The Parental Intelligence Newsletter

March 2010

Hi, this is Bob Collier inviting you to 'explore the psychology of happy and successful parenting', connect with bright minds, discover new ideas and sail outside the mainstream for a while without running aground.

All that and more.

In this month's issue of the Parental Intelligence Newsletter there are links to 48 articles and 28 notices and items of news. As always, I trust you will find in my latest collection of parenting, education and personal development ideas and information from around the internet something that will make a positive difference to your life - and, through you, to the lives of your children.

Please scroll down to pick and choose whatever is of interest and useful to you.

Thank you for being here! I appreciate this opportunity to be of help to you in your parenting adventure and wish you all the happiness and success you would wish yourself.

See you next month!



"Intelligence to me is not a thing, it's a process; one that never stops." - Sean Grainger


A Teacher's Transition to Unschooling (a.k.a Collette Deneault/Oldham sees the light!)

I wasn't always for homeschooling, after all, I was a teacher. Anytime I had a name on my list of students that said "Homeschooled" I seriously felt sorry for that kid. I kept thinking to myself, "This kid is missing out on so much." I never questioned what I meant by "so much". This was especially true when I was doing a fun project, I kept thinking of what this "poor kid" must be doing at home. After all, we were having fun and learning, and that certainly couldn't be true for him. We sang, we danced, we played….I was positive that every kid wanted to do that at a pre-programmed time.

My views on homeschooling were the typical concerns:

(1.) I felt they weren't being socialized (based on a few families I knew whose kids did not know how to socialize.)

(2.) I felt they couldn't possibly be learning as much as I was "teaching"……..I was sure every kid was dying to know their multiplication tables through music…..etc.

And (3.) to top off my ego, I was sure that I was doing a much better job with 25 kids, than a mom/dad could possibly do one-on-one. (I still don't understand why I ever thought this!)

Then it happened. I became a grandmother and my grandkids were going to be, not just homeschooled but unschooled….. no curriculum bought materials!!! This required some re-direction on my part. But fortunately, I didn't need too much persuasion as my last few years in the classroom were convincing enough. This together with reading lots of books, magazines and sites, I was able to re-define what education meant to me.

First of all, teaching to the test has become the cornerstone of "teaching". If a student scored lower than a 4 on standardized testing, he/she would be pulled out for extra "help". Any teacher time for planning fun activities got taken over with the recording and analyzing of data. I slowly went from teacher to secretary in four years (thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act). Each day became more cloned until everyone had to be on the same page in order to compare/contrast. More workshops were brought into the school, business consultants were hired (education having become a business I suspect), and more curriculum was put into our day with nothing removed. Recess was slowly taken away, and instead kids were forced to read or at least hold a book in a ludicrous attempt to help state scores. Eventually, the school day was extended by a half an hour, a double guarantee that more structured time would definitely help scores. No school wants to be a school in need. 

At one point in my teaching career, I decided to graph actual "teaching" moments. Not necessarily learning moments but "teaching". I came to the realization that I had about 2 hours a day where I had all the kids at the same time. Pull out programs, designed to help kids, were doing anything but that. Whether they needed it or not, these kids, for example, were removed from a rich literature discussion and were made to sit around a round table learning the sounds of the vowels and reading rhyming books with absolutely no plot and no interest level. Of those two hours of "non-interrupted time" in my class, kids were still going in and out of the room for various reasons (nurse, school store, bookmobile, banking, bathroom etc.). Moreover, any "new" concept from our rich state driven curriculum was not necessarily a new concept for everyone and for some it wasn't even important. Educating children at school was practically becoming synonymous to torture for both the teacher and the student. So you can imagine when the concept of unschooling came up, I was more than ready to embrace a system of learning that could indeed be called learning (and keep my grandkids out of this bureaucratic mess).

And now back to my 3 original concerns.

(1.) I now see that socialization in a classroom may not be the socialization you want your kids to model. Besides, contrary to belief, there's little time in the day for kids to be kids and no time in the day for kids to interact with adults. In a school setting, adults are the people who tell kids what to do. A teacher does not have time to have a conversation with each child every day. A home/unschooled child, on the other hand, learns to communicate with everyone, no matter what the age. I've come to realize and more importantly witness, that socialization in the real world happens in the real world and not behind closed doors with same age children waiting for a teacher to tell them what to do. I'm speaking from experience. I did that. I'm guilty! I'm glad I'm living long enough to see the other side of the coin.

(2.) Yes, I now realize that homeschooled children ARE learning and as a matter of fact, they are learning much more at home. They may not be learning the government regulated curriculum, but who says you have to read at 6, study Eskimos at 7, Egyptians at 8, the solar system at 9 and the constitution at 10. And when's the last time someone asked you what 3/4ths of 7/8ths is? I find it much more rewarding to have my 7 year old grandson (who can't read yet ….and is not coded for this "flaw"), to come flying through the door to show me how his magnet under the table moves his magnet over the table. From this comes a spontaneous discussion on magnets that would have taken me a day to set up in a classroom and two days to deliver to a 3rd grade class, (certainly not to be taught to a 2nd grade class according to specific curriculum regulations!).

(3.) Lastly, yes, my ego took a much needed face lift. I no longer believe that my 30 plus years in the classroom was more beneficial to any child whose parents chose to homeschool. If I had to do it over again with my own kids, it would be really wonderful to not have to wake them up from a warm bed, stuff breakfast down their throats and put them on a noisy bus only to be delivered to some other adult who's in charge of 25 other kids, and then have them sit there all day being told what to learn with little socialization. And in addition to sitting on a hard seat most of the day next to some child who may be annoying, please realize that they all must walk down the hall quietly, hurry to eat (a non-healthy meal), rush outdoors to play in a 15 minute recess disguised as socializing in a sea of kids who are exactly the same age. Very realistic!? And you mustn't forget the kids who never get recess because the teachers keep them in for "extra help" or better yet, take away their recess as a punishment OMG! This really really does happen!

In summary:

A day in the life of my grandkids
would go like this: Happy engaged kids learning everything they WANT to know, eating when they are hungry and resting when they are tired.

A day in the life of a schooled child
: Happy or unhappy kids engaged or not engaged in learning or not learning, eating when they may or may not be hungry and unable to rest if they are tired.

IN SCHOOL I believe that

Some kids learn all the time

All kids learn some of the time

But not all kids learn all of the time

But for unschooled kids, they ARE learning ALL of the time. They are living life and learning everything they need and want to learn.

The choice is evident to me............and to my husband who is also a retired school teacher!

Collette Deneault/Oldham - Teacher for 30 plus years & Grandma to 5 (ages 9,8,6,5,4)

© Copyright Collette Deneault/Oldham

Published with the permission of the author.


Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Childbirth …
by Liza Mundy

A review of Randi Hutter Epstein's Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Rick King via the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children (aTLC)

Birth in the Ether: Gisele Bundchen's Natural Birth
by Jenna Brand

In February Gisele Bundchen (famous super-model) and her husband Tom Brady (professional football player and University of Michigan alum - woot woot) had a baby! They had a water birth in her home and was attended by a midwife.

She has since spoken of her birth as an incredibly positive experience ...

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Maria Whitworth

CDC Study Says Home Births on the Rise in U.S.
by Joseph Brownstein, ABC News

After having her first child in a hospital, Lorra Jacobs decided it was an experience she did not care to repeat.

She had two more children, and she chose to have both of them at home.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Kim Wildner

Breastfeeding: How Do Some Mothers Successfully Meet WHO Guidelines?
by Nan Sheppard

The WHO stipulates that all babies must be breastfed exclusively for six months, and that breastfeeding should continue for two years and beyond.

Many people gasp in horror at this, but I'm sure that the WHO has done their research ...

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Anita Robinson

Weighing In On Wis. Breast Feeding Law
by Amelia Santaniello

In Wisconsin, it is now illegal to interfere with a woman who is breast-feeding her child in public.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Kim Wildner

Babywearing: The real deal on safety
by Hyacinth

Brace yourselves, babywearing parents.

If we thought we got inquiring looks for slinging our babies before, I'm sure we're in for a firestorm of more than just curious glances now that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is preparing to issue a warning to parents about infants having suffocated in popular slings sold at our local Target. And it might not be such a bad thing.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Jennifer Varela

Should we parent boys and girls differently?
by PhD in Parenting

There are two camps when it comes to gender differences. There are those that insist that the differences between boys and girls are biologically hard-wired. And there are those that insist that the differences are learned.

Read more ...

Who cares?
by Lisa Russell

There's a dangerous misconception among parents that "people who make decisions different than mine don't care about their kids."

It's really a harmful way to look at other families.

Read more ...

Is Your Child Getting "Junk Experience?"
by Linda Dobson

Scientists have confirmed what anyone who has ever watched a child grow already knows: Nature and nurture are inextricably intertwined.

Read more ...

Are You Screwing Your Kids Up?
by Tim Brownson

Did you know that skin damage caused through over exposure to the suns rays is irreparable?

Did you also know that most damage is done before somebody reaches the age of 18, but often doesn't manifest itself until years, sometimes even decades later.

Read more ...

Counter-Intuitive Methods for Parenting Successful Kids
by Vanessa Van Petten

I was reading Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J Dubner and they had a really interesting section on what actually matters (statistically speaking) in parenting and raising smart and successful kids.  I pulled out a few of their points to expand on for our readers, because I think they are fascinating.

Read more ...

The Parenting Spectrum
by Teresa Brett

Our society embraces an underlying belief that parents need to control their children in order for them to learn how to be productive members of society. Parents having this belief system feel entitled to use fear, punishments, rewards, and other coercive methods to get their children to comply, and view the world in polarities. Parenting can appear to be an either/or proposition: if we do not use fear and punishment, then we are overly permissive.

Read more ...

(My special thanks to Teresa for mentioning the Parental Intelligence Newsletter in her March newsletter)

Conformity: Ten Timeless Influencers
from PsyBlog

The pressure to conform affects everyone. Understanding how and when puts you one step ahead of the pack.

Read more ...

Keeping upbringing local
by Judy Breck

We need to quit making this false choice: dumbing down our children by denying them global knowledge so that we can nurture them locally. Of course it is crucial to give them local nurture, but it is no longer possible to connect them well with what they need to learn through out-dated local knowledge delivery institutions.

Read more ...

Progressive Education
by Alfie Kohn

If progressive education doesn't lend itself to a single fixed definition, that seems fitting in light of its reputation for resisting conformity and standardization. Any two educators who describe themselves as sympathetic to this tradition may well see it differently, or at least disagree about which features are the most important.

Read more ...

Bureaucracy is the enemy of education
by Steve Kaufmann

Education should be a personal thing. It should be each individual's personal journey of discovery and growth. Education is being corrupted by government and bureaucracy. As we spend more and more of society's money in education, not directly as learners, but as tax-payers via massive organizations with their own agendas and interests, the responsibility and choices of individuals get lost, and the waste just gets larger and larger, and the results, the achievements just plummet.

Read more ...

Seven Sins of Our System of Forced Education
by Peter Gray

In my last post I took a step that, I must admit, made me feel uncomfortable. I said, several times: "School is prison." I felt uncomfortable saying that because school is so much a part of my life and the lives of almost everyone I know. I, like most people I know, went through the full 12 years of public schooling. My mother taught in a public school for several years. My beloved half-sister is a public schoolteacher. I have many dear friends and cousins who are public schoolteachers. How can I say that these good people--who love children and have poured themselves passionately into the task of trying to help children--are involved in a system of imprisoning children? The comments on my last post showed that my references to school as prison made some other people feel uncomfortable also.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Marion Badenoch

Putting The Cart Before The Horse: Why School Reform Is A Waste
by Aaron Eyler

Here is my point: we need to reform education in such a way that students realize the value of knowledge and learning; not of school. Does it really matter if students go to school or not so long as they are gaining an education and developing an appreciation for knowledge and learning?

Read more ...

Teacher's Intent
by Joe Bower

Every year I get a couple student teachers from the local college. They are third or fourth year university students who are learning to become teachers (Bachelor of Education typicall takes four years of university in Alberta - sometimes five). And every year I have to convince them that everything they have been told about lesson planning was maybe a little bit of a lie.

Read more ...

Can teachers come anywhere close to measuring learning?
by Leigh Blackall

Recently I was sent a link to another one of those annoying formats only researchers like to use, the PDF, writing up a study done by Adam Friedman and Tina Heafer called "You Think for Me, So I Don't Have To." The Effect of a Technology-Enhanced, Inquiry Learning Environment on Student Learning in 11th-Grade United States History.

I think the study was bogus, but more interestingly - points to the inherent problems and bias in teaching practice and the research of its impact on learning.

Read more ...

Teachers as Master Learners
by Will Richardson

As we continue to have conversations around change with the 800 or so practitioners we're working with in PLP [Powerful Learning Practice], I continue to be struck by the frustration I'm feeling at the seeming separation between teaching and learning

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Stephen Downes

The Right to Control One's Learning
by John Holt

Young people should have the right to control and direct their own learning; that is, to decide what they want to learn, and when, where, how, how much, how fast, and with what help they want to learn it. To be still more specific, I want them to have the right to decide if, when, how much, and by whom they want to be taught and the right to decide whether they want to learn in a school and if so which one and for how much of the time.

Read more ...

What is 'Learning'?
by Kent Eaton

On the net in mailing list groups, chat groups and forums there are many discussions, which mention categories. styles, methods and techniques of Home Education and curriculum vs no curriculum, etc. Often an important consideration is missing,  the essential point of what learning is.

Read more ...

A Brief History of American Homeschooling
by Linda Dobson

Many regard homeschooling as a new educational phenomenon, but that is simply a reflection of the bias of our times. If somehow we could help our caveman see into the future, he would regard government-sponsored schools as the variant, as would the majority of his descendants at least until the middle of the nineteenth century. Until then, the mostly agrarian American society lived a family-centered lifestyle; education happened at home, if only by default.

Read more ...

In praise of home schooling
by Steve Kaufmann

How can you argue against success. Home schooled kids significantly outperform kids in the regular school system in the US. ( I do not know about other countries).

Read more ...

Every homeschooler's favorite question
by Evan Lenz

"What about socialization?"

Homeschooling families are all too familiar with this question.

Read more ...

Certified teacher joins home-school world
by Amy Travis

In 2006, I took the leap from public school teacher to home-school mom for my kindergarten daughter. I did what most home-school mothers do and joined a home-school group for support. To be honest, I thought I would be lending most of the support. I had the elementary education degree and many successful years of teaching under my belt. They should be so lucky to have me in the group.

Read more ...

"Homeschooling", An Incorrect Term for Learning Freedom
by Kent Eaton

Natural Learning,  Un-schooling. Autonomous and Child-led Learning are all learning freely environments and not at all like what the term "Homeschool" or "Homeschooling" implies. Therefore it is inappropriate to refer to a free learning environment as a type or method of Homeschooling.

Read more ...

Why home education works, even when it doesn't....
from What are we doing tomorrow?

From time to time, I do question whether home education is the right choice for Chi, I think I would be neglecting my responsibilities as a parent if I didn't reassess our decision occasionally and make sure that we are both still happy with it, that it is what we both still want.

Read more ...

Reading to kids a crucial tool in English language development
from Physorg

Poring over the works of Dr. Seuss, the adventures of the Berenstain Bears or exploring the worlds of Hans Christian Andersen with a child has always been a great parent-child bonding exercise.

But, according to George Georgiou, a University of Alberta professor in educational psychology, it is instrumental for English-speaking children if they are to acquire the language skills, particularly comprehension, essential to their future reading ability.

Read more ...

Children Teach Themselves to Read
by Peter Gray

Unschoolers' accounts of how their children taught themselves to read.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Lyla Wolfenstein

How I Learned to Read and Write
by Idzie

This is something I seem to see parents worrying about sooo often...  Parents of four and five year olds (both in and out of school) wring their hands and tear their hair out over the fact their children can't read.  When I see this, I just shake my head, and feel bad for those poor kids!

Read more ...

How my three unschooled daughters learned to read
from Radio Free School

It's evening and my daughter and I are walking home from her basketball practice. We've been discussing her two year old cousin and how she's learning to read. "She recognizes words," M says in excitement.

"Do you remember how you learned to read?" I ask my daughter, curious.

Read more ...

How my now six-year-old daughter learned how to write her name, recognize numbers, read some words and draw: A narrative
by Dr. Carlo Ricci

In this paper I want to share how my now six-year-old daughter learned how to write her name, recognize numbers, read some words and draw. By doing so I hope to offer an alternative to a schooling-centered curriculum that would have us believe that the only way to learn these things is to have an expert train young people to do these things.

Read more ...

Defining Unschooling
by Swiss Army Wife

One of the problems with trying to define Radical Unschooling is that there is no simple answer.    If you give someone a definition you inevitably leave some other aspect out.  Some definitions give the wrong impressions, like child-led learning.

Read more ...

Unschooling Interview
by Joanne

A few months ago, a student at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism contacted me and asked if they could interview me about unschooling for research they were doing. Here are her questions, and my answers.

Read more ...

Advice for the New Unschooler
by Colleen

We're coming up on our first homeschooling anniversary. And three days after that will be our first unschooling anniversary. Yes, we lasted a full three days in school at home mode before both Jerry and I were in separate rooms crying and I tossed my hands in the air (onto the computer keyboard, actually) and googled "unschooling."

Read more ...

Re-imagining School as Unschoolers
Public Educators & Unschoolers May Have Much in Common
by Eva Swidler

As much as unschoolers dislike the idea of compulsory schooling, a growing number believe that finding common ground with progressive school teachers is the key to creating real educational change.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Lyla Wolfenstein

Unschooling vs. Sudbury Schooling
by Evan Lenz

"It's an 'unschooling school,'" is what someone told me when I first heard about Clearwater School, and Sudbury schools in general. How appropriate is that characterization?

Read more ...

Unschoolers are Lazy?
by Pam Sorooshian

Unschooling is really impossible to confuse with being lazy. It takes a lot of time and energy and thought on the part of the parent. Now, for some people, it is SO fun that it seems easy - just like anything else, when you're loving what you're doing, it doesn't seem like work.

Read more ...

Unschooling, Radical Unschooling, or Something Else?
by Wendy Priesnitz

Most life learners don't like to label their children - whether it's using the alphabet soup provided by those who would drug children into submissive behavior or by means of school-style grades. So I'm always amused and disturbed in equal parts when the debate begins about what to call this sort of child-led, non-coercive, lifestyle that also - obviously - includes learning.

Read more ...

Balancing in the Middle Ground
by Sandra Dodd

By thinking in extremes, "There is more than one truth" becomes "All things are equally truthful." Just because there are many truths doesn't mean there's no such thing as nonsense. 

Read more ...

Findability in the global commons is the new core of education
by Judy Breck

The classroom is no longer where knowledge is. It's time to reconfigure learning around the mobile.

Read more ...

Your Brain On 3-D Learning
by Connie Malamed

Help! I've been caught in an immersive 3D Learning Environment! Oh wait, this is just my office. I guess the book, Learning in 3D, has kind of rewired my brain. I'm sure this is an improvement.

According to the authors, Karl Kapp and Tony O'Driscoll, it's just a matter of time until virtual immersive environments are commonly accepted as the learning mode of choice.

Read more ...

Motherly Love And Self-Hypnosis For Mothers Day
by Adam Eason

Self-Hypnosis for Motherly Love: In 7 Simple Steps.

Read more ...

Selected Self-Confidence Building Activities
by Mark Tyrrell

It matters not whether you have the good looks of a crumbling cathedral gargoyle or the sex appeal of a rusted cheese grater because self-confidence is a power greater than the sum of your parts.

Read more ...

Is practicing psychiatry a disorder in need of treatment?
by Dr. Stephen Murgatroyd

Everything is not a form of illness.

Read more ...

Thank you for that item to Jim Moore via Wildest Colts

Subscribe to the Parental Intelligence Newsletter

Read the current issue
Parental Intelligence