Parenting Without God pg 90

Feb 22, 2016

“Go to every PTA meeting you can. Be a voice and run for PTA and the school board if you can. Meet with your children’s teachers to find out what is being taught in their classes. Sadly, we may have to supplement at home. I think this is one reason why I am hearing more and more secular parents opting to home school rather than send their kids to public or private schools. Education has gotten so bad, you can no longer trust that a school will give your child a proper education.

I am personally against homeschooling. I think it lacks the social necessity of school, and as smart as we parents think we are, many of us do lack the formal education to teach all subjects. I may be able to handle history and science, but I certainly don’t want my own child learning math from me. I think the solution is to help everyone. Homeschooling may seem right for your child, but it leaves thousands behind in need of help. The last thing we should be doing is giving up on the system. We should be fixing it.”

–Dan Arel, Parenting Without God pg 90


Discuss!

20 comments on “Parenting Without God pg 90

  • danarel #1
    Feb 22, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    @OP“Go to every PTA meeting you can. Be a voice and run for PTA and the school board if you can. Meet with your children’s teachers to find out what is being taught in their classes.

    As someone who spent 7years as chair of the board of governors of my children’s primary school (in England), five years a board member, sub-committee chair, and appointment panel member, at their secondary school, with some years as also a parent representative on panels and committees of the Local Education Authority, I support this as very good advice, if you can gain the support, and have the time and ability to do it.



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  • @danarel

    I haven’t read your book yet but I want to say that it must be a valuable book for parents who are unsure as to how to raise kids outside of the overbearing religious environment that currently exists. I know we can’t adequately discuss the book based on just the two paragraphs that are presented above so forgive me if I have some of your ideas out of context and I’m sure you will correct me right away if that happens.

    Sadly, we may have to supplement at home

    Dan, I’m not sure why this is sad. Even though my kids went to a very good public school system I always supplemented what was done in the classroom with outside activities and discussions on the material. I wonder if you are talking about school systems that don’t teach science or that teach fairy tales “science”. How prevalent is this?

    I think this is one reason why I am hearing more and more secular parents opting to home school rather than send their kids to public or private schools. Education has gotten so bad, you can no longer trust that a school will give your child a proper education.

    Yikes! This sounds dire! I agree that there are few parents who could really cover all the academic bases. Is education really so bad that parents must withdraw their kids and home school them? Is this trend more common in any particular region? I’ve met a few fundy Christian families who were home schooling their kids. I felt sorry for those isolated kids and a little worried for them, but I’ve never met any secular families who chose to home school. I was told that the Christians don’t like it when their kids mingle with the common riff raff in public schools. I hope this is not what the secular families are getting at as well.

    What I’m worried about is that if the secular bunch shelter their children from the general culture, which is undoubtedly excessively religious in the US, how will they fare once they have no choice but to out into that weird world of ours?

    Isn’t it enough to raise kids to have strong skeptical analysis skills? To understand that it’s ok to question authority? To understand the methods that people use to indoctrinate others?

    My kids had to participate in every religious holiday in their school due to an emphasis on multiculturalism that was popular at the time. At the end of the day we explained that some families believe this and that but we just don’t believe that any of that is true. They have the right to run their families how they want but we don’t need those weird Middle Eastern fairy tales in this family. Now that they are adults and have moved into the world independently at least they are never taken by surprise by the religions that they meet up with out there. When they were growing up in our neighborhood there were families representing Baptist, Catholic, Jew, Armenian Apostolic, Prespertarian (sp?), Muslim, Evangelical Christian, Atheist and Methodist, all on one street! There was never a single problem as far as I know and in fact I quite liked the diversity we had there.

    I know you said above that you don’t appreciate the home schooling idea. I agree that we must support our public school system strongly, especially in these days of “school choice” and fundamentalists sticking their noses into textbook content that they have no knowledge of and should leave to their intellectual betters. I guess I’m finding the idea of isolating secular kids to be a bit disturbing.



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  • The key message being: it’s our responsibility to make sure our children are educated the way we believe they should be educated. If we have reason to believe “the system” is not right, then we should either do it ourselves (provided we have what it takes and mind the pitfalls) or get sufficiently involved in the system to fix it.

    Sadly, we may have to supplement at home.

    I don’t think of this as sad, necessarily. A necessary part of good parenting is supplementing at home, regardless of the quality of “the system”.



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  • To those curious as to why it is sad we must supplement from home:

    Many parents, even those who really want to, are not always qualified to supplement at home. Not every parent can be a biologist, a mathematician, etc. We rely on our educators to teach our children things that not even we know. When they fail at that, and it falls on us, it’s not entirely unlikely we could do harm by teaching them the wrong thing, or what we were taught (wrong or outdated).

    It’s not sad that we continue the education of our children at home, but it’s sad we often find ourselves doing the jobs of the educators.



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  • danarel #6
    Feb 23, 2016 at 1:13 am

    Many parents, even those who really want to, are not always qualified to supplement at home. Not every parent can be a biologist, a mathematician, etc. We rely on our educators to teach our children things that not even we know.

    Indeed! In the modern world of information, not even the best educated citizens in the leading countries, have knowledge across all subject areas, so we need specialist teachers to impart that expertise.
    In some ways the feature is exaggerated with small families, single children, and geographical seeking of employment, where the skills of the extended family are not regularly available to the children.

    It’s not sad that we continue the education of our children at home, but it’s sad we often find ourselves doing the jobs of the educators.

    In good schools with parental support, teachers should be drawing on parental expertise and children’s knowledge.

    Back in the !990’s my children were showing their teachers and class mates in primary school, how to use computers and how to fix computer problems.
    My younger son who was most proficient at this, is now head of development and a director of an IT company, after specialist classes in electronics at secondary school, and a computer science degree.



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  • I am personally against home schooling. I think it lacks the social necessity of school …

    Hi Dan,

    I briefly considered withdrawing my Daughter from school on precisely this point. She was forced to change schools by the local authority and suffered a period of isolation before making new friends.

    However, I took a different route and asked the Teacher for a chat at the end of a school day. She was very understanding and helpful. It was the start, as they say, of a beautiful friendship.

    For anyone like me, who wonders just how on earth people find the time to serve on PTA boards, I will add this advice.: Teachers, including Head Teachers, are always looking for feedback on the children and are normally delighted to talk to parents and hear about how your child talks about school and to hear your feedback and concerns. Please: After normal school hours!

    I found it impossible to set time aside for the PTA – and I would have dearly loved to take part – but if you attend every open day, fund raiser, charity run (even if you’re only there to cheer on the runners), Summer fair, Christmas concert, etc. (and if you use the pick-up time at the gate wisely) it is very easy to get to know staff and PTA members and they quickly pick up on your views and your child’s needs.

    Also the US is not alone in seeing political interference in schools that is eroding the quality of education. But the PTA and teachers are not the people to fix this. For this you need to talk to the politicians.

    My Daughter seems to have turned out very well by the way, she’s currently studying English at Kent.

    Peace.



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  • I am embarrassed to say I came out of school with nothing in the way of exams. My wife did far better. Education came first when we had children and we spent a small fortune making sure they got it. My math ability just about got me through becoming an electrician. Thanks to my wife who got involved with the children schooling early on and when the children began to get beyond our math skills, my wife spent a lot of time learning new stuff to help with home work. They were sent to me for creative writing and science and I did the same to learn anything I could. I have always been interested in science and evolution.

    What I missed when I was at school were parents that could get involved in the school and so tie school and family life together. My life was one in school and another at home. Because we gave our children that link it was much easier for them to form a life that included both at the same time. It is not just the stuff they have to learn but what they have to do to learn it and how it fits into their lives.



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  • @olli

    I am embarrassed to say..

    Please don’t be embarrassed. There’s nothing good that can come of that. It’s a rare thing in this world that any child would have a fast and easy track straight to the top. For most of us, life gets in the way. I assure you that it is obvious that you could hold your own in any crowd. I won’t name anyone in particular here, out of respect for everyone’s anonymity, but there are those who hang out with us here who we should not compare ourselves with because they must be statistical outliers. They are dragging the bell curve up and out of our reach! (…It’s Phil of course…)

    All we should ask of ourselves, our kids, and everyone else around us is to do the best you can with what you got. I also wish I had gone on to higher degrees and my mediocre American public school education must show in every comment I write here. I’m sad about it but accept the reality of the situation. But like you, I’m lucky that I absorbed enough in formal education that I can continue on my own to fill in around the rough edges. As long as we have a few functioning neurons left we will continue doing that Olgun!

    In my forties I fulminated about the circumstances around this situation. Now in my fifties I have left that behind and turned to how I can inspire and support others to reach where I couldn’t. There are hoards of young people who legitimately need a lot of help out there. I’m lucky to be in a position to continue learning on my own and to drag others into this process right along with me. This is a great luxury and I’m aware of it.



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  • Thank you for kind words Laurie. You are right of course!

    And Phil………..I am just glad he is on our side!!

    I’ve only managed a little inspiration within the family and its good to see progress.



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  • I agree wholeheartedly that secular parents must stay the course and change the system, rather than giving up and abandoning it. That has been the primary reason that religion has thrived as long as it has. Intelligent people rarely want to engage the brainwashed believers because it seems to be a lost cause. Let them believe and act however they want, so long as it does not enter my house. Well unfortunately, it is in our houses! It is in our government and it will destroy this country, if not the entire planet. Secular, reasoning adults must stay in the existing systems and work to usurp the absurdities of religion. It seems fictional and fantastical that people believe the dogma of the past, but they do. I for one have vowed to stand in opposition to such nonsense and try to change whatever I can. I hope you do to.



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  • 14
    fadeordraw says:

    The statement, linguistically. Is about attending PTA and home schooling. Re: the former, if you’re an enthusiast pls take on curriculum review and development, though I’ve not sure if one’s local PTA is where the needed conversation is taking place. For schooling, the “should” for parents is, minimum, bi-annual parent-teacher interviews as well as meeting with teachers as needs (both sides) arise. Re: the latter, if one has the wherewithal, go for it: for some families it’ll be great, for others it’ll be disastrous. Likely a local call.



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  • As an instructor at a college for 41 years, I always taught that students should “question authority” beginning with me. Could parents who have home schooling avoid indoctrinating their children and teach them to “question ALL authority?”



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  • 16
    fadeordraw says:

    Hay Cbrown. Just to note, home schooling is about grade school, likely up to grade ten, but excluding post-secondary, where learning is from the skills and lessons of those who went before and can’t be done in an other than an institutionalized setting. I hardily agree with you. A strike against home schooling would be introducing, the essential for science, acceptance of doubt. I wonder at what age or grade the value of doubting, being skeptical, should be introduced? For me, that didn’t happen until university; when teachers became professors.



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  • I will be grabbing a copy of this book. Thanks Dan.

    My daughter is only in the first grade and she has already come home with stories of a teacher telling the kids to pray to God if they feel scared of the dark.

    It’s wild to me how pervasive it is in our American culture for a discussion about God around children to be dismissed as a noble endeavor instead of the indoctrination of a system of fear and shame.



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  • fadeordraw #16
    Feb 25, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I wonder at what age or grade the value of doubting, being skeptical, should be introduced? For me, that didn’t happen until university; when teachers became professors.

    It varies according to individuals and educational experiences, but there are basic development stages where children mature enough to become capable -if the opportunities are there for them.

    http://www.simplypsychology.org/formal-operational.html
    At about age 11+ years, the child begins to manipulate ideas in its head, without any dependence on concrete manipulation; it has entered the formal operational stage. He/she can do mathematical calculations, think creatively, use abstract reasoning, and imagine the outcome of particular actions.



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  • Alan4: I think that children can begin to understand the questioning of authority at a very early age, perhaps as early as 4 or 5 years old. I don’t expect a child that young would be able to question about colliding supermassive black holes and gravitational waves or the relationship between energy and matter. But there are ways to give them the idea of questioning and the use of reason without causing them to run blindly into the streets.



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  • cbrown #19
    Feb 27, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Alan4: I think that children can begin to understand the questioning of authority at a very early age, perhaps as early as 4 or 5 years old.

    Yes! Cartoon picture books and fables, give them material to question at a young age, when they compare stories with real world observations.

    Two year olds are quite adept at asserting themselves, defying authority and throwing tantrums.

    It is abstract reasoned questioning which develops noticeably in the teens, providing learning opportunities are given, and unless it is repressed by dogmatic authorities.



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