There’s a video going around the homeschooling community called “The Fed-Up Homeschooler’s Wishlist” - you can read the original here if you’re so inclined (with the benefit of it being accessible to people who can’t watch video for whatever reason!). I’m not…
I’m ferociously in love with all the words you’re saying. I’ve encountered a lot of homeschooled individuals in my life but it’s rare and refreshing to find those who appreciate the value of their experiences. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for the world, but you’re perfectly right - the misconceptions attached to homeschooling are infuriating. Virtually every time I reveal my educational background I get the same question: ‘how are you so social?’ As though socialisation can only exist in a traditional educational context. As though communication and relationship formation are ‘school’ skills rather than ‘life’ skills. People assume that critical development is inextricably bound to the schooling system, purely because they occur simultaneously for the vast majority of the population. But just because it’s the majority case doesn’t mean it’s the rule, or those things are mutually inclusive.
There are so many assumptions and so many backhanded compliments. ‘But you seem so normal!’, ‘But you’re not, like, freakishly smart/stupid!’, ‘Are you really religious?’, ‘Do you have social problems?’, ‘Were you suspended/excluded from your old school?’, ‘Were you bullied?’, ‘Did you just sit at home all day?’
It’s become even worse since I attained my university place. Comments range between the two extremes of ‘you only got accepted because you’re a novelty’ and ‘you won’t cope - you were only at school for two years, your peers will have more extensive academic experience’. When I first enrolled at sixth form I very vividly remember two particular teachers’ responses to my unorthodox education - ‘you taught yourself? You’re not going to respond well to teachers then, are you?’ and ‘it’ll be interesting to see if you cope’.
The former interested me the most. My Head of Year admitted when I graduated that a lot of teachers had been apprehensive about teaching me at first. They didn’t realise that the presence of a teacher wasn’t so much a hindrance as an immense relief. After a lifetime of teaching myself with the very limited resources offered to homeschooled students I suddenly had people willing to do all the work for me. I could’ve kissed them. I hugged a lot of them.
But it’s being made even HARDER for homeschooled individuals. I had to jump through hoops of fire to sit state recognised exams. It was like pulling teeth, and it very nearly killed my mother. My younger sister’s going through the same process now, and she’s sadly part of the last generation to be able to do so. In the UK it’s going to be made impossible for homeschooled students to sit exams at all. ‘Private candidates’ will no longer exist. If students wish to sit the exams that are mandatory in schools (and essential for moving on to higher education) then they will HAVE to go to school. All educational autonomy is being stripped away and it’s so ridiculously unjust. In the UK we no longer have a right to choose how we’re educated. There is no alternative. It’s either the state system or no qualifications. So many individuals who would benefit from homeschooling have been backed into a corner and will miss out on a tailored learning experience. The numbers of children home educated beyond the age of 14 is going to drop rapidly, and that’s criminal. Shouldn’t the ability to choose your method of education be a basic human right, considering education is what shapes us all?
Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait… The Earth began to cool, The autotrophs began to drool, Neanderthals developed tools, We built a wall (we built the pyramids), Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries, That all started with the big bang!
Since the dawn of man is really not that long, As every galaxy was formed in less time than it takes to sing this song. A fraction of a second and the elements were made. The bipeds stood up straight, The dinosaurs all met their fate, They tried to leap but they were late And they all died (they froze their asses off) The oceans and pangea See ya wouldn’t wanna be ya Set in motion by the same big bang!
It all started with the big bang!
It’s expanding ever outward but one day It will cause the stars to go the other way, Collapsing ever inward, we won’t be here, it wont be hurt Our best and brightest figure that it’ll make an even bigger bang!
Australopithecus would really have been sick of us Debating out while here they’re catching deer (we’re catching viruses) Religion or astronomy, Encarta, Deuteronomy It all started with the big bang!
Music and mythology, Einstein and astrology It all started with the big bang! It all started with the big bang!
When I was in fourth grade, I was sitting with my cello, waiting for my orchestra concert to begin. The cello was on the floor, but I was seated in my section in a long dress with my knees spread wide, and my elbows on my thighs. My mom - in the audience - gestured to me for five minutes to sit “properly,” and when I didn’t follow her instructions, she came up and reprimanded me for sitting “like a boy.”
When I was a senior in high school, I gave one of my good friend’s a copy of my senior portrait. Rather than thanking me and saying I looked cute/pretty/whatever, she looked at it for a while until she asked, “Why are you posing like a guy?” In the photo, I was sitting on steps, but my legs weren’t crossed … you know, how people normally sit on steps.
When I was in graduate school, I was walking to dinner with some colleagues. I was in front of the group with a male friend, walking as I normally do - rather quickly and in a straight line. A guy moving toward us had to step out of the way for me, and my male friend said to me, “Wow, you just barrel right through, don’t you?” I replied, “Yeah? Why shouldn’t people get out of the way for me?”
The way women use space and move through space is constantly policed. We are told to fold up, cross our legs, defer space to others, be as small and insignificant as possible, and interfere with the movement and space of others as little as possible. I see it on public transit, where women shrink into their seats. I see it in classrooms, where women don’t spread their stuff beyond the width of their chair. I see it in magazines, where women are photographed differently from men. I see it everywhere.
A good number of these “presence” norms are embedded into gendered constructions of etiquette, and they get internalized; so much of the policing women experience is actually self-policing. It isrude for a woman to cross her ankle over her knee, or stand with her legs shoulder-width apart, or to expect others to move around her. A woman can get all of the other bits of a feminine gender performance right, but if that woman doesn’t use space in the proper manner, she will be met with resistance and condemnation - her own or someone else’s. But where she has gone wrong will be noticed, and she will be told. Even if she is not corrected outright, her behavior will be the subject of comment (as was the case with my male colleague above). She will be made to feel continually anxious about her presence in space. She will shrink and fold until she nearly disappears.
Men can be expansive, and command as much space as they like. They can sit with knees splayed wide and arms draped over several seats, their crap strewn six feet in either direction, creating a massive bubble of space that is theirs. They can walk down the street, and assume the straight line in front of them is theirs, as far as they desire to go. Men take up space - even technically unoccupied space - and no one questions them.
Women’s space is always borrowed. Even women’s bodies don’t really create a bubble that is all their own. If a woman has enough room to sit or to stand, that is deemed to be enough for her. She isn’t supposed to claim anything beyond her physical, bodily allotment, and even that is policed if she is “too tall” or “too fat.” If she does, she’ll be made to feel it.
fall makes me think of leaving and of apple cider, though i never liked apple cider. but i liked the idea of it.
two years ago i met a boy as fragile as dead leaves, who called me his little spring girl. (i’d always liked autumn the best.) he kissed the two soft dimples on the small of my back and told me helikedme helovedme hewantedme.
and oh, by the way, “everything good must come to an end.”
on our one year anniversary we picked out two pumpkins and i drew elephants on them for us to carve. he cut his out so aggressively that it lost its shape. lopped off tusks and broken trunks became just a large, jagged hole.
he put a lit candle inside, and we watched it flicker, illuminating the raw edges.
“what is it supposed to be?” i asked him, taking his hand.
“my heart,” he said definitively. like an afterthought.
after that i was too afraid to carve my pumpkin at all.
the leaves changed, or maybe he changed, or maybe i was brave enough to carve that fucking elephant on a faded pumpkin, weeks too late for halloween. (i screwed it up anyway, the elephant had three legs.) maybe if he hadn’t loved apple cider so much, if he had let the piercing in his lip close up, or if he hadn’t cracked between my fingers like dead leaves, he would still be holding my hand.
but somehow i don’t think so. his hands are now too busy holding cigarettes. holding razors. letting go.
he left a gallon of apple cider in my fridge. maybe it is still there.
i kept my fucked up pumpkin beneath my desk for a week and propped my feet up on it, but i could never bear to put a lit candle inside.
there is just something entirely too hopeful about watching broken things glow.
There’s a video going around the homeschooling community called “The Fed-Up Homeschooler’s Wishlist” - you can read the original here if you’re so inclined (with the benefit of it being accessible to people who can’t watch video for whatever reason!). I’m not that big on hateful backlash against people (okay, unless they’re particularly hateful to start with, and then the gloves are coming off) but the list covers a lot of points and paints a pretty good picture of what life is like as someone who homeschools.
Your whole life stands as an open invitation for people to deliver their commentary and (often negative) opinions, just like anybody else who doesn’t conform to the norm, and you’re pretty regularly informed that you are very smart, very stupid, very socially inept, extremely socially adept, pretentious, humble, determined, lazy. (Cognitive dissonance, what is it?) But this list? I don’t know. There’s nothing out there for people who have been homeschooled, not really. Mostly what I find is people mad about having been homeschooled, and I read what they have to say about it and it is nothing (NOTHING) like how my life ever ever ever was.
Upon reading the list, Josh said: “It seems like homeschoolers don’t have a terribly strong collective identity.” Which, yes, thank you! That’s kind of precisely the problem, sort of. We don’t. That’s just it. But gosh, there are so very many extremely egotistical parents involved in the movement. For the most part the “homeschooling community” consists of parents which, all right, is probably mostly because at 24 years old I’m among the very oldest of homeschooled “kids” and there just aren’t very many large groups of homeschooled adults yet. It’s kind of like the organization for “Half Jewish People” - the progeny of interfaith couples. Lots of support out there for the couples, not much for the kids still, because a lot of them are still pretty young.
I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. I wouldn’t say I struggle with my identity as a homeschooler, but it is difficult to parse in our society’s obsessive interest in compartmentalization. Whatever I’m doing, I’ve been doing it a lot lately. (I’m still developing. Like a very very slow polaroid, or maybe a fetus. Don’t mind me, I’m just chrysalising.)
It’s disheartening that a vast majority of personal reports of homeschooling are negative. Not that they reported negative experiences, more that their experiences were negative. That in itself triggers a vicious circle, because the more homeschooling is slammed, the less it’s supported - the less resources are made available, the less networks provided, and the less recognition it receives as a legitimate alternative educational option. Because homeschoolers can’t be labelled or generalised as a body or group, no groups can form to support us. The reason we’re homeschooled is because our needs are diverse. To form an organisation to support homeschooling is contrary to what homeschooling strives for. It’s a paradoxical problem. We need support, but there’s no way to provide it on a large scale. Homeschooling is so much about an independent approach that we exempt ourselves from communal assistance. Every benefit of homeschooling could simultaneously be perceived as detrimental. Something needs to be done to make it a more viable option, yet would doing so may enforce too many limitations, thus rendering the decision to homeschool redundant.
This makes no sense - it’s just a stream of thought. I was homeschooled until I was 16. My first day of school was four months before my seventeenth birthday. For me, homeschooling was… character building. Often difficult but infinitely worthwhile. It highlighted the importance of knowledge, making learning a part of everyday life rather than a chore. I think people often compartmentalise education into a specific region of their life. Learning only exists in a school setting, or in the form of homework, or teachers’ specific instructions. Whereas homeschooling is about life being a learning experience, it’s the quest for knowledge in every avenue, independently following individual interests. But I was incredibly lucky to have the family, home and financial resources I have. Homeschooling IS a privilege, and sadly it isn’t a viable choice for everyone.
“Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn’t ready for an alternative. Let’s show them we not only accept a sane and humane policy — we demand it” (x)
The Avaaz petition will be delivered to world leaders by the Global Commission.
Details of some backing the call, and further details from The Guardian: Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico; George Papandreou, prime minister of Greece; César Gaviria, former president of Colombia; Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general; Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil; George Shultz, former US secretary of state; Javier Solana, former EU high representative; Virgin tycoon Richard Branson; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve.
The commission will call for drug policy to move from being focused on criminal justice towards a public health approach. The commission is the most distinguished group to call for such far-reaching changes in the way society deals with illicit drugs. Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at Transform…described this week’s conference as hugely significant. “What we have here is the greatest collection thus far of ex-presidents and prime ministers calling very clearly for decriminalisation and experiments with legal regulation,” he said. “It will be a watershed moment.”
“Loneliness is energy. Powerful as hell. People kill themselves sick on loneliness. They drink themselves into the floorboards. They do all kinds of damaging things to themselves to combat their loneliness. The loneliness is real. The energy is real. I can’t see what good it does to damage yourself trying to feel better. If one can apply all this real energy to damaging oneself, then isn’t it possible to harness this energy into something positive to combat loneliness?”—Henry Rollins, The Iron (via everpink)
“Your house gets robbed. Police catch the criminal. You’re in court and he’s about to get his sentence. The judge looks down at the evidence and says: “Well, the fence of your house is shorter than everyone else’s in the neighbourhood. So I’ll give the defendant a few years off his jail sentence because of the message you were sending.” What a ridiculous notion.
Well, not too ridiculous for it to take place in the incidence of rape charges according to some courts. Earlier this year a Canadian Judge, Robert Dewar essentially told a rape victim that what she was wearing was sexually suggestive enough for him to have grounds to reduce her sex offender’s punishment. Dewar gave the man a two-year conditional sentence as opposed to the minimum three-year jail sentence for raping the woman along a darkened highway.
The backlash to this and other incidents of the same philosophy, has lead to the public protests known as SlutWalk. These walks have taken place all over the world and Melbourne is now about to have its own.
For many, Judge Robert Dewar’s decision can be interpreted as a judgement on the victim being less worthy of receiving justice because of her choice of clothing. Not only have people reacted to this as a shocking legal decision, it seems he has crossed an ethical boundary by making a value judgement on a person because of what she wears.
The argument being made against ‘slutty’ clothing, by Dewar and others, is that it sends a sexually inviting message.
Sure, what people wear does send a message. If you see a woman wearing a Metallica t-shirt she’s likely to be a fan of heavy metal music. Not always, but likely. If you see a woman in a burka she’s probably into Allah. If you see a woman at a bar with see-through leggings and a g-string, many would assume she’s into sex; it may not necessarily be the case but many would identify this clothing as having sexual connotations. Assumptions are one thing, but a judgment that any of these three individuals deserves fewer human rights than any other person, I think, is immoral.
The clothes one wears, whether they represent you well as a person or not, cannot alter basic treatments of decency and humanity. If we do that, soon we’ll be seeing this scenario:
“Yes your honour, that man assaulted me at the bar by punching me in the face”
“What were you wearing at the time?”
“An Ed Hardy t-shirt”
“I find the defendant NOT GUILTY!”
We may all be judgmental, yet it’s our ethical responsibility to account for that bias when important decisions are made and fellow human beings are to have their human rights upheld.”— Moral Melbourne
“Human beings took our animal need for palatable food … and turned it into chocolate souffles with salted caramel cream. We took our ability to co-operate as a social species … and turned it into craft circles and bowling leagues and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We took our capacity to make and use tools … and turned it into the Apollo moon landing. We took our uniquely precise ability to communicate through language … and turned it into King Lear.
None of these things are necessary for survival and reproduction. That is exactly what makes them so splendid. When we take our basic evolutionary wiring and transform it into something far beyond any prosaic matters of survival and reproduction … that’s when humanity is at its best. That’s when we show ourselves to be capable of creating meaning and joy, for ourselves and for one another. That’s when we’re most uniquely human.
And the same is true for sex. Human beings have a deep, hard-wired urge to replicate our DNA, instilled in us by millions of years of evolution. And we’ve turned it into an intense and delightful form of communication, intimacy, creativity, community, personal expression, transcendence, joy, pleasure, and love. Regardless of whether any DNA gets replicated in the process.
Why should we see this as sinful? What makes this any different from chocolate souffles and King Lear?”—
Obviously, there is no question that women are capable of analyzing, appreciating nuance, scoping out characterization and plot. Women seek out complexities in fiction. We exercise our intellects when we approach fandom and we do it regularly in all sorts of ways. This discussion would be a good example.
But in my mind, the dismissal of the POV of a fangirl—and the fact that fanboys are seen as overly analytical nerds and girls overemotional ones—is just the surface of a deeper issue here. It’s not all about whether or not she’s connecting to something with her brain. It’s more about how women aren’t allowed to take a ‘girly’ approach to hobbies and interests without facing ridicule.*
Let’s face it, a lot of fanfiction and fanart is emotional. For every long, meta-y, brain-bending fanfic, there are fifty more stories about boning, crying, or cuddling. And that’s bad. Because, as we all know, emotions are icky and female. Kinky sex fic is bad too because women can only be a certain kind of sexual and any unorthodox bedroom behavior should be kept in the dark where it belongs. Especially if it’s a little queer, god forbid.
Anything feminine can’t be taken seriously, so if a woman wants to be treated with respect, she has to abandon emotionality and sexuality.
I don’t want to have the argument about whether or not women can intelligently engage with fiction. Fuck that. We know we can, I’m not spending any time explaining the obvious to some asshole. No, the point I want to make is this: Women can be both intelligent and enjoy things with their bodies and emotions. It doesn’t make them less worthy. A woman should be able to read a trashy romance novel without being dismissed by either misogynists or backward feminists who think women have to meet a certain gender-representation standard. A woman should be able to write the dirtiest most saccharine piece of fluff fanfiction and not be dismissed because of it. She should be able to paint a picture of Green Arrow in a corset and a ballgag one night, and a picture that expresses an opinion about corrupt capitalism the next.
Just like men, we’re allowed to be shallow sometimes. We’re allowed to indulge our id. We’re allowed to be weird and sexual and silly. To embody or defy stereotype. We’re allowed to write casually, even badly. We’re allowed to see a movie because it has cool explosions or read a comic because Dick Grayson’s butt and Black Canary’s thighs are nice to look at. Fandom is where you’re supposed to let all that shit hang out. It’s supposed to be fun. We can both laugh at ourselves and respect that people are complex enough to mix the unsophisticated with the intellectually stimulating.
And that’s why I’m completely onboard with comic book companies targeting the fangirl audience—whether that be through our brains, our hearts, or our underpants.
It’s the feminist golden rule: women are human beings. We want to be treated as such. Flaws and all.
*this is also true for men who have interests that don’t fit with male stereotype
popupruby said: Yummy =] I appreciate this deeply. I do enjoy a cheeky bit of blue label.. But cor blimey it is expensive !x
Tell me about it, mama! Blue goes down like syrup. Jesus wept. I spy a future in which we laze in armchairs in a dingy underground club, clad head to toe in silk and diamonds, smoking Vogues as beautiful men in braces and spats buy us blue label on the rocks.