Monday, August 27, 2012

Reading lessons with The Beatles

Little toadroller Sam has never much liked to read. 

Why should he?  It's a mental task to grasp the concepts, and it's easier not to read.  What's the incentive for him to work on his reading? 

The other day I walked past Sam playing Beatles Rockband.  Sam love The Beatles.  Interstingly, he was doing the singing role, where the lyrics scroll across the bottom.  He knows some of the songs but it was apparent he was guessing and not reading.


"Sam, would you like to know the real words to these songs?" 

"I guess so."

"What's your favorite Beatles song?"

"Dear Prudence."

To the internet we went and printed out the lyrics.  We started with an approach of playing a couple of lines from the song, then working through the words.  Then we'd go back and do it again.  Some frustration, but also some progress.  We spent about a half-hour on Dear Prudence.  It's one of my favorite Bealtes songs as well.  Working through the lyrics gave me a better appreciation for its poetry. Nice structure and re-use.  A theme/story which grows.  Positive:

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

Dear Prudence, open up your eyes
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies
The wind is low the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence, won't you open up your eyes?

Look around round
(Round round round, round round)
(Round round round, round round)

Look around round round
(Round round round, round round)
(Round round round, round round)

Look around*

Dear Prudence, let me see you smile
Dear Prudence, like a little child
The clouds will be a daisy chain
So let me see you smile again
Dear Prudence, won't you let me see you smile?

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

Today we tackled Here Comes the Sun, and reviewed Dear Prudence as well as Back in the U.S.S.R. 

We read lines forward and we read lines backward.  We practiced tapping the word as we read it to keep him in rhythm and synchronized, a habit which he developed in about fifteen minutes.  When we came to a word he couldn't read, we developed the habit of spelling out the word out (tapping for each letter) and then working on it phonetically.  We spelled words forward and spelled words backward.

We spent an hour and fifteen minutes on reading without frustration or tears. 

Next up?  Drive my Car.

*Sam found this part fun and funny.

Thoughts on college from homeschooling parent...

  • The attitude about college as a be-all, end-all, you must go, etc. is insane and ignorant.  All your child's eggs are in one basket.
  • On the other hand, college is easily accessible and can be very affordable, so why not?
  • College education has been dumbed down to the point where it's worthless, yet expected by society.  No unlike having a nice car. 
  • Freshman year, on campus living, lazing around in the dorms, partying, etc. is a very obtuse form of higher education. It’s a lifestyle.  It's not the only way of life. It’s not required.
  • Just because you could get a sports scholarship doesn't mean you have to take it.
  • Going to college to pursue something technical can make fiscal sense.
  • Going to college to pursue a liberal arts education and becoming your very own self-educated person makes a lot of sense. 
  • When the desire to learn kicks in, kids will determine their own path and desire for college level work. Or they won’t.
  • It's hard to develop a desire to learn when it's forced on you.  It turns out scallops are delicious.
  • Pay as you go.
  • People won’t understand if your kids fail to go directly into four year boarding schools at the age of eighteen. You’ll get funny looks at Thanksgiving dinner. 
  • Double-down on this if you homeschool.
  • What kinds of students become teachers?  What kind of teachers stay teachers?  What kind of people teach teachers?
  • How many go to college with/or to pursue acedemics?  By acedmics, I mean to learn something academic, such as critical thinking, not something political or secular-social-citizen behavioural in nature. 
  • Justification for taking an against the grain approach will take a good ten years to come to fruition. By then, your critics will have forgotten.  In the meantime, I guess they can think what they want to.
  • Community colleges, online programs (university-now: ), early adoption programs, free courses (MIT), etc. are all excellent educational opportunities on the lower-cost, non-traditional approach.  Plus the bonus of picking and choosing what you want to pursue.
  • I think the student should work and save to pay for education, not receive it as a gift. Use a matching approach - be it half, a quarter, or three quarters.  If they have to pay for it, they will choose frugally and they'll hold the school accountable for quality.  They're paying for it, they'll want their money's worth.
  • No borrowing. You're young and can work your way through.
  • When you're not held captive to the potentially staggering fiancial obligation of college (as with most things, you can spend as much as you want) just to fit in with society's definition of what college should be, you have options.  You're free. 
  • Most people are so afraid of the cost, so afraid of not sending their kids, that they throw very good money after very expensive risks.  What if Jimmy quits, or Jody gets married?
  • Do an ROI calculation of a college education, comparing the cost of the education and resulting professional career income with simply investing the money.  Wait, I already did that for you over here.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Cartels are evil.  We all know that.  

Cartels are when businesses form secret alliances to keep prices high and thereby screw the consumer.  Watch the nightly news and you're bound to hear of such horrid business practices within the hour.

The trouble is, cartels fall apart in free markets… despite people’s fears of the cartel, someone always  undercuts the cartel.  This is the joy of a free market: When a business offers a better product or service at a better price, with more convenience, or a trend-setting style, members of the old guard are undercut.  Markets change.
Established businesses have a choice: innovate, delay, or die.  Cartels are one of the forms of delay.  Others include brand loyalty ("My daddy always bought a Chevy"), long term contracts ("Two year contract with free phone upgrades!"), or preventing competitors from entering the market (licensed hair-stylists, electricians, guilds, and other forms of certification of products/businesses/individuals to enter into business or trades).

Such associations, standards, and certifications are, in fact, crony capitalism where the government and businesses form a much more powerful (yet legal!) cartel for the “protection of consumers.”  

If you hear that phrase, check your wallet. Cartels are evil, remember?  Especially when infused with the power of law.

Did you think it wise to keep church and state separated?  Why not business and state? How about limiting government's role in business to enabling (as distinct from encouraging, tax-incenting, and subsidizing) it?  How about limiting business's role in government to paying taxes?