Thanks to Bugs, Knights, and Turkeys In the Yard for hosting the February 8th edition of the Homeschool blog carnival. I found the carnival through blogcarnival.com.
Author Archives: Dan
Solar Panels Will Never Replace The Grid
The assertion that solar panels will never replace grid electricity was made at a speech I listened to last November. It was made by Clayton Christensen, a professor from the Harvard Business School, during a talk about innovation (view the speech). During his speech the Mr. Christensen gave many example about how innovation occurs. When a new company enters a market with an innovative technology they do not compete directly with the incumbent.
The example that stuck out in my mind was that of Sony and the transistor radio. The early transistor radios were inferior quality wise to the existing vacuum tube radios of the day. No one who owned a vacuum tube based radio would give it up to switch to a transistor radio. The people who bought transistor radios initially were those who had no radio. The transistor radio was better than nothing. To be successful Sony did not need to compete directly with vacuum tube radios, they had to compete against the absence of any radio.
How many people do you know that get all of their electricity from solar panels? Most people will not give up their existing electricity usage for solar panels. Where are the growth markets for solar? The growth markets are in places that do not have an electrical grid. This is the point that Mr. Christensen was making during his speech. As if on a cue, a short while later this article appeared at the New York Times. The article describes how solar panels are improving lives in Kenya.
There is at least one community in the US that chooses not to connect to the electrical grid that is also benefiting from solar panel technology. The Amish community in Holmes County, Ohio has adopted photovoltaic panels. This reduces fire hazards in their homes because they no longer have to use gas lamps.
How Can Solar Panels Benefit Us?
You may not be ready to go off grid but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from solar panels. Energy independence doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. One of my co-workers uses a solar panel to run an aquarium for the majority of the year. In the winter he relies on grid power. There are many possibilities for decreasing dependence on the electrical grid. Perhaps you could provide lighting to an outbuilding, or heat a portion of your domestic hot water or run one appliance such as a chest freezer using solar panels. Taking on a smaller project will increase your self sufficiency and independence.
If you can think of a good use of solar technology please share it in the comments.
No Patience for Zero Tolerance
Once again public school authorities have over reacted to a child bringing a toy to school. Unfortunately, stories like this pop up all too frequently. Are there any lessons to be learned from cases like this beyond the incomprehensible actions of the government employees?
The Non Logic of the State
George Orwell foreshadowed this type of action in his novel 1984. He coined the term double speak. A classic example of double speak is a phrase such as “slavery is freedom.” Of course this is a contradiction. And it is exactly this type of logical contradiction that children are taught day in and day out in the public schools across America.
The message from the news item is that toy guns are equivalent to real guns. It is absurd that a child should be punished for playing with a toy his parents bought him. This absurdity is exactly the point. The student and his parents must be taught to accept whatever punishment is to befall them whether or not it makes any logical sense. This will pave the way for obedient submission to future government demands.
In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker recounts many examples of being brought in as a consultant to de-escalate a situation. Often times one side of a conflict, such as an employer, refuses to make exceptions to a policy. In one case a manager refused to back down and reimburse $400 dollars to a fired employee even after an employee placed two .32 calibre rounds on his desk. The policy stated that all expenses needed prior approval. Even though the employee was receiving $11,000 in severance the manager refused the $400 expense.
De Becker advised the manager of the aphorism that young men know the rules but wise men know the exceptions. In this example, De Becker was able to convince the manager to make an exception. The ex-employee eventually moved out of state and was no longer heard from again. It is exactly this type of maturity of thought that government run public schools are designed to prevent students from achieving.
Zero tolerance polices are yet one more reason to opt out of state schooling. Think about the types of lessons you want your children to learn and I think you will agree that the public schools are no place for children to spend their waking hours.
What do you think are the deeper lessons behind zero tolerance policies? Have you ever had a conflict as a result of a zero tolerance policy? Let me know what you think in the comments section.
Can phonics reduce the crime rate in America?
In 1994 the U.S. Department of Education acknowledged that two-thirds of all incarcerated criminals have poor literacy. source
Imagine applying for your first job as teenager at a locally owned restaurant. You live rent free but would like to earn some extra spending money. When you tell the manager you would like to apply, he hands you a form and asks you to fill it out. You nervously glance down as you take the form in your hands. How would you feel if you could not read the form? To you the form may as well be written in Kanji characters. Your chances of getting this job are sunk because you can’t even read the application.
Unfortunately for too many government school students this scenario is all too real.
The System is Rigged
It turns out that the best way to teach people to read is phonics. However, as John Taylor Gatto demonstrates in this chapter of the Underground History of American education, there was a shift away from phonics based teaching in the public schools of America. Gatto uses data from the US military draft board to trace a significant decline in the literacy rate of the school population.
It is a despicable crime to deprive human beings of a basic skill through the use of inferior methodology such as whole word reading. The leaders of the public school system know that non phonics based programs will increase illiteracy. Yet the practice continues to this day.
Think about how you read a new word. If you have acquired basic phonics skills, you can sound out a word you have never seen before by decoding the symbols that are used to represent sounds. If you have been taught to guess at words, your reading experience will be frustrating.
It is hard to imagine why some school districts refuse to use phonics based reading programs when a growing body of evidence links illiteracy to crime. You can prevent your loved ones from being damaged. Take the time to teach your kids to read using a phonics based approach. If all the schools in America did so, the crime rate might even be reduced.
Is whole word reading a crime against humanity? Let me know what you think in the comments section.
Banksters In Action
The big banks profit at our expense in many ways. They certainly know how to monetize their relationship with the government. Two egregious examples recently came to light.
1. JP Morgan Chase Profits From Food Stamps
There has been an increase in the number of Americans receiving food stamps in recent years to about 43 million today. The total US population is about 307 million people. That means that more than 10% of the population is on food stamps. How does this benefit one of the biggest banks in the world? It turns out JP Morgan has contracts with state governments to issue debit cards for food stamp recipients.
2. Big Banks Profit From Short Sales
The stated purpose of the FDIC is to insure investor deposits in the event of a failed bank. In reality, the FDIC enables fractional reserve banking by providing a psychological barrier against depositors questioning the banking system. Why should you care if your bank fails when the FDIC will step in and make sure your deposits are returned to you?
With all the bank failures lately the FDIC has been busy. Their modus operandi has been to arrange a buyer for the failed bank ahead of closing it down. Then the federal agents come in on a Friday and close down the failed bank, transfer the accounts to the purchasing bank and open the doors of the failed bank under a new name by Monday morning.
But there is the rub. With more banks failing, the list of potential buyers shrinks. In order to entice a buyer the FDIC is prepared to make sweet heart deals enabling the kind of arbitrage plays that can only be made by participants with big money. The FDIC will often let the purchasing bank buy the debt obligations of the failed bank at a steep discount and even guarantee the purchasing bank against losses. This leads to a can’t lose deal for the purchasing banks. This YouTube video explains how these deals lead to profits and rent seeking by the acquiring banks.
These profits schemes are worthy of outrage, but what positive actions can you take as a result of these examples coming to light? Do not support the large banks by giving them your business. These institutions already have their hand in your pocket via your tax payments. Consider using a small local bank or a credit union. Make use of cash where possible to deny the large banks the profits from the transaction fees associated with credit and debit cards.
Three Reasons to Get Rid of Credit Card Debt
Picture yourself paying cash for your next new computer. Would you enjoy it more because it was completely paid for from the moment you took it home and plugged it in? Credit card debt can hang over your head like a rain cloud and cause undue anxiety. This will inhibit the enjoyment of life. I know that is how I felt before I paid off my credit cards in full. Below I list the top three reasons to eliminate credit card debt.
1. Start Saving for Retirement
In order to retire, you must develop a positive net worth. It is important to set aside some of the surplus during times of abundance so that it will be available later. If you have credit card debt that carries an interest rate into the double digits, there is no safer way to make 10% plus on your money than paying off your credit cards.
2. Reduce Complication
How many bills do you pay every month? Every monthly bill that can be eliminated makes life simpler. When a card is paid off there will be no fretting over late fees if the bill is not paid on time. There will also be one less thing to worry about and less paper to track.
3. Peace of Mind
The sense of inner peace that comes from debt elimination is priceless. Throwing off the debt yoke will enable you to move forward unburdened. The money saved on interest can be used to establish savings that will help when an unplanned expense occurs.
Credit card debt profits the large banks that issue the cards and is detrimental to the net worth of those who choose to carry a balance. You can choose to pay off those balances and opt out of credit card debt.
5 Reasons Public School Socialization is Undesirable
Imagine telling someone that you have decided to home school your children and the first question they ask you is “What about socialization?” One possible reply would be to just say “It’s not an issue because we’re not socialists.” However this may not be received very well.
The first problem with the initial question is that it demonstrates a lack of concern for academic achievement. The inquisitor is not worried about if you will be able to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. The top concern seems to be about something unrelated to education. This reveals an implicit understanding on the part of the questioner that schooling serves many purposes.
The second problem with the question is that it implies that if you choose to opt out of the public school system, you will shelter your children in a way that will harm them. As anyone who has looked at the topic of homeschooling more deeply can tell you, quite the opposite is true. Parents that choose to home school are very concerned about their children and make sure that their social development is encouraged just as they take responsibility for their education.
The third problem with the original question is that it takes a negative aspect of public schooling and presents it as a positive. In fact there are many bad results from the socialization that occurs in age segregated schools.
1. Keeps Children Childish
Human beings are social beings. Children learn to behave by imitating others and the pressure to conform is strong in group settings. Do you want your kids to be childish or do you want to encourage them to grow in to responsible adults? Locking children in a room with other children during the better part of their waking hours results in children remaining childish. It delays growing up by denying access to mature role models.
2. Distracts From Learning
Do you think the main focus of school should be on learning? How difficult will it be for a child to concentrate if they are distracted by other students passing notes, texting on a cell phone, or if they are thinking about who has the latest designer sneakers?
Would you willingly expose your child to violence? By sending a child to public school every day it is only a matter of time before they have an encounter with a bully.
4. Does Not Resemble the Real World
As a parent you probably want your child to grow up and enter the real world some day. Then why send them to a place where they spend all their time with people that are the same age? There is no other setting where this is done. Family members are different ages. People you meet at the grocery store are all different ages. Coworkers in an office are of all different ages. The school setting is unnatural and certainly bears no resemblance to the real world.
5. Teaches Disrespect for Others
Age segregation teaches children to dislike younger kids as well as older adults. The very act of creating a group based on the arbitrary factor of age produces this result. Psychology teaches that people tend to like members of their group and dislike members of other groups. When children spend the majority of their time in school it teaches them that the most important group consists of those that are the same age.
The kind of socialization that occurs in public schools is detrimental to the development of children into responsible adults. Homeschooling provides an alternative that will allow you to avoid these negative aspects of public school.
If you can think of more reasons that public school socialization is undesirable, please share them in the comments section.
Don’t Drink The Water
“Mother, should I trust the government?” -Pink Floyd
“If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.” -Tube of Colgate paste in my bathroom.
Do you think the idea that ingesting fluoride to prevent tooth decay seems strange? What if I asked you if swallowing sun screen would prevent skin cancer? That doesn’t sound very appetizing does it? Like sun screen, fluoride is meant for external use and is harmful if swallowed.
As the back of the Colgate bottle shows, fluoride is a known poison. It is used to kill bacteria on teeth during brushing and is then supposed to be spit out. Why then does the government add it to municipal water supplies? It turns out that people have researched this topic and concluded that it is done as a subsidy to the aluminum industry.
Are you interested in opting out of fluoride?
If you currently have municipal water service it may not be practical to switch to well water. However, there are at least two readily available options that will prevent the unneeded consumption of excess fluoride.
- Drink bottled water.
- Use a filter capable removing fluoride such as a Berkey with the appropriate filter.
Letter From a Concerned Mother
A letter reprinted in the introduction to What Do You Really Want for Your Children by Wayne Dyer provided an example of a common problem. One quote that made a great impression on me was this one.
“I want to see my three smallest children-ages eight, seven and six-educated without all the approval-seeking brainwashing that myself and various schools have used to all but destroy my fourteen-year-old.”
How many people are happy with the schools that their children attend? How many are satisfied with their own past experiences with school? Later the letter writer goes on to say the following.
“Do you know of anywhere that I can get them educated without all the nonsense? Is there maybe an experimental school…”
Wayne Dyer included the letter as an example of something he kept at the front of his mind while he was writing the book. He did not mention if he replied to the woman or what he advised her to do. He also did not report on what course of action the woman took.
Why Not Just Opt Out?
It struck me that the woman was a perfect candidate for homeschooling. Having become dissatisfied with the current system, she would do well to opt out of it. If she chose homeschooling she would be in complete control of the curriculum. I doubt anyone has a more vested interest in the successful education of her children than she does. She could provide the encouragement that her children need and dispense with all the “nonsense.”