Stem Cell Alternatives

Immature cells from testicles
Lab grown bladder sacs from patient’s own bladder cells

This is in the news. I’m thrilled to know about it.

One of my students in their papers turned in Tuesday said, One of the most important things that therapeutic cloning (from embryos) can do is give bald men back their hair. I asked him if he meant that we should kill babies for vanity.

I am glad there are other alternatives being examined.

And, not to be too un-pc, but maybe the reason they are being examined is that the feds wouldn’t fund rampant embryo destruction and research.

Thinking Alike

(on the right things.) “They (her fellow students) spend their school lives being given all the answers and not being challenged to seek out different ones. They don’t know how to consider other possibilities, and that should be one of the main things we “learn” in education.” said The Head Girl at The Common Room.

I have said often recently that the structure of my research assignment for freshman English is purposeful. My students pick a controversial topic. They research both sides. And they write the paper for the side they disagree with first. They write a paper which they think is hogwash.

I’ve told them it is for several reasons. One of them is to make them think. Some others?
Not assume because something is written that it is true.
To know that statistics can be manipulated.
To know that just because someone important said it, it doesn’t mean it is true.
To know that just because it was published by a major source, doesn’t make it true.
To see the flaws in the other guy’s argument and hopefully avoid them in their own.

It usually works out that the papers are pretty good. Even when they don’t agree with the arguments they are making.

This is one thing I have taught to my own children well. (See the post on curriculum for a major reason we abandoned A Beka history.)

Reading Biographies

Ticklish Ears has a post about textbooks both at college and in their homeschool. But what set me onto this post was his taking his daughter off the restrictive readers that came with a curriculum and leading her to the world of biographies.

I went to write a comment, but it turned into a post. So I edited the comment considerably and am doing the posting here.

The biography comment brought up some great memories for me.

When I was in second and third grade my father, who was working about 80 hours a week, would come home to take us to the library. It was my dad, my brother, and me. I would get biographies. My brother would get fiction.

Dad would take us back when we had finished our books. Eventually, meaning really quickly, we were reading our ten books every day. It meant we got to spend time with Dad. Plus it was fun to race each other.

Then Dad was really cruel. I was required to read one fiction book out of every ten and C was required to read one non-fiction book.

I read every biography in the children’s section of that library. And I grew to love Westerns. Both my brother and I are very fast readers and we still read prodigious amounts. (For instance, my brother has read every single science fiction and fantasy novel published by a major publisher and many of the minor ones for the last ten years.)

I read much less non-fiction now, probably only 15 books a year, though I read a lot of nonfiction on the net.

However I still read lots of fiction. (Not as much as my brother. But here is a list of the non-romance books I read last year that I remembered to write down.)

I don’t read biographies as much any more. I haven’t found any engrossing ones recently to get me on the kick again. But I loved them when I was a little girl. I am glad Ticklish Ear’s little one loves them too.

Curriculum: Homeschooling

How does anyone pick curriculum? There is a veritable treasure house of options out there. Here’s what I did.

I started homeschooling many years ago. Hmm. About 1993. Maybe that’s not as long ago as it feels!

We started with Kona. I loved the different options of related information. I liked that everything we were doing was on the same topic.

It worked great for unit studies. And at the time, I would let the boys pick what they wanted as their birthday party theme and then for the two months before their birthday, we would study their subject.

So we had two months of dinosaurs, with history, types, archaeological digs in sand boxes and things like that. Then we had a birthday party. We had a dinosaur pinata. We did archaeological digs in dinner trays with bird seed and the finds were twenty piece puzzles of dinosaurs. We made dinosaur masks and then we all wore them. We played games like “roll the dinosaur egg” using coconuts. It was fun.

Then we had weather for two months, reading Carl Sandburg’s poem on fog, identifying different types of clouds, and counting the number of days each month that it rained. For the birthday party we drew pictures and developed them in the sun. We had a sun pinata. We ran through water for a “rainy” day. It was fun.

But in the end, while that worked great for unit studies, when I was moving towards a party at the end for the boys’ birthdays, it wasn’t a good curriculum fit for us. There wasn’t enough reading and the math and science were very limited. It was wonderful for when they were four and five… But not when they were older.

Then we went to ABeka. I liked A Beka and we kept with it for several years. The math is solid. In recent years (2001 or 2002) we looked at going to Bob Jones math. But it was too easy compared to A Beka. The boys liked the idea of being able to move up two grades, but I wasn’t impressed with it. I would, however, recommend it if you have a child who is not up to where A Beka would have them, but they are sensitive to the grade level on their book.

Their science was decent. But then we had to supplement the science, because it wasn’t really enough. My boys were going through two curriculums of science for their grade each year. We did ACSI and Bob Jones along with A Beka science. I wasn’t impressed with any of them. A friend who is a science teacher and a homeschooler gave me a different science book published by Harcourt-Jovanich-Brace. It was excellent, what I was looking for all along, but more difficult than anything we had done before. Even though it was a lower grade level! We did it anyway, because it was good. Now my sons are using Bob Jones’ high school science. That is fairly good.

We never used the A Beka English, because their wasn’t enough writing and reading and I am an English teacher. So I made my own stuff up.

And I liked the A Beka history, up until the junior high ages. At that point it became very anti-Catholic and started making sweeping statements that just were not true. (Communism produced abortion. There had never been abortion before communism. Hello! What history warp did they hit?) We aren’t Catholic, but I don’t like hate-mongering. And the boys were annoyed by the misstatements. (I, however, was thrilled that they were able to recognize that it wasn’t true. I have seen many students who think that if it is printed in a book it is true.)

We used a different spelling book, from ACSI. I really liked the spelling book. But eventually you get too old for spelling.

After finishing the 8th grade A Beka math, my youngest son was not ready for algebra. So I went looking for a different approach to the math. I found Saxon Math, which had been recommended to me before. At the time I wasn’t comfortable with it. But this year I have found it to have several strengths which my son needs. So we’re doing Algebra 1/2, a ninth grade curriculum for those who aren’t ready for algebra. It matters to my son what grade his work is in. (And it matters to his brother who is a math wiz and occasionally picks on him about his work.)

So I’ve used Kona, ACSI, A Beka, Bob Jones, Saxon, and some non-homeschool curriculum, as well as devising my own curriculum.

I can say that all the ones I have seen or used have had worthwhile aspects. You just have to look at what there is, look at where your kids are, and try to match them up the best you can.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Well, it depends. On if you are a man or a woman. Not because the law is different, but because men are different from women on the issue of what is bothersome. Doubt me?

A survey of 50,000 men and women from all economic and social strata were interviewed and asked to note their level of offense at certain things.

71% of the women were highly offended if the man said they had a great body or said they were probably good in bed.
46% of the women were afraid that those phrases were precursors to a sexual assault.

76% of men were highly flattered and felt better about themselves if a woman said either one of those two things.

Thus, in the last few years, after a thousand years of the law looking for what a “reasonable man” would think and twenty years of what a “reasonable person” would think, for the last few years juries in sexual harassment cases that were filed by women against men (91% of all sexual harassment cases filed fall into this category) were instructed to base their decision on what a “reasonable woman” would think.

Weird Stuff

Today in Odd History, an eerie battle raged in the skies above Nuremberg, Germany. It began at dawn, as dozens, if not hundreds, of crosses, globes and tubes fought each other above the city. It ended an hour later, when “the globes in the small and large rods flew into the sun,” and several of the other objects crashed to earth and vanished in a thick cloud of smoke.

According to the Nuremberg Gazette, the “dreadful apparition” filled the morning sky with “cylindrical shapes from which emerged black, red, orange and blue-white spheres that darted about.”

This from the Carnival of Homeschooling.

It makes me remember the day it rained pence in England. (I wasn’t there; I just read about it.)

What if I added something like this to my story? What would be the point? What would people think of it?


I woke this morning and, not quite awake, I repeated what I had last said in a dream. “I have never been so scared in all my life.”

Please note that I have three times almost bled to death, knowing it was happening. Once my husband was ill and the doctors gave up hope for him. I have had other bad things happen.

But I have never been so scared in all my life as in a nightmare that was incredibly coherent, specific, and terrifying.

I usually have nightmares when I am stressed.

So as my husband cuddled me, as I struggled not to cry, I thought about what could be the problem. I prayed for my family and for my friends and I made a list of work to do. Yard work, house work, cleaning, rearranging. After 45 minutes of cuddling, I got up and went to work.

I didn’t get much yard work done. I hate to do it alone, though I like it in company. I did get housework, cleaning, and rearranging done.

I went shopping and bought the three things I had decided we needed. And two things that I wanted to have for the sake of having a pulled together room.

I do not, though, know what was stressing me out to the point that I had a nightmare that scared me worse than I have ever been scared in my life.

I hope I do not have a repitition. Even remembering the little bits and pieces I did not manage to shove out of my mind makes me a little teary and nauseous.

Thank God for a husband who cuddles, even though woken out of a sound sleep.