A few days before her 4th birthday she finished Kumon’s Addition Workbook – recommended for ages 5,6,7: Here she is at age 4.5, starting multiplication: Now mastering the...
Here’s our son reading random words at age 4.8: Now at age 5.5 here he is reading a *chapter book* all by himself: At the time he simply could not read to himself silently. It was...
Have any of y’all see that terrific film – Searching for Bobby Fischer – the real-life story of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin?
Well it was great. And Washington Square Park (in NYC) is where the young boy cut his teeth grappling with world-class chess hustlers.
John played against “Omar” nearly 1.5 years ago. The video of that has now been viewed over 10,000 times on YouTube.
Today, en route to a homeschooling History Fair I decided to swing by for another crack at them.
John sat down with the legendary “Cornbread”….and I took out my upgraded camera and filmed what was an absolutely terrific game:
Yes, John ALMOST won – despite hanging his bishop!
Not bad for an 8 year old!
Here’s the game (you can click through the moves):Read More
My kids both LOVED this book – The Girl Who Could Fly.
I haven’t it read it myself yet, but as I understand it:
“Piper” could indeed fly.
And there were many other kids who also had special powers…
But they were all sent to school and they apparently LOST all of their extraordinary abilities there.
In fact the kids were drugged, tortured, etc. all in the name of “normalization”.
I look forward to reading it myself but am already quite sure, based upon my kids’ feedback and the Amazon reviews, that it’s right up my alley.Read More
A few weeks ago my son solved the Rubik’s Cube!
No, he certainly didn’t figure it all on his own. He followed the instructions on their website.
Nonetheless, it still took several hours, some sweat, and certainly some tears. I would say it took him one 4 hour session – which was interrupted several times by frustration wailing – and then another 2 hours the next morning. John ran outside in his bare feet (a big “no-no”!), interrupted my conversation with a gutter guy, and announced he had finally solved it. He was positively beaming.
Kids usually back off, break down, and quit in the face of failure. This is bad. Those who don’t are the ones who will advance in life. Every time my kids get frustrated, my response is “shut up, shake it off, read it again, try it again,…”, etc. They really need to learn about and harness the power of persistence.
Far too many parents, especially mothers, submit to the whining and the excuses.
As far as I’m concerned, when you come across something that seems impossible or insurmountable….then THAT is precisely where you ought to focus your energy.
We took that picture; he showed his mother at night; and then I mixed the cube back up.
For the next couple of days part of his daily “work” was to re-solve the cube with me mixing it up upon completion each time.
He is getting faster, but still hasn’t memorized the algorithms yet.
I also right away bought him the bigger cube – Shengshou ® 4x4x4 Puzzle Cube Black. (Apparently the Rubik’s 4×4 falls apart!)
Just to clarify…
The frustration comes from being nearly solved and in trying to just move one square to a certain location….you end up screwing up a whole bunch of other squares you just spent a ton of time lining up.
After his first 4 hour stab at solving it, as I was tucking him in, John moaned that he would “NEVER” solve it.
I laughed and reminded him that at one point, not long ago, he couldn’t remember that 3+4 was 7. The cocky kid laughed and didn’t believe me for a second.
Oh yeah, in keeping with this determination theme I’d like to point out that John is also working diligently on an “impossible” piano piece – Star Wars Main Theme. (Click the link!)
At first he couldn’t even read the sheet music. But we encouraged him to just keep at it, over and over again. I’ll post him playing that, soon.
I really believe it’s important not just for kids, but also for adults, to be continually striving for goals, to be chasing perfection in one form or another.Read More
Wowsers! (Read the graphic above.)
All my math students (and their parents!) whine that the questions I give them are too hard….that they can’t do them.
I fire back, “I’m not hard….your school teachers are just TOO EASY.”
Most any adult will tell you that they learned the most in life when they were thrown into the fire. They learned and grew the most only when they were dealt new, daunting tasks – ones that positively scared them.
I’d like you to chew on some of these quotes from a *hard math advocate* who really gets it:
In the standard curriculum, the problems are just way too easy. Your children will zip through them really quickly. They’re not challenged. They never learn how to confront very difficult problems. Part of the problem also is that they develop a perfectionist streak. How many of your children are perfectionists, and it drives them nuts when they don’t get one hundred percent? They have to get over that. We don’t want them to get over that by slacking off. We want them to get over that by being presented with more meaningful challenges, because if you’re always getting a hundred percent on everything, you are not learning efficiently enough. You’re not learning as fast as you can and you’re not learning how to do things you haven’t seen before. What happens is just what we saw with my classmate. If the first time they can’t do something is college, they get so used to just being able to do everything because they’re “smart,” that once they can’t do something, they figure, “I’ve hit the wall. I can’t do this anymore. I’m quitting.” That’s another thing that the tyranny of 100% encourages in students. It encourages them to think, “I can do all this because I am so smart,” and once you can’t do it, then you’re done…
Also, if you use a lot of drill and kill, for students who are really curious and energetic and interested in the subject, doing the same thing over and over again is boring. But, even worse than being boring, it’s counterproductive. When you are drilling the same thing over and over into a student, you are programming them. You are making them become a computer and the problem is that we already have computers, and anything they can do, they can do better than we can. That gap between them and us will only get bigger. If you are setting a student up to be a computer, to compete with computers, you are setting them up to fail, because they can’t compete with computers.
The last, and probably the most important, is that the lesson structure is backwards. Your typical class is, “I’ll show you how to do this trick. Here’s the trick. I’ll do it again. I’ll do it again. You repeat.” That’s the typical structure of a textbook, “Here’s an example. Follow. You do it.” That’s exactly backwards. That’s not how I learned mathematics. I learned math by seeing lots of problems and then figuring out what the lesson should have been. I figured out what the lesson was from working on all these problems and synthesizing it, making the ideas mine, instead of being something to copy. While doing that, I learned how to solve problems I had never seen before and that’s the key skill. More important than any single bit of mathematics they’ll learn is how to handle a problem that they’ve never seen before because that’s a transferrable skill. We can take this into law, medicine, economics, and any of the sciences and computer science. We can take that anywhere.
Yes life is filled with hard problems. Problems we need to solve or confront without any a priori guidance. Problems that require intellectual perseverance.
You can read Richard’s whole speech here.
The graphic I have above is from his speech. Above average parents of above average children should take heed.Read More
More times than I can count I’ve met young parents who are very “warm” to the idea and the benefits of educating their kids completely outside the system.
BUT they simply can’t pull the trigger. Despite the 19 positive reasons they admit, all too often a single negative reason or unwarranted fear stops them in their tracks.
So proudly they assert they will “supplement” outside of school hours.
Okay. That’s a swell idea in theory….but in practice it simply is impossible.
Why? Because the kids not only get too much homework, but the cumulative effect of coerced, ineffective, boring group instruction is that they will most certainly develop a real aversion to “learning”.
Here’s a good article that gives more insight into this “impossibility”Read More
In continuing with my review of The New Global Student, I would like to highlight the following informative excerpt:
Really, you’ve got to feel bad for our students; in our modern culture there just aren’t too many great opportunities for them to show the world their independence. Get your driver’s license? Big deal. A new tattoo? Zzzz. Getting busted with your friends for some asinine (but memorable) incident? You can see how this might seem like an appealing option to a kid looking to distinguish himself. Without much leeway, it’s nearly impossible to proclaim oneself an adult in truly exemplary style. We have our kids in lockdown at a time when their brain chemicals are cheering them on and telling them to break out of parental prison in outlandish ways.
We should know better than to do battle with biology.
For centuries cultures around the world have offered a pivotal journey as a rite of passage for their adolescents. Whether they were sent off on a vision quest, a jungle hunt, an apprenticeship, or a battle, young people were given the chance to separate from home and family, become immersed in a new place, and establish independence. Upon their return they were viewed as adults who were ready to stand on their own two feet.
From the 1600s through the 1800s well-to-do English families sent their sixteen-year-old sons (along with tutors) on an extended journey through Europe, known as the “Grand Tour.” These young men (and women too, once train travel made it cheaper and safer) would visit landmarks, appreciate works of art in galleries and museums along the way, and learn about the ideas of great thinkers whose contributions shaped the cultural landscape. Back then the risks were much greater for those who traveled by carriage, train, or ship; it took longer to get everywhere, meaning these trips extended for many months or even years, and deadly diseases threatened those who explored distant lands. Still, despite the dangers, sending young men and women on a lengthy journey far from home was recognized by society as immensely valuable. Even those who could scarcely afford it made every effort to provide their sons and daughters with this profoundly life-altering experience that served to usher them into adulthood.
These days we’ve opted out of such momentous rites of passage in favor of multiple photo moments. Fear and lack of imagination have constricted our view of adolescents’ possibilities; we limit them to three-hour events like sweet sixteen parties and high school graduation ceremonies and infuse these occasions with far more weight than is warranted. Let’s face it: sweating alongside your friends in synthetic clothing – no matter how sparkly or voluminous – is a pretty pitiful excuse for a peak experience compared to, say, traveling through Europe for months. Even our students’ travel opportunities tend to be digitally documented parties (“Spring break! WOOOO!”) rather than personally challenging experiences that lead to self-discovery and a sense of true independence.
A few departures do feel like rites of passage. Joining the military has turned young people into adults for generations, but it’s not necessarily the coming-of-age experience most parents want for their kids. Going off to college is a relatively clear mark of young adulthood, but the problem is that students go through it en masse. The Grand Tour, the apprenticeship, and the vision quest were primarily solitary journeys during which the young person had time to reflect. It was understood that growing up and gaining autonomy was a process that required time alone and a separation from family, friends, and familiar ideas. You just can’t get that from sorority rush and beer pong.
Fortunately there is a way to launch our kids into the world and celebrate their emergence as young adults. In the next chapter, you will hear stories from students who’ve been through a powerful rite of passage that exploded both their passion and their intellect: living abroad for a year before the age of twenty.
Again, that’s from Maya Frost’s The New Global Student, pages 136-138.
To read the first part of the review, click here.Read More