Sunday, September 16, 2007

Good morning

My son, who is nine years old and brilliant, came in my room after watching the news.

He said, "I understand what that song we are singing in Mr. Chris' class means now."

"What song?" I ask, turning the page of my book.

"It goes: And when you trust your television /What you get is what you got /Cause when they own the information, oh /They can bend it all they want."

He went on to tell me that he watched the news and he could tell they weren't saying everything they knew. They were just telling us what they want us to hear.

I put my book down and looked at him. Wow.

I asked what he would do about this. He's thinking about it for now.

It's ok. He's nine and he's already figured out something many adults haven't gotten yet. He can have a little time to work on the solution.

One solution is the internet. It provides a forum for all sorts of ideas, factoids, rants and philosophical discussions. It's not perfect. Some believe that we tend to become more narrow minded when we are faced with too many options. We become confused and shut down, going for the familiar and safe. After all, who knows if what is on the internet is true? Any moron with a computer can have a blog (hence, the Matriarch's Corner).

How do we know what is accurate and what is fair? How do we know if something is an honest attempt to open a discussion or a come on for some nefarious purpose? Those of us who are honest and open tend to fall into traps because it doesn't occur to us that anyone would be dishonest. I have been hurt very badly recently by someone I believed was a good friend deserving of my loyalty, who turned out to be a pathological liar* who tried to ruin my reputation. I am more wary now, but still trusting, fool I am.

So what's the point?

This blog is an attempt to open discussion on all sorts of topics. I am most interested in education right now. I have helped to start a child-centered public charter school for K-5. The teaching method is inquiry-based, and as I said child-centered, which means, using children's natural curiosity, they are taught in the way they learn best, encouraged to explore, and given responsibility for themselves as readers, writers, scientists, mathematicians, and citizens of this state, country and world.

It is a wonderful school, diverse in the way Columbia, SC is diverse, with students from a broad range of economic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. The difference between our children and the children in other public schools is that every single child has a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, guardian or whatever who decided to take the initiative and submit an application. At that point, the student body was chosen by lottery. These are some of the best kids (and families) I've ever met, which is not to say that kids in the other schools aren't great. One purpose of a charter school is to try innovative teaching methods to determine if they will succeed in a "regular" public school setting. We would like for more schools to use our methods, but we haven't proven ourselves yet. We will.

I will be writing more about this school, our trials and victories, as well as about other issues that are important to me. I would like a discussion, but I ask that it remain civilized and respectful of all people. That is what makes a democracy work.

*I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist and this is not a clinical opinion.

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