T.V., Homeschooling, and Community
From: Dianna Hine (cocoonbookswcinet.net)
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 1997 15:35:26 -0500
Dear Folks,
        Just had to add to this thread. I'm a homeschooling mom who
lived in cohousing for three years and I wanted to bring this angle into
the discussion. How does t.v., or school, (or single family
dwellings)contribute to our alienation? Schools have interupted family
life and many times, so does t.v. All of us on this list are attracted
to cohousing because we understand the need for more connection in our
lives. More than ever kids need to re-connect with their families.  They
spend 6-9 hours a day in school,after care, and traveling on
schoolbuses. Then they come home and turn on t.v.for a few more
hours.The latest statistics I heard is that families are together
approximately 20 minutes a day. Not much of a family life. Parents are
not raising their own children- teachers, other kids, and t.v. are. I,
by the way, do let my kids watch t.v. but they only watch educational
shows, some of which are fantastic, (like Bill Nye the Science Guy), and
a few carefully reflected Saturday morning cartoons.Since my husband and
I are with our chidren a lot we can frequently discuss issues
that are in their world like: why commercials are dangrous, what
consumerism leads to why watching violent shows is bad for them etc.Kids
learn primarily from modeling, or from what they see and hear around
them. Homeschooled kids learn your values, see your problem solving
techniques, and get your loving and sensitive interventions. The issues
around t.v. are the same as any other issue in a child's life-- are they
being exposed to the values you want them to have? 
        Schools are just as powerful of an influence as t.v. John Gatto, who
was N.Y's teacher of the year twice, has written some brilliant material
("Dumbing us Down"is a fantastic book) on the problem with schools.Just
a few highlights:The model of education we have today was extracted from
the German military.The explicit purpose of schools is to make us into
good citizens who lack independent thought, who won't challenge
authority, and who will be
good worker bees. No kidding, it's written down and in the
archives.Besides squashing creativity, surpressing natural curiosity,and
limiting children's choices, schools encourage competion, use shame to
modify behavior, and do not help children become appropriately
socialized on the playground. Since children have little voice in what
they learn and how they learn it, they also have little feeling of
connection to their community of school and neither learn the lessons of
personal responsability and respect nor experience the benefits of
belonging to a group. The worst part of school though is that it turns
so many off to their love of learning and their passion for whatever
calls to them. I am a psychotherapist and a lot of the problems people
come in with are primarily due to alienation and shame.By the way
homeschool kids don't have problems becoming socialized unless you keep
them in a closet.It's funny how many people voice this concern. The only
difference between public and homeschooled kids is that when at home
they learn how to interact in the world from you instead of their
equally immature (and sometimes emotionally damaged) friends.Who would
you rather be teaching your child how to resolve conflict, how to
cooperate, how to cope with frustration, you or your child's third grade
pals? As far as friends go there are many others homeschooling these
days and my kids have played team sports,joined classes, and have had
lots of friends. Anyway until kids are older (adolescence) they would
rather spend the majority of their time with you.
        Just an added note to anyone forming or living in community-- don't
sacrifice feeling connected as a group for meetings agendas or well-run
kitchens.Too much time and energy gets spent on form and not enough on
the underlying intention of enjoying our lives together.One suggestion
is to minimize the number of decisions the group needs to make and
orchestrate working together (literally, like when doing chores,
maintenance etc.) as muchas possible. So much for my two cents. Didn't
mean to turn this into a book. It's the first message I've sent..Dianna

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