Category Archives: artificial controversy

Is Homeschooling for the Parent or the Child?


School has started back up again, so I’ve been quite busy. However, I will discuss my thoughts on becoming a teacher in my next post.

As many of you now know, Withteeth and I are considering homeschooling. But we tend not to fall in with the mainstream homeschoolers. Simply being atheists makes that obvious, but there is an even deeper issue we disagree with. As we have looked into homeschooling, we came to learn that we will need to have somebody come and ensure that our children are progressing as they should in order to be allowed to continue to homeschool. It doesn’t sound like this is new, but a number of homeschoolers in our area seem to be angry with changes that are being made. Many seem convinced that our government is trying to get rid of homeschooling. Personally, I don’t see that happening, but I’m still learning so I guess I could be wrong (though I also support our government, so maybe I’m biased :P).

I’ve seen similar complaints from American homeschoolers, which has me thinking: who is homeschooling for? I want to homeschool for my children, if that is the best option for them. I’m not dead set on homeschooling, because I don’t yet know what will be best for my children. But that is what all homeschoolers say. I’ve yet to here a parent say that they homeschool for their own benefit, but the complaints I hear make me wonder. For example, many parents want the government to just let them do whatever they want. They don’t want regulations, they don’t want monitoring, they just want to be allowed to do as they will with their children. And many want all that while they receive funding from the government. To a certain degree, I can understand that (well, not the funding part). It seems like the government doesn’t trust parents to raise their own kids. It seems like an intrusion. But only if homeschooling is for the parent. Think about it: it’s the parent who is being monitored. It’s their teaching that is being graded. If the child doesn’t do well, then the parent is told to find a more effective solution. Parents don’t want to be told that somebody can educate their child better than they can, but sometimes somebody can educate the child better. This isn’t saying the parent is incompetent, or a bad teacher. It’s simply saying that the child needs to learn differently. And how is that a bad thing? We’re trying to prepare that child for the future. They are the ones who suffer if they are educated badly. They are the ones who will take over when we leave the workforce. We want them to be as well prepared as possible. We want them to do well, both personally and as a group. That’s why education is supposed to be about them. So why are parents so angry that the government wants that as well?

I’m sure a number of people will assume I’m being naive. I know a lot of people mistrust the government. I don’t think the government is perfect. But it’s also not a single living entity that could possibly come after me. The government is a non-living entity built up of hundreds of thousands of ever-changing people. Maybe some of them are spying on me. One might be doing so right now. I don’t know. I don’t really care. If the government does something I disagree with, I’ll find a way to fight back. I can protest, I can send e-mails, I can vote. I have a voice, and I make use of it. I’ll continue to make use of it when I find myself confronted by awful things in the future. But the government trying to protect my children is not one of those awful things. Even if they are trying to protect them from me. After all, I am the biggest threat against my child. All parents are their own child’s biggest threat. As awful as it sounds, that’s the simple truth. I might know that I won’t abuse my own children, and I might know that I fully intend to educate them, but nobody else can know that. Nobody else can read my mind. So why wouldn’t I be okay with a certain amount of monitoring. After all, who is homechooling for? Me? Or my child?

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Real or Not?


It is really easy to dismiss anything we cannot see. It’s something we as humans do often, whether we realise it or not. As an atheist, one of my biggest reasons for not believing in any gods is that I can’t see them. But that alone isn’t enough. I also can’t sense them in any other way. No piece of equipment will allow me to sense a god. But what about the things we can sense with the help of technology? Mental illnesses and developmental disabilities are often dismissed because we can’t see them. At least, we can’t see them without the help of technology or other processes. Those of us who live with the issues notice them. We can see them in the way that others respond to things that are so normal to most people yet so strange to us. But the average person seems blind to the things that are so obvious to me.

Take ADHD for example: so many people argue that ADHD isn’t real. That it’s just adults not letting kids be kids. This is probably true in some cases. Many adults do seem to be under the impression that children are to be sen and not heard. But that doesn’t mean that ADHD doesn’t exist. I wasn’t even diagnosed until shortly after my 27th birthday. But I can see, and have always seen, how my hyper-activity level is higher than most. Anybody who has seen someone with ADHD knows how their behaviour is different from most. The problem is, the average person doesn’t know what they are seeing. I’m hyper-active, but not all people with ADHD are. For those who are interested in learning more about ADHD, here is a great link that lists the common symptoms: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-symptoms.

For me, I’m pretty stereotypical as far as ADHD goes. Like I said, I’m hyper-active. I struggle to sit still for long periods of time, I like to move, heck, I still like to climb things. I pretty much have the activity level of the average 10 year old rather than someone who is nearly middle age. I also struggle to pay attention and often lose focus and daydream. Basically, the “Squirrel!” joke is aimed at people with my type of ADHD. But I still didn’t even consider ADHD as a possibility until about a year ago. I knew three boys with different types and degrees of ADHD. Two of them were a lot like me. But they were boys. I may be genderqueer, but most people still read me as a girl (or a woman depending on how proper they want to be). To most people, that means I can’t have ADHD, or, at least, I have a low chance of having it. It didn’t matter that my teacher saw how I behaved next to the kid that already had the ADHD diagnosis. It didn’t matter that I struggled to sit still and pay attention. It didn’t matter that all of my books were covered in doodles and I spent more time looking out the window than at the board. I was a girl. Girls can’t have ADHD. So I never considered it for myself. After all, if I had ADHD, wouldn’t somebody have noticed?

But people don’t notice. I had to be the one to pay attention, because I was the one who was struggling. I had to notice that my anxiety didn’t seem to fit the patterns of anxiety of those around me. I’m socially awkward, but don’t have the symptoms of social anxiety. I had to be the one who thought that may mean autism. Even my doctor and therapist thought I must “just” have social anxiety. It didn’t matter that my “social anxiety” didn’t fit with how social anxiety tends to work. I don’t like being surrounded by people, I get uncomfortable, but I don’t seem to feel the need to socialize that people with social anxiety tend to feel. I don’t desire human company very often. In fact, I rarely ever think about it. But nobody took notice of that. They labelled me as shy without noticing my lack of interest. They also tend not to notice the actual symptoms of my anxiety. They don’t notice when I shut down. They don’t notice when the noise gets too much. They assume I’m just quiet or disinterested, they assume I’m being rude. In short, they ignored the symptoms in order to see what they wanted to see. And that makes it so much easier to deny the existence of something a person doesn’t experience themself. They can just say I’m rude or lazy, or simply shy, rather than accepting what I struggle with.

All of the things that nobody saw drive me towards wanting to teach. It is so difficult for kids to describe what is bothering them. They throw fits because they don’t necessarily have the words to describe how they feel. But adults often just assume that the fits are a result of a lack of discipline or from the child being spoiled. They tend not to consider other factors. I don’t know how good a teacher I’ll be. I certainly don’t fit the type of person who goes into teaching. But I want to see what others won’t bother looking for. I want to prevent kids from falling through the cracks like I did. Because life is much easier when you can identify the things you struggle with. Once you can identify those things, it becomes possible to find ways to cope, however that tends to look for that person.


Why Is Raising a Child So Controversial?


It seems like it is impossible not to do something controversial when trying to bring up baby. Something as simple as letting a 4 month old sip water can cause some people to threaten to call child services. Personally, I think it’s dangerous to assume that parents always have their child’s best interests at heart, and it’s even worse to think of a child as their parents property. That said, does everybody need to have an opinion on what I do from now until baby is…when do people stop analyzing everything?

But Withteeth and I already know we’ll be raising baby in ways that’ll make some people cringe. For starters, we won’t be taking baby to church. We aren’t Christian. We want baby to choose their own religion, or no religion, when they are old enough. We also intend to cloth diaper and won’t be waiting until baby is six months to start them on solids. If the baby is male, we won’t be circumcising either. And then their is the Homeschooling thing. But that isn’t the most controversial thing we plan to do.

The most controversial aspect of our parenting will revolve around baby’s gender. We don’t know the sex, though I could have found out weeks ago. We don’t want to know. For one thing, it’ll tell us nothing more than what’s between baby’s legs. For another, it prevents others from enforcing their own stereotypes on baby before baby has even entered the world. In other blog posts I have discussed my being genderqueer. That hasn’t changed. In fact, pregnancy makes my own gender more obvious to me. Because of my own gender, I want any children I have to feel safe expressing themselves however they prefer. For that reason, Withteeth and I have chosen to refer to baby as “they” until they choose a preferred pronoun. We have also collected an assortment of gender neutral clothes for the first two years (most of which were given to us by friends). Studies show that gender begins to develop between age 2 and 5, so we plan to allow baby to pick their own preferred clothes at that point. We also won’t be cutting baby’s hair until then. What baby wears and what they do with their hair will be their choice. After all, it’s their hair and their body. So what if they don’t look fashionable? I was too busy getting dirty to look fashionable at that age, and I can’t imagine my child will be any different.

As for how they identify, we don’t really care about that. We may have a masculine child, or a feminine child. More likely our child will fall somewhere in the middle. If they pick pink Disney princess everything, great. If they prefer trucks or dinosaurs, great. Many parents worry about such things. They think the child will be confused. Confused about what? What they like? Has anybody tried to divert the attention of a toddler away from what they want before? It isn’t exactly easy. Isn’t it more likely to confuse them if you keep forcing them to play with things they don’t like? Or wear clothes they hate? It’s certainly not going to cause me anything but a headache. No, when it comes to things like clothing, hair styles, and toys, I’ll let baby lead. I’ll save the battles for the things that matter: health, food, spending, education, etc.


Labeling Genetically modified food, why it’s a waste of time and money.


Anyone who has read my posts about GMO’s (Genetically modified organisms) and the anti-GMO movement know I am a proponent of genetic modification.

I suggest those who are not actually sure what genetic modification is go read the post I’ve previously written explaining the types of genetic modification in broad terms. Link below.

https://hessianwithteeth.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/tackling-the-gmo-problem-part-5-what-the-heck-is-a-genetic-modification-anyway-2/

Now this demand for GMO labeling, from my understanding, is largely a byproduct of the anti-GMO movement and the massive ignorance surrounding the fields of biology related to genetic modification. People really just don’t understand what is going on in the production and modification of food crops. Even Bill Nye The Science Guy is a proponent of these labels, but this is only further proof that people don’t understand the biology. Allow me to defend these statements, and explain why the labels will not help consumers.

Genetic modification, and what kinds of genetic modification are considered “problematic,” is poorly defined, and even more poorly understood by the general public and most policy makers. Much like how people think Organic food means no pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizer (this is actually true in some areas, but not all), and healthier (which it isn’t). People think GMO means “bad” and unhealthy, but this is childish and flatly wrong. Why? because genetic modification refers to a wide array of methods, some of which have been used for hundreds or thousands of years. That, and genetic change occurs all the time. When advantageous mutation spring up, farmers and horticulturists have jumped to capitalize on these mutations. The only difference now is some times we are able to take a well understood (if it isn’t well understood then you simply don’t have the necessary information to transfer the genes) advantageous trait from one crop and put it into the other without mucking about with hybridization or artificial mutation.

But this is the biggest problem: genetic modification is massively complex. I’m 5 years into my degree and I have only in the last year and a half become competent in speaking about this topic. So to expect the lay person to understand is unreasonable without first devoting some serious resources to publicly educating the population. But moving along, why are the labels likely to be ineffective at communicating anything useful?

Because almost everything is genetically modified. If you read my other blog post about about the kinds of genetic modification here, you will quickly come to realize there is a lot going on with everything on the shelves, and I think it very probable that labeling will result in either a whole lot of things been labeled or very few, and the problem is that all that will accomplish is a reduction in sales of those things labeled, since there is a strong anti-GMO bias in much of the population. But that bias is not based in the science, so we will not see a direct health benefit, nor will we see a better informed populous.

Why won’t we see a more informed population? Because the number of potential combinations are unfathomable. Just sticking a label on a fruit isn’t going to tell you anything, and even if you do add a much more substantial label to the fruit telling you what genes and methods were used and how to get more information, people in general don’t have the biology, or specifically genetics knowledge to make effective use of that knowledge.

This, as far as I’m concerned, is the realm of government regulation and independent researchers to test the safely of these foods and products. And you know what? It’s already happening. There are many thousands of research papers published and many more each year that indicated the safely of, as far as I’m aware, all genetically modified food organisms currently sold in the west.

As for those papers, here are a selection of over 600: http://gmopundit.blogspot.ca/p/450-published-safety-assessments.html

So why would we spend money (any expenses will ultimately come out of us consumers) on labels that won’t help a damn thing?

Withteeth


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