In the middle ages in Europe, animals were held accountable for human laws, and many animals were put on trial. The most common punishment was hanging, but there are records of more brutal versions of animal capital punishment. For example, the man who robbed a bank and was burned alive for the crime alongside his co-conspirator, the mule. Read more

My first encounter with moneyball was in high school. The boy I had a crush on was playing fantasy baseball so I played too. I had four months to teach myself everything about baseball before the draft. Read more

We tried out a new piano teacher. And as an introduction to the teacher’s studio, he sent me the recital program from last spring.

One thing I noticed is that each student’s age, school and grade are listed. I read a little more closely and I can see the kids are ranked by how far along they are in their piano studies (most advanced at the end of the program.) And you can tell who is really talented by who is young and advanced. Read more

Nicholson Baker is one of the first writers who blew my mind in the minimalism department. His first novel, The Mezzanine, was about a guy who went up an escalator. That’s it. His next book, Vox, was about one single phone call. (Though to be clear, it was phone sex. I was a bookstore clerk when the book came out, and it was at the top of our most stolen book list for months because people were too embarrassed to buy it. Read more

The title of today’s post was a title of one of the sections of Time magazine’s issue about questions. My first thought when I read the article was my mom’s answer when I asked her why she married my dad if she didn’t love him: “When I was in college you had to get married after college,” she said. “As a woman, there was no other way to be part of the adult world. I didn’t want to move back to my parents’ house.”

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Scene at the Grocery Store:

Neighbor: I hear you’re not in school anymore!

Nine-year-old: Yah. My mom’s teaching me.

Neighbor: Oh really! That’s nice.

Nine-year-old: Not really. She’s not really teaching me anything. Read more

A school in Manhattan just announced they would stop giving homework to kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. The letter home to parents said kids should play instead. And added, “In fact, you may be surprised to learn that there have been a variety of studies conducted on the effects of homework in the elementary grades and not one of them could provide any evidence that directly links traditional homework practices with current, or even future, academic success.” Read more

The huge momentum behind homeschooling today is mostly fueled by the huge disappointment of public school. Academic research shows estimates that homeschooling in the US growing at up to 15% a year. Increasingly, competent parents see conventional education as an antique practice designed only to get kids out of the house. Read more

The process of keeping your kids out of school usually involves some level of deprogramming yourself. Parents have to get rid of all the conventional ideas we have about school to see that we don’t need school in the conventional way. As parents we have to teach ourselves to go against the grain of what society promotes as education.
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I remember the day I posted a photo of my son drinking Gatorade. People commented about Red Dye #40. It turns out that it’s banned in much of Europe. The US FDA knows it likely makes kids hyperactive, but has not actually banned it. Read more