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.

Bah, Humbug!

1 12 2010

Here’s what Young Son and I have been busy with, for him too busy to finish Dracula so he can start on Julius Caesar and for me, too busy to blog much lately.

(At least it’s Christmasy!)

Scrooge: the Musical at Quincy Music Theatre

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 »

Sunday School Science Teacher Costing Schools Credibility and Cool Half-Million

31 12 2009

Remember this guy?

Creationist John Freshwater, branding kids for Christ while on the public payroll as mild-mannered public school science teacher. . .

(Evidence of the monstrous harm done when kids are taught alchemy, that leaden lies can be transformed into golden truth, if only you believe hard enough and get a bunch of other people to believe it too?)

But wait, there’s more! This true story keeps getting less believable and more costly as the hearings drag on and his attorney plays games.

Freshwater is expected to be the last direct witness in the hearing that has been held, on and off, over about 14 months and has cost the school district more than $500,000 in legal fees. Rebuttal witnesses might be called in coming weeks.

The latest plot twist being reported this festive Christmas week is that Freshwater taught his creationist ideology as science not just with cool magnetic lab equipment, but by rigging “experiments” to exploit the awesome intelligence built into playful, wholesome, trustworthy kid-magnet Legos — sacrilege!

Freshwater described using Lego blocks to show that cars, buildings and other structures cannot build themselves.

I beg to differ.

Did you know the word “lego” is a creative fusion of the Danish words leg and godt, which my playful mind notes with glee, literally means “play well” and not the seemingly obvious “shin and calf of deity” that an illiterate literalist might insist on imagining is factual?

. . .[Celebrating Legos] gave me a gift too, a story with power to play with in the real world, imagining how all the elements of man’s myth and reality can connect to build the most wondrous cities . . .Legos are limitless fishes and loaves in every room of OUR house, how about yours?

lego evolutionm t-shirt from thinkgeek dot com

Freshwater’s religion belongs in his church and if he wants to get paid for teaching holy truth to kids who want to learn it, that’s fine too. Let his church put him on the payroll, not the school district. As for what my own children are learning, the true meaning of intelligent design taught through Lego power of story was found under our secular Christmas tree by unschooled and unchurched Young Son.
On a t-shirt of course. 😀

Please know the message war is not just about “science” class any more (never really was, you knew that, right?)

So forget curriculum; today’s lesson is education by t-shirt. And if you and yours are on holiday from dogma and curriculum, at least this week if not permanently, then please enjoy this intelligently designed gift together free from church or state politics, the gift that truly keeps on giving:

Cobbling Together the Best Real Learning We Can

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

When Santa is Scottish . . .

16 12 2009

Young Son has a bagpipe-playing Santa tree ornament involving a red-and-green tartan kilt, with knee hose and Santa pants underneath, fashioned as um, knickers? — to keep him cozy but culturally correct at the same time. 😀

Holiday Fun in TV Family Dys-fun-ction

15 12 2009

Favorite Daughter and I have been watching Christmas movies, lots of them. Hilarity ensues. We grade them by a complicated and quirky power of story checklist we’ve developed over years of good, bad and ugly Christmas film fiction fare.

The other night we sat up late to wallow in a recorded made-for-tv movie that promised to be a twist on It’s a Wonderful Life, where a mom sees how differently her life could have turned out if she literally had been someone else by building her life on different values and choices, called Holiday Switch.

But for us, it was a moral morass and no one deserved a visit from Santa, much less a Christmas Angel to magic away their misery and make their dysfunction fun. Unlike the Cratchits or Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, who were just as fun and functional rich or poor, this woman was dysfunctional rich or poor! What a pill she turned out to be. We were so annoyed after sitting all the way through it that we’ve nominated it as top rival to our Worst Christmas Movie Ever:

From FavD’s 2007 review of “One Magic Christmas” —

This movie features Mary Steenburgen as a desperately poor mom at the end of her rope with two guilt-ridden children and an emasculated out-of-work husband. Needless to say, they can’t afford a merry Christmas. Enter Happy Christmas Angel to show them how much they love each other! Right? Well, almost.

The angel, a hangdog Harry Dean Stanton in a trenchcoat and fedora which make him look just like the polygamous cult leader I always think of him as, is not exactly Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life.

Harry decides that the best way to make Mary appreciate what she’s got is to magically disappear what little money there is in the family bank account. As you may imagine, this turn of events only makes Mary more shrewish, snapping at her kids, screaming at her useless husband, and generally raging at God.

Since she failed to respond to this brilliant tactic, the angel magics a bank heist next to Mary’s work. Mary’s husband gets shot, and the robbers try to run away his car, in which the kids were waiting. The robbers drive the car into a river in their haste, drowning the kids. Yes, you read that right: the Happy Christmas Angel just killed Mary Steenburgen’s entire family in front of her.

Feeling jolly now, Mary? Are ya?

Ho ho ho. . .
Let’s put more bourbon in those bourbon balls next batch, shall we??

But at least that’s all just made-for-tv dysfunction. Real social and economic dysfunction delivers no holiday fun despite its spelled center, and there’s no honest-to-god redemption at the end of a real greed and exploitation story for the rich OR the poor — not even on Christmas Morning.

C.S. Lewis once explained power of story as real, writing about his friend’s Read the rest of this entry »

If You’re Still Near a Computer. . .

23 12 2008

Go here for intelligent human holiday home magic. A quirky classic collection of stories, including five different takes on the Nutcracker ballet tradition alone — “I Hate the Nutcracker” for example, by a lovely-sounding lady who otherwise seems un-Scroogelike. . .we didn’t do the Nutcracker this year because the kids were cast in an original Irish fairy tale dance instead, The Snow Queen. It was Saturday night here, what a show! (More on that later if I get some pictures or video uploaded.)

And this should keep you busy, a Santa’s stocking full of stuff to bake, eat, drink, buy, read, watch, laugh at, dance to, and be culturally Jewish or Persian to, too . . .

“Look inside,” Francois said.
That’s when I noticed the mocha butter cream filling in the Yule log was missing two inches on each end.
“Your parents ate this while we were upstairs, probably with their fingers,” he said.

. . .The Yule stump was the one part of the meal that my parents ate with gusto.

“The inside is the best!” they told Francois.

If your kids are presently out of the room or else past the literal faith-of-a-child stage as you sit at the computer —  here’s Dave Sedaris as Crumpet the Elf unwittingly getting his real-life career start on NPR in 1992, reading his own “Santaland Diaries.”

To read rather than listen to another classic Sedaris story and pick up some cross-cultural Christmas history to astound the kiddies besides, click here for “Six to Eight Black Men” and be prepared with a plausible answer for passersby, about what’s making you laugh out loud:

One doesn’t want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this seemed completely wrong to me. . .

And while you’re browsing, listen to this. If after you’ve heard it, you still think some Christmas music would be nice, go here and click on the “holiday music mix” hotlink for instant streaming gratification, holiday music picked out by smart people for smart people, that will sound a bit fresher than the department store or tv fare. 🙂


Freethought Solstice Cards Ready for Holidays

11 11 2008

“May the bright light of human reason
illuminate the nights
of your solstice season.”

The North Texas Church of Freethought is proud to offer you a secular alternative for your holiday card needs this year.

Our resident artist Brad Watson contributed a beautiful oil painting for the front image, and you can now purchase these cards from our CafePress site.

Redux What Kids Want For Christmas?

9 12 2006

Now that the time is nearing, I’ll start the letter to Santa:

. . .Here’s a better gift idea that doesn’t come in a $129.95 kit with a “riveting” videotape —