What Racism Looks Like to Me

If you think voter ID is racist, then I think you are a racist whose racism goes deep down to your innermost assumptions.  Are brown people dumber than you, that they do not know how to get an ID? Are they cut off from society more than you, so that they don’t already have the same ID everybody needs to hold jobs, cash checks, buy a beer, or even get a freaking library card these days?   Stop being racist, and silly.

 

If you are the kind of person who imagines you are a defender of brown people but you routinely also take it for granted that they are housekeepers, maids, lawn service providers, kitchen staff in restaurants, etc. It never ceases to make my jaw just drop in stunned shock when a self described liberal, social justice type says stuff like, “I hear ICE is out there looking for people to pick up so you should give your maids a ride home,” or “Those evil Trump types if they lock the borders down who do you think is going to mow your lawn and clean your toilets.”  WHAT?   Yeah, you make those assumptions and you are the racist, the deeply, bone-in, taking for granted assumptions that are the most insidious.  No wonder you assume everybody else is so bigoted.  You know you are, and of course, you cannot live with the notion that maybe people who disagree with you on political issues are actually not more evil than you but might be less.

 

If you’re the kind of person who assaults 16 year old kids for wearing a red MAGA hat in support of the sitting president, calling the kid the ‘n’ word while you do it, or you make excuses for this sort of violent assault, you are the intolerant, violent, bigoted racist, and a danger to society as well.

If you think the only, or even the main, or even a partial reason there are pro-life women is because they’ve been brainwashed, you are not a feminist. You are a narrow minded fascist who can’t see outside the walls of your own ideology.

 

If you find it ‘confusing’ that an ‘affluent black man’ driving a BMW which sports NRA and the Don’t Tread On Me bumper stickers, you are probably racist and definitely very narrowminded. (Also, historically illiterate as the Gadsden ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag is not synonomous with Tea Party anyway)

If you are a white lady who says that kind of silliness then defends yourself by claiming it wasn’t about skin-tone (then why’dja bring it up?), but about people voting against their own interests, you are definitely racist, indulging in the worst sort of paternalism, very similar to that held dear by many slave owners in our past. You know, the ones who defended slavery because blacks didn’t know what was best for them and needed whites to care for them?  That’s you.

If you do that, or defend it as reasonable, you’re also more arrogant than you know.  You do not get to determine what is in a total stranger’s best interests based on your foolish assumptions which are entirely grown from your beliefs about his life and well being as determined by what you assume about his life, notions you have which are entirely formed by knowing nothing about him at all except his skin colour.

It is more obvious than you wish that you believe this paternalistic fiction that you know his best interests entirely based on your own prejudices.

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Charlotte Mason, Art, and the Science of Relations

In Childhood, the Prelude, William Wordsworth refers

“To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union betwixt life and joy.”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives several meanings for ‘affinity:’

1. The relation contracted by marriage, between a husband and his wife’s kindred, and between a wife and her husband’s kindred; in contradistinction from consanguinity or relation by blood…

2. Agreement; relation; conformity; resemblance; connection; as, the affinity of sounds, of colors, or of languages….

According to Dictionary.com, it is more than merely a synonym for liking. It involves bonding, forming a connection, a relationship:

…3: kinship by marriage or adoption; not a blood relationship…
5: a close connection marked by community of interests or similarity in nature or character; “found a natural affinity with the immigrants”; “felt a deep kinship with the other students”; “anthropology’s kinship with the humanities” [syn: kinship] 6: inherent resemblance between persons or things 7: a natural attraction or feeling of kinship; “an affinity for politics”; “the mysterious affinity between them”; “James’s affinity with Sam”
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University (see Dictionary.com for more, much more)

Charlotte Mason referred to Wordsworth’s poem when she said that one of the chief duties of parents is to help our children

“make valid as many as may be of – –
‘Those first-born affinities
That fit our new existence to existing things.”

She says that

Education is the Science of Relations;’ by which phrase we mean that children come in to the world with a natural ‘appetancy,’ to use Coleridge’s word, for, and affinity with, all the material of knowledge; for interest in the heroic past and in the age of myths; for a desire to know about everything that moves and lives, about strange places and strange peoples; for a wish to handle material and to make; a desire to run and ride and row and do whatever the law of gravitation permits.” (Charlotte Mason, Volume 2, pp. 222-3)

Elsewhere in her six volume series she explains that that part of the idea that education is a science of relations entails an understanding that

“fulness of living, expansion, expression, and serviceableness, for each of us, depend upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of…
Every child is heir to an enormous patrimony, heir to all the ages, inheritor of all the present.”
(Volume 3. pp.185-6)”

Towards that end, she says that

“[Every] child should leave school with at least a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of his imagination, to say nothing of great buildings, sculpture, beauty of form and colour in things he sees.”

School didn’t do that for me. My parents did a wonderful job of introducing us to poetry, literature, classical music, nature, history, and song, but we didn’t ever visit an art museum or discuss art that I remember. We had, however, one picture hanging on our walls that was not department store home decor. It was a print of a young girl in profile. She is reading a book. We did not know the name of the picture or the artist, and we never really talked about it, but I looked at it often while I curled up on the couch reading my own books.

A few years ago I was working on an art project for our homeschool, and I discovered my picture. It is ‘A Young Girl Reading’ by Fragonard. I was thrilled. I emailed my mother to tell her about it. I printed out a copy from the computer to look at. I excitedly told my children and husband that I had ‘known’ that painting from a child. Simply by seeing it on the wall of my childhood home, I had developed an affinity for it, and I believe that painting acted as a door to the world of the visual arts when I grew to woman’s estate. That print became a connection to a whole new world. How thrilling.

Even more thrilling was standing before the original in Washington, D.C. last week at the National Gallery of Art (search NGA.gov if the link has moved). I was unprepared for the emotional response. The HeadGirl and JennyAnyDots went ahead of us through the museum and found the painting first. They came back for me- “Mother, mother, we’ve found your painting.”

We rushed to the gallery where ‘my’ painting resides. I stood in front of it in wonder and profound happiness. I choked back tears. I tried to explain to my husband how much it meant to me, that this was the first, the very first painting I had loved, and how long I had loved it. I was incoherent.

We saw many wonderful things at the NGA, most of them far superior in quality and subject matter than my girl reading. As it turns out, Fragonard could produce paintings like this in about an hour, using broad, sweeping brush strokes. The girl’s collar is produced by first globbing on a thick mass of white paint, and then using the pointed end of the brush to quickly scratch the lines of the ruff through the wet paint. I don’t care. I love it. I love it because of the connections I made with it as a child and the connections it made for me as an adult.

It keeps on making connections for me. Today I read this post on Rembrandt over at Suitable for Mixed Company. She says,

“Many years ago, I was broke and bored, and wandering around Vancouver, British Columbia. The Vancouver Art Gallery had a free day (or cut-rate day, I forget which) and was advertising The Dutch world of painting and it was handy. Expecting nothing more than a half hour or so’s diversion, I went in. And changed my life. Honestly, I was floored by what I saw. I was astonished to find that some of the Dutch Masters were drop-dead funny in their art. I wandered into another room and found myself in another exhibit, where I lingered over a case with da Vinci drawings, grasping for the first time the difference between good drawings and great ones. But Rembrandt. My gosh. I lost myself in Rembrandt and the other Dutch Masters.”

I got all choked up all over again just reading about somebody else getting choked up at an art exhibit. She has much more to say about Rembrandt, art, and books, so please read the whole thing. You won’t regret it. Bookmark her, too, she’s worth a regular place in your reading schedule.

There are several ways into the world of art appreciation- by which I mean the world where a piece of art has the ability to move you, touch your life, hold your attention, to matter to you. It probably doesn’t matter so much how you get there. But do go, and take the kids with you.

For Further reading on CM and the science of relations, see here.

 

(Originally posted in 2005)

Posted in Charlotte Mason, the science of relations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Responses

Parmesan Crackers and Parmesan Straws

I think either of these would make a good dish to have for weekly tea with the children, the sort of tea where you do picture study, read a poem, or have a little read aloud or a discussion of your favourite reads that week. The sort of tea that might turn out like this.

No 455 Parmesan Crackers
Spread 12 crackers with butter and then sprinkle them with one tablespoonful of Parmesan cheese mixed with a saltspoonful (about 1/4 teaspoon) of mustard and a dash of cayenne (optional, I suppose. Try garlic or a bit of basil instead if you are sensitive to flavour, I mean heat, in your food). Put them in the oven until they are a light brown serve hot.

You could have these with sliced pickles, or pickled vegetables of any sort, or olives, and perhaps some apple slices. What sounds good to you?

These are also the sort of thing you can have quite young children help with, and learn to make themselves.

No 456 Parmesan Straws- these are more complicated, but look worthwhile

Mix half a cupful of flour with one tablespoonful of Parmesan cheese; add a saltspoonful of salt (1/4 tsp), a dash of cayenne, the beaten yolks of two eggs, and enough milk to make a stiff dough. Roll it very thin, cut it into narrow strips, put them on greased paper (try parchment paper) and bake ten minutes or until a light brown.

The Little Epicure: 700 Choice Recipes, published in 1894
By Linda Hull Larned

“Born in 1853, Linda was prominent in Syracuse social affairs for decades, including working as the president of both the Board of Education and the National Household Economic Association.

Linda was devoted to the progress of the public school system and was a known expert on household etiquette. ”

<a href=”http://www.storycuse.com/lindahull/”>More here.</a>

Posted in cookery, cooking with kids, vintage cookery | Leave a comment

What About Teaching Evolution

Continuing my discussion of living science texts for kids:

Regarding evolution- I think kids should be taught what other people believe and why- how in depth is possibly subject for debate, but I don’t think either side should be utterly ignorant about the other’s beliefs in as fair minded a way as we can manage. I also think it’s not doing your kids any favors if you are in the minority side not to educate them a lot about the majority beliefs, even if you are 100% correct about your minority view point (minority or majority is irrelevant to right or wrong).

I’m not going to go into a lot of deep detail about what I think, because it’s really irrelevant here, and that is kind of my point.  I do get tired of books that are insistently so dogmatic about billions of years or thousands of years and hard core macro evolution or no evolution that they drag it in where it really is not relevant to that specific subject. Whatever the current ideas are about how a plant might have evolved from goo to buttercup or might have been created on the fifth day as a fully formed buttercup- I don’t care. I don’t want them squished in to a book about plants today and how to tell them apart. Those views are not really relevant to what kids would want to know or even need to know about identifying buttercups and telling them apart from cinquefoil or mustard or wood sorrel or photosynthesis or plant propagation. 

The same for clouds- you don’t need six chapters on evolution and flatly stated claims about billions of years (or six thousand years) with a paragraph or two in every chapter about billions of years ago (or the second day of Creation) in order to know the difference between cirrus, cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, cumulus or whatever and what it means. You can discus the formation of clouds and teach the skill of recognizing the various types of clouds and what they mean for the weather without ever pushing one point of view or the other. You can be right or wrong about evolution and the age of the earth and it will be totally irrelevant to whether the constellation you are looking at is Orion or Leo or the Southern Cross. I could go on and on- what we see in most textbooks and even zoo and museum exhibits from either side is no longer education, but propaganda. This heavy handed approach isn’t even very useful for whatever cause you espouse. Usually in the end it will create more people skeptical about your pet point than not because people naturally push back against propaganda.

So basically, I think that it’s over-done in secular books and I believe it’s over compensated for in Christian books.   It would be so simple a matter, I would think, to say something like, “At the time I’m writing this, most scientists think  X,y, and z, and you are likely to need to know this is what they believe, whether you believe it yourself or not…. but you should also remember this is the best information about what most scientists believe today, and the best information was different 20 years ago and will be different again- this is why we continue to study, read, think and learn about this amazing and wonderful world and all the things in it.” But apparently, that is entirely too much to ask for.

Posted in Charlotte Mason, science | 2 Responses

What we need in a science text

Science: “‘Scientific truths,’ said Descartes, ‘are battles won.’ Describe to the young the principal and most heroic of these battles; you will thus interest them in the results of science and you will develop in them a scientific spirit by means of the enthusiasm for the conquest of truth . . . How interesting Arithmetic and Geometry might be if we gave a short history of their principal theorems, if the child were meant to be present at the labours of a Pythagoras, a Plato, a Euclid, or in modern times, of a Descartes, a Pascal, or a Leibnitz. Great theories instead of being lifeless and anonymous abstractions would become living human truths each with its own history like a statue by Michael Angelo or like a painting by Raphael.” (Charlotte Mason, volume 6)

Our goals for education are not utilitarian- we don’t educate merely for a job or for passing a test, but because God has created a wide and wonderful world full of amazing, interesting, astonishing, and even useful things and ideas and it is the glory of God to conceal these things, but the glory of kings to discover them, and our children are all royalty, sons and daughters of the King of Kings.  We don’t want to dismiss scientific knowledge of any sort on the grounds that it’s not useful (some things don’t get covered because of time, but use alone is not our criteria)

 

We want books that appeal to children’s natural inborn love of knowledge, not books with gimmicks and dated jokes and silly attempts to use current slang and talk down to kids in a mistaken attempt to be relevant that makes a book dated and irrelevant in about six weeks.

Even when children may have had their natural love of knowledge squelched by bad teaching, bad practices, hard lives or whatever cause, we feel that most of us really do like to know about the world around us and how it works even if that interest has been weakened by years of dry, boring text books and assumptions that we *aren’t* interested in those things and that they are not interesting at all. We will appeal to interest, to that still living, tiny spark of thirst for knowledge. We don’t want to rely on appeals of bribery, shallow trivia, and tests that treat the material like dictionary entries.

We want science books that are alive, well written, and that are lso humble- recognizing the fact that what is understood today can change tomorrow, books that do not substitute opinion for fact.

We want accompanying experiments, activities, and demonstrations. We want them clearly explained and as much as possible using inexpensive materials that families can easily find at home.

Facts are important, but we don’t want books that are basically lists of facts- we want facts only when clothed in their inspiring ideas, a big picture, a breathless since of wonder, discovery, and awe.

A child’s mind is alive, a living organism that, like other organisms, requires nourishing food and regular servings of it- and the food the mind takes in best is the living idea, ideas communicated in literary language and illustrated with demonstrations and experiments with real things.  The mind responds to ideas, and that is what we want to see in science books.  We also want for children to leave their schooling years with the understanding that learning never ends, that it is a natural and desirable thing to continue to be interested in and to stay abreast of the scientific work of the day.

Mason tells this story:  “The mistress of an Elementary School writes,––”The father of one of my girls said to me yesterday, ‘You have given me some work to do. E. has let me have no rest until I promised to set up my microscope and get pond water to look for monads and other wonders.'” Here we have the right order. That which was born of the spirit, the idea, came first and demanded to confirm and illustrate.”

This is part of the reason why a Charlotte Mason education spends so much of the early years out of doors, looking, observing, wondering, pondering, noticing, thinking, with helpful hints, direction, and elucidations from adults who know what to look for or how to find out how to answer questions. We don’t pretend to know everything- or anything at all that we don’t know. We find out. We are interested in these things ourselves or we learn how to be.

Mason also writes of a class that:

“is open to the wonders that science reveals, is interested in the wheeling worlds of the winter firmament. “Child after child,” said a schoolmistress, “writes to say how much they have enjoyed reading about the stars.” “As we are walking sometimes and the stars are shining,” says a girl of eleven in an Elementary School, “I tell mother about the stars and planets and comets. She said she should think astronomy very interesting.”

But we teach astronomy, no, we teach ‘light and heat’ by means of dessicated text-books, diagrams and experiments, which last are no more to children than the tricks of white magic. The infinitely little is as attractive to them as the infinitely great and the behavior of an atom, an ion, is a fairy tale they delight in, that is, if no semblance to a fairy tale be suggested. ”

Finally, but most importantly- “Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire it has perhaps no educative value.”

That is what we want. I use the royal we.

Posted in Charlotte Mason, homeschooling, science | Leave a comment


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