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.