Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Carnival of Homeschooling #413

"I like geography. I like to know where places are." 
    - Tom Felton (the actor who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies)

We went to Cost Plus World Market last week to get chocolate Advent calendars, and my six-year-old daughter fell in love with and just had to have two globe Christmas tree ornaments. I gave in and bought them for her as a Christmas present because I thoroughly sympathize with her. After all, we did just have her older sister compete in a geography bee. It's neat to look at a globe and think about all the foreign and fascinating places, landscapes, cultures, and peoples represented by each different colored patch.

When the eye falls on Massachusetts this week, we in the USA remember the Pilgrims, who left their home of England and eventually made their way to North America in pursuit of freedom of religion, as well as the Native Americans who helped the newcomers survive as they adjusted to a new land. Joesette of Learning Curve recently studied this subject with her children: Early Settlements Unit - Part 2, Plymouth Colony. Her post includes a list of many helpful resources on the subject.

Celeste of Joyous Lessons in northern California shares some Charlotte Mason-friendly ways to celebrate Thanksgiving at Cooking Up a Thanksgiving "Feast".

The blog Home School vs. Public School asks What Are You Thankful For?, discussing why we had the first Thanksgiving and asking us all "What are you thankful for?"

Henry Cate at Why Homeschool submits this post on a few reasons he is grateful to be able to homeschool.

Up to the north, the Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving over a month ago. One homeschooled Canadian living on a farm shares her thoughts on Canadian Thanksgiving in this post.

Down in Australia, Chareen talks about the experience of Homeschool Burnout on her blog Every Bed of Roses. I like how her very first suggestion to help with burnout is to get enough sleep!

In New Jersey, the Liberated Learner blog author explains why she homeschools in How I Got Where I Am and The Problem with Schools and Parents. She makes a good point about the statistical impossibility of everyone's neighborhood public schools performing as well as they are claimed to; for more information on this subject, I recommend looking at the test-related research done by physician John Jacob Cannell.

While some study geography as a major in college, it's definitely one of those subjects that can be learned on one's own now that we have the internet and easy access to copious amounts of information. For the autodidact, whether to attend a formal college institution (and thus incur very formal, non-dischargeable student loan debt) is a fair question, as Barbara Frank discusses in her post Flashback Friday: More Thoughts About College.

One subject that helps with geography is mathematics. From Homeschool Math Blog, we have the Value of Mistakes, an encouraging post about brain plasticity--the huge potential for our brains to grow--and then what it means for learning of math: EVERY student CAN learn math. Students need to have a growth mindset where they value mistakes and see them as opportunities for brain growth and learning.

My husband and I lived for two years in the Philippines when I was posted at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. We had a wonderful experience living there and love the Filipino people for their warm friendliness. While the Philippines are accustomed to natural disasters, this year has been a particularly trying one for the Visayas, the islands that make up the central part of the Philippines. In October, there was a very destructive earthquake, mostly impacting Cebu and Bohol. Then on November 8, Typhoon Haiyan (called Yolanda in the Philippines) blew threw the Visayas, leveling the coastal city of Tacloban and ravaging many other places, leaving around 5,200 dead and so many more homeless (you can donate to typhoon aid through the Red Cross). Because my mind has been on the Philippines, I searched out some Filipino homeschooling bloggers. Filipinos tend to work all over the world and generally speak English very well, making their blogs useful resources for the readers of the homeschooling carnival.

Athena, a Filipina from Batangas City who currently lives in Ruwais, a city in the Abu Dhabi Emirate on the Arabian Peninsula, talks about how she applies the SWOT matrix to evaluating goals and objectives in homeschooling her children enrolled in Preparatory for English Language Arts. SWOT analysis is "a structured planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture" (definition taken from Wikipedia).

Several other Filipino homeschooler blogs include:

Learning about the world with my children is a wonderful adventure. Thank you to everyone for their submissions to this week's carnival (I hope I didn't miss anyone's!) and may you have a happy week of gratitude no matter where you live.

Carnival of Homeschooling

To submit a blog post to future Carnivals of Homeschooling, please use the information posted here at Why Homeschool.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

First Time at a Geography Bee

Thanks to a homeschooling friend, I found out about a local-level geography bee put on by homeschoolers, and dd9 participated in it this week. She did a prep class with some other homeschoolers for an hour or so the week before and then some map reviewing at home. That's basically all we did to "study" for the bee. It was by no means a high-pressure event for her.

She ended up enjoying the geography bee and doing relatively well (4th place). I like that she could be in a real contest where she got to experience a bit of the adrenalin of competition and make some successful educated guesses. I also like that it reinforced to her how much she has been soaking in during our home studies of world history, literature, and science.

I wonder if there are other academic competitions I should look into for the future. I only did school spelling bees as a child. (I still remember getting out on "cataclasm" in sixth grade because my copy of the spelling words list made it look like "cataciasm" due to a defective "l". Stupid copy machine.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Homeschool Carnival will be here next week!

After years of reading the Carnival of Homeschooling, beginning with when I had preschoolers and I was collecting ideas for "real" homeschooling down the road, I finally volunteered to host a carnival myself. It will be the 413th such carnival, and will be published here next Tuesday.

If you know of a blogger (or are a blogger) with a homeschooling-related post that you'd like to share in next week's Carnival of Homeschooling, please use these simple directions to have them submit the post to me before Monday night. Because of my international experience, I would love to receive submissions from people all over the world (USA, too, of course!). And because I love the Philippines, where I spent two years when we were just starting our family, and share their sorrow over the destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), I'm hoping to have a segment focused on Filipino homeschoolers, who are more numerous than the average U.S. native might expect.

Hope to hear from you and your homeschooling/blogging friends soon! In the meantime, this week's Carnival of Homeschooling should be up soon at the blog "Every Bed of Roses".

Carnival of Homeschooling

Friday, November 15, 2013

You never know where a good idea will come from

Today I was fascinated to find out about Jorge Odón, an Argentinian car mechanic who came up with a new way for birth attendants to address the problem of obstructed labor, which is a major cause of death of both newborns and their mothers throughout the world. 

The germ of the idea was given to him by a YouTube video that showed how to use a plastic bag to get a cork out of a wine bottle. Then in the wee hours of the morning, he realized that the same principles involved could be used to help with childbirth; he told his wife, and she dismissed it as craziness and went back to sleep. But he was a tinkerer and didn't give up on his idea. Now it's been enthusiastically welcomed by the World Health Organization and has just been licensed for production by an American company. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times article about Sr. Odón's invention:

With the Odón Device, an attendant slips a plastic bag inside a lubricated plastic sleeve around the head, inflates it to grip the head and pulls the bag until the baby emerges.
Doctors say it has enormous potential to save babies in poor countries, and perhaps to reduce cesarean section births in rich ones.
“This is very exciting,” said Dr. Mario Merialdi, the W.H.O.’s chief coordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health and an early champion of the Odón Device. “This critical moment of life is one in which there’s been very little advancement for years.”
About 10 percent of the 137 million births worldwide each year have potentially serious complications, Dr. Merialdi said. About 5.6 million babies are stillborn or die quickly, and about 260,000 women die in childbirth. Obstructed labor, which can occur when a baby’s head is too large or an exhausted mother’s contractions stop, is a major factor.
In wealthy countries, fetal distress results in a rush to the operating room. In poor, rural clinics, Dr. Merialdi said, “if the baby doesn’t come out, the woman is on her own.”

A car mechanic came up with this breakthrough! Of course, it required medical specialists to help him develop it for use on actual women and babies, but still, Sr. Odón is a car mechanic! I had my girls watch his TEDx talk (I recommend clicking on the CC button to see English captions unless you understand Argentinian Spanish) in hopes of helping them realize what people--including them--can do if they'll learn and think and be open to finding/creating solutions to problems.

I was saddened to see some of the comments on the NYT article. Some people were basically saying, "The world is overpopulated anyway, so why do we want to save more babies' lives?" Besides the heartlessness they show, don't they realize the economic costs to families who are already poorer for a woman's pregnancy (lost work, illness, etc.) only to face losing a baby and possibly the mother? Moreover, when people are relatively certain that they and their children will have long, healthy lives, they tend to choose to have smaller families. Human beings, besides being driven to procreate, are very risk averse; once we know we'll have our desired progeny and find ourselves enjoying a certain standard of living (which goes up when the females don't go through ten pregnancies, of which four end in tragedy and the last in a fistula), we tend to want to keep that level of prosperity.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Calvin, the unprofitable student

Calvin and Hobbes is online! Apparently the whole comic strip is now available for free viewing at GoComics. :) :) :) Purely as a commentary on K-12 education issues in the USA, I present the following strip:

(borrowed from GoComics at

OK, I lied. It's for giggles, too.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Getting older, little by little

Dd9 has been intentionally calling me "Mom" instead of "Mommy" for the past few days. I asked her why, and she responded, "It makes me feel older."

Is this how it starts? Is she going to be discovering loud, obnoxious music and going through moody fits before I know it? I've never been the type to find that "time just flies!" (Being in the midst of morning sickness really s-l-o-w-s down life, actually.) Still, I wasn't quite prepared for one of my children to stop calling me "Mommy" yet. Maybe she'll give it up soon....nah, not this rather dogged child.

On the other hand, my little 20-month-old girl is just delighted to have me draw happy face after happy face for her. Her extra joy when I add a nose or a hat on one is so sweet.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Research on Ginger and Vitamin B6

Both ginger and vitamin B6 will help reduce the nausea and vomiting suffered in early pregnancy, per this recent study out of Iran. (Apparently they still do other science besides working with uranium.)

Objective. Comparing the effectiveness of vitamin B6 (40 mg twice daily) and ginger (250 mg four times daily) in treatment of pregnancy nausea. Methods. In a clinical trial in health centers of Qazvin University of Medical Sciences from November 2010 to February 2011 on pregnant mothers, the effects of vitamin B6 (40 mg twice daily) and ginger (250 mg four times daily) were evaluated in treatment of pregnancy nausea. Results. In both groups, treatments with vitamin B6 or ginger led to significant reduction in MPUQE score. Scores of symptoms at the day before treatment in vitamin B6 and ginger groups were  and , respectively, and reduced to  and , respectively, in the fourth day of treatment; however, mean changes in the two groups were not significantly different. Mean changes of MPUQE score in ginger and vitamin B6 groups were  and , respectively, showing no significant difference (). Conclusion.Vomiting was more reduced in vitamin B6 group; however, this reduction was not statistically significant. There was no significant difference between the two groups in nausea occurrences and their duration. No side effect was observed in either group.

I'm no longer wearing the anti-nausea bands all that much, but I'm drinking ginger ale and taking 50-80 mg of Vitamin B6 daily. I was reviewing our family newsletters from 2011 (my last pregnancy), and I am doing SO MUCH BETTER this time around.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

More correlation/causation confusion

According to this article in the The Wall Street Journal, the higher a person goes in math during high school, the more they will earn.

Mr. James also found math imparted career gains to students who did not go onto college. “The more math one takes, the more one earns on average, and the more likely one is to have a job,” he writes.

Either Mr. James or the author of the article is confusing correlation and causation in a big way here. It's even more plausible to me (and many of the WSJ readers leaving comments) that those students with involved and/or wealthy parents, higher IQs, and more diligence are making it through higher levels of high school math. Such kids would most likely do better in their careers anyway and not because they took a couple more math classes.

I would love for it to turn out to be true that more math classes => career gains. But the research discussed in this article doesn't prove that at all.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vitamin B6 & accupressure bands

I started taking 50-60 mcg Vitamin B6 daily (half in the morning, half at night) eight days ago. I also started wearing accupressure anti-nausea bands six days ago. I don't know if I'm experiencing a placebo effect, but here at the end of my eighth week of pregnancy, I have yet to throw up. That's very unusual for me.

Sure, I still have morning sickness. I'm tired much of the time, and my odor sniffing abilities rival those of Gus on Psyche. But I'm not hanging over the toilet. :) Maybe I'm having a boy and so the hormones aren't as strong this time around. Or maybe Vitamin B6 and the wristbands really are helping me. If they are just placebos, I don't want to know because then the placebo effect might go away!