Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Education News....

Wonderful news! The British Telegraph reports:
Teachers mull ending homework for pupils.

I don't agree with assigned homework, personally, although I realize there is an endless spectrum of children, including many who may benefit from and even enjoy homework as part of their education. But I think generally that if kids are participating in a classroom education, they should be inspired as opposed to required to bring the work home. If my son doesn't want to do math questions, I don't make him. And I just about blew a fuse when he was sent home with a worksheet he found too uninspiring to finish at school. But it has happened more than once that he's been so inspired by what he did at school that he came home eager to teach me and continue the learning in his own way, here (finger-knitting and robot-building would be this week's examples).

So Yay! for these enlightened teachers, and Yay! for the millions of British students who will benefit from the change they are suggesting. Now just to hope that the movement picks up a little here. It's worth noting that our friend Chris began the Great Canadian Homework Ban. Hopefully that spreads around a little, too! I suppose it all begins with parents like us, not requiring our kids to complete homework. :--)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kids talking politics.

In February 2008 the Canadian conservative party began a junkmail campaign of mail-in "ballots". We've been receiving a few such flyer-ballots every week. This most recent flyer-ballot was sent by Lee Richardson, of Calgary. Why he's sending things to coastal BC I don't know, but I find it disturbing.

This video is a record of my conversation with the kids (3 and 6) about it -- interesting to observe their perceptions and thoughts (some rather innocently poignant, I thought), and also how easily I can change those, with pointed questions. (Apparently 3-year olds are very easy to influence!)

I obviously think this campaign is not only deceptive, but also stupid, patronizing, and a massive waste of money, time and paper. But I'm not a Liberal, either. I just want to make that clear.

What's in your mailbox, these days?

Ryerson University considers group-studying "cheating".

CBC reports:
Student faces expulsion for running chemistry study-group on Facebook.

Excerpt from the article:

He said the group was a place on the internet where students could ask questions about homework assignments and that it was no different from any library study group or peer tutoring.

But the university, while not commenting on the case, said it has to ensure that students are doing their own homework.

When Direction Doesn't Matter

Apparently I also printed this way, and Markus' old Brio trainset is proof that at least one of he or his sister printed backwards, as remeoR seems to be printed on some of the pieces... I wonder when our brains settle in on one way of perceiving the world. And if I just never correct her, will she continue this way? She also reads picture-books upside down, by preference. And sometimes she prints letters all on their sides, with the words heading vertically or horizontally.

Note that she appears to be printing upside down and backwards, but she's actually printing left to right, from her perspective, just upside down. So from her perspective it's just inverted letters going the right direction; from ours it's a perfect mirror-image.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wild Food: Sheep Sorrel Sushi

I've been eating sheep sorrel ("sour grass") with my family since I was a child, and it's one of the first edible salad greens my kids learned to recognize, in the wild. It's good for vitamin C, and delicious in salads, etc. Not safe to eat too much, as it can cause diarrhea, but really who would want to eat too much of something so sour, anyway? Still... as a condiment or mixed-salad ingredient, it's wonderful! I looked it up to see if it had any medicinal qualities, other than being a laxative and high in vitamin C, and found that it's used as both a diuretic and anti-inflammatory. Great! There's a great entry for it at Flora Health.

We have a surplus of sushi ingredients from Taliesin's birthday dinner (yesterday), so we thought we'd experiment with sourgrass sushi! It was delicious! The sourgrass punctuated the delicate rice and fish flavours very nicely!

Stuffed cheeks are a sure sign of enjoyment. :--)

For those interested in child-friendly chopsticks, this photo illustrates how we do it, with a little bit of rolled up foil or paper and an elastic band.

Now we think it would be a good idea to try a sushi meal made of wild seaweeds (can we even make Nori?!), wild plants, home-caught seafoods, and... something starchy that we can't think of just yet. Maybe cattail roots or shoots.

Maybe wild mushroom soup instead of miso?
(And what's with YouTube not understanding a portrait-oriented video? Hmph. So it's stretched.)

This is Tal's "seaweed taco":

... endless variety is available if only we allow ourselves to endlessly rejoice in and play with our food!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tal!!

Taliesin turned 6, today! He is now swamped with lego Technic. Quite by accident, and while none of us knew ahead of time he'd be so interested in articulated lego creations at this time, (he's been inventing robots, launching rockets, climbing-machines, etc with regular lego for a few weeks, now), everyone in the family bought him lego Technic. 3 different types of loaders (oops, but he doesn't mind) and one robotic flying-machine complete with 2-faced pilot!

Tal refused to have a party, this year (yes Mama tried to encourage him, to no avail). So we've just had family day, with activities and meals chosen by Tal. Here's the rundown:

  • breakfast: fried eggs, raisin-toast and bacon
  • lunch: sprouts and pepperoni! No bread allowed but we served a bit, anyway, and he seemed to eat it, regardless.
  • cake: cheesecake with blackberries from last summer, and chai
  • dinner: (yet to happen) edamame, sushi, and miso soup

activities: lego building, punctuated by brief outdoor excursions. :--)
It's been a great day, so far, and the kids are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Prenatal Unschooling Visit

Beautiful days we've been having. A dear friend (and fellow unschooler, and mother of 2 of my kids' friends!) is getting very close to having her twins, and has been put on bedrest, to keep them in a little longer. With a and 3- and 5-year-old, bedrest is not so easy, so Tal, Annie and I spent today distracting her kids and generally entertaining the lot of ourselves, at their house. So nice to just drop everything and feel like I'm doing it for a good reason! We'll be there again, tomorrow. :--)

Our boys especially adore each other, and spent a lot of time in the trees, today. We both actually kept the boys home from school, today, she because her son is anxious about his mother being on bedrest, and has a cough and asthma problems; I because we thought it would be nice to go hang out with a good friend, instead of whiling away the morning at school without him. It's at times like these that I am very glad to have made the decision to unschool. It means that without any fear of criticism or failing we (both mothers) felt totally empowered by our choice to keep the boys home, and watched happily as they bonded 20 feet in the air, shared lessons of compassion, communication, and friendship, and also gave generously of their time to their doting and free-spirited 3-year-old sisters.

Tal will be back to school on Monday, probably with his friend (unless the twins have made their appearance). But I can't help but feel that the learning we all shared today was pivotal in our family's unschooling journey.

I'm crossposting this to my family blog.