And on the Subject of Lying. . .

3 12 2008

which Spunky is on about this week, I found two Culture Kitchen columns about that, too, from ’06.

“Abuse of Belief”:

Now comes the titillating and, one supposes, quite predictable reverse play, the
crowning glory of the news and belief cycle (whoops, not to be redundant!) — historical Christianity itself challenged as fraud, with the courts as the objective Standard of Truth.

It’s being called “abuse of popular belief” by the plaintiff. [In Italian, “Abuso di Credulita Popolare” laws are meant to protect people against being swindled or conned.]
Can we even call these stories about the stories actual news — or is it closer to sensationalized fiction in service of larger redemptive “truth?” Words seldom fail me, let’s see, where’s the connected Power of Story in all this . . . yeah, “abuse of popular belief” is a keeper.

I think it’s time we add it to our mandatory graduation standards — if we can find anyone qualified to teach the course.

and the one I’m sending to Spunky, “Abuse of Belief Junior, the Home Game”:

I commented that moms understand how children construct meaning that is both truth and lie, or to be more accurate, meaning for which the labels “truth” or “lie” have little or no meaning! . . .just ask a child who ate the last cookie, or why his dog suddenly has a bald patch and where are the scissors?! The answers will depend (most passionately!) on what the child believes you may believe, and what he or she WANTS to believe, and not much on evidence, objectivity or looming jurisprudence.

Then this morning, I came across a book review of “Real Kids: Creating Meaning in Everyday Life” in which Susan L. Engel apparently pleads with us to be at least as interested in the ways that children think, their thought processing if you will, as we are in their outcomes or achievements.

(And JJ pleads with citizens everywhere to reject the lie that society’s Job One is to label the natural thinking processes of children as some unnatural problem or other, the better to impose years of beating the devil out of them and/or professional intervention in the name of national security and all that is holy.)

Engel argues that children’s play
and storytelling provide clear evidence that children’s thinking is not a simplified version of adult thinking, but rather reflects a qualitatively different way of interacting with the world, a way of interacting in which the boundaries between fantasy and reality are highly permeable.

To which Paul, a liberally educated British dad now living here and homeschooling his own, added a snatch of T.S. Eliot — “humankind cannot bear very much reality” — and [said]
“I think that anybody looking around after 9/11 has to agree that ‘the boundaries between fantasy and reality are highly permeable’ for all of us. To give other examples, there’s the drive to impose Intelligent Design and the Strict Construction approach to the Constitution – two attempts to deny change and progress by imposing an arbitrary barrier.”

So I’m beginning to think this could be the cultural conversation of our times. . .

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9 responses

4 12 2008
JJ

Spunky’s discussion hasn’t gone in this direction but my mind always does — how parents and school and society lie to kids, spelled out in my “Hell Is Not Working” essay. Hmmm, during auto company bailout week, this essay is more relevant than ever:

Officially it is still work, but they are auto workers in name only and it’s not working, not for anybody – not the corporations and managers, the stockholders and Wall Street, not for the purgatory-bound “employees” and their families.

Work and change may be hell, but the lesson of the day seems to be there’s nothing heavenly about not working and not changing, either.

Thus we could argue the lies of parents and School, directly caused the economic meltdown!

Mac co-inventor Paul Graham writes:

By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. . .

Actually they’ve been told three lies: the stuff they’ve been taught to regard as work in school is not real work; grownup work is not (necessarily) worse than schoolwork; and many of the adults around them are lying when they say they like what they do.

The most dangerous liars can be the kids’ own parents. If you take a boring job to give your family a high standard of living, as so many people do, you risk infecting your kids with the idea that work is boring. . .If you think something’s supposed to hurt, you’re less likely to notice if you’re doing it wrong.

These are the staples in my idea pantry. Learning is fun, not work. Schooling is work, not education. Our 15-year-old has never been to school, precisely because I believe school screws up such lessons as these, and all the hapless folks who receive them.

4 12 2008
JJ

IN a comment for Spunky, I expanded my idea staples from the above two, to a tidy basket of five:

These are the staples in my idea pantry. (Not rules, just staples!)
Call it the belief system to which I strive to be true.

1) Learning is fun, not work.
2) Schooling is work, not education.
3) Working can be heaven or hell.
4) NOT working can be heaven or hell.
5) Forced-choice answers are always false and work like Kryptonite on the truth of education freedoms.

4 12 2008
COD

Right along these lines…
http://www.odonnellweb.com/?p=4843

4 12 2008
JJ

Oh, that made my day. My week! I hereby award you and him both a Sweet Waffle Kohn.

This gem should run as a companion piece to Sir Ken’s TED arts education video (“Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a DANCER!”)

Around here of course, we’re quite literal about singing and dancing through life, not just metaphorical:

Musical Theatre Our Core Curriculum Today as Always

Nudes and Prudes

School theatre and Citizen Censorship

Gimme a Head With Hair

Expelling Urinetown, No Pun Intended

Just to link a few . . .and even when it hurts, it beats the alternatives.

7 12 2008
JJ

Really good post by Rational Jenn, on how she parents lying in her young children . . .she makes her thought process and philosophy specific for them, out loud. (The comments are good too.)

7 12 2008
JJ

And through Rational Jenn I found this, about parents lying to kids and the real harm that can cause:

. . .You are and should be permitted to teach your children any sort of nonsense you like, but you cannot prevent them from finding out different.

Some yahoo on YouTube recently said to me:

” What I do care about is my children being exposed to homosexuality as a ‘normal’ way of life.”

But not only is it not my or anyone’s job to keep your children ignorant, it is our right to spray whatever ideas we want them to know out into the ether for them to soak up when you’re not covering their eyes and ears.

. . . You’re right to worry that they’ll go along with whatever passes their way because that’s the kind of person you taught them to be.

I really hate that so many people are well within their rights as parents to teach their children stupid ideas like Christianity, Islam, Scientology, Communism, or any other thing like that. The list of wrong and stupid ideas is, by definition, infinite. It pisses me off that not only can adults who should know better teach this stuff to children, but that they actually do.

As people with the right ideas, we have our work cut out for us. We not only have to present reality as the truth, but we have to cut through all the mess of horrible ideas that have been presented as the truth prior to these former children. Fortunately, reality is fairly unavoidable at some level.

11 12 2008
JJ

College and university lying:
The Injustice of the Lies Is Contemptible

13 12 2008
Indoctrinating Kids Shows Distrust of Reason « Cocking A Snook!

[…] authority and ideas, is more moral and socially responsible and thus more real as education than indoctrinating them in any belief system and calling it good news for education: In fact, research shows that indoctrination, often the focus of religious upbringing, is, more […]

13 12 2008

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