Saturday, February 13, 2010

Germany vs. Homeschoolers

Germany is arresting homeschoolers, and the European Union is encouraging them.

Germany states that its recent history of a splinter group taking over and persecuting minorities makes them uncomfortable with any group that deviates from the norm.

So they’ll just persecute the minorities (homeschoolers, in this case) before a splinter group has the chance.

But here’s something even more interesting: in defense of Germany’s actions, the European Council on Human Rights (or something like that) states that the purpose of school is to integrate individuals into society, and so homeschooling is wrong.

Oh, ok.

Wait... WHAT?

School is about social integration? I’m sorry, last I checked school was about education.

Well, it could be argued that social integration is a vital aspect of education.

Have these people never read Lord of the Flies? Or maybe they didn’t attend school themselves, and so are unclear about the exact nature of the ‘social integration’ that is learned in a typical school setting. But I don’t need to go down that road. America has a decent number of homeschool graduates at this point, and for the most part, they are integrating just fine into society. Oh, yea, sure- a few have embarrassed the rest of us by becoming doctors, lawyers, and politicians, but most of them are pretty ordinary, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, who have Facebook accounts, listen to pop music, and even buy Disney products occasionally. They know about the theory of evolution and use birth control, too. In fact, I would guess that the public schools produce a much higher ratio of ‘social outcasts’ (whatever that means) and welfare dependents than homeschooling families do.

So, if the European Union is not interested in the facts of the situation, then what are they interested in? Could it be at all possible that ONCE AGAIN the White Western World is assuming that its ideology is superior to anyone else’s, and therefore anyone who deviates from that ideology (in this case, How Modern Schooling is the Best Choice for Educating Your Children) needs to be eradicated or at least reformed? Is it at all possible that hundreds of years of conquering and subjugating people that are different than they are is still the accepted norm, even though they try hard to deny it? Is it just part of human DNA that different = bad? And hey, I like Europe; I like Europeans; but you gotta admit they have a nasty addiction to tyranny & oppression.

I’m not usually ‘rah rah’ American, but in this case, I’m glad for that independent streak that made us sit up and say ‘We don’t need the European tyranny’. And I’m glad that we’re opening our doors and letting German homeschoolers into our country as political refugees. Hopefully, this is one area where we won’t follow Europe’s lead, but will continue standing up for the rights of individuals who have decided to live differently.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Obligatory Yes-we’re-back-and-yes-we-had-a-great-time-and-yes-we’re-exhausted Blog Update

Yup, we went to the tropics for two weeks in the midst of this miserable St. Louis winter. Yup, it was awesome. Paradise, to be exact. Sunshine everyday. Air conditioning only occasionally. Green, green, green. Except where it was blue (at the beach, mostly).

We stayed half the time in a little fishing village on the southern (Caribbean) coast of Puerto Rico. My favorite bit was walking everyday to the tiny supermercado to pick up a loaf of bread or a jar of peanut butter. We were also able to take some boat rides into the sea- one during the day to see the little islands that dot the horizon, and one at night to see the Bioluminescent Bay. Actually, now that I think about it, I think my favorite bit was the chickens roaming freely about the town. Everyone apparently has a bunch of chickens and nobody bothers to keep them cooped up (ha ha), and nobody also seems to mind the sound of roosters. In another small town we stayed near, peacocks lived on the roof of an abandoned house and would casually stroll across the road, stopping traffic on a whim.

I love not-quite-third-world countries.

A trip to Puerto Rico is not complete without driving in circles at least one time through a rambling small town that uses alleys for thoroughfares but has a brand new baseball stadium (at least they have their priorities straight). We never did manage to find the highway connection, so we took the extremely scenic view to the ocean, driving in circles through a couple more small towns on the way. Just for the fun of it.

Oh, wait, perhaps my favorite bit was passing by the smashingly blue, big, beautiful, Spanish-style house that had cows living in the front yard. I love these people.

The next few days we spent in the rainforest, near that town where the peacocks lived. The house we rented was rather disappointing (seriously, people, no oven!?) but the rainforest is always intriguing, and we found a pretty stream where the children could swim. They now thoroughly understand the saying about ‘swimming upstream’. It was hilarious to see them swim with all their might and get exactly nowhere. When they weren’t futilely trying to defeat the current they were futilely trying to catch the large fish that lived in the swimming hole. It was a stunningly beautiful location, in the middle of the rainforest, with enormous boulders and tall peaks surrounding us. The water was also FRIGID so David and I mostly sat on the boulders and watched our children enjoying the pleasures of a mountain stream.

AND despite the numerous twisty, turny, one lane with cars coming at us anyway, people walking on the shoulder and peacocks on the other side, sheer-drop-off type of roads I managed to never hyperventilate and only once had to ask David to turn around. Woo hoo for progress on managing my phobia!! (Praise God from whom all blessings flow...)

For the last portion of our vacation we moved again- to the heart of Old San Juan, an ancient city with lots of history and lots more parties. Seriously, again, people. I mean, I understand your need to party. But under MY window? At two a.m.? Singing songs and laughing hysterically? Don’t you know that my kids wake up at 6:30? The neighbors partied, and I had the hangover. David bought earplugs.

And then we walked and walked and walked. The kids definitely didn’t care for this portion of our journey, especially since we had swum every day, at least once a day, until transferring to Old San Juan. We toured a castle that is about 500 years old (San Cristobal), toured the governor’s mansion that also has parts that are 500 years old and is the oldest continuously-used executive mansion in the world (complete with dungeon), shopped and shopped some more, and ate at a bakery that was more than 100 years old. But the food was fresh and OH SO YUMMY. I wanted to see the house that was built for Ponce de Leon (guess what? It’s about 500 years old, too) but it was apparently being worked on (can’t imagine why).

Of course, we take the kids half-way across the hemisphere to this city dripping with antiquities and their favorite bit is feeding the pigeons in the park. Typical.

And my favorite bit- at least of Old San Juan? The colors. I love a culture that has no restraint in painting their buildings whatever color they feel like. Teal, pink, deep green, blue, red, orange and more orange. I never knew what color combinations might pop out in front of me when I turned a corner. Vibrant!

So, well, I have a lot more to say (not that I usually have a shortage of verbosity) but this is plenty to start with... and I will post pictures soon!