Help Cancel Toddlers & Tiaras

18 01 2011

Caring cock of the snook to Valerie Moon for linking this open letter to the so-called “Learning Channel” as if this were about that:

. . .these pageant programs are both emotionally and physically abusive.

The content of the show is reprehensible and the time has come to stop being a complicit entity to the unfair and unhealthy treatment of these little girls.

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Ideas of 2010: Happy Thinking!

17 12 2010

Better than shopping or Christmas punch for holiday stimulation. . .

Think of fashion constrained by public dress codes for example, as Snook often does over t-shirts, kilts and serious hats.

This collection offers all sorts of ideas to unwrap, everything from the Armored T-Shirt and the Bra Gas Mask to End-of-Men Fashion and the Raw Meat Dress. (Oh, not to give, um, short shrift? — to the Small-Enough Youth Condom and Performance-Enhancing Basketball Shoes!)

For the 10th consecutive December, the magazine has chosen to look back on the past year through a distinctive prism: ideas.

Our digest of short entries refracts the light beam of human inspiration, breaking it up into its constituent colors — innovations and insights from a spectrum of fields, including economics, biology, engineering, medicine, literature, sports, music and, of course, raw-meat clothing.

Happy thinking!

Maybe the expressive antics themselves are enough to ponder without delving into what ideas they represent, a thought suggested by the magazine quoting Andy Warhol.

Or maybe these ideas are best contemplated not individually but as one panoramic whole, power of story like A Christmas Carol forcing us to face how we got here, where we are and where we’re heading, unless we somehow wake up sufficiently to change our future and fast?

And just where is that, would the piece have us think? Read the rest of this entry »





Why Unschooling Is Literally the Pro-Life Choice

7 12 2010

A study of choral singers done by [UC Irvine] illustrates just how powerful putting it all out there can be. When the singers in the Pacific Chorale did rehearsals, researchers Robert Beck and Thomas Cesario found that a protein essential to fighting disease, immunoglobulin A, increased 150 percent.

So the act of singing itself had a powerful effect on well-being. But it gets better: The protein soared 240 percent during live performances.

Benefits rise in direct proportion to how much passion you put into the singing. Hum along in self-consciousness or boredom and you don’t get the benefit the comes when you let it fly. This is such a great metaphor for the role passion plays in unleashing an extraordinary life.

. . .The life intelligence skill that overcomes time urgency and bottom-line mentality is the pursuit of competence, a drive for internal mastery, learning — not to show anyone else — that allows you to build enough facility to turn activities into passions and optimal experiences.

. . .You’re the entertainment director. If you don’t direct the show, somebody else will, and that’s not going to cut it with your core psychological needs.





Harry Potter: We Better Believe It’s Real

19 11 2010

Is the new Harry Potter movie life imitating art?

Do you need to know who said this, about whom, when and where, to believe it?

The world is a dangerous place. It has never been more so, or more complicated, more straining of the reasoning powers of those with actual genius and true judgment.

. . .The era we face, that is soon upon us, will require a great deal from our leaders. They had better be sturdy. They will have to be gifted. There will be many who cannot, and should not, make the cut. Now is the time to look for those who can. . .

It’s not a time to be frivolous, or to feel the temptation of resentment, or the temptation of thinking next year will be more or less like last year, and the assumptions of our childhoods will more or less reign in our future. It won’t be that way.

We are going to need the best.

(It was Rita Skeeter’s real-world counterpart, in Rupert World’s Wall Street Journal.)

No need for a night at the movies, to experience a war-riven world without real grown-ups, this “bleak, perilous grown-up world that tests the independence [we] have struggled to obtain” in an “especially somber and scary coloration.”

Childish things have been put away — this time there is no quidditch, no school uniforms, no schoolboy crushes or classroom pranks — and adult supervision has all but vanished. . . . Harry and his companions must rely . . . above all, on one another.

. . . Hermione for her part, seems lonelier than ever. She has broken entirely with her Muggle parents, expunging herself from their memories to prevent them from being caught up in an increasingly vicious intrawizard civil war. . . .

Time to put away childish things including the fiction that school is preparation for real life, instead of Dark Art in itself. Time for serious leaders to do serious work in serious ways.

Small screen queens billed as real moms tweeting and dancing like bears animated by corporate control set up to seem like America’s “votes” are really dangerous only if we believe it’s real. Harry Potter is dangerous only if we don’t..

Watch tv and see the new movie, or not, but get the picture.

And then act, for real.





Power of Story Can Change the World

18 11 2010

Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has done.

We need to sing our epics or lose them. For any nation in any age including here and now, the ultimate war is over competing narratives, conflicting power of story.

Oh sure, the usual ancient stories and myths of course — and here we go fighting about the meaning of Christmas again — but wasn’t the world-changing power of old religious stories most potent in their own real-world time? We don’t call “currency” that for nothing. What are world-changing power of story stories with currency in our time, in this world?

MisEducation humbly suggests she herself may be the first — of whom she in her cloistered library is aware!– to ponder The World of Potter for real school themes rather than Sunday School themes.

. . .I think Rowling’s genius is to see humans as carrying both hope and fear, both good and evil, to see us as magnificent, and animals, and facing new threats of extinction — to realize our ancient songs and stories need to be understood in progressively evolving ways, for anyone to win anything worth living or dying for.

. . . we love movies about learning to define yourself and your own creative power in the world, instead of any organized institution (church or school) conspiring with society to standardize and subjugate individuals, the better to keep them under control . .

Stories like Avatar and the Harry Potter series might seem like unlikely starting points for civic engagement, but they speak a global language, and they stir something in people.

Did you ever wish that Harry Potter was real? Well, it kind of is.

Just as Dumbledore’s Army wakes the world up to Voldemort’s return, works for equal rights of house elves and werewolves, and empowers its members, we:

* Work with partner NGOs in alerting the world to the dangers of global warming, poverty, and genocide.

* Work with our partners for equal rights regardless of race, gender, and sexuality.

* Encourage our members to hone the magic of their creativity in endeavoring to make the world a better place.

Join our army to make the world a safer, more magical place, and let your voice be heard!

Remember whatever your personal world and worldview:

. . .the whole purpose of “education” anywhere, is more and forward and freedom, not less and backward in a box. . .





Celebrating Power of Story in Books & Movies

25 10 2010

I was just poking around the PBS site because of the new Sherlock Holmes series that started airing last night.

Young Son is a huge fan of everything Holmesian and he’s put together a Sherlock Holmes costume for this Halloween (last year he was Inspector Javert from Les Miserables but that was more about the singing than the detecting, I think) — point being, they are both book characters. As I always say, our unschooling is mostly “power of story” and seeing the same characters and story in different interpretations is an important part of the learning and fun.

The website has a short video of the new young Holmes, who said it was on record that Holmes is the single most often re-interpreted literary character.

The exhibition items have not changed since they were first installed, and are now complemented by an interesting and nostalgic collection of television and film stills, featuring the famous actors who have played the Great Detective and his trusty sidekick, Watson, down the years.

I can’t vouch for Holmes holding the record, but it was interesting and while I was waiting for Young Son to wake up so I could show him, I was thinking we sort of have our own book club mentality around here, not formalized of course, but that’s what we talk about and how we have fun.

Anyway, all that led me to this and I thought I’d share — Read the rest of this entry »





Young Son’s Unschooling This Week: Dracula Offspring

22 10 2010

Young Son got so absorbed reading Les Miserables, then Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes, that he teed up Bram Stoker’s Dracula next. He’s nearly finished the book but because it’s October and Halloween is nigh (one supposes) some cable movie channels are showing different versions of the story and Young Son is recording them at all hours and then watching them critically, comparing and contrasting them.

The other day it was a science fiction spoof:

We got a bite to eat at Chili’s yesterday before show rehearsal, just the two of us. He regaled me with all sorts of Dracula story aspects I had never considered. It was like listening to him talk about real history of, say, the Red Baron or Napoleon — power of story! (Which reminds me, let’s talk about Virginia’s fourth grade history textbooks later, huh?)

Then this morning I awoke to see he had updated his Facebook status in the wee hours:

. . . just finished, in addition to the Keanu Reeves Dracula, Van Helsing, which somehow manages to take characters from Stoker’s novel, completely change the backstory of one to the point where he can no longer be used in the novel and kill the other one, all of this 10 years before the novel takes place.

Also, Dracula offspring is not a concept that ever needed to be explored…

I can’t wait for him to wake up so I can get him going on that last point! 😉