The child has (yes, thank god) half a brain!

The Bad Homeschooler is what we ought to call this blog except for the fact that I don’t write much about homeschooling here (relatively speaking) and it’s not like we want to draw attention to ourselves and have people gathering about going, “Look, they’re bad homeschoolers!”

It’s that time of year in which books I’ve ordered for H.o.p.’s studies begin pouring in via the mail.  Such as today the doorbell rang and orders for the past two weeks were dropped in my arms in a heap.  “For H.o.p.’s studies” I sometimes mean to aid me in deconstructing myths and highlighting cultural biases.  The prize so far  is “The Distorted Past, A Reinterpretation of Europe” by Josep Fontana, which came in last week and which I’ve just begun reading through.  Fun!  We already have Lowen’s “Lies My Teachers Told Me” and  “Lies Across America”.  I suppose we ought to pick up Howard Zinn’s, “A People’s History of the United States” as well.

We are eclectic and do a mishmash of approaches, so today found us sitting around the computers working on stuff we know that the going agenda for state and national schooling would like for us to be working on.

Such as Roman and Greek numerals.

“It’s not bad to know this, but I’ve gotta tell you that probably the only time you’ll use Roman numerals is checking out the dates older animations and movies were made,” I admitted to H.o.p. who has already No Use For Math Whatsoever, who responded Roman numerals are good for helping to construct film names that look “really Epic”.  It wasn’t too long before we were arguing about doing math at all but we made it through the material for the day.

In the 5th grade learning folder for Social Studies at Time 4 Learning (one of the several things we sometimes use as a base, just because it’s there, but it tends to drive us nuts) the first file was on the Olmecs.

I’ve not a clue why Olmecs are decided by someone as the thing to learn at the age of 10.  Last year it was Aztecs, Incas and Mayas.  This year it’s the Olmec.

“You are 9, you will learn a bit about Aztecs, Incas and Mayas.  Now you are 10 and will learn about Olmecs. Because it is, has been and always will be thus.  First Aztecs, Incas and Mayas, then the Olmec, who we will tell you almost nothing about other than that they made big heads and provide one illustration of that so you may see that they did.”

The lesson was a very vague, not very good one on the three centers of Olmec civilization, those being La Venta, San Lorenzo and Laguna de los Cerros.  One controlled rubber and cacao and salt and one had dibbs on the rivers and one made the big heads because they had the rock for it, and that’s all we need to know about the Olmec, apparently.  And that they ate fish.

Mind you, I’ve just read to H.o.p., “The Olmec were the first civilization in North and Central America” (and I amended that by saying “known, apparently, I guess”).  So after telling him that I then tell him that the three centers of Olmec civilization were La Venta, San Lorenzo and Laguna de los Cerros.

To which H.o.p. says (bless his little heart)…


I don’t know if the rimshot belongs there or a beat after my reading the Spanish names.

“If they’re Olmec, why are they giving Spanish names to them?” he asked, his eyes narrow with frustration over “one of these things is not quite like the other, can you tell me which one it is”.

As in, “I care not too learn anything about the Olmec from those who would define them in Spanish terms.”

I took H.o.p.’s hand and shook it and told him he got an A for thinking over blind acceptance.

He has spent his evenings, for all of August, with his dad watching all the old “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”.  It’s not part of the curriculum of the popular “Well Trained Mind”, I’m sure, but should be essential viewing.

Published by

Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

3 thoughts on “The child has (yes, thank god) half a brain!”

  1. The Making of Black Revolutionaries by James Forman is an outside the mainstream narrative about the Civil Rights movement that distinguishes between ordinary people and celebrities in social justice struggles. It also relates to Atlanta. A Beginners Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael Schneider (I think) is a cool way to get into science. Maybe I already mentioned it to you.

  2. Wonderful. Two more books to get. I haven’t looked at the description for the first yet, but checked out the second and already have marked it to be purchased in the next batch of books from there. The others you earlier recommended have come in and I’ve begun reading. Great recommendations. Thanks, Jay.

  3. Native American literature — particularly Silko, Youngbear, Momaday, and Ortiz — is great, too, but maybe for pre-teens The Wild Trees by Richard Preston would be inspiring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *