Parents who love to learn never talk about love of learning. Parents assume their kids have it. So the first thing I notice about Classical Conversations is the slogan on their learn more page: “Over 125,000 students worldwide are cultivating a love of learning with us.” Here are other things I noticed. Read more

Before we can even talk about the merits of Classical Curriculum we need to talk about the mob-like business of creating confusion to generate profit.

There are laws governing trademarks so that people don’t trademark names that cause confusion. For example, people constantly grab Penelope Trunk when there is a new social platform, and they think I will buy the account from them. But I can just write an email to the owners of the platform and they will give me my name because giving anyone else my name will be purposely causing confusion for the consumer. Read more

 

Did you always dream of playing video games with your kids all day long? Then homeschooling is your dream come true! The whole family can learn together!

But for everyone else, homeschooling turns out to be each family member learning on their own, because if you want to learn what someone else wants you to learn, you can just go to school.

It took me a while to admit that my kids are not interested in any of the things I thought we’d be learning together. In my dream of homeschooling utopia, my kids and I would study intricate artworks hour after hour. But once I faced the truth, I noticed that complexity annoys the kids, and low-brow innovation intrigues them. So here are some ways I got my teenage sons to pay attention to art.

Crappy art auctions

Super 8 Hotel revamped their rooms and sold off their terrible art in an auction. The idea of treating the terrible art like regular art begs the question of what is art. I asked my kids if they liked the art in the picture. Then I told them it was a crappy art exhibit and they were impressed with their intuitive ability to know good art from bad even if they don’t have the words.

Forgery experts

It’s way more fun to find out why a picture is a forgery than why a picture is historically important. But in order to spot a forgery, you really do need to know art history. The boys were happy to watch this video about how to spot a forgery. (I love all the art videos on that PBS channel.)

Architecture failures

I tried getting the kids interested in architecture when we went to Chicago every week. I had this idea we’d do the tour of International style in the city and Victorian homes in the north suburbs. Mostly our trips entailed eating pizza in architecturally insignificant buildings and playing video games in the car. But then I taught the kids about McMansion Hell, and now they pay attention to architecture if only to catch grown-ups indulging in terrible design.

If all else fails, act like you don’t care.

My kids associate photography with memes on Reddit and self-aggrandizement on Instagram. So teaching them the history of photography was a no-go. I tried the journalism route and bought a collection of postcards of famous Magnum photographs. I mailed them to the boys. After three my son said, “Can you just send me a text? Reading mail is like listening to voicemail. Only old people do it.”

But my next attempt worked. Lewis Hine’s photos tell the story of kids being tortured working long days in deadly factories. I put some photos on the fridge without saying anything. You know how little kids like hearing fairy tales because the dichotomy of good and evil is intoxicating? For my kids, child labor struck the same chord. They asked questions about the photos all day long. 

 


Hey, wait! Read this ad for my new course. Which is a very Asperger-y way to sell something, but maybe you have an affinity for literal and transparent.

Do you wonder if your child has Aspergers? Did you know that 80% of adults who were diagnosed later in life say that they would have had a much better childhood if they had known they had Aspergers? A lot of kids can camouflage Aspergers by being extra smart and extra careful. But it’s incredibly exhausting to live this way. 

I’ve created a course to help you understand how to tell who has Aspergers. You’ll also understand why people with Aspergers feel so relieved once they know they have it. I’ve learned so much from talking with other adults who have Aspergers. Now I’m sharing what I’ve learned in my new course, Asperger Hacks. 

Sign up for the course!

It runs Oct. 22 – 25 from 9-10 pm Eastern. There will be video, online chat, and emails full of information and tactical trinkets. You can join the course in real time or watch the videos afterward. Either way, I know you’ll be shocked and surprised and inspired. 

How to do 1st grade - 7th grade in one month

I didn’t teach my kids any curriculum until 7th grade. Here’s how I did it:

Reading
Education insider Lisa Nielsen showed me all sorts of data that says kids of college graduates teach themselves to read. That turned out to be true for our family. Read more

bow

My son’s first cello teacher, Gilda Barston, died when he was 10. He warms up every day with a short song she taught him for getting his fingers in tune. He’s been playing the exercise for so long that it’s no longer an intonation exercise as much as a prayer. A prayer to teaching, I think. Read more

Public schools in the US are a living history lesson about social class. Grouping by age teaches kids to be sorted according to birth. Sounding bells teaches kids to become factory workers. Our high school math curricula teaches kids how to win the Cold War.  Read more

My new friend Amelia sounds like swift-footed Achilles or bright-eyed Athena or sensible Telemachus. I wonder how many of you recognize those epithets from the Odyssey. Read more

In high school, I took French and German, and in college I took Hebrew. I spent four months in Israel studying Hebrew and three months in France learning ten french words for chicken coop. So I’m coming to this conversation with a bias in favor of learning a second language. Read more

This year I made a big change in how we homeschool. Up to now, I let them learn whatever they want, and when they needed help, I hired an expert: skateboard lessons, pottery lessons, and biology. And I taught the kids myself if I thought I’d enjoy it, like violin, and Hebrew and boogie boardingRead more

Have I written here yet about my favorite day of homeschooling? Because if I have, delete that post from memory, because today is my new favorite day.

My son is taking the AP chemistry test in Germantown, PA. It’s 45 minutes from where we live because public schools won’t let my son participate in their AP testing. (Because, in case anyone needs to be reminded, public schools do not have to serve their communitythey only have to do what the law says they have to do.) Read more