My dad saw this guy on 60 Minutes the other night and told me to check him out.

He proceeded to tell me about this hedge fund manager turned YouTube tutor gone viral. This guy is not at all what I expected. Meet Salman Khan.

That’s his TED Talk. Seriously watch it…. It not only inspired me, it made me laugh as well.

Some of his ideas fall in line perfectly with the suggestions I proposed in Parts I & II. Technically he said this first, but I think if people from different backgrounds and walks of life are coming to the same conclusions about ideas, it indicates that change is in the air….

Here’s some more points from this talk that really struck a chord with me:

  • Reverse the method — watch the lecture on your own time, do the work in class when a teacher is there to help
  • Don’t move onto a new concept until you understand the one before — you can’t ride a unicycle until you master a bicycle (there is no such thing as 75% mastery)
  • Keep kids of different ages and skill levels together — let them help each other (I made this point as well)

Sometimes I feel like a frickin’ genius. My mind is churning out ideas that are in sync with what the best minds are proposing at the very same time. But then sometimes I feel like a hopeless fool. What good are dreams that will never come true? I homeschool… so why do I even care? Well, it’s not just about my kids. They are going to get a great education; I have no worries there. What about the kids who have two working parents? What about the kids who live one block over in the “bad” school district?  What if I get in an accident? I just can’t help but want more for all of us.

When I see talks like this, it feels so close.

I just finished watching the premiere of this movie (available for free until March 31st). Although the information isn’t new to me anymore, I still find it fascinating. The first half of the movie lines up perfectly with the “clean eating” aspect of this blog.  I wish everyone in America would watch at least the first 50 minutes.

My favorite quote:

“We’re overfed […] but starving to death.”

They make the point that a human could easily eat 10,000 calories a day but still desire more because we are not getting what we need from the “edible non-foods” that make up most of our diets. I totally agree with that and I think the average shape of the average American today backs up that fact.

I related very much to the stories about dieting and deprivation. I also like their first few suggestions for change:

  1. Focus on adding in good food instead of forbidding the bad (e.g. serve a salad with dinner) 
  2. Replace overly processed bad foods with it’s exact same healthy equivalent (e.g. replace hormone filled and anti-biotic laden milk with local, fresh milk)
  3. Watch out for MSG, HFCS, and other addictive, harmful chemicals

Towards the middle of the film, the focus shifted away from hard facts to what I felt was more speculative. They encourage you to spend time visualizing how you want to look and feel and loving yourself. It all comes off as a little hokey, but at the same time rings true, if that makes any sense. I do know that we are masters of shaming ourselves, however, and that certainly is not working!

I am also not loving the juicing plug. I guess if you are cutting out so many other foods, you almost have to juice to get enough calories into your body. To be perfectly honest, the one time I tried a “green” drink, I could barely choke it down. Besides, I have no moral or health reservations against buying a happy cow and using it all up over the course of a year. So while I am very supportive of giving our bodies more natural foods, I consider eating happy cows and chickens to be perfectly natural.

I also don’t like that they talk up the diets of our ancestors, but only propose a diet super high in vegetables as optimal. In fact, any traditional ethnic diet is optimal. The Inuits lived almost 100% off of animal products (which they do mention in the film, but then use that to justify adding wild-caught salmon to your menu). But Inuits did not just eat salmon. They ate seal, caribou, polar bear, and whale (including blubber). And their health was off the charts.

I guess my big problem is that I don’t think we are going to win over the population by promoting veggies and juicing. But I do believe that good foods can crowd out bad foods so we can at least start there.

So overall, I highly recommend at least the first half of this video. If you can bring yourself to follow all the suggestions in the last half, by all means do so. But anything that shines a light on the problems with what we are putting in our bodies and calling food is a winner in my book.

UPDATE (3/26): After discussing this movie with a few others, I felt I needed to update my review. I really want to stress that I do not agree that juicing is critical to a healthy lifestyle. I actually think it is rather wasteful. I completely agree with what my sister posted today about juicing fruit. If you have the fortitude and resources to juice and drink that quantity of vegetables, however, I am not going to try and talk you out of it. I really don’t want anyone to feel like juicing is the only way to a healthy life though.

I just finished another book by John Taylor Gatto. After I turned the last page, I closed it , turned to my husband and said, “That might have been the best book I’ve ever read and that makes me so very sad.”

He asked why (as any good husband would know to do when a wife asks such a question). Actually he asked if it was better than Les Mis, but then he asked why. (FYI it’s probably not better than Les Mis, but is it really fair to compare a treatise on modern schooling with  the greatest French novel of the 19th century?)

Anyway, it’s a profoundly great book because his ideas strike at the heart of the problems that disease this nation. For example, by separating out the young and the old and locking them away from the rest of society in various institutions we are perpetuating a society with no past and no future.

The reason this book makes me sad is because I will probably never actually meet one other person in the flesh who has read this book. It makes me sad that a powerful book written to open our eyes to the absolute decay of the system we trust to raise our children, will never be read by the parents who need it most.

So there’s my backward book recommendation. I want to buy this book and send it to everyone I know. But I don’t think they would read it. Like clean eating, a person has to be ready for this kind of information. They have to already intuit that we have a problem and be hungry for a change. And once you are ready for it, reading the book is like preaching to the choir. Although if you only vaguely sense that something is seriously wrong, this book will help clarify those feelings and put them into words. Maybe it will make you into an activist. I want to become an activist?

BTW, A Different Kind of Teacher is not about homeschooling. Whilst it would seem that Gatto is impressed by homeschooling, he does not present it as the solution for our society’s ills.

In case my kids ever wonder about the moment that so profoundly changed the course of their lives… here it is documented for posterity.

This RSA speech by Ken Robinson blew me away. I knew we had a problem in this country with public schools. I didn’t have any kids in school at the time, but I didn’t live under a rock. But for the first time I had an inkling of why schools are failing. They were designed to meet the needs of a different way of life.

Now if you have read any of my other homeschooling posts, you will know I give a lot of credit for my decision to homeschool to CNut over at Marginalizing Morons. His blog isn’t really about homeschooling, however. I found his blog because he makes scathing & witty observations about government and society. The title says it all… how can I not like such a site?

I do remember having been impressed with his son’s amazing progress, and curious if I could emulate it. I was thinking I would work with our kids on our own time, however, and just supplement their educations (some other time I would like to talk about why this was a bad idea).

I remember all this so clearly because I had read enough of CNut’s blog to know he would appreciate the video. I sent it to him, he posted it, and after taking a moment to savor seeing my name in print, I clicked the “homeschooling” label off to the right and checked out what else he had to say on the topic.

Shortly thereafter I was reading John Gatto, and from there it’s all history.

I am always interested to hear how other’s came to the decision to homeschool. It wasn’t a hard one for me. Once I saw other homeschooled kids and read the statistics I was ready to jump on board. But I am weird like that. I have made some pretty major life decisions on the spot. Convincing my husband was the hardest part.

I love homeschooling so much, nothing would make me happier than to be a part of introducing the joy to someone else. Please e-mail me and I would be happy to answer any questions. Or comment and share your story! I would love to hear it.