Imagine World-defining Power of Political Story

30 10 2007

and then — that’s it. Just imagine!

Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk gave an impassioned political speech yesterday at Georgetown University.
. . . Pamuk talked of the “literary globalization of the world” and outlined the way the novelist’s imagination — when employed to evoke “the other, the stranger, the enemy that resonates inside each of our heads” — can be a powerful, liberating force.

. . .[E]voking “the other” is — by Pamuk’s definition — an inherently political act. . . readers, like the author himself, try to imagine ‘the other’ — they are putting themselves in another’s place.”
By the end of this vision, Pamuk said, he sees his novel readers as “an entire nation . . . imagining itself into being.” .

And the Catholic Thing Isn’t Even the Point . . .

30 10 2007

From ignorant anti-homeschool teacher to happy homeschooling mom: 🙂

I had a teaching degree and absolutely NO CLUE about homeschooling. Zip. Zilch. Nada. It wasn’t even mentioned in any of my certification classes.

My idea of homeschoolers six years ago was, in a word, ignorant. I thought it was Mom, supermarket workbooks, and the public library. Christian ones had the Bible, too. They were overprotective near-secessionists (maybe even seditionists!), certainly isolationists, and their children were socially maladjusted and friendless. They just had to be. [Those who knew me then: you can stop laughing now.]

To quote a book I read many years ago: You can only be that dumb when you’re young, I suppose. . .

More Love as Control – Purity Balls on Tyra Banks NOW

29 10 2007

FavD and I are watching video of a real purity ball right now. We see the white roses and the white ballerinas and the giant cross. We’ve never seen The Tyra Banks Show, but today when we turned the technology on, to see last night’s Desperate Housewives (recorded because of the WORLD SERIES!) we found “Inside the Secret World of Purity Ball” and we are sitting here mouths hanging open.

The founder guy has four of his five daughters on. And his wife — the Wilsons. He is backpedaling imo: Oh, it’s about the dads being good, not the girls and it’s not mainly about chastity, just love and relationships.

They are homeschoolers of course, as is the black family guesting today. The Moores. Tyra keeps asking every girl and woman quite guilelessly, if they “remained pure” or not. She sounds so friendly about it that they don’t seem to realize how bizarre it is to be discussing this at all on tv, much less with children.

OOh, this is unexpected — now she’s talking with a grown woman named “Alice” who sang at purity events as a teen, but secretly she developed an eating disorder from the pressure of living a lie, not being perfect and seeing that men are not really princes. Not even her minister dad. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Your Love for Your Kids Controlling?

29 10 2007

Controlling them, I mean. (Of course you believe love controls YOU.)

But is controlling children the best answer to loving them? Have you considered the collaborative model instead?

Our articulate, introspective friend Pam Sorooshian is a real-life unschooling inspiration to so many loving parents. As her own three daughters grew into (very smart and well-socialized!) young women, we’ve been privileged to see Pam focus more of her prodigious compassion, intelligence and educator skills on helping younger moms understand and begin living by unschooling principles.

Like Sandra Dodd, I think this is Pam’s calling, her mission — her way to help make the real world a better place not in the gauzy possible future, but right this minute.

She’s really good at it, too. At least she sure does get to me! 🙂

And because that IS her whole purpose when she writes about unschooling, I think she won’t mind me blogging a connection to something she wrote, her modeling answer to a question about limiting tv and computer screen-time.

I’ve been reading at Parenting Beyond Belief, a series of posts examining the Christian control meme as semi-pornographic advice online and off, advice on spanking with love, no — that spanking IS love. And that love is control, shown through an elaborate system of limits and consequences.

And that the child’s resistance is natural; expect it and prepare to subdue it early and often. Beat it out of the children you love, show them who’s boss every minute of the day and night. This is divine commandment and the more ritualistic and intimidating, the more memorably painful, the more thoroughly it breaks the child’s spirit, the better. Love is thereby defined as power, absolute control by any escalating means that crushes challenge to authority of any kind.

I tend to focus mainly on the horror of all that actual hitting, but along comes Pam to remind me love-as-control is a whole mindset, a parenting meme. There are ways to control and disrespect (and spoil) a beloved child, to reap what you’ve sown with your “love as control” even while congratulating yourself for not PHYSICALLY abusing your child’s precious spirit, trust and love for you.

Posted by “Pamela Sorooshian”

Sat Oct 27, 2007

Instead of putting our focus on whether or not the kids are watching
too much, we can put our focus on supporting their interests and
offering them lots and lots of possible experiences.

If their interests include tv-watching, then far from restricting them,
instead, I supported that interest. I did that by enthusiastically watching with them, playing tv-show based games online or as video games, getting tv-based hands-on games and toys and puzzles, noticing when there might be a “special” on tv they’d want to watch, noticing which shows they really liked and finding all kinds of tie-ins — use Google to look for all kinds of things related to their favorite tv shows — bring up things happening in their favorite shows when you’re having conversations about other things, dress up like the tv show characters for Halloween or just for fun anytime, get books and coloring books and activity books that are related, BUYING whole seasons of their favorite shows, getting cd’s of the music from their shows, getting books based on the shows or on which the shows are based, AND finding creative ways of extending some of the inevitable connections that every show brings up.

Maybe sometimes people really just can’t imagine how to respond to tv
in a way more consistent with showing the deep underlying trust in
our children on which unschooling is based.

For those restricting tv, maybe just try this as an experiment: Read the rest of this entry »

More Sleep-as-Learning Research

28 10 2007

The study findings have come almost too fast to digest, and they suggest that the sleeping brain works on learned information the way a change sorter does on coins. It seems first to distill the day’s memories before separating them — vocabulary, historical facts and dimes here; cello scales, jump shots and quarters over there.It then bundles them into readable chunks, at different times of the night. In effect, the stages of sleep seem to be specialized to handle specific types of information, the studies suggest.

. . .Dr. Carlyle Smith of Trent University in Canada has found a strong association between the amount of Stage 2 sleep a person gets and the improvement in learning motor tasks. Mastering a guitar, a hockey stick or a keyboard are all motor tasks.

. . . “The implication of this is that if you are preparing for a performance, a music recital, say, or skating performance, it’s better to stay up late than get up really early,” he said in an interview. “These coaches that have athletes or other performers up at 5 o’clock in the morning, I think that’s just crazy.”

I planned my high school schedule around taking the required PE first period, here in Florida. Being less than alert or slipping on the wet grass seemed preferable to dehydration, sunburn, vomiting, passing out, or heat stroke. I don’t think our physical mastery of sports skills (or general health) was being much enhanced, no matter what time of day we endured PE.

It is likely during REM, some scientists argue, that the brain proceeds to mix, match and juggle the memory traces it has preserved, looking for hidden connections that help make sense of the world. Life experience is cut up and reordered, sifted and shuffled again. This process could account for the cockeyed, disjointed scenes that occur during dreams: the kaleidoscope of distilled experience is being turned.

Favorite Daughter Declares Blogger “Head Cleaning” Day

26 10 2007

Head-Cleaning Day October 26, 2007
Filed under: College Stuff, Funnies, Random Drivel, Random Moments of Poignancy —

The head in the middle is Favorite Daughter’s, from backstage during Theatre A La Carte’s “The Scarlet Pimpernel” which was a smash success, this past summer. (Very educational!)


But that’s MY power of story. Here’s a free ticket for a few scenes from hers:

. . . I proudly introduce Head-Cleaning Day, a day for airing all my half-formed thoughts (which are coincidentally the only thoughts I seem to have these days, having used up all of my intelligence on Andrew Jackson, Socio-Economics, Greek Philosophers, and the Elements of Non-Verbal Communication).

Do you remember J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan?

“It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it quite interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers.”

Such is head-cleaning day.. .

From there, she waxes rhapsodic on themes as diverse as Mormons, Jane Austen, the Stupefaction of Spirit Day at her college, Down the Rabbit Hole, and the perennial puzzle: “Are We Gods or Sacrifices?” Plus there’s art — campus photos from her cell phone — for you few (you know who you are!) who tend to get bogged down in too many words. 🙂

What’s New for Halloween Power of Story? You Figure It Out!

26 10 2007

What’s new for Halloween shopping, WaPo At Home?


Could it be an indication of the zeitgeist that Halloween decor has gone from good fun to ghastly? A sampling of what’s selling says it all. Horchow, the high-end Neiman Marcus affiliate, sells fake buzzards and chocolate coffins, while Target sells a 15-piece cemetery kit, a hanging grim reaper and an oversize maggot, and the Grandin Road catalogue and online company offers up a ghoulish bag of bones (above left.)

“This year’s Halloween decorations may not just spook you, they might turn your stomach.
. . . many specialty stores and catalogues are selling creepily realistic corpses, severed limbs and butchered body parts.”

Whatever happened to standard-issue witches? [ JJ says see below!] Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, author of several books about Halloween, maintains gruesome has always been part of the culture and events over the past 60 years have reinforced our fascination with blood and gore.

Creeped out? Everyone will forgive you if you just want to stick a jack-o’-lantern on your front porch and forget it. . .


Don’t you wonder if Dumbledore costumes readied for Halloween are now being hastily returned by those who suddenly don’t want to identify with that character too closely, only to be snapped up by a different cultural camp of revelers suddenly wanting to identify MORE closely with him? gay-doumbledore-mashup-time.jpg


And don’t you wonder if the whole Hogwarts gang and all their books are banned in this district’s school libraries, not for Christ but for Wicca, not for having witches and wizards at school, but for costuming them in academic robes with disrespectfully pointy hats?

On the district’s list of guidelines related to holidays and celebrations is an item that reads: “Use of derogatory stereotypes is prohibited, such as the traditional image of a witch, which is offensive to members of the Wiccan religion.”

So the entire holiday is banned for all. That should do the “trick!” Read the rest of this entry »

Stress for Success: How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Ivies?

24 10 2007

How do you take their brand and shut it dow-wn?

How do you find a word that means the Ivies?

The liberal elite, overrated effetes and clowns?

(humming. . .)

Imagine a scholarly debate in which “hundreds of people cheer wildly as some crazy-haired guy calls for Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to be shut down. That’s right: closed entirely. Their campuses turned into luxury condos. Their students distributed evenly throughout the colleges of the Big Ten. Their endowments donated to charity, or used to purchase Canada. . .”

Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Gopnik, staff writers for The New Yorker, did it for entertainment on a recent Saturday night (instead of college football??) — all part of the magazine’s annual literary festival:

Mr. Gladwell . . . asserted that they have come to be valued as “consumption preferences” rather than places where people, you know, go to learn.

But more interesting than the debate itself was the audience reaction. Anti-Ivy proclamations were greeted with enthusiastic whoops. It was as if everyone had finally been given permission to voice their long-held antipathy toward the elite. It was a mob scene, or as close as you’re likely to get at a wine-and-cheese gathering on the Upper West Side.

It’s all part of a current Ivy backlash, according to Alexandra Robbins, author of The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids and Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Ms. Robbins thinks the mystique of the Ivy League is starting to wear thin — even though, as she acknowledges, it’s harder than ever to get into those colleges. . .

Thinking Parents out there may already be familiar with the Colfax family’s 1980s get-into-Harvard bible, “Homeschooling for Excellence: How to take charge of your child’s education and why you absolutely must.” I read it our first year homeschooling, when Favorite Daughter was five. Young Son was a newborn. As a “newbie” I was still swaddled in academic credentials and poring over curriculum standards, worse even than the average new homeschool parent due to my own “stress for success” education.

Like me, the Colfax dad was a derailed academic and activist, making a dramatic lifestyle change that affected his whole family. Read the rest of this entry »

How Do Believers Explain Unintelligent Design . . .

22 10 2007

not to mention comic relief and and irreducible error?

. . . so far there has been no contribution from the believers in Development of Unintelligent Design (DUD).

Examples of this in human anatomy include: the appendix, which has no known function but if it gets infected it can kill you; the windpipe being next to the gullet means choking is not uncommon (whales, it would appear, have better luck); our genome is littered with “jumping” genes (parasitic DNA) that can cause genetic diseases; the female pelvis, as a consequence of walking upright, has made giving birth more dangerous for women than for any other primate; structural weaknesses in the feet are a result of walking on the “wrists” of our lower limbs; our retinas are prone to detachment.

There are at least 15 further examples of DUD in the human anatomy. They are either evolution’s greatest mistakes or God’s greatest mistakes.

But which?

Letter to Editor, George Baxter Smith, Harlaw, Jamestown, Strathpeffer.

NHEN’s Laura Derrick Comes Up for Air at Daryl’s

21 10 2007

. . .and she’s a breath OF fresh air too, talking candidly about how she helps reporters and editorial boards arrive at the right position — 😉 — on homeschool regulation and related issues.

Read the rest of this entry »

GOOD Magazine — Good Ideas for Good People

20 10 2007

FavD and I dive into the magazine stands once in a while, to pick up something we’ve never tried before. It’s like a little autodidactic adventure when we’re feeling intellectually restless.

Read the rest of this entry »

Professor Mom’s POV on New Mommy War Research

18 10 2007

By NORA S. NEWCOMBE for Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct 19 issue:

. . .I was thrilled when the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development decided to sponsor a longitudinal study of children’s lives in a variety of care-giving arrangements, research that started when the children were born at the end of the 1980s.

The children are now graduating from high school, and it is a good time to ask what we have found out so far. The answers illuminate what we can and cannot learn from social science, how values affect science, and why individual choices and public policy should not depend wholly on data. . .

. . . The data reflect the ways things have been; they do not tell us if new social policies might enhance the lives of children, as well as spare women from having to make agonizing choices among bad options.

The NICHD study has taught us much about the lives of children in the United States today. It should also teach us that data alone are not enough.

Btw, in case you noticed and are wondering — I just ponied up for a subscription to the Chronicle and so my reading will probably be heavy on that source for a few days. 🙂