Monday, December 31, 2007

Aaaargh again ... LA Times edition

Another reporter takes the HSLDA's politicized, sectarian statements as objective fact about homeschoolers. In "Home-schoolers rally to Huckabee," (again with the hyphen--they really need to update their stylebook), you get this paragraph:
About 9,000 of Iowa's students are home-educated. Nationwide, the number is 2 million and rising steadily, according to Michael P. Ferris, who runs the national home-schooling association. Home-schoolers are distributed fairly evenly among the states. Though an increasing number are ethnic or racial minorities, the majority of families are evangelical Christians.

Now first off, the HSLDA, much as they love to represent themselves as such, are most decidedly not "the national home-schooling assocation." They are a national home-schooling association. How much Googling does a reporter need to do in order to find, oh, say, NHEN?

Secondly, do we have to go through the handwaving about the "most homeschoolers are evangelical Christians" cliche again? Is any journalist anywhere ever going to notice the NCES study showing fewer than 30% of families having a religious motivation for homeschooling?

Our local paper picked up this story and ran it, without managing to notice that this town is noted for its massive non-evangelical homeschooling community (it got mentioned in Mothering Magazine once, though).

Update: Oooh! I'm famous!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Speaking of funky priestwear...

"Klerikale kopfbedeckungen." No, really. (HT Fr.Z.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Coat of Many Colors Dept.

The winner of the Ugliest Vestment Contest has been chosen!

Personally, I thought first prize should have gone to Cardinal Arinze's "Don King" mitre (see above), which surely got mucho bonus points for being featured on a celebrity pate.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My I Hate Wikipedia Rant

Why do so many people, including a dismaying number of homeschoolers, consider Wikipedia to be a great resource for doing research? The enthusiastic comments at Joanne Jacobs' site, for instance, depress me. Wikipedia is not at all a place I would send a student, even--especially--for a first overview of a topic.

Too many times, I've looked up information on something I already knew a fair bit about, and have been appalled at the low quality and the nonsense quotient of the articles. (For instance.) The entries on Catholic subjects tend to be lifted wholesale from the old public domain Catholic Encyclopedia, to which I can just go directly, thank you very much. Entries on just about everything tend to stress the interests of the average internet user, meaning I can't just give my daughter free rein to use Wikipedia because biographies often have an extensive and prurient discussion of the sex life, known or speculated, of the subject; and absolutely everysubject has a list of every science fiction movie, novel, or tv show that relates in even the most tangential way to the subject of the Wikipedia entry. The articles are distorted toward the interests of the general internet public (not to be confused with the actual general public); and while it may sound insufferable of me to say it, a good encyclopedia article ought instead to be proportioned to what is important, not to what the readership wants to read about most.

Take the entry for T.E. Lawrence. In an article eight pages long, over a page is devoted to Lawrence's sex life. Another page and a half is devoted to random trivia, much of that also concerned with his sex life (scars on the buttocks!), and most of it pointless (did you know a road in Plymouth was named after him?).

Students don't just pick up information from their reading; like all children, they're looking for indications from the adult world about what's important, what ought to interest an educated adult, and how information is organized. Sending them to Wikipedia first teaches them that sex, controversy, trivia, and attenuated links to sci-fi are the most important part of everything, and that Powerpoint-style bullet points are the preferred method for conveying information textually. No thanks.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Which Kind of Homeschooler Are You?

A quick comparison of Advent projects:

Cottage Blessings
Amy Welborn

The first link is the sort of homeschooling that, while certainly admirable, makes me want to curl up on the floor with a bottle of gin.

I thought we were doing well to have both an Advent wreath and a Jesse Tree this year. We had a live Christmas tree for a day, courtesy of my mom, but decided it would be better not to have to call the EMTs for Eudoxus' asthma, and relocated it to the back patio, where it looks charming (and is easier to water).