Valerie Moon, Rob Reich, NPR and THE Conversation

29 03 2008

Did y’all realize Diane Rehm had a homeschool show this week? My brain’s problem-solving process has been 100% focused on specific math disability (dyscalculia) research and finding public education policy accommodations for same, so I missed the whole thing.

But I’ve been there before, many times, even in conversation with Diane Rehm and Rob Reich specifically. I know the script by heart.

And maybe what I was dealing with instead, was all part of the same universal word problem anyway — take this from the dyscalculia research pages for instance:
“It is natural to believe that everyone thinks like you do.”
No kidding . . .

Valerie gives a blow-by-blow account (literally) of the program as it aired, and then she quite astutely and correctly imo, identifies the conversation as THE Conversation For All Things —

Whether it was then or now, about homeschool philosophy or preschool testing or college algebra mandates, in NHEN legislative forum debate or Scott Somerville’s blog or on National Public Radio, in a California court called “child protection”or the Florida statehouse called “academic freedom”, whether it’s conviction-driven public policy to address some very “specific disability” in individuals, or generalized social welfare — it’s still the same education conversation:

. . .it seems as if some of the controversy about homeschooling (if not all of it) comes down to the ancient commotion over what people think, and who gets to tell the kiddies about ‘it’ so that the kiddies will grow up to be ‘right-thinking’ adults. All the parts seem to be about this particular control. Anything else seems (to me) to be a smokescreen, not specifically on this NPR program, but in the overall discussion about homeschooling.

. . .We all have our pet peeves, and how we feel about reliance on governmental oversight skews opinion about making laws and regulations as much as being an ‘advocate’ for a particular undertaking, such as homeschooling.

And this is The Conversation not just for education. Think of everything to do with privacy and family life, as well as society and public policy. . .

Seems to me whenever “we the people” decide what we believe first and then reason backward from that to opposing, unreasonable camps incapable of comprehending the whole, we are suffering from a “specific disability” of some sort. Then it doesn’t matter how hard we work, how much we want to overcome, where we mean to go or what party we’re traveling in the company of — we’re not going anywhere or winning any victory worth having for reason OR belief.

We’re just trapped tighter and tighter the the more we pull against each other, like that Chinese finger puzzle. Or quicksand? Like Favorite Daughter’s dyscalculia too — stop banging your head against the brick wall when the way to overcome is to change your whole approach, to change your own thinking about what the “problem” really is, much less the possible answers.

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2 responses

30 03 2008
JJ Ross

Comment from “Blog for Choice in All Things”:

I was sent a link today, from some extremely conservative homeschool advocacy it seems, to one state’s history of homeschool freedom, written by a husband-wife team of convicted Christian soldiers — in a state other than mine, although it reads eerily as if written by the married couple who led the movement here in Florida.

The wives talk about homeschooling and prayer and the 80s (and their righteous sacrifices for the sacred cause) the same way:
the threat to the family is life-and-death and constant, in every knock at the door; the almost obsessive focus on factual detail; the moral certitude in making the most trivial decision; the shared persecution mentality that helped cement necessarily clandestine relationships; the pitched estrangement from the dangerous mainstream of society; the crediting of miracles for every favorable event however simple; and of course the actual political-legislative record of arguments, tactics and events — all are similar.

Oh, and the paternalistic overlay on top of the whole thing, although I admit it’s hard for me to read religious homeschool stuff much less anything about political hardball and not feel the heavy hand of paternalism pushing down on my chest.

Anyway, I read the whole thing just marveling at the parallels, down to a homeschool-peculiar pronouncement of the difference between “choice” and “conviction” — choice is pooh-poohed as nothing more than ordering one meal rather than another, while conviction is elevated to uncompromising faith worth dying for.

(So reproductive choice for example, is a wickedly trivial mater of taste for which choosing women must be condemned to death, but reproductive conviction is blessed and religious, because it involves no choice and no compromise, to the death? Where’s the family freedom in that again, much less the miracles of life? I actually think this is a valuable insight into Christian homeschool dogma I’ve been missing — need to think about this more.)

12 06 2009
Homeschool Freedom Fighting: It’s So Not About the UN « Cocking A Snook!

[…] As recommended introductory course material, here’s a virtual trip seven years back in time, to the beginning of the philosophical case against homeschooling and our challenges to that case. An intense and imo important discussion with Stanford philosophy professor and homeschool critic Rob Reich in August of 2002 took place on the list then known as NHEN-Legislative. That discussion can be read in the Files section of the list renamed as NHEN-Legislative Clearinghouse. The copied discussions are in the Files section and are stored in Microsoft Word documents titled “ReichPart1.doc” and “ReichPart2.doc.” (Hat tip Valerie Moon.) […]

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