Give Bad Parenting Its Due

30 11 2008

There’s a new blog in town, Parenting Fail, thanks to online action figure COD. Even good parents can have a bad parenting moment now and then.

The bad parenting I personally find disturbing isn’t the stupid moment (we all have those, sigh) but the stupid belief system that systemically, purposefully teaches bad life lessons to kids, who then grow up to think that’s the only way to parent their own kids.

Tips from your travels welcome!

Homeschoolism: When Learning is Life and Death

29 11 2008

I’ve seen no online homeschooler blogging on this yet — did you realize the young girl murdered by (presumably) religious terrorists in Mumbai, was homeschooled in an insulated quasi-religious community right here in the good old USA?

No one could have predicted Alan and Naomi Sherr, a father and daughter, would not return to their home in Nelson County, Virginia.

Alan, 58, was a Vice-President for the Synchronicity Foundation – an organization that promotes meditation. His 13-year-old daughter grew up at the Foundation’s 450 acre property near Charlottesville.. . . Naomi completed the 8th grade a year early through a home-school program.

See Daryl’s threads here and here for ideas and information we think connect.

The spiritual system they followed is a 25-year-old design called Synchronicity. Wikipedia entry here with leads and connections at the end in “see also” section. Anybody got other info, or better yet, personal experience with this particular brand of foundation-based and tax-exempt Synchronicity you can post? Links to other blogposts as they come up, are welcome too.

It’s OK

29 11 2008

Please. Tell your children it’s OK. The economy sucks and it’s hard to find a job or find the money for college. But you are not expecting them to solve all these problems. That their room is still there. That you’ve fed and housed and clothed them all these years because you love them and not because you were waiting for the clock to run out.

Tell them to wave the guy at the mall off. The one with the military brochures. Tell them that’s not an answer and you really do know something about this and life can be long and wonderful, if it’s not stolen from you at 18, and you will all get through this together.

That’s what you celebrated at Thanksgiving, wasn’t it? How much you love and cherish your family, including that 6-footer who used to be your baby?

Don’t let them fall for the lines of the hucksters in uniform who prey on their fears about the future. Help them. As you always have.


Holiday Traditions and Gay Marriage

27 11 2008

The current topic at the Thinking Homeschoolers Wiki is:

How do the recent votes to ban gay marriage fit with your holiday traditions and ideas of family?

They don’t fit. They don’t fit at all. And they don’t fit the spirit of Thanksgiving or of America.

At my family’s Thanksgiving celebration, we will watch the parade —


We will eat too much  —


and visit.

At no time will we select a group of people to exclude from our table. The whole idea of excluding someone because they are gay would be inappropriate. Unsettling. Un-American.

And, as my wonderful son pointed out last night, counter to everything that our country’s history teaches us. We always move, if too slowly, in the direction of more freedom, not less. He wanted to know why we can’t just cut to the chase. We all know how this will turn out. Why are we wasting everyone’s time and energy on delaying anyone from marrying when our country has so many more important things to work on?

When my very American family gets together for Thanksgiving dinner it is not to thank a god but to celebrate each other.

This year we will be thankful that we have jobs to put a turkey on the table. Thankful that the cars started and we all made it to the table. That all the children are happy and healthy. That the year’s problems have been dealt with. Together. This Christmas the spending will be sparse but there will be a little something. So we can be thankful for the work that makes that possible, which is so much more than some others have.

Mainly, we are thankful for each other. We are a close-knit family and constantly helping each other out. That’s a very good thing.

Like any other family, we have had our share of problems. Family members disagree. Divorces happen. Illness and death strain ties. People move away, move back. Jobs come and go. Hurricanes strike. Children grow up and move out. Parents age. Heck, even we age. 🙂

Everyone pitches in, adjusts, helps, gives and our family grows and continues.

How, with these real family dynamics to deal with, would we have the time, energy or inclination to assume that we also need to decide who gets married or not? That decision is simply outside the scope of the real issues that our real family deals with.

Fall in love and marry, or don’t, whoever you prefer. We’ll fit them into the mix and work out the details as life unfolds. We’ll treat them decently and expect the same. What else would we have any right to expect?

And we’ll be thankful that we have each other as we muddle through together.


College Success Secret: Accentuate the Positive

24 11 2008

Homeschooling or not, how well are you as thinking parents preparing your kids to interact beneficially with college faculty? Think about it.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
From the issue dated November 28, 2008
Studies Examine Major Influences on Freshmen’s Academic Success

Three new studies of college freshmen suggest that even the most promising among them can run into academic difficulties as a long-term consequence of experiences like attending a violence-plagued high school or being raised by parents who never went to college.

. . .Taken together, the reports not only challenge many of the assumptions colleges make in admitting and educating freshmen, but could also influence discussions of how to improve the nation’s high schools to promote college preparation.

So let’s discuss it. Say Thinking Homeschoolers applied these finding to home education college prep. No violence would seem like a no-brainer. Home as the learning environment should feel safe and comfortable and stable, not threatening and scary and painful. Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy: an insecure child can’t care about academics until his basic human needs get met.

But what about “being raised by parents who never went to college” — why does that matter, according to the research? Read the rest of this entry »

Newest Ranger’s Apprentice Book Goes Religious-Political?

24 11 2008

We ordered Book 8 of John Flanagan’s series from a bookshop in Sydney, Australia. It cost more to ship than the price of the book, so the total was about $37 but it’s worth it to Young Son. His dad and I read and enjoy the series, too, which adds to HIS enjoyment.

We’re just grateful they aren’t embargoed worldwide like the Harry Potter books were. Here in the US, publishers are only up to Book 5, and according to their projected schedule we’d have to wait years — until he starts community college classes!? — if we weren’t um, taking the initiative through the Internet, to participate in the global economy.

If you go to the links above, you can see a fascinating difference in the book covers, from culture to culture. I think I like the British covers best, with one tiny human figure in stark shadow on a distant ridge, with the full-color, elegant arrows of his trade dominating every foreground. (Shoutout to COD: tell Breck there’s plenty of swordplay too, not just archery. Shoutout to NotJC: tell Simon to read these books and then write his own!)

Holland and Sweden use the same look. These covers promise stories made of mystery, medieval mood, the times and tools of transporting adventure in a whole world to explore, rather than a small-set soap opera of larger than life fee-ee-lings to explore.

Which I’ll bet appeals more to boys (in any culture) than the tender, fine-featured, floppy-haired boy and girl characters filling the frame on every Australian cover? Relationships, ugh! 😉

The American covers actually are of the young good-guy characters too, but Read the rest of this entry »

Deschooling a School-minded Dad

23 11 2008

All adults in the home shall demonstrate on a daily basis and with 100% integrity, that learning without schooling beats schooling without learning.
Class dismissed.

Last November’s post is hereby promoted to “First Thinks First” on the Snook homepage, due to interest in secular home education from new visitors via Parenting Beyond Belief. 🙂

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: Unschooling Lessons for a School-minded Dad
. . .Maybe teaching is like communism. Makes perfect sense in the abstract, sounds like the obvious answer, until we actually try to make it work and learn for ourselves how it fails.

I don’t mean to sound sneaky or suggest you fool him. I really do endorse this as a TRUE unschooling lesson in both message and delivery. Help Dad experience for himself how learning without schooling works — and schooling without learning doesn’t.

All for the Gators, Stand Up and Holler

22 11 2008

Two bits!

Four bits!

Six bits!

A dollar!

All for the Gators, stand up and holler!


“The Gators are on top now. They don’t need me like they used to.”
He couldn’t be more wrong.

In today’s real world where the economy is crumbling and the future looks grim, we need somebody who will inspire us to cheer when we feel like booing.

And in today’s sports world of noxious negativity, drunken debauchery and message-board misery, we need that old man in the yellow shirt.

The fact is we need Mr. Two-Bits now more than ever.

— Mike Bianchi on what Gator Nation loses in real life today


Secular Homeschool Blogging at “Parenting Beyond Belief”

21 11 2008

Here it is, cool! Today evolved and thinking homeschool parents get our own 15 minutes of blogos-phame. Who do you know already in this guest column, who will you find tomorrow, how will you use this to show that homeschooling adds up to much more than the sum of its hardworking helpmeets?

Go see. Link. Evangelize! 😉

We’re just starting to find ourselves and each other in the blogosphere, a search made more challenging by the fact we don’t know what to call ourselves. (Homeschoolers Beyond Belief?) Secular, inclusive, rational, atheist, freethinking? The online homeschooling community fights over the word “homeschool” itself, never mind the weight of all those adjectives hung around it like baggage on a skycap’s cart.

Some of us are trying Thinking Homeschoolers and Evolved Homeschoolers on for size. The main lesson I’ve taught myself so far is that it takes real thinking — knowledge work if you will — with plenty of detours through link farms and those insipid generic “about homeschooling” blurbs, to discover solid secular homeschooling resources that endure.

We Need an Outrage Scale for Viewing “The View”

20 11 2008

A certain conservative Christian cohort of homeschoolers venomously egged on by Michelle Malkin, is all up in arms about the latest Joy Behar utterance on The View, following what I heard as her surprising and  encouraging acknowledgment that our new president’s young daughters could be well-educated right in the White House, rather than attending ANY school, public or private.
(The school choice conversation starts at about six minutes into the video.)

I suggested White House homeschooling myself last week, while the outraged conservative cohort rushed to begrudge Mama and Daddy Obama the profound right and responsibility we all cherish, of choosing for our own children regardless of outside opinions and pressures:

Wouldn’t home education be great for them, though, with a brilliant, accomplished mom and also grandma there with them?

Heck, if it were me, I’d spend every day at the Smithsonian for a few years!
With the Kennedy Center at night.

And why spend $50,000 or $60,000 a year for the two of them to go be locked up with a bunch of other politicians’ kids all day? I’d pay NOT to have them enrolled, so we could be free in the city. . .
JJ Ross | 11.13.08

The View’s discussion was pretty balanced, all things considered. They managed at least a nod to every side of the argument, in only a couple of minutes.  Behar’s flip retort to Hasselbeck that “a lot of homeschoolers are demented” was clearly made in the context of children kept locked away and isolated.  Apparently she can’t imagine homeschooling as freedom and school as the crazy-making lockup? Maybe we should get Holly and Lucia invited to The View, to explain to Joy Behar how they unschooled in Paris, and their un-curriculum for New York City?. 🙂

Also this week, there is outrage over Mike Huckabee’s dissing of the gay civil rights movement on The View, about how the gay struggle doesn’t count as a real civil rights movement, like the 60s.

Here’s the factual response of a gay Catholic blogger, enumerating with heartbreakingly real detail why this minister’s morning show banter is an outrage. Seems like Huckabee isn’t just shooting off his own mouth in an unguarded moment of tv silliness; his View lines up with his party’s standard-bearer and (a lot of?) students of Christ who needed a much better education that they apparently got —

John McCain [wasn’t] innocent in these exclusionary escapades. He strenuously sought the endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee, even though Hagee had blamed gays for Hurricane Katrina. . .”

And don’t get me started on Sarah Palin.
No matter where we got our education or how we decide to educate our children, what distinguishes real education from training, schooling, standardizing or just shooting off one’s mouth in perhaps correctly formed yet outrageous-in-function utterance, is learning to think critically about important human questions, in ways a computer can’t: Read the rest of this entry »

Why Do We Make Home Movies?

17 11 2008

With family movies on my mind today, I came across David Pogue’s home movie-making column. It gave me pause, particularly the soul-searching about what we realistically can expect to inflict on our posterity as a captive audience (which also brought homeschooling to mind, of course.)

Clearly, I’m not alone; the crazy-fast sales of digital cameras, year after year, teach us that recording our lives is a fundamental human instinct.

But why, exactly, do we spend hundreds of dollars on equipment to film and store our pictures and videos, without any assurance that anyone will ever want to view them?

Is Love Despite All Differences Moral, As Moral of Story?

17 11 2008

Love despite differences is a quote from a new family movie for the holidays, along with “love transcends boundaries.” Free to love despite our differences and boundaries — what a concept.

Unschooling transcends boundaries too, like school schedules for instance. We love being different as a family, which in this case means we’re free to love new movies together as a family whenever we want, even if other families can’t and would vote to prevent us from doing it if they had the power to impose their story script on us. This time we went Thursday noon of opening week.

I’m sure Favorite Daughter, Young Son and I would’ve enjoyed Madagascar 2, without the poignant love story despite differences, marriage transcending boundaries.

We enjoyed it WITH that power of story, even more.
We cheered for the dear giraffe and the sassy hippo; such a marriage could never happen in real life but in an animated family movie, why not?

Even as caricature, the “moral of the story” comes through:  when two characters love each other that way, in any movie with a happy ending, they’re free to marry and find happiness together as family, with or without children.

Hey, Shrek’s donkey-dragon love story wasn’t controversial, was it? — nor was their marriage barren btw (do people still use that biblical word, casting a female as passive soil made to receive some male’s seed and nurture it to fruition, else be abandoned as useless to anyone for anything?
(Talk about immoral ideas to teach kids. . .)

The donkey and dragon “love-despite-difference” marriage surprised us in the next movie with a whole family full of adorably deviant “dronkey” babies. Did any conservative evangelical group boycott the Shrek franchise for this?

Yet in love-barren real life, my state just opened a new feature in our constitutional story’s shooting script, voting decisively to ban marriage that transcends same-sex boundaries — the lovers are too similar, not different enough from each other, thus too different from the rest of us! — and take a few legal sideswipes at different-sex couples who dare to love without marriage, just to punctuate public power over private story. Two-thirds of the voting citizens in my state believe the moral of this story is moral: put marriage in a cage, cultivate a controlled habitat bounded by one view on all sides to “protect it” and tell ourselves that’s love and free will and a happy ending.

Maybe next election, or the next, we will vote to ban all movies that deviate from our moral script, not just the families they seem to cultivate.

And not just Hairspray — putting the “moral” back in moral outrage imo — and Juno — see teen pregnancy redefine love, marriage, freedom and family in so many ways — as Snook has pointed out before. I’m talking real kids’ movies too! Read the rest of this entry »