Education / Raising Children

From Deep and Simple by Bo Lozoff:

The most valuable form of activism in this day and age may be to explore a lifestyle based around simple living and simple joy.  It make take toning down our materialistic demands and figuring out how to live on less income, but that process itself will begin to save some of the world’s resources and thereby address many of the world’s pressing problems, as well as give us more time with our families and communities….

It is activism to explain to our kids the hype and deceit involved with the endless ads which incite them to buy something new or get in on the latest craze.  Our kids may be deeper if we treat them with depth.  Our kids may be deeper if we are.  No guarantees, but they’ll certainly have a better chance.


From The Shelter of Each Other  by Mary Pipher:

Children learn these things from ads: that they are the most important person in the universe, that impulse should not be denied, that pain should not be tolerated and that the cure for any kind of pain is a product.  They learn a weird mixture of dissatisfaction and entitlement.


From Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood by Susan Linn:

Play thrives in environments that provide children with safe boundaries but do not impinge on their ability to think and act spontaneously.  It is nurtured with opportunities for silence.  For children who are flooded continually with stimuli and commands to react, the cost is high.  They have fewer opportunities to initiate action or to influence the world they inhabit and less chance to exercise the essential human trait of creativity. 

The lessons children learn from commercial messages…are a disaster for democracy.  A government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ requires a population characterized by the capacity for critical thinking, cooperation, generosity and nonviolent conflict resolution… a populace that grasps the importance of checks and balances and the delicate balance between individual rights and the common good

Just because marketing to children is a fact of life at this moment does not mean that it always has to be that way.  At various points in our country’s history, societal ills from slavery to child labor were all facts of life.  They are no longer.


From Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) by Pope Francis: 

 We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.

 From Unbowed by Wangari Maathai:

Professionals can make simple things complicated. I don’t think you need a diploma to plant a tree.

Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it.

From Lanterns a memoir of Marian Wright Edelman

Our market culture tells poor children they must have [certain things] to be somebody while denying them the jobs to buy them legally.  Our rich children have these things but find them no substitute for love, attention and purpose beyond self.  


From the Afterword to the 2nd edition of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh by Helena Norberg-Hodges

Millions of children from Mongolia to Patagonia, Melbourne to New York, are targets of a sustained campaign to bring them into the consumer culture…The average child in the U.S. watches 40,000 TV commercials a year.  The underlying message is, “If you want the respect of your peers, if you want to feel loved and appreciated, you must have the right running shoes, jeans, toys and electronic gadgets.”  But as children acquire more things they gain not a sense of belonging but competition, separation and envy.  Clinical depression is a growing problem all over the world, in all age groups and in virtually every community…Depression is closely linked with feeling isolated and insecure–a common occurrence in broken communities where people have little connection to each other or the natural world.


From To Know As We Are Known by Parker Palmer:

Truth involves entering a relationship with someone or something genuinely other than us, but with whom we are intimately bound. 

To learn is to face transformation.  To learn the truth is to enter into relationships requiring us to respond as well as initiate, to give as well as take.

We will find truth not in the fine points of our theologies or in our organizational allegiances but in the quality of our relationships with each other and with the whole created world.

Before we encounter truth we must wrestle with the demons of untruth that arise in the silence, demons that come from our own need to manipulate and master truth rather than let truth transform us.


From The Violence Of Love  by Oscar Romero:

Let us not develop an education that creates in the mind of the student a hope of becoming rich and having the power to dominate.  Let us form in the heart of the child and the youth the lofty ideal of loving, of preparing oneself to serve and give oneself to others.  Anything else would be an education for selfishness, and we want to escape the selfishness that is precisely the cause of our great social malaise.


From There Is A Season  by Joan Chittister:

We have never had a more literate population, or a more powerless one.  Now the best-educated people in the history of the world do not know what to do with what they know. Everything is too big for us, too overwhelming for us, too global for us.  So we ‘mind our own business’ and  ignore everything else.  We have learned well not to see the bodies that we step over in the streets or the elderly ill in our neighborhood.  They are the responsibility of someone else—of bureaus and agencies and faceless civil servants.  We have handed conscience over to government programs and looked away. 


Modern education is working on everyone to be desk people or people who fail at being desk people.  There’s no chance for an A+ in working with old people or growing your own food.  There’s only desk.–Novelist Carolyn Chute, quoted in Bill KcKibben’s Hope, Human And Wild


While there is a great deal written on providing love and security for children so they won’t grow into hostile adults, there is nothing very much on how you raise children to be sufficiently alienated from society so they won’t accept things ‘as they are’, and sufficiently identified with it so that they will contribute in creative ways to the building of a better social order…We still don’t know much about producing children who will irrepressibly dream about a better society than the one we have, and obstinately work for its realization.     –Elise Boulding, quoted in Practicing Peace a compilation edited by Catherine Whitmire


All genuine instruction ends in a kind of silence, for when I live it, it is no longer necessary for my speaking to be audible.    –Sören Kierkegaard


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