Wrapping up 2020 and the ZOOM transition

I’m wrapping up the 2020 “school” year, and what did these kids learn, even though it was through Zoom?

-How to discuss ideas when the point of view is different from their own

-that teens can be trusted to explore their educational goals and needs

-Practical legal terms in the realm of justice and injustice, as well as cases that changed the world

-Literature through close readings of Shakespeare and Thomas More, including the nasty parts

-Details from the Constitution often overlooked

-Dynamics of world revolutions up to Haiti, guillotines and all

-Roots of racism and antisemitism, and a history of Africa often overlooked in mainstream history classes

-the politics of museums (as well as seeing some stunning artworks)…and that art can be healing and powerful

-how talented their fellow homeschoolers are

-the dirty parts of Genesis

-the best way for a cat to Zoombomb a class

-what happens when you don’t properly secure a blender top (inside moment for one particular class)

-that if your internet freezes, the world does not end

-that sometimes, you just need to wrap your hair into pre-French Revolution styles

-how to win big time in Kahoot and other games

-how to sneak a nasty name as your Kahoot identity

-fortitude, dealing with adversity, navigating choices in a situation they didn’t ask for and didn’t expect

-Community. Patience. Hope.

I love 2020 for these reasons, and I love my students. Feeling pretty lucky right now!


Thoughts about our teens…

Reflecting on today, and teaching in the homeschool community today.

When I started to organize CONTROVERSIES, we were deep in the Obama years. Not everyone liked or agreed with Obama, but debates and discussions happened fairly. Then came Trump, and the mood shifted. Students still kept their minds open, their mouths running (in a positive way), and their views strong. We stressed sources over emotional outburst, and this angered some teens who loved the emotional outburst. No one was ever banned, but some turned away.

CONTROVERSIES is still running. The teens met on election night 2020, and will meet again on Tuesday. Sometimes there’s a lot to discuss, sometimes not so much. Watching the news right now makes me think of them — and really all of my teens, too — who choose civil discourse over shouts, and choose to meet others who may not agree with them in an attempt to understand.

I have the BEST job in the world, and I am blessed to see this generation grow!


And here we go!

Classes are in session! We miss our museums and in person meetings, but excited about safely exploring examples of social justice, getting the balanced story of history (even though it can be difficult), reading great books, exploring powerful artworks, considering issues of injustice, finding interconnections far beyond just STEM, analyzing the power of revolution, and learning A LOT together.

Happy Fall Semester, everyone! Focus on the exchange of ideas and authentic education!


ONE DAY CLASS: Diseases, Death and Public Health Disasters (and Successes!) in History

ONE DAY CLASS next week: Diseases, Death, and Public Health Disasters (and Successes) in History

!I’m excited to offer a ONE DAY CLASS based on some of the CATASTROPHES class topics my class studied this summer, and some that we will continue studying in my fall class on History and Science Interconnections. We will consider some of the major contenders for catastrophic disease spread, such as Black Plague, Smallpox, Spanish Flu, Cholera, and AIDS. We will also look at Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, Typhus, Typhoid Fever, Zika, Ebola, and Yellow Fever (and maybe a few others, too). All of these diseases affected history, and created changes in public health response. We will look closely at these changes through primary sources, and through the pathology of the disease. It’s a bit of history, a bit of epidemiology, hopefully a lot of discussion, a bit of current debate if there is interest (vaccine or no vaccine, handled respectfully regarding all sides), and a Kahoot game, too!

Date: Monday, August 10, 3:30-5 PM (class may extend a bit later)Ages: Teens Cost: $20, also includes a curriculum packetIf you’re interested, please let me know!


Beyond Star Wars One Day Class!

New section for TWEENS added next week! Wednesday, August 12 4-5:30 pm!

Attention Star Wars teen fans!  Interested in a One Day class (online) that discusses the historical, anthropological, and philosophical background to Star Wars?  
By request, I am offering a reboot to the museum-based class I designed in 2016.  Star Wars fans, Star Wars haters, history fans, bored teens, and anyone curious about Star Wars and not deterred by lively conversations by diehard fans are all welcome! 

Topics and questions include:

-The historical inspiration for Star Wars

-The use of anthropology and sociology in creating the Star Wars universe

-The Force, and how does it compare to various philosophical schools of thought-How do the Jedi Masters compare to Japanese samurai and Medieval knights?-Cultural appropriation in the Star Wars universe

-Is there any comparison to the Sith in world mythology or historical traditions?

-Did any specific historical weapons inspire the weapons of Star Wars?

-What is the “Hero’s Journey” and how does this work with Luke’s story?  How does it compare to other mythological journeys?

-Who was Han Solo?  Why is the character so similar to other mythic and historical figures?

-Forms of government and the rise of Palpatine

…and more!

Date and Time:  Thursday, July 31, 1-2:30 pm (class may run over time)  via Zoom
Ages: 13ish and up, but I’d be happy to arrange younger sections Also, if this day or time doesn’t work, please reach out, and I can offer another section! 
  $20 (accepting PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, etc).  Course cost also includes a curriculum guide that I will email out at least a day before class starts, along with login instructions.

Please let me know if you’re interested (name of your teen, age, any specific interests), and I will confirm with you directly.  Non homeschoolers welcome, too! 

May the force be with you,

Wendy (homeschool class instructor, college professor, Star Wars fan since 1977, and proud mother to a formerly homeschooled college student who believes that Darth Maul didn’t get enough attention).


What’s Going On Right Now

We are watching a revolution taking place right now, a very overdue revolution. I have experienced police abuse of power firsthand. The issues which came to a tipping point after the tragic death of George Floyd are not new, and they are not isolated. They are the result of hundreds of years of oppression, and we need to confront this now.

I would love to move forward with more summer classes, but now is not the time. It IS time to hear more Black voices, read more Black authors, challenge yourselves, and take care of yourselves. The 2020-21 class schedule will be posted soon, but only after we have some time to come to terms with racism as a nation, and to take the first steps in moving forward.

I send lots of love and support to my families, past, present, and future. I am so proud of the young people I know who are going out to protest, or, if they can’t protest in person, are advocating online. I’m proud of other students willing to have difficult conversations with their peers.

One of my current students designed the image I posted here, and continues to use her artistic gifts to reach out in order to provide clarity and nurturing for her Black community and her non-Black friends. A former student just covered a meaningful Minneapolis-based story for al Jazeera. Another former student was arrested after peacefully protesting a few nights ago, and witnessed horrific treatment by the NYPD.

We can only learn by opening our minds, and standing up to injustice.

My classes are known for open dialogue, protection of free speech, and tackling often uncomfortable topics. Sometimes this results in hearing opinions and views that other students may find running against their beliefs and convictions. Racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic behavior does not fall within these parameters, and it will not be tolerated in my classes. If your student plans to use a class to showcase these ideologies, they will not be allowed to continue. Period. ALL of us need to learn, so open mindedness and respect is first and foremost.

Wishing the best to all of us, and the repair of our country,



Coronavirus Concerns for Classes

I am reassessing plans for finishing the year, as the Coronavirus continues to spread here in NYC.  Each class is very different, so please check emails for updates.  

Stay safe, use best judgement to limit community spread and danger to yourselves and loved ones, wash your hands!

We will get through it!


Winter Class Registrations

If you haven’t made arrangements about WINTER SESSION please let me know! We may be able to squeeze you into a class! I’m hoping to get things set by Dec 20. If you didn’t see class postings on the lists, please reach out, as the specifics are advertised on NYCHEA, Chia, HomeschoolNY and Queenshomeschoolers.

Happy Holidays!


If you were wondering what happened to that golden mummy case at the Met last year…


Crushed by Grendel, Discovered by Archaeology

Is this Heorot, the great drinking hall of King Hrothgar?  Archaeologists have discovered this 6th century hall in Lejre, the first capital of Denmark, complete with the bones of suckling pigs and chickens…and gold!