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Educational Advice from Indiana Jones

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, May 23, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 41 May 23, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Indiana Jones on Education
Helpful Tip
-- Learning in the Nat'l Parks
Winning Website
-- The Music Room
Reader Question
-- Trouble with Spelling
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Random Thoughts on Indiana Jones, George Lucas, and Education


Last night I was thinking about the new Indiana Jones movie and
some of the educational wisdom that was part of the dialogue
George Lucas had written. I wondered how 'connected' it was to
his own educational philosophies. With a little Googling, I
found out he has a website, "Edutopia", that focuses on his own
brand of reform for public education. While I don't necessarily
agree with him on everything, I did find it interesting that he
held strong views -- so I dug a little deeper.

George Lucas turned 64 years old on May 14. He was born in 1944,
in the midst of World War II. That makes him about 20 years
older than me and lands his childhood right in the middle of the
1950's -- a boom time for the Sputnik-inspired money that poured
out from the government to publishers to hire great authors of
history and science to write more for kids. This is how we got
so many wonderful series books that the libraries are now throw-
ing out to make way for the new dumbed-down stuff.

I was surprised to see the Random House "Landmark" series parti-
cularly mentioned by name in this quote from an article about
Lucas in the NY Times (2005):

"His parents, both denied college by the Great Depression,
presided over a household awash in National Geographics, World
Almanac volumes, Landmark histories and biographies, crossword
puzzles, all those elements of recreational self-education."


The review of the latest Indiana Jones movie highlighted the
'educational advice' that George Lucas himself might give to
young people today. This is from PluggedInOnline.com:

"Indy has gathered a bit of wisdom through the years -- and he
offers some of it to Mutt: 1) Fixing motorcycles for a living is
fine as long as you truly love it, and 2) Stay in school so you
don't have to fix motorcycles for a living.

Education, naturally, would be an important thing in Indy's ethos,
and he tells us (though not in so many words) that knowledge is
worth more than gold or silver. But he also advocates a bit of
balance in life. 'To be a good archaeologist, you gotta get out
of the library,' he tells a student as he speeds away on a motor-

I'm a little late in getting the newsletter out today, so I will
just leave you with some random quotes from George Lucas. Not
that we necessarily want our children to grow up to be movie
producers, but it is noteworthy that Lucas did not enjoy school
and grew up in a family that valued real-life education. I
think a lot of what he became in life had to do with his home
and self-education.

George Lucas on education, work and success:

"You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep
going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead."

"Working hard is very important. You have to find something that
you love enough to be able to take those risks; to be able to
jump over the hurdles, to be able to break through the brick
walls that are always going to be placed in front of you."

"A lot of people like to do certain things, but they're not that
good at it. Keep going through the things that you like to do
until you find something that you actually seem to be extremely
good at. It can be anything."

"Even in high school I was very interested in history - why
people do the things they do. As a kid I spent a lot of time
trying to relate the past to the present."

And on children in general:

"Children are the key to life, and the key to joy, and the key
to happiness, and for teenagers -- a key to a nervous breakdown."


Enjoy the rest of the 'Notebook'! :-)

-- Heather


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Planning to travel in the U.S. this summer? The National Park
Service's website includes links to all of the National Parks
where you can get information about pre-visit, on-site, and
post-visit curriculum-based education programs.



Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

The Music Room – http://www.suzyred.com/music.html

Auditory learners will love the catchy songs about grammar rules,
math rules and even science topics found at this fun site. Click
on a title and you'll find the words and the tune to use. For
instance, you can sing about adverbs, to the tune "You Are My
Sunshine". Some songs even have an accompanying worksheet to
reinforce the topic.

-- Cindy, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a 7 (soon to be 8) year old daughter that I have been
homeschooling from Kindergarten. She HATES to write anything.
We've been doing a journal throughout the school year but getting
her to actually do it is like pulling teeth. I'm frustrated,
she's frustrated, and we're both worn out from the struggles.
Does anyone have any suggestions?" -- Shannon

Our Readers' Responses

"My daughter is the same age, and we had the same struggle with
writing. In our case, it wasn't that my daughter hated to write,
but was frustrated with not knowing what to write. I didn't
realize that this was the basis for the frustration until start-
ing the Institute for Excellence in Writing program.


In this program, there is a 30 minute video, which my daughter
loves for some reason. She gathers her writing binder that came
with the program, complete with dividers and assignments, and
watches the instructional video. The instructor walks the
students through the writing assignment. There are subsequent
practice lessons provided to make sure the concept is learned
before moving on to the next video segment. In other words,
there is not a video for every assignment, but only for the first
time the concept is introduced.

I didn't know if the writing assignment would be too complicated
since they mention somewhere that this program is recommended
starting at 4th grade. Not only does my daughter excel in this
program, she amazes me! Of course, this is the result of the
program's clear instructions. There are video samples that you
may watch before you purchase the curriculum to make sure that
you like the program. Also, I purchased the teacher and student
program when I would have done fine with only the student program.
They will provide you with the websites where you can listen to
his instructions before purchasing." -- Misty P.


"Andrew Pudewa of Institute for Excellence in Writing does a
workshop on reluctant writers, and probably has better advice for
you than anything I can offer, but I'll share a few ideas also.

Your daughter is very young. Many children at that age are still
not well developed in fine motor skills and writing is very
tedious for them. If she likes to draw, paint, color, work with
clay, or do other arts or crafts, do that for a while instead.
Continue the journal, but let her dictate to you what she wants
to put in it, and write it for her. Have her do very short, but
practical writing activities -- your grocery list; a thank-you
note; note to Grandmother; a to-do list; etc. She will see that
writing has a purpose, and will see more relevance to doing it.
Never, never use writing for punishment!! If you do, she'll hate
it the rest of her life.

My daughter is 16 and is working on her third book. Her second
book was over 300 pages long. I have to pull her away from her
writing to get her to do other things, or put a limit on the time
she is allowed to spend on her books -- delightful problem, eh?
First, she learned to love books; then I wrote things for her
until she was ready to write. She was probably 9 or 10 before
she began to do her own journal entries, and then we worked on
handwriting. She doesn't care much for penmanship exercises, but
loves calligraphy. I let her study calligraphy instead of other
penmanship methods, and her regular handwriting has improved also."
-- Mary Beth


"Shannon -- A few thoughts come to mind. First, try a few of
these activities to strengthen her 'writing muscles' in her
fingers, hand and arm, as well as give fun and good practice to
writing. She may be resisting writing because she doesn't have
the strength to write very long:

* 'draw' with your finger in shaving cream, pudding, a tray
of uncooked rice, a tray of dry flour, finger paints, etc.
Working on a vertical surface (on the wall, an easel, etc)
does more to put her hand and shoulder in the correct position
than working on a horizontal (table) surface.
* use yarn to sew letters onto felt
* Write notes to each other on the chalkboard (again - vertical

A great way to write with shaving cream is to do it on the shower
walls - cleans your walls, is loads of fun, and clean up is easy!

We use the 'Draw Write Now' series with a lot of success. There
are 8 books, each one with a theme. The child is taught to draw
a picture in steps, then copy four sentences. You can get the
Draw Write Now journal or just use lined paper. Our children
like to use the journals. I have seen great improvement in their
handwriting, ability to write sentences, and drawing from using
this book.

In kindergarten, we start doing journal writing every day. I ask
a question that they answer in at least 3 sentences. I don't
correct their spelling (although I do write the correct spelling
above the words so that I will remember what they wrote since we
keep journals). The sentences should be a complete thought with
a capital at the beginning and an end mark (period, question mark,
etc.). As they get older, their journal requirements reflect their
age and ability. My oldest, who is finishing up 5th grade, is
still required to write in his journal every day. You can make up
any question or find lots of 'story starters' or 'journal prompts'
on the internet. Today, my 6 year old answered 'How do you take
a shower?' and his answer was adorable! My 8 year old (required
to do 3 paragraphs) did a very creative story about a monkey. My
10 year old (required to do about one page) re-told a story he
read, as in Charlotte Mason style or re-telling (they are asked
to do this once per week in their journals). Sometimes they
might be asked to edit a story they already wrote, tell about
something they did (i.e. my trip to the zoo), make a list of
everything they know about ....., write a story including 10-15
random words I give them, make up new words with definitions, etc.

You could keep a conversational journal with your child. Write
to her and ask her some questions. She can answer and write
about her thoughts or ask you a question. This would be a
memorable, personal, sweet way to get her to write." -- Jane T.


"Her little hands may get tired easily. Let her dictate to you
and you do the writing. Maybe you could ask her where to put
periods and question marks, but keep it light and fun. She might
like to illustrate. You can buy or print your own writing paper
that has a blank space at the top or bottom of the page. You do
the writing in her own words and she can draw a picture to go
with it. She may not always want to draw and she may sometimes
like to write a little." -- Deborah


"Hey, we went through that phase too. What worked for us was
letting my son make up his own stories for his stuffed animals
or plastic animals to act out for his little sister and brother.
We also goggled writing contests for kids and entered him in
several of those. He actually got several of his stories and
poems published throughout the years. He's 12 now and still
enjoys writing and making things up. For the year he hated it,
though, I set a timer and he had to write in his journal till
the timer went off or an entire page whichever came first.
After a while the page came first. Also he got tired of rewrit-
ing his work -- if I couldnt read it, he had to redo it. That
only happened once or twice! You could also try a different pen
or pencil, marker, paper -- maybe different colors and textures
would help." -- Lisa M.

Answer our NEW Question

"My 14 year old daughter has met her developmental levels a lot
slower than my son, but has come to them nevertheless. For example,
it has taken us along time to get to the sixth grade level of math.
But she is getting it now, and is ready to move on. She is a quick
study in music and plays several instruments. However, though she
loves to read and reads constantly, she has trouble spelling well.
Her father, also a musician, is a poor speller as well, so I do
not know if this is in their 'wiring' or if this is something that
can be helped. We've tried spelling tests, and after she passes
them she forgets and continues to misspell. Has anyone else had
this problem or know what to do?" -- Trish


Do you have some experience or wisdom to share with Trish?

Please send your email to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

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