Homeschool Freedom Fighting: It’s So Not About the UN

12 06 2009

Homeschool advocates, please, please educate yourselves first before you “defend” homeschooling freedom in the public square, lest you make our community’s thinking skills seem inadequate and thereby bolster the regulators’ case or the standardizers’ case or the social worker-teacher union-UN case.

UN headquarters in Manhattan

UN headquarters in Manhattan

I can see this summer’s bloggery heating up for some self-righteous blood-boiling already. (Heck, Spunky never cooled off from last summer!)

So before homeschooling advocacy devolves into another long hot one of “who do they think they are?” and “you’re not the boss of me!” not likely to impress the president, the US Ed Dept or the general public with our maturity and superior educational philosophy 😉 I suggest we do our own homework, not because anyone can make us but because that’s who we think we are.

Only then can we understand, much less craft and succeed with, higher order arguments for homeschool freedom like “Government of the Gaps” or The Ethics of Teaching and Training”.

And seriously, you can’t win if you don’t enter. Ranting about something that doesn’t address the criticism or concern being leveled at us, is worse than useless. To win you have to figure out what the other side’s offense is and then engage them in a match, play by the rules of that game if you hope to ever beat them at it.

For example, if we hope to win against academic arguments, what academic ammunition options can we make and learn to use at home? (That’s kinda the whole point of home education, right?) And we need to keep that power dry — it’s important that we recognize and resist lowest-common-denominator peer pressure among ourselves (not just our kids!) as well as the cynically unhealthful doses of outrage and hysteria packaged like cheap fast food from WND and HSLDA.

Particularly this summer as anti-government rhetoric and lone wolf lunatic violence is spiking in the news cycle, thinking homeschoolers should redouble our commitment as good citizens to carefully reason our way through collegial public concerns, and thereby prove we can resist both the temptation to conflate every conversation into religious war, and to drag it down to tea party soundbites about socialism and Hitler and dark suspicions that our fellow citizens and elected leaders are conspiring to strangle homeschool parents with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Those of us who can home-educate ourselves and our families with higher quality food for thought sources than those, will enjoy the abundant fruits of higher quality critical thought at home and still have plenty to share freely with the neighbors.

As recommended introductory course material, here’s a virtual trip seven years back in time, to the beginning of the philosophical case against homeschooling and our challenges to that case. An intense and imo important discussion with Stanford philosophy professor and homeschool critic Rob Reich in August of 2002 took place on the list then known as NHEN-Legislative. That discussion can be read in the Files section of the list renamed as NHEN-Legislative Clearinghouse. The copied discussions are in the Files section and are stored in Microsoft Word documents titled “ReichPart1.doc” and “ReichPart2.doc.” (Hat tip Valerie Moon.)

NOTE: This is the discussion that influenced his later arguments for homeschool regulation to protect every child against the theoretical danger of “ethical servility” e.g. this in 2005 and led to responses like Nicky Hardenbergh’s Through the Lens of Homeschooling: A Response to Michael Apple and Rob Reich.

***************
Rob Reich. “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority Over Education: The Case of Homeschooling .”
Paper prepared for delivery at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, August 30-September 2, 2001.

Abstract:

This paper discusses parental authority over education and attempts to move beyond the obsessive focus of political theorists on the Yoder and Mozert cases. I do so by examining the increasingly popular phenomenon of homeschooling in the United States. Should, and if so, how should the liberal state regulate homeschooling, the arrangement that gives parents the most control over the education of children? In the first section, I look at the recent history of homeschooling in the United States, showing that beyond its interest in purely theoretical terms, the actual practice of homeschooling also provides powerful reasons to focus attention on it.

In section two, I canvas a trilogy of interests in education — the parents’, the state’s, and the child’s — as a prelude to considering the justifiability of homeschooling. I argue here that while each party shares an interest in the development of children into normal adulthood, the state has an independent interest in educating for citizenship and the child has an independent interest in an education for autonomy, neither of which may be shared by parents.

On the basis of these three interests and a consideration of what to do when interests clash, I argue in section three that at a bare minimum one function of any school environment must be to expose children to and engage students with values and beliefs other than those they are likely to encounter within their homes. Because homeschooling is structurally and in practice the least likely to meet this end, I argue that while the state should not ban homeschooling it must nevertheless regulate its practice with vigilance. I conclude by briefly offering a few suggestions about the best means at the state’s disposal to exercise regulatory authority and by considering some problems with regulation

Msg. #11111

From: reich69
Date: Fri Mar 29, 2002 0:46pm
Subject: RESPONSE from academic

I notice that an essay of mine, “Testing the Boundaries of Parental Authority Over Education: The Case of Homeschooling” has been the subject of some discussion on this group. After emailing the coordinator, Ms. Nicky Hardenb[urgh], I’ve decided to post a short response. I’d welcome further discussion from the group.

Let me clarify a few points here that were perhaps not clear enough in the essay. But before doing so, I want to emphasize that the essay you’ve read is but one part of a larger project concerning the interests of the state in education, and the kinds of regulations appropriate for various kinds of schooling, public, private, parochial, and homeschooling. (If you’ll pardon the self-promotion, my full position can be found in a book I’ve recently published, entitled, Bridging Liberalism and Multiculturalism in American Education, University of Chicago Press).

First, I do not advocate anywhere that homeschooling should be forbidden, or even curtailed. I consider myself a defender of homeschooling, properly regulated.

Second, nothing in my paper was meant to be a defense of the capabilities of the average public school. I agree that there are public schools that do a terrible job of education students for autonomy and for citizenship (not to mention basic academic skills). But my sense is that for many homeschoolers, this argument is a red herring. In my conversations with homeschoolers, I’ve often asked them the following: “If there were a public school in your neighborhood which was academically excellent and provided a safe, nurturing environment, would you then send your child to that school?” In almost every case the answer is, “no”. The quality of public schools is an important concern, but for many, perhaps most, homeschoolers, this is not the real issue.

The real issue is the legitimacy of state authority over children. And here, I presume, is where we disagree. I believe that, so far as education is concerned, parents must share authority with the state. The state is concerned with the education of children for two reasons. First, the state has a legitimate interest in cultivating able citizenship. Second, the state has a role in promoting the independent interests of children, which include, on my understanding, the right to live a life other than the one their parents lead. This requires a certain degree of autonomy, which can be achieved through the comparatively less intrusive vehicle of an education that engages students with a diversity of values.

I never claimed that homeschooling leads to citizens who are not interested in the public good. On the contrary, homeschoolers are often, so far as I can tell, heavily involved in both the civil associations of their communities and in democratic life more generally.

But I do claim that homeschoolers who are motivated to shield their children from engagement with competing values or ways of life may be disabled as citizens. The reason is that citizenship in a culturally and religiously diverse liberal democracy requires that each citizen be prepared to recognize that the values that guide his or her life will not be shared by all other citizens. Therefore, each citizen needs to learn to be able to participate democratically with citizens of diverse convictions. Public schools may not do a great job of this; but I am convinced they do a better job than at least some, or even many, homeschools.

May I say, finally, that I admire the political activism and success of the homeschool community. The way in which homeschool advocates have pressed for legislative reforms through grassroots organizing is in the best tradition of democratic politics. And while I don’t agree with the positions that many homeschoolers advocate, I certainly would never deny them the right to push politically for their views. In this sense, I applaud their success.

Rob Reich

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Msg # 11115

From: jrossedd
Date: Fri Mar 29, 2002 7:39am
Subject: Re: Reich Response – Discussion

reich@s… writes:

> The real issue is the legitimacy of state authority over children. And here, I presume, is where we disagree. I believe that, so far as education is concerned, parents must share authority with the state.

The state is concerned with the education of children for two reasons. First, the state has a legitimate interest in cultivating able citizenship. Second, the state has a role in promoting the independent interests of children, which include, on my understanding, the right to live a life other than the one their parents lead. This requires a certain degree of autonomy, which can be achieved through the comparatively less intrusive vehicle of an education that engages students with a diversity of values.>

Thank you for joining us here, Dr. Reich, and for inviting further discussion.

I agree with your assessment of the core issue, as stated above, and it actually seems rather straightforward. Yes, both parents and the State have legitimate interests in the education of children. What interests me is whether you can offer persuasive support for your implied conclusion that the claims of the State properly outweigh the claims of parents.

Perhaps we can stipulate that the State’s interests in a democratic republic must necessarily arise from the interests of that State’s citizens? Parents then would be among those citizens whose interests collectively comprise the State’s interests?

In fact, doesn’t the State’s interest in the children themselves arise from their future status as citizens to whom the government will one day “belong?”

It would seem reasonable, then, to criticize your argument as fallacious, as long as one views the interests of parent and their children as synonymous with the interests of the State’s citizenry. To even entertain the idea that the State’s interest outweighs the interests of its own present (and future) citizens, one first must create dichotomies between citizens with competing interests — in this case, apparently, either by setting parents apart from their children, viewing each as a suspect minority requiring heightened State control, or perhaps by lumping parents and their children under 18 together as one larger minority to be regulated by the majority through the State.

But however it is done, your argument hinges on separate parents’ interests from those of the “citizenry” i.e. the State, does it not?

So, having separated parents from the general citizenry and from sharing in the interests of the State, your argument seems to consist of weighing these interests against each other.

For instance, you assert a child’s interest in living a life different than his parents lead, but you don’t factor in the child’s right to live a life different than the State might choose, or explain which interest of what subset of the citizenry is served by having the State intervene in children’s life choices or values, or indeed whether you believe the State can “better” create autonomy for growing children than parents can. (Among adults at least, the State seems much more prone to create dependence than autonomy, but perhaps I am unaware of evidence you could provide to address this point?)

For every State interest you assert (none of which I am inclined to dispute, by the way) there is a corresponding, and I believe more direct and superordinate, interest within the family — whether parent, child, or parent/child congruence. Could you address each of the interests specifically and demonstrate for us that they are in fact outweighed by the corresponding interest of the State in each case?

JJ Ross, Ed.D.

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100 responses

12 06 2009
COD

Heh. I was wondering if you were going to address the ridiculous rhetoric being using by the usual suspects. Honestly, I don’t know how many Spunky’s commenters get through the day being so afraid of everything, and I do mean everything, around them. What a miserable way to lead your life.

12 06 2009
JJ

Two years ago tomorrow, I posted this essay challenging the ethical arguments of both “public education” and homeschooling:

This is one little part of a much larger conversation happening from left to right and back again, about our individual and collective interest in high quality education for all kids, and whether School itself needs to rethink what it’s teaching about the real meaning of the word “free” public education.

. . .Let’s leave prayer and religion out of it, too, since most folks in schools and government (and politics) also self-identify as god-fearing believers; religion is a confounding variable in education analysis that may quack like a duck, but really is more of a duck-billed platypus.

In other words, religion is not education and religious freedom is not academic freedom, wherever it happens. So let’s stick to the constitutionally sound raison d’être of Compulsory School — secular academics and independence sufficient to preserve and protect our liberties and provide for the common good — for at least this one conversation.

Are homeschooled and unschooled kids in objective reality, without anybody’s platitudes or grudge or hidden agenda tainting our observations, learning and progressing in the academic skills and abilities prized by government in the public interest, without government or the public interest?

A cranky political operative responded by telling me homeschoolers shouldn’t criticize teachers and their schools because they were like surgeons so we should leave health to them, or something like that.

My response, as usual, was crafted specifically to speak to HIM in a way that might possibly get one thought through in a meaningful way, or subconsciously create a little cognitive dissonance that might open a locked door in his mind a crack, the next time he heard something similar. You know, bread upon the waters. 😉

He said:
An argument against home schooling is that teachers are *trained professionals* Should parents be able to perform surgery on their kids at home just because they think they can, and its *their* kids bodies? Or would you say that surgery is best left to trained surgeons? Frankly teachers and teaching get far, *far* less respect in this day and age than in the past. These days everyone thinks they can teach. As if the best public education teachers were just folks picked up off the street who hadn’t spend years learning how to do what they do.

Yes there are plenty of cases of succesful home schooling, but the nature of it means those are the ones we are primarily going to hear about. We will rarely hear about the bad cases of home schooling, the kids pulled out of public school by hardline evangelicals with political agendas who think secular types are evil, and who will raise their kids in a closeted, warped environment so they can ensure that they grow up into closeted warped s.

Our schools are the foundations of our future society. We must use the utmost care and training in educating new generations. This work must be left to trained professionals and these new generations must be nurtured in an enviroment where they are PART of society, and not hidden from it.

Home schooling is not something that should be encouraged. Even if it can be done well, and it can, it doesn’t change the overriding issues. Give public school teachers the same level of respect you’d give surgeons. Let them do their job, and stop thinking you are so brilliant you can do heart surgery better and cheaper than they can.

And I said:
Exactly — schools are crumbling as our intellectual foundation, and education now happens elsewhere more and more openly, more and more successfully. Schooling as an institution will either grope its way back toward some real education with which it can justify its boondoggly omnipresence, or perish from the earth uneulogized and good riddance.

I *AM* a trained professional teacher and school administrator. I know from my professional training and my direct experience with both schooling and education, that schooling and education are not the same, and may indeed interfere with each other in some politically untenable, and therefore politically unacknowledged ways.

The party line to shore up Dem unionism of teachers as government employees (and apparently, using feminism to shut down even successful home education with its economically superior and unabashedly protectionist muscle) is a vastly different thing than the true professional analysis of what actually works, in creating real progressive education worthy as a foundation for 21st century globalization and society.

If you don’t believe me, read all the professional schoolfolk and corporate mucketymucks quoted in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-supported project above. That’s why I posted it.

12 06 2009
JJ

Chris, do you think the right-wing really are afraid of everything — or mad about everything and spoiling for a fight? I don’t hear fear in the rhetoric so much as fury, using fear trying to make other folks as mad as they are, by talking about fear until they get a mob whipped up.

Glenn Beck for instance. Who I have heard a lot starting with Terri Schiavo and tried to figure out. He’s someone to be afraid OF but I don’t think he’s afraid, for his family or himself, at all.

I only caught about ten minutes of the show (about all I can stand) and it was a white reactionary tour de force — incendiary, stupid, and racist.

In Beck’s world President Obama brings “identity politics” and “political correctness” to the White House, and it’s the “Left” that is “racist” because unlike conservatives, who judge people only on their individual merits and character (the three white men sitting at Beck’s table nodding in agreement), all liberals see is people of different races and classes and genders, which “divides” America.

And Obama’s “socialistic” policies are leading people of dubious sanity to become unglued, and therefore the outbreak of right-wing violence is Obama’s fault. Talk about spin! Only through a conscious and disingenuous effort could anyone link the shooting at the Holocaust Museum to President Obama.

Beck and his guests at the opening of his show all agreed that the Nazis were not rightwing but a bunch of leftwingers (like Obama and Nancy Pelosi). . . Somewhere behind Beck’s talking points there is real thinking going on. No one should dismiss Beck as a hack or “entertainer.” He is a propagandist.

It’s also clear that Beck and his fans just can’t get over the fact that a black man is now their president.

The television and radio producers behind Beck’s shows are bright, highly educated Republican strategists at FOX News who are expert at calculating each talking point for the host to pull on the jingoistic heartstrings of his viewers. And it works. Beck’s writers are creative people because they’ve found numerous ingenious ways to denounce Obama because he’s black but in ways that don’t sound racist.

Beck’s good at what he does. I’m sure his viewers get fired up during every show. He’s also dangerous. He talks up a grand conspiracy of liberals and “Socialists” who are destroying everything that makes America great and constantly uses alarmist rhetoric as if the whole country is falling apart around us. He does so by emoting on command and with practiced histrionics.

12 06 2009
Mrs. C

I guess I’m not following. Do you *really* think that Democrats like Obama or Nancy Pelosi are gung-ho about protecting our homeschooling freedoms? Like, more than the folks on the very conservative right?

Really?

Because I don’t feel that way. They are *not* our friends. (Not getting where Nazis and the museum shooting comes in, but I didn’t see the show. A few steps in logic I missed there. Hm.)

I also feel that many of these educators aren’t really looking for “dialogue” when they write critical pieces on homeschooling, but just want to denigrate homeschoolers with a broad brush. Would that be ok for them to do with, say, children of welfare recipients? Think of some of the “homeschool” arguments. Just read a blog about one sometime and substitute the word “welfare kids” for “homeschoolers” and see how it sounds.

Good grief, when I think of what public schools do to children, and here people are spouting off worried that I’ll insulate my kid or teach him too many Bible verses… and they’re for real… They’re thinking that because the people who lock kids up in cement closets are certified, that they’re doing the right thing, and I must be doing the *wrong* thing because I didn’t follow some “best educational practice”…

There’s just no chatting with people like that, JJ!

12 06 2009
JJ

Mrs C, not quite sure what to do with that. (Maybe it’s just late.)

What I *really* think and have tried to say every way I know how for years and years, is that choosing up sides and having a civil war against ourselves is no good for any of us or America’s kids, no matter which side we wind up on.

12 06 2009
COD

If Michael Faris and his ilk were running the county as the theocracy of their dreams, do you really think non-Christians will be free to homeschool as they please? They’ll be forcing our kids into Christian re-education camps.

The mainstream right wing isn’t afraid, the dominionist sect is. They see Satan around every corner, plotting and scheming to get their kids.

12 06 2009
Mrs. C

Oh, yeah, JJ, you’re an hour ahead of me! It’s nearly 11 there!

Well, I agree with you on the civil war thing since we’ve all BTDT, but I also think just imagining that people on the “other side” of a debate have your best interests at heart is a little naive.

I’m not getting the bunker and ammo out yet, but I just feel so betrayed by the school… I just want to feel safe that I would never be accountable to these people. I want to send Elf to co-op or public school someday because I WANT to… not because I couldn’t justify something to someone or I were compelled. You know?

I *feel* betrayed by the school, and I *feel* I should have had some genuine help from them. And I *feel* things are not going to get better under Obama.

All these things don’t make rational arguments, do they?

Ok, I’m going to bed, friend.

PS LOL I think that Michael Farris et al would do the same thing the evolutionists do. They’d go, “But the poor Pagan homeschoolers aren’t learning Creationism in enough detail to function in society!” Ok, that’s funny. Dare to dream.

12 06 2009
JJ

`I know you’ve got your hands full and then some at home, Mrs C. You might not be seeing all the backlash against the hate and fear hammerers.

Yesterday’s Krugman column reflects it: The Big Hate

. . .whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.

Exhibit A for the mainstreaming of right-wing extremism is Fox News’s new star, Glenn Beck. . .a commentator who, among other things, warned viewers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might be building concentration camps as part of the Obama administration’s “totalitarian” agenda (although he eventually conceded that nothing of the kind was happening).

But let’s not neglect the print news media. . .

. .Yes, the worst terrorist attack in our history was perpetrated by a foreign conspiracy. But the second worst, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by an all-American lunatic. Politicians and media organizations wind up such people at their, and our, peril.

12 06 2009
JJ

Sleep tight. 🙂

I’m sitting here so late tonight with my two fellows, watching a 13-inning Red Sox game we thought would’ve been over two hours ago . . .

12 06 2009
JJ

Whoops! And they just won it, finally! 5-2

12 06 2009
JJ

{{{hugs to Elf and his mom}}}

13 06 2009
Dana

I thought about taking issue w/ COD, but then he said this: The mainstream right wing isn’t afraid, the dominionist sect is. They see Satan around every corner, plotting and scheming to get their kids. and I’d have to agree.

I’ve been watching this stuff with the CRC for a long time just because, I guess. I don’t like it, but running around screaming about how we won’t be allowed to spank our kids anymore isn’t going to get us very far. Actually, many more thoughts on that I hope shall form themselves into a post later. 🙂

Anyway, my only real point wasn’t about the sky falling, but the concerns I’ve always had with this treaty. I’ve read it, and agree with most of it…when I read it through my own filter and understanding. The real problem with it is that the language is too ambiguous to be consistently meaningful, and I’m not sure what it would mean in practice.

I’m trying to figure out what it means outside debates. How is it affecting nations? How are their laws changing? In England, it is being used as a basis for these proposals…but certainly those concerned about homeschooling will use whatever available to support their assertions.

(And a complete aside…I interviewed Farris on this ages ago for an article for a magazine. He didn’t sound nearly as “out there” talking to me as he does in other places I’ve come across his thoughts. I don’t know what to make of that, exactly. It has left me thinking for a long time about how our message can be changed by our audience. Whether or not it is a relevant thought, I don’t know…)

13 06 2009
HERP&ES » Blog Archive » FEAR AND LOATHING IN HOME ED

[…] has an excellent post up on how fear and poorly-thought-out arguments makes home education more vulnerable to […]

13 06 2009
JJ

Hi Dana, that’s the kind of thinking that heartens me. 🙂

But to be blunt about how I see the current problem, it’s that we are proving the Reich case from his 2001 abstract above, by playing it out just as he warned, that (some) children homeschooled for fundamentalist Christian motives are literally being made dysfunctional as citizens by being indoctrinated into a belief system reality cannot penetrate or persuade with human reason, and that their civil rights are thus directly violated plus all our civil rights unwisely jeopardized as they become citizens and voters and parents themselves:

The state is concerned with the education of children for two reasons. First, the state has a legitimate interest in cultivating able citizenship. Second, the state has a role in promoting the independent interests of children, which include, on my understanding, the right to live a life other than the one their parents lead. This requires a certain degree of autonomy, which can be achieved through the comparatively less intrusive vehicle of an education that engages students with a diversity of values.

I never claimed that homeschooling leads to citizens who are not interested in the public good. On the contrary, homeschoolers are often, so far as I can tell, heavily involved in both the civil associations of their communities and in democratic life more generally.

But I do claim that homeschoolers who are motivated to shield their children from engagement with competing values or ways of life may be disabled as citizens. The reason is that citizenship in a culturally and religiously diverse liberal democracy requires that each citizen be prepared to recognize that the values that guide his or her life will not be shared by all other citizens.

Therefore, each citizen needs to learn to be able to participate democratically with citizens of diverse convictions.

Now, there are powerful and persuasive arguments against his *conclusion* that regulating home education is any answer, several of which I’ve worked out and make every chance I get (the main reason I blog btw.)

But I don’t argue with the above — I agree.

13 06 2009
JJ

Notice my original challenge to Reich was about how he makes “parents” and “children” into separate interest groups distinct from the interests of each other, the general citizenry, and of the State. This is poor reasoning (especially to argue we’re all in this together!) and so it needs to be carefully taken apart to reveal the fatal flaw.

BUT Sarah Palin e.g. does exactly the same thing. She did it during the campaign and she’s doing it again this week, conflating Letterman’s jokes and the president’s economic recovery program into Us v Them war, in which American culture and the NYC-Hollywood liberal elite including the entire federal government are evil, plotting to control the “real” people who of course are “her” people.

13 06 2009
JJ

From comments following another Reich post, Rob Reich Leads Liberal Thought in Chains that Set Us Free:

. . .I agree wholeheartedly about the difference between recognizing a real problem and regulating a phony solution. It happens all the time in education policy! 🙂
I tried to make the same point in that conversation with Rob Reich referenced above:

. . .thanks for bringing up non sequiturs. I hear one too, between valuing A as desirable and ethical, and saying A should be regulated by law.

What in your work on ethical servility demostrates that legal regulation of ethical ends is, um, always ethical itself? Are there ethical ends for which regulation would not be ethical and if so, how does one determine the difference?

Then, is this particular regulatory response justified and ethical? Would your work be able to answer that question?

In other words, aren’t we in reality suggesting we value B as UNethical, and in order to penalize the (theoretically rare) occurrence of B, we would regulate all the voluntarily ethical A throughout the entire homeschooling population?

Have you demonstrated — in philosophical-logical terms — that this isn’t what it looks like to me, which is compounding ethical servility and spreading it around to many more families, and thus hard to justify with this argument as I understand it . . . JJ

********
His response was basically that we already regulate parents because child abuse is illegal and preventing it is moral, so that’s a moot point and all well-meaning regulation to protect children from their parents is ethical. He just won’t discuss practical realities. He’s told us before that it is not the job of a political philosophy theorist to do that; his job is just the thought experiment.

So I’ve long agreed with Lynn’s practical point, about the philosophy (in either direction) not being the key when the solution being advocated in its name won’t WORK.

Which leaves us with the also-practical problem of what would work, if not regulation? Can we satisfy the rightly-rising concerns about religious fundamentalism in K-12 education of all kinds and under anyone’s authority or oversight, wherever it occurs, without corrupting our own laws, secular philosophy, knowledge and beliefs, and without forfeiting essential liberties?

I found something else in that 2005 discussion that begins to at least open up this question about viable alternatives —

*********

Rob wrote, “The real issue is the extent of state authority over education. About this, Scott [Somerville of HSLDA] and I disagree. To put it provocatively, he’s concerned about state despotism over children; I’m concerned with parental despotism over children.”

Whereupon I responded to the conservative lawyer and the liberal philosopher with this: You’re Both Wrong Then!

. . . I am concerned about actual children . . .

Let’s stop debating who has more right to teach them NOT to think for themselves — my answer is no one, case closed — and be more concerned about finding ways to help them learn to think critically without any despotism whatsoever! Then they can protect themselves from despotism, without being “ethically servile” to their parents OR the State. (Not to mention a biased press, propaganda from any source or their own peers and fellows, at any age.)

I just read a scholarly review of a new book in this regard (see below) making the point that most classroom teaching and learning is “non-thinking practice” rather than critical thinking — comprised as it is of commonplace “defining, telling and believing.”

From the review:
“Boostrom believes that students can benefit from inquiring into the
distinctions between learning to ‘receive truths’ and to ‘seek meanings
in our lives.’

In this frame, ‘Thinking does not settle anything; it unsettles’ (p.137), which is a part of the reason that non-thinking is so difficult to disrupt. . .”

I think this intentional unsettling of commonplace classroom defining,telling,and believing is precisely what’s desired and required by us all, to avoid despotism from ANY source.

JJ

13 06 2009
JJ

And is this supposed to be some kind of freedom fighting?? First I’ve heard of it . . .

TUCSON, Ariz. — Two of three people arrested in a fatal southern Arizona home invasion had connections to a Washington state anti-illegal immigration group that conducts border watch activities in Arizona.

The Pima County sheriff said Friday that 34-year-old Jason Eugene Bush, 41-year-old Shawna Forde and 42-year-old Albert Robert Gaxiola have been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and other charges.

The trio are alleged to have dressed as law enforcement officers and forced their way into a rural Arivaca home on May 30, wounding a woman and fatally shooting her husband and their 9-year-old daughter.

The Web site for the Minutemen American Defense lists Forde as the group’s leader and Bush as its operations director. Forde is from Everett, Wash., but has recently been living in Arizona.

******

Ah. The plot is way thicker than just today’s news.

13 06 2009
Nance Confer

And is she some kind of lefty too?

Nance

14 06 2009
JJ

You can’t hear the jackboots, but this is still oppression

“Private life, the family home, freedom of conscience and action, have never been so menaced. But because this oppression is not accompanied by the crash of goose-stepping jackboots, we don’t see it for what it is.
It is time we did.”

Having read all of the above, perhaps while scanning one’s own principles and ethical frames for hidden propaganda tumors that might be pressing on healthy ideas and crowding them out, doesn’t this sound more disturbed and disturbing than what he’s ranting about?

14 06 2009
JJ

It suffers by comparison to this description imo. Think about it — which honors private family life, personal integrity and intellectual endeavor; which would you choose to champion your freedoms and lead your nation’s problem-solving in a terrifying world of complexity and lunatics who really do want us oppressed, enslaved and/or dead?

He was often grumpy on the campaign. He missed his family. He disdained what he saw as superficial, point-scoring conventions of politics, like debates and macho put-downs and public noshing. The Chicago smarty-pants was a Michael Jordan clutch player who grew bored if he was not challenged.

Being president, by contrast, suits him much better. He has not lapsed into his old ambivalence. He is intellectually engaged by sculpting history. The trellis of hideous problems is a challenge that lures him to be powerfully concentrated.

And, as his aides say, he loves living above the family store.

Mixing play with intense work is not only a good mental health strategy; it’s a good way to show the world that American confidence and cool — and Cary Grant romantic flair — still thrive.

14 06 2009
JJ

June is always a busy blog month! I’ve looked back a fair bit this week and it’s funny how much of what I hear speaking to me is from Junes gone by, like this from June 2008:

Six words! — to tell the story of my personal motivation (from homeschooling to hurricanes, finance to fascism) for choosing to support his candidacy, and maybe it will be the whole nation’s story in the end:

Because
I’m
Tired
of Being
Afraid

14 06 2009
JJ

Judging from election results and current polls, most Americans are with me in fear-exhaustion. It’s as if our national adrenal glands just can’t take any more! So here’s how I think education freedom is much better defended and advanced:

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

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!)

14 06 2009
Nance Confer

Mrs C said:I guess I’m not following. Do you *really* think that Democrats like Obama or Nancy Pelosi are gung-ho about protecting our homeschooling freedoms? Like, more than the folks on the very conservative right?

Really?

Because I don’t feel that way.
***********
No, I don’t think Ds are gung-ho about hsing, in general. Unless we are actually doing it. 🙂

But I do think there is a respect for privacy and individual freedoms that would work against any sort of sweeping law against hsing. And the other restrictions are local, each state with its own ridiculous hoops (unless they have none).

All I want from any of them is to leave hsers alone and I think the Ds could manage that. There are a few other issues on their plate right now. 🙂

Nance

P.S. Chris — we got to see some fencing yesterday. Even though the Tae Kwon Do part of the state games was completely screwed up, DS was drawn to watching the fencing in between his events. 🙂

14 06 2009
Mrs. C

Nance, I hope you are right but am afraid that you are wrong. :] I’ll be so glad to hear, “I told you so!” from you at the end of Obama’s term.

JJ, YOU said people shouldn’t be choosing up sides in a domestic civil war, am I wrong? So why shouldn’t homeschoolers who follow the doctrines of their chosen church get just as much cred as those who purposefully do NOT follow a particular church teaching?

Just friendly bantering, but when I read your arguments to Reich, what I heard was, oh… we’re not homeschoolers like THEM, boss. You know? When really, the attitude toward people like that should be, stuff it. You’re NOT the boss. And whether I teach my kids from the King James or Ayn Rand, it’s none of your stinkin’ business.

JMO there is a time to chat with people who are willing to listen… and there is a time when you know you will not be listened TO. (Well, maybe you think he’ll listen… but I think the differentiation between “us” and “them” homeschoolers is going to cost us all in the end. YES, I would say that to my Christian friends as well. Maybe more so, since on the blogs and in my experience they seem to be a majority of homeschoolers.)

These people do not know what abuse is. Abuse can happen anywhere. I am way, way more concerned about too much power in the public education system than I am about a few Pagans and Muslims teaching their kids truth as they see it. Or even a lot of Pagans and Muslims teaching their kids truth as they see it. *wink*

What many people do not realize is that “we” are teaching our public school children non-cooperation already. I didn’t suddenly BECOME a fundamentalist when I began homeschooling. This is a sort of chicken-and-egg argument. Homeschooling doesn’t create fundamentalists. FWIW I attended an extreme liberal “elite” public school on the East Coast, was raised by a liberal mother, and yet I seem pretty ok today. That’s not to say that educational philosophies have no effect on children. If that were the case, no one would homeschool!

I’m just saying that the educational philosophy does not MAKE the child into some robot.

14 06 2009
Mrs. C

Whoops! Forgot quote marks. Reads badly without ’em!

Read it this way:

When really, the attitude toward people like that should be, “stuff it. You’re NOT the boss. And whether I teach my kids from the King James or Ayn Rand, it’s none of your stinkin’ business.”

There ya go. Don’t want all the “you” statements mixed up and looking like I’m getting in YOUR face. :] Because I like “you.”

14 06 2009
Nance Confer

Most hsers do comply with their state’s requirements, though. And some are quite burdensome. So there may be a line. A line where you stop complying and say “stuff it.” Most of us figure out how to comply without letting it interfere with the actual learning opportunities we try to provide for our children. If there was one more piece of paper to fill out, would that be the line for you? A home visit? Speaking to the children away from me? Where is the line for you and what does that mean for anyone else?

I’d be OK with the additional paperwork and protest the last two items I listed. How they would ever become law mystifies me but, if that were to happen, don’t we all imagine we’d end up with a lot of court cases?

Nance

14 06 2009
Mrs. C

Nance, I’m in Missouri and I keep the record book and teach 1000 hours a year and have a “portfolio.” No standardized tests. No contact with public school.

I think regulations would be particularly hard for Elf if they wanted to test him in, say, a room with 20 other kids. Even when he was in public school, he had to take his MAPs in the principal’s office with just the principal.

Or if they wanted to speak to him alone? I’m not sure what they are bargaining for. He might just panic and run or fight if he doesn’t know the examiner. I very well remember being SCARED FOR HIS LIFE when he was on an amusement park ride. Are the rides dangerous? Not particularly. But I was afraid his reaction WOULD be once I started hearing the screaming when the ride started…

Maybe my situation is rather unusual. I would have liked some help in the past with his lack of socialization (ie, dealing with crowds, calming behaviours, etc.) but now the trust is gone. At least with this school. I am *sure* any reasonable person evaluating him would say he is strange in many ways. I am concerned that it would be pinned on homeschooling rather than autism. THOUGH, I have to admit that homeschooling doesn’t “help” matters because he is in fact insulated from others. Since we have Woodjie (non-verbal) and Rose to handle, too, we really truly don’t get out much. He sees other children only at church. Guess how often other children invite him over? Not that I blame the parents… but… how can he learn to be separate from me without someone else outside our family coming alongside us?

And that is what I wish the public school could have done. For all I rail against them, they *could* have a legitimate purpose if they don’t overstep their bounds and are truly there to serve the children. (Which I’m not convinced they are, but I’m talking “ideally” and just voicing opinion here.)

It’s not an ideal situation here, homeschooling Elf. I am concerned it would be LESS ideal still if we were forced to “account” for ourselves. In public schools, they’d throw in a standardized test here or there, have a “specialist” who sees 93 other kids fill in the “making progress toward IEP goal” bubble, and it’s all good.

I don’t see that level of scrutiny and “accountability” working both ways because “accountability” under NCLB is for schools and blocks of children. With homeschooling, and particularly special-needs, I am concerned that the level of scrutiny would be unfair.

So my answer? I’m not sure. Maybe under Obama things can change in public schools for the better in regard to locked closets, etc. To me that is a civil rights issue that goes beyond state rights in determining curriculum, etc. But I am not hopeful about true positive change unless/until all the staff that did this is GONE.

Probably not gonna happen.

14 06 2009
JJ

Mrs C, part of what I posted from that old debate is speaking to BOTH SIDES of intrusion into individual family education freedoms. I insist that the home education community must watch out for both Church and State, conservative and liberal, Christian literalist and intellectual elite.

Whereupon I responded to the conservative lawyer and the liberal philosopher with this: You’re Both Wrong Then!
. . . I am concerned about actual children . . .

Let’s stop debating who has more right to teach them NOT to think for themselves — my answer is no one, case closed — and be more concerned about finding ways to help them learn to think critically without any despotism whatsoever! Then they can protect themselves from despotism, without being “ethically servile” to their parents OR the State. (Not to mention a biased press, propaganda from any source or their own peers and fellows, at any age.)

I completely get your POV and don’t argue with it. But I can hear the other side too, and it sounds the same to me, equally indisputable! Can you hear it if you put yourself in their parenting and principles place, maybe understand it comes from the same feeling-thinking that your mamabear heart does, the moral responsibility to protect and defend what they hold most dear and believe absolutely to be right and good and moral?

The only way any of us wins much less all of us, is to stop making losers of ourselves trying to beat the other guy. Or fighting for freedom by fighting against freedom?

To do that, it is necessary that most citizens are educated at least to the point that they understand THAT. I tried to explain this in other posts, like Unboxing Our Lizard Brains:

So there’s plenty of contempt to go around and deservedly so, especially imo for continuing to quarrel amongst themselves and plot against each other in domestic wargames, instead of working to turn things around for *us* in the real world.

Can we creatively and collegially cultivate our personal curiosity to the benefit of ourselves and human society, despite discomfort to our lizard brains? Can we embrace that stretch and move through its wider range until we reach “the freeing discipline of wonder”?

Here’s some bad news in good cognitive science: this won’t be easy even if we’re NOT hampered by conservative dominionist control freaks styled as preachers, pundits and prophets. Being liberal is no help, Thinking Parents have learned the hard way, because so-called liberals run most forms of public thought control, from schools to the media, and it seems with similar social-dominionist arrogance.

So somehow, in this intellectually rigged and regulated environment, we nevertheless need to get ourselves and our kids in the habit of asking open-ended and complex questions rather than memorizing and following the Orders of the Day. Start defining real education as productive, creative thought and ourselves as comfortably confident to think and learn independently. Somehow, enough of us must learn (by teaching ourselves against all odds, apparently) that humanity isn’t merely socialized, standardized insect life born to exist in preordained church hierarchies and/or one big biologically imperative collective called “School.”

So what we seem without better data to have here, is simply more white men demanding the power to Decide for everybody.

What difference does it make to me loving my own family at home in guaranteed freedom from all of them, just desiring to be left out of their Grand Plan for Global Domination, whether megalomaniacal men are liberal or conservative or communist or fascist, atheist or Southern Baptist or Jewish or Mormon or Muslim — if what they’re peddling drags us all down to the same place, servility to their agenda rather than freedom to set our own course and laugh in their frowning faces?

No one knows how many lizard brains can evolve and become conscious of curiosity and wonder, leaving the primordial ooze of dominionist thinking behind. The earthly and yet celestial ending remains to be discovered, if not created, and there are plenty of public school-pandering “Squelchers” we desperately need to “move through”— home education critics Rob Reich, Michael Apple and that Ladenblather guy for example — pulling us all back down into the slime, their narrow comfort zone bounded on all sides by credentialed, government-controlled mediocrity misnamed as merit and politically correct diversity:

. . .But there was some real public education (as in education of the public) in her next hour . . .(drum roll, please) . . . Howard Gardner!

(Can’t we just let him run the country, or at least public education?)

Renowned Harvard University psychologist Howard Gardner explains the five ‘minds’ everyone will need to succeed in the years ahead.

14 06 2009
COD

Nance: I’m dumbfounded as to why fencing is not more popular in this country. You hand a 10 year old boy a metal sword and tell him to hit somebody with it? Why isn’t there a waiting list for this! Girls too – they actually have an advantage over the boys in the early teens with the faster physical maturation. It’s one of the rare sports where men and women compete against each other on equal terms.

14 06 2009
JJ

I know why! — almost nobody will hand the boy a metal sword. It’s Logic of Failure in education. I experienced firsthand at UF when we wanted to fence and most of us were of age even, and could vote and go to the VietNam War (never mind the injuries of institutionally worshipped football etc) but [gasp!] FENCING?!?! What if somebody gets hurt?

14 06 2009
Mrs. C

Well, at the public high school my parents and I attended (obviously not at the same time!), they had fencing. They also had ski club, which has a greater liklihood of injuries. I think lacrosse and golf, too.

14 06 2009
COD

There was a problem last year at James Madison U here in VA. The school banned the fencing club from campus because the use “weapons.” Of course, nobody is banning the baseball team, and a baseball bat can inflict far, far more damage than a foil or saber. Actually, there is a parallel there with homeschool in that people seem to automatically fear those things that they don’t understand.

14 06 2009
JJ

We tried when I was in my 20s to start an adult education class at the CC for fencing, and also to get some interest from the junior high and high schools, maybe for an afterschool “club” sponsorship. Do you think we had any luck at all? Not.

14 06 2009
JJ

Maybe it’s like eating bugs or frogs, that sort of cultural difference you need to grow up with to accept?

14 06 2009
Nance Confer

Maybe it’s the $1000 price tag we were quoted for the vests? The chain-mail-looking vests that they wear over everything else that the sword tip has to hit to score a point? And, btw, that’s the extent of my vast knowledge. 🙂

All of the sports I noticed at the state games except for wrestling and judo took some sort of expensive or at least somewhat pricey gear. They had weight lifting and TKD and fencing and boat racing of some kind, etc.

And they had a much lower turnout for everything this year.

I don’t know, other than that. But I haven’t noticed any fencing schools around here while there is a martial arts school on every corner.

Nance

14 06 2009
Nance Confer

Well, our situation is not quite so unusual, Mrs. C. But I would still object to a requirement to use a standardized test or have a private interview.

So there’s a line for me and it may be the same as yours or not.

But there are already some rules that we both comply with. It was the log book/portfolio thing that caused me to look for another way here and end up with the umbrella school method. Now I report “attendance.” Guess what? Perfect. So far. 🙂

But neither us seems to be saying we won’t put up with wasteful regulations as long as they aren’t instrusive. That we won’t comply even if the regulation is dumb.

And I don’t imagine hsers would just roll over if the Ds or anyone else wanted to get intrusive.

We’ll see. . . 🙂

Nance

14 06 2009
COD

As a fellow fencing dad exclaimed a few weeks ago when I was talking about equestrian stuff, “For you fencing is the cheap sport!”

Really, it’s not any worse than being on a travel soccer or AAU baseball team. The vest is called a lame, and I’ve never seen one that costs $1000. If you buy a top of line one certified for use in the Olympics you could spend $500, but it should last a couple of years.

Fencing clubs in FL: http://fencing.teamusa.org/content/index/3987

And if you do want to learn more… http://darkhorsefencing.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/parentsguidetofencing2007.pdf

14 06 2009
JJ

He can learn at school and maybe use school equipment too. Stetson had a club, and Miami-Dade CC, I remember. FIU probably.

When I was a senior in high school living in Gainesville, the college kids let me come to their Tuesday-Thursday evening club practices and just taught me and a friend, free.

15 06 2009
Principled Discovery » How should homeschoolers communicate in the public square?

[…] JJ Ross pleads with homeschoolers to think a little before writing. Homeschool advocates, please, please educate yourselves first before you “defend” homeschooling freedom in the public square, lest you make our community’s thinking skills seem inadequate and thereby bolster the regulators’ case or the standardizers’ case or the social worker-teacher union-UN case.  Cocking a Snook […]

16 06 2009
JJ

As the conservative Christian call to arms rachets up, against the UN treaty supporting child rights, against the president’s efforts to — well, against everything the president is and says and tries to do, especially against the dreaded national standards for education they see as worse than Hitler, Marx and Stalin forming an unholy trinity of Satan and calling it America — I posted this comment today at Dana’s:

Homeschool advocacy has a built-in flaw that hurts us imo. We love the heady philosophy of education choice and education freedom and speak so effectively of it, but then in the political tug-of-war we lose sight of freedom to learn and get caught up in freedom to teach. We wind up making every issue about the parent’s rights and the parent’s values and the parent’s beliefs, the parent’s authority — and most pile divine authority on top of that.

Ten years ago Nance and I tried to respect the concerns of homeschoolers who didn’t want us to call our family’s education freedom “homeschooling” so we started using the phrase “parent-directed education” — but soon realized that wasn’t it. What we believe in isn’t parent-directed but parent-PROTECTED education.

Real education freedom is for the learner and that means no ruling authority, not merely exchanging one ruling authority for another.

Wherever the basis of instruction is control, coercion and compulsion, we use other words: training, schooling, programming, conditioning, remediation, indoctrination.

But real education, learning in individual freedom? Hardly.

It’s not real education freedom when church, state or even the parent-teacher controls what the child learns, knows and believes.

That means there’s a lot about homeschooling that isn’t real education freedom then. I happened upon the Sonlight commercial curriculum site today for the first time [cock of the snook to Lynn for sending me there] where I found a list of pros and cons for homeschooling.

Guess what the number one “pro” reason was? CONTROL.

16 06 2009
COD

Have you been to Spunky’s today? They are planning their civil disobedience campaign against the non-existent Federal takeover of the public schools that doesn’t affect HSers.

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

Cool! 🙂

Do we get t-shirts or something? A headband? Come on. There should be gear!

Nance

16 06 2009
JJ

Actually I think t-shirts are the whole plan —

“I have visions of millions of school children skipping school on testing day walking around town t-shirts that plastered with ovals and a slogan in red that reads, ‘I’m not protesting, I just want to learn.’ ”

It’s odd though. I remember conservative disdain if not fury, when school kids skipped school to protest the last administration’s policies. Then it was time to lock them in if need be, redouble discipline, fire teachers, adopt tougher dress codes! I wrote about it as Were Freedom and Patriotism Different Then? and about related issues in Failing at Freedom:

If that’s where the real thinking and debate is happening — out of school — then no wonder that’s where everyone wants to be: out of school!

Thinking Jacques Barzun was right – we’re at the painfully messy end of a 500-year era, decaying into the next renaissance. Man, I wish he’d lived a few more years, to write as a Frenchman about what’s happening there now with youth striking and riots. Seems student protests are like war – in any time, anyplace, they arise from the kind of demographic, economic and cultural cycles that are globally high-risk right now.

But I suppose this is completely different? – maybe if I were smarter and better-educated myself, I could understand how. 😉

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

Damn! She’s just out to save the world. First those poor auto dealers (boo fing hoo) and now all the ps kids. But mostly the hsed kids because the sky is falling, the sky is falling. . .

Not that the excerpts she has taken from Arne’s speech sound like anything but warmed over NCLB. . .

Nance

16 06 2009
JJ

The reason we always had GM cars growing up was that the tiny southern town my mom grew up in had a dealership owned by a guy named Bobby (yeah, even as an adult, it’s a southern thing.) Mom and Bobby went to school together — 12 in the whole class, something like that –and supposedly he would cut my folks a break every few years for driving from Florida to SC and buying all their cars from him. They were incredibly loyal to him through all the lousy cars and planned obsolescence, until they died (the cars and then my parents.)

Then I had to sell the family properties up in that little town, quickly for taxes, including the house my mom was born in and had waited, crocheting an afghan, for my dad to come home from the Korean War (and help crochet me! 😉 ) The house stood on the corner of Main Street across from the courthouse and the red-doored first Lutheran church in town.

Point being, Bobby screwed my mother’s grieving children. Toyed with us, insulted our intelligence, and enjoyed it. He’d never been to school or left that tiny town but had become wealthy there giving his “good deals” and easily could’ve helped us out if he’d ever been half as vested in the relationship as my folks always were (they never said anything but wonderful things about him.) Instead he seemed to resent that mom and dad had gotten out of that town, dunno, but whatever the reason, he literally taunted us instead, lowballed us shockingly (but with cash he knew we were desperate for!) and idly said he wouldn’t even bother offering that much, except maybe “one of his grandbabies” might have a hankering to live there awhile . . .

No, I won’t be crying for the GM dealers.

16 06 2009
JJ

I wrote about the above in another Culture Kitchen essay, Picking On and Picking Off Parents:

My parents always told me my education was the one thing nobody could take from me, echoing that movie moment where a silhouetted Papa O’Hara presses the red clay of Georgia into his willful daughter’s hand and intones, “Land, Katie Scarlett! It’s the only thing that matters, the only thing that lasts.”

My mother’s father inherited mountain properties for which my parents in turn were good stewards, but land was not their true passion. They believed in education, and in me. I believed in education, and in them. They continued to pay for the graduate studies I otherwise would have dropped once I was out of the house and working full-time.

. . .In fact, I never had need of lawyers until my frugal, modest parents died, and I discovered too late they had trusted too much in the enduring value of both education and land — and of the law as sensible and just, much less frugal and modest like my folks.

They had deeds and diplomas galore but not much cash, there never had been much money. So lawyers took the legacy lands on mountain lakes they’d left us as inheritance, quickly sold it off for taxes (like Tara?) and pocketed most of the rest as management fees. Through one apparently legal device or another, four of every five dollars vanished into the hands of the governing class.

I listened to Warren Zevon a lot at first, willing my dad to somehow send enough lawyers, guns and money, get me out from in front of that spewing fan, maybe into a hot bath. I had thought my parents remained at my back, had worked hard enough and planned well enough to always be there for us, that our best interest was a legacy our law would respect. I was wrong.

So I wound up where my folks had started, with ample education credentials no one could take away, lands that HAD been taken away, a bad taste in my mouth for probate, tax and real estate lawyers, and my own little ones at home.

I was beginning to understand that my parents had a more serene and complex, a more, um — educated? — sense of what mattered in life than Gerald O’Hara. Public success isn’t decided by the diplomas and deeds you have on file, any more than success at home is having the right marriage and birth certificates on file, or money in the bank.

If success is defined not by law or riches, rule or school, but by who you become, and how you pass THAT on to your children — then how could any lawyer or bureaucrat possibly belong between you and your child in that process?

My parents believed in public schools and sent us unfailingly even during the desegregation zoning wars and bus riots of the 70s, I suppose because the public schools hadn’t yet stopped believing in parents. . .

16 06 2009
JJ

p.s. — got curious just now, remembering that guy for the first time after all these years, and looked it up. He was on the list to lose his dealership.

16 06 2009
JJ

FWIW, that in turn put me in mind of this, from before the election but after the economy hit the fan:
What Earning It Means in America

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

Well! 🙂

Like the story of the death of a child from a poster at Lynn’s blog, this is a personal story that so wildly influences your point of view and, at the same time, is so completely off the point I was thinking about when I made the “boo hoo” comment that I am at the “Well!” stage. Again.

I don’t need a personal story to tell me that the guy in Spunky’s post wasn’t forced to close his car dealership in 24 hours with no warning during the preceding decades his family had run the business. It’s a BS story, designed to jerk at our heart strings and justify something or other.

Like the BS stories about all the Republican dealers having their dealerships closed. Not! But it made a good headline for a day or two.

And that is about the level of Spunky’s reportage and analysis.

Nance

16 06 2009
JJ

😀
I find myself at that “Well!” stage a lot these days . . .

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

In a way, it is a good thing to know that my MIL has pissed away her “estate” already on QVC/Shopping Network garbage.

There was a thought that there might be a small inheritance for each of her 5 children — enough to help the grandchildren perhaps.

But, now, it’s all in boxes and boxes and boxes of, largely unopened, QVC/Shopping Network trash stuffed everywhere in her now-heavily-mortgaged house and storage units.

And if I thought there was a hell, I would reserve a special place for those folks at QVC/Shopping Network. They have robbed this otherwise intelligent woman of her dignity. And her money. But mainly her place in the world.

And I’m not even her biggest fan. Imagine how her children feel.

Nance

16 06 2009
JJ

Exactly. We all have some pretty powerful stories in our families and personal history. The idea of a real education, seems to me, is learning to do something more with it all, than fight.

16 06 2009
COD

From Spunky’s comments…(in reference to the education stuff)

//That said, we Christians know this is a spiritual battle–and how it’s going to end.//

That’s funny, I thought Obama was a Christian? So is he or isn’t he? I’m so confused.

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

One thing I want to remember is that my situation (MIL w/QVC addiction) is not at all unusual.

Almost none of our problems are unique or special.

I remember being a new hser — wait for it, there’s a connection 🙂 — and having all these questions. Well, turns out, they weren’t new questions or even difficult to answer once I did a little bit of research.

And it wouldn’t have helped me at all to think I was some lone wolf battling the evil ps empire. I am just another Mom taking a slightly different tack. No need to call in revolutionary hsers or religion or anything else but take some time to study the information available and think and find my way.

And it doesn’t help the next hser to answer their questions with the intimate details of how I arrived at the place I am at. Not as more than an illustration of a possible route. Not with the idea that my particular route has some deep meaning or is the right, true way.

So, yes, we all have families and we all have stories — good and bad — and we want to share them and be confirmed in our thinking and in thinking we are not the only ones. And we should. But with a huge ladle of “an anecdote is not evidence” balance.

Nance

16 06 2009
JJ

Chris, Obama’s power of story is more complicated than most, no wonder it’s such a challenge for um, black-and-white thinkers? 😉

Nance, you’re right and although I don’t often tell my personal stories and never as anything other than personal truth (and this time it was your fault, anyway!) it reminds me that I haven’t dished out one of those cautionary ladles lately.

So [drumroll] personal anecdote does not “research” or expertise make! (Hope Sarah Palin gets the memo.)

16 06 2009
Mrs. C

FYI on the “control” issue with Sonlight, Luke wrote a blog entry if you’re interested. :]

http://www.sonlightblog.com/2009/06/archer-and-control.html

My great-aunt would give a little money here and there to various charities. She was from a wealthy family, and died with about nothing. I think the charities share lists and it’s like chum in the water when you give a couple thousand here or there.

Oh, I hate saying that, but it’s SO true. It makes me sick also… she gave the money freely… I can’t say it was stolen… but by the time her daughter realized what was happening it was too late…

You know, a whole bunch of anecdotes together become statistics… I know that saying your best friend’s cousin’s brother did this and that doesn’t make an argument, but if many people have similar stories you know you’re onto something.

16 06 2009
JJ

I’ll think about this more and maybe blog it separately, but when I was in high school and really involved in church youth groups, I learned so much about the “stories” that formed that culture. Something that really impressed me was the new-to-me meme that even if doing sinful things might not be a problem for YOU (say you can drink or play cards without being tempted to excess) it was still loving and good to completely abstain because you never knew if you might have a bad influence on someone else who struggled with that temptation. So you are a better person if you care enough to have a good effect on others.

Then I was thinking earlier today that it’s like Anne Foerst and artificial intelligence, or Data the android in Star Trek Next Generation. What matters most about how we treat others even if they aren’t human is what it makes US inside as humans, for good or ill.

So introspective today! Well, just to finish sketching the thought out, my education mentor used to say he wanted to be judged by the content of the character of his enemies. When we try to share our thoughts and stories with other homeschoolers, are we really helping or hurting — it’s like Letterman and Palin. It matters what you intend but also how it affects people, how it’s received. Their back-and-forth has been a virtue comedy of good from bad, and bad from good, also bad from bad . . .

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

Anecdotes have their use. They may point us to check on something we didn’t know about, to think about another angle.

Partly it’s the certainty that I object to.

“I had this happen to me and I did this and I am just sure I did the right thing and so you should do the same.”

And the appeal to emotion. An old lady is ripped off, a guy loses his business, a child dies. All invoke a strong response when they happen to us up close. But what should these tales mean to someone else going through the same problem?

Personally, I tend to discount the story teller depending on how big a part of the story is a personal saga. The more vehement they are in insisting that their way is THE way, the more I think they have been caught up in their emotions.

Some things — like dealing with QVC and other addicts — can be worked out some of the time but, say the daughter in your story had known what was going on, what would she have done? And would it have worked? Yes, we know you can have Mom declared incompetent, etc. But the money can be gone long before that and then she’s living on Social Security. Which happens but didn’t have to be her fate and is just too damned bad at that point.

The drug addict can swear up and down when you confront him that it will never happen again. And can go to rehab and all of that. But sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Our problems may not be unusual but that doesn’t mean the solutions are one-size-fits-all or that there is a solution or that there needs to be a solution.

When we can incorporate our story into possibilities rather than insisting on certainties . . . sure, they can be a help.

Nance

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

And now Letterman had to apologize again because of advertisers? Great work, free market! 🙂

Nance

16 06 2009
Mrs. C

Ah, but JJ, having been involved with good friends from the United Pentecostal Church, I feel the theology there (if you can call it that) is a step too far. Your sleeves need to be past the middle of your arm. No wearing red. No pants. No skirts that “hug” the form. No cleavage. (Um, TMI, but that’s so not a problem for me, but anyway…) No makeup. Your skirt must be so long. You can PERM your hair, but not dye it. (!??)

Eventually just walking the wrong way can “incite lust” or whatever. To hear about the pastor getting into the pulpit and telling certain people to go home and change… and then say that Jesus died for your sins… well, I don’t fall in with that.

I *GET* the idea that we shouldn’t wear a G-string and two pasties to church and call it good, but man. Past a certain point, if we love others as we love ourselves… well, we have to love ourselves, too. We’re not Pastor’s official doormat. We shouldn’t have to ASK the man when we want to date someone or buy a car. We cheapen Christ’s atoning work and the freedom He gave us on the cross when we do that IMO. Not to say asking for advice from time to time is bad, but… when you are subservient and meek to that extent it is unhealthy in my opinion. And I want to wear pants, so if you have a big lust problem with that, I think it’s your problem. I’ll try not to shake my size 42 hiney in your face when I do it though LOL… (Yeah, I’m paintin’ word pictures today!)

Ok, hope you followed me on that one. This is the same church that my best friend had to go through a divorce… the pastor DURING SERVICE called her daughter a liar (she went to the police about her stepfather… and there was physical evidence… but, no. She was a LIAR and the whole church was told that. The family, after paying tithes for YEARS, was homeless. I can’t even start about how mad I am about that… but God calls us to forgive. It does NOT make what happened ok. Never. It does NOT mean we sweep abuse under the rug… and yet, I think that’s what’s expected when one “forgives,” but it shouldn’t be…)

Forgiveness isn’t “Oh, well, that’s ok…” Forgiveness is logical, rational consequences applied without joy over the perpetrator’s suffering.

Ok, now why did I go through all that…? Not sure. Maybe I would be just as concerned as you are if “church” took over things. I just don’t think we are anywhere near that, and our present threat is more from government.

16 06 2009
Nance Confer

This is Luke’s idea of control:

“Our job is to determine what God has gifted our children to do, point them in that direction, prepare them for flight, and then release them.”

Piffle.

JJ has a worthwhile response if anyone want to venture over there.

Nance

16 06 2009
Mrs. C

Reading over again… of course forgiveness is more than that… it can mean so many things in so many different situations…

16 06 2009
JJ

Thanks Mrs C — he seems like such a nice guy, don’t you think? 🙂
I’ll bet he will be a fabulous dad.

I left a comment there, not to be argumentative at all, but because I am hoping to have a small positive effect on his view of fatherhood as pointing and shooting. 😉

16 06 2009
Mrs. C

JJ, I’ve been blog friends with Luke for a while, and yes, he and Brittany will do awesome. They are waiting to get their three children internationally… have been waiting a long time… their oldest is about Emperor’s age (7). It has to be very hard.

17 06 2009
How Language Tricks Our Feelings, Shrouds Our Thoughts « Cocking A Snook!

[…] how we think and talk about matters of ultimate concern in home education, from the Snook post Homeschool Freedom Fighting: It’s SO Not About the UN . . […]

18 06 2009
scatty

Apropos baseball bats, they are very popular in Northern Ireland, although it’s not exactly a major sport there.

18 06 2009
scatty

“Private life, the family home, freedom of conscience and action, have never been so menaced. But because this oppression is not accompanied by the crash of goose-stepping jackboots, we don’t see it for what it is.
It is time we did.”

Having read all of the above, perhaps while scanning one’s own principles and ethical frames for hidden propaganda tumors that might be pressing on healthy ideas and crowding them out, doesn’t this sound more disturbed and disturbing than what he’s ranting about?

JJ, can you elaborate here on what you mean? What hidden propaganda tumours might you be referring to? Maybe I’m so far in that I can’t see it and my perception is so coloured by my experiences of home educating in Germany.

I agree that there is a lot of hysteria and OTT reporting by the likes of lifesite and WND on these issues. However, there are also thousands of people in the UK who are very liberal but also perceive this latest move by the government as very oppressive. Hitchens is talking here in the British context, in a British newspaper.

18 06 2009
JJ

Hi Scatty — Nance and I have an old buddy online named Paul, an atheist hs dad from the UK who self-identifies as a “socialist” in the British politics sense of that word (not a dirty word! he insists) and he’s professionally a German translator for international policy matters, while his American family lives somewhere near D.C. He has previously told us how wrong-headed homeschoolers were to think German hs politics had anything to do with American hs politics, etc.

But then came this British report. Last week we got his take on the homeschool crackdown and he said Hitchens was an ass in this column BUT there was other culture-wide cause for concern (agreeing with you IOW), that this wasn’t about homeschooling per se, but the whole of British society is currently under a reactionary and disturbing (even to him) crack-down regime. He cited Ian Tomlinson’s death for example.

So my thoughts to date are mainly that we homeschool advocates could be missing the freedom forest by zeroing in on the homeschool-parents’ rights tree?

18 06 2009
JJ

See this post for more.

But personally? — usually when I think of “hidden propaganda tumours” it’s belief-based irrationalities that can’t be touched by reason, things like literally believing Obama is the alien antiChrist, that babies are born wicked and sinful and must be trained up for their ordained stations, that even the best of us humans are mere pawns dutifully trudging the road to a divinely designed Armageddon. . .

Speaking of Armageddon in the non-literal and education-specific sense, see this CA report as further food for thought. 🙂

19 06 2009
JJ

Ooh, one of my favorite Evolved Homeschooler discussions for sorting through many confusing public policy stories behind our personal words and beliefs! 😉

I remembered this because of our car dealership detour above:

Homeschool moms and a strange public story

19 06 2009
JJ

Cross-posting from Luke’s blog, for those of you not continuing to follow the thread over there:

Luke said: JJ, now you’ve got me really curious, what don’t you like about “”fitting children for usefulness in their stations”? I’m far too entrenched or something, because I’m not following you here…

Sorry, to me it is SO glaring!

It’s language used in American culture 200 years ago to literally and often brutally, “fit children for usefulness in their stations”, the very last thing home education wants to be associating our loving families with. Today (literally TODAY, as in right now this week) America is formally acknowledging and apologizing for ever forcing human beings to fit certain social and economic stations —

The resolution acknowledges ”the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws,” the name given to state statutes that enforced racial segregation in public places, voting, education, housing and employment.

Both the laws of man and the laws of God were used back then to do the deed, and it didn’t stop with slavery. (Actually slavery didn’t end either; in Florida human trafficking mostly in women and children continues, but it just isn’t state-supported any more.)

Our college-aged daughter wrote a paper this week for religion class on a book called The Kingdom of Matthias (in early 19th century America, about 200 years ago.)

In her paper she quotes historians noting that in that society “any upright woman . . .had to perform her expended labors knowing her true dignity and USEFULNESS consist in FILLING THAT STATION marked out for her by the God of nature and grace, being an assistant of man. . .”

A century later the same words and beliefs were justifying routine beatings of women (and especially children) as in Go Tell It on the Mountain.

So that’s the last thing home education wants to affiliate our teachings with, if protecting our individual freedoms is the real aim. There are citizens and even politicians today, who really think a Puerto Rican woman from the projects is trying to rise above her fitting “station” and must be put back in it. Rush Limbaugh made a vicious joke about her and her fellow Latina professionals as being fitted for cleaning up, said he’d get them all vacuum cleaners . . .

June 19, 2009 12:15 PM

20 06 2009
Nance Confer

But, of course, the real aim of the believers on Luke’s blog is not “individual freedom” but subservience to a god and the ancient attitudes found in their religion about “training up” children.

Luke, I’m the other, less vocal, half of Snook. Not nearly as gentle or genteel as JJ has been with you.

I’m the resident atheist. And an unschooler. Hell, might as well get it all out there — I’m also a Democrat. 🙂

Nance

20 06 2009
Mrs. C

Poor Luke. You know, Sonlight curriculum was banned from the Colorado homeschool convention recently for not being Christian enough. They dared to teach both sides of the evolution debate.

20 06 2009
JJ

Poor LUKE? 😉
What about poor JJ . . .

20 06 2009
Nance Confer

Poor JJ? Why? Because Nadal is out? 🙂

Nance

20 06 2009
JJ

She knows me so well . . .
😀

21 06 2009
JJ

Is Luke still genuinely puzzled as to the history of “fitting children to usefulness in their stations” and why it’s such dangerous language?

From former religious right leader Frank Schaeffer, note all the words and phrases in quotations, how the real meanings behind them and even our ability to think or talk clearly through the twisting, is all covered up in the best Orwellian style. Especially Rushdoony’s “some people are by nature slaves”:

If the far right of the Republican Party and we of the Religious Right had had our way by now there would be a constitutional amendment and/or laws forcing prayer in schools, disenfranchising gay men and women, banning all abortions under penalty of death, banning gay men and women from serving in the military, launching a neoconservative led and religious right backed holy war against Islam, fixing Israel’s borders permanently to incorporate all the land taken in 1967 forever into a “Greater Israel” based on the “fact” that “God gave the Jews” the land “forever,” capital punishment would be used routinely to punish a variety of crimes including being gay, civil rights for blacks, women, gays, unions would be in retreat, and — other than enforcing “morality” – George W. Bush’s style of “free market” non-governance would be permanent.

Think this is all far fetched? Then you never sat in secret meetings with Pat Robertson or the late Dr. Kennedy — as I did when I was a religious right leader — fomenting plans to “bring America back to God.”

If we’d won America would be a slicker more dangerous version of Iran

Picture America if Sarah Palin was president, both houses of Congress had a deep Republican majority, and the last 30 years of appointments to the Supreme Court had all been far right choices. Picture Fox News as the only TV news with access to the government, and the editors of the New York Times in jail for “treason.”

The Religious Right has been awash in anti-democratic (even anti-American) religious ideologues for the better part of 40 years. For instance I knew the founders of the so-called dominionist or “reconstruction” wing of our movement personally, people like the late Reverend Rousas John Rushdoony the father of “Christian Reconstructionism” and the modern Christian home school movement.

Rushdoony (who I met and talked with many times) believed that interracial marriage, which he referred to as “unequal yoking”, should be made illegal. He also opposed “enforced integration”, referred to Southern slavery as “benevolent”, and said that “some people are by nature slaves”. Rushdoony was also a Holocaust denier. And yet his home school materials are a mainstay of the evangelical home school movement to this day!

Rushdoony’s 1973 opus, The Institutes of Biblical Law, says that fundamentalist Christians must “take control of governments and impose strict biblical law” on America and the world. . .

21 06 2009
Nance Confer

A frightening look at the fringe from an insider. Shudder!

And it included a phrase I will try to remember to use from now on: “the so-called pro-life movement.”

I know it’s a small thing. But it communicates exactly the illegitimacy of claiming that label that I think of when I read “pro-life.”

Nance

21 06 2009
JJ

Schaeffer’s writings now (a form of child protection penance for what he once helped wreak?) make a powerful case for teaching children to think for themselves rather than blindly follow any externally imposed life “plan” or “path” laid our for them by God or Government. Does home education as practiced and legally protected in American, truly value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for individuals — or do we twist those words as Newt Gingrich does, in service of our own ideological agenda?

And what about words cleverly chosen to conflate the Declaration and the Constitution? How does that shape our thinking and debate, and is its end truly freedom, or overthrow of one by the other?

by Paul Abrams

In an article yesterday by Media Matters, Newt Gingrich is called out for misquoting the Declaration of Independence, although the article does acknowledge he correctly captured the gist. . . Media Matters, and Olbermann, miss the main point.

The Declaration of Independence is not the operating manual or contract by which the United States and the people govern themselves. Rather, it is a statement of principles justifying revolution. It contains no blueprint for governing, and could be used to justify anarchism. After all, if one is indeed endowed by a creator with inalienable rights, then nothing compels someone to accept any form of government.

. . .Gingrich always conflates the Declaration and the Constitution into our “Founding Documents” because the Constitution is a fairly liberal document and makes no reference to god or a creator. That could not have been an accident. It was the conscious choice of our Founders. Gingrich enjoys the sophistry of extracting quotes from some of the Founders, in other situations, professing their beliefs in a “Divine Providence” or the “Almighty.”

But, that only makes the case more compelling that their omission of references to god, or a creator, or the Bible, in the Constitution was deliberate. The “original intenters” on the Supreme Court should take notice.

It is not the Declaration, but The Preamble to the Constitution that sets forth the mission statement of the United States. The States, and people, joined to accomplish certain general agreed outcomes:

–To form a more perfect union (i.e., better than the Articles of Confederation);
–Establish justice; (Newt must have choked on this one).
–Ensure domestic tranquility;
–Provide for a common defense;
–Promote the general welfare (sorry, Newtie, that must hurt); AND,
–Ensure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity (could that mean our land, forests, rivers, streams and air? And, defend the Constitution against encroachment? Can’t imagine Newt liking this one).

“AND” is actually the most important word in this string. It means that we have to serve all these goals, so that, for example, my liberty has to be limited by justice and the general welfare and the common defense; or, from another perspective that domestic tranquility and the common defense cannot be achieved at the expense of liberty and justice. . .

Newt’s real agenda that is the same as it has always been: to use lies, misstatements and sophistry to mislead the American people. . .

26 06 2009
Remember That Michael Jackson “Homeschooled” His Kids « Cocking A Snook!

[…] self-righteousness in the public policy square, as this summer’s hysteria heats up over the UN daring to champion the Rights of the Child, and the US education department addressing national school standards . . […]

27 06 2009
Steve

“children homeschooled for fundamentalist Christian motives are literally being made dysfunctional as citizens by being indoctrinated into a belief system reality cannot penetrate or persuade with human reason, and that their civil rights are thus directly violated plus all our civil rights unwisely jeopardized as they become citizens and voters and parents themselves”

JJ, are you really saying that anyone teaching his child a belief system that is not based on human reason is guilty of civil rights violations against his child and is jeopardizing everyone’s civil rights? Or is it just the Christian belief system that you find so threatening? So it’s a civil right to have your humanistic worldview? Anyone without your belief system is a criminal? Would be interesting logic if it wasn’t so scary.

27 06 2009
JJ

Wow, that does sound pretty bad, doesn’t it??

Of course, what’s scary is the extremist editing (like FOX uses to such good effect) that makes all the difference. This quote is from the middle of a sentence that begins:

“But to be blunt about how I see the current problem, it’s that we are proving the Reich case from his 2001 abstract above, by playing it out just as he warned, that (some) children homeschooled for fundamentalist Christian motives are literally being made dysfunctional as citizens by being indoctrinated into a belief system reality cannot penetrate. . .”

27 06 2009
JJ

Hence the political freedom-fighting problem I was identifying, is not that children are being hsed for fundamentalist motives but that some of their parents (led by fundamentalist Christian political organizations) sound like absolute lunatics unable to use any logic at all.

And they’re doing it in the name of “education.”

27 06 2009
JJ

For example, it doesn’t matter whether Steve really is a blithering idiot unable to read for meaning or not, if he sounds like one as a homeschool parent online . . .

27 06 2009
Nance Confer

Maybe Steve is a Faux “News” “reporter.”

This is part of the right that has gone beyond tiresome. Does someone like Steve not think that we can read? That we couldn’t check back in the very same article to see if JJ truly had started sounding as hardline as that Nance.

Yes, Steve, I’m the one you should probably take a swing at. JJ is the more reasonable one. I do think it is some form of child abuse and a violation of civil rights and decency to misinform impressionable children about the nature of reality.

Not that I think we can legislate evolution or thinking skills but we can do better as citizens and fellow parents to state the obvious — we aren’t doing future voters or society any favor by raising children to base important decisions on mythology.

Nance

27 06 2009
JJ

Au contraire, Nance is literally the epitome of what I call REASONABLE! 🙂
She reasons. No superstitions or wild rumors or mysticism. No wishing and hoping and fearing allowed to supplant her learning and thinking.

But she was using that word here to mean, I think, that I’m more moderate than she is, and I guess I am more moderate. . . so we would agree. See, that’s how you read for meaning and comprehension in a civil conversation with your countrymen (or in this case women, but my meaning was clear to anyone able and interested in making the effort.)

27 06 2009
Steve

Thanks for letting me know you folks are out there. I hear your meaning loud and clear. I had previously been a bit skeptical about some of the reports of potential attacks on homeschool freedoms and parental rights. Now that I’ve read your ideology for myself, I’m starting a monthly bank draft to HSLDA asap.

27 06 2009
JJ

Steve as a former skeptic? Ri-i-ight.

28 06 2009
Crimson Wife

There are some real threats to Christian homeschooling out there, but the folks to worry about aren’t J.J. and Nance. Seriously.

As for HSLDA, make sure you do your homework to see if you’re comfortable with their entire agenda before sending your family’s hard earned money to them…

28 06 2009
Nance Confer

See? It worked. Scare the people. Rattle the cages. Ask for money to “protect” “homeschool freedoms” and “parental rights.” Cash check. You win!

Steve, best of luck to you. Sending your money to HSLDA is a waste but we all have our vices, I suppose.

When you want to really discuss issues and learn not to hide behind catch phrases when someone disagrees with you, look us up again.

Nance

28 06 2009
Nance Confer

CW, are you suggesting the world doesn’t jump when we post here? Dang! 🙂

Nance

28 06 2009
JJ

Thank god for CW (said without irony) who with “reason” both similar to and different from Nance’s or mine, proves the point.

28 06 2009
COD

[people that do their homework] and [people that send money to HSLDA] are mutually exclusive sets.

28 06 2009
JJ

Homeschool math! 😉

28 06 2009
JJ

HSLDA is the school union for Church just as the NEA is the school union for State. Parents can choose which to pay off in return for their protectionism, or we can choose actual education FREEDOM!

28 06 2009
Crimson Wife

COD- except that HSLDA has a racket going on where certain local support groups and ISP providers require membership in order to join/enroll. I know several families who dislike HSLDA but are members because they want to be part of the local group/umbrella school.

6 07 2009
JJ

Mrs. C gives Snook some link love and continues the conversation, light-hearted yet offering room to turn serious.

My latest comment:

JJ Ross said…

To get serious about this, we can think of dogma like diets. From vegan to junk food and everything in between, each human gets to choose to consciously follow a diet or not and if so, to choose which one/s. But as we go about our individual choices, don’t force-feed anyone, not even your own children. For universal human health don’t make it the fat people against the thin people, or the fish-eaters (Catholics) against the cheese-eaters (Protestants) nor any other war over dogma or diet, because war like force-feeding is itself unhealthy and immoral no matter the beliefs behind the war!

Like dogma, your commitment to a way of eating isn’t a matter of the particular diet you choose to believe in for yourself or your children, but the reality of it in your life once chosen, whether it’s demonstrably “good” for you and your family or not. So much depends on how you choose, how well you use your good mind to learn about eating and diets, adapt that knowledge to your own means and needs and then how you practice it over a lifetime, the results you experience, whether it creates and expands human health and happiness, or limits and destroys it, etc.

Then how do you present your personal diet choices to others? — are you thoughtfully self-disciplined about that or do you push it, sell it, even legislate it onto others indiscriminately? Go to war over it? Does it bring people closer together or drive wedges between you and others?

LAst year in the news there was a shocking pro-anorexia site for vulnerable young girls, that glamorized and “evangelized” starvation, presented it as a positive but persecuted community of faith peers who should band together as disciples and fight the rest of the world trying to interfere. That is free belief and free speech but I say it’s monstrously immoral no matter whether I personally am fat or thin, or whether my own daughter gets sucked into it, whether I personally believe there’s a god who wants one or the other, or not.

I choose to fight against such seductive public power of story with my own freedoms because I believe it is evil and destructive to humanity. My weapon of choice (literally) is EDUCATION — not inculcation through schooling of any kind religious or secular, but actual education to help kids develop not a dogma or a diet but a healthy respect for themselves and others as thinking, choosing individuals. If we do it “right” they can freely and consciously choose to commit their own lives, liberties and pursuits to fighting for every human’s right to the same. No matter what they eat at home any day of the week. 🙂

A quote printed in FavD’s new American passport (currently with her en route to Paris):

“The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect,
a party or a class —
it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

– Anna Julia Cooper”

Btw I know nothing of her dogma or diet but Dr. Cooper was born a slave and her life story is a good educational sleuth for freedom lovers — female or not, African-American or not, especially for unschoolers who love Paris like FavD and her friend.

12 11 2009
Cocking A Snook!

[…] Homeschool freedom fighting: It’s so not about the UN […]

18 02 2010
Tea Partying is to Homeschooling? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] law and treaties regarding school, taxes, separation of church and state, the Geneva Convention, the UN and even the US President himself) all powered by the same established homeschool business […]

9 09 2010
Consider “Parental Rights” in Light of Friendly Atheist Advice to 14-Year-Old « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Homeschool Freedom Fighting: It’s So Not About the UN […]

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