Unity-n-Diversity Speaks Again

31 01 2008

Open call to online homeschool activist types. . .
“Where do we go from here?”

For Rolfe and Unschooled Readers Everywhere

31 01 2008

” Does J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series pervert American values?”
by Ally Chumley at helium.com

. . . For too long, kids have been offered stories which present real life – with its own evils. It’s high time that today’s kids are introduced to the conventions of the English-style fantasy story, which is a legitimate sub-genre, and which has been under-rated and under-represented in Australian libraries in the last decade.

. . .Recent statistical research suggests that children and adolescents are not enjoying the reading they conduct at school (Australia Council for the Arts, 2006). Nor are they choosing to read for leisure.

As a child, I found it virtually impossible to stop reading for fun. I also enjoyed the benefits of increased language proficiency, better powers of retention, recall and comprehension, improved concentration span, imaginative development, improved capacity and confidence in writing, tolerance for a wide range of new ideas and an optimistic belief that life is full of strange and wonderful possibilities. However, the virtually limitless sources of stimuli available to today’s kids compete for their attention, often at the expense of the humble storybook.

Narrative fiction tends towards unity and continuity in its outcomes, a feature which poses a stark contrast to the world of reality. It can become very personally involving, and offers the reader a significant role in constructing the meaning of the text, through exercising the power of interpretation.

. . .The universal appeal of the sharing of stories springing from the imagination and influenced by the experiences of the story-teller can be explained in part by the force of curiosity. Read the rest of this entry »

History of Identity: Our Insecurities and Need to Belong

30 01 2008

(from discussion at Unity-n-Diversity about homeschooling identity, as individuals and competing groups, as religious and secular, alike and different, allies and enemies.)


PBS just concluded a new series about the Jewish experience in America.

I was struck by the segment on how Black leaders and Jewish leaders fell out with each other in the civil rights movement, not because anyone was “wrong” or because they wanted to, but because what they really were fighting for was the right to define themselves (sound familiar?) and blacks needed to oust the more culturally assimilated Jews and run things themselves, to be politically clear of their own different and distinct identity.

Yes, it was strategically counterproductive to social acceptance by the larger community and even contradictory to the larger principle they supposedly shared, and unfair, unwarranted, unseemly to reject these allies who had worked so hard and suffered so much — but according to this account, it was also inevitable.

Another connection I made was to “defining” and leading the women’s movement. Favorite Daughter who self-studied American feminism, describes for example the same complicated split into competing (often bitter) camps between the establishment Carrie Chapman Catt and the more radical, militant Alice Paul.

But surely there’s hope for homeschooling even in that.
I found this summary sketched out online:

NWP versus NAWSA:
Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party emphasized working for a federal constitutional amendment for suffrage. Their position was at odds with the position of the NAWSA, headed by Carrie Chapman Catt, which was to work state-by-state as well as at the federal level.

NWP and NAWSA Synergy:
Despite the often strong acrimony between the National Woman’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, it’s probably fair to say (in retrospect) that the two groups’ tactics complemented each other: the NAWSA’s taking more deliberate action to win suffrage in elections meant that more politicians at the federal level had a stake in keeping women voters happy, and the NWP’s militant stands kept the issue at the forefront of the political world.

Actually the whole PBS series was about “identity” and how different American Jews in different places and times, struggled to both assimilate and advance, AND honor and preserve their own distinct heritage in their own families and neighborhoods, from language to education and music to friends and marriage, food, dress, hairstyles. [To literal names.]
Read the rest of this entry »

Play Well, Legos! That’s What I Call Creation Science and Change Theory

28 01 2008


“When we try to pick out anything by itself,” John Muir wrote in 1911, “we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

So Caroline Kennedy and Legos are the same age, and I’m close, just a few years older. Even Google genuflects with its graphics today, in honor of the dynastic 50th birthday bash (the one based in Denmark, I mean, not Hyannis Port.)


Did you know the word “lego” is a creative fusion of the Danish words leg and godt, which my playful mind notes with glee, literally means “play well” and not the seemingly obvious “shin and calf of deity” that an illiterate literalist might insist on imagining is factual? 😉

Among the many power of play reasons I personally love Legos, is that they’re ideal for creating and sustaining connections. And I prefer play that transforms the merely factual into imaginary, and makes the imaginary downright fantastical, which in the very best games can create whole new worlds:

There are 2,400 different LEGO brick shapes . . .bricks of every colour and size stay firmly connected, allowing LEGO fans to build entire cities from all kinds of LEGO elements.

It’s not the first time I’ve had fun playing with Legos. But this story about the 50th birthday of the LEGO brick is a new plaything for me, deliciously confusing about the different years and dates involved in Lego Creation, which started me musing about how it was both connected and disjointed a the same time, in the same story. So I was playing freestyle myself, with all these little diverse and even contradictory — yet interlocking! — blocks of family friendly news and memories, when I came across a lone little block of Mickey Mouse history to connect up in my wordplay.

Recalling that Mickey Mouse was pushing 100 so I might bring him into today’s story, to show at least I wasn’t THAT old, I went to look up The Mouse’s creation story and history as fantasy figurehead, and got more than I bargained for — Read the rest of this entry »

Why Education Politics Isn’t Real or Clear

27 01 2008

Decisions by Harvard, Yale and other elite schools to make college more affordable to a larger pool of applicants might have the unintended consequence of harming less wealthy institutions and the students who attend them, some educators and financial aid experts say. . .

There’s a site called “Real Clear Politics” that I know literally nothing about, except that its name is by definition oxymoronic.

Which connects to something “New Unschooler” Colleen is learning this week about homeschool politics and the unintended consequences of assuming things are simple and clear! See “Brief Political Interlude” at her blog for details.

Here’s what I wrote there, trying to explain why “clear” is almost never what I see —

I should mention, more as a disclaimer than bragging, that for almost 20 years education communication, policy and politics were my professional bread and butter — after news-editorial journalism, before I became a mom relatively late in life.

So that’s the experience prism through which I see not just HSLDA or other homeschool businesses and advisers, but all campaigns, community issues and influence. I did have to learn the “home education” history and social lay of the land as a newbie just like anyone, but I started with a big ol’ story-sniffer-outer already oriented to education politics. Read the rest of this entry »

Caroline Kennedy Goes Obama in Tomorrow’s NYT

26 01 2008

Wolf Blitzer reports, during SC primary coverage. . .

“A President Like My Father”

Also our own Governor Crist just announced his personal McCain endorsement ahead of the Florida primary Tuesday.

Parental Rights, Responsible Parenting of Sex and Potential Parenthood

26 01 2008

This time it’s not about purity balls or abstinence rings. It’s about what happens when that stuff isn’t our answer, or doesn’t work. Then what, and why?

Dana’s Principled Discovery has a discussion thread going about parental rights including whether and when our children become parents in their own right, a very broad topic in my policy analyst’s mind as well as in my unschooling mom mind. So I thought I’d continue the conversation here with all my own minds, and with any readers of a mind to, there or here. 🙂

This is neither a hijacking nor a bowing out of that conversation and company; it’s simply a way to be franker (and frankly more extensive) than I feel is polite in another blogger’s comment section.

Maybe look at it as my version of the statesman’s privilege to “revise and extend” one’s own remarks after the floor debate is adjourned and everyone’s gone? This way I get to go on and on for the published record, yet no one has to wade through it in real time, in the actual discussion! Or ever. 😉

So this is written to “revise and extend” my abbreviated comments over there, without inflicting the strongly flavored and aromatic onion of my layered thinking on anyone who’s had enough, or is put off by onions in the first place. . .

If all the effects of sex were really inescapable, then we wouldn’t face any choices or decisions about it, as either parents of teens or parented teens.

It might be worth our time to consider why our positions on such issues make each other literally shudder, and why therefore, parents in our society seem unable to bridge this vast divide in world view. I don’t think it is clearly about religion or science, morals and values, education or parenting style per se.

I think our worldview clash is more basic, that the biggest chasm between us on every issue of our times is simply this — do we define human problems and solutions as black-and-white, either-or, good-bad, one line with two ends or sides to it? Or do we see human problems and solutions as rainbow, spectrum, spiral, prisms that fracture and recompose the patterns of reality every time someone twists the kaleidoscope another jot? In other words, no black OR white.

Take the charter school “problem” among homeschoolers as an example: we look like little specks to each other, can’t even make ourselves understood shouting across the divide between the binary and the infinite, between the prescribed and the described. The distortion of unbridgeable distance is just too great.

When moms who define abortion as wrong equate a teen’s choosing to have sex at all, with choosing to become a mother, and suggest motherhood is a “consequence” for failing to take responsibility, I can’t understand it across the parenting chasm that separates us. Read the rest of this entry »

Math Is Story Too, Says Favorite Daughter

25 01 2008

Oh, I could write a whole literary review on these travesties they call “math questions.” Don’t even get me started on Lindsay, who works in a sporting goods store and apparently has nothing better to think about than how many tennis balls she’s sold today and how many of them were green and how many of them were yellow. . .


Reading Power of Story plus 100 Books Every Child Should Read

24 01 2008

Cock of the snook to COD for this.

. . .In Finland they do things differently. Finnish children stay at home much longer. They play and tell stories years after ours are sitting down in school to a target-driven curriculum. Maybe that’s partly why Finnish children are happier, and maybe that’s why they rate higher in the literacy stakes.

Maybe they haven’t put the cart before the horse as we do. They give their children the time and space to grow up with stories, to enjoy them, so that the association develops slowly, organically
. . .We get ourselves all hot and bothered about the teaching of reading, about synthetic phonics and the like, and we forget that none of it is much use unless children want to read in the first place. . . If we really want our children to become readers for life, we would do well to remember that horses are much more fun than carts anyway.

UPDATE – more on how true book-loving changes lives at “Choose Nine Books for Your Gift Box.”.

UPDATE TOO – and Red Molly tells a story of how right reading wrongly, can ruin lives and the will to read (or the will to live, at least!)

JJ’s Top Ten Food-for-Thought Health Tips

24 01 2008

We’re focusing on getting in shape around here, integrating that into our unstructured unschooling. So when I saw a cookbook author’s top ten food tips for a healthy life, I noticed that it read an awful lot like a healthy learning lifestyle, too.

Changing only a few words can re-purpose the whole thing — here, I’ll show you what I mean.

First her food-lover list, then JJ’s recipe conversion into healthy food-for-thought tips: Read the rest of this entry »

Liza to Both Parties: Choice is “Progressive” at Home and School

23 01 2008

Today I found Liza’s passionate definition of homeschooling and all school choice as progressive, in conjunction with “Blog for Choice” essays I was reading. It reflects the same political connection I see, that education choices and family planning choices all belong squarely within the “the good, the true and the beautiful” no matter which party is making the political choices for us all.

. . .In this era of technological advances and global networking, in an era when MIT has open-sourced their whole curricula and where alternatives to hard-bound schooling are being thrown out the window in “the third world”, spending billions into warehousing children daily in a government sponsored building would seem anachronistic.

I am not saying that schools are not needed. I am saying though that the system of warehousing children in a school and imposing “mandatory attendance” minimums along with trying to pull out of the air “benchmarks of learning aptitude” is just utterly ridiculous.

All progressives should be for getting kids out of systems that fail them and putting the money back into not just the communities –through independent learning centers and better libraries– but back into the hands of families with part-time attendance school years, flex-time work hours and universal health care.

But no.

The fundies have actually succeeded at hijacking what would be a winner for the “open source” spirit of the web 2.0.

“Roe v Wade the Musical” Means Choosing to Live

23 01 2008

Last night’s “Boston Legal” episode was so titled. Its theme was choosing (without defining!) our own humanity and a fully lived life, in sync with Blog for Choice Day yesterday — and of particular note imo, because it turned the usual meanings and arguments upside down, to cast the real humanity in sharper relief . . .

Blog for Choice Day

Doc blogs for choice here (my comment there below.)

And this is the first anniversary of Nance blogging here for choice. 🙂

So here’s my stab at answering the 2008 question:

Why I vote pro-choice

“Mother” is a noun of identity as well as an action verb of continuous creative human volition, beyond any one discrete description of man’s science, man’s beliefs, man’s law, man’s dictionary.

Without arguing DNA or when potentiality as human life becomes “a” human life legally or spiritually, there is no argument that human life both legal and spiritual IS involved throughout — a woman (or girl) is undeniably a full-fledged thinking, feeling, autonomous human both biologically and spiritually, and when any Church or State says otherwise, it is wrong.

A living human female is no mere vessel, no test tube or incubator for man’s law to define and control through his Church or State (or by his own different human biology, for that matter.)

She IS human life and she’s continuously creating and defining the meaning of that life for herself, as she lives it, whether as a mother in any sense of the word, or not.

The meaning of “mother” integrates being and doing and choosing and accepting, both biology and belief.

The definitive book to read imo: Read the rest of this entry »