Channeling Yoda?

I friend posted about love and not accepting hate. This whole “hate” thing has come up a lot lately. The idea of a “hate crime” repulses me, as if it’s ok to hurt someone physically as long as you don’t hate them. Hate probably is on the rise. I’d agree with that, but why is the real question. I think I have an idea. We are repressing fear and anger, and then disallowing the natural results.

Think about a child through a peaceful parenting lens. When a child comes to you with big nasty feelings like, “I hate Bobby! He’s mean and ugly!” or “I hate you Mom because you won’t let me go to the park by myself!”, what do we do? Do we yell back and say “You can’t hate. It’s wrong and terrible!”? Some people might, but peaceful parents don’t. We realize as peaceful adults that everyone has those nasty feelings of hate and we know where they typically come from. We help our kids by validating their feelings, holding them close, and hearing them out without judgment. We let the light in on it, so to speak. Then we can start to talk about where those thoughts came from and whether or not they are really justified.

Maybe he doesn’t really hate Bobby, it’s just that Bobby wouldn’t give him some of his candy and he was so disappointed that his friend would share. Then we can explore how to handle that nasty feeling of being disappointed. The hate is gone. With kids fear, disappointment, and anger can be swept quickly together and boiled into hate in an instant because they are kids.

With Mom, it’s something else but very similar. You know he feels like he’s being treated unfairly, we acknowledge that. We don’t say, “You can’t hate me!” because we know he can very well hate us. To deny that is to deny the reality of his feelings. We need to accept that at the moment he does hate us. Those feelings are very real and powerful. Then we can explore how we got to that hate. We can go back through the situation, see new things, make some explanations, and move on to a better feeling.

Recently, I’ve found that most people today haven’t had peaceful parenting practiced on them growing up. We all could use a bit of extra love even when we’re hateful and mean. We don’t need one more person telling us that our feelings aren’t real and are unwarranted. We need the time and light to explore why we feel this way safely and come to our own conclusions. I find that giving people space to hate and be angry, validating their initial reactions to things, tends to help people work through the fear and anger that caused them to hate something or someone in the first place more than condemning them for having the feeling in the first place.
Love and respect of everyone’s feelings whether we agree with them or not leads to others doing the same. And loving others in a world of people hating is a great place to start. I’m just trying to expand on that idea and explore how we might reduce the rise of perceived hatred in this world.
I’m sure you’d respect justified hate. A human’s first reaction to the unknown is usually fear and anger. Yoda says that! It’s instinctual, a survival skill of days gone by and probably should be explored. If you accept the feeling of fear and anger, validate them, they are explored better. Unexamined fear and anger can lead to hate. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like when we find out about pain or lima beans, explore them, and come to a hateful conclusion. The only way back from hate is to embrace it with love so that it feels safe to explore. When we feel safe to express our true feelings, generally those feelings change. I can really look at them in the light and see if I need to change my heart towards something. Few people that really know another in person can hate that person (unless you’re talking about ants. I really hate them no matter what, but that’s really a thing, not a person.)
That doesn’t mean condoning violence or aggression towards others. I can feel something and not act on that feeling. Much violence is repressed and unacknowledged hate from anger, which comes from fear and causes suffering. (again, I must be channeling Yoda today). Just as when a child who is told he cannot hate or be angry becomes more outwardly violent towards those around them, so does the adult that isn’t allowed to feel the way he feels. You just cannot repress feelings without dire consequences.

Longing for Real Education

When I was in college at the University of LaVerne, we did “The Threepenny Opera”. I remember building the set and painting it. I was very proud of that set. There were some catchy tunes in the show as well, that I still hear once in a while and smile at the memory of the production. But I don’t remember learning anything about the play, its authors, or its history. I remember learning about production work; designing, painting, lighting. I remember hearing the performance classes in the hall as I painted and set light angles. But I don’t remember really reading the play and understanding where it came from and what it was meant to portray. It came up in a book I’m reading today and it sounds so fascinating. I’m a tad disappointed at my short college experience once again.

I wasn’t planning on going to college but during my senior year of high school, our theater department participated in a university contest of sorts. Everyone brought their best work and entered it in several different divisions. This was the first one I’d been to that had a division for “design” which was what I was primarily interested in. I won first place that weekend and fell in love with the campus and the theater department there. The next year I was enrolled and looking forward to “real” education far beyond the boring and repetitive stuff we were learning (again) in public high school.

One year into university life and I was bitterly disappointed. The same old “general education” classes, taught the same way. The only good part was the freedom I had in the larger theater realm. I went for one more semester and dropped out when I got a part-time job at Knott’s in their Entertainment Department. That proved to be a great move on my part, contrary to the naysayers around me.

What I did miss was the chance at a “liberal education”. I wanted to read philosophy, learn more history, biography, and art. I wanted to read the classics and discuss them with people that were yearning to learn more about the world as well. All I got was training. Theater was a great creative outlet and we did have some awesome discussions in my theater history class, but other than that I was stuck in math, grammar, and basic history filled with dates of wars and political wins and losses. I was bored, so I left.

Here I am twenty-five years later just scratching the surface of classic literature and philosophy with no one to sit and talk to about it. I think that’s the one thing I’d love to snap my fingers and have in my life; a community of open-minded learners to sit and discuss books and ideas with over coffee and pie.

Homeschool Issues

Let’s say this. I see a need in my neighborhood and I decide to invest some of my money and rally people together to voluntarily help provide that need. It’s going well. We tweak it here and there and end up having a fairly successful thing going. In comes a mean man with a lot of money. He says, “I’ll give you a bunch of money to keep providing your thing.” It’ll be great because with his money involved, you won’t need to charge as much for the service and more of the poorer members of the neighborhood can use it. But, you know that guy and he’s a pretty mean dude. He may ask you to do something with your thing you’re not happy about and then threaten to take his money elsewhere if you don’t let him. So you decide to decline the money and be independent of this guy and his requests. How is that any different when the government is the one with the money?

My son says this is too cryptic. I’m talking about government-funded charter schools that offer money to vendors to supply services that private homeschoolers have been able to provide for themselves until now.

Another Book Started

I started reading “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom this morning. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years along with several others and I’ve finally had the self-control to stop buying new books that draw my eye and read the ones I’ve already got on my “to -read” shelf! As I started to read it I wondered if I really should right now. Will it only depress me? Or will I be inspired to continue my own education further and encourage my sons to do so as well by my example? I’m going to go with inspired for now and see what happens!

The book was written in 1987 and I wondered two things as I read the preface. First of all, I wonder if any of our politicians today have a real “liberal education”. It seems to me that college no longer has the goal of making better people and has become a job training facility. We have children raised in institutions from near birth, completely cut off from the real world, that are now continuing on into college that they believe should be paid for by the government to get good jobs. Few, if any, even ask the question “What is man?” in any serious way. It’s so sad to me because we live in a time when free access to literature and classical writing, along with easy access to conversations with others about those topics is at its height. We don’t really need to spend a ton of money to become liberally educated but yet no one really wants it. Instead, they want free job training, which they could have gotten for free by just picking a career and interning while they learn it.

It all seems so backward. Will this book help me to learn how it got that way? Or whether or not we can change it?

Book Use

I’ve a lot to write about but I got a bit behind this past week and haven’t been putting aside time to write each day. I get sidetracked by life and then give up on everything for a bit. I’m back and I’m not going to beat myself up about taking a break from my routines. I’m just going to go back to it, like the breath during meditation.

I started reading “The Anatomy of Peace” yesterday. I read it four years ago and was pulled to the title on my shelf again, so here I am. I’m so glad I am. The book was an assignment when I was taking a “Classic Mom’s” online class and I really liked it. When I pulled the book off the shelf again I couldn’t have told you what it was really about. As I started to read it, it all came back to me. I’ve loved reading the notes I made in the book last time I read it. In all my books I mark them where I find something interesting and write about it on a folded piece of copy paper I keep in the book as a marker. That paper goes into a file when I’m done reading the book and I write the date I read the book on the inside cover. If I want to see my notes, I just need to go to the file and find it. I’m glad I did this time! Much of what I’m reading now I wouldn’t have been able to tell you was in the book but I have incorporated many of the ideas into my life the past several years and now the ideas are fairly obvious to me. When I read it the first time, I tended to scoff at it when I started the book but could see where the ideas would be helpful by the time I finished it and the discussion afterward.

The basic premise is looking at people as if they are people, not objects to be manipulated. When someone drives up behind you and then passes you, do you wonder where that person is off to in such a hurry and hope they get there safely? Or do you shake your head and be angry that they made you slow down before the turn? Are the humans that live in your house with you people with their own needs, wants, and desires, separate from yours? Or are they tools to get the housework done and boost your ego? The best part of the book is that it isn’t written like a typical help book, with diagrams and inspiring quotes. It’s written as a story about a group of people helping their children through some tough times and getting through some of their own. I love reading it not only because of the useful message but because it has reminded me that the books I read every day aren’t lost just because I can’t remember the details, or even that I’ve read them sometimes. Their message has changed my heart and mind, and I use those ideas even though I can’t point out where I got them. It makes me think of what my children learn and use every day without anyone teaching them and making them take tests to prove what they have learned.

Part 2: Notes on “Deschooling Society”

Page 10 & 11 I actually have 5 different notes on these pages! I really have to have a better way of noting in my books. Here’s the biggest idea in this chapter. It’s called “Why we must disestablish school” and it ties right into my thoughts about the separation of School and State. “Equal educational opportunity is, indeed, both a desirable and a feasible goal, but to equate this with obligatory schooling is to confuse salvation with the Church.” and “The first article of a bill of rights for a modern, humanist society would correspond to the First Amendment to the US Constitution: ‘The State shall make no law with respect to the establishment of education.’ There shall be no ritual obligatory to all.”

While I am not a humanist by any means, I do believe in this statement. Just as the separation of Church and State changed the world for the better, so would the separation of School and State. It is unreasonable to expect everyone in the nation to attend the same style of school for a prescribed number of years and think you will come out with a uniform level of educated people. Humans just don’t work this way, not for a free society of self-governing individuals, but then I really believe the idea behind a government run school is the opposite of that. What organization of force is going to educate its members to not be controlled?

Page 15 “Skill teachers are made scarce by the belief in the value of licenses.” This has become painfully evident while trying to encourage people to share their skills with the children in our homeschool community. Over and over again I hear people say “I know X but I’m not a teacher. I don’t think I can volunteer to lead a class.” It’s sad.

He speaks of “educational matchmaking”. This is so easily accomplished now through the internet. And there would be so much more available if the most of the population didn’t have the drive to learn and experience new things driven out of them after 12 years of mandatory “education”.

Something my son said today that most people do not even consider. He found an app he wanted to use on his phone to learn new French words. It’s a kind of flash card app and when he first logged in to use it, it asked, “Are you a student?” He asks me, “If I have downloaded an app to learn something, am I not automatically a student? Therefore, why ask the question?” That’s what people generally don’t see. We are all students, all the time. It never ends. There is no graduation. But school trains that out of us just as some religion trains us to think we have accepted Christ and from now on owe nothing to the world around us.

Here’s one that made laugh out loud, “educators want to avoid the ignorant meeting the ignorant around a text which they may not understand and which they read only because they are interested in it.” It reminds me of the church sometimes. We, as Christians, cannot read and study the bible on our own. We may misinterpret it! But really, isn’t that in God’s hands? Did He really inspire a book to be written that most people cannot understand? I highly doubt it. I believe those words were made to be learned and studied and used by everyone. That’s what our education system has a created. A group of elites that pass down knowledge systematically to the underlings. Not all the information, though, that would be too much for us. Just what they deem important and just. And we all just sit here waiting to be fed the information. School has become a ritual that we all attend to without thought, regardless of whether or not we are benefiting from it. We drag our children there and watch them cry and stress out about it. We watch the negative attitudes develop. We watch as our children are bullied and build up walls around their hearts and minds. And we do nothing because it’s our religion and we must obey because it is good for us, or so the authority says.

Notes on “Deschooling Society” by Ivan Illich (1971) – Part One

There was so much awesome in this book. I wish I had started writing out these notes while I read! I’m going to be here awhile re-thinking and writing, but maybe that’s good for me. I’m not just reading, noting, and letting go. I’ve got to spend time going back through, thinking, and making my notes clear. Here we go!

From my first notes on the book, “It’s going to be hard to make notes on this book. I want to underline every word.” That’s how I felt through the whole first half of the book. I did end up filling up an entire piece of printer paper with tiny scribbles. By the end of the book, I wasn’t really agreeing, though. It seems we may agree on the problem with school but not the solution. The thing I very much enjoyed right from the start was that he really spent time separating the meanings of the words “school” and “education”. That’s something we all really need to think about.

From the introduction, “Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.”

Page 1 “The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.” It goes on but you get the idea. Think about how we automatically assume these things and that they can’t be separated. It’s one of the things that I’ve had the hardest time explaining to people new to the idea of homeschooling. They typically want to recreate these things at home, as if a family can do them better. Over time they learn and lose these notions and replace the meanings of the words to match their reality.

Page 2 “Rich and poor alike depend on schools and hospitals which guide their lives, from their wold view, and define for them what is legitimate and what is not. Both view doctoring oneself as irresponsible, learning on one’s own as unreliable, and community organization, when not paid for by those in authority, as a form of aggression or subversion.” Here I’m reminded about our local “Enrichment Club”. We’ve formed a group of families that can rely on each other to help us educate ourselves and our children. It’s cheap and easy to keep going but yet people want it to be “free” and they don’t consider it real learning because we have no classroom, teacher, or grades. The consider it extra or just social.

Page 4 “The poor in the US…are making the discovery that no amount of dollars can remove the inherent destructiveness of welfare institutions, once the professional hierarchies of these institutions have convinced society that their ministrations are morally necessary.”

“The program is known as Title One. It is the most expensive compensatory program ever attempted anywhere in education, yet no significant improvement can be detected in the learning of these “disadvantaged” children.” And this was in 1971. Can you imagine the money we spend today? Has it helped? We just keep hearing that we need to spend more to get any results. It’s like the roofer that says he’ll fix your roof for $1000 but it keeps leaking and when you ask him why, he only says it’s going to cost more to really fix it, yet it keeps leaking. At what point will we stop giving the money? In the case of education, never, because first of all we believe we are doing something good for the people and second because we don’t believe we are paying at all. We are spending someone else’s money, the so-called “rich” of our country.

Page 6 “…poor children lack most of the educational opportunities which are casually available to the middle-class child.” “…conversation and books in the home to vacation travel and a different sense of oneself…” This is why we, as a nation, need to stop spending money on school and encourage parents to learn for themselves. This was written in 1971, opportunities to get books and learn from the internet are so much easier now. Where the author and I differ is that he believes the government should do different things for people and I believe the government doing things for people is how this all got started down a terrible path. Get government out of trying to make things easier or better for people.

Page 8 “The failures of school are taken by most people as a proof that education is very costly, very complex, always arcane, and frequently an almost impossible task.” And it’s so not true. Government schools are impossible. Today, one family taking its children out, spending some money on an internet connection and a laptop computer, and having a library card, can change the world. The problem is that we all believe that isn’t education. That you must be corralled and fought to learn. That once you graduate, you don’t need to learn anymore. That it is someone else’s responsibility to educate your children. It makes me sad to watch so many people live like this. And it’s all a lie.