Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cool links

The Wisdom of Hunter-Gatherers is a wonderful, short article on how children in hunter-gatherer societies learn.

Whatever Happened to Mother? Is an absolutely WONDERFUL story of the vanished mothers of old. Not wonderful as good, since it's incredibly sad, but wonderfully written. I love how it's literally written as a story. There are actually multiple 'Chapters', but since they seem to repeat a lot of the same material, I'll only link to the first one I read.

Look on the Bright Side is an article on the good things, environmentally speaking, that are happening right now, as well as a call to action.

Atrocious Advice From "Supernanny" The title says it all. It's horrifying to me that people actually watch this crap, and even think that's it's the "right" way to parent! That bothers me on such a deep level, and makes me incredibly sad.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rocks The Boat: Life Learning as the Ultimate Feminist Act Again, the title says it all.

UPDATE:Forget Shorter Showers is the newest Derrick Jensen article from Orion magazine.


  1. The first two links you posted seem to portray a very romanticized version of what parenting used to be like. Unfortunately, I think that this view is inaccurate.

    I'm going to leave a link here to another website, where Lloyd deMause argues that the history of childhood was almost universally terrible violent:

    Certainly, it seems a non sequitur that we would go from peaceful and respectful tribal relations where children were shown plenty of love and attention to terrible coercive structures of dominance and power.

    This isn't to say that I'm comfortable with parenting or schooling today. I certainly respect and am totally in line with the radical unschooling view. However, I have come to think that parenting has progressed rather than regressed.

  2. Anthropologists never seem to agree on anything, but there are certainly MANY who agree that in tribal societies, children were, and still are where such societies have yet to be destroyed, greatly valued. So no, not an over romanticized version.

    And I'm quite disgusted by the crap portrayed as actual information on that site you linked me too. Seriously. Try reading a few different perspectives. You'll find that there are plenty of more reliable sources on how children were reared in tribal societies. Most of my research has been spread out in multiple places, both online and parts of different books, so I can't really send you any links very easily. However, although I've yet to read it (I really want to, and am trying to get my hands on it!), I've heard wonderful things about The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, and you may want to check that out.

  3. Could you elaborate on "the crap portrayed as actual information" ?

    I do plan on tracking down the footnotes at some point, although I have not yet. I did read the entire "The History of Child Abuse" article, though.

  4. I only read part of that article, "The History of Child Abuse", and stopped in disgust. All the anthropology that I've ever read goes against everything that that man is saying. So I did some research on him, and "psychohistory", and it seems it's a very controversial field, Lloyd deMause is a very controversial man, and he has very little actual evidence backing up any of his claims. He does seem perversely fascinated by child abuse, however, and to subscribe to the worldview that our society has never been better, when a numerous amount of research shows that hunter-gatherer societies were (and are) extremely egalitarian. So yes, I'm not impressed.

    From what I saw, the footnotes simply refer the reader to articles in this same "Journal of Psychohistory", presumably written by similar minded individuals.

  5. Argh, this is the second time that I lost a completely typed comment on here! This one was actually a kind of good one too, bummer... anyway, in a nutshell, I basically said that regardless of what anthropologists, his-storians, and other Western intellectuals say to further their various agendas, it all boils down to what actual people are doing in their everyday lives in the here-and-now. Whether life was idyllic for childhood in the past is a red herring; what matters is that we take the "golden age" myths as what they are, and glean inspiration and wisdom and ideas from them as we strive to re-create the world we live in. We are at the beginning of a new era, and what we are attempting to put into practice will lay the foundations for far-reaching future processes that unfold in our wake. It's easy to get disheartened by all the opinions and discussion and endless pointless debates about things, but where the rubber meets the road is who's doing what in their real lives. I don't think it matters whether or not the past is romanticized or not, when there is a very romantic and also very real world that we can step into in the present, and help work to create according to the vision that is in our hearts. That to me is what's important.

    I also mentioned about working actively to put radical parenting and essentially a pre-civilized/uncivilized vision of life into practice on a daily basis, and some of what that entails for us as a family. I'm planning on writing a lot more about that for the zine, specifically about some of the challenges and obstacles and how we're working to overcome them.

  6. Ah! Yes, losing comments is HIGHLY frustrating. It's a glitch that Blogger should really fix already... Because it seems to happen a lot.

    You know what, I feel that you're exactly right. Although I don't seek them out deliberately, I seem to end up in too many debates on various rather inconsequential points... :-S Working to create an ideal world is most definitely the most important thing, whether or not you believe that we're re-creating what has been before, or creating something entirely new, or some mix of both.

    Ooh, I greatly look forward to reading that! It sounds like it will be quite interesting...

    @Anastasia: I'm glad that, even if we have different understandings of the past, that we're both supporters of radical unschooling! And, erm, I'm sorry if I came across as rather aggressive. When I'm overtired is not the best time for me to respond to comments... :-S

  7. The footnotes refer to other footnotes in his other works. Would you mind linking me to some of the criticisms you found?

  8. just thought that I'd add another link to the pile

    @Anastasia~ I see radical unschooling & peaceful parenting as part of a larger Value Set to judge situations and choices by. Not a way of looking back to how things might or might not have been nor a way to create a future, but rather as a way of living in harmony with Life.

    However, even looking back only 40 years, most children were granted much more Freedom and able to, on many levels, fully experience their own Autonomy. Thanks to the Free-Range Children and Taking Children Seriously movements, people are in my mind, starting to release their desires of control in many areas. I don't see this as progressive, but only a reflection of how good and right it feels in our cores to be in harmony with one another.

  9. Thanks for posting these links. I shared the Alfie Kohn/Supernanny link on my Facebook page. I got to piss off a moron- that's always a bonus.

  10. ooooh, some interesting comments here Idzie! I was actually going to say before I read the first 2, thanks for the first link as I've found it hard to find any anthropolgical accounts of how tribal hunter-gatherer children learn on the web, I got a book once but it didn't shed any light about how children learn. I was going to say I read the a book called the Continuum Concept and this brilliantly talks about how children learn - all synonymous with unschooling in many respects. The early childhood education currinulum in NZ is totally pro free-play and about child-led exploration etc, the crappy thing is that it suddenyl changes for all education curriculum beyond the early childhood years. The only limitations I see with what the COntinuum Conept describes to contemporary society is that generally we still live as the isolated 'nuclear' family, that there are no extended family members or other adults to watch children, therefore, our lives have to be constructed in a more relatively limiting way (ie, children have to be much more confined in that tiny children can't be free to play outside if the one adult has to be inside preparing food etc). In saying this, my children have learned their own safety naturally and we have no fences to the road or river. This of course is NOT to be trusted and I have to remain keenly eyed on what my children are up to outside.
    Am also a fan of Alfie Kohn, actually, I posted some links on my unschooling link page ( I'm sure you have most of them already...

  11. To Michele: I do not see radical unschooling as my first principle. I hold certain values, and I have found that these ideals follow from my values. Along with radical unschooling, I am a libertarian (anarchist). In fact, I look at unschooling as anarchy for children. And I think that the only way to a stateless society is to treat children (and all people) with the respect that they deserve.

    To Idzie: I have watched your YT videos and read your blog post on anarcho-primitivism. I was interested in you because I think we have a lot in common, but it is the differences that I hone in on because I want to see what it is that makes our views different. For instance, I think that cities are not necessarily exploitative (that people in cities can create something of value with which to trade with farmers in more rural areas). So I think it is possible to have what I think is our shared image of a voluntary and primarily egalitarian society in the context of a larger society and with the technology we have today. I would really love to discuss this more with you, but this format (the comments of a blog post) may not be entirely conducive to these ends.

  12. I'm interested in these comments so I'm leaving another!
    I totally agree with Anastasia in saying that people in cities can create something of value. There has to be an element of people's choice to live in cities and therefore do not believe that cities are necessarily exploitative. If they are, then people let themselves be exploited, just as farmers are by selling their wares to big business for a relative pittance. Anyway, that's all just silly ramblings.
    People always have the potential to create something great and cities are a great hub for this to occur regardless of existing capitalistic structures. People always have choice.

  13. @Ruth I have another, heavily sourced, article about hunter-gatherers that you might be interested in, that talks about all aspects of life.

    @Anastasia As far as I understand it, libertarianism and anarchy are not synonymous, though they are similar.

    Yes, I feel the same way, that unschooling is an extension of anarchist principles, though I also feel that anarchy is an extension of unschooling principles!

    We probably do have a lot in common. :-) I feel that I'm discovering more and more how many things all political views have in common...

    I feel that the way you're talking about cities is from an entirely anthropocentric viewpoint. Even if you believe that there isn't anything wrong with cities from a strictly human centered perspective, cities require a destructive structure. Where does the metal, stone, and wood come from to build this great city? How are the materials transported? Who does the work? Who oversees it? Does someone with a bigger house, more material goods, more resources, have more prestige than someone with less? What if those in the city run low on food, and those living in the country have enough food for themselves only? Will the city-dwellers starve, or will they take it? I honestly do not believe that cities can ever be a good thing. They require, by my favorite definition (Civilization: "A culture--that is, a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts--that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities, with cities being defined--so as to distinguish from camps, villages, and so on--as people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life.") the importation od the necessities of life. And when a group of people require something necessary for life that they themselves cannot produce, they WILL take it from others. And through this whole thing, I'm sticking with a very human based view. If you count the forest that had to be cut down to build, the countless species of plants and animals destroyed to build houses, the resources extracted forcefully from other places, then it starts looking even worse.

    You're right, this isn't the best place for lengthy discussions... It'll do for now though lol.