Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Essence of Feminism

I just came across this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, in an excerpt from an essay titled "Man and Woman," published in the March 2004 Christian Science Journal:

"…The masculine element must not murmur if at some period in human history the verdict should take a turn in behalf of woman, and say, - Her time has come, and the reflection of God's feminine nature is permitted consideration, has come to the front, and will be heard and understood. … I would declare that one was not less, nor more, important in God's sight than the other, … we shall find therein no occasion for departure, no occasion for strife, no suggestion of preeminence, or disserverance [separation] of the masculine and feminine elements of God's creating – no question of who shall be greatest."

I love this quote. It's statements like this, as well as her accomplishments, that I believe have earned Mrs. Eddy a place of honor in the feminist canon. To me, it gets at the very essence of feminism, and of what it means to be a feminist: man, and woman, and those in between, all co-equal – and further, that every person is complete in their own right. This way lies peace, and freedom for all, ending the battle of the sexes, for each recognizes the other as equal and complete, with mutual respect, with no struggle for supremacy or subjugation of the other.

It seems to me that bringing on this "period in human history" is the desire and mission of mainstream feminism. Yes, there are extremists who twist feminism into the flip side of masculism, wishing a change from patriarchy to matriarchy, but, in my experience, these are a small minority. So why do antifeminists – typically conservatives, and often women who benefit greatly from feminism – feel so threatened by feminism? From where comes this meme of "feminazi?"

I think it's because they fear that losing male privilege will cause them to lose the essence of their identities – though in fact it only frees them to express the sovereignty of that identity.

I'd be interested in hearing the opinions of others, both feminists and those opposed, on this understanding of feminism.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Homeschooling? What’s that?

Sometimes things happen fast around here.

For years now, we've been dedicated unschoolers, basing our educational philosophy on the work of John Holt, Alfie Kohn, John Taylor Gatto, and Marshall Rosenberg. Unschooling has its challenges, of course, but we made the sacrifices necessary to accommodate them gladly, and everything went well. Sam reads way above grade level. Trin's knows science stuff that most adults don't know. The boys' friends trotted off to their various schools a week or two back, and it seemed we were all set for another year of homeschooling.

Then, last week, Kristin told me that she desired more structure in our lives, including in regards to their unschooling.

Be careful what you ask for. Desire is prayer.

Tuesday, I came home to find Kristin and the boys in deep discussion. Sam had asked to go to school.

Well, our intent in unschooling was to give the boys the best education we could, without coercion. We've told them from the start that they could go to school if they want to, but so far, they've resisted – particularly Trinidad, who did NOT enjoy Waldorf kindergarten. Not that we could afford private school, anyway.

Wednesday, I came home and before she even greeted me, Kristin said, "Come here, look at this!" and showed me the Family School website. It's one of our groovy local alternative public charter schools, and shares much of our educational philosophy: Multi-age classrooms. A cooperative, child-centered learning environment. A garden. Parents are integrated into the school, and can participate as much as they want. It's one of few local schools that composts its food waste. Of course, there are downsides, like the idiotic standardized testing they'll have to endure, and getting up early, but there are downsides to unschooling, too. Besides, as I mentioned, it's also one of our groovy schools that always has a long waiting list; the chances of getting in this year are slim, and the lottery for school choice ended way back in March or something and won't happen again until next year. Still, Kristin and I agreed that she should visit the school and check it out.

Thursday evening, as we sat down to dinner, my ears filled with the story of Kristin's and the boys' visit to the school. They liked what they saw. Even Trin wanted to go. The teachers had mentioned that they were looking to add a couple students, but didn't know what grade level they were looking for – they'd have to meet and decide. The discussion wandered to getting on the waiting list, and wondering how long it was, but both of us felt completely unworried. We both knew that if it was the right thing, they'd get in – if not, no way – regardless of evidence. Then the phone rang. Strange number, so we almost didn't answer, but at the last moment Kristin picked up the phone.

It was the head teacher at the Family School. They'd met. They offered the boys a spot. Both of them, different classes.

Like that.

The boys start their new educational adventure Monday. My homeschooling co-worker is going to be shocked. Shocked! I thought back to my post from just a few weeks ago, and I laughed. "I have to blog about this!"

Eating crow?

Nah. Just sliding along on the path of least resistance. No way is unschooling off the plate. Their educations are still in the boys' hands.

Because nobody can take responsibility for your education, except yourself.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz