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





Your Brain as Victorian Attic Full of Mismatched Clocks

12 07 2011

At Culture Kitchen I once wrote “We the Clockkeepers: Our Tyranny of Time”, about losing our natural wild time and how over the centuries of civilization we’ve learned the hard way that “the keeper of my time is my keeper.”

Then today I saw a neuroscientist interviewed about each brain being a fingerprint and thinking with complex, layered ways and means uncontrolled by, unknown to and largely unknowable by ourselves even as we are actively in the middle of it.

So I wanted to connect the two, maybe keep my subconscious (my real keeper?) from putting them where I couldn’t find them again!

The question raises a fundamental issue of consciousness: how much of what we perceive exists outside of us and how much is a product of our minds? Time is a dimension like any other, fixed and defined down to its tiniest increments: millennia to microseconds, aeons to quartz oscillations. Yet the data rarely matches our reality. . .

Why does time slow down when we fear for our lives? Does the brain shift gears for a few suspended seconds and perceive the world at half speed, or is some other mechanism at work?

. . . Just how many clocks we contain still isn’t clear. The most recent neuroscience papers make the brain sound like a Victorian attic, full of odd, vaguely labelled objects ticking away in every corner.





Happy Home With Littlies in One Southern Suburb

25 05 2011

. . .a headline you can read as both a noun phrase — a happy home — and as a personal description of the subject’s state of mind — the author is happy being home. She’s “happy (to be) home.”

Just a little writer’s dalliance. 😉

An Open Letter to Door-to-Door Salesmen

Let’s talk about the issues that we’re facing here. First, it’s between the hours of 1pm and 4pm, which are prime naptime for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. When you walk up and pound on my front door, which is just a few feet away from my baby’s crib, it’s gonna piss me off. . .

And I don’t blame you for not knowing; by your age and gender I am guessing you have never spent time as an in-home caregiver for two children under the age of four.

We talk so much about parenting and educating older kids now, and how the current state of society and the economy affects all that. So I was delighted for a change of perspective, to see this young mommy’s power of story. The author is our dear family friend IRL, a writer/editor/teacher and fulltime liver of an exquisitely examined and recounted life.

I don’t blame you for seeing me as an easy mark. Suburban, nice home, decent car, cares about family and safety. But when you interpret my stay-at-home status as an indicator of affluence, that’s where you go off course. In the current economy, I might be the least likely person on my block to make an unplanned purchase.

For one thing, I am still living in my house, which means I haven’t foreclosed, which means that I am making mortgage payments based on an inflated home value that was in place when we made the home purchase four years ago.

Secondly, I do not have a full time job, which is why I am home and you see my car parked in the driveway. . . Read the rest of this entry »





The Season After Summer? Back-to-School, of Course

16 08 2010

“The keeper of my time is my keeper.”

“If love of money is the root of all evil, the taming of time must surely be its minion. . .”

There were always five natural seasons, not four, immutable as day to night to day again:
Spring
Summer
Back to School
Autumn
Winter

So was it written, so shall it be done, amen?
That’s why it seems to me now that this time of year is the most natural time for a Culture Kitchen classic: We the Clockkeepers and Our Tyranny of Time:

Have you noticed Big Government and Big Business have effectively taken over all our time, one way or another? — colluding to Read the rest of this entry »





Young Son’s Epic Status This Morning

29 05 2010

My guys were out early to a fencing tournament so I was noodling around and noticed the Facebook status Young Son posted before he left the house (you’ll recall he’s been reading the unabridged 1450-page Les Miserables, in the wee hours instead of sleeping.)

And so the 6 month expedition ends. Javert lies in the seine, valjean in the ground, thenardier is in new York selling slaves, the revolutionaries are dead, Marius and cossette are married, fantine and the bishop died a long while ago. Gavroche is also dead.
VIVE LA REPUBLIQUE!





The Real Santa I Believe In

25 12 2009

Cool science with which I am making merry:

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus — and Here’s What He Looks Like
By David Gibson

More detail and color art at the Saint Nicolas Center:

The image and the process to create it were featured on a one-hour television documentary, The Real Face of Santa, produced by Atlantic Productions for BBC 2 and also shown on the Discovery Channel.

Click to see the animation of the three-dimensional reconstructed image

Putting a Face to the Past, BBC interview with Dr Caroline Wilkinson





Uh, Mom, My Glasses Fell in the Toilet. . .

30 11 2009

Things that make you laugh but you keep it inside because you are a good person who wouldn’t laugh AT your children but only WITH them, later . . .

Touseled hair, sleepy face gingerly holding said glasses with tissue, offering them up with a (still-startlingly deep to his mother) baritone mumbling, “now what?”

Son, I guess you had to put your hand in to retrieve them? Well, yeah. Okay, no problem. But why is that hand now holding the glasses with tissue, if the hand went down in the same water and needs to be cleaned right along with the glasses?
Oh.

More laughter — but only on the inside!





How Our Unschooling is Like Charlotte Mason Homeschool Method

12 10 2009

A new home-educating mom (okay, it’s Beta, hi Beta!) has been doing lots of reading and thinking about education methods, as our older-in-educating-herself-on education friend, the New Unschooler (hi Colleen!) did last year.

I just added this comment to Beta’s mix:

I was reading a little about Charlotte Mason homeschooling and I see much that reflects our unschooled education methods (real books, no lectures, etc) but I was never a big Nature Girl — more inside the library or kitchen or theatre type — so it hadn’t appealed to me years ago for that reason and I’d forgotten about it.

Then here in the US, Ken Burns’ new documentary series for PBS started airing, called National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

Young Son (age 14) and I got absorbed in it, recording and watching in the afternoons before his own natural most active time (evening) and about halfway through the series, he got his dad watching with him for a couple of weekend afternoons. We all know a lot more about Nature now than we did! It’s historically riveting but also gorgeous and serene and it moves at a naturalist’s graceful, outdoor-majestic pace — just wonderful Power of Story all around.

Without having to actually go outside. 😉

So it reminded me that we too are eclectic in many good ways. The biggest difference between what we do and the CM method is that what we do is no method, with (what personally is found to be) nasty bits included like it or not . . .

Obviously we unschoolers despite eschewing curriculum and training of children’s habits, nevertheless NATURALLY integrate the philosophical cornerstones of “education as life” and “education as the science of relation” while one bit from wikipedia on Charlotte Mason’s teaching philosophy even sounds Obama-inspired, hmmm, and didn’t his mother teach him at home in the early mornings, wonder if she was a secret CM disciple and he its able pupil . . . Read the rest of this entry »





Teen Brain Research May Baffle Our Old Brains

2 09 2009

See Time Magazine for The Teen Brain: The More Mature, the More Reckless:

For now, these theories are just speculation, and the researchers concede that the interaction of white and gray matter is so complex that hard conclusions remain elusive.

“We have a new piece to the puzzle here,” says Emory’s Monica Capra, one of the study’s authors. “But we don’t have it all together.”

I’ll think more about this but my first reaction is that I matured early in every other physical way so my brain likely matured early too. And I did in fact experiment with a few risky-behavior boundaries, which I never could explain to myself as making any sense. When Favorite Daughter became a teen, all I could tell her was that in those years sometimes “your brain gets sucked out” so watch out! Real scientific huh? 😉

Also the power of this story sort of connects to brains and sleep in the NYT weekly science science section, the idea being that our brains could be telling us they want to be busy and productive by keeping us up at all hours, and putting us to sleep when they figure we’d be better off quiet and out of the way. 🙂





“The Unschooling Guinea Pig” Part Two

24 06 2009

Part One

NOVEMBER 1996-FEBRUARY 1997

– She experiences her first “sleepovers” with DiDi and Nana. Away from home overnight, she is excited and adventurous with no traces of homesickness. Several months before, Rebecca from next-door was invited to spend the night with FavD but had a classic “stomachache” very suddenly about 9:30pm necessitating her return home, to FavD’s disappointment and concern. Rebecca is three years older than FavD, so it hadn’t occurred to any of us there would be a problem.

Thus we grownups were standing by if FavD should have such needs to run back to home base.

She packed for a week! — and exhausted DiDi long before she tired herself out enough to sleep. During the second or third evening, Daddy did respond to a bedtime phone call for “CindyBaby” who somehow had been overlooked in the comprehensive packing. But in another more impromptu stay, neither CindyBaby, sleepers nor even toothbrush was with her, and she stayed happily until lunch the next day.

– We record the Christmas pageant performance on videotape. She watches the tape with pleasure, and talks about the memorization process of the poem she recited in her big scene. Everyone else with any lines to speak of, was considerably older than she. POINTS BROUGHT OUT: work pays off; she’s exceptionally good at many things; accomplishment feels great; fear and excitement are related. Mainly, she’s the one who draws out these observations.

[LMAO! says mom in the present day. “Mainly” the six-year-old should’ve been keeping this journal herself then!]

– As we design the new house on the lake, she learns to use a “Kid CAD” computer design program and a Barbie CD-ROM program with complementary features. We notice that Read the rest of this entry »





It’s the Sleep, Stupid! JJ’s Unschooling Interview

6 06 2009

And here it is:
It’s The Sleep, Stupid!: JJ Ross’ Interview

Nance’s unschooling interview will be posting there soon.