Adventures in Unschooling

Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

I spend so much time reading books on every kind of topic. I used to mostly focus on parenting and nutrition. I have learned to eat really healthy but I also indulge in mint and chocolate chip ice cream. I know that I shouldn’t punish my kids but when I am at the end of my rope I do.

The truth is that my parents left me a little screwed up but so did your parents. And you and I will all leave our kids a little screwed up. I am positive that that is true. 

One kid will say, my parents didn’t care enough to set boundaries for me and the other will say my parents cared too much and put up too many boundaries for me to be able to grow and develop independence. Striking the perfect balance is impossible I am convinced. I do like the books because they help me understand the logic between the parenting styles. 

We are quite liberated. We let our kids dress like superheroes to the grocery store and they can paint on themselves if they want. They pick out their own clothes, no matter where we are going and they even pick out their own footwear (to buy and to wear). Someday it’s rubber boots with swimming trunks and long sleeved dress shirts. That’s just how we roll. 

I frequently encourage my kids to do things for themselves. If they want a free cookie from the grocery store they have to ask for it themselves. I tell them, “I don’t want one. If you want one, you need to go ask.” 

So Trey will run to the cookie counter and say, “Three cookies please. One for my brother and one for my sister and one for me.” Then he brings me the one he had received for Anna and gives it to her unscathed. 

I find that they are very generous with each other as well. They share their food quite willingly. And will think of each other when they have items. One day Joel found a bunch of change on the ground (nickels and pennies etc.) and he took half of them, put them in his pocket and then gave the rest of them to Trey. We try to not force them to share their toys. If I get something and Kevin asks for it. I will gladly share…when I am ready. When I start a book or something I expect to be able to finish it before I pass it one to someone else. I respect that my kids have similar needs. They shouldn’t have to share if they are using something. I do encourage bartering then. When Trey wants something Joel has and he starts crying, I tell him that Joel wants that right now. If he wants to find a more appealing toy for Joel then Joel might be willing to trade his toy for a different one. This often works. And if it doesn’t then tough cookies. He has to wait his turn. 

But I have a problem with some of the kids shouldn’t have responsibilities and kids shouldn’t be forced to be part of the family. In my house we care for each other. I just paid an exorbitant amount of money for 3D IMAX tickets to Toy Story 3 for this weekend. Do I care to go? Not really. But my boys have been psyched for this for months. And I couldn’t get cheaper seats…so $65 later we are going to be watching ONE movie for about TWO hours! What a waste of cash. But they want it and it’s not always about me. 

I make them food they like often. And I seldom get my yummy mint/chocolate chip ice cream because I am the only one that likes it. We are a co-op and we love each other and we help each other. So, they must tidy up the common area when they are done. And they have unrestricted access to the craft cabinet. BUT, they have to clean up after themselves. They often play on my table and I use that for eating and working etc. So they are expected to pick up their pieces of Play Doh. I know some other unschooling moms don’t agree with that. They follow behind their children, clean up the mess and get everything ready for the next creative session. But the fact is that I don’t want to decide to make pie and have to clean up paint, sidewalk chalk, Play Doh and all that stuff first. I think it teaches mutual respect. 

When they lose the pieces to a game, we don’t get angry. We simply use the pieces we can or throw it out if it’s no longer useable. But we don’t buy a replacement one. They’ll ask if they can have more LEGO and I’ll say no. They each have a bucket that is full to the brim in LEGO. All they want are the LEGO men. Which they insist on toting with them to the farm, the library, the grocery store, etc. Then they promptly lose them or pieces of them. LEGO is expensive and we have had to draw a line in the sand. When he gets money (for his birthday or whatever) he chooses to spend it on LEGO. That is his choice. 

He’ll even tell me sometimes, “Mom, I am taking my toy with me when we go shopping. And if I lose it that’s my problem OK?” I just laugh and say, “OK.” 

I am amazed at how strong and independent they are. They make their own choices and respect my opinion (sometimes). They will ask if it safe for them to run to the car or they’ll tell me that they are bringing this toy outside. The other day I realized that before the boys went to bed they had brought some sidewalk chalk into their room. Joel had drawn all over his dark sheets with these pretty pastel chalks. Can you think of a better canvas for chalk than a dark sheet? The contrast was beautiful. I didn’t get mad. All it took was a tumble in the wash to get it clean again. No harm done. He got to be creative at no one’s expense. Good for him! 

I will post a picture when I get my computer back from the “shop.” 

I guess what I am getting at with all of this rambling is that I don’t care what the books say. I am going to try to treasure their individuality and try to respect them. And we’ll forget about the details. You take it one day at a time and stop feeling guilty that you aren’t living up to someone else’s expectations. 

And speaking about choices and respect for others, I took my kids to a Gay Pride Parade last Saturday. It was colourful, full of techno music and by far the most vibrant and fun parade I have ever been to. And it was the most beautiful day we have had in two weeks. There was no raining on this parade. LOL. 

The kids tried to understand what the parade was about but I wasn’t able to explain it very clearly. I did my best but those are hard concepts to get when you are five years old and you don’t even fully grasp that there are different family units from your own. No matter though, they got candy, stickers, necklaces and had a great time.  Trey kept saying, “Mom, this is like New Years!” I don’t know where that came from because we never go to any parties at New Years! LOL. 

The most amazing part was the types of people in the parade. There was representation from everything from gay nightclubs, to political parties, to banks, to grocery stores, to United Churches, to lobby groups. So many people came out to show support for personal choice and human justice (in the form of equal rights). 

I always used to think, what difference does it mean if they are “married” or not but it turns out lots. They don’t get penalized on their taxes for example. And picture this scenario, you and your lover have been together for 12 years. Your family is religious and upset about the person you chose to be your life partner. So you don’t talk to them. But the person whom you share your life with knows everything about you. One day you get in a violent car accident and end up in the hospital. You mother gets called in to make the life or death decisions for you. You partner is excluded from the emergency room, funeral arrangements. Instead of being cremated and tossed from a mountain top as you had instructed your lover to do, you are buried in a ghastly blue dress your estranged mother chose. The truth is that without marriage the life partner can not be considered equal to a spouse in decisions like this. It is important that they get to choose who should represent them in their finances, their child rearing and their deaths. 

But won’t that open up the door to other types of marriages? You mean like polygamy or child marriages? NO! Get over it you cry babies. Gay marriage is a marriage of mutual consent between ADULTS. It won’t open up the door for child rape etc. And to top it off, a study has come out recently saying that the children of lesbians are better adjusted than the normal population. They have lower incidences of substance abuse and have lower incidences of mental disturbances. 

Seriously, two mommies? How can this not be a win, win? Even my husband said so. It’s usually the fathers being cold and distant that causes these behavioural problems. Two warm, comfy mommies? Right on! 

 

I have been feeling like I haven’t written a heavy post in a long time.

Our family has been, and still is, in some major transitions with work. It has certainly made it more difficult for me to find the time and the state of mind to write the kinds of posts I want to write.

Guerilla Homeschooling has this story about how the bestselling homeschooling textbooks dismiss the theory of evolution and the work of Darwin. http://guerrillahomeschooling.blogspot.com/2010/03/top-home-school-texts-dismiss-darwin.html

Now I don’t really care what you choose to believe but how much preparation are you giving your kids for the “real” world when you are teaching them to discredit the only credible theory on the origin of life.

I don’t care very much about how we were created and as such I haven’t read much on it and haven’t formed an opinion. But would I purposely teach my kids that the prevailing scientific idea of the creation of the life is a lie? And I don’t really care if you think that creationism is a respectable theory. The truth is that it only holds water (and even there barely) if you already prescribe to a certain set of beliefs. Without that foundation, the theory of creationism, has more holes in than a sieve.

This is a perfect example of why people think homeschooling will hurt kids. It isolates them from “bad” influences and makes them naive to the world around them.

I don’t unschool my kids to protect them but rather to liberate them. To let them learn about what they want to and to let them see the world as it really is. To learn the uncensored versions of things!

I also have started watching a documentary called War on Kids and while I admit that it is focusing on the most extreme of extreme examples of the prison like state of many schools I am still finding it interesting.

I especially like the part about Ritalin. Anyone who isn’t living under a rock should know that Ritalin cause psychosis. That the majority of violent crimes committed by students against parents and other students have been committed by kids on Ritalin. Pretty much all of the school shootings in recent history have been committed by Ritalined kids.

And Ritalin is meant to fix a “chemical” problem. Or in other words it’s meant to fix childhood joie de vivre. This is the real crime.

Here are the best segments of the documentary:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lzm6F33QEo&feature=related

Four million kids on Ritalin in the US!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sQxAyqesHE&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gktKcHxWWYc&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgQa1SKi7Hc&feature=channel

Basically everything from Episode 5 on is valuable. I really like Episode 8. Nine is very good too.

If you hate reading…thank a teacher.

I have finished reading A. S. Neill’s Summerhill and I found the chapter on sexual repression to be so ground shaking.

At first I was shocked. But it did begin to make more sense the more I thought about it and it was even clearer after I slept on it.

When I began to think of the way that my peers would hide their sex lives from their parents I began to think about how stupid it was to try to restrict our kids from their natural urges.

If anything, letting our kids know that sex is normal and that it isn’t dirty will allow us to have more candid discussions and will allow our kids to trust us to be part of that part of their lives.

Many of them will have sex whether or not we think it’s appropriate. It’s normal for kids to experiment and by making sex forbidden we are making it alluring.

That may also mean that they take us seriously when we talk about STDs and the risk of pregnancy instead of going to their peers or the media for information on sex.

And to be honest, I’d rather have my boys sleeping with their girlfriends in their own homes, in their own beds, with a box of condoms on the dresser, than in the back of some car.

How sad that we reduce our kids to having sex in the back of cars!

I was recently told of a 19 year old girl who was told by her older boyfriend that she couldn’t get pregnant because his penis was crooked. And, yeah, she got pregnant. This girl may not have been so stupid had she had a parent to talk this stuff over with.

Neill also talks about society and religion acting as oppressors. I think religion acts as one of the worst ooppressors of sexual urges. I have spoken to multiple boys who were constantly chided and guilted because they masturbated. A friend of mine was almost kicked out of Bible school because he got caught.

To be honest, I don’t want to know. There is nothing pretty about a fella goin’ at it alone. But I don’t think that he shouldn’t be able to.

So while I think there should be some societal restriction on where you choose to do it I don’t think that our boys should be told that it’s evil to relieve themselves.

And this whole concept of pleasure being sin has translated even into the marital sex of many married couples. Many, many women never experience orgasm and must therefore find sex to be rather mundane if not degrading.

Neil says that this is a form of “polite rape.” And after sleeping on it, I agree. The Christian/Catholic Bible tells women to fulfil their wifely duties by satisfying their men sexually. There are no conditions for the man to do the same (just as their are no instructions for men to respect women). How sad. My husband will be the first to tell you that he enjoys sex so much more when I am enjoying myself.

It’s obvious that we need to reevaluate the way that we treat sex in society and how that affects our children.

Neill believes that violent sexual repression (let’s say beating a child because he touches himself) is at the heart of most sex crimes. It’s a perversion based on showing love through violence.

I have read two accounts that when a teens’ interest in pornography was accepted in the house as a norm that the youth would often outgrow it before they hit adulthood. When it wasn’t considered dirty and rebellious it became repetitive and boring.

I had drafted this for Facebook but then I couldn’t bring myself to actually post it there. My husband’s family is on my Facebook and they are all Christian and most of them are pastors or missionaries etc. I didn’t want to call down that thunder! LOL.
 
So I am going to post it here. I have encouraged members of his family to check on this blog to get updates on our lives and to see pictures but they never find the time to check my blog. This always used to piss me off since they find time for other things that have less value than family but for once I am glad that I have a place to share this where they likely won’t see it.
 
My case:
 
The church used to teach people that the world was flat. Those who discovered it was not were hailed as liars and heretics. Hated by the church. God forbid we allow our people to accept the evidence right in front of them. No. Let’s just stick to scripture. Scripture with it’s many flaws, contradictions and brutal fables.

The same thing happens with evolution. I haven’t cared to look into it but there is a growing body of scientists who believe that the evidence of evolution is incontravertible. But there is no need to see that as a potential truth. I suppose it only makes sense to believe that God created Adam and Eve. And that their sons married women from a far away (where did those ladies come from I wonder?).

I don’t care either way. I don’t have the energy to invest in the past. I don’t care where we came from. It MAY make my life a smidge less meaningful to think I evolved from pond scum but all it means is that I can enjoy my life instead of worrying about angering some indignant creator. I used to feel guilty for walking on someone’s lawn or for having bad thoughts. Taking a creator, who judges and is bound to punish me, out of the equation allows me the freedom to be me. To have unrestricted thoughts and to obey laws and be nice to my neighbours simply because I want to be. Not because I am afraid not to be.

And I have a bit more to say about truth. We are all supposed to believe that God exhists in good faith because sometimes we get what we ask for. But I have to tell you that the thing I wanted most in the world (involved shielding someone from harm/sin) wasn’t granted to me. This isn’t like asking God to give you a pony, this is like God keeping someone safe.

I prayed every night for a year and I wasn’t rewarded. It would lead me to three possible conclusions: Prayer doesn’t matter. God doesn’t care. Or there is no God.

It took me six years but I have moved through all of them in that order. Why pray if God just does what he wants to do anyways? And if everything just plays itself out as it is supposed to do then what are the chances that there is no creator manipulating things?

And what is the purpose of still born children or people killed by war? I am sure those little ones burning in Christian Hell are so glad that God took them before they had a chance to be saved (I have read that book from cover to cover and didn’t find any reference to “the age of accountability).” I love how religion can exclude people even in death. How Christians can cope with their misfortunes by assuming that it is God’s will and that his infinite wisdom will see them through it without questioning wether or not there is even a creator.

They’ll say the evidence is all around us. I just see the work of nature. Random and unfair. For every beautiful flower there is an eel thing with a gazillion teeth and for every sunset there is a friggin’ mosquito! Nature is beautiful and butt ugly at the same time. As are humans.

And I see corporations dumping crap into our environment, and women being oppressed, and animals being inhumanely raised and slaughtered. And religions allow all of this to transpire. They apathetically allow the genocide (or general abuse) of children oversees while yelling hateful things at gays in their neighbourhood.

All over the world you see the work of religion. Ritual sacrifices, honour killings, suppression of free speech and truth, forbiding access to real knowledge lest people think actual truthful thoughts, women being raped and beaten, animals being tortured, children being bombed etc.

If the church really was the bride of Christ you’d think you’d feel this “Spirit of Christ.” Even once in a while. But instead the church functions as a bandaid. Offering a day of spiritual renewal (singing and praying) and then letting people get back to their TVs and Coca Colas. When I moved to Calgary I immediately started volunteering because that’s what Christians should do right? In all of my volunteer work I have never come across a Christian. I was pretty sure that Jesus called us to be a light, to love our neighbours, to help our enemies etc. Why aren’t they in their communities? I don’t know!

I’ve called people on it all the time and it hasn’t changed people’s perpectives at all. You may hate your boss or watch porn when no one is looking but that’s OK…for you! But don’t be gay, or Liberal (or worse NDP), or vegetarian. They’ll say you are welcome (to be rehabilitated) but no one will talk to you. My old Care Group leader accused me of talking about my diet too much. I don’t remember a single time that I talked about it that wasn’t spurred by a question from her. She was obssessed with my diet! It was always, “why don’t you eat meat again?”

And of course Christians say that the individual sins and you can’t judge the church or God that way but I see this coming from the church as a whole.

I am reminded of the genocides in Native Residential Schools. Those were committed by the church! Not just Christians. The Church!!!

And they’ll vote for Christians even if they are evil, murderous assholes. That’s the church. They support each other. Even if they are ALL wrong. Case in point: The Catholic Church has been covering the asses (even giving assylum) to priest accused of child molestation. I am sure Jesus would have to say something about that.

Then people use the “word” to guilt you into doing stuff. Like singing in public. “God doesn’t care about how you sing…so won’t you lead the service on Sunday?” Excuse me? People look at me weird when I would decline singing in public. We are supposed to have gifts and singing isn’t mine. So I am supposed to sing in public because God wants me to worship him! I can worship in the pews too. And if I asked everyone to join me in interpretive dance during the service how many of them would argue that that is not their calling? Why must they be so manipulative? I don’t see them giving their coats to the needy either. Maybe I am being unfair. But the most generous and accepting people (save for one) I know have all been non-Christians. What’s the deal? Those called to love fail miserably and those who have no moral obligation to do so do it much more effectively. Boggles the mind.

Anyways, this is just a tip of the iceberg of my thoughts from the past two years. I may update this when I feel more calm and my thoughts are more composed.

 
Tags: