Maybe If We Had Known That We Didn’t Know. . .

28 10 2011

This is headlined as “The Boomer Parent’s Lament”:

“Maybe if I knew that our children would be coming of age in an economy that would crush even the best and brightest among them, I would have cared a little less about their score on an advanced placement history test, and a little more about helping them find happiness in moments at the margin.”

UNSCHOOLING boomer parents though, knew this all along and we aren’t lamenting any such thing. Finding happiness in the moment and the margin AND smack-dab in the middle of the morning too, while everyone else was sweating yet another test — that was the whole program, the whole point, the whole power of our story.

Didn’t JJ just finish saying something like that? 😉

There was a book excerpt in the NYT Sunday magazine so stunning that I ordered the book online. I was waiting to read it before blogging anything about it but it’s been on my mind in every current conversation, now including this one. The book is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and its professor author Daniel Kahneman was a 2002 Nobel laureate in economics.

The big point is that we humans tend to hold fast to (often false) confidence that we’re doing the right thing and that we can “know” what that is, even when we’re smart enough to SEE that we aren’t, and don’t, and can’t.

The Hazards of Confidence:

We rarely experienced doubt or conflicting impressions. . . [but] as it turned out, despite our certainty about the potential of individual candidates, our forecasts were largely useless.

The evidence was overwhelming. . . our ability to predict performance at the school was negligible. Our forecasts were better than blind guesses, but not by much.

What do you think about the right way to school kids and prepare them for quantifiable success? How confident are you that you’re right about that? 😉

Some “Very Good Advice” About Parenting Advice

24 10 2011

The Guilted Age:
Making Your Own Rules

This week’s guest post is from the fabulous JJ Ross, who has worn many hats including academic, secular humanist, and unschooler. She shares her thoughts about parenting beyond the advice of others.

This is the first in the series “Good Advice / Bad Advice,” with a new post every week from now until the end of November. –LN

What’s in the Word “Submission”?

16 08 2011

Not for us. We KNOW what we’re being forced to submit to. No, let’s think about what’s in the word submission as a choice, as in “choose submission” and then live by it, learn through it, lead under it even. It’s that last part I find interesting — how, when, why and most importantly to whom does a Chosen Leader of the Free World willingly submit the nation and people being led?

(In the UK, the answer apparently is to Rupert Murdoch.)

Sarah Posner is the senior editor of Religion Dispatches, where she writes about politics. She is also the author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters (PoliPoint Press, 2008):

It’s common for Christian politicians questioned about their adherence to submission theology to dodge a scriptural explanation, as Bachmann did. After all, while dominionist-minded evangelicals like Bachmann intentionally set out to bring their “biblical worldview” into politics, they recognize that it’s bad 21st century politics — especially for a female candidate . . .

. . .[I]f Bachmann had explained her interpretation of the theology, we would have gotten a lesson in far more than her relationship with Marcus. We would have received greater insight into what her “biblical worldview” means for her understanding of law and policy.

This has been the year of casting government as family as a way to understand our money problems.

The President of the United States plays the leading man role as head of household for a nation playing out as a traditional married couple with children to educate and aging parents to care for, bills to pay including a mortgage and credit card debt, praying for salvation through hard work and interpreting everything good or bad as god’s will and other people as getting just what they deserve, good or bad.

So candidates to head our national family bring their “family values” to the campaign pictures they paint, putting forward the vision of how they would parent us, whether they’ll Read the rest of this entry »

Will Marriage Defenders Fight This As Immoral Too?

24 06 2010

There will be many travelers on this journey . . .
Mary Nell and I call ourselves the “New American Family,” and perhaps we are a Marriage of Three. . .
I have no answers for others, offering only what I have done and learned and chosen, knowing that it was right — for me.

Understanding Our Parents Comes With Taking Their Place

21 06 2010

Confession: Lughnasadh

by Eric Scott

“. . .things are never as we remember. But there are things we can only discover about our parents when we take their places, things to learn about magic that only magicians can know.”

Why Educate Our Kids? Dystopic Reality Burning Down Our House

17 06 2010

Do you love America?

Here’s a Thinking Parents’ introduction to America’s real power of story now that as a country, we collectively miseducate our kids about value (as in the value of college, competition, hard work, health, free markets, firearms, friends and family.)

Speaking of the value of family, it offers a whole new perspective on “family values” — how valuable in literal economic terms is your family to your children, and just how valuable is our American family to all the children? Do those answers reflect what Americans consider “family values” and what Howard Gardner describes as a curriculum of “truth, beauty and goodness” and if not, our own education couldn’t have been very valuable no matter how much we paid for it or can collect from it:

None of this is any news to anybody who works for a living. But almost nobody thinks about — or really wants to know — where this is taking us as a nation. . . . if those hideous expenses are what it takes just to give your kid a shot at a professional career so they can afford an increasingly expensive “normal ” life, whose kids are going to get those professional careers?

Rich kids, that’s who. And without picking on kids who were born into rich families through no fault of their own, going forward, all this boils down to an America with fewer and fewer career jobs parceled out to more and more people with better and better backgrounds, while more and more people have to make do with less and less.

It leads, in fact, to an America with a handful of people living what we now consider a “normal” life in gated communities with armed guards, and millions of people cast out of the corporate world and left to shift for themselves; a sort of sci-fi dystopia right out of RoboCop.

Politically, this is firewood stacked under the whole idea of America — a place where you’re judged by what you can do, and not who your grandparents were. And the worst part? This has nothing to do with left/right politics . . . we need to find ourselves a solution that allows most Americans to live like, well, Americans.

This will have to be a conversation that avoids comfortable bromides about the can-do American spirit, the greatness of the American People, or sneering at people “who won’t take jobs they think are beneath them”. We have to acknowledge the problem, find common ground, focus on practical solutions — and make them happen.

If we don’t, it will all go up in flames, eventually. That’s what happens when you’ve got a few people with everything, and millions with nothing to lose.

So the question is: Do you love America?

What’s in a Name: Beetleness and Daffodility

6 09 2009

and whatever it is humans are made of, too.

Reviving the Lost Art of Naming the World,
adapted from “Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science” by Carol Kaesuk Yoon, 2009

Taxonomy is dying. But it is by classifying nature that we come to know it in all its beetleness and daffodility.
. . .The past few decades have seen a stream of studies that show that sorting and naming the natural world is a universal, deep-seated and fundamental human activity, one we cannot afford to lose because it is essential to understanding the living world, and our place in it.

THIS PROFUSION OF HUMMINGBIRDS is from the book “Kunstformen der Natur,” by Ernst Haeckel, 1900. The names of the birds, like Topaza pella, or crimson topaz (third from top), and Sparganura sappho, or red-tailed comet (with forked tail), seem as lush and elaborate as their coloration.

THIS PROFUSION OF HUMMINGBIRDS is from the book “Kunstformen der Natur,” by Ernst Haeckel, 1900. The names of the birds, like Topaza pella, or crimson topaz (third from top), and Sparganura sappho, or red-tailed comet (with forked tail), seem as lush and elaborate as their coloration.

I read this NYT Science Times out somewhere waiting for a child, the dentist’s office I think, having grabbed my Tuesday newspaper from the driveway as we hustled to be on time, then left to my own thoughts in an artificially hushed and lighted and cooled faux-living room way-station in which life is in fact suspended, not lived, which I therefore couldn’t quite categorize according to established taxonomy. 😉

But I had good quiet-time fun trying, particularly because on some level the piece is also about how artificial human systems screw up natural human systems and language is both natural and contrived, how in the end even naming itself is complicated by naming itself! Given the time and inclination to let yourself play around, such ideas connect in expanding-universe style and draw you in ever-deeper, like some M. C. Escher Hogwarts-staircase world . .

relativity poster by M. C. Escher

relativity poster by M. C. Escher

So I brought the Science Times home for blogging this “what’s in a name?” power of story punch on different levels and connecting it explicitly to a bunch more. I wanted to fully enjoy it, do it justice in my own mind and yours. But since then, real life has intervened repeatedly. Read the rest of this entry »

Open Back-to-School Thread: Let’s Have Show and Tell

24 08 2009

Okay, I know a bunch of Thinking Parents who sent kids including unschooled daughters (looking at Nance and Lynn!) off to campus today. Many others saw kids start a new college term this week, Betty and Meg and I that come to mind as I’m running out the door to see how FavD’s first day went . . .

So let’s hear the stories! Show and Tell. What are the kids doing, how was their day, what happened? I already know that FavD’s poetry teacher got in a car crash on the way to class and had to be checked out at the hospital so no first day for her, but you don’t have to be able to top that. 🙂

I want to hear everything, old teacher and teacher’s pet that I am. So scoot into the circle and let’s share —

p.s. If you school at home or still unschool all day, that’s cool too. You are in the circle and you get your turn! How was today?

Thinking Parent Betty Malone Takes on Health Reform

3 08 2009

Our own Miss Betty asks some very thinking parent questions and offers some sensible answers, light rather than heat for the health care reform debate.

And better than bi-partisan imo, her approach here is actually non-partisan. As in non-partitioning rather than two partitions, no walls erected on purpose to divide us against each other and segment us for easier market domination, separating us out and setting us against our own shared human interests.

Favorite Daughter Wasn’t Kidding. . .

3 07 2009

and now she is gone!

We’re not losing a daughter but gaining a world traveler? She and her best girlfriend, fellow dancer and traveling companion Kiki, both declare they will be forever changed by their European adventure (and they can’t wait!) so we took plenty of photos as they were leaving for the airport, to memoralize those selves we’ll never see again [sniff, sob!]


It’s as they want it, flying solo, no family, chaperones or guides, not even a travel agent to help plan and book. Nobody told me truly individual unschooling would sometimes feel so radical. But maybe it’s the parenting, period, and not any particular education method that feels like Read the rest of this entry »

And Now for Something Completely Cool at School

26 05 2009

. . .sensory stimulation!

It’s one of a handful of similar rooms in South Florida that stem in part from a 1970s Dutch philosophy known as Snoezelen (pronounced snooze-a-lun), which says surroundings can have a meaningful impact on behavior — like reducing stress and improving communication. . .

No kidding! This applies to everyone imo — isn’t this what environmental systems theory is all about? — and I’ve learned both from pleasure and pain, that it’s very important to me personally. Teresa Heinz Kerry knows how important surroundings are to the health of all women and children worldwide (not just in schools):

“Children live what they learn and learn what they live. We have to model the behaviors we want them to embrace, and that includes taking responsibility for our surroundings and caring for our bodies, earth around us, and all creation.

First of all, we can change the status quo if we do simple things together . . .”

Read the rest of this entry »

Butterfly Art Barbie’s huge honkin’ tattoo isn’t new

30 04 2009


Barely nineteen-year-old Favorite Daughter is graduating with a perfect grade point average and all sorts of scholarships and honors Saturday night, before starting upper division classes in her major at FSU May 11. But is she thinking about that? No, she is not. She is thinking about a tattooed Barbie doll she couldn’t live without when she was nine.

So this is not new and not news!

FavD in a new blog essay blows her mother’s theories (not to mention memories) of what in retrospect must’ve been a key child-rearing moment but seemed like mere child’s play at the time, all to hell — and all in an alluring, plastic-footed shopping basket.

And her poor mom has the feeling this cognitive dissonance in our divergent perception of shared family reality isn’t just temporary, like a doll’s toy tattoo, but a new permanent reality for mom to live with, ack!. . . 😉