Friday, December 19, 2014

The second component of the schooling world

I wanted to ask/share this with the homeschooling/unschooling community in particular, but it also applies to all parents living in urban settings.

The schooling world has two components:

One is the school itself. I think that part is fairly understood in our networks.
The second component is TV/ nonstop entertainment / crass consumerism / materialistic lifestyle.

While school is easy to identify and locate, It's difficult to even name the second component. While the first component is located someplace fixed, away from home, the second components invades into our daily lives constantly, especially so in the urban context.

My observation is that these two, seemingly opposite worlds work together as a team.

One numbs and bores the kids' minds and gives them a world of rigidity.
The other then steps in to give them a false escape from that forced false reality, to a fake world where even realistic responsibilities (like preserving one's well-being, or not hurting others) can be completely shelved.

One gives our kids an unnatural load of expectations, and then the other tempts them with an equally unnatural world where one exists purely to gratify one's immediate desires; where the distinction between wants and needs is neglected.

I believe that these two worlds work as a team to train us for the machinistic lifestyle where we slog a soul-destroying job and then make up for it in our free time with tv, addictions, trying restaurant after restaurant, mall after mall, weekend getaways, adventure treks.. one thing after the other to satiate that feeling of something being amiss in our life.

This dual trap is explained extensively in books like Deschooling Society, Weapons of mass instruction, Charles Eisenstein's books and i'm sure in the other works as well that i haven't read yet.

But i feel that the second component hasn't been dealt with satisfactorily, on a practical level. And there is a risk to freeing our children from only one component of this two-member team while leaving the other one unquestioned, omnipresent and unexamined.

In urban settings, there is an artificial cutting-off of several facets of life, and an artificial enhancement of the second component. We tend to forget that fact. I don't think it's such a wise idea, as I have observed in some cases, to let it have a free run and to let it interfere as it pleases in our children's lives, in the name of non-interference. To give kids a life that is truly free from excessive interference, I think it's necessary, even for unschoolers, to make at least a little bit of effort towards removing this second component's active, pervasive, relentless interference.

Maybe the email below might have something about it.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Subject: NEW GUIDE: Push back against childhood commercialism

Center for a New American Dream - More of What Matters

Raising kids in today's noisy, fast-paced culture can be difficult. For good or ill, modern kids are exposed to a wider world.

Our brand new Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture guide is now available, and ready to help
parents and caregivers protect children from intrusive and harmful advertising.

This guide is the keystone resource of our new Kids Unbranded project. Thanks to our recent poll on the American Dream, we know that the majority of Americans favor limits on advertising aimed at children and that this support is shared across the political spectrum. New Dream's Kids Unbranded project seeks to harness this support by raising the visibility of the issue and providing tools, resources, and advocacy opportunities to parents and educators.

Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture helps explain how marketers target children, and provides useful tips and tools for helping to navigate the challenges of raising and educating kids in our hyper-materialistic culture. New Dream has long been a leader on this issue, and we are really proud of this new resource. I hope you'll take a moment to download the guide today.


Wendy Philleo
Executive Director
Center for a New American Dream
  Center for a New American Dream PO Box 797 Charlottesville, VA 22902

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