Sunday, March 23, 2008

poisoned well

I think I figured out why I like history so much. Now, let me say I didn't like the history courses I took in college. I like the history you see on television and find in children's books. And it's not just a format issue. I enjoy the history channel because it looks at everyday, commonplace ideas and examines how they were started and the events that transpired to further their evolution, and how they affect us today. I find the History channel and Discovery channel and the like ever more useful than lectures, chalk-on-board style, which serve only to transmit data, facts and dates, mostly on governments and nations and wars.
I recently read a transcript of a speech given by Daniel Quinn which notes some key points the history and evolution of compulsory schooling and its 'hidden agenda'. This is one of my favorite topics, as many of you readers who know me well know. This is history I can use! Mainly, to form my own ideas and opinions about where our country is headed if we continue to educate our children locked away in school buildings in the manner so many Americans have come to accept as commonplace and even necessary. Learning scads of facts and dates for what purpose? Because it certainly does not inspire them to think and form their own ideas and opinions. Quinn notes this, too, and goes on to explain that compulsory education evolved in part as a way to fill up hours in a day so both parents could go to work and further the economy.
Filler. I have been saying this for sometime now, that useless piles of facts and dates are just one way the bureaucrats can measure the 'success' of schools. You can't offer a child a standardized test on how well he thinks, or how well he functions in survival or life skills. I have heard some people say you can't compare homeschooling to classroom style schooling because they don't produce the same result.
So, I like to ask 'why' of things. My parents are quite proud of the fact that when we were children, they would never ask us to do anything without telling us why we had to do it, or explaining it to us if we were to ask. So it infects me still.
I want to know why, besides that the marketing world wants us to spend more money, do children color and hide eggs on Easter? What is the root of this strange tradition? Here's what I found, in a brief Wiki search.
Frankly, I think Walnut Creek had it right, it's not the Easter bunny. That damn bunny has nothing to do with the Christian holy day (that's holiday, people) Easter. And if I want my children to grow up asking why, it seems I would start with a true explanation of the holiday, where it started, how it became what it is now - including pertinent discussions on the marketing machine that pushes plastic made-in-china crap on us several times a year. It is difficult to explain, though, when people around us, friends and even family, participate in it, claiming the sheer fun of it. My stomach turns when I have to explain to them why we don't do it. I am firm in my beliefs on this, however I have yet to find a way to prevent the inference that those who do participate are slaves to the marketing machine. "Oh it's just for fun, it's for the children" ? The return implication there being that I am a cheap humbug.

Every transaction we make, every purchase, is a decision that what you are buying, an object or service, is worth more to you than the money in your hand. And we are all free to make these choices. I just can't see spending good money on something I don't think is a valuable goods or service, or experience, in this instance. What would the children learn from that? Because they are learning from everything around them. Every experience, every instance that they observe and are challenged to think they look to their parents, and their friends. They gather information and they use it to make their own decisions tomorrow and next year and ten years from now. I choose to send the message that it is necessary to ask why of everything. Explore the history of things that everyone else simply accepts as commonplace. And choose your course of action based on your own judgment (a valuable thing we all possess, just that some of us have forgotten), not based on what you read in a book, or what some teacher or professor tells you to think so you can pass a standardized test, or that an advertiser or retailer says you need in order to make your children happy.

If we resign ourselves to be fed facts and data, we are more likely to swallow things like mystery holiday origins and mindless consumption of consumer goods.

1 comment:

maryellenlewis said...

I don't think we will even do Easter baskets next year. I really hate buying into the silliness attached to the true holiday. Todd and I certainly did not have fun cleaning up that grass (which I am still finding) from the baskets.