The Story of Homeschool Truth: Time We Learned Our Lesson?

30 12 2007

Big Church and Big School are really the same story, did you ever think about that as the thoughtful independent individual you struggle to be through home education, and perhaps fancy you’ve already become?

Governance of all by any One Story, be it sacred or secular, theocracy or educracy, subsumes the individual spirit and power to create its own stories. There is no other meaning or power to this story, however it’s told:

We the diverse and contentious student body of a recently desegregated public high school, couldn’t agree on which band would play what kind of dance music. . . The one thing it turned out our schooling gave us in common then, was learning that lesson the hard way.

And are you enough of a student of story to understand that the conceit of Libertarianism is no less a “One Story Tells All Truth” -ism, as is Ayn Rand’s Objectivism? It’s an oxymoron I know, but any One Story, including her Worship of the Individual, is just another cult “revival” that defines and dismisses the real lives of every individual on the planet, except ourselves and a precious few we may personally esteem as important characters. The rest of humanity is cast, by every story defining itself as the Only Story, as some Big Ol’ Lump of Other, as devoid of any compelling stories of their own and therefore of any individual status, meaningful only as amorphous antagonist force in the context of MY ego-exalting story.

Bible stories never were told that way in my southern childhood — quite the opposite in fact, with every hair and fallen sparrow counting, prayer being humble and private and personal, different for each Methodist in his or her own mind. Not to mention that my mid-century Methodist role models, who hadn’t even split into separate churches yet, were also united in larger common purpose (never mind whether that label was used) with everyone I knew in and out of church, in and out of school, in so many stories that fit together for all as collaborative good works, rather than competing against each other in some high-stakes power struggle only one Story could win to Rule Them All.

Getting a good public education was supported for us all, and meant learning to understand all the stories and meanings as individuals — but oh well, here we are.

I’ve done both, tennis and protestant church stuff.

In my lifetime the rackets for tennis got better and better, through research and science. The rules changed to accommodate the new possibilities.

The rackets for church have gotten much worse. I don’t play anymore.

OR – a different way of framing this for examination is with the “school” network obsolescing itself, by having pushed out so many non-traditional kid nodes and then frustrating all us private school, homeschool, unschool, and even charter experiment hybrid types — so that by such exclusion, we oddball nodes went out and founded new mini-networks all over. The Deviant’s Advantage?

Churches too are in a cycle of doing this — and evermore extremely — narrowing and homogenizing networks by defining more and more of us as deviant from their absolutes, so that:

. . . all the experiments out of the mainframe are more similar than different, yes? [And networked among themselves, don’t they at some tipping point become the new “in” and the narrow self-isolating nodes the new “out”?]

This from Columbia University’s TCRecord is definitely not a story of homeschooling, except in every way that matters to better education systems! I love the arts AND community education (which is what I think the schools really are supposed to be) and I am liking this phrase “Civic Space” –- those all are human networks I want to be in, however the other nodes sort themselves out . . .

The Arts and Civic Space: An Experiment in Community Education
by Frances McCue — 2007

While the arts are being elbowed out of school curricula, new
community-based education venues for the arts are emerging in cities
across the country. . .

And now that my always-unschooled Thinking Daughter is on the president’s list at college, she is engaging such questions, very much out of the mainstream or perhaps building a whole new mainframe for a diverse and truly individualist majority:

Their first class discussion was about the complex meaning of identity, thinking critically about how (and why) you define who you are as an individual within any society — or mob — relentlessly pressing individuals to conform with (often quite radical) norms.

Stubborn symbolic belief in “who we are” beyond all reason and science is all some folks have, the only story with any power to put them on top of a social group, and so they are willing to turn the sciences of larger society upside down, on the basis of that belief. . .

The more I think about Unity-N-Diversity daring to question our homeschooling community’s dogmatic, unreasonable Lumps of Other, in earnest search of her own truly independent and individual answers without stepping on anyone else’s story, the more humble I am in the face of Power of Story.

All that we are and all that we do, and how we identify and understand ourselves and others while we’re being and doing, come from stories both scholarly and sacred, and from how we reconcile or choose among different stories, to create personally meaningful answers to every imaginable question about “how to live.”

The trick to managing this throughout a lifetime of real learning and growing, is to avoid being pulled beneath the surface of Reason, where the brain can survive for only four minutes without oxygen. Hmmm, maybe brain death by Unreason is the human “death” church stories command as prerequisite to personal salvation, new life dead to human reason . . . Time we learned our lesson?

We who home educate (no, not home-indoctrinate!) are on the whole thoughtful, well-educated and well-engaged advocates of stronger, freer self-government for all. . . The only true lesson to learn from unreason in any such encounter is that there is no point to reasoning with it, that unreason is itself a bigger threat than anything it so persistently claims is threatening us.

How earnestly I tried to reason with those incapable of it! — until I realized how unreasonable THAT was, and got reasonable again myself . . .

Critical thinking is a choice, an attitude one chooses to apply.

. . . If we could create any image of homeschooling we wished in the public mind, would we choose to be seen as embracing critical thinking, or as hostile to it?

Recent decades offer empirical evidence that eyewitness accounts are frequently unreliable due to selective perception and recall, that spontaneous and intuitive solutions to problems are often wrong, that solving complex problems benefits from multiple contributions, multiple considerations and multiple mistakes in the thought protocol.

This is cognitive science, not merely a “belief,” although like all science it is subject to examination and discussion.

It seems to suggest – to those with a critical thinking attitude — that political action based on unchallenged “witnessing”, or causality assumptions the inferrers refuse to examine, or ignored discrepancies, self-reinforcing affiliations, gut instincts or playground sand-kicking, name-calling, and ball-taking-home are inferior as problem-solving strategies.

Anyone is of course free to engage in any of these, anywhere, harmful to homeschooling protection or not. Just don’t call it effective political framing of the issues.

All these are home education stories unique to me, distinctly diverse and individual, therefore packed with power when shared in defense of real freedom and real education, imo:

We didn’t know anyone there except the hosts, but within minutes of walking in the door, the most thoughtful and interesting Thinking Strangers were getting all animated about [home education], in a good way.

These were parents and professional folks with diverse backgrounds — a biology teacher whose personal passions are sheepdogs and “olfactory evolution”, a government lawyer mom with grown daughters who she sent to school yet stayed home with through their teens to reap many of the same benefits hsing offers, a Coast Guard dad just starting to home educate a middle school daughter and wondering if it’s supposed to be so much unhappy work for them both.

Passing me one to another like speed dating, these party guests in green consecutively kept me so wrapped up that I never even got to the kitchen, where it’s rumored the homemade shepherd’s pie and corned beef & cabbage were not to be missed.

I did snag a single pig in a blanket — literally on my way in the front door — but that was it for the next two hours.

Meanwhile other kinds of homeschooling encounters (sort of) were happening without me noticing, all around the party. . .

Finally, I’ll quote comments that arose after a stuffy, huffy One Story literalist named “Steve” dropped by to define my stories all as completely wrong, because in his story Waves of Reason cannot move the Rock, hence “Freedom without absolutes is no freedom at all.”

We heard Sean Hannity on the car radio last week, ranting about Louis Farrakkan. He was mocking the man for his obviously ABSURD belief that we were created by some beings who arrived in a spaceship, or something like that — I have no idea what Farrakkan’s beliefs actually are — and rhetorically asking his audience how anyone could credit such a loon who would swallow such irrationality. . .

FavD is at it again (makes a mom so proud!)

Obama, Superman, the F-Words and Bigotry”
. . .The point is that your mother was right: you shouldn’t discuss politics at dinner.



4 responses

30 12 2007
JJ Ross

Kay Brooks has a pointed post up on how our real-life, powerfully meaningful individual stories get stereotyped into two simple (simply stupid) sides in education politics:
“Caricatures and Conservatives”

Seems to me any candidate who panders to that kind of simple stupidity doesn’t have the right to say much about education.

30 12 2007
Kay Brooks

OR run the country.

30 12 2007

No kidding!

10 06 2008
What Can Homeschooling Learn from Our Present Political Stories? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] we (homeschoolers especially?) might not think mind change on OUR part is needed. Maybe that’s why we need to read and discuss other books first, to understand that if any […]

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