Time 4 Learning and Great Colonial America Projects You Can Build Yourself


      I received the following e-mail that I thought that I would pass along to everyone. “I am contacting you from Time4Learning, an online educational program for kids ages 3-14. Time4Learning is a fantastic program for homeschoolers with a complete Language Arts and Math curriculum with Social Studies and Science as a bonus. Check us out at Time4Learning.com ! We'd be thrilled if you decided to place a link to us on your site. I'd also like to extend an offer of a free month trial of Time4Learning, just for writing a review and posting it online. There are no constrictions on the review, except that it is totally honest (good or bad!) and it's posted online somewhere. If you know of anyone who might be interested in trying it out, please do forward this to them or you can also give them my info and I'd be happy to extend the offer to them as well. Kris – Time4Learning.com, (954) 771-0914, kris@Time4Learning.com , www.Time4Learning.com .”


 


     Kris Bordessa is a homeschooling parent and book author. Below you'll find a short article adapted from her newest book, Great Colonial America Projects You Can Build Yourself.


Thanksgiving Myths: Misconceptions about the Pilgrims and their famous feast, debunked,


By Kris Bordessa


     This November, kids all over America will don black construction paper pilgrim hats in honor of the first Thanksgiving. But are they hearing the real story?


     Myth: The pilgrims were the first colonists in the New World.


     Fact: The famous pilgrims that we associate with Thanksgiving arrived in 1620 – thirteen years after the first successful colony was established at Jamestown, Virginia.


     Myth: Once the Pilgrims landed in the New World, they left the Mayflower behind.


     Fact: The Mayflower arrived off the coast of Massachusetts on November 21, 1620 which left little time to build homes before harsh winter weather began. Anchored off the coast, the Mayflower was home to many Pilgrims throughout their first winter in the New World.


     Myth: Pilgrims dressed in black and white with buckles and pointy hats.


     Fact: Black is a very hard color to achieve using natural dyes – the only source of dyes available during colonial times. Colonists lucky enough to have black clothing reserved it for Sunday church services and special occasions. During the rest of the week, Pilgrims were more likely to be found in earth tones.


     Myth: The feast celebrated in autumn, 1621 was the first Thanksgiving.


     Fact: Native peoples on this continent have celebrated the harvest and given thanks to their creator for thousands of years.


     Myth: The Thanksgiving feast included mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.


     Fact: It's more likely that the feast included wild fowl such as turkey, swan and eagles; venison and seal; vegetables like pumpkin (perhaps stewed), peas, beans and carrots; and fruits and nuts.


     Myth: The Pilgrims prepared a lovely feast and invited the Native Americans to Thanksgiving.


     Fact: The Pilgrims did not call this feast Thanksgiving. It was more of a harvest celebration. For them, Thanksgiving was a day of prayer to thank God when something really good happened. As for the food, much of it was likely brought and prepared by the natives.


     Myth: The Pilgrims and Native Americans sat together around a table for their feast.


     Fact: Historians believe that about 90 native Wampanoag people joined the 50 or so Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation. With so many people eating, seating was limited and they didn't even use forks!


     Myth: After the meal, the Native Americans went home to their village.


     Fact: The harvest celebration lasted for three full days and included eating, drinking and playing games.


     To learn more about the Pilgrims and colonial America, check out Kris Bordessa's new book, Great Colonial America Projects You Can Build Yourself, published by Nomad Press and available in bookstores nationwide or online. For more information visit http://www.krisbordessa.com/colonial.htm .


     Kris Bordessa is also the author of Team Challenges: Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication and Creativity and Tools of the Ancient Greeks: A Kid's Guide to the History & Science of Life in Ancient Greece.


You can contact Kris at her website, http://www.krisbordessa.com; e-mail, Kris@KrisBordessa.com ; postal address, PMB 153 75-5660 Kopiko St. C7, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740; or phone, 808-325-0140.

Three items–public school teachers, spanking, and evolution


     More Teacher Girls Gone Wild?: The following note appeared on the blog of Gena Suarez, co-publisher of The Old Schoolhouse magazine (http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/TOSPUBLISHER). “Remember the interview I did here with Bruce Shortt? He coined that term and man, he really nailed it. There is a sharp, upward swing in female predators lately. One of World Net Daily's editors was invited on primetime television last week discussing this very thing (I think it was FOX News). The latest accused teacher is a female from Pasadena, who allegedly began an inappropriate email relationship with a 15 year old boy, a ninth grade student. She immediately resigned when charged with online solicitation, but determinations have not yet been made as to whether her certification will be revoked. Parents, keep them home. I have a 15 year old son and I cannot imagine some 31 year old, loose woman attempting to win his affections. But “wild teacher girl” won't have that opportunity. He's home where he belongs.” [Editor's note: And all the congregation said, “Amen!” WSW.]


     And one more item on spanking: Previous blogs have had reference to a World Magazine article on spanking and response to it. This interesting letter to the editor appeared in the Oct. 7, 2006, edition. “Your article on spanking ended noting that parents 'who use the rod unbiblically, in anger, may create problems…if biblical discipline is banned' ('Rod rules,' Aug. 5). Yet Numbers relates that the Lord's anger 'burned' against Israel and so He struck them with a plague. An angry parent or a reluctant parent should ensure that each offense results in an appropriate punishment, and neither multiply it by two nor divide it by two.”


     Q: Can public schools remain religiously neutral by “deleting” Jesus? A: Not at all! Take this example from a school near Answers in Genesis. The Christmas program at this school was to be a religious musical titled “Calling All Angels.” The program included Mary, Joseph, the voice of God and numerous angels preparing for the birth of Jesus. The daughter of a prominent secular humanist wrote a letter to the music teacher that stated, “I do not think it’s fair at all to put on a religious holiday play. Not everyone is a Christian and believes that the Christmas story is true. I think that it’s wrong to promote that one religion is true, when many people do not agree.” This student had been trained by her humanist parents to protest any religion except her parents’—humanism. As a result, the musical was replaced by a secular program that glorified winter instead of Jesus. The point is, removing references to Christianity didn’t make the program neutral; instead, Christianity was replaced by the religion of humanism! Christians must realize that humanists are imposing their man-centered religion on our society and deleting the true answers from God’s Word. (from Answers Update; Sat., Oct. 7, 2006; From Answers in Genesis).

“A Series of Unfortunate Events”


     These Lemony Snickett books have been embraced by an increasing number of people in the homeschool movement, even those who come from a “Christian” background. In various issues of my free e-mail homeschooling newsletter, I have included reviews, both of my own and of others, for and against the books. Having read one, I do not think that they are appropriate for my family and I do not recommend them. World Magazine, Oct. 7, 2006, had some information about the author, whose real name is Daniel Handler. “But who is Daniel Handler? He is 36 and married to illustrator Lisa Brown. They met as students at Wesleyan; like many others it has shed the religious connotation of its name and become standard-issue liberal.” Consider his explanation of the books. “The books make no bones about the world being a chaotic and confusing place where one's behavior does not lead to one's just rewards.” Well, yes, bad things do happen to good people, but the world is not a chaotic and confusing place; the universal God still reigns and His will is being accomplished, whether we understand it all or not. “He notes that the Baudelaire children in his novels are 'not in control of their own fate. Even good behavior doesn't seem to get them ahead.'” Upon what worldview does Handler build his fictional world? “He and his wife 'come from a long line of observant but not particularly religious Jews.' By 'observant' he means 'celebration of holidays, observance of customs associated with those holidays, not necessarily belief in God.' But he and Lisa want their son to have a Jewish education….'We'd like him to reject the same religious tenets we rejected.'” Furthermore, “Handler says he's 'pretty much' an atheist, but the subject does not come up much among his friends and associates in San Francisco: 'I'm not a believer in predetermined fates, being rewarded for one's efforts. I'm not a believer in karma [ note: there's a BIG difference between God's law of sowing and reaping and the paganistic idea of “karma,” WSW]. The reason why I try to be a good person is because I think it's the right thing to do. If I commit fewer bad acts there will be fewer bad acts, maybe other people will join in committing fewer bad acts, and in time there'll be fewer and fewer of them.'” I agree with author Marvin Olasky's assessment. “This humanistic vision differs radically from a biblical worldview.” I cannot and will not say that reading these books is sin. Each family must make that decision for itself. But what I read in World only confirms my belief that these books are not appropriate for our family.

More interesting news from the American Family Association


      Under the heading “NBC: Bible Verses In Veggie Tales Offensive, But Not Madonna's Mockery Of The Crucifixion Of Christ,” Donald Wildmon sent out the following note on Sept. 30, 2006.


     NBC anti-Christian bigotry continues. This time NBC censored Bible verses and expressions of Christian love from the children's cartoon Veggie Tales being shown Saturday mornings on NBC.


     NBC says comments such as “God made you special and He loves you very much” were offensive and censored them from the show.


     In response to the outrage over the allegations that NBC was ordering the removal of any references to God and the Bible from the animated series, the network first issued a flat denial. As reported in Broadcasting & Cable, NBC said they had to “clip off the beginning and ending tags, which are Bible verses, but they were also arguably the easiest cut to make.”


     The creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer, said NBC's excuse for censoring the Bible verses was not true. Vischer said, “Well, that's kinda funny, because as the guy required to do all the editing, I know that statement is false…The show wasn't too long, it was too Christian. The show was already cut down to the proper length, so timing had nothing to do with it.”


NBC then backpeddled: “NBC is committed to the positive messages and universal values of Veggie Tales. Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view.” Evidently NBC considers not being truthful as one of their “universal values.”


     Vischer said had he known how much censorship NBC would exercise, he would not have signed on for the network deal.


     Censored were comments such as: “Calm down. The Bible says we should love our enemies.” And “the Bible says Samson got his strength from God. And God can give us strength, too.”


     NBC says using Bible verses or referring to God is offensive to some non-Christians. But NBC doesn't hesitate to offend Christians by showing Madonna mocking the crucifixion of Christ. Neither do not mind offending Christians in their new program Studio 60 with a segment called Crazy Christians….


     This will seem a strong statement, and it is: The real reason the religious content is being censored is that the networks are run by people who have an anti-Christian bias. I noticed this anti-Christian bigotry and spoke out against it over 25 years ago. I'm sorry if someone thinks that is too harsh, but I must speak the truth as God leads me to see the truth.


     Note:  Since this item, I have seen information from Phil Vischer about Veggie Tales' commitment to Biblical principles and from various sources that NBC has done some editing of Madonna.  I don't know all the details.  All I know is that network TV, and much of cable TV, are virulantly anti-Christian (although they may try to hide or mask it at times), and they have completely lost my confidence.

book review, “The God Delusion”

     I do book reviews.  I began doing them several years ago when I needed to preview the books that our boys wanted to read and posting them on a homeschooling e-mail list.  Then I started including them in my free e-mail homeschooling newsletter (formerly HEADSUP, now Biblical Homeschooling).  A few of my reviews have appeared in various homeschooling magazines.  Not only does Biblical Homeschooling include reviews of books that I read, but since I cannot read every book available, I also draw reviews and recommendations from other sources (one of my favorites is Kathy Davis of HomeSchoolBuzz.com).  The following items refers to a review in our local paper, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, and I thought that some reader might be interested in it and my comments.


 


     Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion (published by Houghton Mifflin). Richard Dawkins is a premier atheistic evolutionist (or is it an evolutionary atheist?). Therefore, I do NOT recommend this book, except to strong Bible-believers with the proper credentials, such as the folks from Apologetics Press, Answers in Genesis, or Creation Research Institute, to read and answer. However, I mention it here for a purpose. It was reviewed in the Sun., Oct. 22, 2006, issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The reviewer noted that Dawkins's aim is to argue “against the existence of God and the benefits of religion” and that he “doesn't make it any easier for himself with a tone that swings from condescension to disdain, as he brands religious believers with with epithets such as 'dyed-in-the-wool faith-heads' or 'America's Ten Commanment tablet-toters.'” That is enough to create immediate doubt as to the integrity of the author. Yet, the reviewer goes on to say, “But even with the odds against him, Dawkins makes arguments that are difficult to refute in a strictly rational way.” I suppose it all depends on whose “rationality” is under consideration. Dawkins leans heavily on Darwin (discredited those he is even among many modern evolutionists) to argue against intelligent design, saying, “the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer….We can now safely say that the illusion of design inliving creatures is just that–an illusion,” and asserting that natural selection fits the facts more logically. Well, that may be his opinion, but that does not necessarily make his opinion right. The reviewer also notes, “While Dawkins shows impatience and disrespect for those who believe in God, he exhibits outright hostility toward religion and all the ills he says it has foisted upon the world.” Dawkins writes, “And Hall-o-o? Does it occur to you that such hostility as atheists occasionally voice is limited to words. I am not going to bomb anybody….” Uh, what about Adolph Hitler? Uh, what about Vladimir Lenin? Uh, what about Josef Stalin? Uh, what about Mao Tse-Tung? Uh, what about Pol Pot? Uh…. It does not seem that atheists really have much of a corner on morality! Yes, it is true that huge injustices have been falsely perpetrated in the name of religion and even of Christianity. However, since atheism is the ultimate example of relativism, it is no wonder that Dawkins is intellectually unable to distinguish between the contributions of Bible believers such as Issac Newton or Gregor Mendel and such obvious aberrations of Christianity as the Crusades or the Inquisition. Even the reviewer admitted, “Such positions can make Dawkins and his theories difficult to accept.” Why discuss all this here? I have two observations. First, we do not subscribe to the Post-Dispatch because of its obvious liberal bias, but we do purchase the Sunday edition for the ads. In all the time that I have been reading the paper's book reviews, I have never, NEVER, seen a review of one book (many are available and new ones are coming out all the time) which argues for the existence of God. But the Post-Dispatch felt the need to review this book which argues against the existence of God and, even from the paper's own review, does so quite vitriolically. So much for “neutrality” by the press! Secondly, the reviewer concluded about Dawkins and the book, “Does he make his case convincingly enough to turn around many opinions? That's a question every reader will have to answer individually. After all, it's impossible to prove a negative. And faith is believing what you know ain't so.” The last sentence, a quotation from Mark Twain, may sound humorous, but it simply is not true. Faith is NOT “believing what you know ain't so.” Rather, it is believing something for which one may not have absolute, personal, first-hand information and knowledge, but about which one has carefully examined the evidence and reached the most obviously logical conclusion. Abraham Lincoln said well what I believe the evidence to show. “In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book” (Source: September 7, 1864 – Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible). Oh, excuse me, I guess that makes President Lincoln a”dyed-in-the-wool faith-head.” One other thing. The reviewer states, “Even with all the scientific facts [editor's note: “scientific facts,” like any other information, can be manipulated, WSW] he musters, though, Dawkins leaves himself a tiny escape hatch, just in case. Tellingly, the chapter in which he pronounces the design theory a mere illusion is titled 'Why There Almost Certainly Is No God.'” Almost certainly? I have never read a book by a believer entitled, “Why There Might (or Maybe Could) Be A God.”

Three Letters in World Magazine


     In a previous blog, I commented on an article “Monday Morning RX” in the Sept. 2/9, 2006, issue of World Magazine in which founder Joel Belz, whom I believe is homeschooling his children, or at least has done so, reported on a minister whose church has a Christian school and asked all the teachers to shake hands with homeschooling parents in an attempt to create more friendship between them. I remarked that I had no objection to this, but that I hoped that it was not intended to imply that somehow homeschoolers are antagonistic toward private and public schools because in my experience that is not generally true.


      Regarding this same article in World Magazine, three letters to the editor appeared in the Oct. 7 issue. The first said, “Many times I have felt judged because some of my kids are in public school, and World has consistently criticized public schools. But I really appreciated the quote from the prinaipal of the Briarwood Christian School in Alabama, that 'Christian education is a mandate for all believers, but the particular vehicle by which it's delivered isn't always so clear' ('Monday morning Rx,' Sept. 2/9). God commands us to teach His ways to our children, and it can be done even when they are in a public school. And thanks for challenging us all to pray for one another. It's going to be a good year.” (Angela Toner, Columbia, MD)


      I find myself between a rock and a hard place here. On the one hand, it is NOT my aim to criticize those who have their children in public schools. There are some in the homeschool movement who seem to believe, or at least come across as though they believe, that it is absolutely a sin to send children to public schools. That is a matter of judgment that I cannot make for others. And it is possible that even those of us who would not say that public schools are absolutely sinful may seem a bit overzealous in our promotion of the benefits of homeschooling. On the other hand, I am not so sure that “the particular vehicle by which it's delivered isn't always so clear.” I think the Bible is pretty clear that PARENTS have the primary responsibility to teach their children–period (Genesis 18.19, Deuteronomy 6.4-9, Ephesians 6.1-4, etc.). Of course, parents can use the services of others in fulfilling their responsibilities, but in the end, it is the parents who are the ones that God will hold responsible to make sure that what their children have been taught is right. And everyone, even many who are involved in the public schools, admits the grave dangers (both physical and spiritual) that public schools today hold for young people whose families are Bible believers. So, it may be true that “it can be done even when they are in a public school,” but there is absolutely no doubt that it will be a lot harder–A LOT HARDER!!!! One other thought. While it is not my place to judge the hearts of others, I have to wonder if people who “have felt judged because” their kids are in public schools simply because others point out the obvious problems with today's public schools and make just criticisms regarding them are perhaps feeling guilty about it. I mean, if I were firmly convinced that the public schools were the best thing for my children, no amount of criticism would make me feel “judged.”


     “For some, homeschool has become a new form of Phariseeism, part of their identity as a Christian. My husband and I enjoy homeschool because we value the time we have with our children and recognize they will be grown in a flash. But if biblical arguments can be made for private, public, and homeschool, shouldn't school choice be the result of conscientious and diligent prayer?” (Annemarie Welnick, San Diego, CA).


      I basically agree with this letter. Long time readers of this blog and my homeschooling newsletter should know that while I am a passionate defender of homeschooling, it is, again, NOT my aim to criticize those who have their children in public schools. However, it is my aim to show them that I firmly believe that there is a better way. Again, I understand that it seems at least that “for some, homeschool has become a new form of Phariseeism.” While this is undoubtedly true, I am convinced that this is a very small minority, and that a lot of times the charges of “Phariseeism” are overblown and the result of misunderstanding (or else perhaps in a few, isolated instances, personal disagreement and dislike–after all, the “non-Phariseeist” can at times be just as dogmatic, prejudiced, and, yes, Pharisaical, as the one whom he sees as being a “Phariseeist”). In our local support group, we go out of our way to point out that our purpose is not to bash the public schools but to support those who have chosen homeschooling. However, I will be honest with you. We homeschool because we are Christians and because we want our children to grow up as Christians and because we believe that the likelhood of that happening with our children in public schools is much, much less, or at least it would be much harder. So, to me, there is much more to homeschooling than “we value the time we have with our children and recognize they will be grown in a flash.” Yes, that is an important part of it, but there is also the responsibility to protect them from unnecessary spiritual danger at a time in their lives when they are especially vulnerable, with the intention of preparing them under our guidance so that they will be ready to deal with the “real world” when it comes time for them to do so. At the same time, it is my intent to support the educational choices of others when they are “the result of conscientious and diligent prayer.”


     “As a public school guidance counselor, I know that most Christian children in public schools are unable or unwilling to show the light that is within, and do not wish to leave the impression that we should be glib about exposing our young children to the unprofitable habits and information extant in public schools. But how do children educated in Christian schools and at home reach other children with the gospel? Children operating in a purely Christian world have a gaping hole in their educations.” (Wendy Farley, Mongague, MA)


     I am glad that the author recognizes that “most Christian children in public schools are unable or unwilling to show the light that is within.” The fact is that God never intended innocent little first-graders to be the “light of the world.” That is for mature Christians. I am also glad that the author recognizes the dangers of exposing young children to the unprofitable habits and information extant in public schools. And if she is a firm Bible believer, I am glad that she is in the public schools to try and make a difference. However, to answer her question, children educated in Christian schools and at home can reach other children with the gospel by playing with them in the neighborhood, visiting in their homes, and making other special outreach efforts such as vacation Bible schools–all under the guidance and control of their parents, who after all are the ones responsible for their upbringing. No one is saying that children should “operate in a purely Christian world.” Rather, we argue, because we believe that the Bible teaches, that their contact with the world should be with the direction of their parents, not secular schools which actively promote homosexuality as “diversity,” evolution as fact, condom use for birth control by teenagers, and abortion to “solve” the problem if the condoms do not work.

two quick items with something to read


     Great recent magazine articles about home schooling. Citation taken from the Saturday Evening Post, Sept./Oct., 2006; Vol. 278, Issue 5; pp. 54-60, (EBSCO host of library database have the full article on line). “It wasn't so long ago that homeschoolers like Johanna Schilling, Jonathan Gainer and Eli Owens were oddballs in the education landscape. Not anymore. You name the contest—National Spelling Bee, National Geographic Bee. National Merit Scholarship—and chances are good that homeschool kids have participated, performed with distinction, and won. These days, headlines of academic achievement are as likely to feature homeschooled children as their peers from traditional public and private school settings. Perhaps Just as noteworthy, nobody's Jaw drops when it happens. This year, four home schooled students were named semifinalists in the Presidential Scholars competition, which recognizes the nation's most distinguished high-school graduates. The honor served notice of two important trends: one. Homeschoolers have entered the mainstream of academic achievement: two, they're being recognized for it. Stories abound of homeschoolers' success.” The balance of the six page articles tells stories of the individual successes of many home schooled students as well as that of the community on a whole — http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/resources/magazine/letterstoeditor.shtml . Also, there is a recent John Stossel article that appeared in the West County Magazine that is published locally here in the St. Louis area — http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=16774 .


     Jeannie Fulbright's newsletter: Kris Price in TN (kjpriceathome@charter.net ; homeschooling blog – www.homeschoolblogger.com/ClassicalEducation4Me ) reported, “I received the latest copy of Jeannie Fulbright's newsletter in my email today. The topic was public speaking and it was incredible! Well organized and full of lots of information on giving speeches, starting a speech club and competing nationwide. She has a listing of upcoming newsletter topics on her website – http://www.jeanniefulbright.com/newsletter.html – this might be a good thing to mention on your HSN blogs as homeschoolers are usually interested in this kind of thing.” Jeannie Fulbright is the author of the elementary science curricula sold by Apologia Educational Ministries (Jay Wile's company). Several who have used her curricula say that the materials are excellent. I heard Jeannie speak earlier this year at the CHEF conference in St. Charles, MO.