Home Schoolers Have An Unfair Advantage? Sour Grapes, Anyone?

As a product of an alternative Waldorf school, I have to admit that I got a certain pleasure from seeing home-schooled kids–also products of an alternative to conventional public and private schools–recently win an academic double-header, taking home the gold in both the National Spelling Bee and the National Geographic Bee. Neither was the irony lost on me when critics charged that home schoolers have ‘unfair advantages’ over kids who attend public schools, like a recent Fox News report that asked whether ‘the odds are stacked in favor’ of home-schooled spelling whizzes who spend hours a day poring over dictionaries, unencumbered by school bells. And I’m not alone.

‘Speaking as an outraged home schooling mom of two,’ says Helen Cordes, a frequent contributor and former Utne Reader editor, writing in Salon’s online parenting zine Mothers Who Think. ‘I’m here to say that the home school critics are … absolutely right. And they’re absolutely wrong.’

Home schoolers do have extra time to devote to a particular hobby or interest, she says. But it’s not because they don’t have a full academic load. The biggest disadvantage for public schoolers ‘is what they do at home after they leave school. The latest statistics show that 8- to 13-year-olds spend an average of 6.5 hours daily in front of a screen. There’s no way kids can even discover what their strengths are, much less indulge them, with their creative juices sucked dry by passive staring.’

And besides, Cordes points out, ‘Let’s be honest: the folks most likely to cry ‘foul’ about successful home-schooled kids are competitive parents who expect their kids to always win first place. Sour grapes, anyone?’ Go there>>

Below the fold —

Green Activists Offer Lessons About Sustainable Energy to World Petroleum Congress, End of Oil Action Coalition, Independent Media Center Calgary
Environmental activists installed state-of-the-art solar and wind technology in front of the conference hall in Calgary, Canada, where oil industry heavyweights gathered for their high-level petroleum congress. Two 400-watt wind turbines flanked two 350-watt solar panels below a banner reading ‘Sunshine’s Free, What’s Oil Costing Us?’ The clean energy system powered a PA system for speakers and music as well as videos illustrating the serious environmental impact of oil production and use. This came just days after two American activists attending the teach-in and protests in Calgary were detained, arrested, and expelled from the country by Canadian immigration authorities, echoing the hardline approach to protests recently seen by police in Seattle and Washington, D.C. Go there>>

Playing Hooky 101: How to Stay Sane in a Cube Farm, Christina V. Tormey, Hartford Advocate
Fresh from a week spent hard at work slacking off while the boss was away, Christina Tormey gives us some handy tips for staying sane in the modern corporate workplace. ‘Navigating a two-hour (or longer) lunch is perhaps the easiest way to slack off. Never take lunch at the same time every day. People will observe your habits, and when you don’t adhere to them, they’ll notice. (Don’t forget the avoiding attention rule.) Most people take lunch around noon or 1 p.m. Start your lunch at 11 a.m. and return when everyone else does around 1 or 2. Make sure to leave something open on your computer screen or leave folders open at your desk, so it looks as if you’re in the middle of something and just left for a quick bathroom run or something equally innocent (and brief).’ Go there>>

–Your host Leif Utne surfs the Web so you don’t have to. But he always loves a good tip. Have one? Send it in.

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