Homeschooling Reason #2 – Retaining Intrinsic Motivation

Another one of my top reasons for homeschooling is because I want my child to retain her intrinsic motivation, as opposed to being extrinsically motivated. When I first started looking into homeschooling, I found a lot of interesting information about intrinsic motivation. Back then though, there didn’t seem to be many popular books out there about intrinsic motivation – it was a topic mostly confined to psychologists and journals.

However, intrinsic motivation has come into the limelight in recent years for a variety of reasons.  One of them relates to the global outsourcing and offshoring that U.S. employers have been doing, and the loss of jobs here at home. Much of what employers offshore to low-cost countries is the process-oriented type of work, while they tend to retain the job roles that require some amount of creativity. Employers have started to aggressively seek more creative employees and many administer tests to find people with intrinsic motivation. Employees are trying to find ways to become more creative through employer sponsored classes and workshops.  It’s situations like these that have helped put focus on the importance of intrinsic motivation in recent years.

All of that aside, there are many other reasons to value intrinsic motivation. I’ve written about some of them below (I didn’t include the references here but if you would like them, please let me know and I will email them to you).

Behavioral research has demonstrated that there are two kinds of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation occurs when a person engages in a specific activity because of the reward expected. Intrinsic motivation develops when a person engages in a specific activity because it brings them internal satisfaction; an individual engages in the activity even if no one else is aware. With extrinsic motivation, the rewards can be removed at any time, thereby eliminating any interest in continuing to perform the activity or task. Therefore, the control belongs to a force outside of the person.

Intrinsic motivation stays within a person. A person with intrinsic motivation will enjoy the task or activity regardless of outside control. People with intrinsic motivation show more confidence, interest, and excitement about tasks. In addition, they show enhanced creativity, persistence, and performance. A 2002 study from Stanford University investigated the reasons why inventors invent. The study found most inventors to be largely creative and intrinsically motivated. It was found that intrinsic motivation was strongly related to creativity and efficiency.

Traditional schooling may be creating people who are extrinsically motivated since traditional school is based upon extrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards are rewards that come from outside the individual. All traditional schools are built on a foundation of extrinsic reward systems.  The high-level goal for traditional schooling is to move students up through each grade. In order to move to the next grade, the student must perform, behave, and accomplish in specific ways. In addition, the student must successfully complete smaller goals such as passing tests, completing homework assignments, and taking assessments. Grades received on these tests, assignments and assessments are extrinsic rewards for the desired performance. Regardless of methods applied by individual teachers in individual schools, the overriding structure of traditional schools remains the same and is grounded in extrinsic rewards for desired performance, behavior, and accomplishments.

If there were no external motivators, including negative reinforcement (punishment), would students still sit quietly in their seats all day long and would they still strive to get certain grades on quizzes, and would they still spend hours memorizing? It’s highly unlikely. External motivation is what drives students in traditional schools. If you take away the external motivators, then most, if not all students, would cease to perform and behave in ways the school system desires. Prior to entering school, children show high levels of intrinsic motivation. There have been many studies showing that intrinsic motivation sharply declines once children enter school and the decline continues yearly with the largest drops at 3rd grade and 8th grade.

Why is intrinsic motivation more desirable? Well, in addition to leading to creativity and innovation, people with intrinsic motivation show more confidence, self-esteem, and excitement about tasks and their lives in general.Intrinsic motivation produces deeper engagement in learning, higher levels of performance, better conceptual learning, and higher persistence at learning activities.If someone is engaging in a task mainly because of an external reward (or avoiding a negative reinforcement), when that reward is taken away, the interest in the task goes away. With intrinsic motivation, it doesn’t matter what other people think, say, or do. The motivation to do the task was never in their control in the first place.

I want my daughter to spend the majority of her time engaging in activities because she wants to engage in them, for her own reasons, her own enjoyment, her own fulfillment and her own desires to learn. I don’t want her happiness and feelings of success to be tied to receiving external rewards. If that was the case, then someone else would always control her feelings and her opinion of herself. I don’t want her to be focused on comparing herself to others or doing something for the purpose of being judged, tested, or graded by others, especially when those “others” may not know her very well; they may not be people she should be looking up to or taking direction from. If she constantly does things for the purpose of satisfying other people rather than herself, then she gives up what is meaningful and important to her and becomes an approval chaser.

I do not want her to spend the vast majority of her days engaged in tasks mainly for external rewards and the goals of others. If she does this, then when she becomes an adult, she’ll have no idea what she enjoys, what she’s naturally good at, what she wants to do/learn/say. It is my job to help her become an adult who can create her own happiness, independent of other’s rewards, punishments and opinions. It is my job to help her become an adult who can find the inner motivation to search for new ideas on her own without being told what’s important to know, learn, achieve.

I know my child. I know her preferred learning styles, the time of day she’s most open to learning, what types of learning activities blend best with her personality, and so on. Therefore, it’s very easy for me to pepper in learning so that it becomes a natural part of her day, and something she actively pursues on her own without prompting from me. Unschooling allows me to impart learning without any external motivators at all. However, even if I were to use the most formal homeschooling method, which relies on a curriculum with tests and grades, it would still only take a maximum of a couple hours per day. Focusing on external rewards for such a small number of hours isn’t likely to cause someone to build an entire lifestyle around pandering to external rewards.

Reason to Homeschool #1 – Play is Supremely Important

One of my top reasons for homeschooling is because I want my child to have as much time to play as she wants, and as our lives will allow.  Decades of research proves that play is the best way for our children to learn. Many studies have led to the following conclusions:

  • Children who are pushed into regimented academic instruction too early display less creativity and enthusiasm for learning than their peers.
  • Children who memorize isolated facts early in life show less long-term retention than their peers.
  • Children who learn through play develop social and emotional skills, which are critical for long term success, faster than their peers.
  • Children starting first grade with a formal reading background were compared to other first graders without formal reading instruction who spent more time in play-based environments. The children who got the reading instruction performed better during the first grade but not by the end of the year. And, they were much more depressed than the other children.
  • Stimulating play environments facilitate progress to higher levels of thought throughout childhood.
  • Children who spend most of their time playing have more advanced language skills and literacy development than children who spend time with structured school activities.
  • Play enhances problem solving, social skills, advanced cognitive skills and attention span.

Learning through play, pursing self-initiated interests, and following curiosities is the way infants learn.  People do not stop learning that way after any particular age.  Therefore, if left untouched, humans will pursue interests, explore, and learn in their environments.Creativity and independent thinking are the result of intrinsic motivation that comes through child-centered play. Once play is taken away and replaced with school tasks, intrinsic motivation also disappears, and is replaced with extrinsic motivation. Schools are set up to force some children to learn before they are developmentally ready and before they are interested, which ensures the need for extrinsic rewards to entice the children to cooperate.

There is convincing evidence that children learn the best and the most through play, and that forced learning does not pay off. Academic preschools, compared to play-based preschools, produce children who are less creative and more anxious. Play enhances problem solving, social skills and attention span, as well. Testing and academic goals can undermine creativity and lead children to become stressed, frightened and self-conscious.

Children’s success later in school is directly correlated to the amount of time spent playing early in life. Children who attend formal preschools based on adult-led instruction show slower academic progress by fourth grade than children who didn’t attend preschool and spent the majority of time on self-directed activities including play. The culprit seems to be the introduction of formalized learning experiences too early for the child’s developmental status.

Play is vital to our health and play is the key to creativity and imagination. Creativity and imagination are the keys to happiness and success as individuals and as a human race.

Below are some famous quotes about play:

  • “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato
  • “Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein
  • “We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow
    old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
  • “You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play.” – Warren Beatty
  • “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.” -John Cleese

Homeschooling my daughter allows her to play nearly all day long.  Therefore, she is learning all day long, being creative and imaginative all day long, and reinforcing her intrinsic motivation all day long.  Even the most formal methods of homeschooling require no more than 1-2 hours of instruction per day, leaving plenty of time for play, which is where real learning takes place, true growth takes place, and pure joy is experienced.

An Unlikely Homeschooler

If you’d asked me, when I was in my 20s or 30s, if I would ever consider homeschooling my children I would have wondered how I could possibly know someone capable of asking such a ridiculous question. Throughout adulthood, I’d thought and said things like “Children should be in school year-round”; “Children have way too much free time on their hands”; “We’re falling behind the rest of the world in education because our children don’t spend enough time in school and don’t get nearly enough homework; “The best schools are the ones with the most stringent rules”; “Why are schools wasting time on gym, playtime and art classes when they could be using the time for more math and science?”  And, when I’d see school-aged children out and about during “school” hours, I’d shake my head in disgust at the schools that had taken yet another day off for probably no good reason.  I’d wonder why there wasn’t a place to “store” all these children during days off so they wouldn’t be all over the place.  Seriously.

Throughout my life, it was made crystal clear that going to school and getting good grades were the most important things in life – for many years it seemed like school and grades were life.  Nothing mattered unless and until you had successfully completed at least twelve years of school.  But that was just the beginning – ideally there would be 16 or more years of school.  It seemed like real life couldn’t start until, until, until…..

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I started looking into “the best” schools, which meant the schools with the longest days, the schools that started teaching calculus before the others, the schools that had year-round schedules, the schools where the children had to be able to read prior to entering kindergarten, etc, etc.

Somewhere during the course of my research, I began to see studies about play-based learning, natural learning, child-led learning, which led to investigating homeschooling and unschooling.  I’d never heard of such things.  I really don’t know why I even took the time to investigate them because it was all so contrary to my strongly-held assumptions about education. But, I did, and it was an eye-opener.  What I was finding turned so many of my educational beliefs upside-down (not to mention my beliefs about childhood and family in general).  I almost wished I hadn’t discovered all of it because it meant I had to make major, major shifts in my thinking and frankly, I was happy where I was.

I spent a good deal of time trying to discredit all of it, for a number of reasons.  For one, I really wanted a way to justify my long-held educational beliefs. And then there was my career – I really liked it (and still do), and thought homeschooling might require me to give it up (it didn’t).  I also considered my own school experiences which were all very positive. But, when it all shook out, the benefits of homeschooling to my daughter, myself, and our family, greatly outweighed everything else.

These days, whenever someone asks me why I’m homeschooling my daughter, I’m at a complete loss for words. I can either give a vague, one-sentence answer, or I can ask the person to take the next few days off work and I’ll explain my reasons. I usually opt for the first choice because most people who ask don’t really want to know. In my experience, many people who ask the question are just trying to justify for themselves, their own educational choices.

When I look at my top 8-10 reasons, not one of them has anything to do with what’s taught in school, or what isn’t taught in school.  Content is irrelevant to me until I get to about reason 13.  My top reasons have nothing to do with religious views, political views, school violence, or accelerating the learning process.  In addition, my child doesn’t have any special needs.  So what’s left?  Since I get so many questions about my reasons, I might spend the next few posts on them, and would be interested in hearing yours.

Hey Mainstreamers, Why so Defensive?

As you all know, I homeschool and I don’t vaccinate.  These are the decisions I made for my family and while I believe in them wholeheartedly, I definitely know they aren’t for everyone.  I like that each one of us has the freedom to make the decisions for our families that we think are best. Just because I choose to homeschool does not mean that I wish to see all public education abolished so that nobody can decide to go that route. Just because I choose not to vaccinate doesn’t necessarily mean that I want all vaccines halted so that nobody can choose to have them. In other words, I’m in favor of having choices.

When I hear that someone made a different or opposite decision than my own, it rarely even registers with me.  And, it certainly doesn’t compel me to feel or act defensively about my own, opposite decision.  I view it like this…..If I’m in line at Dairy Queen getting ready to order my hot fudge sundae and I overhear the guy in front of me order a strawberry sundae, I don’t feel outraged that he’s doing something different, and I don’t feel the need to criticize strawberry. I allow room for that person to be a whole separate human being from me. His decision to go with strawberry in no way reflects upon my decision to go with hot fudge.  I don’t feel he is judging me negatively by choosing the opposite of what I’m choosing, and I’m definitely not judging him.

When I’m at a party and someone mentions that their kid is in the 4th grade at Fieldstone Elementary School, I don’t seize up inside and feel the need to ask “but WHY – why is she in public school??” I just assume this person’s family is doing what’s best for them.  If another person mentions that their kid has a vaccine appointment scheduled for Thursday, I don’t cry “Oh NO! WHY?”  I assume their family made a decision that was best for them. After all, these are completely different humans, leading different lives, with a whole separate set of values, priorities, beliefs, burdens.  Their decisions have no impact on mine – they don’t make me question my own, and I don’t feel the need to defend my own.  I’m just fine watching them order their strawberry while I order my hot fudge.

But, here’s something I’ve noticed…..I’m not sure that this freedom-to-choose situation works both ways.  I’ve noticed that when I bring up that my own kid is homeschooled or unvaccinated, I see defensiveness blossoming all around me by the people who made the mainstream decisions (school and vaccinations). It’s as if they think my decision to homeschool is somehow reflecting negatively on their own decision and they take it personally.  They turn around in line and yell “So, I understand you’re getting the hot fudge??  WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH STRAWBERRY?  Are you saying I’m a bad person because I’m getting the strawberry?  I have news for you – hot fudge shouldn’t even be allowed – everyone should have to order strawberry!”  Whoa, whoa, whoa sir…..I never criticized your strawberry. The fact that I’m getting hot fudge shouldn’t reflect on you at all.  I’m sure strawberry is a perfectly fine decision for you. But, for me, the hot fudge is a better decision.

To be fair, I’m sure that some non-mainstream decision makers have gotten defensive about their choices.  But, overall, I notice the animosity flowing much more freely from the mainstream decision makers.

When people are uncomfortable with their own choices, they tend to look for validation in everyone else’s decisions.  They’re comforted when they see that others have chosen the same path they have – their decision must be a good one.  But, when they encounter someone who’s made a different decision, it’s somehow threatening to them – probably because it forces them to really think about their own decision, and when you’re not comfortable with what you’ve chosen for whatever reason, the last thing you want to do is be forced to reflect on it. In fact, if you could stop people from making those other decisions, that would be even better. When your decision is the only one allowed, than it’s got to be the right one and you can finally rest easy.  Of course, when you’re comfortable with your decision in the first place, you’re not looking for validation elsewhere – you’re already resting easy so there is no reason to feel defensive or threatened by anyone else’s choices.

So, when Mr. Strawberry turns around and starts criticizing my hot fudge order, and then implores the store manager to stop selling hot fudge altogether, I see it for what it is – he’s insecure about his strawberry order.  While I sincerely hope he finds peace with his decision at some point, I’m too busy enjoying my own hot fudge to let his tirade give me pause.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Don’t ask.

The other day my 9-year old daughter asked me “When do I have to pick what I want to be when I grow up?”

I responded with, “What are you talking about?  You’re already something – you’re a child-sized you, and when you grow up, you’ll be an adult-sized you.”

Then she said “But when do I have to decide what I’m going to be when I grow up, like a doctor or a fireman?”

Ugh!  How, where, when, did she hear the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question?

She’s homeschooled so I know she’s not hearing it from teachers.  She hasn’t had to sit through a career day where 10 cookie cutter jobs are showcased and portrayed as her primary career options.  She doesn’t watch TV but she occasionally watches movies…maybe that’s where it’s coming from?  Or, did she hear it from the neighbor kids, or a relative?

I’ve never heard anyone ask her that question and naively thought she was safe from hearing it – I never wanted her to hear it, or answer it, or think about it.  Nevertheless, it’s somehow out there…floating around…waiting to pounce on our kids and attempt to trap them into narrowly defining their futures, and their identities.

I don’t like that question for several reasons but here are my top 3:

1)      “What do you want to be when you grow up” is really asking “what career do you want to have when you’re an adult.”  By phrasing it the first way though, it implies that a person’s identity revolves entirely around their career. When this question is asked, the questioner is expecting a profession or career choice as the answer, and the child knows this.  They begin to think that in order to “be” something, they must pick a profession or career, and that the career they choose is who they will be.

2)      This question gives the illusion that there is a set of pre-defined career options and we must pick one of them.  It doesn’t allow much room for being innovative and creating new jobs based on personal passions, interests, and skills.  Kids get roped into living with the results of other people’s thinking because other options aren’t presented or encouraged.

3)      This question reinforces the notion that kids aren’t anything right now and they should be thinking about, and preparing to “be” something.  There’s a certain amount of urgency around it too, since kids start getting asked that question around age 6ish.  Kids don’t have to prepare to “be” anything. They already are something. Hopefully, they’re happy, healthy, loving kids.  And, when they’re adults, they’ll be happy, healthy, loving adults. Who they are now, is who they’ll be.

I ended up explaining this to my daughter and told her that if and when she wants a career, she doesn’t have to select from a list of pre-defined jobs.  It’s best not to think about a job right now and just spend time playing and learning so that she can discover what her interests and passions are.  Once she knows that, she can create a job around them, if something doesn’t already exist.  She seemed surprised and happy to know that there is no set list of jobs she needs to study and select from, and that she can invent her own career based on her interests.  I’m glad we cleared that up.

When in Doubt, Start with what’s Natural

In my last post, I wrote about some basic pieces of information I considered when deciding not to vaccinate.  Another way that I tend to make health-related decisions is by always defaulting to what’s natural and then going from there.  In doing so, I find that there are rarely compelling reasons to veer too far away from what’s natural.  And, when unnatural alternatives are available, the motive behind their existence is almost always money – accepting these unnatural alternatives usually requires health trade-offs.   However, starting with what’s natural is more difficult than it sounds.  Sometimes what’s natural isn’t always obvious.

Here are a few examples I’ve encountered.

When I was pregnant, I was hearing about the miracle of stem cells.  Back then, it was somewhat new, but by now, we have all heard about the life-changing and life-saving possibilities involving stem cells. I started getting calls from cord blood banking companies and based on what they were telling me, I was all in.  There was no doubt about it – I simply had to pay them to bank my baby’s cord blood just in case she ever needed those stem cells in the future.  Sure, it was expensive, but it seemed like a no-brainer.  There seemed to be no downside so I started shopping around for the right company to bank with.

But, during the shopping process, I began to ask questions about how the blood is retrieved from the cord, how it’s stored, etc.  One of the people I spoke to said something like “if you don’t bank the cord blood, it’s just thrown away anyway”.  Valuable stem cells just thrown away?  My baby’s valuable stem cells just thrown away unless I pay to bank them?  I eventually discovered that the U.S. clamps umbilical cords too soon because hospitals need to move more patients into the delivery room.  In reality though, the baby really needs the cord blood and those precious stem cells at birth for many health purposes. But, in order to allow the baby to have the cord blood, the hospital would have to leave the cord attached at birth for up to an hour to be sure the cord blood and stem cells drained into the baby before clamping.  Hospitals aren’t about to put up with a delay of that magnitude – not when they have paying customers waiting for that delivery room.   This whole situation makes it possible for cord blood banking companies to exist – they charge us to save that blood and store it for later (by practically snatching the cord before it hits the trash can).

Of course, the natural thing to do would be to allow the cord to stay attached until all cord blood is safely in the baby – that is the most beneficial.  I should have started at that point and then asked “is there a reason to intervene and clamp early?” But, I didn’t even know what was natural at the time so I had to back into the knowledge.

Here’s a question…..do you think any of the higher-ups in the cord blood banking industry actually banked their own babies’ blood?  Or, do you think they knew enough to insist the cord blood drain into their own babies before clamping?

Once the baby was born, decisions had to be made around feeding.  There was a time, not horribly long ago, when new parents were told that only baby formula could provide the nutrients needed – breastfeeding could not, and it was discouraged.  Parents believed this and bought formula.  The formula makers touted the iron content because many babies were born with iron deficiency.  (Now, why would that be?  Oh yes….because the umbilical cord blood is extremely rich in iron and it gets thrown in the trash at birth when the cord is clamped early).  I’ve met many parents who never breastfed and they say “it was a different time – we were told that formula was better back then – we didn’t have the tools available that you kids do, to research this stuff”.  The backlash against breastfeeding, in favor of formula didn’t last too long.  Evidence against formula started to surface.  Some undeveloped countries had switched to formula and their children began having health issues that never existed until the new moms were told not to breastfeed.  Once the jig was up, the formula companies started to admit that breastfeeding is better and said something like “when it’s not possible to breastfeed, you can use our formula”.

Feeding a child is not complicated. It’s one of the most basic and natural things in this life.  It doesn’t require calculations, computers, or heavy machinery.  Yet, people doubted themselves when it came to making a breastfeed vs. formula decision – they watched the news, listened to the “experts”, got hung up on what was touted in the formula commercials.  What’s natural turned out to be better, yet again.

Another question…..in the 70s and 80s when breastfeeding was thought to be less beneficial than formula, and new moms were told they shouldn’t breastfeed, do you really think that the doctors, scientists, and formula company presidents believed that to be true – and then years later they found new evidence to prove they were wrong? Or, do you think they knew the truth all along and only fessed up once it became obvious to the masses?

Feeding decisions don’t end when the breastfeeding years are over.  Next, we have to consider what kind of “real” food to feed our children and ourselves.  This decision seems easy – we start with what’s natural – organic fish, nuts, fruit, veggies and then ask “is there a compelling reason to do otherwise – to go with farm raised beef, processed cheeses, GMOs”?  Clearly, we give up health benefits when we move toward these unnatural foods.  But, we might want to trade-off some health benefits for convenience.  Even so, we know that natural is better and when we make a trade-off, we are aware of what we’re giving up in health.

In all of these examples, what’s natural has always been what’s best despite the various fads that have appeared.  In all of these examples, nothing was “wrong” that required intervention.  Nothing was wrong with letting cord blood drain into the baby so there was never a need for an early clamping intervention.  Nothing was wrong with breast milk that required me to intervene with formula.  Nothing was wrong with the natural organic food nature provided – I didn’t see a need to introduce unnatural foods.

I don’t see a reason to change this logic when making the vaccine decision.  You know from my last post, that I ended up doing years of research when making a no-vax decision for my own child.  However, if I didn’t have the time, tools or resources to do that amount of research, I would feel very secure in making a no-vax decision just based on the logic outlined above.  Nothing was wrong with my baby when she was born that would require medical intervention. When it comes to health, I’ve always found that sticking with what’s natural is the best.  Things like cord blood banking, baby formula, GMOs, vaccines, will pop in and out of our lives when powerful people are overcome with greed.  But, I’m staying the course unless and until I see a reason to do otherwise.

When it comes to Vaccination, Having Mountains of Research is Unnecessary and Distracting

Back in the mid 2000’s, after years of research, I decided not to vaccinate any children I may have. At that time, I was working on my PhD and was heavily focused on researching everything.  So, I dove into medical journals and studies from around the world since I had access to them through the university.  I’ve found that when researching anything medically related, it’s necessary to look at journals and studies from outside of the U.S. (as well as from inside the U.S.) – mainly because the U.S. is less likely to conduct a study if nobody will profit from the outcome.  That isn’t the case in some of the other countries – studies will get conducted purely to discover an answer that may benefit the population.

At some point during my vaccine research frenzy, I realized I probably had enough information to write a book.  By the time I wrote Unvaccinated, Homeschooled, and TV-Free: It’s Not Just for Fanatics and Zealots, I had hundreds of pages of notes just for the vaccine section (and I really just wanted the section to be about 20-25 pages).  I remember being overwhelmed with the vast amount of studies, statistics, and research available on the topic and wishing I had a lifetime to devote to deciphering it all.  I felt the need to go through everything ever written because I desperately wanted to make the “right” decision for my child.

Years later, I realized that I didn’t need most of that information to make the “right” decision. I was just so conditioned to trust others instead of myself, that I couldn’t see it clearly. I really only needed to know a few key pieces of information – everything else was just a distraction.

Here are the 5 simple facts I could have used to make a decision.  None of these are controversial, debated, or unproven – they are just the basics.

1.  Vaccines contain dozens of toxic ingredients with some of the leading being:

  • Formaldehyde: A highly carcinogenic fluid, can cause liver damage, gastrointestinal issues, reproductive deformation, respiratory distress and cancer. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health finally listed formaldehyde as a cancer causing chemical.  The FDA has issued recalls of hair care products that contain far less formaldehyde than even one vaccine contains (kids get 49 vaccines these days).
  • Thimerosal: A neurotoxic mercury which causes autism.  Vaccines that contain this have package inserts that list a possible side effect as autism (among others). The EPA says 5 micrograms are safe.  An average vaccine contains 25 micrograms.
  • Aluminum: Increases the toxicity of mercury among other things.
  • MSG: Becomes a neurotoxin when injected, causing central nervous system disorders and brain damage.Vaccines have caused severe side effects and death in some children/people.

2.  Vaccines have caused severe side effects and death in some children/people.

3.  Children have undeveloped immune systems.

4.  There is a lot of money to be made in producing and administering vaccines, as well as treating the chronic ailments that vaccine ingredients cause.

5.  Diseases that vaccines are supposed to prevent declined well before vaccines were introduced. Furthermore, there is no proof that vaccines protect against anything, and the studies that could possibly prove that have never been done.

Based on just the 5 basics listed above, here are some scenarios on how the thought process could go.

Scenario 1: Some guy you don’t know approaches you and says….

“I see you’ve just had a baby. That’s great. Anyway, listen…..I’m super rich.  I got this way by making these special injections that can be given to babies.  And, if I can get everyone to give it to their babies, it will make even more people rich.  What does it do?  Well, we don’t know, exactly.  We were hoping it cured diseases but as it turns out, those diseases had already died out.  And, even if they did still exist today they’d be fully preventable and curable through other means.  I can tell you this though, some of the things in this injection are known to cause life-long chronic illnesses.  But, that’s good news because I also get rich by producing medicine for those illnesses. As a bonus, babies have undeveloped immune systems so if we can get everyone to inject them young, we get to treat their illnesses for a really, really long time!  Can I count on your support?”

Would you go along with that scenario as most people do?

I can make the scenario a bit more palatable by taking away fact #4 from the list. Even though we know a ton of money is made on vaccines by people most of us don’t know, let’s assume that the guy in our scenario doesn’t make any money on his injection. Let’s not make him a stranger either – he’s now your nice neighbor who feeds your dog when you’re out of town….

“Hey Karen, I see you’ve just had your baby.  She’s so cute!  Here’s some zucchini bread my wife baked this morning.  Anyway, listen, I have this special injection that can be given to babies. I don’t make a dime on this, by the way – nobody does.  What does it do?  Well, we don’t know, exactly.  We were hoping it cured diseases but as it turns out, those diseases had already died out.  And, even if they did still exist today they’d be fully preventable and curable through other means.  I do know that some of the things in this injection are known to cause life-long chronic illnesses.  And, since a babies’ immune system is undeveloped….there’s no telling what could happen.  Can I count on your support?”

Since it’s your nice neighbor asking and nobody makes a dime, are you willing to go along?

I can make it even more palatable.  Instead of your nice neighbor wanting to inject your baby, let’s say he wants to inject you, with your fully developed immune system.  Maybe this is a scenario we should go along with.  We’ve got a nice neighbor, wanting to inject our mature immune systems with toxins that can cause lifelong chronic illnesses but he won’t profit from it – nobody will.

If you still won’t go along with it, maybe you’re afraid of needles?  Let’s assume your nice neighbor has an alternative delivery method.  He can mix the formaldehyde, mercury, MSG, and aluminum right into a glass of lemonade and you can just drink that.  Any takers?  What if all of your neighbors and family members come up and drink the lemonade and urge you to do it.  These are people who probably have your best interests at heart.

Maybe if they harass you enough, you could be pressured into it.  After all, you know they don’t have ulterior motives since nobody profits from it, and these are people you know and trust, plus there’s no needle involved, you’re immune system is mature/developed/healthy since you’re an adult, so maybe it can withstand the ingredients without too many life-long negative effects?  Maybe? Maybe.

Remember to Never Obey Adults (Part Two)

In my last post, I talked about how expecting children to always obey adults can cause them to stop thinking for themselves – to stop questioning and to stop being curious and just go along with what they are told.  It sets them up for a lifetime of expecting to be led.  From my last post….

“We are systematically creating a society of people who are not only trained to blindly obey, but who get rewarded for it. And, they’re punished for thinking for themselves, as individuals – punished for being curious and questioning. Not only that, we train them so well, that they forget how to be curious and question, and seek answers for themselves.  They don’t realize how very odd this is because everyone around them is acting the same way.  In fact, they don’t even realize that they’ve stopped being curious and questioning – they go along with everything without any thought at all, completely unaware that they should be asking questions.”

But, really, is that all so horrible? To have a population of people who are trained to listen and obey and follow? To have a population of people who lack curiosity and a questioning nature?  We have a lot of people running around this earth, maybe giving up some of our basic human nature is needed in order to maintain control.

When our children are regularly and repeatedly told and shown that their thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires need to be turned off in favor of listening and obeying, they grow into adults who have trouble generating innovative thoughts and ideas of their own, and who lack the confidence and courage needed to be bring forth any innovative thoughts and ideas they may have.  They grow into adults who are waiting to be told, shown, and led, who prefer to be told, shown, and led, and who really can’t operate well under any other model.

As parents, I think one of our top 3 priorities needs to be encouraging exploration, questions, and curiosity by any means available to us.  To do that, we have to discourage blind obedience and following.  We can’t tell them, every day, to do X, Y, and Z and not to argue about it.  We can’t tell them, every day, to listen to their teacher and do what she says and not talk back.  We can’t do that if we want them to grow into adults who think independently, who are curious enough to seek innovative answers, who are confident enough to take risks.

“Hey Jimmy, for 18 years I want you to listen to, and obey all the adults around you, every day, and don’t argue about it or ask questions.  You might have to shut down a large part of your brain in order to do that.  But, when you turn 18, what’d I’d really like to see is for you to be a confident, independent thinker, curious and driven to find answers, a person who isn’t afraid to seek another path and take risks, a person who doesn’t just follow unquestioningly but who has the courage to dig for alternate explanations/thoughts/ideas.”

That’s not possible at the individual level – there’s no switch they can flip when they become adults that will suddenly make them forget all that they learned in 18 years of obedience school. As a society though, we need innovation in order to stay afloat – innovative ideas, products, beliefs – lots and lots of them. It requires a constant pipeline of people entering adulthood who are explorative and curious and questioning – people who don’t just nod their head in unison with everyone else, staying quiet, going along, awaiting their next set of instructions.  We need people who were not only allowed to question everything, be curious about everything and explore everything, but people who were encouraged and rewarded for doing so.  That’s not happening, today.  Today, the best case scenario is that questioning, curious, explorative behavior is discouraged and at worst, it’s punished.

I realize that there are times in life when we just need our kids to do what adults tell them – for safety reasons and for other reasons.  If we can’t put our children into environments whereby blind obedience isn’t usually necessary, maybe we could be monitoring this and counterbalancing it. If we must have our children obey adults, let’s at least tell them why.  Encourage them to be thinking about all the things they’d rather be doing and even to write them down or tell you about them.

“Hey Jimmy, when you were in math class today and your teacher said to do a multiplication worksheet, what were you thinking about doing instead?  If you could have argued with her, what would you have said – pretend I’m her and argue with me, I’d love to hear your ideas.”

It could make all the difference, for a child to know that their parent understands and supports them and really gets what they’re going through.  It can make all those times of necessary blind obedience seem tolerable.  Just knowing that their ideas will be heard, respected, and encouraged may just keep their curious and questioning minds alive so that they can have a future with far fewer head nodders than we’re currently dealing with.

When you’re out in the World, my Child, Remember to Never Obey Adults (Part One of Two)

As kids, we were probably all reminded repeatedly, to always obey adults.  Our parents seemed paralyzed with fear about the possibility of getting a call from a teacher, a bus driver, or a coach saying “I told little Jimmy to do X, Y, and Z, and he didn’t do it.  He started arguing about wanting to do A, B, and C instead”.

On no!  He didn’t do what you told him to? But, how can that be?  If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times to always, always obey adults.  He knows better!  I’ll certainly correct this – it won’t happen again.

And the parent feels genuinely awful about this.  Her child was…..was…..BAD!

We probably all went through this as kids.  And, many of us are reinforcing this same notion in our own children.  After all, it’s the way we were brought up – it’s the way things were always done.  And, it’s not entirely wrong.  I mean, there are some situations where a child needs to blindly obey an adult for safety reasons.  And, maybe children should know that in life, some amount of blind obedience may be called for.

But, when you send a child out into the world every day with the instruction to “obey adults”, you’re really telling him not to listen to his own inner voice.  To shove down, and cover up, his own thoughts, feelings, and desires and just obey.  You’re telling him that what someone else wants is more important than what he’s thinking, feeling, needing.  And, most of the time that “someone else” is someone he may not even know, respect, trust, or even like.  It may be someone you don’t even know, respect, trust, or like.  So, you’re telling him that his feelings and desires are less important than this virtually unknown adult’s.

When he’s really young and faced with having to obey an adult, he’ll protest and argue and throw a fit.  Of course he does because he’s a human which means he’s curious and wants to question everything.  He needs to know what will happen if he argues, fights, and disobeys.  He wants to know why he can’t do something he’d rather do.  He’s got his own ideas and he fully intends to execute them. But, he gets conditioned over time to stop fighting back.  And, it really doesn’t take all that long. Heck, that’s one of our goals as parents, right – to get him to listen and obey?

Soon, he stops fighting back and throwing tantrums when faced with having to obey an adult. But, he’s still thinking that he wants to do something else, he’s thinking that his idea about what to do is better, his brain is questioning the orders being given. But, he’s getting to be a big boy now and he knows not to fight or argue anymore. What he thinks is of little value in the face of an instruction from an adult.  So, while he no longer displays fighting, arguing, questioning behavior, his brain is still doing just that.  That’s good news because his inner voice is still talking to him, even if he can’t act on it.  His curiosity and questioning nature is alive and well – it just can’t be displayed.

At some point, not too long after that stage, when told what to do by an adult, he doesn’t even think about what he would prefer to do anymore.  He doesn’t think about his alternative ideas.  He’s not even curious about taking another path.  He no longer questions the instructions and alternatives in his mind.  He just does as he’s told – with his actions and with his own mind.    He’s had to silence his inner voice because if that voice continues to question instructions and commands, it will lead to frustration.  In the end, his behavior simply must be in alignment with the instructions and commands. He gives in, realizing things are the way they are and there is no value in questioning or having his own ideas.  He learns to blindly obey.

And, it all happens quite subtly and even innocently. Parents tell their children “do what your teacher says, be good and listen to the coach, etc”.  Seems harmless enough – you’re telling your child something that seems to make sense.  Then in school, the teacher barks out orders for 6 hours and your child is expected to follow them. But, that has to happen, right? We need order, after all.  And after school, the coach shouts out instructions and we need those to be followed, don’t we?  And, then there’s homework and that all has to get done as required, doesn’t it? Taken individually, we may be able to defend all of these instances of forced obedience. But we have to look at the whole picture and not chop these things up individually.  What are we doing to our children – their natural questioning nature and curiosity?  What are they learning from all of this blind obedience?  What kind of adults are we training them to be?

We are systematically creating a society of people who are not only trained to blindly obey, but who get rewarded for it. And, they’re punished for thinking for themselves, as individuals – punished for being curious and questioning. Not only that, we train them so well, that they forget how to be curious and question, and seek answers for themselves.  They don’t realize how very odd this is because everyone around them is acting the same way.  In fact, they don’t even realize that they’ve stopped being curious and questioning – they go along with everything without any thought at all, completely unaware that they should be asking questions.

When I was a kid and wanted to do something that “everyone else” was doing, my mom would say “If everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too?”  Back then, I thought that was a dumb question and it made me mad.  Clearly, nobody would jump off a bridge just because everyone else is doing it.  But, I look around today and I see many/most people doing the equivalent of jumping off a bridge for no other reason than everyone else is doing it.

I have more to say on this topic in my next post. But, in the meantime, I need to go remind my child not to blindly obey adults.  She already knows, but you can’t reinforce these important points too often.

Don’t Expect to Change Anyone’s Mind with Logic

In the About section of this blog, I mentioned that I didn’t expect to change anyone’s mind about any of the topics discussed in this blog, such as education, vaccination, etc.  Changing someone’s mind is rarely possible.  Let me explain…..

Amazingly, people are more apt to “go with the flow” when there is more at stake. When the stakes are highest, it seems to make sense that people would spend the most time researching and questioning to come up with their own personal decision. But, the opposite holds true. When the stakes are high, people spend the least amount of time researching and questioning, and they are more apt to do what everyone else is doing. We become paralyzed with fear of making the wrong decision. After all, if we do what everyone else is doing, we can’t really be blamed if something goes wrong. We don’t trust ourselves when it comes to the really important decisions. And, when we do begin researching and questioning and find that what we are coming up with isn’t what everyone else is doing, we are likely to doubt ourselves and just give up and give in.

Once you’ve made an unconventional decision, the hardest part isn’t behind you. After months of searching and questioning and sleepless nights and stress, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief upon finally arriving at your decision. Then you’ll find yourself in uncomfortable situations whereby friends and family will question you and you may feel compelled to explain your reasons and defend your decisions.

However, there is no need to explain or defend anything. If you try to explain your unconventional decisions, most people will automatically think you are judging them for making a different decision. In social situations, when you are being questioned, there is no way you could adequately explain a decision that likely took you months and months to arrive at. In fact, someone who asks “why do you homeschool” actually thinks that you can give an answer in a couple of sentences. This is because their decision to send their child to school didn’t likely require any thought on their part at all; they just did it because everyone else is doing it.

Someone who asks what you have against vaccinations likely vaccinated their child with no thought at all. Does that make them right? The vast majority of these people never did any research. They just did what everyone else was doing. So, when I hear someone say, “ninety percent of people vaccinate and they can’t all be wrong,” I know they don’t understand what they are saying. Of that ninety percent, it’s unlikely that more than five percent actually did the level of research that is done by the people who make unconventional decisions. I’m not concerned that people arrive at the same conclusions I did. I only care that they personally put in a level of effort that corresponds to the importance of the decision. Most don’t.

When I’m in a social situation and these kinds of questions are asked, I give general answers and just move on. You’ll be able to tell the difference between people who actually want to know the answer and have an open mind, and those who ask because they are feeling judged by you and hope that something in your answer will validate their own, opposite decision.

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