What Can Homeschooling Learn from Our Present Political Stories?

10 06 2008

UPDATE – with a frisky cook of the snook to Don at the gookins, see Rolling Stone’s excerpt from Taibbi’s new book, “Jesus Made Me Do It”:

By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters.
Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible.

It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things.

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After this post in the comment section, Spunky said about Ron Paul:

“We both laughed and wondered how in the world two people with polar opposite beliefs could agree on a Presidential candidate.”

This opposites-attract Ron Paul phenomenon is remarked upon in a new book I was reading last night, by Matt Taibbi: “The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire.”

I doubt Paul enthusiasts liberal or conservative will like this analysis of Ron Paul’s um, peculiar appeal, but its power of story rings true and should be quite “educational” to homeschool families across the ideological spectrum, struggling through what I too believe is a turning-point election:

The Ron Paul candidacy was an extreme example of outsider politics on the left and right merging. . .retreats from the mainstream that traveled in opposite directions but were parallel in substance. . .
Both groups were and are defined primarily by an unshakable belief in the inhumanity of their enemies on the other side. . .

He says both belief poles are off the rational reservation deep into magical thinking and conspiracy theories, can’t even agree on a common set of facts to debate, distrust the news media even more than their own elected government, and basically elections have become simply “a forum for organizing the hatreds of the population.”

“We don’t respond to problems as communities but as demographics.”

On the back of the book jacket, fellow political author Michelle Goldberg says Taibbi shines a light on “the corruption, absurdities and idiot pieties” of modern American politics, with “surprising compassion for the adrift, credulous souls who are taken in by it all.”

Idiot pieties. Credulous souls taken in by it all. Well said — that’s what I see in all directions, too, what makes me read books like Great Derangement, Howard Gardner’s “Changing Minds” in all its education brilliance, and Lakoff’s ““The Political Mind: “Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain.” Why I don’t often use political and religious labels for myself. Why I won’t play party politics and haven’t for decades. And why my support for Barack Obama is basically in spite of his party’s support, not because of it.

In case you don’t read Gardner as passionately as I do, you may need this quick review of the Seven Levers with which we change our own minds and each other’s, and eventually our society’s thinking:

Gardner’s Seven Levers of Mind Change:

1. Reason
2. Research
3. Resonance
4. Representational Redescriptions
5. Resources and Rewards
6. Real World Events
7. Resistances

But 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 Read the rest of this entry »