Panning Jessica Alba’s Idea of Award-Worthy Parent Performance

31 07 2011

“Fear is not a good thing for relationships.”

Have you heard of celebrity Jessica Alba? Most young moms will have done, probably. Her fame hadn’t reached me though, until thanks to Nance and Deanne, I first caught her act this week.

It’s a cautionary tale.

She admits to locking her toddler in the bathroom with the lights off because “her previous methods weren’t scary enough to keep the tot from behaving badly.” But, she tries to justify the practice by saying:

I mean, we don’t believe in, like, spankings. Or like when I was a kid I used to get hot sauce in my mouth . . .

In her television-and-film stunted-story mind, that’s “creative discipline” rather than, like, creative abuse?

Like, no, let me see if I can talk your childish gibberish teevee language to help you pay attention so you can behave better than this. Here’s what it’s, like, really like: it’s like the oh-so-creepy choco-beast tv commercials where mom and dad in spooky darkness, purposely terrify their children all to warn them away from their dessert stash in the fridge.

Then they laugh and congratulate each other on their kids’ screams.

Alba is like, the perfect celebrity to star in those commercials, too bad she wasn’t cast! Did her agent not know, somehow never realized she’s been playing out that role at home in a self-produced sequel of her own poorly-parented childhood, for a captive (and I do mean captive) audience of one helpless and unlucky little girl?

I’m very strict with her. When it’s time for her to eat, whether she’s hollering or whatever, Read the rest of this entry »

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Power of Story in One Teacher’s Century-long Life

17 05 2011

At 100 Still a Teacher, and Quite a Character:

. . . she recalled how difficult it was to get fully certified by a byzantine school bureaucracy. The examiners had her explain a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and told her afterward she had given “a poor interpretation.” Having been blocked once before because of a trace of a greenhorn accent, she refused to be stopped a second time.

So she did what any true aspirant would have done: she wrote a letter to Ms. Millay and had her evaluate her interpretation.

“You gave a much better explanation of it than I myself should have,” the poet wrote back, and the chastened examiners saved face by urging Ms. Kaufman to try for the license again.

This power of story goes beyond one poem and what’s in work-school words like teacher, certification and accountability. It’s about human identity, who we are and how we came to be and what to do with it.

Her grandfather was the great Yiddish storyteller Sholem Aleichem, a writer who was able to squeeze heartbreaking humor out of the most threadbare deprivation and wove the bittersweet Tevye stories that became Read the rest of this entry »





Three Power of Story Stories . . .

5 05 2011

to help JJ celebrate this National Day of Reason:

1) You’ve seen this picture.
“It is an image unimaginable 30 years ago. . .”

Now see three reasons it’s worth not only a thousand words but worth more than every history textbook in Texas, and then some.

(If you saw the evangelical Christianist self-styled as an authentic history expert on Jon Stewart last night, you’ll know what I mean. If not, watch this.)

Update – the Jon Stewart interview moved one author to action, reports the Friendly Atheist. She decided to give away for free download her book, Liars for Jesus:

The whole thing is just infuriating. Barton goes on and on (and on), talking over Stewart, saying that Christianity is under attack. Stewart calls him out on it. Barton changes the subject, cherrypicks court cases to prove some obscure point, and acts like he’s victorious. . . .

She’s going to give away her book for free in the hope that the truth can spread.
. . .So download it, read it, spread it, and help put a dent into Barton’s influence. Better yet, buy it if you can so future volumes can be published.

2) THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! Only reason will beat it back into the Dark Ages. (Do we need a presidentially commanded special ops strike force of REASON?)

3) Edge dot org has an intriguing new conversation up on “The Argumentative Theory.”

Edge is the perfect place for some Day of Reason reading:

EDGE
To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

Read first, feel the sudden warmth of human cognition exciting your synapses, then talk later.
I’ll be here. 🙂





Desperate for Control? Abusive Parenting, Abusive Politics

8 04 2011

As we talk more about morals and monsters in politics and schooling, check out this comment from discussion last year that might speak to Ben and others on how this all connects:

GOP = Authoritarian

Specifically, authoritarian parent!
That’s the finding of a researcher-author I heard interviewed driving kids around last night. The new car came with a free satellite radio trial and I was trying out some new channels.

“Authoritarian” equals order and control, tradition and therefore fear of and resistance to change such as women and minorities getting the vote, immigrants streaming across a border changing the economy and voting patterns, the competitive rise of other nations in world affairs, same-sex marriage rights, etc.

Hence any challenge to authorities that keep order and control is the ultimate offense.

GOP is increasingly authoritarian because it feels increasingly under threat, which causes emotion to take over cognition in the attempt to resolve those threats and restore “order.”

And apparently an increasingly accurate way to predict American political party by degree of authoritarianism, is to ask not about policy issues directly but about parenting priorities and attitudes. Right up Snook’s alley!

It makes sense then, that loving uniforms and clear hierarchy and rules and order whether military, police, gun-bearing militia (even zero tolerance in school discipline and dress codes) are predictably not Democratic.

And it makes sense that like parenting, politics too can turn coercive and even criminally abusive. When traditional Authority fears losing control, it does in fact lose control!

For parents who are desperate for control over their children, when spanking doesn’t work (and often, it will not), the relationship turns abusive, either physically or emotionally or both.

Their survey instrument was described as a series of forced choices between pairs of words such as curiosity or manners, kindness or obedience. The interviewees choose which they believe is more important Read the rest of this entry »





Monsters and Men in Morals of Money and School

3 04 2011

“There’s nothin’ worse than a monster
who thinks he’s right with God.”

–Firefly captain Malcolm Reynolds, episode 13,
seen on Netflix last night with Young Son

Closing the computer down for the night later, I spotted this in my feed reader:

“I guess all I want at this point in the debate
is a little intellectual and moral honesty.”

–Conservative Christian homeschool dad Ben Bennett,
Admit It, Liberals, You Hate School Choice

And this morning the Sunday NYT business section has just given me Cornell economics professor Robert H. Frank’s thoughts on gauging the pain of the middle class with The Toil Index:

Context matters because the brain requires a frame of reference to make any evaluative judgment.

Yep, just like a frame of reference to define the difference between monster and man.

Rising inequality has shifted the context that governs. . . the cost of achieving basic goals, like sending one’s children to a good school. School quality is an inherently relative concept, too, and good schools tend to be in more expensive neighborhoods.

The toil index rests on the positive link between a neighborhood’s average housing price and the quality of the school that serves it.

This link implies that the median family must outbid 50 percent of all parents to avoid sending its children to a below-average school. Families that failed to rent or buy a house near the median of the local price range would have to send their children to below-average schools. The only alternative to seeing their children fall behind is Read the rest of this entry »





“Sure, I shot you, but you’re the one that fell over”

8 03 2011

Dale McGowan at Parenting Beyond Belief:

If a minority point of view is on the verge
of gaining a fair hearing within the rules, someone in the majority will simply change the rules. . .
Though religion is in play in both of these situations, the principle applies to countless others as well.

I could have tagged this with every label Snook has got. With examples. (This for instance.)

I managed to stay three more years, trying to improve
the climate of inquiry on campus,
before nausea led me to resign . . .

Learning this principle the hard way, struggling against it like sticky spider silk until I finally gave up and came home, was overriding power of story throughout my career. I heard but tried to rise above dark mutterings of “life isn’t fair.” You might even say I had FAITH. I believed!

I was wrong.

We seldom grab public problems from the right end, or should I say from the right beginning? Start from a false premise and we’d be better not to start at all.





JJ Spending This Week With Economist Jeffrey Sachs

22 02 2011

Free! — no admission, registration, tuition. Materials not included and I may need to buy a book or two, maybe not. We’ll see.

It only took a cup of coffee, some battery power and less than ten minutes to get started with a world class professor (see his vita at end of post):

“Both [parties] are completely unrealistic . . . what’s happening in this country? . . .Both parties are financed by wealthy people . . . everyone caters to the top. . .
American influence is waning, American infrastructure is crumbling . . .except if you’re rich and you have a lot of money to invest, you’re investing in China. . . our politics is SO ODD right now, because it’s driven just by the very top. . .pure propaganda [of] Big Oil . . . food prices are at all-time highs, there’s instability all over the world. . .energy crises, food crises, do we talk about any of that in our country? Absolutely not.”

‎Next I found a short profession of his thoughts on education. Real education, not schooling: education to help our kids learn about the real world IN the real world, to “Think Big”, to experience and understand what’s being systematically twisted and lied about for the basest motives, in our textbooks and classrooms and broadcasts, even in the hallowed halls of the capitol buildings and courthouses we built to express and effect our American Dreams. So what does the Doctor order? Unschool them in the real world and encourage every opportunity for them to get out in it and unschool themselves:

“The irony is not that we are at an abyss that is unavoidable . . .it’s almost the opposite. We’ve unlocked the ability to promote economic development in all parts of the world. We have at our hand, the ability to end extreme poverty. We have before us either already existing or within reach, technologies . . .the question is whether we can BRING KNOWLEDGE TO BEAR on these solutions and then Read the rest of this entry »