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Comment I know of someone (Score 1) 1345

We're friends with a family who "unschools". I've known people in public, private, and online schools as well as homeschool & unschooling. I really can't say that any one is definitively better than any other. It really depends upon the child and the parent. There are some kids who need to be away from their parents and some who just get lost in a traditional school and homeschooling/unschooling gives them a much better education.

For the family I know, "unschool" isn't really a good description of what they do. They don't have a structured day, but she (the mother/teacher) makes sure they are surrounded by educational toys and are constantly being challenged in some way or another. They don't just sit & watch TV or play video games all day. She spends a tremendous amount of energy researching different toys, preparing experiments, reviewing books, planning educational field trips, and reading to her children. The kids are younger (4th grade or lower) but they don't seem to be any further behind than any other kids and in some aspects they are very advanced. Our state requires testing every year to homeschool and they've always passed without problems so they are learning something.

I couldn't do it, but it works for them. I don't know if she'll continue as they get older or switch to a more traditional method. Her biggest goal is to get them accustomed to learning & researching things for themselves and (so far) it seems to be working very well.

Comment Let Me Predict The Future (Score 1) 1385

Regardless if it would actually work, I'll predict that...

- We spend millions of dollars in environmental impact studies over several years before anything actually ever starts.

- When/if the environmental impact studies are done, we'll spend millions in litigation when people are told that the government is forcing them to sell their house to put in the rail.

- When/if the government is able to purchase the houses being demolished, we'll spend years in litigation for the houses next to the track when they realize it will be noisy and their houses will be devalued.

- When/if the lawsuits are done we'll begin asking for bids. Massive accusations of corruptions will happen from everyone against everyone else and will prompt lots of journalists to run investigative stories. In the end we'll waste an incredible amount of time & energy pointing fingers & complaining that someone is wasting money.

- Now, assuming we get this far we can begin construction. Massive cost overruns will happen. They always do.

- Somewhere along one of these lines a rare species of rat or tree will be found, prompting further environmental studies and the possibility of either rerouting the rail or moving the rat (yes, I've seen this happen).

- Construction on a few lines will finish and people will be able to ride the train. The people in favor of the train will claim victory if two people ride it. People opposed to the train will say it is a failure if the cars are not packed.

- Eventually everything (probably) will be finished. It will probably work in some places and be a complete waste in others. The people who use it will call the ones who don't nasty names. People who don't use it will call the people who do use it nasty names. People who live near it will hate it because of the noise. People who don't live near it will complain it is too far to be useful.

Now, keep in mind we're talking about a project that will need to be funded heavily. It will also probably need to be subsidized (most public transportation does). It will also require the support of administrations following this one and that will be challenging. I have no idea what the administration will look like in 4 years, much less 14 years.

You also have the problem is that most of the time railroads are not in use. Trains just don't run constantly and when they are in use they are only in use a short period. I'm not saying that they can't haul a lot of people or material, just that you only run one train every few hours between cities.

It isn't like an interstate that pretty much always has traffic and anyone who wants can easily use it. I'm not saying it is good or bad, just a fact. This gives people who don't like them a really nice thing to point at and say "see, nobody uses it, so why are we paying for it?"

I have my doubts that it will work, but if we are going to build it I hope it works better than my wildest dream. I'm also afraid that it will be like local mass transit where there is constantly a fight to keep the funding. If at any point we cut the funding we're talking about a lot of wasted money.

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Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken