Old Ideas Won’t Win the Day

5 04 2011

Ben, the problem you have is that JJ is smarter than you. She is miles smarter than you, me and the next six people combined. JJ develops ideas and new thinking about life and education as she experiences them. You fall back on shopworn phrases — being taxed is having your money stolen, there’s nothing wrong with vouchers going to religious schools, JJ’s tone is elitist, etc. And you hide behind religion and deny its importance as it supports your argument.

The sad part of all of this is that JJ is not the one being injured. She’s a strong woman, capable of thinking about what you write without getting upset about it.

The people being injured are those who are stuck on the treadmill with you, rehashing old ideas which were never very good and have soured with time.

And those liberals, like me, who agree with you. At least in part. I think, once I get past the tax bluster and the vehement anti-public school rhetoric, you have a few points to make. And they will never make it into anything like a productive discussion. They are weighed down to the point of sinking under the old notions, the ones that are all about taking the tack that ends up supporting your politics, right or wrong. These ideas are not about learning and changing and growth. They are about making sure the other political wing is demonized.

Me? I’m a bleeding-heart liberal born and raised to value unions and everything government does to help those in need. I vote Democratic.

And yet I have wondered why teachers weren’t protesting in the streets until their rights and income were on the line. Public school has sucked for a very long time. Teachers complain about it as much as anyone. And yet. . .

I don’t see the same fights you do. I don’t see people still not acknowledging that charter schools are public school. Just as I don’t see homeschoolers contending that virtual schools will be the end of homeschooling as we know it. Maybe I don’t move in the right circles.

What I see are very wealthy people manipulating our system of government to get their way. Over and over again. Among their preferences, like you, is that they pay as little in taxes as possible. Now, they don’t spout off about theft. They hide behind the old chestnut that tax money in their hands will trickle down and all will prosper.  And they have the lobbyists and the clout and our collective taxes decrease along with the government’s ability to function properly.

Maybe some of them hope to starve the beast. You know that line. The impression I get is that they just don’t care. It isn’t changing anything in their life if my child doesn’t have access to a quality public school. At least in the short run. And that’s as far as they seem to look. Or they feel they will be safe, no matter what. Let them eat cake!

Try really seeing that middle class people and working people and poor people are constantly set against one another and feeding into that fight is just as wrong as starting it in the first place. Urging people to vote against their own interests, to battle over scraps, to encourage anger instead of  “doing unto others” as JJ advises, this is only helping those wealthy members of our society who are happy to fund the fight and pick up all the pieces while everyone is distracted.

We can do better than this. It will be very hard work and we may even need some help from an “elitist” or two. But we can do better.

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.

To Live the Good Life?

14 09 2010

“Questions of politics, Professor Sandel suggested, are not simply a matter of governing the system of distribution, but are connected to what it means to live a ‘good life.’ ”

What do you believe that means, and who deserves to live it, or if it’s not a question of earning it, it, who has the power to live it? Do you?
Would you say living the good life flows from good works, good fortune, right-thinking, perhaps all or none of the above?

From the conversation at Half-Fish, Half-Black Homeschool Princess?
“It makes a difference who you are — and whoever gets to create your character.. . . homeschool princesses better be careful what we wish for and who gets to grant it.”:

In an elite school movie not really about school or wealth as the good life, yet definitely about CLASS, Sara stands up against her soul-impoverished schoolmarmish oppressor and shouts with conviction: “We’re ALL princesses, every girl is! Didn’t your father ever tell you that??”

Capt. Crewe: You can be anything you want to be, my love, as long as you believe.

Sara Crewe: What do you believe?

Capt. Crewe: I believe that you are… and always will be… my little princess.

For the Love of God, Bless Harry Potter and My Home Sweet Home!

. . . to be more clear but less precise. . .I should say 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 -–
Dance movies are especially good at this, it seems to me: Read the rest of this entry »

Why Educate Our Kids? Part Three: Their Enemy Is Us

11 06 2010

Teach your parents well,
Their father’s hell will slowly go by.
You who are on the road,
Must have a code that you can live by. . .
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye.

[C]ults – whether they are political, religious, psychotherapeutic, commercial, or educational – seek to make people dependent and obedient.

. . .When we get serious about thwarting cult recruiters we will expose those techniques of persuasion and prepare our young people with the tools to combat cultism. . . take it upon ourselves, in our homes, schools and even places of worship, to address and expose cultism and give our children, parents and teachers the tools to combat it.

“Despite what opponents of this legislation say, this bill does not hinder a woman’s ability to have an abortion,” [GOP lt. governor Jeff] Kottkamp wrote. “However, it most certainly provides the opportunity to change their hearts — and open their eyes.”

A Thinking Student might use analogies to help analyze whether this is actually an argument for free education or authoritarian exploitation, of individually sovereign girls and women.

For examples, we’re all about education freedom here, and we’ve been debating vaccine freedom as a civil rights issue. Both education choice and antivax arguments assert the individual family’s ultimate right to be left alone by society, to have nothing forced on it physically or mentally.

An educated student might notice the overlap is extensive in arguments for individual rights up to and including homeschool mom brinksmanship about public education standards as not merely “an opportunity . . .to change their hearts and open their eyes” — until we come to anti-abortion activists, making Kottkamp’s argument that government should intrude right into the examining room and force an emotionally exploitative mandate by government fiat upon the individual, expressly designed as public interference with the individual’s right to make her private decision regardless of the rest of society.

Would Kottkamp support a similar bill to mandate that at any well-baby checkup involving a vaccine delayer/refuser, the child would be held by a social worker in another room while the mom was forced to view (and PAY FOR!) sophisticated video simulations of her own child suffering all manner of ravage from childhood diseases, ending with an image of the mom herself weeping over a grave . . .?

The antivax/antiabortion argument about individual rights is wrong to demand for moms the right to be left alone by government in one case, but not the other.

What We Did for MLK Day: Musical Theatre of Course!

18 01 2010

You know the kids and I watch “1776” for the Fourth of July.

So this year in honor of Martin Luther King Jr, we decided to watch this. It was Google’s graphic today that inspired it, because there’s a scene in the movie that looks just like this:

Maine Repeals Gays as Human; Public School Parent Protests Gays as Animals

4 11 2009

Dan Delong of Carlinville, Ill., at teacher at Southwestern High School in the nearby town of Piasa, will face a school board hearing November 2, after being suspended from teaching. A parent of one unidentified student thought the optional reading assignment was inappropriate for her child . . .

When this and this coincide in the same week, what are kids actually learning do you think, about the values woven into America’s power of story?

The teacher’s disciplinary hearing was Monday night, and perhaps there’s a better lesson in how it ended than in how it started, a fitting lesson of today’s American president as true to yesterday’s American precedent: Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

A Sad Day

1 06 2009

So a doctor is murdered. A doctor who helped many is gunned down by a madman.

And I tune into the progressive, liberal blog to get a good dose of “oh, isn’t that too bad” and I am hit with an argument about religion — Christ and Christianity and, finally, Satan.

Who is a real Christian and who is not and now Satan.

A crazed man posts his intentions online and follows through and the discussion is about mythology?

President Obama, could you hurry up on that business of bringing science and compassion back to this country? We need it!


Bill Gates’ Change Checklist: Mosquitoes, Education, Sleep

7 02 2009

Bill Gates video at TED this week on how he personally is working to change the world. Yes, this is the attention-getting, audience-unsettling mosquito release stunt you heard about. . . and it’s all about education too (schools, libraries, teachers, and btw, praise for those KIPP charter schools that unions want back under collective bargaining controls.)

His service themes are mind-bogglingly well-funded through his foundation of course, but also for the most part they’re focused on smart, creative, pragmatic change, and what I might call “pro-life through choice” thinking. He is quite literally saving the lives of women and children worldwide, and making a world-changing difference in the lives of many millions more.

Bill Gates hopes to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using a new kind of philanthropy. In a passionate and, yes, funny 18 minutes, he asks us to consider two big questions and how we might answer them. . .

Read the rest of this entry »

Most Powerful Drive in the Universe: Sync!

5 02 2009

Have you seen the TED video of mathematician Steven Strogatz describing how complex, perfect patterns can be created by individuals moving in unchoreographed, spontaneous synchronicity?


As I watched the video, I was reminded of network theory discussions we’ve had at NHEN and across our blogs, about human hubs and nodes communicating without hierarchy or leader or rules as freely synching-up individuals in education advocacy, for homeschool support and other parent involvement projects.

Imagine if School started to support spontaneous sync as “socialization” rather than compulsion, standardization, rewards-and-punishment accountability! OTOH, maybe school peer pressure (good and bad) is a natural manifestation of these sync rules too, hmmm. . .

Spontaneous sync

1. All individuals are only aware of their nearest neighbors

2. All individuals have a tendency to line up

3. All individuals are attracted to each other but do like a small separation or distance

And there’s a fourth rule that makes spontaneous sync work in swarms, that kicks in when a predator appears: get out of the way!

If you watch to the end, you’ll find out that you don’t even need a brain or to be animate, to participate in the spontaneous synchronicity of nature . . . so you’d think we humans could manage it a bit better than we do, right? 😉

What John McCain Could Save His Soul By Learning

5 09 2008

. . .is that this evangelical meme about a Christian god ordaining and constituting our government isn’t harmless, and it doesn’t put “Country” first. It doesn’t even put Americans as people first, much less our government.

And John, since you and everyone who speaks on your behalf keep bringing it up, let’s talk straight about it. The ideological Christian control meme now active in government power isn’t just about controlling government but lives and minds and bodies. Indoctrination, thought control, censorship. Captivity, yes, and even torture. Never mind the immorality of torturing terrorist prisoners, what about domestic torture, of wives and teenage daughters and worst of all, little innocent children, even small babies, both physical and emotional? Many suffer and some actually die as a result of such dangerous, dominionist beliefs being glossed over with lipstick!

Calling that faithful or loving or godly or Christian or principled or prolife is not straight talk. And it certainly isn’t “leaving the families and children alone” and unmolested by politics or ideology.

Yet this week you, all by yourself, the original maverick who would rather lose an election than go against your family values, patriotism and principles, YOU, sold out your hard-won position of trust for your own ambition to be elected president, without properly vetting your second-in-command.

Let’s talk straight now. I’m a good American mom, small-town background, smart, experienced in education and public service, much like Sarah Palin, right? You do appreciate all women like us, not just Sarah Palin? Then here’s some diversity of advice not driven by party. I saw signs of this Christian control ideology in Sarah Palin’s background in just one morning of quiet reflection, on August 2. (see my words from that date below, just as they first appeared under this essay toying with the wild idea of Palin.)

Except this divine intervention storyline isn’t harmless. . .
[refer to] the Christian control meme: “. . . a series of posts examining the Christian control meme as semi-pornographic advice online and off, advice on spanking with love, no — that spanking IS love. And that love is control, shown through an elaborate system of limits and consequences. And that the child’s resistance is natural; expect it and prepare to subdue it early and often. Beat it out of the children you love, show them who’s boss every minute of the day and night. This is divine commandment and the more ritualistic and intimidating, the more memorably painful, the more thoroughly it breaks the child’s spirit, the better.
Love is thereby defined as power, absolute control by any escalating means that crushes challenge to authority of any kind.”

Their idea of prayer is brandishing god’s will to prove that he wants them personally to win every battle large or small right here on earth. (And get rich besides.)

It translates to a form of self-deluding political power over other people including friends, family and of course foes, that simultaneously corrupts the believers into hurting the receivers — meaning that it literally hurts real Americans right here on earth in both human and divine terms.

I’d argue that if there is a god and he indeed has loving plans for his human creations, we’ve clearly been lied to and set up by sinful self-serving mortals from the beginning of time about what it is and how it’s supposed to work.

In America this wicked reality used to be seen mainly in church, you know, corrupt televangelists and . . . cult child abuse, etc. So if you could stay out of that — and you weren’t in any [minority] class Church resented and terrorized — then you were reasonably safe in secular society with the Constitution and the rule of law.

But now this divine dominion, paternalist pugilist meme has amassed great secular power too, apparently generated from this same conviction that one’s power must be untouchable because it is divinely bestowed.
God obviously wants me to win, because I am winning. Read the rest of this entry »

Sarah Palin says 17-year-old daughter is pregnant

1 09 2008

I was watching FOX hurricane coverage when the announcer says McCain has just released a statement to this effect, and he knew about it, and it’s private family matters so shut up. Huh? After all that personal family stuff in her “why I am qualified” introduction of herself this weekend? I’m all for family matters being private and have been all along, but for the McCain-Palin campaign and their partisans, that sounds like just another shocking flipflop for political expediency.

15 minutes ago

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Sarah and Todd Palin say their 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant.

The couple said in a statement released by John McCain’s presidential campaign that Bristol will keep her baby.

Sarah Palin is McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

The Alaska governor says Bristol intends to marry the father of her child.

She and the campaign also are asking that the media respect the family’s privacy on this matter.