Friday, July 30, 2004

Eulogy for a duck

His life was full of sunshine and children playing.  He always looked happy and serene.  He brought us joy and inspired generosity in us to share him with others that they might also know joy.  Unfortunately, it was this generosity which lead to his violent death.  He didn't deserve to die this way, head feathers punctured by a rough little boy.  But, we must remember his long, joyful life and not dwell on his death.

He joined us three years ago, I believe.  He was always willing to help, always buoyant.  He even propped me up when I was large with child.  Oh, how I loved that duck.  The children loved him as well, they always wanted to play with him -- sometimes it even caused them to fight with one another.  And still, he remained unflappable, willing to spend time with whomever would have him.  Willing to go where they would take him, but always returning to us.

We shall miss him -- he wasn't our first and he won't be our last, but he was special and we loved him.

Farewell, sweet Duckie, may you ever float in the great beyond.

Under construction

Future topics I'd like to address but can't right now...

Casual talk vs. building meaningful relationships through conversation

What the deal with the iPod?  Its okay tune in and drop out of interacting with anyone but a little machine but homeschoolers aren't properly 'socialized' because they aren't walking the halls in line with others their age?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Miffed women

My DH frequently comments on women who look miffed -- they tend to be moms these days because we are in the throes of parenting preschoolers and the only people we tend to notice are other parents....  DH will mention he saw a certain neighborhood woman taking a walk with her three sons and dog, he always thinks she looks miffed, though he did note she looks less miffed this year than last.

I've noticed that I, myself, am miffed quite a bit.  I hear myself talking to my 2 DDs and I sound awful -- a real harpy.  The most ironic thing is I'm always telling the 4 year old not to whine or yell, but I do it all the time.  

Why are women almost always miffed?  I'll have to bring DH in on this one, I can think up lots of reasons why mothers of preschoolers are miffed, but I think he thinks all women, regardless of age, have a strong tendency towards miffedness.

Why are moms miffed?  Well, its very stressful taking care of preschoolers all day.  They interrupt your thoughts and activities constantly.  I feel terribly off-balance because the 2 year old is in everything -- I'll be in the middle of a task and have to go and get her out of some dangerous situation.  Then, I forget what I was doing.  I guess I'm miffed because of the inability to concentrate, the lack of peace.  Granted, there is a lot I can do to try to restore peace to my mind despite my circumstances, but I guess I'm not trying hard enough.

I often feel its hard to take preschoolers anywhere -- I'm either being too strict and controlling or too lax.  If I'm worried the kids are getting into things or bothering people and I nag them not to do this or touch that, inevitably there is some kindly person who assures me its all right.  So, I feel like a shrew.  Other times, I decide to be laid back mommy, give the kids some room to explore while watching all the while when I discover that the adults there are of a more control-oriented stance and don't want the kids wandering. 

The latter happened today at a library story time for 3 to 5 year olds.  The 2 year old was walking around.  As she slowly approached the felt board where the librarian was telling the story, the librarian told her [i.e. me] that she needed to sit down.  Obviously, the 2 year old was not going to do that, mommy knew full well that the librarian was admonishing her for allowing the 2 year old to wander.  Mind you, the child had not reached the felt board, had not touched anything and mommy's eyes were on the child.  Nonetheless, I felt cowed, then extremely annoyed -- excuse me, its a CHILDREN'S PROGRAM, I would have expected to find someone a bit more laid back with children.  Oh well -- this is just one small example of the rage that leads to a general miffedness.  And I'm not even getting into the control freak at Pottery Barn Kids who put away the display toys as my children played with them -- where do they find these people -- the toys were out to be played with -- its probably because I wasn't a granny willing to buy the crap.  If my mom/their grandma was with me I'm sure the saleslady would have found my children adorable...

Reflections from an obituary

Contrarian Psychiatrist Loren Mosher dies, 70

--decried excessive drugging of the mentally ill, large treatment facilities and the sway pharmaceutical companies had over professional he talking about institutional schools??? Oh, no, he's speaking of treating the mentally ill -- we need the schools to help create the mentally ill...

--advocated a largely drug free treatment regimen for schizophrenics, whom he viewed as tormented souls needing emotionally nourishing environments in which to recover. He said drugs were almost always unnecessary, except in the event of a violent or suicidal episode.

--established small, drug-free treatment facitilites more akin to homes than hospitals. Soteria House in San Jose. Crisis house in Rockville, Md, McAuliffe House, based on Soteria's principles.

-- Mosher "the idea that schizophrenia can often be overcome with the help of meaningful relationships, rather than with drugs, and that such treatment would eventually lead to unquestionably healthier lives."

-- Mosher, in his resignation letter from the American Psychiatric Association " my view, psychiatry has been almost completely bought out by the drug companies."

-- During the Ritalin craze of the 1990s, he was often featured as a dissenting view in articles. "If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth," he said of medication. Purposeful link to the Nazis' propaganda techinique of the Big Lie???

Facts from the Washington Post in July 2004. Commentary by Sparky.

I've put this on here simply because it makes me wonder and I want the information to be available to me should I decide to look into his research in the future. Its just too hard to keep track of all the scraps of paper...

I wonder about the effects of drugging children into submission by diagnosing them as ADD, ADHD or whatever and then prescribing drugs to control them. If schools must drug children to make them learn [and its debatable whether they are learning or just being mollified], then maybe we must ask whether schools are right for these children?

Holt quotes

Excerpted from How Children Fail, Revised edition, John Holt:

"[it is] true of school subjects that teaching -- 'I know something you should know and I'm going to make you learn it' -- is above all else what prevents learning." (emphasis in original) p.161

"The inventors of clever teaching ideas tend to think that if one good teaching idea helps to make some learning happen, a hundred good ideas will make a hundred times as much learning happen.  Not so.  A hundred good ideas may stop the learning altogether." p. 162

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Books I'd like to read...

Here are some books I'd like to read, please let me know if you've read any of them...[I'm writing as if other people read my blog...ha ha]:

Henry David Thoreau, Walden -- I read excerpts of this as a junior in high school, but, of course, I remember very little and it didn't have much meaning to me at the time. I just read an article about Thoreau and Walden in the Smithsonian and the author, who has taught for about 15 years, indicated he just recently began to 'get it' at age 44.

anything Ralph Waldo Emerson -- also a transcendentalist and good friend of Thoreau's, a minister by trade, Presbyterian, I believe.

Morton Kelsey, Agnes Sanford, John Sanford -- spirituality [from a Chrisitan perspective] and healing

Thomas Merton -- lots of books about Christian mysticism

I may add more to this later, but as it is, this list will keep me occupied for awhile.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

My philosophy

I don't want to force anyone to do anything they don't want to do -- well, except maybe my husband.  Seriously, though, I don't want to have power plays and fights with those I care about [or, for that matter, those I don't care about].  Also, I don't like calling people and asking them to volunteer for whatever project I'm working on -- I recently bowed out of a volunteer gig where I would be seeking and coordinating other volunteers -- I hate trying to talk people into doing things they aren't inclined to do -- especially if I'm asking them to do things I don't want to do.

As far as the application of this to my children, this is why I'm drawn to unschooling/relaxed homeschooling.  I believe that intrinsic personal motivation is the best kind of motivation and the best way to learn and live.  I also believe this is in keeping with the principle of free will given to us by God -- so there is definitely a spiritual dimension to this philosophy.

I see my 4 year old learning so much by being in a rich educational environment -- her home -- filled with interesting things she is free to explore.  She knows how to count and is always learning by looking at books and using household manipulatives to sort, etc.  She learned to read without lessons -- just by being read to and by looking at books at her leisure. 

Freedom to learn vs. control

"It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiousity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty." -- Albert Einstein
To read more, click the Xs...
As an unschooler, I firmly believe that children will learn what they need to know, when they need to know it, and will find the best way to do it. They do not need us pushing them. Why do some parents push them? Is it the fear that if the child is not pushed [not given an external motivator] that the child will never learn? End up on the dole? Won't achieve his potential? This assumes the adult knows better than the child what the child's potential is and what his aptitudes are -- that the parent can help him to accomplish it better than he would if left alone. Isn't part of childhood about discovering for yourself what you're good at, what you enjoy, what you want to do with your life? Why would anyone want to rob their child of that? Is it the misguided notion that they are easing their child's journey -- its their journey, let them have it. Homeschoolers are often criticized for protecting their children from negative socialization in school -- well, parents who push their kids are trying to protect their children from the inevitable bumps and uncertainty of the child's journey to self-awareness and fulfillment.

Are they afraid they won't learn unless pushed -- is it a fear that the child is not motivated? If the child is not motivated, perhaps the parent is trying to push the wrong subject. Let the child find his way -- he'll do a better job of it.

Is the parent simply arrogant in assuming that they know better how to make the child learn? Let the child live his own life and do something with yours. Remember when you were young and whether you liked living under the pressure of your parents' and teachers' expectations.

Have faith in your child.

As John Holt said in How Children Fail, Revised Edition:
Many parents and teachers have a belief about children in general that is both profoundly disrespectful and untrue. "It is that they never do anything and never will do anything "worthwhile" unless some adult makes them do it.... The only triumphs of [the child] that [the mother] savors are those for which she can give herself most of the credit. Children sense this attitude. They resent it. By what right do we assume that there is nothing good in children except what we put there? This view is condescending and presumptuous. More important, it is untrue, and blinds us to the fact that in our clumsy and ignorant efforts to mold the character of children we probably destroy at least as many good qualities as we develop, do at least as much harm as good. No -- we do far more harm than good." pp.267-68

Monday, July 19, 2004

In the beginning...

Well, here I am, now I all I have to do is think of something to say... I'll start with a quote

"But, of course, those of us who understand life couldn't care less about numbers!"
-- The Little Prince, Antoine de St. Exupery

What numbers? Test scores, grades, achievement awards, salaries, house prices/sizes...

I have two preschool-age children. I'm married to a wonderful man. I live in a nice house in an affluent suburb -- I guess we qualify as affluent generally, but we're not nearly as affluent as some of my friends. Most people seem to have affluenza, actually -- this is a term I read in the newspaper, its not my own, but it really applies. So much of life seems to be taken up in the pursuit of status and acquisition of material things... This is why I'm an unclimber, I'm hanging out on my ledge of the mountain, not at the top, not at the bottom. I've climbed to a pretty nice spot and I'm staying. Its sort of fun to watch the other climbers, yeah, sometimes I feel superior to them, but I know they feel superior to me, so its a wash... In the end, I know I can't feel superior to them without losing some of my unclimber consciousness, so I must simply respect their climb and enjoy my perch.