Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Another triumph for homeschooling

Just moments after winning the 80th annual Scripps Spelling bee, eighth grader Evan O'Dorney of Danville found himself on live TV explaining to ESPN anchor Stuart Scott why he actually much prefers doing math and playing piano concertos to spelling. "Spelling is just a bunch of memorization," the 13-year-old boy said.

But it's something the lanky, bespectacled teenager with a big gap-toothed grin has clearly mastered. He beat 285 of the best young spellers in the country by spelling such difficult words as Zoilus, laquear and schuhplattler. The homeschooled spelling phenomenon received a golden loving cup trophy and $20,000 -- money the young college-bound scholar says "I'll probably give to my parents."

He narrowly beat out the Canadian favorite, Nate Gartke, an eighth grader from Edmonton, who misspelled the coryza, a word for the common cold. "I knew it, I'd studied it, I just momentarily forgot it," he said after the competition.

O'Dorney won despite missing what had become his pre-spelling bee ritual: Eating fish. In particular, a tuna fish sandwich from Subway. "Fish is good for the brain," he said. He had to skip his fish protein meal to attend a luncheon in honor of the spelling bee competitors. He's become a seasoned pro at the bee. He first competed in 2005 when he was 11 years old and made a strong showing for a first-timer, reaching the finals before being bounced out in the eighth round. He was disappointed but boasted that he would be back and do even better. "I was born with the gift of spelling," he told the Chronicle at the time. He finished 14th in last year's bee. This year he seemed to almost skate through the competition.

He breezed through a multiple choice test with tough words such as malocclusion, syssarcosis, takt and Bewusstseinslage. In the second round, he lucked out with an easy word: boundary. But the words got tougher in later rounds -- compunctious in round three, corrigenda in round four, affiche in round five and corrine in round six. In round seven, before a live national TV audience, he didn't flinch as he was handed a Spanish word for scorpion fish: rascacio. He drew gasps when he correctly spelled schuhplattler, a Bavarian courtship dance, and then laquear, a Latin word for the recessed panels in a vaulted ceiling.

He only seemed flustered once - when a TV make-up artist dusted his cheeks and forehead with a tan blush. The kids have become so sophisticated - cynics would say obsessive - in their word studying tactics that the judges can no longer throw run-of-the-mill SAT words at them. "We try to make it as difficult as possible while still trying to be fair to everybody at the same time," said Carolyn Andrews, whose son Ned Andrews won the competition in 1994 and who now manages the bee's word list.

O'Dorney finally won with a series of relatively simple words - at least for him: pappardelle, an Italian pasta; yosenabe, a Japanese soup; and his winning word - serrefine, small forceps for clamping a blood vessel. An unusual practice technique may also have paid off for O'Dorney: His mom, Jennifer O'Dorney, quizzes him daily on words out of Merriam-Webster's dictionary as he juggles as many as four balls while walking around his home. He said he sees mathematical patterns while he's juggling and spelling words aloud.

His dad, Michael O'Dorney, a BART train operator, said his son's secret is a combination of mental abilities: "He's got a great memory and he's got a great understanding of how to analyze the structure of words and find root words."

Jennifer O'Dorney homeschools him, and said they generally spent only about an hour or two a day on spelling. She said she had increased the workload in recent weeks. Last week, they spent eight hours locked in a room going over words from the Merriam-Webster's dictionary. "The thing he wanted most was for people to hear his piano concerto on ABC," his mom said. A previously taped recording of O'Dorney at the piano was broadcast by the network during the competition.

O'Dorney's parents are proud that he remains a well-rounded kid. He has a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, takes piano lessons at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and plays piano to accompany his church's choir. Despite his talent for spelling, his favorite subject is math. He placed 5th in a recent Northern California Mathcounts competition. He earned a perfect score in American Mathematics Competition in a test made for 10th graders. He hopes someday to be a math teacher or a composer.


Muslim students seeking jihad fatwas

AUSTRALIAN Muslim university students eager to become jihadis are regularly seeking advice from Islamic spiritual leaders in the hope of winning religious approval to travel overseas and fight. Leaders have warned that the obsession among some young Muslims to become holy warriors was also driving them to "shop around" for fatwas - religious rulings - should their initial request be turned down.

Moderate Sydney-based Islamic cleric Khalil Shami said young Muslims, "predominantly university students", frequently asked his advice on travelling to war-torn countries to fight in the name of Islam. This comes two years after hardline Islamic university students were involved in the London bombings that killed 52 people and injured 700 others. It also follows The Australian's revelations in January that a 25-year-old Somali Australian, Ahmed Ali, died fighting alongside Islamists in his country of birth in December last year.

Sheik Shami said he always warned aspiring Islamists against fighting because he believed Muslim countries were being run by corrupt leaders who were more interested in making money and advancing their political profiles than liberating their people. "There are some people who would like to go and perform jihad," he told The Australian in an Arabic and English interview. "I say don't go. Because those fighting aren't truly fighting in the path of God. I've been asked numerous times and I've advised against going," added Sheik Shami, an imam at Penshurst Mosque in Sydney's southwest. He said young Muslims interested in jihad either called him anonymously to ask his advice or approached him at the mosque.

Sheik Shami, who is also an Australian Federal Police chaplain, said he had not notified authorities about Muslims interested in jihad because he did not want to betray the trust of people making the inquiries. "If you come to me and tell me about something, it's not nice for me to go and tell the authorities about you because you trust me and I have to just keep your secret," he said. "I know I have enough faith in myself. I'm not going to hurt the person or hurt the authorities."

The federal Attorney-General's department last night said clerics were not obligated under common law to pass on national security information. "A Muslim cleric would have the same obligations as any other member of the community," a department spokesman said. "The Government would expect that any person in receipt of such information, whatever their religious beliefs, would have a duty to prevent terrorist activity and pass the information on."

Sheik Shami's comments follow revelations in The Australian last week that Muslims were refusing to give national security authorities counter-terrorism tip-offs, fearing they might implicate themselves or be labelled traitors by fellow community members. Sheik Shami said young men often became more enthused about seeking advice on jihad after seeing horrific images of fellow Muslims caught up in conflict.

Islamic Friendship Association of Australia president Keysar Trad admitted hearing young Muslims asking their cleric for advice on going to fight jihad overseas. He said some even went to more than one imam in the hope of getting a green light for joining the battle. "Some people will shop around, what you might term as fatwa shopping, and I am yet to meet an imam who would say yes, go," Mr Trad said. "My personal assessment of these kind of people is they want the imam to reassure them that staying here in luxury and comfort is OK, that's all they're doing. But then they go (and say), 'I would've gone only if the imam let me'."

Melbourne cleric Isse Musse said aspiring jihadis do not usually ask for fatwas from their imams to approve their departure for battle. And while the Somalian imam had never been approached by young Muslims wanting to join overseas terror outfits, he said in most cases people would only seek advice about such issues from their clerics.


Radical move in Australia: Catholic schools to teach Catholicism!

The Catholic archdiocese of Sydney wants its 167 school principals, its deputy principals and religious education co-ordinators to publicly commit to a "vow of fidelity" by adhering to church teaching on homosexuality, birth control and women's ordination. In a first for the Australian church, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, is set to extend the oath of fidelity and profession of faith, a requirement of church law for bishops, priests and heads of seminaries, to all senior educational leaders. The oath demands "religious submission of intellect and will" on questions of faith and morals - even if these are inferred but not defined by the pope and his bishops - and an acceptance that everything solemnly taught by church tradition is divinely inspired. It suggests they would be bound not only to impart these teachings but to live by them.

The controversial requirement is contained in a draft pastoral plan circulated to all parishes of the Sydney archdiocese for comment. The plan, at least two years in the drafting, gives a series of priorities, goals and strategies for the archdiocese from 2008 to 2011. Among its other new measures are marriage preparation classes for senior secondary school students, twice-yearly reviews of its educational bodies, and forums so Catholic politicians can be updated on church teachings. There will also be renewed efforts to teach youth about "sexuality and life issues" through formal courses and seminars, and measures to bring in to the fold young people inspired by next year's World Youth Day.

Cardinal Pell has taken an intense interest in Catholic education, ordering the rewriting of the religious education curriculum, and aiming to turn around Catholic thinking that faith is caught, not taught. The oath has symbolic value as a public commitment to the moral teachings and identity of the church and is not an attempt at control, the archdiocese says.

But a recent Vatican push to institute an oath for theologians in the US was greeted as an attack on academic independence and an attempt to impose tighter doctrinal controls over education institutions connected to the church.

One critic of the archdiocese's plan says it contains "shades of the Opus Dei", the Spanish-founded conservative Christian movement that achieved notoriety as the villain of the fictional bestseller The Da Vinci Code.Writing for the online magazine Catholica, a Sydney priest, Father Dan Donovan, said the plan needed a serious rewrite and failed to take note of the "infiltration" of Opus Dei and the Neocatechumenal Way, a lay movement that heads the turbulent Redfern parish. In addition, the plan lacked a suitable process for "critiquing structures and providing just outcomes, and was directed to the needs of clergy and not churchgoers", he said. "There must be developed a listening hierarchy who are able to connect with the broad masses of the faithful and their issues rather than endorsing the agenda of the various movements."

The Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous said the oath would act as a reminder to educational leaders of their role in promoting church teachings. "It's not about control," he said. "The oath gives greater clarity to the importance of the role of principals in schools, that their first responsibility is that the Catholic faith is taught and lived authentically within the school. "Anybody who speaks in a Catholic education institution is meant to be presenting the Catholic faith in its integrity. There can be a place for theologians to make explorations of criticism, but in teaching positions the role is to very much be faithful to the teaching of the church."



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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1 comment:

mimianlee said...

According to wikipedia, Homeschooling is the education of children at home, typically by parents or guardians, rather than in a public or private school. Home schooling is good because the teacher can guide well his student.