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Brazil is worth studying!

With all the excitement about the growth of China and the outsourcing to India, there is little US press and public attention to other areas. I’d suggest that Brazil is a country definitely worth paying attention to and studying. I clued into this through a set of programs on NPR.

Today for instance, on their travel program, they explained that Brazil is now one of the ten largest economies in the world and is growing rapidly. And with so many new natural resources (oil for instance), there’s every reason to think that it’s fastest growth is ahead of us.

The story that really caught my interest was the NPR story on how four friends in grad school tricked the entire country of Brazil into adopting a stable currency.

Here’s the background. Brazil from the 80s on has suffered from ongoing extreme inflation. Extreme inflation means 80% inflation per month. What this means is that on a daily basis, a sticker man would walk around each store repricing everything and so people tried spend their money immediately before the prices went up.

Governments would come in promising to free prices and stop printing money. But this always failed and government after government fell. Soon people became convinced that the government was helpless to stop inflation and the inflation was in place for apparently forever.

I won’t try to paraphrase the whole broadcast but I would strongly urge everyone with an interest in economics and a high school student ready to learn such things, to learn to this story.

On a related note, a family might study why such an interesting story was not covered in the mainstream US press at all. We hear a lot about natural disasters. And we hear about the Chinese economy a lot. The country seems fascinated and terrified by the idea that the Chinese economy is about to become bigger than ours. Guess what, the European Common Market is already a bigger economy than the American one and it’s made no particular difference to our way of life. When the Chinese one surpasses ours, it won’t make much difference either. But to return to the initial point, how does one, who wants to be well-informed about the world, get the news and analysis. I listen to the BBC and NPR. What do you do?


Want a free great word game for the family?

My family provided me with a spectacular education which helped me get through school and more importantly, equipped me with many skills for life. I love it when I feel that I’m doing the same for my kids.

I fondly remember playing a word game called ‘Hig Pig’ as a child, which I now realize was educational.We played this game regularly during car rides and sometimes at the dinner table.I’m pleased to say that my kids now play it and enjoy it.

For those of you who don’t know what a Hig Pig is, it’s a word game that asks you to solve a riddle. The answers are two rhyming one-syllable words.

There’s no order or score keeping and it’s easy to play:

  • Simply announce your hig pig clues to the other players as quickly as you can make them up.
  • When someone guesses an answer, they shout it out.

For example: “What is a hig pig for an overweight feline? Answer: a fat cat.”

There are also higgy piggies where the answers are two words, each with two syllables. For example: “What do you call a crab-like creature involved in organized crime? A mobster lobster!” (My daughter made that one up!)

There is enormous joy and satisfaction when someone dreams up a good one. And it’s particularly fun when someone can figure one out. Now that I’m involved in education, I understand how important these games were to building the language skills that I carry with me today.

With my family’s help, I’ve put up an online hig game for everyone to try. Take a look and let your kids try it. And next time you’re in the car looking for a reason for your kids to NOT put those headsets on, be sure to give this game a try.

While you’re stocking up on fun, skill-building word games for the family, you might also look at the oxymorons game on the same website. It asks you to connect words that are used together, but have opposite meanings. For instance, “what does the lumberjack do with a tree after he cuts it down? He cuts it up!

Learning experiences that feel like games are a great way for kids to both engage with the material and remember it. That’s why Time4Learning is such a great online curriculum. It uses the animation that kids love to deliver skill-building lessons. Find out howTime4Learning can help your family.

These sites are sponsored for your benefit and education by Time4Learning.com, online interactive curriculum, and Time4Writing.com, online writing tutorials.


Curriculum – What Curriculum?

This post might disappoint or surprise you, I’m not promoting any curriculum here, not Abeka, not Time4Learning, nor Saxon.  What’s on my mind is the question of what curriculum should be?  Should our kids  learn about subatomic particles as part of their education but not how to build a house or how a flush toilet works? What literature and history and social studies should be studied? Is calculus as important as statistics or econometrics for advanced math?

My personal view is that education needs a pretty dramatic reform to catch up with society’s needs, todays learners, and the potential of technology based learning.

Educational standards get decided through a messy process but mostly, they don’t change very much.  I’ve gotten very interested in alternative approaches to education, partially due to my work with homeschoolers, partially because I’ve never been in agreement with the educational process. So I’m starting to explore:

I’m attending an online conference on Choice a la Carteby the Education Sector to explore much broader approaches to education.

I just joined a few groups dedicated to curriculum studies:  The American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies and the  International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies.

I’ll keep you updated on what I learn about what others are thinking.  Of course, I’m working on my own version of a very next generation set of curriculum tools and materials. It’s slow going since I’m simultaneously trying to think it through, build the content, develop the technology, and finance it.  Stay tuned.