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 »

School Is To Food: Obama-rama Energy for Positive Change

22 09 2009

Snook started blogging the “school is to food” analogy at its inception three years ago this week. (Happy birthday, Baby Snook!)

JJ loves analogies if you haven’t noticed yet. 😀

This one especially. Neither food politics nor school politics can be thought of as “free market” power of story — not if we want the kids to grow up healthy, that is:

It simply makes it impossible to avoid the question of what it means to live in a democracy when such basic aspects of our lives are affected by the actions of others in a manner so completely outside our reckoning. These are people we haven’t elected, and institutions which our elected representatives have not only failed to control but have actively aided in their folly.

It may be one of the most positive outcomes of this crisis that it compels us to ask fundamental questions about our political system, questions we may normally be too complacent or polite to ask. . .

Some of our earliest “school is to food” thinking is linked below and on Snook’s blogroll you can find some dedicated food food-for-thought we like. Today I found a new winner for that roll, thanks to Lynn and Sam talking here, about dog-whistle politics, of all seemingly unconnected things.

Obama Food-orama!

And btw, while we are connecting ideas you can’t get much more inspiringly healthy and smart and “pro-life” than anything about Michelle Obama.

In the beginning there was “school is to food” Snooking: Read the rest of this entry »

Check Back for the 300K Prize

15 09 2009

Did you notice Snook will hit 300,000 hits this week, probably late today or maybe tomorrow? Who will be the lucky winner as our 300,000th visitor? What will happen? What SHOULD happen — red, white and blue balloons falling from ceiling nets? Cannon fire and bombs bursting in air? Virtual silly string?

If you have favorite posts and/or themes to nominate for Snook’s anniversary party (that I just now conceived), feel free to comment away, and I’ll enter them into consideration.

For example I especially liked the Teresa Heinz Kerry women’s health education blog tour posts, and given the current climate of health crises, that might be a great choice to bring out of the vaults . . .

JJ gets the first question so of course, it has a little wordplay and political power of story served on the side.

“It’s been said that all politics is based on either hope or fear.
What are some really hopeful environmental messages you’d like to emphasize for families living and learning with children, and what are some ideas other than public school lessons and tests, for helping our own children receive such messages, and take them to heart?”

THK: I believe that within the family deep learning does take place, in one way or another. 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 . . .

Teaching Our Girls (Boys Too) to Dance With Democracy

5 06 2009

In early December it was announced that for the first time, boys and girls would be allowed to dance together at the school party on New Year’s Eve, and a classmate whose parents had been diplomats stationed in Europe organized dance practice after school. . .

A time to dance, in freedom. It’s serial power of story, this learn-to-dance theme, crafted over time in far-flung yet close-to-home pieces like Dickens telling his own life story in fiction, or Sherlock Holmes brought to life in the old Strand Magazine.

Or maybe it’s the homey yet naturally diverse “progressive dinner” such as Snook and MisEducation once enjoyed with the culturally well-endowed Teresa Heinz Kerry, on behalf of the world’s women and children?

. . .like those social meals my parents enjoyed in quiet college towns, friends and fellows trouping from home to home as the evening progresses to partake of distinctively different but equally delightful courses, all variations on a universal theme. Each host in turn becomes everyone else’s guest, and a fine time is had by all.

So another way kids learn about the world is playing with spices, learning how salsa is both food and dance? And not just food but drink, like a twist on the classic Coke commercial, hum along with me if you remember how it goes: I’d like to teach the world to dance . . .


Talk about the dance of planned parenthood — I’ve known two families through their adoption of baby daughters from China.

. . .Such planned parents by choice generally impress me with their healthy, open attitudes and beliefs, a wish to balance, embrace, discover, celebrate, blend and include rather than to define, delimit, or 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 »

Climate Contrarian: Abandon Hope??

22 02 2009

ScienceDaily (Feb. 22, 2009) —

. . .For decades, say Vucetich and Nelson, we have been hammered by the ceaseless thunder of messages predicting imminent environmental cataclysm: global climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of wildlife habitat, holes in the ozone. The response of environmentalists—from Al Gore to Jane Goodall—to this persistent message of hopelessness has focused on the need to remain hopeful.

But hope may actually be counter-productive, Vucetich and Nelson suggest.

Is this yet another place where science and belief conflict then, evidence against irrational hope that our good works will bring rewards in heaven, rather than quite pragmatically doing the right things for the right reasons NOW?

(As a young Methodist once upon a time, I remember deciding that heaven and hell described the state of mind each of us lived out in real time on earth, created by who I became, how I lived and why.)

We can read heaven and hell into everything from the daily news to married life; in both journalism and marriage counseling, for example, what counts is what’s done, not just the words — of position, prescription, praise or promise — but their meaning manifest in reality, what’s behind the words, the circumstance and change described and delivered.

Show, don’t tell.

Whether in preaching or politics, inspiration literally means a new spirit goes “in” and becomes part of who you are, that you are affected and the totality that is “you” changes somehow that makes an outer difference for others. I suppose all presidents inspire the people and thereby change the nation’s reality but some presidents including the present one — hey, does the word president share a root with present? — inspire us to healthier change than others! Read the rest of this entry »

Only Brains Innocent of Sex Hormones Can Learn??

14 07 2008

“Shortening childhood means a shortening of the time before the brain’s complete re-sculpting occurs,” says [ecologist Sandra] Steingraber. “Once that happens, the brain doesn’t allow for complex learning.”
She adds that the brain can only build the connections used to learn a language, play a musical instrument or ride a bike before it gets flooded with the sex hormones that come with the onset of puberty.

Cock of the Snook to this blog for printing Steingraber’s learning science, but not for just swallowing it whole without even chewing on it a little . . .don’t see a citation though surely she got this idea somewhere, and she might even have impeccable sources that would make me think twice. Without that to go on, I can mock it freeform without qualm. 🙂

So she’s ecologist and mom but not a cognitive psychologist, right? — nor can she speak from experience (yet) as a mother of children who’ve actually arrived at puberty, early or any other way, only to be tragically rendered learning disabled due to this mind-addling sex hormone flood (??)

And if puberty really makes complex learning impossible, why don’t we just cancel school beyond age 10 or 11 (never mind college and grad school!) and save ourselves all the taxes and grief? Is she writing a book advocating that, now that her chemically protected, television-untouched tykes are in School all day learning only goddess knows what?

I guess we all ride our own hobby horses. For me it’s so obviously our Tyranny of Time — you know, SCHOOL and its associated SLEEP DEPRIVATION causing so many of our culture’s interconnected education, family, social and health pathologies. (More on sleep research messing with learning here.) Funny to read in her own words, that this oh-so-careful mother of an ecologist isn’t bothering to create an alternate ecology for her own children healthier than School.

Probably I should go back to the Teresa Heinz Kerry blog tour collection and see what we can spring forward with . . . more on that here, thinking about the “body burden” we put on women and children and also here, about educating our own “parents’ palate” to help improve the health of learning environments at home and school.

UPDATE – I just decided this would make a provocative response for this fortnight’s Thinking Parent essay: “Does Every Child Need to Go to College?”

Good Post From Holly at Unschool Days

28 05 2008

Go take a look and enjoy:
“One-hundredth Post– and Archaic Forms of Bagel Torture”

Aren’t we a fine community at that? 🙂

The second part of her post made me recall someone (Lynn at Bore Me to Tears maybe?) recounting how she once attracted a blog-surfer searching for “horse smegma” and imagined herself becoming the online headquarters for smegma fanatics worldwide. EEeeuuuuw!

And I could add that Katherine Harris has been Snook’s most popular search term this week (since HBO’s Recount aired.) Usually it is “lion” — why are lions such a perennial favorite for web searching, can anyone fathom a guess?

We Can’t Agree What Religious Words Mean, Either

9 01 2008

Dana at Principled Discovery has been hosting a discussion about defining home education, and how we humans pollute our own most important meanings. Crimson Wife made the point that as a Catholic Christian, she knows what it feels like to be defined out of her own group by “Christians” who aren’t Catholic. And y’all know my own concern is for clarity in the difference between “education” and “schooling.”

Time to review what we’ve learned together, class! And see if we can start to apply it for good instead of evil.

From last year’s “Awe and the Environment”:
Is there something else you call yourselves besides dominionists?
I’d call myself a steward although christian seems to work as well. ‘Dominionist’ holds darker political tones, linked to christian reconstructionism or bringing christian control to the US.

Hi Dawn – the term Christian itself (like homeschooler?) seems to have been redefined by the wacko contingent, though. And the Imus thing teaches the power of language for evil as well as good — the language we use to frame our humanity seems to be under assault in all directions, so that even when we manage to THINK a clear thought, its sworn enemies are lying in wait to choke it off in the crib or lose it in the wilderness, as soon as we try to EXPRESS it.

Not just Christians. And not just homeschoolers. It all ties together into even darker and more menacing problems of meaning IN LAW, not just in our private speech. As prominent educator Deborah Meier pointed out last fall, the root problem may be that we can’t legally define “educated person” without legal dominionism stemming from religious dominionism (which I would define as fascism but maybe that’s just wacko JJ off on a tangent again) :

“…Deborah Meier , in one sentence, tells us the basic problem.
The very definition of what constitutes an “educated person” is now dictated by federal legislation. (p.67)”

– From Many Children Left Behind : How the No Child Left Behind Act is Damaging Our Children and Our Schools
Book review By Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist
Published 10/16/2006

Then in November we saw a St. Pete Times editorial about redefining political words for religious unreasoning, manipulated by the same people who (as I wrote at the time) Read the rest of this entry »

NHEN’s Laura Derrick Dropped By!

6 01 2008

And her remarks are just too good not to be pulled up top, for all to see —

It has been said that politics is the art of the possible. I believe homeschooling is the art of the everyday. It ranges from the sublime to the mundane, from incredible moments that we never could have imagined, to the simple, inevitable joys and sadnesses of living. It is how we spend our days, how we live together, what we achieve, the goals we seek, and how we learn from the experiences we’d love to have do-overs on.

It is inevitable that we will not all go about homeschooling the same way, and that we won’t have the same ideas about how to protect our right to homeschool. I think that’s a positive thing. We need diversity, and we need a wealth of ideas and strategies. Some of us will be politically active. Others may gag over politics and choose instead to give advice or comfort. Still others might be the organizers of support groups or co-ops. Some might reach out through youth groups or churches, some by writing books, blogs, newsletters, websites, or magazines, and some might make their legacy by making a positive difference for one single, lucky child. There are as many ways for homeschoolers to keep homeschooling alive and well as there are ways and reasons to homeschool.

But you know, it’s not easy to sit by when someone else takes an approach you think is particularly unproductive, or maybe one you even think is counterproductive. It happens. We’ve all been there. I’ve come to the conclusion that it won’t ruin us unless we get stuck there and stop doing what it is that we know we’re good at. Read the rest of this entry »

One Bumper Sticker for NotJC, Another for HSB Awards

14 11 2007

Driving home I saw something I could only understand when I got close enough to read the sponsor’s name in small print underneath:


The sponsor? MoJo’s Skate Shop.

So. Meaning through context, discovered by searching until you figure it all out, instead of getting mad because you don’t understand and hoping a big dollop of taking offense will cover up your own shortcomings. (I still haven’t looked up “ollie” to be sure though — I am enjoying the ambiguity!)

“Skate” could mean sliding by and getting away with something, but that’s not likely here, is it? Shop must be a noun here, not a verb — though they wouldn’t be printing bumper stickers if they didn’t want you to come “s—” in their “s—” I guess. Ollie has a very fun sound even in complete ignorance of any meaning or context.   (Maybe because it rhymes with jolly?)  I assume ollie to be a “sporting” verb of some kind, but NOT in the context I happen to know from reading novels like Gone With the Wind, that “sporting house” was once used (and clearly understood yet pointedly not talked about) in America —

It made me long for a similarly delicious, ambiguous, context-dependent bumper sticker we could plaster on our highly evolved, secular, non-Homeschool Blog Awards-eligible blogs, something to put their context in context as we see it, maybe:



Bonus example — this is a “skateboard truck” but not a vehicle that transports skateboards for sale at Mojo’s.

Doc’s Seventh Country Fair Is Open!

18 06 2007

A veritable carnival of diversity for the home education community, and never mind that carnival comes from eating meat, even vegetarians and vegans are welcome on the midway — see how broadminded we are??

Snook has a side show booth about educational environments and creating healthier “ecologies” for learning rather than continuing to pollute our kids’ hearts and minds with corporate waste particulates. Rolfe Schmidt’s thrilling roller coaster of a discussion about homeschooling as a radical act is there, too (surprise, Rolfe, you’ve hit the bigtop now!)

Oh, I mixed my carnival and circus metaphors, didn’t I? Well never mind, I blend and mix and match, no separate-but-equal artifice — here OR at the new Country Fair. Y’all come!