Yo-Yo’s “Brainy Counterculture Vibe” Good for Homeschooling and America

19 08 2008

Have you got this vibe going in your family? We do!

Evolved home education and most all forms of “alternative education” just go hand-in-hand with this vibe.  (Anti-intellectual church-driven school-at-home excepted, of course.)

I’ll bet your kids exude it too — Colleen’s long-haired Jerry, Not June Cleaver’s skateboarders, Nance’s two quintessential unschoolers, Doc’s quirky country fair quartet, Daryl’s dancers, COD’s fencer and equestrian. Heck, I was a brainy counterculture fencer myself, once upon a time. (The True Vibe can’t be contained, even in regular public school!)

Always unschooled Favorite Daughter and her mostly-schooled boyfriend were part of The World Yo-Yo Contest in Orlando. For five thrilling days, they were organizer Greg Cohen’s trusted roadies and grips and security behind the scenes, technical crew supporting and marveling at these brainy counterculture young boys and what they could do.

The contest from July 31 to Aug. 2 drew 196 competitors from 20 countries, mostly teenage boys, who exuded an unthreatening and brainy counterculture vibe. They looked like skateboarders stuck inside on a rainy day.

Many admitted to not quite fitting in back home, where no one seems to take the yo-yo as seriously as they do. Most dressed in black T-shirts and wore their hair long. They had callused middle fingers and forearms scarred by string marks, and often carried backpacks or hard cases filled with yo-yos, some costing hundreds of dollars.

The younger competitors were chaperoned by proud parents or grandparents, willing to keep their distance . . .

Passing guests invariably watched in wonder.

When she got home that Sunday night, FavD didn’t stop talking for hours. She planned to blog it all, when she could process it into power of story she could corral and tame.   So far that hasn’t happened, but maybe it will. If it doesn’t, that won’t mean it’s any less real. Maybe it means it’s MORE real than the same old standard stories.  🙂

Today Barack Obama is in Orlando (although not literally with yo-yos, AFAIK.) Right now he is saying to the veterans’ group that “I believe the American people are better than that”, that our performance now must include “acting tough AND smart” to clean up the “calamity left behind” from the past eight years of George Bush and John McCain.

What I love about Obama is that he has the brainy counterculture yo-yo vibe going on. It’s like he’s speaking a whole new language as he explains the great new moves he’s working up to show us.  We’re all invited to join in and be part of something magical.

But just copying old tricks like churches and schools do, is not merely inadequate. It’s a loser move and everybody knows it, which means it’s downright embarrassing! Makes the audience uncomfortable even as they try to be polite and respectful.  Yes, John McCain, I’m talking to YOU.

“It’s kind of looked down on to straight-out copy a trick,” said Jon Martin, 20, of Tampa, Fla. “So you just add on, which adds to the counterculture aspect. You create your own style.”

The only limits are in the imagination.  The 10 standard tricks from the old contests are as dated as quill pens.

“If you do the same routine as the year before, you’ll probably finish 5 or 10 places lower, just because the level of play is improving so quickly,” said Fash, the chandelier-hooking yo-yoer.

And there comes a time when your time is over. So make the most of your youth and do what you love, and then encourage youth in the young to surpass you. Don’t try to hang onto it for yourself. In this brainy third-millennium counterculture, 67-year-olds not only are too old for competition, but have the grace to retire from judging as well, and just watch in wonder, glad they’ve lived long enough to see it.

At the World Yo-Yo Contest, six judges tracked it all, mostly with their hands hidden under the table, each holding a counter. One thumb added points for great moves. The other thumb subtracted for mistakes.

De Boisblanc, the head judge, oversaw the crew. At 67, he no longer officiates individual events.

“I can’t keep up with all the tricks,” he said.

Yes John McCain, that’s right, he’s young enough to be your kid brother. Your eighth decade is underway and your ossification is nearly complete. Show some grace under fire and retire yourself, before the young, brainy and innovative leaders of the world yo-yo rings around you, making a mockery of America’s former youth culture leadership. . . you remember that, back in the Sixties when I was actually young and you were already over 30?

I do want my kids to grow up tough and smart, and that’s my greatest hope for the whole next generation. Tough enough to face what’s wrong, smart enough to make it right. Passionate enough to do it because that’s who they really are, and we love them for it.



21 responses

19 08 2008

From “Youth Win War of Ideas”

Shall we continue to worship the veterans as larger than life leaders, as they bide their time off-camera and snarl under their breath at us like Jesse Jackson?

Or shall we learn from this next generation of young leaders, how to change history by refusing to believe that the past is the future already?

19 08 2008

I cross-posted this at Liza’s Culture Kitchen, thinking it would be good for folks out beyond Evolved Homeschooler circles to see us making these connections and explaining how it’s good for America! 🙂

20 08 2008
O’DonnellWeb - Polluting the homeschool blogosphere since 2001 » Blog Archive » Elsewhere on the Internet (August 19th 11:45)

[…] Yo-Yo’s “Brainy Counterculture Vibe” Good for Homeschooling and America « Co… – […]

21 08 2008

Why must a family with faith in the supernatural be tagged anti-intellectual? Must you assume that because someone believes differently than you they are ignorant? Or do not have their children’s best interests at heart?

“Unschooling” and allowing your children the freedom to follow their interests and dreams is not the domain of atheists or evolutionists or any one group. As responsible parents we all make the choices we feel best fit our family and seek to provide our children with the best possible education (whatever form that may take- be it calculus or yo-yos 🙂

21 08 2008

Would that this were true! I’ve tried for many years to believe that and give the benefit of the doubt all around. But no, those with faith in the supernatural, as you put it, want to rule the earth — not just their own home and family. John McCain is a perfect example with his pandering to the lunatic fringe that would make me and my daughter their baby-making machines.

16 10 2008
Marci Johnson

I’m also a person of faith, and an intellectual, and I too am homeschooling in order to bring up smart children who are able to think for themselves, and are able to grow up in a counter-cultural manner. In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how homeschooling is uniquely suited to living out family life counter-culturally.

It’s unfortunate that the Christians you’ve seen have given you this negative view of people of faith. I won’t argue with you, that there are plenty of Christians who are anti-intellectual. In fact, I wrote papers on that in graduate school, and there have been whole books published on the subject. It’s something that has always bothered me. But there are many of us out here who do value the intellect, who don’t want to rule the earth in the least, and who, by the way, are HUGE Obama supporters and are quite liberal in our politics. Not all Christians are on the lunatic right-wing fringe. Unfortunately it’s just the fringe folks who talk the loudest and get the most attention.

16 10 2008
Nance Confer

Well, I wish thinking Christians would speak up then!


16 10 2008

And Marci DID speak up, for one — thank you Marci. 🙂
We can introduce her to the lovely and lovingly liberal homeschool mom Betty Malone, you think, Nance?

Here’s to C.S. Lewis-J.R.R. Tolkien intellectually inspired believers everywhere. 🙂

p.s for Marci just as background, I did wonder even about Obama’s intellect at first, when I saw how holy-rolling he was in Alabama churches about Generation Joshua . . .because I know from my own childhood southern churching that it doesn’t have to make you stupid, any more than standardized schooling does:

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.

17 10 2008
Nance Confer

Yes, Marci, thanks for speaking up and being a good example to your brethren.

And, yes, JJ, Betty might enjoy meeting Marci. Ladies, consider yourselves introduced. 🙂


17 10 2008

I just came from a meeting with my longtime accountant (we’ve practically grown up together as parents, over the last 20 years, and now she’s actually the named partner in her own firm.)

I didn’t wear any of my Obama buttons (my favorites are “Blondes for Obama” and “Booklovers for Obama”) because I didn’t want to introduce complications into the business I would be conducting in her offices. You know, making some secretary want to spit in my coffee or something! But as we finished up, I was projecting what I thought would happen economically after Obama was elected, and she started to feel me out about my politics before she said anything, because she deals with uneducated and stubbornly wrong Joe-the-Plumber type people all day who think Obama is a godless socialist out to raise their taxes and prevent them from ever building wealth.

Anyway, after our private minds met publicly on Sarah Palin and John McCain as obviously not third-millennium thinkers, we had a delightful and mutually relieved chat . . .and then we talked about how important it was that our kids were getting a real education, and not just schooling, and hopefully stupid-and-selfish-as-sacred would fade into American history as a social meme . . .

17 10 2008

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe at the Hyannis Port golf tournament today — before I left for my accountant’s — the segment’s guest was Martin Sheen, who was tv president on West Wing.

So conservative Joe Scarborough says, you’ve always been liberal, right? — and Sheen says, yes but his way of looking at the world is not really so much about politics per se as it is “social justice” and I thought, that’s my kind of morality. 😉

5 11 2008
Marci Johnson

I feel very strongly that social justice should be more a part of Christianity. If you read the Bible, Jesus was way into social justice and talks about it a lot. I’m not sure how mainstream Christianity in this country has strayed so far from that. Personal morality and public morality should not be at odds.

Nance, your comment about speaking up has been bothering me. I may be doing it here, but I really don’t do it much. I’m feeling lately like God is calling me to do so, which really stresses me out. I hate conflict. I’d rather just live my life quietly. But it’s true that not enough thinking Christians speak out, and only the crazy people are being heard.

Who is this Betty person and how can I meet her?

I’m thankful that Obama has won. The next 4 years will show whether he’s up to the task. He’s got a big job ahead of him.

5 11 2008

Hi again Marci – she’s Betty Malone, homeschooling in Indiana. Nance and I met her back in the heyday of NHEN legislative discussion. She’s a good mind and a great heart.

Oh BETTY! Marci, here’s a Snook thread she recently commented in, and if you join in that conversation, she’ll probably “meet” you right there. 🙂

5 11 2008

Also — someone Betty really admires and reads/studies, is the liberal and Christian Bill Moyers. I just heard him in a radio interview this morning, and it reminded me how highly she thinks of him. If you wanted to get an idea where your minds would probably meet. 🙂

5 11 2008

Hi Marci —

FWIW, it doesn’t take much.

I attended a couple of rallies and distributed some door hangers and I really feel like I did something.

I know a lot of people did a lot more but, for me, that was something.

I don’t think we have to set the world on fire. Just find our something that we can do.

Other small things I do that aren’t much but help someone — I’ve got a couple of packages of diapers the baby we watch has outgrown, so I’m donating them to the local battered Moms group. When we outgrow or no longer use something, I donate it. We are clearing out a storage unit and I have given away a bunch of household items on freecycle.

I think it all “counts.” I’m not a Christian but if we were all a little more Christian, the good way I imagine it could be defined, in giving our time and things, it would all add up and it wouldn’t take much from any of us.

Good luck! 🙂


5 11 2008

Yeah – Nance is a moral non-Christian while the former Miss Wasilla, for example, is looking more like a non-moral Christian imo. There’s an important difference! Plenty of truth remains to come out, no doubt, but catch Newsweek when you can, ouch!

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy.

One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill.

Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost.

An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

6 11 2008
Marci Johnson


Yes Nance, you are so right. It’d be a different world if everyone did small things to help out other people. I do a lot of donating too, and I’m trying to do everything I can to help out the environment, like using canvas bags instead of plastics, turning the heat down, not driving as much, etc. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how simply trying to live my life in a biblical manner is important — even if it doesn’t seem like I’m doing much to really change the world — I’m being a good example. I’m hoping people will see what I do and be inspired by that. Not that I do everything right! But it’s something I’m trying to be aware of. So many Christians go around loudly judging everyone, turning people away from faith by doing that, and then not even living their own lives in a biblical manner!

I think homeschooling, too, takes a big step towards being a good example. By teaching my kids at home I’m showing people what it really mean to put family first. There are so many Christians who talk about “family values” and “family first,” but they don’t seem to be actually living that way. It makes me sad. The family I grew up in was this way. They were very strict, and we had to go to church every week, pray before meals, etc, yet they didn’t really pay any attention to my sister and I. And they never had real discussions about faith with us.

And then there are so many Christians, like Palin, who don’t seem to notice that following Jesus means NOT being materialistic. It is very hard to be nonmaterialistic, in this society, but I don’t feel like many Christians are even attempting to be aware of it as a problem. They just go along with the materialism of the culture without comment. I wrote a little bit about this on my blog this week. http://www.marcijohnson.blogspot.com/.

Christians as a group do a lot of unchristian things, and it gives a bad message to the world, I think. It’s upsetting. I often don’t even mention to people I meet that I’m a Christian, because I don’t want to be categorized like that.

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