Monday, January 14, 2008

legal support choices

We do have a choice... In true homeschooling fashion, one size does not fit all. Check out these alternatives to HSLDA and decide for yourself which one meets your family's beliefs and needs. I found this blog, Treasure Seekers, which offered the list along with her commentary, which I do not necessarily agree or disagree with. I encourage you to read, research, discuss, and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Generation easy way out

Last night, the husband and I watched a Frontline episode on PBS called the Medicated Child. The documentary followed the cases of a few children who were being medicated for ADHD and, the latest popular diagnosis, bipolar disorder. You can watch it online here. Pundits are calling these kids Generation Rx, but we think there's bigger story here.

One child was labeled by a teacher at age 3 as being hyperactive. It was pointed out that this child had no problems at all until he was in preschool. The parents were backed into a corner of the next few years as teacher after teacher suggested that he be medicated. In another segment, a doctor and the parents took seriously the imaginative, albeit disturbing, ramblings of a 5-year-old girl. Her fantasies were all about bashing heads open and decapitating her parents. My first instinct was to ask what is this child watching on television and how are the parents interacting with her. The doctor believes the child has bipolar disorder, of course, and prescribes medication. Another young boy was taking eight medications for bipolar disorder and ADHD. Jim and I watched in horror as the child washed down a few microwave corn dogs with blue Gatorade. Later, he washed down his medication with soda right before bed. A steady diet of sugar, processed food, blue dye, soda chemicals ... I'm sure that has nothing to with his behavior. Asking questions about environment, diet and schedule and getting a sense of the parents' skills is too much work and not as profitable for drug companies, apparently. And if you can blame the behavior on a brain disorder, you won't offend parents who are paying the medical bills and you'll help increase drug company profits. It's a win-win for these doctors and pharmaceuticals.

I know it's not politically correct to suggest that parents' and teachers' motives are anything but pure or in the best interest of the children, but since when I have really cared about that? Prepare to be offended, outraged and more at my total lack of sensitivity. Ready? Here we go:

Schools are an unnatural environment where children learn to sit still, raise their hands, wait their turn, give up their property rights and accept the authority of a person who is not their parent and is more beholden to a demanding bureaucracy than to their best interest.

As for the parents, they are under enormous pressure from the federal baby-sitting service to make their children conform. And since many of these parents are products of this service, they don't likely have the intellectual courage to question authority. See, they don't teach that in school. The more compliant a child is, the easier it is for a teacher to do her job. For the children whose spirits have not yet been broken, medication is the easy answer. I'd say teachers and doctors have done a pretty good job of making normal childhood development seem like a disorder that can be managed only through medication. Evaluating and changing diet, schedules, parenting approaches among other things before resorting to medication seems like common sense, but the federal baby-sitting service has trained that right out of us. No, no, we must rely on experts and solutions that cost money. After all, a good economy is good for the state which collects taxes on every move we make. And, God forbid, we make a move that doesn't cost a thing.

To us, though, all this sounds like a pretty severe case of PPD (Poor Parenting Disorder) and NCC (Nonconformity Complex) with a mild case of the KIDs. The latter will likely abate over time if the PPD is brought under control and the expectations of conformity are abandoned.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Or can they?

Going along with the title of the blog, "they're mine and you can't have them", I came across a story today which puts that very statement in question. Here's the headline link:

SWAT officers invade home, take 11-year-old at gunpoint

If you've got a minute to spare to read it, I'm sure the shock and outrage you will feel after reading will make it worthwhile. That is to say, if you're into shock and outrage.

Here's the nutshell:
  • 11 y.o. Boy plays rough.
  • Boy falls during horseplay.
  • Father of boy (and 9 others) uses his training as a medic in Vietnam, diagnoses damage as a bruise and decides to observe the child at home for signs of trauma.
  • Neighbor calls paramedics
  • Paramedics show up say nothing is wrong, but want to take child to hospital for observation
  • Father, seeing it was only a bruise and wanting to avoid hospital bills, says, "No."
  • Paramedics call police
  • Police say, "No, the parents are right."
  • Paramedics call Sheriff
  • Sheriff goes to house gets a good vibe and leaves
  • Somebody calls DSS
  • DSS goes to home demands to see the boy in private, eventually leave
  • SWAT Team shows up the next day with court order from Magistrate, beats literal hole into family door, points gun into face of daughter, handcuffs parents, takes boy to doctor
  • Doctor evaluates boy and releases him immediately
Memorable quotes from the story:
"He immediately carried his son into their home several doors away, and John was able to recite Bible verses and correctly spell words as his father and mother, Tina, requested. There were no broken bones, no dilated eyes, or any other noticeable problems."

The sheriff said the decision to use SWAT team force was justified because the father was a 'self-proclaimed constitutionalist' and had made threats and 'comments' over the years.
"However, the sheriff declined to provide a single instance of the father's illegal behavior. 'I can't tell you specifically,' he said.

Since when did providing for your family become a crime?
How/Why is being "a self proclaimed constitutionalist" a bad thing?

Warning: giant RANT to follow. try to keep up...

I don't usually answer the phone at home in the mornings, especially if I am spending time with the kids. This morning, though I welcomed a call from a friend while we were struggling through our first day back to "serious" school work after the busy holiday. The call was on another matter altogether, yet somehow the conversation turned to this friend's interest in how things are done in our house, as far as school is concerned. I have made no secret of my feelings on worksheets and workbooks as learning tools - I hate them. Yet somehow, at least a few times a year, I find myself torturing my children and ultimately, myself, with them. Why do I do this? This morning was one of those times. It didn't strike me until later, how ironic it is that she should call and express an interest in learning more about our different way of doing things and I had just spent three hours begging, issuing empty threats, and delivering one ultimatum after another, including no outdoor time, no scooters, no park trip - how very stupid of me, it's 68 degrees today!!! Why why why???

This is not how children learn. This is how children come to need to be convinced that "learning is fun". That may well be the lesson we learned this morning: how to kill a child's natural love of learning. This is how teachers keep kids busy and how they make a paper trail and how they maintain accountability in the face of a very demanding bureaucracy which in turn is driven by tax payers who rely on the school system to babysit their children while they go pull in their double salary and try to eek out a living on what the government doesn't forcibly take out of their paychecks. Aaack.

As I write this I realize, I may have been nudged into this worksheet torture by the pending testing issue we may have to deal with if we stay in Virginia till the end of the school year. We have the option of having a private evaluator/assessor come to our house (at our expense) and review the children's progress in lieu of standardized torture... I mean, "testing". But without worksheets and workbooks and assignments and projects as proof, what will they evaluate? We are researching our options, but may not even be here at the end of the school year.

The redemption...

This morning Simon was supposed to be doing this jokes page in code, solve the math problem, reference the letter in the key, put the letters together and it spells the answer to the joke. By the end of the morning, it dawned on me what he was doing to solve these, for example: 8+7, he would go find an 8+6 that he had already solved, see that it was an H, go to the key, find what number goes with H, then add 1, find that number and its letter, then fill in the answer. I excused Simon from the last coded joke on the page after I saw what he was doing. If he can make associations and perform complex transfers like this to solve a math problem, then I think he is okay. I mean, come on, he's five. Other kindergardeners are learning how to stand in line and raise your hand and wait your turn and give up your property rights and accept the teacher's arbitrary authority on what basis? that her parents paid for her college degree? This little guy would rather play with the window cling number stickers that he found in the math workbook with his three year old sister. It may be his individual learning style, but he does better with things like math bingo and a game called "math path" that we made from a file folder and some index cards (roll two dice, draw a card which shows you either a plus or a minus sign, perform the operation on the two numbers on the dice and move forward that many squares, cost all of 50 cents to make it and the kids helped, so they love it even more.)

And where do they get off thinking that the skills we need to live our lives have to be taught in a classroom? These couldn't possibly be learned, oh I don't know... while... living... life, could they? We don't teach babies how to walk, or talk, or eat, do we? We don't hand them a worksheet on proper technique and balance, hand out stickers if they get it right, and red marks if they need to improve. What is going on here? It's total arrogance.