Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Path not Taken

One of my kind readers asked me – so what is the other choice? If school causes so many problems and is so ineffective then what is the other option? That is a very valid question.

I am going to cover in the upcoming weeks a series of other choices besides traditional follower orders sit in a chair and do what your told public schooling.

So let’s start with the unschooling movement here are a list of unschooling conferences and seminars that you might find very interesting. IF your really into the idea that children must be seen and not heard you probably will be turned off by these folks – of course you probably didn’t read this far anyway – so there you go.

The unschooling movement is based on some simple ideas –
1) Learning is natural.
2) Parents are the best suited to raise their children.
3) Being curious and learning is in the human blueprint.

If you live near one of theses places – take the weekend to explore what is possible.

Thanks for reading and thanks for asking.

Till next week

Eric Wolf

The first place that comes to mind is the Rethinking education conference. One day I will get there – who knows when – but I will.

In Madison Wisconsin…

In North Carolina…

LIFE is Good
NW Unschooling Conference
Red Lion Hotel ~ Vancouver, WA
Memorial Day Weekend, May 22 - 25, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend May 23-25, 2008\

Toronto Unschooling conference

Interesting site on all this - I found myself really enjoying some of the articles...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Remediation Report in 2005

My rewrite of that same remidation report in 2005.

Written by Eric James Wolf, M.S. Education

Remediation Repotr of: Eric James Wolf


Eric Wolf is a very bright young man who, at the age of fifteen, is struggling with his identity and finding little in school to support his emerging adult selfhood. Eric is a bright, thoughtful, and creative student who demonstrates great capacity for thinking and creatively understanding mathematical, scientific, and historical facts and concepts. (Amazing, really, when you examine the degrading and dehumanizing treatment he has received in the school system.) Eric shows great ability to retain stories, but little or no ability to retain individual lines of poems or plays. Eric is a geographic learner; he can give you volumes of information about the space his classes take place in, but very little about what was covered in lecture.

Eric suffers from an undue enthusiasm for school, given his bad experiences. Like a spouse who returns to an abusive partner, he displays an unhealthy willingness to return to traditional school settings: in particular, Spanish, a class he has now failed three years in a row. Given his age and his ability to feel, where is his teenage rebellion? I fear he may have unrevealed energies that lurk beneath the surface. The emergence of these trapped feelings may harm him or those around him.


While he is highly intelligent, Eric has difficulty finishing tasks and completing assignments. I believe that Eric, at the age of fifteen, has an impacted colon and an unhealthy diet, both of which contribute to his inability to think straight. In addition, Eric has taken to reading books instead of sleeping, getting only three to four hours of sleep a night. Eric is allergic to cats, carpet lice, and mattress mites; he should be tested for all known allergies in an urban environment.

Eric is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. His freshman year in high school was so stressful that he came close to suicide on several occasions. Every effort must be made to relieve the stress that has built up in his life.

1) Eric needs a regular exercise program.

2) He needs to radically restructure his diet and get enough hydration and sleep.

3) Eric needs a secretary or an organizing coach to organize his paperwork for an hour a week.

4) When Eric writes by hand, he is unable to escape the stress that he remembers from learning to write. This means that while writing a lengthy paper by hand, he is experiencing the same level of anxiety that you might experience skydiving or rappelling off a cliff.

5) Eric has visual difficulties that lead to frequent classical dyslexic spelling mistakes.

6) Eric appears to have internalized his failure in school into a martyr complex.

7) Eric appears to have suffered grievous emotional and psychic damage from his recent experience in a public school setting.

1) Eric has expressed interest in fencing, walking, sailing, and canoeing, all sports that are available within the city limits. If he practiced one of them twice a week, he would be in much better shape physically. A pass to the local YMCA gym might also be an option if cost is prohibitive.

2) Regular large amounts of roughage and bulk might be added to Eric's diet. Oatmeal every morning for breakfast might make Eric's bowels more regular, thus removing important toxins from his body. Colonoscopy should be considered, although he would hate it.

3) He could drink at least eight glasses of water a day and sleep for eight hours. Both of these things need to be regulated by his parents.

4) A highly organized peer could be hired to help with his papers.

5) Eric may benefit highly from Waldorf handwriting classes and stress reduction exercises. Another option would be for him to study calligraphy or drawing: any period of intense study with pencil and paper would help refocus his feelings of success around holding a pencil or pen.

6) Eric is classically dyslexic, and it appears that his educational success is running four years behind his peers. In reading and reading comprehension, however, he is far above the norm for his grade level. Just four short years ago, he was reading at a much slower rate then his peers. I have no doubt that given time, he will surpass his peers in knowledge and writing ability because of his own desire to participate in society at large. I would suggest, given the academic failures and stress he experienced in the last year, that he be placed in an environment where he can have some positive life experiences: an art-centered or drama-centered school, or a program that focuses on backpacking, canoeing, or sailing.

7) Eric's insistence that he is capable of succeeding in the traditional school environment borders on psychotic. Is his sacrifice necessary? Isn't some part of learning meant to be fun? Why would any student be forced to take a subject that he is failing for three years in a row? What is the purpose of all this work and this effort? Professional intervention will help him understand that his environment is an artificial one with arbitrary standards. In particular, he could be freed of his desire to attend a traditional school setting. If a language besides English must be studied, then perhaps sign language would be a good option. Sign is a physical and visual language, perfect for a dyslexic person.

8) Interventions are an overused clich, but they are necessary. The adults in Eric's world must intervene to protect him from his schooling. They must force him to seek a different expression of acceptance, and they must explore and research other schooling options that may exist. The adults must ask the uncomfortable questions. What is the value of a traditional education for a non-traditional learner? And how do Eric's previous negative emotional experiences with school create an emotional trap that prevents him from seeing other options?
December 28, 2005

Several very interesting questions arose from writing this report.
I find these questions disturbing, and I hope you will too.

How does our children's happiness get crushed beneath our industrial society's need to regulate and prevent sudden change?
Is it really necessary that children take classes in subjects they will never use outside of an academic setting?
Who decides what subjects define civilization?
If 90% of all communication is nonverbal, what do children who spend must of their lives in highly regimented, physically restrictive classrooms run by a fascist-style government learn about their world?
Why does each generation from the 20th century feel a deep distrust of their elders?
Why does no one describe these feelings before the advent of industrial schooling in the 19th century?
Why do we ask our children to do so much busywork?
Why do we force our children to take tests that label a large percentage of them as failures?
What purpose does school say it serves? What purpose does school really serve?
Does school succeed in its real purpose?
Do learning disabilities exist outside industrial schooling?
What is the relationship between dyslexia and allergies?
What percentage of dyslexic children have allergies?
In countries without vaccinations, does dyslexia exist?
Is dyslexia a product of genetic damage or genetic vulnerabilities to toxemia of the body?
(A genetic response to allergies?)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Why does God give us Brains that don’t work?

Genetic variability aside. It just seems to me that the brain is one humdinger of an ineffective way to store information. I mean if God had intended us to remember things she would have given us computer plug-in or other physical ways to keep track like say a pad of paper and a pencil - instead of relying on such foolish things as memories.

So what is the brain designed to do – some would say nothing. Cause there is no design involved. But what is the brain capable of handling. Well our brains are excellent at detecting danger and problem solving dangerous situations we can see (bears lions and tigers). Not so good at situations that are out of sight(Global warming and nuclear holocaust). The brain seems to be a very clever way to create new things with out having created the ability to see the consequences of those new things (DDT, Plutonium)

In general our brains seem to be really handy out helping us to survive – but not so useful at storing information. Luckily for us the human race invented writing and then computers to help us with that particular function.

Maybe God felt sorry for us cause we were with out nasty teeth or claws, thick skin or even fur. So she gave us creativity instead cause it would help to balance the scales.