Monday, 17 September 2012

The Pencil/sharpener Conspiracy

Is it me or are pencil manufacturers not doing a good enough job at producing pencils that last? The same goes for sharpeners that get dull quicker than I remember as a child. We have at least 100 sharpeners in the house, but only one that works! In the case of pencils, we use at least 3 pencils a week/per child. Each sharpen reduce the pencil down by a third.
I notice that they break more often and the more you sharpen the duller the sharpener becomes as well. It's also true that the erasers often finish before the pencils do as well. So you have to change pencils because you need an eraser. Those add-on erasers are not dependable either. We spend a good amount of money on pencils and sharpeners; often monthly. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but this does add up. I have at least a few hundred pencils in my house. Some are too short to continue sharpening. I give those and the dull sharpeners away; not sure what those people will think of my donation. I just do not like to throw away things that I think someone might able to use. I give away a bag full of pencils monthly. I would be interested in reading how much money pencil manufacturers make. I’m sure it’s well into the trillions. It’s not just purchasing for schools, but maintaining a useable tool to learn with is what increases their sales. Dixon, HB, MegaBrands, and Office Depot are not as different as they would like you to think. They have succeeded in manufacturing products that keep you buying more.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Raisin in the sun

Looking back on my life and the standard of education I received, I can honestly compare myself to a raisin in the sun. I was left to desiccate in the sun without protection and aide. Like most immigrant children, I was left to maneuver and manage the new US system on my own. I went to school and instead of my parents helping me with school work; I ended up having to help them translate letters sent from the school. I knew I had a quick mind for math, but Mr. Hade ( or Hayde from Elmwood Elementary School in Monsey, NY) thought I was a Haitian girl who was probably good enough to clean his house one day…if well trained. The truth being that I had more social and financial capital in my country than Mr. Hade in his, but as an immigrant in his country; he seemed right. So when he told me in plain language that as a Haitian girl (I was the only girl in his math class) that I was not good in math, I did not know who could tell him otherwise. My parents worked 2 jobs each. And besides, they did not speak English and nor were they empowered enough to tell the teacher that he was wrong. I was still an honors level student. My classes were mostly honors and AP level, but when it came to math I was average. Mr. Hade’s ugly mind had stained my image of myself in math. But my 6 year old son has proved him wrong! Fast forward a Ph.D. and three children; I am now a home schooling mom with a 6 year old doing three-digit division and algebra. How did an average math student train a 6 year old math genius? I’m beginning to realize that I was much smarter in math than I was made to believe. I’m also realizing that I am capable of doing many things that I did not know I could.
Home schooling my children have been such an eye opener and an inspiration. I learn so many things from them. This week’s lesson is teaching me just how inept I am in the arts. We went to our favorite book depot and picked up 2 books on how to draw cars and horses. It turns out that I am a GREAT artist! Who knew? I was able to draw those horses to true form JUST by following the directions. I might be blowing my own horn here, but I realized that home schooling educates everyone in the home! My son is also interested in knowing how to make things using paper such as boats, airplanes, etc. Instead of waiting for my husband do those activities with him, I found a site and learned how. So what is my advice to you? Many of you were made to believe that you are not smart enough, especially not to home school. I learned that it is never too late to teach yourself or learn fractions or whatever else you were made to believe was too “complicated” for your “simple” brain. I also learned from last week’s lesson on the human brain and from Dr. Ben Carson, one of the world’s top brain surgeons, that there is no such thing as a simple brain. Our brains are capable of genius, all of us! He was proclaimed dummy at the age of 10. He became the director of brain surgeons at 33. What did he do? He stopped believing that he was incapable. Maybe that is what we need to stop doing as home educators; stop believing that we are incompetent. If not us, who? All we have to do is think big!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Workshop on Home schooling

There is nothing more frustrating to a parent than not being able to help their children. I meet parents all the time asking me to teach their child or just simply asking me how they can do what I do. Parents have been so disempowered that they think that someone else educating their children is more productive than they. I hear “I just cannot do it,” “he won’t listen to me,” and “I’m not smart enough.” And I think wow! Parents need more help than the children. This is why we are hosting a one day workshop on home schooling. We will touch on how to get started, where to get materials, motivation, testing and more. This workshop has been in the works for a while. Ever since appearing on Ghana television, parents approach me all the time about helping. That is why I started a list serve and a support network. I send links for good cites, worksheets, crafts ideas and I host weekly extracurricular activities to solve the socialization quagmire. However, I soon realized that was not enough. We have been planning this workshop for a long time. I thought it was sufficed to provide parents cites where they could find materials for their children. I did not realize that many parents feel overwhelmed not only with teaching, but with having to find materials as well. Others are further frustrated not knowing which materials, what levels, which subjects and which curriculum to use. I do not know why the Spirits have moved me to Ghana. Could home schooling be my calling? If so, I am more than willing to take on the badge of service. Our workshop will be held either at the end of September or early October; depending on space. We are looking for support from the community. Want to help? Just spread the word that help is on the way.