As you know, if you read my first post here, birth is a big thing for me. I'm actively involved in several birth advocacy groups, and I talk pretty much incessantly about how birth is messed up in this culture, and how women need to be empowered to make better choices outside a system that's inherently flawed.
The other day, on an email discussion list, a person who is a luminary in the birth community, someone who is known internationally for her wisdom and clarity, made a statement that I found to be completely at odds with both my experience, and with the ideal. I thought about it, I stewed on it, and then, politely and with much respect, I called her on it.
She responded gleefully, and a good conversation ensued. But she also commented that she was trying to provoke discussion, and was surprised by the lack of commentary. And then the floodgates opened, with women saying "oh, I'm glad someone else spoke up, because I disagreed too...."
So why am I writing about this on this blog? This blog is about school, or not-school, right? Well, yes and no. This blog is about life and how we live it. That elist has nothing to do with school, it's only about birth, and it's full of women who self-identify as seekers after truth, women for whom their intersection with mainstream birthing was unsatisfactory, and they're asking questions. And yet this group of women, when confronted with a strong but inaccurate statement by an acknowledged authority, were unwilling to indulge in a little tipping of the sacred cow.
I could cry, and maybe sometime later, I will. But for me, that was absolutely tied into the culture of our educational system.
One of the most chilling concepts in the writings of John Taylor Gatto is the idea that compulsory public education is designed not necessarily to educate, but to train compliance. We don't question authority, or we are penalized. We don't even get to go to the bathroom without consulting someone who has the power to tell us whether or not we are allowed to eliminate when we choose. Twelve long years (at a minimum) of moving to a designated place when the bell rings, sitting in rows, regurgitating information that may or may not be germane or in any way relevant to the requirements and demands of life outside the classroom. It's a wonder to me that any questioning, revolutionary spirit could endure such training.
If you read much in the news these days about Web 2.0, you'll see that one of the themes of this progression into online communities and away from point-source learning is that it creates a more vox populi idea of information. It eliminates sacred cows. And if you're at all familiar with the concepts of classical logic and the identification of logical fallacy, you're having a field day with the products of mainstream media, who are not informing the US people with anything resembling intellectual rigor. We're expected, in every way, to do what we're told, to not argue too much, and to accept the party line without discourse.
One of the reasons this country was even created, is because a group of extremely determined people had not only a questioning spirit, and a solid belief in the validity of their own thinking, but a certain glee in the tipping of sacred cows. The Founders of our nation were never in public school, and I'm quite sure, never had to raise their hands to ask to go to the bathroom. I like to think that by sparing my children a course in compliance, I am helping to raise the sorts of people who will grow up to carry that revolutionary torch. I like to think that the constant questioning we receive as their parents will translate into a constant questioning of those who would call themselves "leaders", and that if those "leaders" fail my children, that they'll get the same sort of pushback that we their parents get when we make a boneheaded call on something.
But in the meantime, while they're little, let's see what kinds of
tipping leading I can do by example.
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveler, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason, her sons Rowan and Kestrel, and her daughter Aurora. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds forth her opinions on that in her blog, The ElementalMom.