Thursday, December 26, 2013

But My Children Understand That Dogs Don't Really Talk

What if you talk about it with your kids and you swear that they understand the difference between fantasy and reality?

Maybe they do! Kids mature at different rates. That being said, most kids won't fail the "Now, Mary, tell me the difference between real trains and pretend trains" question the day they were exposed to the pretend trains, they will fail the question a week later, sometimes a month later.

It's the way our brains work. It has to do with information storage. (And this is about all fiction, not just fantasy fiction). I remember reading about an experiment done on adults in which a "psychologist" suggests a memory to the subject (that never happened, in this particular experiment it was "remember that time your mom lost you at the mall when you were little? She found you by the fountain.") A year later, when the subjects were asked if their moms had ever lost them as kids, almost all of them told the story they had been fed about being lost at a mall and found at a fountain.

Most people don't need a science experiment to tell them that their memories can be faulty. Most of us have had the experience of swearing something happened to us only to realize a while later that the memory actually came from a movie or book.

But back to children and fantasy.

Children becoming confused about reality is the biggest reason to question the idea of exposing a child to fantasy, but there are other reasons too.

One reason is time. A friend of mine, Andrew, pointed this out to me. He said he loved seeing what my two-year-old chooses to do with his time, like mastering how to make scrambled eggs, practicing jumping or trying to read. Every minute of his day is spent acquiring those skills he has judged as important for life. This is very different from the Standard American Two-Year-Old who thinks it is extremely important to learn the names of all the super heroes and then practices how they fight bad guys. The way I state this same idea in my Main Idea 2 essay is: the reason why children in the past were so much more mature/competent than ours is the same reason why hunter-gatherer children today are capable of so much more than ours--math. Time. They have simply spent more time learning real life skills than our children have. Eight years spent practicing being a princess or a superhero is a lot of time spent not acquiring other skills.

But perhaps real life skills aren't that important to you! Perhaps you find it adorable when Jonny pretends to be Batman and you would't trade that for the world. As a parent, you get to decide what makes parenting the most fun for you. (This is assuming the child does understand the difference between reality and fantasy though.)

Another reason, the main reason I personally don't expose my son to fantasy, is our relationship. I find my son very easy to relate to. I love hanging out with him! I love what he has to say about things. When we talk, I feel very connected to him. When I work with fictionalized kids who announce to me that their name is "Ariel" or tell me their friend Fluffy the Elf will be hanging out with them today... I don't know what to say. I lose connection with them. I can smile and call someone Ariel and I can offer someone's elf tea too, but... I am not connecting with a person. I am playing with / entertaining an adorable (stupid) pet.

For more information on this subject, see my Main Idea 2 essay. Also, John Holt writes about this well in his book Escape from Childhood. Maria Montessori writes about how children prefer to be taken seriously as well in her book The Child in the Family. Alison Gopnik writes about how children remember things (and the experiment on adults I mentioned above) in her books The Scientist in the Crib and The Philosophical Baby. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Book Review - The Leipzig Connection

The number one thing I got out of this book: send your kids to Montessori schools folks!

What a fun, easy, clear read. It is what it is. It doesn't have solutions. Its remark on Montessori is but a paragraph. But it was the most important paragraph to me because if the super evil dude who wrote Dare the Schools Build a New Social Order used the Rockefeller fortune to suppress Montessori... well, I just assume that's the school I want :)

I took off one star for how it ends: our schools are giant brainwashing machines but that only sucks because they are in the wrong hands, if only they were in the right hands..... Oh Paolo. I really hope that was a bad joke.

Best paraphrases:

Although today Dewey's views are in practice in the great majority of American schools, before the turn of the century they were revolutionary. The Wundtian redefinition of "education" to mean feeding experimental data to a young brain and nervous system, rather than teaching of mental skills, led to the abdication of the traditional role of the teacher as educator, Its place was taken by the concept of the teacher as a guide in the socialization of the child, leading each youngster to adapt the specific behavior required of him in order for him to get along in his group. Dewey called for a leveling of individual differences into a common pool of students who are the object of learning technicians devising the social order of the future.

This is the view of Dewey and other Wundtians--that man is a social animal who must learn to adapt to his environment , instead of learning how to ethically adapt the environment to suit his needs and those of society. Individualism and the developing of individual abilities give way to social conformity and adaptation; the product of education becomes "well-adjusted" (conditioned) children.... which creates a society that operates more on the basis of gratification than on the basis of reason and responsibility.

Rugg: through the schools of the world we shall disseminate a new conception of government--one that will embrace all of the collective activities of men; one that will postulate the need for scientific control and operation of economic activities

Gates through General Education Board: In our dream we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review - Dare the School Build a New Social Order

Like I was saying in my last book review: do not under any circumstances send your child to public school.

And maybe have a backup plan for fleeing the country.

Book Review - The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America: A Chronological Paper Trail

This book can be summarized well with a loose quote from the preface: if a child can read, write and compute at a reasonably proficient level, he will be able to do just about anything he wishes with his life, able to control his destiny. Because providing such basic proficiencies is not and should not be an expensive or complicated proposition, it becomes obvious that it is only a radical social agenda to brainwash our children that is the costly proposition--and complicated to hide what's really going on.

I couldn't put this book down. But I don't think it is for everyone. It's extremely important and wow, what an immense amount of work and knowledge the author provides! But it's not easy reading. It's a paper trail of extremely annoying political writing and over-complicated attempts by person after person to first appeal to someone's emotional rather than rational brain and then slip in some tricky language so that everyone agrees with whatever he says. So... totally obnoxious annoying shit. But sometimes fun if you enjoy the puzzle. And just mostly horrifying. I have never wanted to leave this country more.

Crazy how the government documents would have me convinced for fifty pages that the idea came from a good place and would do some good for the kiddies (like getting rid of grades and apprenticeships) but then how it turns out to be totally evil.

When the government pushes for "no grades" what they are really pushing for is a different kid of grade, grading on things the government values. So instead of grades that measure work, the "grade-free" report cards are all about a student's timeliness, attitude, effort, cooperation, responsiveness to authority, etc. This is NOT what I think of when I think of "no grades." So here are the characteristics that a totalitarian government wants in its citizens. These are the traits that will get you ahead, get you into the good schools, the good jobs--not brain power, but obedience. The more obedient will be rewarded with jobs that give them power. It's brilliant. And totally Hiter-esque.

In the 90's teachers were required in almost all public schools to make behavior part of the kids grade--whether the teacher wanted to or not. It's all about baby steps.

When government pushes for "apprenticeships", it sounds so good! I totally support apprenticeships! That's what I want for my son! But reeeeally, when you make apprenticeships part of the school program, you put the government in control of jobs. Kids and parents aren't out there looking for an apprenticeship that their child wants, the government decides what the kid gets based on his grades in school (and remember his most important grade is obedience). A few more baby steps and now you can only get a license to work as a baker if you have done an apprenticeship and you can't get an apprenticeship with the government... the government controls the jobs and we are a communist country.

I used to think that the schools had been taken over by the Democrats and that's why most people couldn't graduate from college without becoming a liberal, now I know that I was really on to something--the schools were taken over by behaviorists (on the payroll of Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller) with a brainwashing agenda to make the US fascist/socialist a long long time ago.

The fact that it took so long to shows the weaknesses of behaviorism and the strength of our old values. But baby steps, money, patience, "research" and 100 years and our country is pretty much socialist (but we call it freedom here!) Politics will follow ideologically. Don't worry about today's men. Just take over the schools, brainwash the kids and everything will fall into place!

I am super curious about brainwashing now. Fascinating that what is taught does not matter as much as how it is taught. It is the methods that make people automatons who cannot think for themselves, not the subject matter.

That's the problem with brainwashing and socialism and government--as long as you agree with what they are doing to everyone else, it's great! "Make them dumb religious folk turn to science! This country would be a much better place if we all supported abortion, gay marriage and evolution!" I can just hear people I know cheering. But then when those in power decide to "Make them horrible rebels send their kids to public brainwash school, make them horrible hippies vaccinate their babies, make them dissenters take mood-altering drugs, make people eat what we tell them to eat..." WHY DON'T PEOPLE SEE THIS? It's all the same! It doesn't matter what you are MAKING people do, it doesn't matter how good you think it will be for them or the world, the problem IS the MAKING.

Dear Would-Be Socialist Dictators, please read Non Violent Communication and Choice Theory. And John Locke. There IS another way. We don't actually all have to agree on ANYTHING except to respect each other.

My biggest complaint about this book is that I wish Charlotte wrote more. I want to know more of her thoughts about education and solutions. And, I don't need such a long paper trails. One or two documents per category would have been fine. And I gotta say, I wouldn't have minded if she held my hand a little more. This book is like Iserbyt got out here file of evidence and published it. I would like her to write a new book with short chapters based around each regulation or educational platform rather than chronology. It could accompany this book so that when she refers to "Protect INSTRUCT" I can flip open this book and read a one page summary about project Instruct, who started it, who is pushing for it, what its real agenda is, etc.

And for parents like me who want to know what I concluded from this book without having to read it:
-absolutely no public school for your kids
-if you want to do private school, make sure the teachers are experts in their fields and do NOT have teaching credentials
-if you chose to homeschool, do not do it through the public system and be very careful about whatever system you choose. Probably best for you to be the teacher. Remember the quote at the top--with basic math, reading and writing skills your child will be able to do almost anything he wishes with his life. This is not a costly or complicated thing to teach your child.
-flee, flee the country. South America or Alaska.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Don't Try to Get My Friends to Parent Like Me

*You will get a lot more out of this blog post if you have read my 'Main Idea 1'.

'How should I go about talking to my friends about parenting?' and 'What is the best way for me to approach someone I see at the grocery store who is being mean to her kids?' are questions I get fairly often. They fascinate me.

Neither of these questions are about "talking" to someone else. What I want when I ask these questions, is not to "have a conversation" with someone. My goal is not to connect or empathize or philosophize. When these questions pop into my head, what I want is to help these people. They are bad parents! They need my help! Or maybe they are just average parents who need my help, but either way--they are not coming to me asking for help. It is my desire here. I want to help them because I don't like what they are doing.

The question I am really asking is: "What is the best way for me to get them to do what I want them to do?" These "conversations" that I want to have with the Bad and Average Parents mentioned above are "goal-oriented conversations" or "jobs." And the psychology of accomplishing a job is all about me. When I have a job to accomplish and that job is helping or changing or fixing another person, I am not present, I am not connecting, I am not relating to another human being--I am at war. And the other person is the enemy I wish to conquer.

I have a lot of empathy for people who find themselves pondering any form of the above questions. I find myself doing it all the time. I hate the way so many people treat their kids! I feel disgusted when I see how they talk to them! I feel desperate for people to change! AND I have an incredible expertise in this area! I would feel so happy if more people parented like I do! And they would be happier too! In fact, the whole world would be a better place if more people parented like I do. And if they ate like I do. And if they dressed like I do. And if they read as much as I do. If only I were the Supreme Dictator of the Whole World, everyone would be happier... right?

A lot of the time, when we want to "help" other people, we are not paying attention to what is really going on inside of us, we are not clear about what we really want and need. For me, when I desperately want to help/change/fix/dominate other people, what I actually want so desperately can be summarized as: I want people to be more like me.

Which means that I am suffering from feelings of:

-loneliness. If only there were more people like me out there.
-fear. If they raise their kids like that, their kids will be monsters when they grow up!
-anger. How can people treat children that way? Why is life so unfair and ugly?!
-sadness. That expression on that child's face makes me want to cry.
-hurt. I have so much to offer! Why don't these people ask for my help?!

Which means I am actually needing:

-validation. If my ideas are actually right, they will see that and agree with me.
-contribution. If I fix these people, I will have helped to make the world a better place.
-compassion. I wish life were more fair. Maybe someone could hug me while I cry about that.

These lists could go on and on. But I want to keep them short, because the lists are not point. The point is that it is easy to understand why I feel so desperate, why I don't want to think about what I am feeling, why I want to focus on the other person, not myself, why I want to go to war with an enemy rather than invite my intense feelings over for tea.

This explains something I have wondered for so long: people who want to "help" others are often quite miserable, angry people. If they are feeling all those things I just mentioned above... I understand why they are so miserable.

For me, the questions 'How should I talk to my friends about parenting' and 'What should I say to bad parents at the grocery store' are actually: What can I do when I am having strong feelings about what someone else is doing? How can I talk to that person about my feelings? Is it possible to connect with them so that I can feel heard? Especially if the person is my friend. What can I say? I feel so afraid of losing my friend but at the same time, when I see how she treats her children I feel like smacking her. What can I do to feel better? Can I connect with strangers and have empathy for them, even as I am disapproving of them?

This blog isn't about reinventing the wheel or summarizing or restating what has already been said so well elsewhere, so I'm afraid the answer is: read Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg. I cannot recommend enough. We don't get to control other people, but we do get to express our feelings and needs! If you have something very difficult you want to say to your friends or strangers, this book will teach you how to say it. The podcast Complete Liberty does a great job as well in explaining why domination psychology will never lead to freedom.

That being said, this blog is about why? And about what I might know that the above book does not say. I had an interesting conversation the other day with my friend, a psychologist. She became a psychologist because she wanted to help people. "What would be my job in the world that you envision?" she asked.

The simple answer is that psychologists have a lot to offer people who want help.

The more complex answer is that the best thing anyone can do to help other people is to follow their joy. Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Joseph Campbell and many others say it well but in this context I want to mention a book called, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. This book explains the science that shows that the best way for you to get your friends to eat healthier is to eat healthier yourself. And to enjoy it. When your friends see you feeling good and looking good and loving life, they will chose to be more like you. You will never have to say anything.

Maybe physical health isn't what would make you happy--fine. It doesn't matter what it is that brings you joy, the only important thing is that you follow your joy! What people need to see more than anything is others living happy lives. Happiness is contagious, as shown in the book Connected. If you are happy, if you sparkle with joy, you will be a blessing to all those around you. Your happiness will rub off on your friends. That is the greatest gift you could give to anyone. The greatest gift you can give to the world! Want to help people? Go be happy. Most people don't know how to live happy lives. Many even doubt that it is possible. Show them how. Most people have no idea how to relate to children. You can show them!

When I talk to my friends about parenting--and I do all the time--it is never as as a hidden attempt to get them to parent differently. It is because I just learned something that excites me! I finish a book every week and I am always dying to talk it! This stuff is fascinating! And the results of how I am raising my son are fascinating! And how parenting is connected to history and society and education are sooooo interesting!

In these conversations, I want help processing something I have learned or I want to share information that I feel excited about--either way, I am talking to a person and what I am seeking is connection and relationship.

I don't want to be inaccurate or pretend that I am perfect all the time though so, in case it case I wasn't clear enough above: I engage in plenty of unhealthy thinking and catch myself fairly often attempting to relate in ways that I don't support.