Ticklish Ears

Parenting, education, the Christian walk, and other ticklish subjects
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The Fighting Sioux Fight the NCAA

Southern Appeal makes us aware of the latest salvo between the University of North Dakota and the NCAA regarding the latter’s stupid Native American mascot and logo policy. Here’s a taste of the letter from the UND’s President:

We understood that our membership covenant with the NCAA meant that the NCAA would be even-handed, fundamentally fair, respectful of institutional autonomy, and that the affairs of the Association would be carried out according to the letter and the spirit of its bylaws. The generation of your nickname policy and its application has violated all of these principles. We had no reason to believe that the range of authority of the Executive Committee extended to affairs outside of athletics –especially in the casually arrogant way this has been done. We certainly do not believe that we agreed by our membership that – as a condition of full membership privileges – a small committee would have the authority to change the architecture of sports facilities that we do not even own or cause us to modify our very history. Athletic issues of even far less magnitude have been handled through legislation, not executive fiat. It appears there may be no recourse but to try to clear this up through litigation.

Sounds like they’re ready to go to court if need be.

He could have been a little easier on FSU (later in his letter), but otherwise, I really like this guy!



You never realize how much stuff you shove against the wall until you need to measure for replacement baseboards.

Just an observation as we get the house ready for its new occupants.


I just can’t help myself

Jim West, again. Who can figure him out? His latest is entitled: “The Homeschooler’s [sic] Are Still Angry.” And the first line of the post is:

I won’t be provinding a link to the angry homeschooler who has been sending visitors this way recently (though, thanks!).

The rest of the post is a description of someone he claims is “one of the first ‘homeschooled’ children.” The punchline:

As Bob aged he grew terribly feeble, and being rather backwards in social skills, he didn’t have many friends to tend to him. Sadly, Bob passed away, alone, in his cardboard home next to the library, in 1954. His difficult life had aged him well beyond his 31 years and most thought him to have been nearer 80 than 31.

No sources for this information. No conclusions explicitly drawn (just the implicit negative conclusions regarding homeschooling). And a glaring grammatical error in the title of his post, just for good measure. What a scholar!

Clearly, Jim is now just trying to provoke more negative responses from homeschoolers, resulting in more links to his blog, and yes, I’m obliging him). What can I say? It makes for an easy post!

I can’t figure out who the “angry homeschooler” is. I’m not so conceited as to think it’s me, but a technorati search is inconclusive. Maybe if Jim checks out my post, he’d just leave the link to the angry homeschooler here in the comments. That way, he won’t sully his own blog with such a link.

I suppose I should just leave the Jim West stuff alone. I can’t imagine anyone finds his posts on homeschooling (and other subjects) as anything but arrogant and lacking in proper reasoning, so it’s not like I’m exposing anything. Still, I’m somewhat annoyed (but not angry, mind you) that he holds himself up as a scholar when his blog treatment of homeschooling is anything but scholarly.


Math teachers vs. mathematicians

Sorry posting has been light. We’re getting ready for the move, and I’m just not up to being creative in the evenings.

I like to check in with the American Federation of Teachers’ blog (”Let’s Get It Right“) every so often, just to get a sense for what’s on the minds of folks who represent the teacher’s union.

I was intrigued by the post headlined “Are Mathematicians Smarter Than Math Teachers?” Here’s the first paragraph:

Maybe. But math teachers know things that are (1) useful for teaching math and (2) difficult for non-teaching mathematicians to grasp, according to Deborah Loewenberg Ball, a University of Michigan researcher who spoke recently to a gathering of AFT leaders and staff.

The specific example cited has to do with discerning how students make particular kinds of errors when solving math problems.

Ball reports that math teachers were much better than mathematicians at identifying where students went wrong–an important fact to know to help put students back on track.

Fine, but as I point out in my comment to the post (still under moderation), that does not imply that non-teaching mathematicians couldn’t “grasp” this knowledge. I looked through the paper by Ball cited in the post, but I don’t think it addressed this specific point.

In any case, the same would apply with any other sphere of mathematical application. Let’s say I was a mathematician who focused on how to analyze models of weather prediction. As I went along, I’d get better and better at recognizing patterns in the models or perhaps finding glitches in the model. A mathematician who was plying his trade on Wall Street (to analyze the best times for trades, for example) couldn’t walk up to the code I was working on and immediately find the errors. But that’s simply because he’s been applying his math skills in another application area. Given enough experience, he might be just as good as I am at analyzing weather models.

Are there bodies of knowledge required for specific mathematical sub-disciplines? I think the answer is yes, whether you’re talking about math education, stock analysis, or weather models. But that still doesn’t get to the question of where that body of knowledge can or should be acquired.


Just make the screaming stop!

It’s our first slumber party at the Ticklish Ears household.  Six eight-year-old girls are running loose upstairs.  I expect to spend most of the evening down here hiding, except when required to fulfill any Sergeant-At-Arms duties.


Update: The screaming has stopped (at least temporarily), thanks to the wonders of DiGiorno’s Half Cheese/ Half Pepperoni pizza.


Socialization and Homeschooling

Still have questions about socialization and homeschooling? Let Andrea over at Atypical Homeschool set your mind at ease. The punch line:

The volumes of papers and articles I came across have all come to the same conclusions: parents are the single most important influence for children to learn social behaviours.

I’ll let you read her post to see what she says about peers and socialization.


Tomb of the Unknowns

One more Memorial Day post, if you’ll permit me. Ian over at Expose the Left has video of Fox’s Power Player of the week from yesterday’s show. It is Army Staff Seargent Alfred Lanier, who is in charge of the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery. It’s a powerful piece, well worth the couple of minutes it takes to watch.

Watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns has always been my very favorite “tourist stop” in DC. Since we’re moving back to DC this summer, I look forward to taking my daughter to Arlington on many occasions to help her understand just what our freedom has cost.

If you’ve never seen the ceremony (which takes place every half hour during the summer), make it your top priority on your next trip to DC. Any friend or family member who visits us after we move there should expect a trip to Arlington.


The Geeked-Out Dorm Room

MIDAS: Multifunction In-Dorm Automation System, designed by a couple of MIT students.  Complete with photos, videos, systems diagrams, and schematics.  You should really check it out!

Very cool.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)



Today is Memorial Day. We intend to go to the noon Memorial Day service in town. I hope you’ll find something to do today to remember those who have fought and died for our freedoms.

For a worthy Memorial Day tribute, I direct you to Ben Stein, speaking to those who have lost a loved one in the military. Here’s a taste:

A bad day for me is when I get stuck in traffic or have a toothache or notice that I have gained weight or my teenage son is surly.

A bad day for you is realizing that the only man or woman you have ever loved is gone for this lifetime.

As they say, read the whole thing.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)



Ten years ago today, I drove my bride-to-be to Old Town Alexandria, walked with her down Queen Street (near the location of our first date) to a little gazebo on the Potomac, and asked her to marry me.

(She said yes.)

We continue to live happily ever after.


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