subjects for all grade levels was also notable.

Conclusion

From the perspective of the teachers and students, the most significant changes that accompanied implementation of block scheduling were related to instructional practices, assessment practices, and student involvement in the instructional process. Evaluation results for this implementation period suggest that numerous and substantial positive changes have occurred in the high school as a result of implementing block scheduling.

School data related to specific outcomes suggest that the academic environment of the school has improved as evidenced by enhanced grades, particularly in the core academic subjects, and decreased failure rates. In conclusion, the results indicate that meaningful changes have occurred in the instructional approaches used by teachers and in the classroom experiences of students, indicating that block scheduling can be a catalyst for positive change.

REFERENCES

Buckman, D., King, B., & Ryan, S. (1995). Block scheduling: A means to improve school climate. NASSP Bulletin 79(571), 1-65.

Kane, C. M. (1994). Prisoners of time. Washington, DC: National Education Commission on Time and Learning.

Mathews, L. (1997). Alternative schedules: Blocks to success? NASSP Practitioner 53(3), 11-15.

National Association of Secondary School Principals. (1996). Breaking ranks: Changing an American institution. Reston, VA: Author.

O'Neil, J. (1995). Finding time to learn. Educational Leadership 24(1), 1-3.

Jeff C. Palmer is a teacher, success coach, trainer, Certified Master of Web Copywriting and founder of https://Ebookschoice.com. Jeff is a prolific writer, Senior Research Associate and Infopreneur having written many eBooks, articles and special reports.



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