Hair Reactions

People are reacting in interesting ways to my newly short hair.

N simply failed to notice any change.

“So?” I asked him when he came home.

“This is a beautiful dress you are wearing,” he said.

“Forget the dress! There is something more important going on.”

“Huh?” he responded.

I’m taking this as a good sign. The man adores me with or without hair, what can be better than that?

Then I told my sister about the haircut over the phone.

“This is very unexpected! I’m not sure I can deal with this! This is too much,” she said.

“Look, I haven’t worn my hair this short for 23 years,” I explained. “I decided it was time for a change.”

“But these were good 23 years!” she responded in a tragic tone she will use when delivering the eulogy at my funeral seventy years from now.

Let’s see what my students say tomorrow.

Hair Update

I have realized that the time has come for me to liberate myself from the pernicious myth that femininity equals long hair. So I went to my salon and had my hair cut shorter than I’ve had it at any time in the past 23 years. It’s been blow-dried, so the extent of the shortness cannot be fully appreciated right now. After I wash it the next time, though, it will form a curly cloud around my head and will probably not even reach my shoulders.

I feel very grown up.

“Without Homeschooling, Christian Patriarchy Would Not Exist”

This great blogger reader el linked to has written more great posts on homeschooling. Here is an excerpt:

Without homeschooling, Christian Patriarchy as we know it could not exist.Why? First, because Christian Patriarchy cannot exist without parents having the ability to isolate their children, especially their daughters, from the outside world, and second, because Christian patriarchy cannot exist without parents having the ability to completely control their children’s educations.

Remember, this is a person who was homeschooled and is discussing her own experiences and things she has witnessed. I think that Christian Patriarchy is such an insidious power structure that it would exist even without homeschooling. It would be weakened considerably without it, but it would not disappear. What drives people into its venomous embrace is fear. Fear of life, fear of responsibility, fear of adulthood, fear of the world, fear of their individuality. Within a community of religious fanatics, the unwelcome necessity to think is removed. Every decision is made for you, so you can achieve bliss by chewing the cud and obeying like a patient sheep.

Homeschooling gives parents the ability to completely control everything about their children’s lives. In contrast, when children go to public school they have interaction with things outside of their parents’ world and have more control over their own educations. Now, I’m not saying that patriarchal abuse can never take place when children goes to public school. It can. But it cannot take place at all to the extent that it can when children are homeschooled.

Of course, the abuse in question is not limited to the patriarchal kind. Children who are not allowed to exist outside their parents’ gaze don’t get to participate in normal socialization processes irrespective of the parents’ religion and ideology.

I’m a little envious of this blogger because in her comment thread there were honest, responsible people who actually confessed that they tried homeschooling and it was a bad idea. The thread is filled with the comments made by people who’d been victimized by homeschooling. These are the testimonials that make the selfish homeschooling parents completely rabid because they know that, one day, their own children will be saying these very things:

Even if they have large groups of friends, if the parents are controlling so much of their children’s lives, what are the odds that the group of friends has differing life experiences? So many of my friends that have left the homeschooling environment struggle meeting people, making new friends, and dealing with the people that are completely different from them.

And another comment:

It’s not “just a few” homeschool families that abuse, it’s many of them. I wish homeschoolers would quit minimizing the abuse that a lot of these kids suffer just because they want to keep abusing, uh, sheltering, their kids.

And the most important comment of all:

They honestly believe. . . that “parents should have the freedom to educate their child in whatever manner they deem best.” BULLSHIT. That is total bullshit. Parents have rights, yes, but so do children, and so does society. It’s in the society’s best interest and the children’s best interest that they become well educated and productive members of society. It is therefore not up to the parents to educate their children in whatever manner they deem best. As long as homeschoolers actually believe that, they are condoning the abuse, because it is that mentality that allows the abuse to take place.

Many people forget that children are not toys or pets. They are human beings, citizens. They have a right to pass through all the normal stages of separation from their parents, no matter how much their parents need a dummy to fill their empty lives and find an excuse for their own professional and social failures.

Why Homeschooling Cannot Provide Healthy Socialization

Reader el left a link to a very good post on homeschooling:

For most children, school becomes a primary agent of socialization alongside the family. This does not happen for homeschoolers, though, who generally continue to go where their family goes, see who their family sees, and be where their family is. The family continues to be the primary agent of socialization.

The main argument that the homeschoolers roll out whenever they hear that they are selfishly robbing their miserable children of normal socialization by keeping them away from school as if they were toys is, “But I organize many playdates! But I take them to many activities! But I create a rich social life for them!” Of course, the idea that growing people need to have their own existence outside of their parents sphere of influence does not occur to homeschoolers.  They aren’t raising independent human beings in their own right, you see. They are bringing up creatures who will continue servicing Mommy’s and Daddy’s needs for as long as possible.

At the same time, homeschoolers don’t get an opportunity to grow into their adult roles gradually:

Homeschooled children like myself shift straight from a family life based on affection to an adult life based on performance. This transition can be grinding and abrupt, and it can be a difficult one to make.

Notice that this is yet another adult who was homeschooled and is now sharing how undermining this experience was.

People always wimp out and start denying their own ideas whenever homeschooling is discussed. After being cyberbullied by a bunch of unhinged, hysterical, homeschooling housewives with no lives of their own and with a long experience of interacting only with those who will never dare contradict them, I can understand this fear. The author of the quoted post chickens out a little bit by the end of the article but, still, this post is an important contribution to the discussion of the crippling effects of homeschooling.

Where I Fail As a Teacher

I’m a very good teacher but I’m far from perfect. There is a lot of room for improvement in my teaching. One thing that I consistently fail at is mixing students up as often as I should. In a language course, students tend to choose one or two partners they are most comfortable with. Since most of the in-class work happens in groups, students want to work with their buddies.

This is very detrimental to their learning because they settle into the same roles and their language skills do not develop as well as they could. To give an example, if one person in the group is good at conjugating verbs, s/he will be put in charge of conjugating by the group, and other people will not get to practice their own conjugation skills.

The best thing to do is to mix them up and place them with new partners all the time. I know that I should be doing it but it isn’t easy. Students really resist being separated from their friends and placed with strangers. They get sulky, whiny, and sometimes have to be almost forced to change groups. This is disruptive to the learning process and creates an unpleasant atmosphere in the classroom. So I forego this practice most of the time.

This semester, I’ve had two buddies in one of my courses who threw actual tantrums whenever I attempted to separate them. I stopped trying and just let them be. Of course, the result is that now each of them is lacking a crucial skill because he’s been relying on the friend to provide it. Both run a serious risk of not passing the course.

Maybe I should explain at the beginning of the course why working in different groups is important. It always feels like students get really bored whenever you start explaining the methodology of teaching to them.