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About Gail_in_Utah

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  1. Options Other Than Homeschooling

    Betsy, Obviously, parents who don't want to default to the public system have the option of sending kids to private schools. There are always trade-offs to consider when evaluating private alternatives: tuition, secular vs. parochial, Montessori vs. Waldorf, etc. Charter schools are public schools with more freedom to experiment, although they are not necessarily better than what you'd find in a regular public school. Since homeschooling has become more accepted, some parents may choose to pay a homeschooling family to educate their children. As with other educational alternatives, this option should not be entered into lightly. There are a number of approches to homeschooling and some families are very casual about it. Many homeschoolers co-op for group classes, and that can be a good thing. Depending on what state you're in, public schools (and some private schools) offer part-time classes to families who are homeschooling. A homeschool support group can give interested families more information on state requirements and what's happening in the local homeschool community. The main consideration when looking at alternatives is to choose what matches the overall needs of the family at any given time. Re-evaluate and make changes when necessary. Don't stick with something that isn't working for the best interest of all concerned. Gail
  2. Reason and Animals

    Thanks, I think you are correct that I was misreading the passage. Animals cannot "think" because they are perceptual creatures. They are not able to conceptualize (i.e., plan, abstract, integrate), although they do learn. Animals, I believe, learn only through stimulus and response, or pleasure/pain. If I want to teach my dog a trick, I may give him a command and reward him (with food or praise) if he has the desired response. He remembers the event as a pleasurable one, and will perform again to obtain the reward. He's not "thinking", he's responding. But, what about when he doesn't obey a command to do something. For example, if he bolts out the door and runs down the street instead of coming back when I call him, is he making a "conscious choice" to disobey? Or, is he simply feeling the reward of freedom and running with it, so to speak. He "knows" he's being a bad dog and that when I catch up with him, he'll be sorry. So, maybe he's aware of the consequences--he remembers previous escapes as having a negative end--and he runs to avoid that. Is any of this considered to be "thoughtful" on my dog's part? Gail
  3. Reason and Animals

    From OPAR (p195): "In the Objectivist view, the proposition that man is the rational animal does not mean that men always follow reason; many do not. Nor does it mean merely that man alone possesses the faculty of reason. It means that this faculty is a fundamental of human nature, because man is the organism who survives by its use." My question has to do with the second statement above in regard to other animals that possess the faculty of reason. What other animals reason? Is Dr. Peikoff referring to animals such as dogs and cats "thinking"? Is a dog "thinking" when he retrieves a tossed toy, obeys a command, chases a cat, or chews up a shoe? If the dog is using reason, what level of reason is he capable of? Surely it's not a conceptual-type of reasoning ...? How do choice and instinct fit in here? When I toss a toy for my dog to bring back, he's happy to play that game because I'm paying attention to him, he's got a "job" to do, and he feels that he's pleasing me by bringing back the toy. When he does something bad and I scold him, his tail droops, he looks sad, and he tries to get me to pat him (i.e., forgive him). He feels that I'm displeased with him. Is he "reasoning" or just reacting to my lead? Thanks in advance for any clarification on animal "thought". Gail
  4. Hello Dr. Bernstein, I just received an email notification that you will be coming to the U of Utah on March 1 to deliver a talk on Religion versus Morality. I'm curious to know what the responses have been to this talk in other universities. Have you spoken in Salt Lake before, and if so, what kind of response did you receive? I've lived in SLC for 2 years and the Mormons are quite concentrated here, as I'm sure you know. I've found Mormons to be good people, although misguided in their religious convictions. I'm looking forward to attending your talk at the U of U, as are both my teenage daughters. It should be an interesting evening. Sincerely, Gail Paquette
  5. Onkar Ghate

    The "whole word" method is preferred in public schools because it's relatively easy to get kids to memorize words with context cues (pictures) and "read" quickly. Kids go through 1st and 2nd grade with a steady diet of dumbed down stories filled with words that they have seen or can recall by the context. Teachers only resort to phonics when the child has trouble memorizing and staying with the group. Then a child must be "evaluated" and designated as needing special help. That's a blessing in disguise because the only way to really teach reading is to teach phonics. There's a longer start-up time because the child must master the connection between the symbols (letters) and their sounds before he can blend and use phonics rules to decode new words. A child learning phonics is sounding out, and the reading is jerky at first. Some kids (and teachers) get frustrated because it takes effort to teach phonics systematically and it's slower than the "word" method, but I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir when I say that phonics is well worth the effort. A good source for phonics instruction is Samuel Blumenfeld's classic, How to Tutor. His narrative introducing lessons in phonics (and math) is almost more valuable than the lessons themselves. The book is back in print, and I think Amazon probably carries it.