Why Homeschool?

whyschool

I’ve been asked many times why I’m so against public schools. I look around me and see a society of people who are trained to accept the world as it is. So many people believe that things are the way they are, and there is nothing anyone can do about. When I ask if these people are happy with the way things are, if there is anything they’d like to change, I get responses like, “Since my voice doesn’t matter, why try?”

Public schools help to instill this kind of thinking. Children are taught to sit down, be quiet, and not to interrupt. If a child has an issue, they are often ignored until the issue becomes a burden to everyone (such as ignoring a child’s raised hand until s/he urinates on him/herself). This kind of apathy teaches children that they do not matter in the grand scheme.

The issue gets worse when children are punished for pointing out faulty data that has been presented. In these public school settings, when a teacher has been misinformed, the school is quite content to allow that misinformation to be passed on to classroom after classroom of innocent children. When one child dares to stand up and say, “That isn’t right.” Instead of thanking the child for setting the record straight, that child is reprimanded for disrespecting authority.

As a parent, what should be more important: raising a child that has been molded to be just like everyone else–who has been trained to think in a certain way, or raising a child who can think for him/herself–someone who can see past the walls that public education has set for others?

Many people become nervous when they consider the prospect of educating their own children. It is a great responsibility. The first thing for parents to remember is that it isn’t necessary to know everything to teach something. As a teacher, I can assure people that learning along the way is inevitable. The most important things necessary are parental love, and the desire for the child(ren)’s success.

Let’s keep in mind how successful homeschooling is, regardless of the parents’ background, education level, or social status:Homeschool stats Parent edhomeschool stat

I really wish people would take a good, long look around. Our economy is in the tank, our government is obviously corrupt (and we can’t play the party game here, both sides are just as dirty), and our people are completely complacent. In another day, another time, revolution would have come and gone, sweeping this current rabble into the trash, giving us a new slate to start again. Thanks to the brainwashing of public schools and churches, only a small minority of our populace is actively wanting change. Everyone else has bought into the trained crap that “the people” are meaningless. The truth is, the people, outnumber the corrupt leaders by quite a bit. One voice may seem small, but many coming together can seem apocalyptic.

Pink Floyd gives a pretty accurate depiction of what’s going on in public schools. While the system tries to mold children into obedient drones, the children are hard-pressed to cling to their hopes, dreams, and individuality.

Let’s not let the system succeed.

After writing this blog, I found this:

literal test

 

This is exactly why public schools, and standardized tests fail miserably. This child was most likely written off for not following directions. The truth is, this child followed the directions literally “to the letter.” I would imagine that the child is amazingly intelligent, yet will be lost in the system because s/he fails to fall to the sub-par limits set by standardized testing within the public school system. If freed from such a cage, a child like this could soar to incredible heights.

Eye For An Eye

Everyone feels that they have been wronged at some point in their life. Some person, agency, corporation, or other entity said or did something that really hurt. People’s life courses could even have been affected by the words or actions of others. There are a lot of people out there who think that the course of their lives hinge on “justice.” If only the person who hurt them could be hurt just as bad, then the universe could find order, and their life could get back on track. Many of these people use the term, “An eye for an eye,” to justify this sentiment, but is that really what that statement means–revenge?

Perhaps the bible condones such violence: ‘If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.’ Leviticus 24:19-20, but I see things differently.

Have we learned nothing from famous stories about revenge: Montague vs. Capulet; Hatfield vs. McCoy; Captain Ahab vs. The Great Whale. The list could go on. The stories show how revenge destroys love, life, and self. The lust for revenge can be all-consuming. The concept of someone driving everything but the desire to hurt another from their heart and mind is saddening, on a fundamental level.

I’d like to do something that my Christian friends do quite often, and take this verse out of context. Let’s forget about verse 19 completely, and we’ll drop the first part, and last half of verse 20, as well. That leaves us with: eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Let’s construct a more docile meaning from this.

Instead of looking at this as an excuse to hurt someone else, let’s see it as an opportunity to help others. Let’s say that while trying to hurry up for Christmas dinner tonight, I hurry up to mop the floor and leave it a little too wet. When my guests arrive, one of them slips and injures his/her ankle. Because I am responsible for that injury, I would be responsible for stepping in and helping that guest with his/her everyday chores until the ankle heals. Essentially, I would be the ankle.

If I were to cause someone to go blind, I would help them…be their eyes.

Instead of looking for excuses to hurt one another, we should be finding reasons to help each other.

Parental Bribery

Parents have been bribing specific kinds of behavior from children since long before any of us can remember. Children respond to this method, so it makes sense. I’ve had people tell me that this is a way to spoil a child. I have a hard time with that. In adulthood, people have to understand how to barter–how to negotiate. What better way to teach a child those skills, than to barter and negotiate with them as children?

Lets look at some scenarios that show this system in action:

We are getting ready to go to the mall. I know that my four-year-old is very curious, and likes to wander off. I sit down with her        to make a deal. I tell her that I am going to bring a scarf with me to the mall, and tie one end to my wrist. If she agrees to tie the          other end to her wrist, keeping her close to me, she can have her choice of reward–either an extra half an hour of TV time                  tonight, or her choice of a game to play.

After getting ready for my friends wedding, we have to traverse a garden path to get to the patio where the reception is taking            place. My ten-year-old son is a magnet for dirt. I make a deal with him that if he stays with me on the stone path, stays clean, and      promises to wait until I can get his shirt and jacket off before he starts eating, I will make sure he gets an extra piece of wedding        cake.

These sorts of deals are not only common, they are healthy. They teach children the vital negotiation skills they will need later on in life. Where these sorts of things go terribly wrong is when parents start using this bartering system for their own personal control, dominance, or selfishness.

When parents make a deal like this, and the child holds up his/her end of the bargain, then the parent does not deliver, that breeds an air of distrust. The child obviously cannot trust his/her parents, and that distrust will extend to the rest of the world. Some parents simply don’t realize what they are doing. They made a promise to extend TV time, then forgot. When bedtime rolls around, they turn the TV off, and get everything ready for bed as usual. The child simply feels cheated. Other parents do so on purpose, with the intent to teach the child that “life’s not fair.” However true that statement is, the last people a child should feel antagonistic towards, is his/her parents.

Bribery with pets is especially problematic, in my opinion. The potential for disaster rises to epic levels. If the thing a child wants more than anything else is a puppy, it makes sense that getting the child a puppy would be the best bribe, right? Wrong! Parents always put conditions on pets, and it’s always up in the air as to whether or not those conditions are going to be the only ones enforced.

The first condition that parents always enact is: the child will be solely responsible for everything concerning the pet. This means walking it, feeding it, cleaning up after it, and making sure that the pet is happy, along with whatever else needs to be done. Of course, many parents make this task as difficult as possible by making sure that the child has many other chores to complete instead of taking care of the pet. When something is amiss with the pet, it is obviously the child’s fault, not the parents’ for ensuring that the child was unavailable for the pet.

Parents often forget that pets are living creatures, not just toys that can be put aside when the child is no longer playing with it. I have actually been to a friend’s house where the mother heard a noise from the daughter’s room and asked, “What was that?” Her daughter replied, “Snowball.” The mom said, “Who?” At this the little girl gave her mom a funny look and said, “Snowball…the kitten you gave me for my birthday…”

The worst scenario, in my opinion, with pets, is unnecessarily breaking a child’s heart. It is one thing not to allow a pet at all. It is something completely different to bring a pet in just to rip back away from that child, force the animal into the wild while the child watches, or keep the animal in bad conditions that the child wants to change, but can’t. If a parent has dogs, and their child wants a cat, but the parent doesn’t want cats around the dogs, it is cruel to let the child get a cat that is confined to a tiny room. The child, regardless of his/her age, will understand the pain of the cat, and want to alleviate that pain. Forcing the cat to live completely outdoors, depending on the environment, is not a much better solution. A child watching a beloved pet turn feral, and turn away from them is very painful for the child.

Scenarios tend to differ with dogs. More often than not, the parents will usurp the child’s position with the dog. The most common “explanation” is, “Since I do most of the work to care for the dog, it’s my dog, not yours.” This ties back into the trust issue we discussed earlier. By giving something, then taking it away, the child learns to distrust his/her parent.

In summary, negotiation and bartering skills are good; they are necessary for survival in this modern world. Teaching our children how to properly negotiate for the things they want and need in life at an early age is a good thing. Using bribery as a way to control, hurt, manipulate, or overpower our already defenseless children is not only wrong, it is not preparing them for anything but prisons and workhouses later on in life. I, for one, would prefer to prepare our children for success, not failure.

Legal Discrimination

In the US, it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual preference, or many other factors. True, people still find ways of getting around the law to discriminate anyway, but if they are caught, they can get into serious trouble for it. The one area that this country has no problem with, is money. When someone lacks money, it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against them.

Homeless people are supposed to be discriminated against in this society. In fact, a coin given out of anything other than pity, is seen as obscene by everyone else around. Several times I have given to homeless bards because I respect their music, believing that they are earning the money I give with their playing. Others around me have been astounded by this reasoning, believing that homeless people in general are beneath them, and not worthy of their attention, much less their money.

I feel that that banks take this reasoning to the extreme. People like me, who are hard working, yet poor, are punished, simply for our lack of funds. I may never have enough money to be able to set aside thousands of dollars that I will never use, but that is what nearly every bank requires. There are very few places left, such as local credit unions, that do not require minimum balances, and major banking chains are doing everything in their power to push these local establishments out of business.

In this era, a bank account is almost necessary to survive. To pay bills, rent, and everything else that is necessary to survive, a person needs a means to make those payments. Without a bank account, that would mean buying money orders all of the time, which can be very expensive, depending on how many bills need to be paid. That also means that all of the record keeping would be in physical form, and prone to disaster: being lost, stolen, or destroyed.

Now, let’s take a look at how the “minimum balance” thing really works. I have a checking account in which the minimum balance is $1500. This means that my Average Daily Balance has to be $1500 or above. I usually keep that balance hovering around $1700. There has been a few times now that Bank Math has been implemented. The first time, I made a large purchase just before I received my paycheck. The purchase brought my balance down to $1473. A few hours later, I deposited my paycheck, which brought the balance back up to $1658. Somehow, that couple of hours of having my balance at $1473, caused my daily balance for the ENTIRE MONTH to average out to $1493, causing me to have to pay a service charge. A few months later, something similar happened, but it took two smaller purchases, rather than one large one.

The issue is more complicated than just a service fee, though. This fee is targeted to people who are already poor. People like me who don’t have the money to put into the bank in the first place. So, now the cycle starts. I didn’t have enough money to cover the minimum balance. Did I overdraft my account? No, of course not. Did I take any money or belongings from the bank? No, of course not. Yet, the they charged me a fee anyway. That charge sets me back for next month, making it harder for me to make that minimum balance next month, too. So, how do I approach this problem? I have $1500 in the bank, but I can’t use it. I’m hungry, but I can’t eat, because if I do, the bank will charge me for it. I can’t pay my rent, because if I do, the bank will charge me for it, but if I don’t, the landlord will charge me extra or kick me out. I can’t pay my utilities because the bank will charge me, but if I don’t the company will turn the utilities off. No matter what, I’m screwed, but I have the money. The bank is holding my money hostage, and there is nothing I can do about it, simply because I am poor.

There is something seriously wrong with the concept that banks can get welfare from our government without blinking an eye, then turn around and discriminate against hard-working people, holding our money hostage, simply because we are poor, and we have no say in the matter.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

*SPOILER ALERT*

I watched this movie in 3D IMAX. This was my first mistake. I paid extra for “features” I didn’t want to begin with. I was forced to wear uncomfortable glasses that chafed the back side of my ears, because if I tried to take the glasses off, the screen took on a psychedelic, hallucinogenic property that made my head spin, and my stomach retch…and definitely not in a   good way.

The other part of the IMAX experience that upset me was the people. There were crowds of people at this movie, all with an entitled attitude. Long before the movie started, we were sitting in the auditorium with no previews, no music, nothing. We were simply sitting there staring at a blank screen waiting for the movie to start. I was talking with a friend that had come with me, and one of these entitled strangers actually shushed me! Can you believe that! No movie, no reason to be quiet, and this entitled prick had the audacity to shush me!

Let’s move on to the actual movie. I don’t remember Legolas in the Hobbit. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was not in the book at all. I’m also pretty sure that there was never any epic orc battle along the river while Bilbo and the dwarves were escaping in the barrels. That being said, watching Legolas traverse dwarf heads to slaughter orcs was awesome, and that dwarf barrel roll was more than epic.

There is a difference between filler for entertainment value, and just plain idiotic filler. Bathing Smaug in melted gold from a giant dwarf statue, is stupid, idiotic, and had no business in the movie. It never happened in the book, and it served no purpose at all. Smaug was already pissed, and ready to reign fire and vengeance down upon Laketown. The fact that Bilbo had shown affection toward the town had ensured its destruction in Smaug’s eyes. That gold thing was stupid, and unnecessary.

The other thing that irritated me to no end throughout this movie was the mispronunciation of the dragon’s name. Smaug should rhyme with fog, or smog, not cloud. It really isn’t rocket science.

The name of the movie is a bit irritating, too. The movie is called, “The Desolation of Smaug,” but do we get to see Smaug being desolated? No, of course not! Do we get to see Smaug desolating anyone else? No, of course not! All we get to see is a dragon traipsing around his own lair. Big whoop!

Another issue I had was how they approached Bilbo’s interaction with Smaug. In the book, Bilbo never removed the ring. He remained cloaked the entire time, and there was an element of taunting–of baiting, throughout the interaction. That intellectual interaction was completely lost in this movie. Bilbo’s ability to use his wits to evade the dragon wasn’t even there. To me, that loss brought the entire IQ of the movie down several points. Without that intellectual discourse, this movie is nothing but a typical smash ’em and bash ’em fantasy movie.

In the end, if you want some fun fight scenes, and a good time, this is a decent movie. If you want an accurate depiction of Tolkien’s story, you’ve come to the wrong place. This has twisted the original tale into something very, very different. Never trust Hollywood to tell a story the proper way…

Pushing Faith

One of my favorite atheist personalities, Seth Andrews, posted a status on facebook that got me thinking:

        “Watched David Silverman on Hannity. I am continually amazed at the proclivity of ALL Fox News hosts to ask a question and then refuse to listen to the answer.

Of course, we know that the segment isn’t about informing a viewing public, but about giving Sean Hannity another opportunity to chest-thump in defense of his personal faith. (Did you catch the O’Reilly guest host, Eric Bolling, in his exchange withDave Muscato and literally bursting out the proclamation that he was a practicing Catholic/Christian?)

Same thing happened to Jerry DeWitt on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, when Joe couldn’t WAIT to exclaim that he believes ‘Jesus is the son of God’ and he believes ‘what the bible says.’

Do so-called journalists do this with other topics, like proclaiming to a Tyson exec that they only eat fish, or exclaiming to a BMW rep that they personally drive a Ford, or responding to a political candidate that, ‘I voted for THIS OTHER GUY!’

There are cases, surely, and hosts do like to make the conversation about themselves, but nothing causes these pundit preachers to spontaneously combust like a non-religious person in the room. And Fox News, already a disaster, again jumps the shark with this War On Christmas nonsense.

The only upside to this circus was the Unintentional Comedy Moment of the Year: watching Megyn Kelly assure America’s children that Jesus and Santa are both white.

Caucasian Jesus. Coming to a white person’s nativity scene near you.” 

I just had a few things to say. The reason religion is so prominent for people to “chest thump” about, is because it is a “hot topic” right now. In the United States, there is a need to push ones own ideas onto everyone else, regardless of what those ideas are. If you are sitting in a biker bar, people will push their ideas onto you concerning which kinds of motorcycles you should ride, and which kinds of beer you should drink. If your ideas differ, a(n) debate (argument) will ensue. In a classic car show, people will push their ideas of which model of car was the best. It doesn’t matter the setting, people in this country will always push their ideas of what is better, or what should happen, onto others.

The political arena is probably one of the worst, right next to, or following religion. If someone does not have strong beliefs in these areas, a lot of times that person will create strong beliefs to push onto others. I once attended a secular event where a man tried to push his belief that microwave ovens destroyed all the nutrients in food, leading to sickness and death in humans. He went so far as to say it was unhealthy to heat a cup of water in the microwave. I tried to explain how certain items are dangerous to put into the microwave, and that certain foods can lose some nutrients when heated that way, but that he had taken the concept to an extreme, but he was utterly devout in his faith against microwaves.

The point here is that religion may seem like the only thing people are so devout about, but I think that’s because it’s such a collective delusion. People take strength in their beliefs because they’re not the only ones who believe such insanity. They know it sounds crazy, they know it sounds irrational, they know it sounds ridiculous, but over 60% of the US population believes the same things they do, so it can’t be that crazy, right? The knowledge of the insanity of the beliefs, coupled with the knowledge of so many people who share their beliefs makes them scream even louder about those beliefs. It’s comforting to come together to try to make sense of such insanity.

Other strong beliefs come out when the time and place is right for them. This is mostly because there are fewer people who share those beliefs, and the communities that do, tend to be more tightly knit…like bikers, or chefs, or baristas, or gangs…you get the picture. The subject of politics is more like religion. The people who have strong beliefs about it are spread out, but there are a lot of them. Even if the beliefs are crazy, or irrational, there are plenty of people who share those beliefs, and finding those people is easy over the internet, on forums, ect. Finding those who oppose your views is also easy, therefore picking a fight…pushing your views onto others, is simple.

Don’t think that religion holds a monopoly on pushing ideas onto other people. True, religion is responsible for some horrific things in that area, but people should always be on the alert. Your minds are your own. People should always think for themselves. I get so irritated with labels, with the way we separate ourselves into neat little boxes. Why must we be either Christian or Atheist? Why must we be Republican or Democrat? Why must we be Conservative or Liberal?

What labels do I put on myself? I don’t. I am a free thinker, with new, and fresh ideas. The worn out labels this society has do not apply to me now, and they never will.

What About Me?

I have been using this blog as a bit of an internet diary–a way to vent my frustrations. I’m sure that there are a few people who come across what I have to say are somewhat confused. That’s why I’ve decided to start writing stories and anecdotes from my past. My history, my childhood, had a big part in helping to develop who I’ve become today. I hope that the stories I have to offer are entertaining, as well. Let’s start with how I felt as a child, and why:

Childhood was a very lonely time for me. I loved my little brother immensely, but I also felt responsible for him. I couldn’t just enjoy his company, because if anything were to happen to him, I would get into trouble for not keeping watch over him. Our religion ensured that friends were out of the question. My parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. This meant that I was completely avoided at school, and everywhere else. Because our religion didn’t believe in holidays, everyone else gave us wide berth, afraid that we had some sort of disease that might be catching. The only holiday we did celebrate was Thanksgiving, you know, the one without gifts…

My childhood wasn’t completely negative. The lack of children’s church at the “Kingdom Hall” gave me in-depth knowledge very early. I won my first biblical debate at age three. I don’t remember the details now, but I know that it was concerning the tower of Babel. My grandfather was saying one thing, and I corrected him. He tried to tell me I was mistaken, but I got my bible story book to show him. All I remember about winning the debate is Grandpa saying, “Well, I’ll be damned!”

There had always been things in the bible that didn’t made sense to me. I tried to take them at face value, but it was hard. The story of Lot’s wife bothered me. God said don’t look back, yet Lot’s wife looked back, and was turned to a pillar of salt. How would Lot know that unless he looked back to see that? Yet nothing bad ever happened to him. Why is curiosity depicted as such a horrible thing? Not just in the story of Lot’s wife, but in the creation story, as well. The fall of humanity is caused by curiosity–wanting to know the truth of good and evil. Why else would Adam and Eve partake of the fruit that gives knowledge of good and evil?

Every time I would ask questions about the logic of these things, someone would tell me that it was not my place to ask such questions. Well, if not my place, then whose? Someone needed to ask these questions, because they needed to be answered. At no point during this phase did it occur to me to doubt the existence of God. It was a given, to me, that he was there. He was listening to my prayers, and watching over my life. The concept of atheism hadn’t even been introduced to me. Nor had I been introduced to any other religions, either monotheistic or polytheistic. All I had ever known, all I had ever been taught was that God existed, He was watching, and He was listening, therefore, that was what I believed, without considering any alternatives, because I didn’t know there were alternatives.

My life now is far different from what it was during my childhood. I strive to shake off isolation as much as I can. Though I don’t like extremely large get-togethers (perhaps because I feel alone in large crowds), I really enjoy smaller engagements where everyone knows each other. I especially like to host these parties. I love the holidays. Being an atheist doesn’t detract from my holiday spirit in any way. I don’t care about greetings–Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, whatever. I’m just happy to know that someone is saying something nice to me (that’s rare here in California). Believe it or not, I probably knew more about the bible at three than I do now. I did so much studying over the years trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t, that I packed so much biblical knowledge into my head, it almost exploded. Over the last ten years or so, I let it all go. Of course the knowledge is still there, but it isn’t all consuming anymore. I no longer feel the need to throw biblical trivia at people when they say something that is incorrect, or something I don’t agree with. I came to the realization that the bible is just a book, like so many others. With that realization, I no longer need to “prove” anything, for or against it.

There are many other things that helped to shape who I am today, but my outgoing, friendly personality definitely comes from the isolation I felt as a child, and my love for holidays and get-togethers comes from being deprived of having those things when I was young. So many times in the past I’ve wished that my parents would have celebrated holidays–I often wondered if their choice of religion was more about faith or a lack of love for me and my brother. Now, I wonder if they had celebrated holidays like everyone else when I was young, would I cherish them as much as I do now?