For years, conservative homeschoolers have romanticized Little House on the Prairie (books, TV, fantasy) as the way life should really be, as the way America *was* and as the way their family will live. There was a curriculum, a cookbook, fashion choices.
Below are Brie Jontry's responses to someone's explanation of paleo-dietary considerations expanded to encompass other parenting decisions. Side commentary about Brie's analysis is in the box at right.
As for caring for the baby we then looked to paleolithic and tribal peoples for guidance.
Over the past ten years or so there appears to be a resurgence of romanticizing "primitive" cultures, especially in regards to parenting and diet. While one of my favorite things in the world is to sit in front of a campfire and stare at the flames feeling a connection to the people who've come before me and found the same warmth and entertainment in the dancing flames, I think that cherry picking other cultures for their feel-good bits is not only blatantly ethnocentric but also detrimental to unschooling in the modern world. Deschooling on the part of parents, requires an incredible amount of critical thinking. Examining your own culture and that of others is helpful, for sure, but romanticizing something simply because it is the way people did things thousands of years ago will not give you the insights you need to move into unschooling (well).We found that nursing on demand, sleeping with the baby were commonly done and this also worked for us.
Yes, these are wonderful things to bring back to modernity, but they are also things that have never ceased to exist, either. My mom nursed on demand almost 40 years ago and she kept me in a side-car homemade crib attached to her bed. In many of the cultures that people currently attempt to emulate, partially, mothers take extreme measures to push their sons away from the women's enclave at specific ages. Is that something you'd embrace? Slapping your son or turning your back on his cries because he reached five years of age? That might be a necessary (to the survival of the culture) act for some peoples, but is it for you? Would you marry off a daughter as soon as her menses came? Of course not! Would you circumcise a teen? Most likely you wouldn't—why are some things that have been done for thousands of years deemed beneficial to a good life and others not? Just because something is 'old school' (excuse the pun), it doesn't mean it is valuable or indicative of a fulfilling and healthy life.When it came to education we once again questioned the common wisdom of schooling. It turned out that unschooling was the closest thing to how paleolithic children learned.
Paleolithic families had Internet and Netflix and PS3s? Did they have park days and YouTube? Were their parents distinctly turning their backs on the dominant culture and letting them learn in ways that felt kinder and gentler? Were they, in many cases, living at significantly lower income levels so one parent could stay home, at least part-time? Unschooling is nothing at all like paleolithic life.Unschooling is working for our family. As it appears to have worked for countless generation of children.
Unschooling has worked for a generation or two, but it hasn't been working for countless generations. That kind of thinking might get you all bound up in confusion as your son gets older and more aware of the modern world, and it may hinder your own ability to define what it is your family is actually doing.
"The Neanderthals, close human relatives, apparently left no firm evidence of having been musical."
EEEK! That quote is from this article, where the flute image was. What kind of evidence might they have left, then? Perhaps like this:
If that video is gone, it was an early Saturday Night Live bit referring to Voyager 1's musical offerings to any intelligent life forms that might find it. Wikipedia says: **In a Saturday Night Live segment ("Next Week in Review") in episode 64 of the show's third season, Steve Martin's character, a psychic named Cocuwa, predicts that the cover of Time Magazine for the upcoming week will show the four words "Send more Chuck Berry," which had supposedly been sent from extraterrestrials to Earth the week before.**
Unschooling has worked for a generation or two, but it hasn't been working for countless generations. That kind of thinking might get you all bound up in confusion as your son gets older and more aware of the modern world, and it may hinder your own ability to define what it is your family is actually doing.Sandra Dodd:
The idea that unschooling is the way people learned before school was invented baffles me, too. Anyone who's read anything about history knows that there were all sorts of ways kids were put to work early, even rich kids—sent to sea, sent to war, sent to fields, went to universities (for the past thousand years+ in Europe), apprenticed out, sold off...
Joyce Fetteroll, on reality and "violent media":
Games are about exploring a world where the rules are different. It's fun to "kill" things in a game *because* it's not real life. In a game you get to do things you can't or don't want to do in real life. In the case of war, you get to experience the strategy of hunting and killing—and being hunted and killed—without having to kill real people, without hurting their families and friends.Another couple of comments from that discussion, which began with a question about video gamed depicting battles:
Stacia Reichelt: My daughter is not old enougn to experience first hand, but my husband has been a gamer all his life and we have many friends whose boys started playing games like Call of Duty and Gears of War since they were 6 or 7. None of them show violent tendencies and all value life - it's one of those instances where adults view the games through a different lens than the children. You won't really know until you let him play, but I have seen no ill effects, especially if it's in an unschooling environment. A lot of people have tried to blame violent crimes and school shootings on violent video games, but in all those cases, the criminals had far more issues going on in their lives.
Children are rarely confused about the difference between games and reality. It tends to be moms who can't tell the difference. It's embarrassing, as a grown woman, to see other grown women over-react so harshly to what their children, especially young boys, enjoy and want to do.
Here's a link to something Deb Lewis wrote called Sympathetic, Empathetic, or Simply Pathetic? The essay is really good, but for anyone hesitant about clicking the link, here's the middle of it as a preview:
My son enjoys television and movies and at times has watched more than the recommended daily allowance for children. He has especially enjoyed adult themed situation comedies and horror films. While he wouldn't select a film just for the graphic violence, he does not avoid them if they are graphic. I would say he is desensitized to horror movie violence in that he is not traumatized by watching fake violence in a made up scenario where no one is actually hurt or killed.
Why rejecting the modern world is a privileged fantasy
by Dean Burnett, In The Guardian's online science board.
"But the real kicker is this; choosing to reject all the “conveniences” and “trappings” of modern life is only possible if you’re immensely privileged thanks to all the advantages the modern world brings. Those who swear by their paleo diets, do they grow, find or hunt their own food? Or do they get it from a suitable shop, supported by modern infrastructure? I’d guess the latter."There's more, and it's good.
Thank you, Robin Bentley, for bringing this to my attention.
Live with your child in the moment, in the world where you are.
Slightly related, sort of: "Unschoolworld" (the wish to live among only unschoolers)
Related by name, and some lack of reality: Problems with Reality TV (background for unschoolers who are asked to be on "documentaries")