Thursday, April 28, 2011

Home Schooling - Concept Of A Concept


Song:  Silent Wings
Group:  Secret Garden

A Concept is...
 an all inclusive synopsis of related ideas...
presented in logical progression...
specifically designed to engender
a working understanding.

It is in essence...
the root of the tree of specific knowledge...
it lays out the path to the trunk, branches, twigs and leaves...
in that order.

With the concept thoroughly understood...
you needn't have directly experienced something
to understand it...and so, you may predict outcomes.

The importance of conceptual understanding
greatly eclipses mere memorization of figures
or facts...as this only allows regurgitation.

With the governing principles understood...
they will be able to, not only, answer the questions...
they will be able to generate more questions in their minds.

This will give them the direction necessary...
to pursue the correct answers.

With the children tackling new material...
conceptualization is extremely important for...
 not only their ability to remember principles...
but for them to see other general guiding principles.

A way to teach this ability in children
is to have them list facts in a reading...
have them notice correlations...
and have them look at the variables in each
to attempt to establish causations...
then to simplify to the fewest principles...
and then to generalize those into a governing concept.

Let us take Global Warming as an example...

What we know is that this is a cyclical phenomena 
that has been occurring long before humans 
had anything to do with it.

Glacial...Warming...Glacial...Warming...
seen through undisturbed layer upon layers 
of Antarctic Ice...
as evidenced through coring...
evidence of precipitation or a lack of...
of higher CO2 levels during warming...
and lower levels during glacial.

By looking at Co2 levels and WHEN they had risen...
by noticing that the rising CO2 levels 
was an effect of the naturally
occurring temperature rises 
(CO2 is normally sequestered in the oceans
and is released as a RESULT of higher temperatures)...
the levels of CO2 rose after the temperature rise this time...
(not that controlling unnecessary pollution of any sort
is a bad thing)...

Scientists hypothesize that corresponding solar activity 
(active during warming trends...lack of during Glacial periods)
drives the known cyclical warming and glacial trends.

We are naturally entering a beneficial time...
one of great growth of arable lands...
one where the population growth around the world
will positively explode.

The real problem will be when we enter the next Glacial cycle...
this is when the once great arable lands will once again
recede...and the precipitation will diminish...
along with the CO2 levels (which the terrestrial plant life
will have had used to greatly increase its growth).

This, of course, shall greatly decrease realizable food...
fresh water, and the land on which to live.

You run into the problem of a world dependent on 
the warming cycle to provide for its population.
What you will have is a great die off of perhaps 
as much as, or even more than, half of its population.

Uncontrolled population is...
and has always been...
our major problem.

Although up until now...
uncontrolled population
has been a local one.

After this warming cycle...
it shall be a global one.


By my looking at scientific facts...
reading of the correlations...
by combining the principles of each
and how they interact with each other...
I have come to a conceptual understanding
of what true global problems 
shall present themselves
(not the local ones)
as a result.

This is an example of gathering facts...
noticing correlations...
simplifying to the principles...
getting a conceptual understanding...
to be able to predict (whether right or wrong...
it depends on the strength of the evidence and 
the quantity and quality of correct variables).

It is this principle of gathering information
around them to simplify to a concept...
that I am concerned with.

This is what children need to have done for them initially. 

By showing your process...
you show them how to conceptualize
for themselves.

Simple Mathematics can be by simple rote...
to solve simple written problems.

When they have no conceptual understanding...
a problem arises when they encounter
unfamiliar problem setups
(word problems - as in real life).

They are taught to execute a problem that is preset...
not to identify when and how a problem exists...
much less solve it.

d = rt

A principle that may be used to solve uniform problems
with ease.

Conceptual understanding allows them to solve 
for un-uniform ones with ease.

It also allows for the solving for any one variable 
should the other two be known.

Ex...you see son...
distance is the length covered
by the object going...lets say...
 100ft. per second for 2 seconds...
the time it took to reach the wall for instance...

If a golf ball is going 100ft. per second (rate) for 2 seconds(time)...
100ft x 2 = 200 ft....this is the distance(d).

Ok daddy...I understand...this must also mean that...
200ft. being the distance...divided by the time...
the speed is 100 ft a second....yes, I see how this works...
this makes sense...I can do this with anything.

Ok...this was extremely simplified...but the principle applies.

You tell them why it works and how it applies to all other similar
problems.

Give them real life problems for them to solve...
this will give them confidence in their ability
to identify and correctly categorize the problem.

What you wish, is for them to know the overall governing 
principles and to incorporate them into a guiding concept...
the main idea...the one pointing to complete understanding
of that which is the subject of study.

When your children study and get stuck...
it is not the answer that they crave...
but the concept...
 so they may solve on their own
without frustration.

On their reading assignments...
it is as simple as having them 
answer the age old questions...

Who...
How...
What...
When...
Why...
Where...
(exhausting each in...
 Past...
Present...
Future).

When they can do this...
they will then have...

Conceptual understanding...

and they shall be able to answer
any reasonable question on the subject.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Home Schooling - Concept Of A Meritocracy


Song:  About To Begin
Group:  Robin Trower
Album:  Bridge Of Sighs

The Concept of A Meritocracy...
in my mind,  should be naturally intuitive.

However...
in my dealings with many people throughout life....
I am at a loss at how I have to argue the merits of such
a naturally occurring prioritization and stratification of beings.

It already exists naturally throughout the rest of the animal and plant kingdom.

A meritocracy is simply a
system that self governs purely on the merits
of its individuals or sub-groups.

The world is not "fair"... 
only because of systems
used other than.

The great importance of teaching such a natural, 
and fair system, lies in the results they engender. 

Children, although having a natural concept
of fairness, often learn, falsely, that fairness means
that all people should be equal, at all times...regardless.

NO...

All people should be treated equally under the law...
all people should have equal access to resources...
all people should start out equal and always have a level playing field...

HOWEVER...

they should be able to raise themselves above (at any time)
through their applied intelligence and efforts.

It all simplifies to the two basic drives in human beings...

The Pursuit Of Pleasure 
(Positive Reinforcement)

The Aversion To / Removal Of Pain
(Punishment / Negative Reinforcement)


Were your job to pick apples...
and were you paid by quantity...
(Positive Reinforcement)
you would be motivated to pick quickly...
you would innovate more efficient and effective
ways of gathering the apples.

Were you paid all the same, regardless
of the quantity picked by individuals...
quotas would have to exist...
and associated punishments meted out...
or at the very least...
good things taken away...
(Punishment / Negative Reinforcement)
just to make the system halfway work...
besides being labor intensive in the constant monitoring
of the workers.

Great pressure would be exerted by the group on 
individual achievers to not produce too much...
as this would reset the quotas for all.


I won't go into world history...
at the many examples of achieving countries...
vs. the countries that have stagnated...
and the systems applied.

Where would professional sports or orchestras be...
 were they not governed by a meritocracy?

Of the two systems of motivators in human beings...
the Positive Reinforcement mode of operation...
is, by far, the most efficient and effective.

Now, what has all of this got to do with
the raising of your children?

It has everything to do with it.

Of the highest priority...
to ensure that this principle is grasped.

By guiding the mind...you guide the resulting actions.
With correct actions...correct results naturally occur.

Does this mean to only give love and affection
as a reward?

Certainly NOT!

Never withhold your love or affection.

There are plenty of other ways to reward...
including the expression of great delight
upon a great achievement by your child.

I used to be highly motivated by my mother's look 
of great pride and delight when I had done something
worthy of such expressions.

I lived to please my mother at first...
I then began to achieve for the great internal 
rewards gotten from a true victory...
and I got my mother's rewards ...
double pleasure!

As I matured (adulthood)...
I achieved for purely the internal rewards.
I began to not let anyone know of any of my achievements...
as I saw this as...somehow...cheapening the sacred experience.

This is when internalization is complete
(the ultimate goal).

To always give great praise at mediocre achievements
is to water down the great potion of praise till it 
becomes worthless...
and worse...
it reinforces mediocrity. 

Why try hard if you get the same reward regardless of effort?


To teach your children the concept of a meritocracy
(reward for rewardable achievements)
teaches the fundamentals of true fairness.

Always remember...
fairness is not about everything being equal...

just about equal opportunity...

the ability to improve one's life...
through applied intelligence and effort.

Once this concept is grasped...
they will become driven from within.

This will then set the stage for 
the concept of ever larger horizons...
the spirit of adventure...
the knowledge that they are limited  
only by their dreams and the effort expended 
to achieve them.

They will then know that, they, and not anyone else...
are responsible for, and are...
 the masters of their destiny.



Friday, April 15, 2011

Home Schooling - Concept Of Sorrow


Video Montage:  Final Fantasy X
Song:  Sad Romance
Artist:  Nguyen Xanh Thao


Sorrow differs from other feelings of distress.

There is no frustration...
no anger...
neither hopelessness nor helplessness.

There is understanding of the finality...
and so the reason for the deeply felt emotion.

To have experienced great sorrow means to 
have felt great...
love...
joy...
friendship...
kinship...
a soul felt connection to another being.


Sorrow is in the realm of the bittersweet.

Although the loss is heartfelt and deep...
it also reminds us of the great love once shared.

The greater the sorrow...
the greater the love one had.


It connects us to the true depth of the soul.


Although acutely painful...
true sorrow matures the soul.

It puts life into perspective...
it gives us the true meaning of the word... 
sacred.

Once true sorrow is experienced...
you will forever more
not take the great experiences in life for granted.

You learn to treasure the richness in life...
to love fully...
to live fully.

Time takes on meaning.

To truly understand the finiteness of life...
 is to give everything in it
a flavor that is savored with each moment.

To remember the good times...
the great happiness had...
the depth of love shared...
is to honor them.

Sorrow then becomes sacred...
not expressed...
not worn on the sleeve...
but in the heart.

It is something...
 to be remembered...
to be relived...
to be treasured...
in solitude.

To know the depths of sorrow...
is to understand deep pain.

To understand deep pain in us...
is to recognize and feel the pain
in others.

Sorrow connects us with other beings
on the level of the soul.

It makes us realize how close we are to our brothers...
it makes us treasure goodness in others...
and lets us recognize and truly admire
selflessness and sacrifice.  

It also lets us recognize and hold in disdain...
selfishness and superficiality.



Home Schooling - Concept Of Self Mastery


Song:  Straightaway To Orion
Artist:  Kitaro



Self mastery is simply...
being able to guide one's life
upon the correct path...
regardless of the pain involved...
 or pleasure not to.

Although self mastery does not make
the successful results of one's efforts
 a forgone conclusion...

it is through self mastery
that one may accept defeat
to a better man...
to be able to learn from him...
to come back stronger.

To be able to accept defeat
to something not of our doing...
to something that is inevitable
despite the depth of the dreams...
the efficiency of the plan...
the purity of the commitment...
is self mastery at its core.

That is when a failure is still a victory...
the most important one...
a Zen victory.



It simply is as is.

No amount of elaboration...
may lessen the responsibility to one's self.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Home Schooling - Concept Of Commitment


Video Montage:  Crisis Core
Song:  Bring Me To Life
Artist:  Evanescence


To dream...
 is to discover once unknown possibilities...
giving you the virgin drive for a better life.

Critical Reasoning...
allows one to properly plan the most
efficient, and so, effective route to the destination.


It all comes to naught without...
the ability to stick with the plan...
through pain...through doubt...through fear.

 So long as the route continues to be a valid one...
to never quit...
to stay the course through fruition.

To except no invalid excuse for course deviation...
to allow flexibility enough to get back on course
once sidetracked in lieu of derailment.

To rather face death...
than a failure of spirit...

this is the essence of...
Commitment.


To lack the Dream...
is to lack the imagination...
or the lack of seen need for a better life.


To lack the Critical Reasoning...
is to lack experience in basic problem solving...
or the lack of an open mind.

Both can be easily corrected through...
education of better ways...
and the solitude to ponder them.


Neither are necessarily 
the fault of the self...
and so...
forgivable.


To have both...
the Dream and the Critical Reasoning...
and, yet, to not have the commitment...
is the fault of the self...
and so...
unforgivable.


Again...

To Dream... is to imagine a possibility.

To Critically Reason... is to figure out the path there.

To Commit...
is to keep...
 the goal forever in sight...
the Dream alive...
forever in the heart.

To keep putting your feet forward...
left over right...left over right.

To forever pick yourself up...
should you stumble.

To forever walk the path dreamt...
no matter the difficulties.


The greater the dream...the greater the drive.

The more solid the reasoning...the more efficient the path.

The greater the commitment...the greater the result.

By far...the most difficult to achieve in any goal...
the application of...in the face of difficulties.

This is the most crucial component...commitment.


The explanation of Commitment to the child
allows them to recite it.

Having them conquer their fears
through the mastery of ever greater achievements...
is to allow them to live it...
and so...truly understand it.


NOW...
To throw the child directly into 
the fires of combat
(Intellectual...Physical...Emotional)
without thorough preparation is WORSE
than leaving a child to his own devices.

This is... in essence... desertion of your child...
placing all responsibility on him to survive.

This does not create greatness in children...
it just weeds out those whom are simply unprepared.

The child soon learns to give up...
to close his mind to keep fears at bay.

Life is not about mere survival.
It is about the achievement of dreams.

It is through the careful cultivation of...
 the drive through the Dreams...
the efficient plans through Critical Reasoning...
Commitment through carefully planned objectives...
spaced far enough apart in difficulty to extend his knowledge...
yet, that are achievable through effort.


To be able to Commit...
despite fears...
despite temptation...
is to master one's self.

It is through self mastery
that he shall be able to master his world.

Through self mastery...
he shall be able to face defeat
and still have a victory...
a Zen victory.
(more on this concept later)


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Home Schooling - Concept Of Love


Warmth Of The Sun - Beach Boys


While Love is subjective...

(I shall not be going into the biochemical
aspects...as this...to me...does not matter)

there are many instances in life that, initially, can be confusing.


As deeply as I have loved certain women in my life...
ones whom I can never forget...
whose sweet faces and beautiful eyes
were mere manifestations of their
even more beautiful souls...

there is an even greater love...

one that surpasses all else...

the sacred bond from Parent to Child


My family in the 1960s
(my father was working in Alaska for a few years)

My first great love was my Mother.

She was a warm and affectionate mother
who gave me the yardstick to measure future women
in my life.



My Father and Mother with a newborn Alex.


I was not a bad child...
not because I feared my father
(he was a softie :)...
but because I feared the look
of disappointment in my mother's eyes.

She did so much for us...
by demonstrating her love...
through her great cooking...
warm hugs and kisses...
but mostly through her
soul reading
(she could look into our eyes and know what we were 
feeling...much to my dismay at the time).


My first romantic love was when I had 
just turned 20 yrs. old
(although I had burning passions for 
many a cute girl throughout school...
this first romantic love was all consuming...
she still haunts me to this day).

Throughout my childhood...
I had always kept this image of the perfect woman
in my mind...
perfect in every way...
kindness and beauty exuded from her soul
as manifested in...
 her eyes...
her feminine and graceful motions...
her demeanor as demonstrated
through her speech patterns...
what she said...and did not say...
her soft delivery...the timing and intonation...
the incredibly intelligent and insightful eyes...
a true goddess of beauty.

On that fateful day...
a Christmas Eve...
I saw her.

It was immediate and struck me to the core.

It was love at first sight only because
she was the woman I had loved all my life...
the one I had envisioned since boyhood.

NO...
our relationship never reached fruition...
only because of my stupid and overpowering
shyness.

I had committed the great personal sin of 
cowardice in love.

After my awkward delaying had caused the loss
of a great love...
two realizations occurred to me...

Although the loss was greatly felt...
it was bitter-sweet.


First...

She had opened my eyes to the overpowering...
 all consuming nature of...
 true love.

I knew that I would one day feel it again...
it was this great hope that carried me through
many a rough time in my life
(and so the great tragedy of youth ending their lives
over a loss of a great love...
there is a saying in the Mental Health Industry...
Suicide is often a permanent solution...
to a temporary problem).


Second...

I made a sacred vow to not allow my fears
to keep me from living and loving fully...
by expressing it more fully, deeply...and without hesitation.


I went on to find my wife and at age 40 (one month shy of 41)...
had found an even greater love...

My son Alex.


I have told my son...
he should resolve to never marry...
to guide his life with single mindedness...
toward a future rich in great experiences...
which shall lead him to love life...

and that...

when he meets the girl that changes his mind...
that is when he shall know it is the right one.


Now... two things should have struck you 
as you read this article...

One...

You noticed the GREAT importance of the woman
on the development of a young man.

A mother who is loving and affectionate has
immeasurable and lasting effect on her children.

How a man relates to other women in his life
is greatly influenced by his mother.

How I relate to other men...
 was influenced greatly by my father 
and by my various male role models.

It is not enough to feel love for your children...
it is in how you express your love.

Giving love and affection openly and fully
through actions and touch
is not only remembered...
it molds the future men and women.

Two...

You must have noticed that I said from
Parent TO Child and NOT between
Parent AND Child.

This extremely important concept
is what allows the future of humanity
to evolve instead of stagnate.


The child must fall out of love with his parents
to be able to fly from the nest.

This allows him to fall in love with others.

Although there will always be a special place
for his parents...
new priorities must evolve.

The greatest loves of his life shall supercede 
that of his love for his parents...
it must be so.

Does this mean that he no longer cares for them
in heart and action?

NO.

What it does mean is that he will have to spend far more
time with his new family than with his parents.

That is why the best gift you can give your grown children
is their independence of heart and mind
by making sure you...as parents...stay independent.

By keeping yourself healthy...
cognitively...
emotionally...
physically...
you free them of being torn between 
duty to their family to that of their parents.

We, as parents, shall always deeply love our children
above all others...
as should be.

The sacred bond between 
husband and wife
is strengthened by our 
shared love of our children...
not threatened by it. 


Should sometime in the future...
your children must cancel
a planned visit to you
due to their family matters...

know that you had raised them correctly.


Always remember...

It is not our children 
who owe us everything...

It is we...
the parents...
who owe everything
to them.












Thursday, April 7, 2011

Like Father - Like Son


Never Ending Story - Limahl


I am not...
 have never been...
will never be...
nearly so intelligent as my son...
Alex.

However...
I see so much of me... in him... in many other respects.

My son, and I, share not only...
 Physical characteristics...
Neurological characteristics...
Emotional characteristics...
Basic thought patterns (except in math)...
that I am constantly entertained just watching him
throughout the day in his activities.

With many of his reactions...
and especially, with his 
present obsessions/compulsions...
I know,  not only what he is thinking (and why)...
I know what he is feeling.

Actually...
my obsessive compulsions
were far worse at his age.




Alex, and I, at about the same age (2nd Grade).


My wife laughs at the similarities in many of our
characteristics.

She also suffers through
 our low frustration tolerance...
easy distractibility...
our tendency to argue seemingly 
valueless points 
(although they just seem that way to her)  :)...
our lack of social grace...
our lack of adequate verbal/action filtering
(we tend to put truth/justice/correctness before feelings)...
our lack of fine motor control
(as depicted below).


Alex's recent drawing (last year)


My recent drawing 

A birthday card for my wife a couple of years ago
(wife's name blanked out).

My wife laughed so hard...
she said I had given her birds' feet for hands.

Yes...I really tried.

I could never draw...
and my son's printing is better than mine
(Thank goodness for keyboards!).


I absolutely LOVE being a father.

My wife is doing such an exceptional job
with our son... Alex.

I shall soon take up more of the Home Schooling
subjects, as I retire in 3 weeks.

I am looking forward to being with him much more 
than is possible now.

He, too, is excited.
I have lain out a partial
schedule of daily subjects and events.


Am I living vicariously through our son, Alex?

I say...
If so (although, I think not)...
so what?

It is the results that matter.


It is my great love of him
that drives me.


It is my sacred duty...
as a father...
to give him all the advantages in life
that I possibly can...
to guide him to make
his dreams a reality...
to allow him to experience life
 in all its greatness and beauty.

Although I am not ashamed
of things I have done in life...
I am ashamed for things I have not.

This is where I shall ensure my son
 greatly surpasses me.

Should I not...
then I fail as a father...

this...

 I shall not fail at.








Home Schooling - English - Writing


Fur Elise - Ludwig Van Beethoven
Played by - Atsuko Seta



Alex using the Plato Online Learning System
Category: English
Subcategory: Writing

He is learning to generate ideas on topics
by exploring the different angles within...
by listing knowns and unknowns...
generating questions from areas of probable 
interests or affects.



This is a great basic exercise for generating
papers or reports in the future.

Although Alex is far ahead of his grade level in all areas...
this is probably one of his weakest areas.

His mother has been working with him, tirelessly, to shore up 
lagging areas, while greatly improving his strengths.




Alex had written a "paper" on "the realities of life" :)
a couple of years ago.

While Alex loves to free write...
he must also learn formal writing.

This is what shall be demanded in higher education...
and, in almost all professions.

Plato also has printable exercises in all subjects
for off line work.

We are so happy with the various on-line educational
support programs and courses.

Alex's mother had always given him advanced work after school
(before we instituted home school).

Alex advanced at a much greater rate, in his academics...
with home schooling.

We may now allow him to advance at a rate
that is much faster, and so, less frustrating.

He loves home school...
as do we.




Friday, April 1, 2011

Home Schooling - Art Of Problem Solving - Algebra Competition




Song:  I Feel Love

Artist:  Donna Summer





The Art Of Problem Solving

A math teaching and online competition
Web Site catering to top high school students
wishing to advance to much higher mathematical
concepts and levels than offered in traditional 
school curriculum.

(They also offer math from elementary school and up)

Taught and run by
 The 1989 USA Math Olympiad Winner
Richard Rusczyk.


We are using Alcumus as a supplemental math site
for Alex.

Alex started using it a couple of weeks ago.

Alex is competing in the open Algebra section (no age groups).

Although Alex is only 10 years old...
he has been doing fairly well in the online
Algebra competition
(ranking by elapsed time and accuracy rating).

As of last week...
Alex was rated at...

#1,423 out of  #14,255 competitors.

Alex really enjoys the mental stimulation of... 
not only competition...
but, new concepts
(he is learning probability calculation
among other concepts).

Just yesterday...
Alex, and I, were playing a game 
of probability using a die.

He not only won...
he accurately calculated the probability of 
a certain mix of numbers appearing on a set
number of rolls of the die
(in a few seconds in his head).

He said he had learned about probabilities through
this great site...

The Art Of Problem Solving.





Alex in competition mode.

He loves going to the site during his free time
to try to raise his ranking.

I often hear him do a victory yell
followed by his declaration of advancement.

He got extremely excited when he first started...
he would move up by many hundreds
after completing a problem set.

Although his moves up are smaller now...
he is steadily moving up
(he is still very excited).

I know he will do much better after he completes his Algebra II
(he is presently learning Algebra II through Thinkwell).

Although his advancement in his studies
greatly pleases us...
it is his basic love of learning (and life)
that pleases us the most.

His academic advancement is a result
of his love of learning.

With a love of learning...
there is a love of life...

THAT...
 is what... ultimately... matters most.




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