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Guest Blog: On the More Subtle Danger of Television and the Media

The following is a book review by Holmes Lybrand (18 year old High School Senior).  The book should be required reading.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

The title of this book does a very good job of explaining the premise and prophecy Neil Postman believes about America.  This book attempts to help us see the immediate threat that Television/Show Business presents to every areas of our lives (especially the educational, religious, political).  Postman’s main point, much like Aldous Huxley’s in A Brave New World is   “…not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking,” that the influence Television has on us now is not only unproductive, but it is also very harmful.

Postman explains that even when television is used for educational purposes it is still quite harmful, and at the least is a waste of the student and teacher’s time, saying that they are not asking, “What is education good for?” but  instead pondering what TV is can be used for.   Television is good for drama & amusement, and America has figure out how to draw the public to this business so very well.   Postman dives deeply into how and why TV sets the course for our culture, and makes very clear why this is a terrible, terrible thing.

I really have nothing bad to say about this book (except that people won’t read it ;-).   It was short and direct, I didn’t ever feel preached to, more of just encouraged to see the uncompromising truth of things.  I started out thinking, “Perhaps his views are a tad too extreme?” but by the end of this book, that thought now doesn’t even cross my mind.  I think we as humans do need to see things for how they are, television is amusement (or drama, you might say), that is all.  To ask, “Yeah, but can drama be used to help…like with the news?” is only to miss the point.  Amusing news is still essentially amusement.  Amusement, from a-muse simply means ‘not to think’…and so with the news as well.

I really enjoyed this book, although I still have things to think through concerning it.  Neil Postman is surely right, and the last 27 years (since Amusing Ourselves to Death was published) has only proved his point with emphasis.  Hopefully people might begin to realize it , especially in the area of the news.  Television is amusement, and only when we fully understand that can we be masters over it, and not the other way around.

Holmes Lybrand
http://holmeslybrand.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/amusing-ourselves-to-death-by-neil-postman/

What Get’s Rewarded Gets Done

Maybe what you don’t like happening is your fault. Maybe you are encouraging the wrong
things in your life. Success is clearly about communication, and we communicate
in many subtle ways. It may just simply be that you are communicating to others
that you want THE OPPOSITE of what you really want.

Just ask, “How am I encouraging ______________________?”

What does you mind tell you ?

Great…now think about how to encourage something different. If you only have
creeps coming up and talking to you, change what you are wearing (or where you
go). If only marginal people apply for the job, change the amount you’ll pay and
where you look for employees.

You may get the idea…but you won’t learn it until you practice it!

Blessings,

Fred Ray Lybrand

Thoughts (below)?

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

Have you been thinking about homeschooling?  Want to avoid the homeschooling mistakes most people make?  Below you’ll find what we’ve discovered from homeschooling our 5 children from birth to college.

In 1987 homeschooling was just as newborn as our first child.  We looked at homeschooling for a number of reasons which were mostly related to our academic goals.  And yet, our first child’s Cerebral Palsy tipped the scales.  The simple nature of having a young and impressionable soul around active and undiscerning ‘friends’ made it clear that we should homeschool..  We really didn’t want our son settling into confusion about what he was capable of doing.  So, we decided to give it a try until he was old enough to physically function well around others who were his age, but weren’t his friends.  We thought it would be through third grade—it lasted until he went to the University of Texas in Austin.

Now, these 25+ years later, we know seven things that we make sure all of our homeschool coaching students start to understand–inside and out.  If you want a successful homeschool embrace these seven (or violate any of these at your own risk)!

  1. Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

  2. Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

  3. Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

  4. Find a Support Group(s) or Network

  5. Learn to Use Systems for Success

  6. Make Discipline a Nice Word

  7. Find a Coach

Here’s a quick summary to get you started:

Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

Definitions determine everything.  If your definition of “learning math” is to ‘get through the book’—then things will turn out very different from the family whose definition is to “learn how to do math.”  The definition for homeschooling success that we use is our basic understanding of education.  Education is learning how to learn.  We want our students to develop skills for learning so they are prepared for anything.  How sad when people think knowing information means education…especially when information changes and your are obsolete because you didn’t keep learning.

Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

There are as many curricula as there are people (so it seems).  Every curriculum is build on some set of assumptions or educational philosophy.  Some writing curricula believe (falsely) that we learn to write by studying grammar, while others show the students the power of learning to write by actively writing (for example see http:www.advanced-writing-resources.com).  Whatever the curriculum for whatever subject—make sure it matches your own definition so you aren’t caught wanting one result while using a process that takes you in the opposite direction.

Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

One of the great mistakes is to compete with schools.  A homeschool does not have large buildings, massive funding, and a variety of specialized teachers.  So, trying to produce the results they aim for will simply exhaust you.  Homeschool can actually produce greater skill and knowledge, but trying to match all the subjects a school offers is chasing the wind.  By the way, the students aren’t always leaving a school system as educated as you think!

Find a Support Group(s) or Network

It is the height of arrogance and the height of inefficiency to go it alone.  Why not benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of others?  Why not let others benefit from the insights you’ve gained along the way?  There are groups online, groups in your part of the world, or groups just waiting to be started by you and a few like-minded families.  You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around…so get busy and connect for your own good.

Learn to Use Systems for Success

One of the great insights in life is how things operate by cause-and-effect.   Good cooks can reproduce the same quality meal over-and-over because they follow some type of system (recipe).  The practical results you see in life are largely the result of the systems we use.  Homeschooling itself is a ‘different system’ of education which is aimed at a bit different result (included the character, sense of family, etc., it often affords).  If you don’t have an overall sequence of steps you are moving toward following, then you can rest assured your results will be as shoddy as your system.

Make Discipline a Nice Word

One of my favorite mentors, Robert Fritz, offers a helpful definition of discipline: “Discipline is when you itch, but don’t scratch.”  The truth is that some amount of discipline is necessary for learning.  Very few children naturally gravitate to wanting to learn in all the areas important to education.  It turns out then, that we must help them do what they don’t “feel” like doing, so they can ultimately benefit.  External discipline tends to lead to life-long internal discipline.  We all need help doing what needs to be done.  Homeschool (or any school) simply won’t work without making discipline a nice word which is practiced often.

Find a Coach / Mentor

In many ways it is the ultimate hypocrisy to ‘tutor’ our own children without having a ‘tutor’ for ourselves.  There is something powerful when we discuss, interact with, and learn from someone who is ahead of us in any field.  Sports training knows the value of coaches because the competition and economics involved are so great.  Without a coach you can’t compete.  If you find a voice or two you trust, a person or two whose results you want to see in your life— find them, pay them, beg them to coach you.  Nothing will save you more time and heartache than to learn from someone with wisdom.

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