Home Works

We work at being at home; our home works for our family. We are regular; regular seems rare. I try to look at the stars like my mother does each night -- proof we are all under the same sky.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Unschooling Government

Tonight the boys and I were sitting around eating pizza -- well, Isaac was having his first bowl of Frosted Flakes since coming to America (sometimes This Sort of Food is Not Allowed)(and these were Generic) -- and I decided I'd better check in with them on the Supreme Court Justice nomination process. I admit that the whole thing has been a bit back-burnered with our proximity to Katrina, so it was time to play catch-up with current events.

I casually reviewed how the executive branch has nominated John Roberts for Chief Justice and how the legislative branch is now doing its "advise and consent" thing --and how, if Roberts is confirmed (or who-ever is confirmed), the judicial branch will be affected for decades to come. We talked about checks and balances. We talked about how supreme court decisions have affected American life in the past and how they could affect the future.

Isaac was nodding. He's taking US Government at the high school, and he's also studied American government in Ecuador. He knows Those Branches.

I asked him how his government teacher is addressing the Supreme Court nomination process in the classroom. And of course, he isn't. While it would be easy for me to blame the teacher, I realize that the teacher's duty is more complicated than that. He has to "get through the material," and so, the high school government class is studying the 1700's right now, having made it through the Magna Carta and the Mayflower Compact. The high school government class is not mentioning the first supreme court nomination process in what, a decade or more?

Kevin and Patrick and I went into the intricacies and strategies of the questioning of the Republicans and Democrats, the testimony of the Planned Parenthood official and the business/industry representative and the civil rights leaders. We discussed the qualities needed in a justice, the concept of litmus tests, and Mr. Roberts' qualifications. As always, issues seem to boil down to states' rights versus the power of the federal government when you're sitting at a kitchen table in Mississippi. We talk about how we can often seem to be states' rights people, but there were those matters of slavery and civil rights that it seems to have taken federal power to resolve -- and then the discussion begins to really roar -- secession, anarchy, rule of law, bill of rights. We discuss real and imagined supreme court decisions. Kevin doesn't like the one where you have to give your name if a police officer stops you. Patrick doesn't understand why that should bother you. I offer that if you're riding around in a neighborhood and you don't want your wife to know you're there, then if a cop stops you, you don't want to give your name in case it could get back to your wife. Patrick counters that you shouldn't be sneaking around on your wife in the first place.

And so it goes. Isaac, who is starting to get some of the intricacies of the English language (You can catch a bus, a fish, and a cold), doubtless did not follow the whole conversation. But even more assuredly, he did not know that the boys and I had just "studied" American government. It is so sneaky and without artifice, this living and learning. Hard to tell which parts of it Nick, age 7, picked up, but I'm sure he's building his way into a conversation he can have with me ten years from now, when he's 17.

So after dinner, I set out a few mouse traps because we seem to have acquired an unwelcome critter. And we proceeded to unschooling Spanish, with Isaac's reggaeton CDs on a little louder than I actually prefer, and we ask, "Que significa 'esta noche?'"

"It means, 'tonight.'" Esta noche, a universally important theme en musica. Kevin tells me how listening to the Spanish music all the time really seems to be helping his ear for the language; Isaac tells me he listens to Kevin's CD's with head phones to improve his English.

Patrick and Nick argue with "Tu eres un nino malo" -- "No -- TU eres nino malo!". Another universal theme entre los hermanos, si?

Esta noche, indeed.


Anonymous Leslie Moyer said...


I had put off coming over here to read your blog because I knew once I did, I'd be here a while. I was riveted & enjoyed reading all your postings so much!! And I had the AltaVista Babel Fish Translator open the whole time. :) I sure wish we lived closer to one another!! I hope we meet in real life ONE of these days!

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! Theres someone else like us in Southern Mississippi?!!!well, kinda...
While I aspire to have the kind of conversations with my husband that you have with your sons, I'm trying to just figure out this trip. I have two sons aged 8 and 6. We live in Bay St louis. I'll keep reading. Thanks for blogging.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ciao , bell post! bell blog, io sono paul e se ti va visita il mio sito:pescheriasono sicuro che ti piacer´┐Ż.pescheria

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Is killing thousands of innocent civilians okay when you are doing a little government makeover?
Are we safer today than we were before?
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren't living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

8:24 AM  

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