Teaching English Abroad In International Schools

There are many opportunities for teaching English abroad that are open to anybody who is able to speak English fluently. Whether you have a teaching degree or a certificate in English language teaching you can find work almost anywhere in the world.

This article looks at two options for people who want to teach English abroad including private language schools and teaching English abroad in International Schools.

International Schools

International schools are elementary, middle and high schools for expatriate children whose families live abroad. There are international schools that offer an American curriculum, those that offer a British curriculum and many more. The language of instruction in most international schools is English but many of the students have English as a second or third language, and so most international schools have teachers who support these students by teaching them English language.

Teaching English abroad in international schools can be done with the same qualifications that are required for teaching in a private language school however you will be competing with people who have teaching diplomas. With over 4000 international schools worldwide, there are many positions vacant every year.

Teaching in an international school often offers better pay and more benefits than teaching in a private language school. Some benefits you are likely to receive teaching in an international school are annual flights, accommodation allowance, medical insurance and, free tuition for your children in the school.

International schools follow the regular school year, so you will only be teaching for around 200 days, and you will be paid for your vacation time, unlike private language school where you will receive 3-4 weeks holiday in a 12 month contract.

Private Language Schools

Teaching positions in private language schools are easy to secure. English language tuition is a growth business in many areas of the world, in particular in Eastern Europe and throughout Asia.

In order to teach English in a private language school you need to be able to speak English fluently and have a certificate from either Trinity or RSA CELTA. These courses are around 4 weeks long and can even be completed online. Some language schools will hire native English speakers who do not have any ESL qualification, but usually these schools are not as reputable as those that insist their teachers have the appropriate qualifications.

For some countries you will need to have a Bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible for a work permit. You need to check this out if you do not have one because you could end up working abroad illegally. Usually your degree can be in any subject, it does not need to be in education.

Working at a private language school can be rewarding as you learn about the local culture from your students and see the progress they make. You are likely to have a combination of classes with 12-20 students and private lessons where you teach only one or two students.

In Asia you can land an English teaching contract at any time, but in Europe most contracts are from the beginning of autumn in September through to the beginning of summer in June or July.

Having taught English in both private language schools and worked in international schools, I recommend you try and focus on landing a position teaching English abroad in an international school because the pay and benefits are better and you get longer holidays too.

Sierra Leone’s National Heritage

INTRODUCTION

The term museum is from Ancient Greek, Mouseoin, which means “the place sacred to the muses.” According to Greek Mythology Mouseoin was the temple of muses, the nine goddesses that presided over poetry, songs, the arts, sciences and learning. In Greek Mythology the nine goddesses were the daughters of Zeus, the King of the gods and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. The Greeks believed that the muses lived on Mount Olympus with their leader, the god Apollo (American Association of Museums, 2000). In the 3rd century B.C. during the rule of the Ptolemy Dynasty, when the Greeks ruled over Ancient Egypt, Ptolemy 1 Soter founded an institution for literary and scientific study in Alexandria and called it a museum. With the revival of learning during the Renaissance in the 15th century A.D. Italian scholars kept their collections of historical materials in rooms called museums. The Renaissance nobles also had adorned their palaces with art, sculpture and collections of curiosities. It was much later that private collections passed to public ownership and were put on display. For example Pope Sixtus IV opened the Capitoline Museum to the public in 1447 and this was followed by Cesarini also in Rome. The first museum to be operated as a national institution was the British Museum in 1753 followed by the Palace of Louvre in Paris in 1793.Other famous museums are the Art Gallery in which the Mona Lisa is portrayed, the Metropolitan in New York, the Prado in Madrid, the Hermitage in Petersburg (Leningrad), and the Smithsonian in Washington (Sears, 2006).

ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE SIERRA LEONE NATIONAL MUSEUM

‘There is always something new from Africa’ stated Pliny who lived from 23-79 A.D. This vast continent of Africa has some many firsts. The north of Africa is believed to be the cradle of civilization that is Ancient Egypt. It was in Ancient Egypt that the first museum came into existence. Further south are almost impassible barriers of desert and tropical forests, and beyond these, lies the greater part of Africa known to the Arabs as Bilad-as-Sudan, the land of the Black people. It was in this part of Africa in the Rift Valley in East Africa also known as Eastern Sudan that the oldest form of human life was discovered. The Western Sudan (West Africa) can boast of powerful ancient empires like Ghana, Songhai, Mali and Kanem Bornu.

Sierra Leone too has a very rich and diverse heritage. She has an abundant natural life; her archaeological sites date back to the Old Stone Age in Africa. Oral traditions date back to the time when the ancestors of current inhabitants settled in their respective areas. There is a great diversity of numerous secret societies with their associated cultural materials such as the Poro, Bondo, Gbagbani, Kofo, Regbainlay and Mathoma Secret Societies. There are also the old traditional arts and crafts monuments and relics which commemorate people and events long ago. This heritage has been built upon over the years by the works of sculptors, architects, painters, musicians, blacksmiths, goldsmiths and other creators of form and beauty. Up to 1957 Sierra Leone had no museum. The Monument and Relics Commission of 1st June 1947 provided the basis for the protection and preservation of ancient, historical and natural monuments, relics and other objects of archaeological, ethnographical (traditional Art ) and historical or other scientific interest as laid down by the Act. These historical relics were scattered all over the country collecting dust and mould in government ware houses, while her ethnographical treasures were being destroyed by weather wood-boring insects. In 1954, Sir Robert de Zouche Hall, a former Governor General challenged the Sierra Leone Society to create a National Museum for the country. This museum, according to the Governor, can contribute to the growth of national pride by collecting and preserving objects and making them available for contemplation and study. This challenge was taken up by M.C.F. Easmon and others with the formation of a Museum Sub-Committee (Cummings, 1996). The Old Cotton Tree Railway Station was acquired and rehabilitated, with the help of government, and was opened on the 10th December, 1957. The National Museum, according to Sir Maurice Dorman, was intended to collect, put in order and preserve the work of man’s hands that was fast disappearing from the lives of Sierra Leoneans. The National Museum, he added, ‘should be a place where the illiterate man can be inspired by the display of what is best in his culture, both in the past and present, there-by keeping a record of Sierra Leone for posterity.’

MUSEUM COVERAGE

The Sierra Leone National Museum covers three areas: Archaeology, History and Ethnography. In the area of Archaeology there are large steatite (soapstone) heads, the Maye Yafe or Chiefs’ devils. These are believed to bring good luck to Chiefs and bad luck to the common man. There are figures called Nomoli, which are an enigma and are of unknown antiquity. The curator believes that these figures date back to the Middle Stone Age. There is a large collection of poetry and potsherds and it is believed that some of the pots on display in the museum date back to B.C. days. There is also an abundance of Old Stone Age tools such as choppers, hand axes, and polished New Stone Age tools together with many steatite bored stones which were once used as currency and as digging stick weights. In the History area the most prominent item is the original Charter of Sierra Leone signed in 1799 by King George III by which the settlement became a British Colony. There are also models of the de Reuter Stone on which the Admiral engraved his name after sacking Bunce and Tasso Islands in 1664. Bunce Island was a depot from where slaves were transported across the Atlantic Ocean. There are effigies of the late Sir Milton Margai, the first Prime Minister of Sierra Leone and Bai Bureh, the last warrior chief who fought the British from 1898-1902. There is also a host of materials drawn from the colonial period such as canon, staffs of chiefs, swords, medals, coins, photographs, paintings and documents. In the area of Ethnography (Traditional Art) there are fully dressed masquerading dancers e.g. Sowei of the Bondo Society, Goboi, the regalia of Chiefs, Secret Society paraphernalia, exquisite carved masks, carvings in human and animal form, indigenous musical instruments like the drums which are integral in African rituals in birth, initiation and death, textile, basketry and other crafts. The Sierra Leone National Museum has a magnificent collection of artifacts and is truly a store house of the nation’s cultural treasures (Sierra Leone National Museum Prospectus, 2013).

ROLE OF THE MUSEUM

The Sierra Leone National Museum preserves the national heritage; it is a complex institution for research, education and culture. It is an instrument of mass education, which caters for the needs of literates and illiterates, both young and old. Children of school going age make up the largest public served by the National Museum through guided tours. Apart from school groups individual children visit the museum every day. The museum exhibits are relevant to the school syllabi more so in disciplines like History, Social Studies, Agricultural Science and Civics. Thus essay and poster competitions are run by the museum for children. Since Art is the most natural means of expression of people who can’t read and write the exhibits in the National Museum are so arranged that they can speak for themselves. The museum is an important research center. It is research that brings the museum to life and makes it much more than a repository of dead objects. As research center the National Museum is the only place in the country where someone can find such historical documents like the Sierra Leone Charter. Thus students from both higher and tertiary institutions as well as researchers (locally and internationally) make extensive use of museum material in writing their projects. Some of the topics widely researched on in the museum are the origins of St John’s Maroon Church, tourism as instrument of socioeconomic development, traditional schools in Sierra Leone during pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary times, interment rites of paramount chiefs among different ethnic groups in the country, and mining in pre-colonial Sierra Leone.

The Sierra Leone National Museum is not only established for elites and the scholarly community but also to provide a service for the general public. The basic purpose of the museum is to enable the public to know and appreciate under conditions of display the artifacts which the institution collects, preserves and protects. Entrance to the museum is free because it is not only a national museum but also part of an international agreement (International Council of Museum) to which the Sierra Leone National Museum is a signatory should. Sierra Leoneans are aware of the fact that the National Museum forms an integral part of the local culture. The specimens of the cultures represented in the museum are currently in use and people are conscious of their existence and functions. The museum though national also interests non-national public composed mostly of European, American and Asian nationals, most of these are ignorant of African culture in general and Sierra Leonean culture in particular. Paradoxically the museum has touched both an informed and quite largely illiterate as well as educated and totally uninitiated publics. The following are a few remarks from the Museum’s Visitors Book:

• It is spectacular, keep it up! (A Nigerian).

• We entered into African mysteries (An Italian).

• Very interesting! Very painful especially the slaves (An American).

• Most and the best experience in Local History).

• It goes a long way in preserving our cultural heritage (A Sierra Leonean).

The Sierra Leone National Museum is an exhibition and communication center. It provides contact with real objects. It disseminates information about Sierra Leonean Art. Art pieces are themselves documents which are eloquent. From naturalistic figures held in the museum people can learn about the dress of the time. A sculptured piece reveals a little more than the person portrayed. For instance a carved warrior or hunter in the museum shows the type of weapon used at the time. The museum steers clear of ethnic distribution in the country of its objects. It aims at representing rather than pointing out local peculiarities. For example Rhythmic Arts (musical instruments), Occupations (fishing gear, basketry and pottery), cultural objects (insignia of Chiefs and bride money), and Women’s Activities (ornaments, combs and cooking utensils)) are portrayed in the museum. The reason being that both urban and rural visitors are anxious to see their ways of life reflected in the “Ancestral Home,” which is the museum. As local visitors go round the museum they search attentively for utensils, tools, weapons or familiar faces and are usually delighted or sometimes complaint to staff when these are absent. In brief the Museum plays a very important part at national and international levels. It helps the public to appreciate articles illustrating history. As repository of the national heritage it helps people to find the elements of their past and to acquire new spiritual wealth. The Museum renews in Sierra Leoneans a sense of belonging to a particularly civilization and stimulates in them the spirit of national pride and cohesion which are essential ingredients in nation building.

MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL ORGANISATIONS

The Sierra Leone National Museum is a member of several professional bodies both at home and overseas. It has been a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) since 1964. The Museum is also a member of the Organization for Museums, Monuments and Sites in Africa (OMMSA), the cultural arm of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), currently African Union(AU ). The Museum is represented in the Arts Education Association of Sierra Leone, which in the past organized Art Festivals in schools and colleges; it is also represented in the Public Archives Commission and the Sierra Leone Association of Librarians, Archivists and Information Professionals(SLAALIP).

The Sierra Leone National Museum continues to enjoy cordial relationship with UNESCO which has assisted in staff training and supply of equipment; the West African Museums Program in Dakar(WAMP),which has conducted several workshops on conservation and preservation of artifacts. Foreign Missions too have contributed immensely to the development of the museum. For example the Federal Republic of Germany in Sierra Leone erected an extension of the museum as a bicentenary gift. The French Embassy in Sierra Leone through the French Cooperation Technical Department rehabilitated the Old Cotton Tree Museum Building. The United States of America, through the Department of the United States Information Services has on several occasions invited the curator to visit the USA which has resulted to close links with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, the Museum of African Art in Washington, Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The U S Embassy was also instrumental in the twinning relationship with the Museum of Coastal History, St. Simons Island, Georgia. Through these links the Museum was supplied with the results of Indiana-American research projects, pamphlets, calendars of coming events, posters and future exhibitions. The twinning with the Museum of Coastal History, St Simons Island, Georgia, USA has led to the investigation of the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage-the Sierra Leone and the Gullah/Geechee Connection.” There has been a series of exchange visits between curators and the Great Spring Lecture was delivered at Fort Frederica, St Simon Island in 1995. In the same year a joint exhibition and a symposium was held on the “Trans-Atlantic Linkage” in Georgia.

CHALLENGES

One of the primary concerns of the Sierra Leone National Museum is how to combat the theft and illicit exportation of cultural artifacts. The Government of Sierra Leone has formulated a comprehensive national policy with statutes as contained in the Monuments and Relics Ordinance of 1947. The Ordinance provides for the preservation of ancient, historical and natural monuments, relics and other objects of historical, ethnographical and scientific interest. Any person who desires to export from the country any ethnographical item must submit it to the National Museum; a license will be issued which should be shown to customs officers at the point of departure. If an intended item for exportation has cultural, historical or archaeological value it will be retained in the country as part of the national heritage. Anyone found violating any of the regulations is liable to criminal prosecution under the provision of the Ordinance. If found guilty the person concerned will have to pay a fine of two hundred pounds sterling. In default of payment, the person will serve a prison sentence not exceeding six months. However, in spite of the efforts made by the Museum to protect cultural property smuggling of artifacts continues. It is disturbing to note that in Sierra Leone educated and intelligent persons purchase, sell and export protected cultural materials just for the sake of business promotion. What is more Sierra Leone has porous borders which people use to advantage in smuggling cultural materials out of the country with impunity.

Further the public service that the National Museum plays warrants public expenditure, especially if standards are to be maintained. Sadly government grants to the museum are meagre and this poses another challenge for the running of the museum. Often salaries paid to staff are not only discouraging often but delayed in payment. In 2014 for instance so much salary backlog was owed staff that staff struck and the museum ceased to operate for a while. Besides the National Museum does not have branches in the provinces but only centered in the capital city, Freetown. Staff are limited in number and ill-motivated. Hardly are they engaged in capacity building due to lack of funds. This has led to massive staff turn-over. More over working in the museum is not well regarded nation-wide. Most people view it as a job for school drop outs. Thus young people do not like pursuing museology as a career. Also staff do not embark on massive public education on the importance of the museum in society. Little wonder why school going children form the largest number of visitors to the museum as opposed to government functionaries and key stake holders in the country. Even the line ministry, the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, the Museum is under does not seem to understand its importance in nation building. The Ministry priorities its activities and supporting the museum is not a priority. Thus in time of economic stringency the museum is a prone area to swindle funds (Sierra Leone National Museum Prospectus, 2013). If therefore government wants the National Museum to continue playing an ever increasing role in national development there is every need for government functionaries to give second thought on how best they can support it to meet this goal. Where the challenges faced by management are addressed the museum too can help generate the much needed foreign exchange in addition to its preservation of the national heritage.

Advantages of International Schooling

International schools in India come in different sizes and shapes and hence it is not always easy to take a broad view of what these schools offer. But there are certain things that lie common in any of the international schools irrespective of their geographical location. As you read through you will understand better as to why parents prefer an international school to a private or a public school.

Due to a high intake of candidates in a public school, there is no possibility to pay individual attention to a particular student. This, in a long term process, limits the growth of a student and affects him in infinitive ways. Creativity is almost dead since the teachers fail to discover the talent of an individual.

In an international school, the best part is that they follow the “NCLB” rule as it is termed in the US, which means to say, “No Child Left Behind”. The faculty of an international school is so particular about the life of an individual. They conduct separate discussion sessions and frequent meetings with parents and keep them updated on their children’s growth.

Unlike in any other school, the class size of an international school is comparatively small. This is a great advantage in a lot of ways. Every student will be given individual attention and all his performance will be monitored. The teacher has enough time to train a student in his academic and extra-curricular activities. They will not need to refer a progress card to remember the student’s advancements whereas in a public school, it takes a quarter year for the teacher to just analyze the growth of an individual.

Relating to the above point, since the teacher understands his pupil better, he knows what is good and what is not. Remember, the faculties undergo hardcore training before they are introduced to the class to give their very first lecture. The children are given freedom to explore themselves and discover a whole new world of creativity. The school stands as an encouraging pillar and supports the student in all possible ways. Their works are always noticed and appreciated. This encourages the students and helps them do great things. The well trained faculties guide them in appropriate ways giving individual attention. This, in the end means, they know what they are doing, and they do a better job.

Generally, in public schools, the whole motive of teaching would be to finish the syllabus, rather than educating. The average teaching time in a public school is around 25 hours a week; each class varying from 50-60 minutes. This overloads the students and brings in them an attitude where they only study to get a degree. In an international school the teaching time is just 16 hours. In most of the schools, the students are taught only four days a week. They make sure the students don’t get drained out. This not only will help the student to perform well, but also gives the faculty an adequate time to prepare for every lecture.

What exists in people’s mind is that they think international schools are often too costly. It should be understood that there’s a reason behind the fee structure. Food is one big factor to be considered. In India, it is a common practice for students to ignore the importance of hygienic living. International schools serve meals of high standards. The time provided for lunch is also higher when compared to public schools.

Muliti-cultural essence is another important feature of an international school. Students get to learn about different culture, language, religion and race. It helps build a good community and a friendly environment. This also helps an individual to thrive living in any part of the world irrespective of the people there.

Job Outlook for Speech Therapists, 2011 and Beyond

Speech and language therapists can expect a highly favorable job outlook in 2011 through at least 2018.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition reports that a “faster than average employment growth” is expected for speech therapists. “Faster than average,” according to the BLS, is an increase of 14-19 percent.

In addition, according to the BLS, employment for “speech pathologists is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. As the members of the baby-boom generation continue to age, the possibility of neurological disorders and associated speech, language, and swallowing impairments increases. Medical advances also are improving the survival rate of premature infants and trauma and stroke victims, who then need assessment and sometimes treatment.”

The BLS continues: “Employment in educational services will increase with the growth in elementary and secondary school enrollments, including enrollment of special education students. The 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a Federal law that guarantees special education and related services to all eligible children with disabilities. Greater awareness of the importance of early identification and diagnosis of speech and language disorders in young children will also increase employment.”

Job prospects also look good because many speech therapists will retire in the coming years, according to the BLS. Those speech therapists who speak Spanish also should see their job prospects positive. In addition, those therapists willing to relocate to areas of the country that don’t have as many therapists also should have no trouble finding employment.

As for salaries, the BLS reported that “[m]edian annual wages of speech-language pathologists were $62,930 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $50,330 and $79,620. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,220.

Speech therapists who work in nursing care facilities tended to receive the highest salaries; the BLS reported that the average annual median salary for speech therapists serving in nursing care facilities was 79,120 in 2008.

Enter With International Education Grants

Everybody does not hail from an affluent family. The lucky ones can easily get themselves admitted in institutes of their choice. But there are some who do not have the option to make a choice. It is these students who need the education grants most.

These grants can help students who need financial assistance for getting themselves admitted into good colleges and universities. Those who want to move out of their countries and get admitted to some institute outside their home countries can opt for the international education grants.

There are number of such grants that are available. Most of these grants are categorized on the basis of the stream and the degree that you wish to get. Asian students can get scholarships from various sources. You can visit the website Scholarships 4 Development. Here you can find lists of various types of international education grants.

There are scholarships for various streams. These scholarships can help the students of the developing countries in getting the benefit of international education. There are masters scholarships for students at the University of Westminster. This scholarship program is for getting a Masters degree.

This scholarship would enable a student from an Asian country to study in the UK. Those students who want to get into business sector can go for the scholarships for MBA. There are international development scholarships in MBA at the University of Cranfield. If you want to complete your education in Japan then you can opt for the Japan Human Resource Development Scholarships or the JDS.

The Japanese Government gives this scholarship. Australia is another place where many students want to complete their education. If you are also one of them then you can opt for the Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarships Awards. This scholarship program will let you complete your masters and also will help you with your PhD.

There are several other options of international education grants on this page. One thing that you will have to pay attention to is the deadlines of the applications. You must make sure that you apply for these scholarships before it becomes too late for you.

Project Management App – How to Use Today’s Apps to Streamline a Project

A project in today’s world can mean anything from unveiling a new marketing campaign for a product to planning a special event. No matter what task you are charged with completing, it’s a good idea to follow the basic procedures of project management to break it down into smaller tasks. This is particularly true if working with a team, because if you don’t have smaller tasks to assign to others, the process can be sloppy and confusing. Fortunately, there are now apps that can make the process run more smoothly. A project management app can perform a variety of tasks, including helping you create and assign projects, monitor progress, and communicate more effectively.

To get started with figuring out how to use a project management app to best suit your needs, it’s helpful to take a look at what is involved with managing a project. A project differs from what is defined as business as usual because it usually requires a temporary team to be assembled to complete one specific goal. There is a higher emphasis placed on teamwork when working on projects, so the best apps will address this issue. You can use an app to communicate with members of the team, upload and share documents that pertain to the project, and keep a calendar of important dates and events.

Some other ways to use a project management app include its ability to monitor progress. When you log in to an app, you can see a centralized dashboard area that will show you the current progress, and any daily or weekly tasks that need to be completed. You can communicate with other team members, and stay up to date on the projects that need to be accessed. Email notifications can be sent when new information is available, so that everyone is informed about what’s going on. These are just a few ways to stay organized and work the application to your advantage, so that your team finds the tasks more manageable.

In addition to thinking about organization and communication, security is another feature to look at when you are using a project management app. A good app will let you customize it with your own company logo and colors, and will store your information in a secure database. If you are the project manager, you will have full access to all portions of the software, but can pick or choose who to dole out permissions to.

Singapore Heritage Centers – Reliving History

Singapore heritage centres actually represent a snapshot of each of 2 ethnic groups living in Singapore. From guided tours to exhibitions, this is a journey of education, diving through the rich histories of the Chinese and Malay populations – their past, their present and their potential future. Get a glimpse of their lives, their practices and the quirks that make them who they are today, all in a single location.

Put on your rice hats and step on over to the Chinese Heritage centre, a story told in living colours and lights as well as the passing smells of some of the best roasted, steamed and fried cultural delights. Go back in time to the black and white days of the early Chinese in Singapore and feel first hand the cramped living conditions these early settlers had to put up with – disease stricken, over crowded shop houses and busy, dank and sometimes dangerous streets. Now, he heritage centre sits pretty in its newly restored location, but it still remembers what it used to be.

The centre is a multilevel experience, and each time you ascend or descend, you get to experience a variation in the history and cultures of the early Chinese. You can almost imagine vividly by looking at the exhibitions and the displays of how life used to be, the decadent life of opium smoking, dens and places of gambling and prostitution that used to overcome this poor estate. This place is not just a re creation of history, it is sculpted by true stories to paint a picture that is both real and inspiring.

We cannot forget the Malay Heritage Centre, for Singapore was once a small and cosy Malay fishing village before the invasion of the colonial powers, who changed the course and destiny of this tiny island in ways the early fishermen and farmers could not have imagined. Find out how Islam came about and the pivotal role of learning and religious education on the early Malay community. Experience the kampong life and relive the old living conditions of the Malay community through guided tours and see how it changed from its humble beginnings to modern Singapore today.

Get dragged in to the culture and life through the daily festivals and performances by troupes and actors in the heritage centre. See how they used to defend themselves with silat, a traditional Malay martial art and sit down and waft with the sounds of Malay instruments of old.

These heritage centres play a very important role within Singapore. For the local population it reminds us where we came from and how humble we our beginnings and how much we have struggled from then till the comforts we are living in now. It also serves as a glimpse into our individual culture and tells us the story of the generations before us and how they lived.

For visitors, it plays the part of a theatre play and educational, informative lesson set in an interesting landscape. Understanding us better is one of the key features that these centres try to impart on tourists, as the most valuable souvenir of all is the one they take back in their hearts and in their minds.

Education, Healthcare and Energy Independence

This current administration is piling on trillions of dollars in debt onto our already weakened economy while trying to convince us this is the proper way to reach its objectives of improving our education system, providing affordable healthcare and energy independence, not to mention turning around the economy. Don’t get me wrong, I am also for improving education, affordable healthcare and energy independence but the way this administration is trying to reach these objectives is like giving a hungry person a chicken sandwich without deboning the chicken first. When they bite into the sandwich and chip a tooth they are left with more dental bills than the sandwich was worth.

Better education, affordable healthcare and energy independence all sound great but are they worth the debt that we are piling up now? What good will it do anyone if we accumulate more debt in the process of achieving these objectives than these programs are worth? I would like to see this administration set priorities with a clear explanation of how the priorities were established and how they intend to achieve them. If our economic downfall was a direct result from toxic loans where individuals accumulated more mortgage debt than they could repay, then how does this administration intend to turn the economy around and reach its objectives by this same principle, that is, accumulate more debt that you can repay?

Improving Education

Our current public education system is a government ran education system where the government dictates which public school, according to school district, a student has to attend. If our current school system is in disarray then it is a direct result of government intervention. How do we expect to see an improvement in our education system by allowing the government to have greater control over our education system? In order to mandate so called improvements the government is going to want greater control.

I have often heard that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. If a government ran education system resulted in a poor quality of education for our children then how do we expect more government involvement to improve the system? I for one would like to see the government completely removed from running our education system and let parents make decisions regarding their children’s education. If parents make the decision of which school their children will attend then schools will have to raise their education standards to parent’s standards and not the governments.

If we take the tax dollars that we are currently spending on education and give it to parents then parents are going to place their children where they feel their children will get the best education. The schools that are providing a better education will attract more parents and these schools will have more funds to pay teachers. Schools can then pay teachers according to performance levels and quality of the entire education system will improve. Parents have this freedom with child care and college and yet in between these years our government somehow knows what is best for our children.

Affordable Healthcare

As I was preparing this article I heard a report on the radio about how the health care industry was going to have layoffs due to losses from investments. What caught my attention was the statement that layoffs were due to losses from investments. I thought the healthcare industry was in business to provide healthcare and not manage investment portfolios. Why is it then that layoffs are driven by investment losses and not from losses resulting from rising unemployment?

It has been widely reported that skyrocketing healthcare costs are a direct result of paying for the uninsured and yet staffing requirements are driven from investment values. Which brings me to another point that caught my attention, while the rest of the country has been struggling with economic turmoil the healthcare industry apparently has an investment portfolio that is strong enough that it takes until the spring of 2009 before its value effects significant layoffs.

The healthcare industry has claimed that high costs are related to the number of uninsured as if everyone without healthcare insurance is a burden to the healthcare industry. If I own a store I may have to increase my prices to cover the losses from theft. It would not be ethical of me to increase my prices based on the number of people who enter my store that don’t have enough money to pay and not base it on the actual losses from stealing.

What is the bottom line for conducting business in the healthcare industry. The formula is a simple one. Revenues minus costs equals profits or losses. If you make enough money to manage an investment portfolio then you are making a profit. If our government wants to get involved with controlling health care costs then why can’t it investigate the actual cost structure for the health care industry and quit feeding us information about the number of people that are uninsured. When the government finds occurrences of overcharging then heavy fines will get everyone’s attention.

Energy Independence

Our country depends heavily on foreign oil and if our nation were energy independent then the money that we are paying to have oil shipped into our country could remain in our economy. This disparity of paying foreign nations to provide the majority of our oil has been coined the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world and yet our nation still does not have a plan in place to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Our politicians are grid locked in a debate as to whether drilling for our own oil is the answer. We are told that if we started drilling now that it would take several years before any of the natural resources would be available for public consumption. Some politicians tell us that we need renewable energy to replace fossil fuels, but it will also take years to reach this objective. In the meantime our nation still needs energy to conduct day to day activities.

Drilling now may not be the comprehensive answer to solving our energy independence problem just as building the blue ridge parkway did not solve future mass transit problems. The construction of the blue ridge parkway did provide immediate jobs though and our nation was in desperate need of jobs during the great depression. Drilling now will provide immediate construction jobs to erect platform rigs. These platform rigs will need construction materials which will provide manufacturing jobs and these materials will need to be delivered to the construction sites which will provide transportation jobs.

We may not be able to drill our way to energy independence but we can drill our way to immediate job creation and shouldn’t job creation be a priority in a struggling economy. Our automobiles of the future may indeed be powered by renewable energy and our current automobiles will subsequently become antiques. These antiques will however be part of our heritage and if we want to preserve our heritage then we will want a way to fuel these antiques. Who knows? The drilling that we start today may be the energy requirements that we need to preserve our heritage of tomorrow without dependence to foreign oil.

Plan B Homeschooling

Is homeschooling a “Plan B” for you? Every homeschool family should have a Plan B, but it may not always be one that you resort to. More aptly, it should be one that you start with, and if you already homeschool, it’s always a good time to reassess your plan. Your Plan B should look something like this: Plan B-efore you B-egin to B-e a homeschool family.

There are several personal things to consider before you begin homeschooling, and things to keep in mind as you move through the years in homeschooling. Each child will be different and your family’s needs may change, but have a goal in mind. Start with a family or homeschool vision statement. What is the purpose of your homeschooling, and what do you hope to gain from choosing this method of education? Who do you want your kids to become academically and emotionally? Be sure that you know, so that you can help them develop into the person of character that you desire for them to be.

Next, remember that you will need to be flexible in many ways. If flexibility is hard for you, be cautious about your choice to homeschool. For instance, you will need to be flexible and creative about the ways in which you gain access to extra-curricular or social activities. There are plenty of options out there for homeschooling families, and often more options than families have time to participate in, so be sure to match the extra-curricular events to your goals for your children and your schedules. Not all of the options will ultimately fit your goals. A friend of mine shared a saying with me years ago, and I have never forgotten it. It went, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break.” Plan for being flexible, but know the degree to which you can bend schedules and needs before the breaking point gets too close!

Also, know that you may have resistance from others, sadly. However, it is very important to have a supportive team of friends and hopefully family, so surround yourself with those who support your choice to homeschool, and allow time to be your advocate for those who don’t. If you are doing your job well, your children will be learning and growing, thriving in their new learning environment, and they will be the best spokesmen for homeschooling over time. You do not need to win everyone over in the decision stage, but you have an opportunity, and some would say an obligation, to win them over as time goes on. Be sure that you are being diligent in your job, though, or this won’t happen.

Homeschooling should not be taken lightly or without much thought. The job of homeschooling is too encompassing, too robust, and too important to embark on without a serious investment of your time and consideration from a personal level. For many families, it is the answer to their needs, or goals, or concerns but it is not for everyone, so plan well, and start with Plan B!

How to Finance Homeschooling

Financing homeschooling

  • When people talk about teaching their children from home in the absence of any definite or structured curriculum, it is perhaps natural to think that homeschooling is cheap or at least a cheaper option that traditional or “structured” schooling or education.  This is in fact far from the truth. Although homeschooling in general does not stick to any particular text, this is perhaps more of a bane than a boon, when it comes to finance.
  • When you need to make sure that your children receives state-of-the-art education so that they can compete with regular school goers, expenses will naturally mount.
  • The actual cost of educating a child at home is surprisingly high. Up-to-date textbooks, course materials, a library, computing equipment, lighting, specially designed furniture all cost money. In this case, the cost may be slightly lesser when it comes to homeschooling the second child. Add to this any additional tuition cost for tutors who come to teach subjects that cannot be handled by parents, like higher-level math or science. The total cost can be a bit mind boggling.
  • If you take another important factor into consideration, homeschooling costs may effective triple. The need for having one of the parents tied to the house and fully dedicated to providing education deprives the family of a second earning member. The average homeschooling teacher is usually a lady with a college degree. This means that she can easily bring home a pay of $35,000 p.a. (R350,000,00) or more. It is also interesting to note that research in USA shows that most families that have more than 2 children do not opt for homeschooling at all.
  • But, there are those who have been successful in carrying out homeschooling at low rates. This is dependent on the size of the family, the support group, and the type of materials used and the availability of the material. When successive children can reuse the materials, cost goes down. Much of the course material can be got from vendors of homeschooling materials.
  • A membership in a public library, theatre, concerts, ballets and other cultural events also help in cutting costs. Sometimes, it is even possible to barter expertise. For instance, the mother of an 8-year old gives dancing classes, and her daughter receives drawing classes for free.
  • Support groups allow you to divide the cost of field trips, science projects and fairs.
  • Whatever the cost, advocates of homeschooling say that the benefits far outweigh these considerations. When you are able to decide what knowledge your child receives and when he or she should be taught and to what extent, it gives you a lot of freedom and a lot of power. Both the children as well as the parents benefit from this mutually enriching experience.

Tips

* Make extensive use of the internet and free resources. Download! Download! Download!
* Searching for free curriculum and free workbooks or worksheets on any particular subject will produce for you any number of age appropriate printable materials that will enhance your teaching experience.
* You will soon gain the knowledge and experience to create your own worksheets and before long have an on line storage system that will contain everything you need from A-Z.
* Although preferable, a 24 hour or super-fast internet connection is not vital.
* Utilise the resources you obtain from internet & library research and create your own workbooks, together with your children.
* This has proved for us to be the most effective way of including your child in the studies and promoting him or her to the position of author.
* By the time the child gets to actually work in the draft masterpiece he or she will have gained so much knowledge on the subject that going through the workbook or worksheets will be an easy task for your child, and one of which he or she will be proud of when showing you the final product, content in the knowledge that he or she has played a vital role in creating the learning material.
* Repetition is often necessary, be it in a certain subject on the whole or a certain aspect of a subject. Repetition does not necessarily have to mean monotony.  Repetition does not necessarily mean printing out the same worksheet five times.  An activity can be re-worked in such a way that the results aimed at can be achieved through use of the essential elements within a topic and disguised in various other formats.
* Make every activity fun. Fun worksheets, fun activities, field trips, fun discussions, working together as a team. 
* Make a motto such as “Make learning fun” and  in every aspect of homeschooling you are involved in.
* It is not necessary to purchase expensive Homeschool Curriculum if you are inclined not to do so or not in a position to do so. Everything you require is at your fingertips (or an internet search) and freely available or can be obtained at very minimal cost.

Warnings

* Harsh criticism is never a good thing for any child in a learning environment and can discourage your child from a certain subject. 
* Avoid criticising your child when he or she doesn’t quite grasp a subject.
* Make allowance for the fact that at least one parent will not be earning an income whilst homeschooling the child/children.