The second week of the Summer Reading Challenge — two books a week — is finished with Wuthering Heights and The Shangri-La Diet as the two books for the week.

This week I am — as decided for me by Booksfree — reading Leann Sweeney’s Yellow Rose series. The heroine reminds me of #2 daughter, or the writing voice does.

Craftymomma reminded me of the book Sugar Blues, which I believe I read back in Biochemical Anthropology class. I remember some stirring discussions of whether it was reliable or not at the time. We were also reading Linus Pauling, and some quite disgusting documents on diseases caused by lack of protein. It was an interesting class. I will have to see if I can hunt up a copy.

Yesterday was slow at work, as Saturdays normally are until the Back to School frenzy begins, so I got to spend much of the afternoon getting ready for the workshop I am doing tomorrow. Someone had mentioned to me how helpful it had been at a workshop she had gone to, when the presenter told them the framework standards the lesson plans went with. That refers to the list of things the state thinks kids should learn on a given subject.

So I have a cool lesson on prehistoric tools that involves role play with bears and an integrated lesson on force and motion. I’m scanning through the state standards on history, and finding nothing anywhere that suggests that our kids should learn about prehistory. Students should know how technology affects business and agriculture…. Students should use multiple techniques including role play to communicate… Those are what I came up with. As though prehistoric bear-hunting were some form of business or agriculture. In fact, our history standards are so heavy on economics that I always suspect they were made up by Marxists.

I also have a cool lesson on the different points of view on Indian Removal. So is there any suggestion that kids should know about that time period, or those events?

Nope. That one I listed under the standards about the existence of different cultures and distinguishing between fact and opinion. I debated including it under the “contributions of different cultural groups”, but that seemed to be a stretch.

No, the truth is that, in our state, the closest thing to an actual requirement to know any history is the bit about recognizing that history is a succession of events, and that the past influences present circumstances.

You could teach state history every year — and it is in fact required by law — without ever mentioning the Trail of Tears, the Civil War, the Great Depression, or the Civil Rights Movement, and meet the state requirements. There is simply no content specified.

This was part of the shift from content to skills. The idea was that there was no way to know what people might need to know in the future, and the quantity of information around kept growing, so all we really needed to do was make sure that kids had the skills to get information.

The Cultural Literacy movement was a response to this, and we have some Core Knowledge schools in our area, but the state standards never got away from that helpless skills-only approach.

Actually, this is the problem with working six days a week. It gets very hard not to end up working on the seventh day as well, or at least thinking about work. I will be baking cookies for the workshop today, but I am determined not to spend the whole day thinking about it as well. I am going to read and knit and sing and try to finish up some of my sewing projects and talk to my kids and possibly watch a movie.

To make up for having brought my work into this day-off post, I will go back and add irrelevant pictures of my baby vegetables.