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September 03, 2007

Comments

Summer

This post struck a chord with me. Like bumper stickers, the places I choose to link to are a reflection of what I feel/believe/agree with. They tell a bit abut me, and are labels that I proudly wear. So when I vist other sites and see links to certain unWise baby carig advice or pushing beliefs as science it ruffles my feathers. Especially so on other hoemschoolers because I am afraid that those who paint with broad brushes will fit my family in with them.

Robin

I’ve been interested in the topic of healthy diversity and who represents homeschooling for a while. I remember reading some old NHEN posts a few months ago: http://www.nhen.org/forum/default.asp. The participants were discussing who represents homeschooling and whether homeschoolers should or should not take socio-political stands as homeschoolers. At least one poster wondered: what if all homeschoolers who wished to publicly stand up and speak out for their beliefs did so… would we as a community eventually represent as a microcosm the macrocosm of society as a whole? The problem is when one group that represents one way of thinking purposely sets out to represent us all. My intention is not to excuse bigotry or abuse where it exists. This greatly concerns me was well, just as I am sure my beliefs probably put more than a few folks on edge. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on pov), we do not all see humane behavior in the same light; and more specifically unfortunately it seems some folks can get away with advocating and actually “spanking” a baby with a “rod” and legally get away with it. Another unfortunate... the media seems to be more attracted to horror stories and examples of extreme living rather than the lives of most of us.

Fatcat

It's hard for me as a more liberal (I don't really like that word but it's all I can think of) Christian to figure where I fit in. I'm embarrassed by the behavior of some of these people. Racism and baby hitting make me very angry. A wise man once told me that he believed 'the rod' meant the shepherd's crook, which is not used to hit, but to gently pull back onto the path.

Jackie

I really wish I had something profound to add to this discussion, but I don't. I'm tired and I looked at my e-mail today and there was a message from a mom worried about her African-American children. She asked me and the other members of our small circle, "how can we save our black children?" She pleaded for answers in the face of news stories of police brutality, unfair jail sentences, and the like. She asked how can she teach her children that the same rules do NOT apply for them and that they "don't" get second chances in the justice system so there is NO room for them to make mistakes.
This is the lead in that cake--the ultimate undigestible bite. We can't find enough ways, enough people, enough money--enough something-- I don't even know what to fix the system so we have to teach our kids that they have to be even more careful, even more watchful, even more perfect.

And how do you communicate this to people who don't feel it? Race issues do more than concern me; they scare me, they pretrify me, they infuriate me--they make me fear for my husband, my sons and my daughters.

Back to the topic, I'm glad that these people DO use bumperstickers and links to label themselves--I know what to expect and I can close the box before it even gets to me.

Great post Missy!!

Crimson Wife

Aren't you being a bit overly judgmental here? Not all Christians believe in a "Young Earth" literal reading of Genesis 1. One can neither prove nor disprove scientifically any involvement for a supernatural Creator in evolution. An atheist/agnostic is free to believe it's all just random and I'm free to believe it's divinely guided but that's irrelevant to science (which deals with "efficent" causes rather than "final" ones). The head of my church just came out with a statement in July in support of evolution and reaffirming that faith and science are complementary ways of knowing. So you can't automatically assume you know where someone stands on evolution just by a little fish symbol on the car.

I'm curious which historical literature you found to be racist, however. We've run across questionable passages in some of the classics written in the 19th or early part of the 20th century. Things like "Peter Pan" and "Little House on the Prairie". I discuss them as being artifacts of the author's times and how today we know better. It's not fair IMHO to impose modern race (or gender) standards on books written so long ago.

missyridgecarter

Crimson wife,

I am genuinely unsure how to respond to your comment without seeming to be rude. It's pretty clear that you didn't really read my post, so all I can assume is that you read a summary of it elsewhere and responded from that summary.

First of all, I am a Christian. I wasn't attacking Christians. I was writing about a certain mindset within some parts of the Church, and I can't apologize for exposing what I know about that mindset. I know about that mindset because it has already struck out at my family and, frankly, I don't have the luxury to ignore that.

In fact, I said nothing about having a fish on your vehicle. My words were, "Symbols that show a disbelief in science or evolution raise concern." That doesn't mean the fish alone, by itself. I also stated that it's a combination of messages that tells me where people stand, and, as Jackie said, it is actually a good thing. It does tell us what to expect.

The racist prose I wrote about is nothing like the "Little House" series. It discusses "Negroes" having the mental abilities of a 7-year-old, and I really don't care how it's used. There are so many other types of more subtle racism included in those materials and, once you read the more blatant stuff, you won't even notice the subtle things. That's why it's so dangerous.

Like Jackie, I'm tired. It's hard to communicate the depth of our concerns to people who have no real comprehension of racism and of how deeply it has taken hold of our communities and of the ultimate impact on our children. It helps when others actually make the effort to listen and to reflect, but, sadly, too many people don't.

Robin

...So you can't automatically assume you know where someone stands on evolution just by a little fish symbol on the car...

Good point, Crimson Wife. I admit to an automatic stereotype when I see certain images. I have to stop that instant image that flashes in my mind and work to open my mind at times. On the other hand, I also see where some folks rationalize or overlook certain behaviors and attitudes because they don't want to deal with them or it would mean to alienate themselves from a community that they otherwise feel they belong to. I try to expand my personal community by being open to busting my own stereotypes, but at the same time, I am glad to know where others stand so that I can avoid people and communities who would judge me, and more sadly, my children because we do not believe what they believe or are not "the right kind" whatever that may be.

Jackie

Wrong is wrong whether it happened 100 years ago or 2 hours ago. Writings that portray African people or Native American people or Chinese people or whomever as less than human are wrong. Writings that degrade women are wrong, regardless of the time period they were written in. There is lots of good literature out there from different time periods--we don't need to rely on literature that is derogatory to a race or a sex. When people do rely on that type of literature to teach history, it is because they want to or because they don’t care enough to look for something less racist.

A 50 year old bomb is an artifact, but hardly harmless. I wouldn't want it in my backyard, just like I wouldn't want racist literature in my library. It may not harm Crimson wife’s children, but it harms mine and if it doesn’t hurt mine, it may hurt a child from some other race. I can't write these types of books off as a "sign of the times". Hitler has been long dead, but his words still have the power to poison minds and create hatred and the same is true for writings that portray African-American people as animals and Native American people as savages. Words have that kind of power. Words make a huge difference, both positive and negative.

Missy said that she looks at a grouping of "signs" and makes a judgement call based on what is best and safest for her family. She didn't say she takes one sign and closes the book. In my opinion, the issue here isn't actually about evolution or corporal punishment. The issue is that there are churches in this country which are racist. Some of these churches share common characteristics: a belief in evolution, a disbelief in science; and a belief in "spare the rod, spoil the child”.

I can't speak for Missy, but I know these churches exist because my sister's husband belongs to one. In his church, it is okay to beat the crap out of your kid (or wife), but not okay to marry a person outside of your race.

When I meet people who seem to believe the same things as my brother-in-law I do tend to make a judgement call. That type of Christianity is unhealthy to my family. Think about it, I protect my children from second-hand smoke, preservatives in their food, and violence on t.v. There are times when I'm not 100 percent positive if a food is toxic for them, but there is enough of a chance that I say "nope, you can’t have it--better safe than sorry". Likewise, I sometimes have to make judgements about a person based on "signs". Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong---but I'd far rather be safe than sorry. Kids are worth it.

Robin

...A 50 year old bomb is an artifact, but hardly harmless. I wouldn't want it in my backyard, just like I wouldn't want racist literature in my library....

...We've run across questionable passages in some of the classics written in the 19th or early part of the 20th century. Things like "Peter Pan" and "Little House on the Prairie". I discuss them as being artifacts of the author's times and how today we know better. It's not fair IMHO to impose modern race (or gender) standards on books written so long ago...

I agree with you both. We run across racist literature and there may be some in my personal library. I'm not sure. We talk about it when we come across it from whatever the source. My children, though, are not the targets of the racism. Big difference and different shoes to be standing in. I agree that racist jargon and mind sets are not harmless (and I don't think the previous commenter was saying that exactly) no matter the period (and awareness) in which they manifested. Such may be historical, though, and they may be sociologically revealing. We talk about what we run across in literature and historical accounts in light of our own consciences and conscious awareness and are hopefully willing to see the context that exists around each as well as "both sides" when applicable. It is important to me that we never rationalize behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to other human beings. What other people choose to do, I cannot control, whether that be in a school building or in another's home. That is when I am happy to know where others stand and happy to know that I can create the life I want to give my children. I am dependent on no one else for that.

I would never consciously choose to submit my children to racist propaganda as the source for correct perspective, and I am sure that many of us do without realizing that we are, especially if we take into account what some of us might consider the more subtle realities, the layers beneath the layers that we are not open to comprehend today for whatever reasons (and that are not subtle to those who are the targets). That doesn't mean we can't open our eyes and change that.

When it does happen that religious truth is tied into the accuracy of certain historical truths, therein lies an obstacle that can shake a person's faith. Not an easy place to be in, either. The same could be said for cultural, familial, and all other truths. We stand on the truths that are given to us as children and to break away from them can be a tumultuous, life changing event, as well as liberating.

Cathy Sheafor

Thank you Missy and Robin for your insightful comments. I personally would never choose a curriculum like the Vision Forum for teaching history. However, I want my children to be aware of these sources and approaches to history because it informs them about the bias in the world and prepares them to address it in a productive manner. For those of you who want your children to approach American History with a thoughtful questioning approach, have them read Lies My Teacher Told Me by Loewen. And, back to the original topic -- I must say that I look at bumper stickers as fuel for thought. I cannot tell you how many times my girls and I have embarked on a philosophical discussion because of a bumper sticker one of us saw on the road. What an opportunity! Whether we agree or disagree, bumper stickers are often the catalyst for discussions that present my children with the opportunity to develop, discuss, and solidify their own values.

missyridgecarter

I've been giving this a lot of thought over the last few days, in large part because, when you are raising children of color, the reality of race and racism is never really gone.

Jackie, thank you for your thoughts; they were an expansion of my own. The analogy of a 50-year-old bomb is pretty accurate and expressed what I couldn't quite get into words.

I think it's very easy to dismiss the impact of racist literature as being obsolete when it's not going to directly hurt your family. If you use a curriculum with blatantly racist elements, it's easy to identify those elements, to either set them aside or use them to show your children how people "used to think". The problem is that it's not just how people "used" to think; many still do. It just isn't okay to say it out loud. Additionally, even while you recognize and acknowledge the most racist elements of a curriculum, the more blatant bigotry desensitizes you to the more subtle components. That's the lead that slips under our skin.

It's not really about who believes in evolution and who doesn't; it's about those other beliefs that you stumble across in the same churches and religious organizations and homeschool groups, the beliefs that I don't have the luxury to ignore because they have already hurt my kids.

I do think that there are people who display those labels who don't intend to be racist, but the truth is that racism is never far from those beliefs and I can't be certain how much another person has unknowingly absorbed. As a parent, it is my responsibility to make that judgment and I can only do that based on what I know. If you choose to join those organizations, to buy their curriculum, you choose to be tied to the racism that is just below the surface. It's my choice to step away with my children.

Opal Tribble

I think at times people might not be aware of the facts related to the organization they might support or items they might have. Also some might not know what to believe because at times some of the statements made can be untrue. Of course you have those that know the truth and support them also.

I'm not too fond of Bob Jones University but then again I visited their campus during College For A weekend when I was in high school. My brother also went there for two years. As a minority he was treated differently and had racist things happen to him. That was why he left nothing was done about it.

You can encounter mixed messages with online communication you can see things that make you want to visit or leave a virtual community.

I'm a homeschooling mom and at times I have to admit I feel like I'm the outsider when I visit some virtual homeschooling communities because I just don't see a lot of minorities featured in "regular homeschooling community blogs/forums. In most cases I don't think it's intentional but that can send mixed messages with some people. I usually search to see if minorities are represented in the community blogs/forums. I do think that the people aren't thinking about the message they might be sending. Then again maybe it's just me.

Of course I find them when I visit websites that are minority based some of them were started by owners who said they did not feel like they were welcome at the "regular" websites. I find that sad hopefully things will get better.

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