Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Awesome, Ever Amazing, Disappearing Brianiac.

by Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph

Picture the Looney Tunes character Taz, the Tasmanian devil.

If you're parenting a gifted, highly gifted or even profoundly gifted student I am sure you can make the connection. Go ahead and allow yourself that small indulgence of a chuckle at your situation. Then give yourself a high five because that job, parenting a gifted child, is a tiring job. If you are parenting and homeschooling a gifted student, give yourself a box of expensive chocolates and a huge high five because your job is an exhausting one. Trust me. I know.

As your student whirls through his homeschool day at full speed ahead, marvel at this because if he were in the school system he might be a really different person. He might be the awesome, ever amazing, disappearing brainiac.

The school systems really aren't set up to deal with this sort of student though they would have you believe they are. Professional educrats. You either love them or not, or you are somewhere in between. One thing I have learned is that there are not many "professionals" that are "trained" adequately to handle the needs of all, or even most gifted students because each of these kinds of students are as different as seashells on the beach. Few to many regular classroom teachers in the school system see our gifted kids as interferences to their classrooms, or worse, threats to their intelligence.

The whole reason we homeschool is that I came to the realization that the private school my student was in at second grade was not set up to deal appropriately with the kind of student he was then he that has become [our story]. For several years after my decision to homeschool my gifted student I wondered if it was just our situation, my imagination or are the educationists really not prepared to deal with kids like mine? My biggest fear was that if my student stayed in the school system, who he was would just disappear. It seems there is plenty written on this topic and that my fears are justified. [read on]

The December verion of The Eclectic Telegraph is out!

Here's what we wrote about:

The Java House... radical opinions about whatever, from OldSage


See the Current edition of The Eclectic Telegraph HERE

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dumbing Down American Students

Dumbing Down American Students: Really Bad Textbooks
by Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph
In general, we do not use textbooks in our homeschool and recently I was reminded why. My student is taking a US Government course through a correspondence high school that uses a textbook I would have definately NOT chosen.

A chapter exam asked my student the following question.

Which of the following is not a goal of government?

  1. to provide order to a group of people
  2. to tell people who they can marry
  3. to protect people against various dangers
  4. to promote the public good.

Being the ever aware citizen that my student is and up on current events, not only was this multiple choice question singled out as outrageous, a rather interesting essay accompanied the test question.

This same text also introduced the first amendment of the Bill of Rights as "The right to "Freedom of Religion"(it later revealed the true content of the amendment) and it again referred to it as "The right to "Freedom of Religion"in a test question. Made my student nuts. Now many American citizens, including my student, know this amendment states:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment, a personal favorite for discussion around our house, clearly translates to Separation of Church and State. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom co-authored by founding fathers, Jefferson and Madison also comes up in discussions at our house, so needless to say, yet another interesting essay accompanied this test question that referred to this amendment inappropriately.

To me, it is no wonder American students fall behind in comparison to students of other countries and that we have such a high number of high school dropouts. The materials our students are exposed to everyday in the Public school system is not engaging or even interesting. Their academic experiences even less interesting.

Dropout Nation
Posted Sunday, Apr. 9, 2006
The number of high school students who leave before graduating is higher--much higher--than you think. Inside one town's struggle to reverse the tide. [read on]

The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives on High School Dropouts
March 2006 , Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Why do students drop out?

  • 47 percent of dropouts said classes weren't interesting
  • 69 percent were not motivated to work hard; 66 percent would have worked harder if more had been demanded of them.
  • 81 percent called for more "real-world" learning opportunities
  • 75 percent wanted smaller classes with more individual instruction
  • 71 percent favored better communication between parents and schools and more involvement from parents

Listen to NPR on this topic or [read on]

In this edition of our newletter, OldSage looks at why the textbooks our students are exposed to are so bad. I was surprised at the findings.....


Welcome to the Eclectic Telegraph, ideas about homeschooling your kids....

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  • Published on or around the 15th of the month.

This month:

Check out the Eclectic Telegraph: HERE

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Ideas at the Eclectic Telegraph

Public School Violence: Since When is Violence Entertainment?
Amy Cortez - Editor Eclectic Telegraph

You aren’t compelled to loan your car to anyone who wants it, but you are compelled to surrender your school-age child to strangers who process children for a livelihood, even though one in every nine schoolchildren is terrified of physical harm happening to them in school, terrified with good cause; about thirty-three are murdered there every year. From 1992 through 1999, 262 children were murdered in school in the United States. Your great-great-grandmother didn’t have to surrender her children. What happened?

Bush Plans Conference on School Violence
POSTED: 9:33 a.m. EDT, October 3, 2006 at
..."Three schools have been hit by deadly attacks in the past week. A gunman killed himself and five girls Monday at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania; on Friday a 15-year-old Wisconsin student shot and killed his principal; and last Wednesday a man took six girls hostage in Colorado, sexually assaulting them before fatally shooting one girl and killing himself...

The interesting thing to me about all of the recent press about ending school violence, is that there is no mention of the ease in which a teen can get a gun, or other item of violence, nor did anyone utter anything about the idea of how teens are inundated with violence in our society.

Since when is violence entertainment?

I am not opposed to guns. Some are beautiful items and in the hands of a responsible person an item that is OK to possess. Part of our history. It is when we permit violent images such as what is found today on TV, in movies, in video games, in music, in our headlines, in our magazines, online, into our lives, as a society we are condoning the resulting violence in the community. Then we scratch our heads and wonder how to end the violence in our schools. This idea is about as silly as No Child Left Behind dictating how our children ought to be evaluated.

Many homeschool families have pulled their children out of school because of the violence in the schools. Though I can't relate to that reason to homeschool, I can understand it. [read on]

What I Learned About Taekwondo & the Gifted Student
Amy Cortez - Editor Eclectic Telegraph

When people hear the phrase “martial arts”, often they assume it is the militaristic way of the Asian past. "Tae kwon do" means “The way of striking with hand and foot”. Taekwondo, has a fierce history, but presently it enjoys the status of being an Olympic sport that is mastered by world class athletes. It is a sport that disciplines your spirit, mind and body. It is comprised of “forms, “breaking” and “sparring”. Forms are memorizing a series of typically 10 up to 20 movements using your arms, legs and full body - similar to a dance. Breaking is the ability to use your strength and mental training to break a board using a punching or kicking motion. Sparring is learned through a series of “one-steps” or body movements designed for self defense. Sparring at the adult level can be vigorous, but with the kids, it is light contact with the purpose being to learn the movements of self defense. All three, in addition to attiude and philosophy, comprise the sport of Taekwondo.

What I learned about Taekwondo was....[read on]

Other ideas at the Eclectic Telegraph:
  • Add Travel To Your Curriculum!
  • Want to Resell You Homeschool Materials?
  • When Should Your Teen Take the PSAT/NMSQT® ?
  • Rights of Young People
  • Public School Violence: Since When is Violence Entertainment?
  • Opportunities & Events
    • Pasta Tales
    • Yale to post courses on Web for free
    • Otto Armleder Memorial Park Now Open In Cincinnati Ohio
    • COSI Columbus Ohio: Ride Around the World
    • COSI Columbus Ohio: Girls Explore Engineering
    • COSI Columbus Ohio: How to Grow Your Own Engineer!
    • Museum of Science and Industry: Chicago- Robots Like Us
  • Our BlogSphere
    • HE&OS
    • Life Without School
    • Travelin' With The Kid
  • A Listing of Awesome Websites
    • RoboLogo: Teaching Children how to program Interactive Robots
    • Allen Brain Atlas
    • Bright Kids at Home
  • A Listing of Good Podcasts and Other Audio Samplings
    • Geek TV: EUReKA
    • This Week in Science: The kickass Science Podcast
    • Escape Pod Classic
  • Did You Know?
    • Universities are looking for homeschoolers!
    • Children have been and are still the most oppressed, exploited and victimized group
    • Dysfunction in Sensory Integration (DSI) is a problem in processing sensations?
    • 730 four-year colleges do not use the SAT I or ACT
    • The Brazilian-made Obvio can go from zero to 60 in 4.2 Seconds?
Check out all these ideas
in the current edition of
The Eclectic Telegraph

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Eclectic Telegraph

Welcome to the Eclectic Telegraph, ideas about homeschooling your kids....

Why this Newsletter?
Amy Cortez - Editor Eclectic Telegraph
As a homeschool mom, who once had a career that involved management and travel, I recognize that even though my current job is a daunting one, there is still more I can fit into a day.

Every day I learn something new about homeschooling a bright kid and I thought it was time to share some of those pearls beyond our website. Sure, yeah, yeah, I am writing that book and it is coming along nicely, it’s just more fun to go to the museum or the Omnimax or the river to kayak than it is to pay attention to the flow of a book. So why not a newsletter? I have edited a few over the years. They’re fun.

People have asked so many questions because of the information I make public at our website, and always make the comment I ought to write a newsletter. So here it is. Our first online newsletter. You will find that my style is very conservative some days and very liberal on others. Depends on the issue I suppose. I figure, that eventually, I'll either please or offend - everyone.

I chose the name "The Eclectic Telegraph" because it reminds me of the "Coconut Telegraph", a song by Jimmy Buffett, but also the name of several Newspapers actually found in the Caribbean. Though I don't intend this newsletter to model either items, it is still fun to think about those items (and places) as write this newsletter. I chose "Eclectic" because that is really what our homeschool is and my journey has become. Life as a homeschooler and in constant daily contact with a highly gifted student brings an energy I can't explain, yet drains me; makes me think about things in a new way, yet causes me to stick with tried and true methods; makes me strive for accomplishing all the tasks I need to, yet causes me to think forward to the time my student will go to bed and I can have a cup of tea and listen to Jimmy Buffet in peace and quiet. Eclectic. That's the description of the path I am enjoying on my journey right now. Eclectic is also our homeschool "style". We do what works. We dig in the dirt or the beach sand, we kayak on rivers, we read, we travel.

I also gave thought to the timing of this newsletter. I receive the newsletter from my local support group on or around the first of the month and most of my other magazines come then too, so I thought that must be true for everyone, so by mid month people might be looking for a fresh read, maybe something Eclectic.

This Month:

  • Articles About Educating Bright Kids at Home
  • Are Your School Records Private?
  • The Java House -- radical opinions about whatever, from OldSage
  • Who is OldSage?
  • “Are you Kidding Me”
  • Glad We're Not Going Back to School
  • Why Our Teens Don't Have an Interest in Our Government
  • Demanding Your Privacy: An Ongoing Saga of Passing the Buck
  • Homeschooling Teens
  • What is the difference between Regular Honors classes, AP classes and the International Baccalaureate (IB)?
  • Are You a Helicopter Parent?
  • How Does One Decide Which Colleges to Apply to?
  • Not Homeschooling Teens
  • Does This School Have Windows?
  • Microsoft-Designed School Opens
  • Academy for Profoundly Opens in Las Vegas
  • September Opportunities & Events
  • Our BlogSphere
  • A Listing of Awesome Websites
  • A Listing of Good Podcasts and Other Audio Samplings
  • Our Favorite - Odd Trivia
Check out the current edition [HERE]