Friday, December 23, 2011

A Thesis Thing: Free Play and Democratic Education for A Better World

I won't hassle them too much for misspelling Democratic in their thesis title (I fixed it here)... since the rest of it is pretty good. I'm lucky my kids are enrolled in an alternative public elementary school that has a lot of free-play factors built into their curriculum and really strives to put a child's perspective first in most matters.

Schools today don’t play fair. We’re on a crooked path educationally because of an addictive dependency on academics. Unmistakably our reliance on experts, instruction, and anything curricula related has caused a destructive path to our society and the way in which we relate to each other and the natural world. We’re an “uptight” and “rigid” society that has almost forgotten how to play.
Our traditional school system in archaic, unsustainable, and fails at preparing students as citizens to take utmost responsibility with their education and in facing the critical issues and concerns of our times. Play barely makes the class schedule or curriculum agenda. Little time in schools is devoted towards providing non-structured and uninterrupted activities for kids to freely choose. Conventional schools have the home field advantage on academics and play is usually the first to be ejected, suspended, cut from the budget or other wise broken up into chunks of time on the school bell schedule, we call recess. Recess, a time when youth common freely play, has culturally become marginalized by the high demand of standardized testing, prescribed curricula, methodologies, and surveillance measures sprung forward from bureaucratic policies and demands. In school the pupil is “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value (Illich, 1972).” In a world of academics there is no balance, imagination, creativity, and our natural pull in childhood to freely play receives a crushing blow. The purpose of these pages is reexamine the value of free play as a trusting way for youth to follow their interests and guide themselves towards taking on more responsibilities.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is Radical Parenting?

Came across this article: Extreme Parenting: What Radical Parents Do Better Than You... and it got me to thinking about how I define myself as a radical father, and what's so radical about the way that I parent? So here are some thoughts, enjoy them:

I thought it was a little dumbed down... but I guess that's the point. At least its giving gender-neutral parenting a bit of limelight, even if its getting boxed as 'radical' when its more widespread than most folks would imagine.

To me, radical parenting means parenting for your child with their perspective in mind, with the knowledge and toolbox of an adult at hand to draw lessons from in a shared experiential mutually educational relationship. It means humbling and educating oneself in order to educate and raise a creature capable of changing our world for the better. In order to do this one must invariably challenge the given norms of our day and age, from rampant capitalist consumerism, to coercive schooling, cultural imperialism, and general apathy and ignorance.

Developing the ability to teach yourself these lessons in order to impart them to your child while juggling work and responsibilities and family and life and flying by the seat of your pants is the hard part.

thanks for the pic Microcosm!
I thought it was befitting
I attempt to hold these intentions in my heart and mind while juxtaposing them with the hurdles of generational poverty, corruption, crime, gender bias, domestic violence, and an increasingly authoritarian, militarized society and government in bed with huge corporate conglomerates waging wars on drugs and terror and effectively wiping out the bio-diveristy and general well-being of our planet at a rapid pace. Then I try not to scream, or you primal-screamers can scream at this part, and swallow my pride and fear and forge and forage ahead, into this future, hand in hand with our children.

And here I still have the pipe-dream of raising non-violent, anti-authoritarian little tree-hugging people without an evil bone in their bodies... when the sad truth of the matter is that I should probably ramp up their radical sustainable eco-activist herbal Ewok monkeywrenching training camp time so that they're ready to go out and kick the shit out of capitalism with a smartphone and a laser rifle by age twelve... (you got that Technoccult?)

I better get a move on.

Here's the Radical Parenting Reading List from wiki's infoshop. Check with the folks at Last Word Books, Olympia's awesome radical independent bookstore, they've probably got some of 'em in stock.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Teaching Good Sex

“Grand slam,” called out a boy (who’d later tell me with disarming matter-of-factness that “the one thing Mr. V. talked about that made me feel really good was that penis size doesn’t matter”).
“Now, ‘grand slam’ has a bunch of different meanings,” replied Vernacchio, who has a master’s degree in human sexuality. “Some people say it’s an orgy, some people say grand slam is a one-night stand. Other stuff?”
“Grass,” a girl, a cheerleader, offered.
“If there’s grass on the field, play ball, right, right,” Vernacchio agreed, “which is interesting in this rather hair-phobic society where a lot of people are shaving their pubic hair — ”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Parenting in the Occupy Movement, or Give That Kid a Megaphone!

I haven't personally spent much time at any of the Occupy Protests, though I do support the Movement's general principles and aims.  In lieu of joining in the festivities (we're more Direct Action advocates, I suppose, though both hands are necessary in a revolution) Last Word has donated $200 worth of gift certificates to Occupy Olympia, as well as sent down some clothes and blankets. And any cold philosophically inclined Occupiers are welcome to come down and Occupy Last Word Books' armchair for some stimulating conversation and some hot tea.

I am amazed and entertained by how divided people are on the issue of protests and children... and how quick to judge folks can be. It's either scabies, child-porn pushing police, random jack-offs and I-Can't-Believe-You'd-Put-Your-Child-In-That-Sort-Of-Situation mentalities, or it's the dawn of a new age, with ten year old labor organizers and soapbox speakers spouting anti-capitalist rhetoric with the best of 'em before joining in the drum circle. I have one thing to say to you people: the world is not this black and white. Go down to the nearest Occupy Protest, take some food and a blanket and a good book and have a few conversations. That's how minds are changed.

In the meantime, here's some interesting links regarding parenting and the Occupy Movement:

"OCCUPY" PARENTING: How Parents Have Been Sharing Occupy Wall Street With Their Children

"Occupy" Movement Parents Forum Post (Anyone can change their mind)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Memorable Kid Quotes Part Ninety-Seven

(Happy International Protest Against War Toys Day!)

"I wish we had never invented guns. Why can't people just die on their own?" - Lyli Dei Marcos, on the assassination of J.F.K.

"The world would be a much better place, and people would die a lot less, if there were no cars and no war." - Lyli Dei

"When I want to go to sleep I just think of blank paper... or a dolphin jumping." - Scarleht Eyve Marcos

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Radical Fatherhood in the 21st Century

     I wanted to take a moment to congratulate my friend, editor, and fellow Rad Dad Tomas for all his hard work over the past several years on Rad Dad out of Berkeley. Rad Dad won Utne's 'Zine of the Year in 2010, Best of the Bay in 2011, and came to print as a book this year as well.
     I'm proud to have written for half a dozen issues of the 'zine. Keep up the good work Tomas!     
And this is a nice little project I just found recently:
Re-post from From the blog
Just wanted to give a shout out to a fabulous rad-parent-zinester across the oceans over in Fiji, Lara at Tricycle Zine Distro!  We’re thrilled that CUNTastic is now being distro’d by Tricycle, along with other titles that are the backbone of any radical parenting library.
Here’s some info about her 3 new exciting projects:
Tricycle Zine Distro was created to distribute and inspire the writing of radical parent/ing* zines and other zines/resources useful to parents, caregivers and allies. 
Building Blocs Zine: parenting, movement and little folk is a compilation zine of radical parenting* challenges, experiences and reflections.  The zine is open to contributions from parents, caregivers, children and allies .The theme for the inaugural issue is “Firsts.”
Raising Rebellion is a zine I started writing when I was pregnant. I wrote the first issue to share with my unborn fetus, family, friends and friendly folk. My plan is to keep writing as life with Ruby unfolds.
*Radical Parenting is an imperfect term and is meant here as inclusive and diverse – an exploration of parenting styles that value respect, trust, autonomy, diversity, non-oppression, learning, love and revolution.
For more info, or to submit a piece for the upcoming issue of Building Blocs, or if you have a zine or resource you’d like to distro through Tricycle, email Lara

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Random Etymological Post #3

Papa, father. (F.-L.) Not found in old books; rather, borrowed from F. papa. - L. pāpa, a father, bishop, pope. Cf. L. pappas, a tutor, borrowed from Gk. πáππas, papa; Home, Od. vi. 57. Due to the repitition of pa, pa; see Pap (I); Pope. Due to the infant's call for food.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rad Dad Book Release!

Congrats to Tomas and the whole crew of us writers behind Rad Dad for several awards in the past couple years and for the recent release of Rad Dad, the book! I'm excited to see what we can muster next! Long live Rad Dad, Daddy Dialectic, Pirate Papa, 'Zines and Parent-Bloggers! ~

From the PM Press website:

"Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood combines the best pieces from the award-winning zineRad Dad and from the blog Daddy Dialectic, two kindred publications that have tried to explore parenting as political territory. Both of these projects have pushed the conversation around fathering beyond the safe, apolitical focus most books and websites stick to; they have not been complacent but have worked hard to create a diverse, multi-faceted space in which to grapple with the complexity of fathering.

Today more than ever, fatherhood demands constant improvisation, risk, and struggle. With grace and honesty and strength, Rad Dad’s writers tackle all the issues that other parenting guides are afraid to touch: the brutalities, beauties, and politics of the birth experience, the challenges of parenting on an equal basis with mothers, the tests faced by transgendered and gay fathers, the emotions of sperm donation, and parental confrontations with war, violence, racism, and incarceration. Rad Dad is for every father out in the real world trying to parent in ways that are loving, meaningful, authentic, and ultimately revolutionary.

Contributors Include:

Steve Almond, Jack Amoureux, Mike Araujo, Mark Andersen, Jeff Chang, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jeff Conant, Sky Cosby, Jason Denzin, Cory Doctorow, Craig Elliott, Chip Gagnon, Keith Hennessy, David L. Hoyt, Simon Knapus, Ian MacKaye, Tomas Moniz, Zappa Montag, Raj Patel, Jeremy Adam Smith, Jason Sperber, Burke Stansbury, Shawn Taylor, Tata, Jeff West, and Mark Whiteley."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Survival Preparedness With Toddlers: Wilderness Awareness and Skills Sharing With Children

a touch religious and too mainstream for me, but there's not much out there...

Survival Preparedness With Toddlers in Tow, by H.P.

As a former Boy Scout and long time minimalist, survival preparation is a natural fit for a “hobby” as I enter my thirties. Of course this “hobby” is an important life decision, unlike how one might approach golf or poker. The importance of this life decision really becomes clear when I think about my wife and our two little girls. As anyone with small children will confirm, hobbies and social activities take a backseat to the needs of your toddlers. My longtime interest in the outdoors, camping, and shooting have provided a sensible platform for a jump into the survivalist lifestyle...


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rad Dad in the New York TImes!

Nice work Tomas! I'll see you at the Olympia reading!

By Jeremy Adam Smith
New York Times
July 6th, 2011

Jeremy Adam Smith is the author of The Daddy Shift, co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood and a founder of the blog Daddy Dialectic.

Greater gender equality in school and on the job has led to greater equality in housework and childrearing. Today in America, fathers now spend more time with their children and on housework than at any time since researchers started collecting comparable data. I call it “the daddy shift”—the gradual movement away from a definition of fatherhood as pure breadwinning to one that encompasses a capacity of caregiving.

Fathers need to encourage each other to take advantage of leave policies and participate in family life.

Rising inequality and economic instability has meant that families can’t afford specialists anymore. And so they’re moving from a family model that stresses efficiency to one that tries to build resilience in the face of economic shocks. In the ideal resilient family, both women and men are capable of working for pay and working at home.

But families often fall short of this ideal, partially because of lingering structural and interpersonal sexism, and partially because men lack support for their new caregiving roles at both home and work. Studies consistently show that 80 percent to 90 percent of mothers still expect fathers to serve as primary breadwinners (and very few will consider supporting a stay-at-home dad). At work, only 7 percent of American men have access to paid parental leave, among other structural limitations.

How can the daddy shift continue? The to-do list is long. It includes an education campaign to help men of all social classes understand what workplace and public policies can help them be the fathers they want to be—and legal campaigns that will defend their jobs against backward attitudes at work. Men whose mindsets are still shaped by the sole-breadwinner ideal need explicit permission and encouragement from both their female partners and their bosses to take advantage of leave policies and participate in family life.

We also need to shift the language we use to discuss work-family issues in a more inclusive direction, so that it includes fathers as well as mothers. That language should stress resilience and meaning to men instead of the language of equality that has mobilized women. In the end, it's up to guys to tell the stories of our lives and speak up for what we want. No one will do it for us.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fukushima radiation fears: children near nuclear plant to be given monitors Dosimeters to be given to 34,000 children in city 45 miles from Tepco plan

Tens of thousands of children living near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are to be given personal radiation monitors, as concern grows over the long-term health effects of exposure to radiation.

Dosimeters will be given to 34,000 children aged between four and 15 living in Fukushima city, 45 miles from the plant, after abnormally high radiation readings were recorded in the area.

The risks posed by radiation from the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl have already driven 80,000 people from homes within 12 miles of the plant. Many of the child evacuees from communities that now lie empty attend schools in Fukushima, a city of 300,000 people.

Local authorities have provided monitors to schools outside the exclusion zone, but this is the first time they have been supplied to individual pupils. Data from the dosimeters will be analysed to assess the risks posed by cumulative radiation exposure.

The move, the latest concession to growing parental anger over patchy official information about the risks of radiation exposure, came as the company that operates the plant faced repeated verbal attacks at a rowdy annual shareholders' meeting in Tokyo.

More than 9,000 investors attended the meeting, held at a hotel under heavy police guard, with many berating Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] executives over their response to the 11 March tsunami, which crashed into the plant and knocked out vital cooling systems to reactors.

The crisis has knocked 85% off the value of Tepco shares and resulted in annual losses of $15bn (£9.4bn). The company also faces a compensation bill that could exceed $100bn, while a government plan to help fund damages claims has yet to be put to a parliamentary vote.


And, of course:

Child’s risk of cancer from radiation is 10-100 times higher than an adult who had same exposure (VIDEO)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Natural Well Being an interview with Jean Liedloff

Joanna Harcourt-Smith interviews Jean Liedloff – Consultant and author of “The Continuum Concept” a book offering a new understanding of how we have lost much of our natural well-being and showing us practical ways to regain it for our children and for ourselves. & Caveman Parenting

Props to Underground Parent for leading me to this article on Primitive Parenting.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do-It-Yourself Prepper and Survival Gifts Kids Can Make

I know it's got a christmas-bent to it, but it's got heart.

As far as I’m concerned, a home-made Christmas gift with some thought behind it trumps the most expensive thing you can buy. And, this is guaranteed: If a child makes a survival and/or prepper gift for a loved one, that item will be cherished, included in a survival kit and used! And if you can save some money while making a valuable piece of survival gear, that’s even better!

by Leon Pantenburg

...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It is a sick society that flies robots around murdering people

(or something to that effect) found on a sticker on Last Word Books' bathroom wall.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Anarchist Parenting, Why Discipline is So Important.

From Identity Check:

There is an aspect to Anarchy that isn't often addressed, but has been brought to my attention through some well meant ribbing. That would be parenting. Because many people believe that Anarchists have little use for any rules whatsoever, and amount the entire ideology to that of a chaotic and violent world, it's only logical to assume that this thinking would apply to parenting as well.

Well, it doesn't...More...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Survival for Kids, Bug-Out Bag Article on Packing Up the Wee Ones

Packing Up the Kids

Jan 13th, 2011 | By Samara | Category: Education, Prepping | Print This Article

We have all thought about packing up for a grab and run scenario. We get the duffel bag, the important papers, a case of bottled water and throw it all in the car. Then we load up the kids.

Oh yeah, the kids.

If you have ever taken your children on a car trip for an hour or longer, you know that special considerations need to be made. If they are bored after five minutes, what will happen in an extended bug out situation? Thinking about their needs and wants ahead of time will help an already stressful situation to not escalate into an impossible one.

Kids Packs

The good news is that even though children need more stuff, they also come ready-made with additional hands to help carry it. However, you do need to be aware of realistic expectations. As a general rule of thumb, children should not carry much more than 10% of their own body-weight in a backpack. For a 30-pound toddler then, you want something that is about 3 pounds, whereas a 100-pound 12-year-old could handle about 10 pounds. You will want to put your kids and the finished pack on a scale separately to make sure you do not overload them, which could cause injury and fatigue.

This is another great opportunity to get your children involved in the process of preparedness. Let them pick out their own backpacks and have some input on what goes in it. Depending on their age, they may be able to pack the whole thing themselves and just have you review it together. It may make a great activity for them while you are putting the finishing touches on your own Evac Pack. Here are some ideas to consider...more...