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! 😉

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EDUCATION NATION Tuesday: Different Memes for Different Dreams

28 09 2010

Gen. Colin Powell and his wife Alma are the morning’s featured guests. Part of it really is inspiring, how education begins the moment a child connects the sound of his/her mother’s voice to the face, about the big answers to our education crisis being commitment and caring and whole communities helping to “keep each child in play” — good power of story.

Powell power of story. 😉

They head up America’s Promise Alliance. He says it’s not all schools but about 2,000 schools are drop-out factories, mainly in “doughnut holes” where a community got left out of everything, and that in only one more American generation when minorities become the majority, we’d better have already changed those school settings and educated those future adults, so they can step up and lead the nation. She says that high school dropouts aren’t just economically locked in but are most likely literally headed for prison. They are saying too many kids from the schools they’re working to change, can’t even get into the military.

So it’s both a moral imperative but also practical self-interest in our own defense.

Here’s the downside of what I heard: their prescriptions for relentless parent pushing and militaristic boot camp examples — teachers breaking teens down to build them back up as a well-trained credit to the uniform, parents teaching unquestioned obedience and “minding the adults” even before kindergarten Read the rest of this entry »





Education Nation Thinking: School is a Social Network

27 09 2010

UPDATE: “Governing requires a humanism that we find largely absent in the business world of today. It calls for skills that the business world often overlooks or shuns. Governing requires the ability not to follow spreadsheets and marketing advice but to weigh all of the relevant information and decide what is best for all . . .”
******************
School is a social network but that’s not on the menu for this week’s Education Nation. I didn’t hear the phrase “liberal education” this morning either — but could that ideal be what we lost first, that led to America losing everything else?

What if, after a couple of generations of not really educating in the public schools, too busy exploiting them as captive consumers for our competing political causes and business opportunities instead, there’s no longer a critical mass of leaders and citizenry well-enough educated themselves to think productively about how to educate the next generation any better?

We’ve all heard the phrase “liberal education” and those of us of a certain (ahem) age, probably got a passably broad one somewhere along the way to this dystopic ruin of the House Our Liberally Educated Founders Built for us.

Folks with a liberal education, for example, are supposed to understand that “liberal” in this sense isn’t necessarily the opposite of conservative but it is the opposite of narrow, literal, training-and-conditioning-focused schooling, education drilled in to spec at the local mass-production public factory. Certainly liberal education is the opposite of for-profit Big Business and the cutthroat corporate mindset. Liberal education fosters intelligent, higher-order problem-solving and complex moral thought, humanist politics. And it’s not merely technical, not even at the MIT and NASA level. Math and science alone can’t put the liberal in a liberal education.

Devoutly Catholic William F. Buckley for example, had an extraordinarily liberal education as the debate-dominating wind in his arch-conservative sails. OTOH the Governor of Texas and his education makes one weep for education: Texas Governor Treats Colleges Like Businesses [as]
Regents promote his agenda, to faculty members’ chagrin

But Americans now get little education of any kind, much less a true liberal education. It’s all schooling and all to factory specs: tough, increasingly nationalized standards, radically mind-numbing regulations, authoritarian rewards and punishments for knowledge workers (both teachers and students) meted out by principal overseers in all school systems? More of that is hardly a new education idea nor a liberal one.

Anthony Seldon, Wellington College:

“good education should be the opportunity for each child to discover who they are, how they should relate to others, and what they love about life.”

Engaged liberal education vs. “Mass-Production Factories
of the Mind”
:

I’ve been anxiously following the news about the new National Governors Association initiative, Complete to Compete,  and the recent announcements about states competing for Race to the Top funding, and I continue to worry about reductionist models of education driving our reform agendas.  I think that many of our policy makers and government officials at both the state and federal levels actually do believe in the full promise of liberal education, but somehow forget what that really means in educational practice when they get down to developing actual policy proposals.

Here are my notes typed in as I watched all Monday morning. They’re in Maimi-Dade with Arne Duncan and student questions this afternoon. I’ll keep listening and thinking and be pulling from these notes for blogging later:

NBC Universal
EDUCATION NATION

Morning Joe and Today Show

Public survey on who’s to blame for what’s failing in schools, top two get more than half the public blaming them:
elected officials
parents

Then the very bottom group, teachers, gets only one-third of the public blaming them:
teacher unions
principals/admin
teachers

LA Unified Sch District has about one-third of all kids suffering from PTSD, biggest identified problem is violence

NJ Republican Gov Christie says it’s all about breaking the unions, forcing them to admit they’ve created the problem by making everything about their money and not caring about kids. Reward and punishment is his Read the rest of this entry »





What a Difference a Year Makes in the GOP

14 09 2010

Remember conservative Christian homeschoolers this time last year, declaring war over President Obama daring to give a nationwide back-to-school speech?

(And mocking him for using a teleprompter to do it?)

Maybe it will be just as bad this year in your states, but for Nance and JJ here in Florida, shame should tamp it down — and if it doesn’t, that will prove there’s no shame left:

Greer apologizes to Obama, calls many GOPers ‘racist’

One year ago, when President Barack Obama gave his first back-to-school speech to the nation’s schoolchildren, then-chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Jim Greer, accused him of using “taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate America’s children to his socialist agenda.”

Now, Greer is facing fraud and money laundering charges and has been thrown under the bus by the state GOP, which has accused him of living the high life on party money. And so he’s had a change of heart.

“In the year since I issued a prepared statement regarding President Obama speaking to the nation’s schoolchildren, I have learned a great deal about the party I so deeply loved and served,” Greer said in a written statement.

“Unfortunately, I found that many within the GOP have racist views and I apologize to the President for my opposition to his speech last year and my efforts to placate the extremists who dominate our party today.

My children and I look forward to the presiden’t speech.”





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 »





Consider “Parental Rights” in Light of Friendly Atheist Advice to 14-Year-Old

9 09 2010

UPDATE: Good advice for book banners and burners everywhere: read the supposedly damned thing first!

Here’s a quick test of your knowledge of scripture. Where does the following passage come from?

“Behold! The angels said: “O Mary! God hath chosen thee and purified thee – chosen thee above the women of all nations.”

Let’s try another, with more modern language:

“Behold, the angels said, “O Mary, God announces good news to you by a Word from God named the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the hereafter.”

The first from the King James Version of the Bible and the second from the Revised Standard?

No on both accounts. . .

**********************

From The Friendly Atheist blog comes the kind of concern that even home-educating Thinking Parents ponder, when religious homeschooling gets caught up in the control meme and forgets the whole purpose of “education” anywhere is more and forward and freedom, not less and backward in a box:

Your parents seem to suffer from an anti-intellectualism that is sadly common and widespread in America. Their upbringing Read the rest of this entry »





“Sexist Patriarchal Tyranny” of Homeschool Divorce

1 08 2010

How to help homeschool moms who divorce?:

I am making it my personal mission in my lifetime to see the divorce stigma within the home schooling community be exposed for the sexist, patriarchal tyranny that it is. I hope to see women band together to help each other raise their children and home school their children in spite of divorce.

I hope Snook can help her. I hope we all can. Sounds like it will take both the secular and sacred putting their values where their mouths are, to get it done.