Public Education

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Special Education Schools


By Andrew Stratton


Navigating the world of special education schools can generate feelings of frustration and confusion. Due to the wide spectrum of learning disabilities and the infinite number or specialized needs, each institution can be extremely different from the next. Some may focus on a single type of learning difficulty such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia, others might focus on students with physical disabilities, and some might be all-inclusive. Despite the differences in scope, each facility has a very common goal: to educated children. For each of these special education schools, the teachers and staff aim to promote student success, whether through adaptive teaching methods, intensive, one-on-one mentoring, or specialized assessments.

In the public education system, the main directive for special education programs is integration. Ideally, this means that children with learning disabilities will spend as much time as possible in general education classrooms with the rest of their peers. This means that students are often pushed to their limits and, consequentially, left behind academically. Rather than tailoring the system to meet the needs of the student, they push the student to barely meet standards and conform to the system. In defense of the public education system, their focus is on the population as a whole, which makes it difficult to satisfy the needs of individual students.

In special education schools however, the educators take the opposite approach. Instead, lesson plans are targeted on the needs of students, acknowledging and addressing their weaknesses. The same can be said for their strengths. Because a specialized facility is more in tune with the needs of your child, they are also more able to recognize their successes. In public facilities, students who do not integrate well are often mislabeled as unruly.

The classrooms and instructors found in special education schools are better able to satisfy the needs of special needs students. Colorful posters, calendars, decorations and other stimuli found in a public education environment can prove too much for those with sensory processing disorders. For these children, the rooms should be Spartan, limiting the level of distraction. Personalized environments like this can be found at many special education schools. In addition to the customized environment, the teachers are given more room to alter the curriculum and teaching methods.

In short, the classrooms, the resources, and the instructors are better qualified to meet the needs of your child. Keep this in mind when deciding where to send your child. Ask yourself these questions: will they be able to personalize the lessons to account for problem areas? Will they be equipped to distinguish and promote my child's strengths?

When analyzing special education schools, Princeton, NJ parents prefer The Cambridge School. Learn more about our methods and resources here: http://www.thecambridgeschool.org

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Binary Thinking P Mathivanan

Binary thinking such as good/bad, white/black, in-group/out-group, north/south, rich/poor, and right/left is very common in all societies. Binary oppositions such as nature/nurture, rationalism/irrationalism, in-group/out-group, etc., are collectively known as binary conceptual systems. These binary concepts are operational in every- day life. Can we remove such thinking from our mind? Scientists are trying to erase certain unwanted memories from our brain. It may be possible in the future. But it will be a real task to find the region in the brain where the binary thinking comes from. It seems that the binary thinking is genetic. It has stuck to our mind through evolutionary process. Differentiating became necessary for evolution to progress. The early organisms needed to know whether it was food or not, safe or dangerous, fight or flight, etc. It was necessary for survival. Genes that are responsible for some good functions are used for some bad functions too. It is how the biological evolutionary process works.

Everything existing on earth is for the use of humans is one way of thinking. The opposite is everything existing on earth has certain purpose and therefore it should not be disturbed. When something disturbs the very existence of humans then we are habituated to blame one of the concepts. We are not the masters of natural system in its true sense. The evolution is under work-in-progress. We do not know many of the workings of natural world. It is due to the limitations of our brain. Our vision sensory has got limitations. What we see need not be the very essence of what it is. We are not able to hear many sounds produced by the animals. We are living within a boundary. Yet some of us are trying to cross the boundary. The risky crossing sometimes delivers good results and many a time setbacks. It is the way we have been living for thousands and thousands of years. In the beginning humans did not produce food which was found. How many years it took for the humans to produce food for their own use? Only our thought experiment can tell any story about how we learned cultivating food crops. So people will continue to search for food; they either produce or buy it. People will continue to kill animals. People will cut trees for fuels if they don't have alternatives. Survival is somehow encoded into our DNA. People will do anything to live. They are driven by self-interest. It is instinctual. But humans are also social and rational. Values, beliefs, norms, ethics, etc., are creations of human mind.

Value is a word with several meanings. In statistics, it is the score or figure observed on a particular variable for a particular case, that is, it is a quantified amount. In economics, the labour theory of value states that commodities are exchanged according to the amount of labour embodied in them (Marx argued that value did not always correspond closely to actual price). In attitude research, values are ideas held by people about ethical behaviour or appropriate behaviour, what is right or wrong, desirable or despicable. In this article we use values in the third sense. Belief is a principle or idea accepted as true, especially without proof. For example, if you accept that God exists then it is a belief. In sociology a norm is a shared expectation of behaviour that connotes what is considered culturally desirable and appropriate. It is prescriptive, although they lack the formal status of rules. Ethics means moral principles that control or influence a person's behaviour. It also means a branch of philosophy that deals with moral principles. In this article we use the word in the first sense.

The idea of values, beliefs, norms, and ethics occurred to humans as a necessity in maintaining order or cohesion of society. But they are always debated. For example, poverty was once considered providence; now it is generally considered a social problem. Some might say poverty is an individual problem; yet some others would say it is due to economic deprivation. What is normal once is not considered as normal now. Similarly, inequality persists for centuries. We are not able to tackle it. Poverty and inequality are results of human nature. Are they inevitable or avoidable? Wealth is either earned and/or inherited. Earned wealth is by the result of an individual's actions; it is cumulative. Similarly, poverty is also either earned and/or inherited. It is also by the result of an individual's actions and cumulative too.

Vilfredo Pareto discovered a principle known as Pareto principle or power law which states that 80% of the wealth is controlled by 20% of the people and the remaining 20% of the wealth is controlled by the remaining 80% of the people in any country. It means the total wealth of the top 20% of the people is 300% more than the total wealth of the remaining 80% of the people; at the same time the average wealth of the top 20% of the people is 1500% more than the average wealth of the remaining 80% of the people (for your information, 80% of the world cup food ball tournaments is won by just 20% of the participating countries). The difference in the average wealth of the distribution is a bit shocking. Inequality can be removed, if the rate of return is kept at 45.2% approximately for the average wealth of the 80% of the people and at 10% for the average wealth of the top 20% of the people, in 10 years (for 20 years it is 20.5% for the 80% category). If the rate of return is kept at 0% for the top 20% and at 32% for the 80% category then also inequality can be wiped out in 10 years (for 20 years it is 14.9% for the 80% category). How do we ensure a rate of return in the range of 32% to 45% for 10 years or 14.9% to 20.5% for 20 years per annum for the poor? Who will provide the required financial intelligence to the poor? Which political party does have the above value in its election manifesto? Even if a political party has the will to execute such an action it cannot wipe out inequality entirely for we have considered only the average wealth of the categories. Still the difference will persist. But the gravity of the problem is largely reduced. Well, let us assume that we have eradicated poverty and inequality. Now everybody is possessing equal amount of wealth. What next? Whether the government will fix a constant rate of return for everyone or leave it to the market forces. We will have to take a decision and it depends upon what value is considered as desirable. The idea of progressive tax system is one such solution though it has not wiped out poverty and inequality. Direct cash transfer to the needy poor is another solution. But if the poor do not invest the money properly it will not give any result. Here come the values held by political parties. Whether the poor need constant monetary support from the government or they should be provided with opportunities or they must be left to the forces of market. The combination of the above three values gives us many options to choose. However, the issue cannot be solved within a term of 4 or 5 or 6 years. Issues which require a longer time to produce any desired result should bind all the political parties. Value consensus (Durkheim) on certain issues which have to be solved for the good of the humans is necessary. While binary thinking was acquired through biological evolution, value consensus is acquired through social evolution. While biological evolution is slow social evolution is not that slow. Why do parties do not have value consensus?

A political party consists of three components, viz., leaders, activists, and supporters. It is an organisation for representing the aims and interests of its supporters. In a multi-party system environment, there are different socio-economic forces. The means to achieve goals are different. People who think similar means to achieve a particular goal will form a group. Different means mean different values. So groups have different values. A political party may consist of several groups with different set of values. Value consensus is not achieved because of the incompatibility of the values held by different groups.

Adam Smith, the father of economics, believed that self-interest drives an individual to work efficiently to achieve the greatest happiness. He further argued when every individual allocates the resources efficiently the whole nation's resources are put to efficient use and maximum benefit is achieved with minimum use of resources. But we have a problem. People are not always rational when they take decisions. Rational thinking is relative. It depends upon existing information and how the relevant information is used to take decisions.

In a zero-sum game (game theory), one person's gain is another person's loss. For example, in a foot-ball match only one team can win; there can be no two winners. In a non-zero-sum game there are two or more than two players, they have a goal, a strategy, a set of rules to map the strategy, and a set of pay-offs (rewards) for the players; cooperation among the players leads to some greater gain for the group. In a zero-sum game the sum of pay-offs is zero. In contrast, in a non-zero-sum game the sum of pay-offs is not zero.

Within a political group, the members play a non-zero-sum game through cooperation in order to achieve pay-offs for everyone. At the same time the whole group plays a zero-sum game with another political group. Consequently, one of the political groups will be the winner and the other a loser. This goes against the argument of greatest happiness for the greatest number. Instead, if the political groups play a non-zero-sum game both groups earn the pay-offs. The next question is how do the group distributes the pay-offs among its members? In a corruptive country, the pay-offs are appropriated among the leaders and a small portion goes to the activists. The supporters get nothing. Ideally the entire members should share the pay-offs equitably. Values are very important in any society to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number. We need good leaders who understand the values of self-interest and common-good and yet take balanced decisions.

To sum up, binary thinking is genetic. It led the humans to identify concepts which are in binary oppositions. Our beliefs need not always be correct. What we believed in the past is not correct now. For example, once we believed that the earth was the centre of our universe and we had been thinking that that was correct for many centuries. It took many years to wipe out the belief from our brain. That is the power of belief system. Similarly values which we hold need not be always correct. Values held by people are different in different societies. Certain values are universal and certain values are particular and unique only to certain societies. Individual values are also different from person to person. The binary opposition of values creates socio-economic forces which run in opposite direction. These opposite forces in turn create social tension in societies. Individuals, groups, and nations play zero-sum games in which some people gain and others lose. We should learn to play non-zero-sum games for which cooperation is essential. Cooperation gives greater benefits to all players.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tips To Make Your Kid More Organized

1. It's 'easier' (and not easy) to amend your child's body-clock than trying to make him stick to routine, so let's put easier things first on our goal list. The simplest part is regulating his hunger timings. While lunch break in school will do half of the trick, regulate his snacks, dinner and breakfast time. Serve each meal on a fixed time so his hunger timings are regulated. Welcoming him after school with a tasty energetic snack can be a great start.

2. The next and the biggest hurdle is the bed time. There will always be distractions, but don't allow a flexibility of more than 30 minutes on weekdays. Put your foot down if need be and create a lights out environment. Rest assured that the resistance won't last a month and your baby would start to yawn before you could drag him to bed.

3. Introduce your child to a day-planner or if you are not a gadget fan then stick to traditional timetables. Put reminders for important dates and paper submissions, keeping scope for sufficient action time; coax your child into action accordingly. He will be pleased with himself as he would be appreciated at school for never missing out any test dates or submissions. That is the time when he will begin to act without your efforts.

4. Get an agenda book or ask him to use his school diary for writing his tasks and not just complains and holiday notices. Make it mandatory to list all homework assignments, submissions, and tests date wise even if he can remember. Check what he has got on his plate for the day and help him manage his time. This is an important lesson for life: document things before they become a clutter.

5. This entire ordeal is useless if you would have to turn the whole house upside down to find the drawing book. So, make a special school zone in your home where things are orderly arranged and absolutely nothing from school stuff should be found anywhere else. Allot a different corner and separate closet. Use labels, sticky notes, and color codes liberally to keep things sorted. Help your child keep it arranged till he learns to do that himself.

6. Help your child remember things he should bring back home for the day as he leaves in a hurry. Ask him to divide his locker or desk drawer in two halves: left part may have things he wants to take back and right part will have those he doesn't need.

7. Get together in the school zone prior to retiring for the day and sort out the stuff for the next day. Notice if he has kept things correctly and guide him if he hasn't. It will help him take things he need for the next day, keep things organized for him, and will be easier for you to monitor his daily activities. Moreover, a daily supervised reshuffling is much better than cleaning an entire week's clutter.

8. Finally, don't fixate on these tips tyrannically. Make them an easy going part of your life and not an ordeal. Remember, that there' just one childhood and there's an entire lifespan for him to take stress and get busy.

This article is featuring tips for your kids make more organized. School in India and international school in India provides these facilities for easy going your kids life.
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

How To Organize A Notebooking Station

Notebooking is the practice of journaling while you learn using pictures, words, or both. This is an easy and engaging way to teach any subject and works extremely well in the homeschool environment. Beautiful templates, coloring tools, and a learning environment provide learners with everything they need to notebook successfully.

There are two reasons children thrive in a notebooking learning environment

    The have ownership of their work. They are designing and scripting their own learning.
    Quality templates add value into their work. The easy to manage spaces make journaling less intimidating.

Organizing a Notebooking Station

Find a wide assortment of notebooking templates. You can create them yourself, or download templates from thousands of available online notebooking templates.

Organize your templates into files or notebooks.

If you are using the traditional hanging file folder system, create folders for your templates to make them easy to locate. Some example categories would be: blank templates, countries, ancient history, floral, insects, character studies, and holidays. There are many many more categories. Simply add new templates into new folders as they are acquired.

If you chose to organize your templates into notebooks, you may want to fill a three ring binder with plastic page holders. Print of masters of each template for your child and use file dividers to organize by topic.

Organize your Art Supplies.

Create an area, bin, or holder to give your child easy access to scissors, glue, crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Replenish them a few times year to keep the supplies fresh!

Create a Journal for each child's completed notebooking pages.

Your children will be very proud of their notebooking pages when they are complete. Validate their hard work by providing them a place to store them safely. A three ring notebook with plastic page protectors works beautifully. At the end of the school year, or when they have collected quite a collection of pages on a particular topic, you can even have the pages bound at your local office supply.

Notebooking journals are a beautiful keepsake and even make great gifts or grandparents!

Taking the time to organize your child's notebooking templates, journal, and supplies are essential. If you treat these supplies with respect, so will they. There is something intrinsically freeing about journalling about what you are learning. It is one of the best ways to document what you are learning. Your children will grow to love their journals. Even reluctant writers can grow by first using the pages as copywork, then word and phrase collectors, and finally documenting their learning.

Notebooking is a fruitful resource and skill to add to any educational environment and works beautifully with homeschool learning.

Sharing tried and true homeschooling resources, templates, tips, advice, and encouragement is our passion. Visit http://abetterwaytohomeschool.com/ today!
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Monday, March 31, 2014

3 Accountability Rules Of Homeschooling

Often, when considering homeschooling, the focus gets put on the search for the best curriculum. While curriculum is important, an even more important factor needs to be considered before you decide to jump in with both feet.

Acountability

While homeschooling does offer the allure of flexibility of learning materials, delivery and time, these pluses can turn into negatives if it is assumed that no accountability is necessary at all.

3 Rules of Accountability

1. Parent to School Board/Government

We are particularly fortunate because we have multiple school boards that solely serve the homeschooling population in our province of Alberta. This is a tremendous help as we are assigned to a case worker who travels to our house twice a year to consult with us about our goals, curriculum, activities, expenses, etc.

It helps to know that even though we have chosen homeschooling, we are not completely alone. The case worker is also available throughout the year free of charge for questions or advice when difficult situations arise. They also offer great ideas about what is working for other families in similar circumstances.

Another added bonus of this is that our children's education is documented with a public school board that is recognized by the government of Alberta. This makes the transition to high school and college much easier than if we just went it alone. Part of this is our school board does yearly provincial standard testing, which is kept on file, to help make sure our children are either on par or ahead of children in the public school system.

2. Children To Parent

Children that are homeschooled can quickly fall into the trap of thinking nobody is watching whether or not they are completing their lessons and work. We all know that children will test boundaries when the opportunities arise. They may be banking on the fact that their parents are busy working or doing chores around the house and trust them to do the work on their own.

So precautions must be taken to ensure that the accountability is strong in this area. Children should be given deadlines or goals for each area of study daily. As an example, many curriculum are divided into lessons, so as parents, we may tell our children that they are expected to finish lesson 101 in each subject today.

Some curriculum may encourage more than one lesson per day. Whatever you decide is fine as long as your expectations are expressed and you provide all the materials and help needed to successfully complete the work.

Although children may seem like they don't like accountability and vehemently oppose it, in reality, most children are somewhat comforted to know that their parents care enough about them to have rules or guidelines.

We would also suggest that accountability not be solely based on the quantity of work being done but rather on quality also. It is completely reasonable to not only expect a lesson to be completed, but also to expect a certain level of proficiency as well. Just filling in blanks with wrong answers doesn't accomplish anything.

This accountability also requires that there be consequences when work is not done properly. Unless their are attenuating circumstances, like inability to understand or sickness,children need to know that there is a cost to not being accountable. We find removal of electronic privileges work quite well in this regard.

3. Parent to Children

Even though parent to children is number three,that doesn't mean it is the least important. In fact, we believe it is actually the most important of the three. With the first two, you will get minimal results, but when parents are also accountable to their children, homeschooling all comes together.

Eventually, our kids will reach the age to move out and attend college or start life on their own. What kind of education and how well we have provided it to them will be instrumental to them achieving their goals in life.

Homeschooling is not a cop-out or an easy answer to a busy or transient lifestyle. In fact, if done right, homeschooling can be much more labor intensive for the parent than if their child went to public school. As parents, we now replace the teachers and supporting staff to some degree, depending on the curriculum chosen. It is us who must correct, verify, explain, and encourage our children.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by correcting your children's work on a daily basis. By doing this, you can catch potential issues before they grow into bigger problems. This is a major bonus of homeschooling!

If you can explain or even re-teach an area of concern immediately, you will prevent more frustration and confusion down the road. Remember, most courses such as English, Math, and Science involve building-type learning. What the children learn this week is used to build upon next week and so on.

Another important aspect of parents being accountable is that when we show we are involved and care deeply about our children's education, usually in return,they will be more accountable to us. Instead of a potentially adversarial relationship, we are building a more symbiotic one. Yes we are still in charge, but we can do so with love and respect at the same time.

These 3 rules of accountability in homeschooling are your starting point to a great homeschooling environment.

Yes you can do this. We want to help in any way possible. Looking for ideas? Have an article suggestion? Drop by http://www.ucanhomeschool.com and let us know how we can help.
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