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 »

Keep Thanksgiving Family Feast Fresh, Not Frozen in Time

14 11 2008

. . .and I’m talking about family, not food.  Welcome new faces around America’s ever-growing and changing family table!

Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in college towns, but every happy family I know, even the real sticklers for tradition, goes by the most expandable, generous definition of family imaginable during the holidays. And miraculously escapes weakening itself!

No family I know, even the most traditional, freezes the family guest list year after year, or soon we’d all be Miss Havisham, a lonely corpse at an unchanging table for one.


You remember this tragic classic, right? She found her love and meant to marry, to create a new family with whom to live and change throughout her life and give thanks for sunlight and growth and wisdom and memories.

But instead Miss Havisham was denied marriage. Without the marriage her heart desired, everything human about her shriveled up and died; she became something so terrible inside and out, that we say it’s impossible: hell frozen over.

She is manic and often seems insane, flitting around her house in a faded wedding dress, keeping a decaying feast on her table, and surrounding herself with clocks stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

. . . Dickens’s own notes indicate that she is only in her mid-fifties. However, it is also indicated that her long life away from the sunlight has in itself aged her, and she is said to look like a cross between a waxwork and a skeleton, with moving eyes.

This November I will give thanks and have hope, that America’s Thanksgiving feast won’t be left decaying on the table, surrounded by a “traditional” home full of clocks stopped at 20 minutes to Prop 8.   But I have to wonder — do we value “the American family” as merely waxwork and skeleton, or a true feast of loving and sharing life, fresh even as it endures, growing and changing and surprising and delighting, even as it honors and celebrates tradition?

Miss Havisham frozen in darkness doesn’t protect her from change. All the damage and decay happens anyway, quicker by clock but an eternity of suffering.

Nance’s 2006 post is both fresh and traditional for this Thanksgiving, especially if it encourages us to recast our own definition of the American family, to invite lonely hearts of Florida and California and Arizona in from their isolation, to share the true-story happy ending of family values by welcoming everyone to the table.

Another reason to homeschool — you can enjoy your family at Thanksgiving. Or any other time of the year!


Without having to fight with the school principal about it —

Work & Family: Keeping kids out of school for family trips

As Thanksgiving nears, Martha Winokur is mounting a minor revolt — against her 17-year-old son’s school.

The school explicitly prohibits missing classes for family vacations and imposes a work penalty on students who do, such as raking leaves or scraping gum off desks. But Ms. Winokur’s family is planning a reunion starting the weekend before Thanksgiving, and she has decided her son will miss school to attend.

“I know it’s against the rules,” the Needham, Mass., mother says she told the school’s dean last week in an email. “But we’re doing it anyway.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Dale McGowan’s Guide to Thinking Parent Blogs

12 11 2008

This week’s honor roll of secular parenting blogs at Meming of Life is great. You’ll want to visit them all, so clear some online time to explore and enjoy. And coming next week, secular HOMESCHOOLING parent blogs, hurray! (Should we lobby him to include Snook?)

Here are a few posts to that end. 🙂

Mind Your Head About Home Education and Religion

What Are They THINKING?? Dr. Phil’s New “Christian” Homeschoolers

An ordinary sad case like this isn’t about homeschooling OR Christianity, just an inability to reason for whatever reason — much less provide for or parent these trapped kids (who anyone would feel sorry for and want to help, never mind homeschooling or religion.) To his credit, Dr. Phil refuses to be drawn into elevating it to being about either one. It is about this one wacko dad and how he’s using God and homeschooling to inflict himself on other people and hurt them. . .

Homeschoolers Praying to Guns, God, Government as Trinity

Never mind school reform and the protection from school conquest we homeschoolers thought we were fighting for; these lessons have nothing to do with “school and state.” What will this teach kids about CHURCH and state, prayer and government?
And what will this teach lawmakers about homeschooling?

Is there really nothing wrong with this, not even a little off-sounding, to these conservative Christian homeschool parents? If it’s really a prayer day then it doesn’t belong in the middle of the secular government identified with legal “home education” and conversely if it’s a home education lobby, for the legislative presence and show of strength and solidarity, then it isn’t about prayer and religion; those are constitutionally separated for good reason.

More Than Self-Governing, Social Networks Are Self-Creating

Homeschooling No Perfect Protection for Our Kids But Better Thinking Would Help

Respect the Jeez-its Is Sorry Sign of Our Educational Times

Abortion Politics: Do You Really Want Kids to Think or Just Believe?

We Thinking Homeschoolers need well-written Reason Lifelines most of all imo . . .and the public needs to know “homeschooling family” doesn’t equal reason-stunted religious fringe. So, especially now as those dispiritingly closed-minded “Homeschool Blog Awards” swing into online dominance again, do yourself a favor and read something worthy of real thinking and education, instead. Parenting Beyond Belief.

Thanks, Dale!