View Full Version : Suffer Little Children
How are people here exploring the themes on this board with their children? With all the misinformation going around in society there’s clearly a need to provide an alternative to the knowledge status quo, but how do you find a functional balance? My son is about 18 months old now and on the cusp of communication. I can just imagine him in school in the coming years saying, ‘My daddy says I have to love the dimensional shift.’ ‘Truth’ to one side, coming out with anything like that at show and tell is going to cause a child some problems both with teachers and contemporaries.
No doubt many, if not all, of the posters here were probably ‘outsiders’ at school, so it’s tempting to think that this is just part of the process of growing up. That said, there seems to be something more immediate about the need not be duped in 2003 than 1963 or even 1983.
When I was at school I was pretty sure that I was being fed a load of nonsense, but I didn’t have a parental figure confirming this for me (though my parents certainly never told me I *should* believe what I was being told – they just kept quiet on the matter). I suspect my parents thought that undermining anything other than the school’s history of Stalin would be problematic for everyone concerned.
Any aware person can see for themselves they’ve been misinformed in their education by their late teens or twenties. But how do we bypass this misinformation in our children without making their lives difficult in a system which for the majority is unavoidable?
09-03-2003, 01:24 AM
These are good questions, gelfer, and I don't think anyone has great answers. I am interested in alternative education - especially Waldorf - for my 2-year-old. If I had the resolve and lived in a community, I could see starting a completely independent school run by a group of like-minded parents - as modelled in the great film 'Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000.'
09-03-2003, 08:07 AM
Having just personally graded 20,000 10th grade student essays for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, "No Child Left Behind" boondoggle, I can tell you that the American educational system is knee-deep in doo-doo. May I recommend this month's cover story in Harper's for a professional's analysis of the problem.
09-03-2003, 08:22 AM
As I saw it, the basic premise of the Harper's article was that our current system infantalizes students, creating beings who have been instructed in how not to think for themselves. This sang out to me like a bell ringing, because the whole mystery of our country's recent past is: "where is the outrage?" Why, like the imbecile dwarf in "Time Bandits" do we stare glassy-eyed at the boob tube and intone, "I feel a thought stirring in my head" every time some talking head says, "The American People want closure." It's because we have been taught to Listen to the Experts instead of relying on the evidence of our own senses.
And if you pray for any hope of escape for your children, don't go along with the comfortable lie. Don't hand them over to the destroyers. Find the strength somewhere to resist.
Mmm. I swing between two approaches, depending on mood, which are essentially those faced by all of in response to the current situation.
Sometimes I feel inclined to guide my son through some compassion model, ‘Mate, most people are sadly misguided and will be horrible to you, but the best thing is to be nice to them, true to yourself and quietly try and make things better.’
Other times I’m more inclined to something akin to a combat model, ‘Mate, the world is populated by people who are either simply misguided or actively seeking to harm you. Brace yourself for battle and do everything you can to stem the tide.’
There’s a lot of talk about balance in approach. Balance is a beautiful idea, but I certainly can’t achieve it and if I were being unkind I would say that all the people I see who claim to are actually doing nothing other than keeping their heads down.
Still, these are unorganised thoughts.
I think about the alternative education options as well. Of course, the fact the orthodox system is wrong doesn’t make the alternative right, but there certainly seems to be some good things around on the surface – I need to look in to it in greater depth.
I haven’t heard of the ‘Jonah’ movie, will have to try and hunt it out.
09-03-2003, 10:35 AM
Terence McKenna once told the story about one of his children being told at school some propaganda against LSD, which the child quickly debunked. When asked who told him this information Terence's child answered self assuredly Albert Hofmann.
Salmon should prove swimming up stream is not an easy task, but also not an impossible one.
09-03-2003, 04:06 PM
This morning was my daughter's first day of First Grade at a Waldorf school (http://www.waldorfpeninsula.org/) (third year there). I had actually known very little about Steiner before reading Daniel's interview in FT and then BOTH. This rekindled my curiousity and also helped me tie these realms of thought, in my mind, to my kid's current development process.
In that light I see Waldorf education and its supporting community to be a very strong complement to the themes on this board. Out of all the schools I originally toured while looking for Kindergarten, no other school provoked such a strong positive reaction in me.
[ September 03, 2003, 05:48 PM: Message edited by: forteanajones ]
09-04-2003, 07:25 AM
*shakes head* I know I'm stepping into dark territory here: not usually a good idea to make suggstions to a parent about how to parent. Well, I had two good parents, and children seem to love me to death, so maybe my two cents (or dollar fifty, knowing how I tend to rant) might be useful.
You're right. Balance is good. But balance doesn't necessarily mean squatting in the center and not venturing out. People riding bicycles have balance through motion and energy. So don't be afraid to try new things, and don't insulate your kids entirely. Let them fight their own battles; just give them advice, strategy and training.
I'd tend to agree with Willoweyes and Daniel about the country's educational system. It was originally concocted by the Prussians and the Germans (after they got their asses kicked in the Napoleonic wars) to produce well-behaved, regimented factory workers and soldiers. Where do you think we get the term "kindergarten"??? It implies that children are to be raised like vegetables to later be sliced up into a salad for the greater good of the nation. BTW, shortly thereafter we get the rise of Nationalism and Fascism, and the trend continues today, here in the good ole' USA.
Make sure he knows that large organizations with power (like companies and governments) always act in their own interest, yet try to get you to believe that supporting them is in YOUR best interest. The axis that this balance teeters on is called "legitimacy". So "girding for battle" isn't such a bad idea; it's just not a healthy stance to have to assume ALL THE TIME, at least not externally. Having an enemy is your greatest misfortune.
Best thing you can do as a parent to help control your child's education and development is to control the boob tube. Don't let them watch whatever they want, and pay attention to what they DO watch. If you watch TV or movies with your kids, talk with them about the show. Ask 'em how they felt about "subject X", try to guide them to where you've gotten without dogma and "because I said so". We all hated it when our parents tried to impose their viewpoints on us: why should our children be any different? They've got a lot to teach, too.
I think you sorta have to trick children into liking things that are good for them sometimes. I mean, hey, there's commercials upon commercials designed to trick them into pestering you into buying the Red Ranger Turbozoid whatzit. Make the lessons you really want them to learn into games they can play. Lots of educational video games and children's shows use that approach. I love the Magic Schoolbus!
Most importantly, it's good to make sure your children feel that they can come to you when they're having a problem or they don't understand. If they're making a mistake in your opinion, be gentle and explain (and get a response, make it a dialogue!); if they're acting like little hellions, be tough but fair. Little children are like the Tao; they give birth to both good and evil.
As far as official misinformation goes, it's good to help them see where the bullshit starts. First place to start: ask them about what they're learning in school and what they were interested in. Basic stuff like math, english, and spelling probably won't enter into it too much: but stuff like science and history will. Ask him what he's learned, and provide context in terms he can understand. Make sure he knows that the victors write the histories to make themselves look good, and that most new history books gloss over terrible events like the Indian Plagues and the Red Scare. Teach him to ask the uncomfortable questions!
His kindergarten teacher might be a bit "wigged out" by a five-year old stating that Christopher Columbus was a mass-murderer and slaver; likewise his High School US History teacher might react to the facts that George Washington told all Americans to grow hemp; that Ben Franklin was the Pimp Daddy of Paris; and that Washington DC was designed by occultists (and that every DC Federal building's cornerstone was laid in full Masonic ritual).
He might get picked on for his knowledge. But at least he won't be ignorant, right? Teach him how to get along with others in peacetime and how to kick ass when it's war. It's not necessarily a BAD thing when your kid up and slugs the bully who's picking on him. Make sure his anger doesn't go to hatred and help him keep his balance through the turmoil and he'll be fine (and maybe get some respect besides). The baptism by fire makes us stronger. Be gentle in your pushes and subtle in your rewards and the kid will turn out alright. Most of all, you just gotta love 'em, take the bullshit in stride, and just keep on truckin!
I'm not a trained child psychologist or anything like that. I just know kids. So don't take my opinion as "expertise", but I hope you do take something good from it.
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
- Robert Heinlein
No need to *shake head* Tar, this is a solicited exploration.
This all sounds like sensible stuff - balanced battle perhaps. My worry is the often inevitable failing on our behalves as parents to do the sensible thing. Perhaps the question is more accurately not ‘what do we tell the children’ but ‘how do we remain sensible enough to tell them.’
Yes, the TV. At least here in rural NZ I can only pick up two stations, and one of those is state-run, which I have to say appears to be a good thing.
For the moment, things appear slightly less crazy here in NZ compared to my Old Country of England. I don’t really know the US well, but I perceive it to be madder still. I hope it may be marginally easier for me to do a sensible job here as a result.
Good luck to all.
09-29-2003, 10:49 AM
Thanks for raising this, Gelfer. This is where i live day & night. As the father of 15-year-old who's super-bright, super-articulate, and about as typically swayed by peer pressure as anyone i can think of, i range from feeling completely impotent to help my kid come to the realizations i have to completely optimistic that he'll get there no matter how awkward and stupid i am about helping him--often on the same day. It doesn't help that his mother & i don't live together & that she'd pretty much run to the judge seeking a restraining order if she ever knew that i've been experimenting with psychedelics. She's hanging on to her own psychological balance by asserting as many consensus realitiy truisms (and law-and-order mantras) as there are. And, naturally, he lives with her.
Interestingly, though, when i've raised ideas that "my research on shamanism" has uncovered, he's been very interested, quite engaged in the conversation & full of his own unexpectedly original ideas, and not at all shocked or put off. i think sometimes, he's in better shape psychologically to have his head broken open than i because his worldview and self-control mechanisms are less entrenched. But i don't see any time in the near future where i say, "here, son, let's drink a cup of aya together, smoke a bowl, and begin your initiation into true manhood." Yet, there's a big part of me that feels that doing so would be both wise and compassionate. How can i hide from my son the very things that i think can help him see the world for what it is? It's been beyond good for me, how can i withhold it from him? Yet, there are lots of practical reasons to let him stumble around & find his own way--and maybe a little spiritual wisdom to boot.
One thing that i'm reminded of again & again is that all of us here got no special tutoring, no forewarning that the politicos and admen are adepts in Black Magic & want nothing more than a population of completely docile consumer-cattle. We all heard the lies about freedom & democracy & psychedelics & "playing by the rules and getting rewarded." Yet, here we all are. Not fooled forever. Not entirely deluded. We even have a few tools amongst us for waking the rest of the way up. Surely our children are no less resourceful, curious, and sensitive to bullshit than we are?
And, there's one thing our kids have that (presumably) we didn't have: parents (or at least one) who's always asking them questions about their assumptions & showing them the balding fat guy behind the curtain, and who can model for them what it is to be a clear-eyed, compassionate, and wisely skeptical adult.
So, i don't know, maybe sending them to public school is the best thing for them? Where else can they learn first hand how thought control works and feels? Where else are they going to learn to hate mediocrity & being "handled" and peer pressure, etc.? i guess i believe in conversion, in an awakening catalyzed by a former, deluded state that one wishes to repudiate and grow from.
And, i would add, Locke had it wrong; we are NOT tabulae rasae at birth--completely empty and pliant materials to be bent to our masters' will. Anyone who's raised kids beyond the first couple of years can tell you that they simply aren't the sum of you and your mate, plus a little training. They're completely individual, with traits that you can spot in infancy and that take deep root even before kindergarten. Training can, if rigorously and consistently applied, blunt negative behavioral tendencies, but it doesn't supplant them. Suspicious, fearful kids become suspicious fearful adults no matter how much their parents love them, hug them, & spend on shrinks and private schools.
Not saying don't do anything direct to influence your kids; in fact, i'm saying make open, honest conversation possible from the start. (If you aren't doing this from the toddler stage, you'll never get it going during the teen years when the really big decisions--and big mistakes--get made.) i guess i'm saying, ask your kids lots of questions about their assumptions and the assumptions of others & don't let them wiggle out with an easy answer. Show them how to think critically while retaining some compassion for the sheep. And believe that all human beings, even the ones you've spent years wiping the asses of are inherently hungry for truth and capable of waking up to it.
10-14-2003, 11:35 AM
Being the mother of a 9-year old daughter, I empathize with the topic at hand. I concur with Proteus regarding the need to start from the beginning with children regarding basic ideas of the nature of reality. Fundamentally, it's about questioning and the innate right of the individual to question themselves, others, institutions, ideals, etc. Passivity and complacency seem to be the product of not questioning 'authority' or 'experts'.
I would love for my child to attend a Waldorf school - or even a non-parochial private school; however, that is not possible in our area. And so, we live with attending a fairly decent public school district in a university town. Educating my child at home will always be a part of life until she leaves the nest. An example of why: I can remember taking (mandatorily in school) Oklahoma History and being taught an absolutely ridiculous western expansion version that never addressed significant indigenous history or even touching on the race riots in Tulsa in the twenties or even the impact of the dust bowl/Great Depression on Oklahoma. I had to read and learn about those events on my own and in some cases did not learn about them until college. The point is that it's critical to supplement at home. Because - eventually - kids begin to realize that what's being taught at school usually isn't the whole story or even an accurate version of the story, so to speak.
On the subject of television/movies/music/pop culture...once again it's about questioning and learning semiotic approach: what's under the surface, what lies beneath, what's the subtext of whatever it is I'm watching, listening, participating in.
Drugs...although the subject hasn't been 'officially' broached yet, I know the day is coming soon for my daughter. I've been very attentive in teaching her about what it means to alter your state of mind, covering all substances that change your mood or perspective - caffeine, nicotine, sugar, cannabis, alcohol, psycedelics, etc. It's never a sit-down situation because I'm pretty much an opportunist when it comes to teaching. A situation arises, a question asked and I step in.
Ultimately, I believe it's the laying of the seeds early on with your kids. I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by other like-minded friends with children - some older, some younger. I've been able to see how the older kids turned out with common parent paradigms and it's all been really great. I hope that my endeavors benefit my child in the eternal endeavor we all face as human beings: to understand ourselves and our world.
10-15-2003, 05:32 AM
thanks for your post, marilyn.
Can't resist repeating one story here from Kat Harrison. She was staying with a family of Mazatec shamans, and she asked the adult daughter how old she was when she began eating the mushrooms herself. The answer was that she started as a 6 year old. Kat of course was surprised by this and asked how the daughter knew how many mushrooms to eat. The woman replied:
"Oh, I just kept eating until I arrived."
Following on the expense/lack of local useful schooling options, here’s something that might be of interest. On a cursory glance there do seem to be lots of products though.
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