Progressivism for Eight-year Olds

Conventional wisdom says that one should write so an 8th grader can understand you. I know that I fail to hit that mark, over and over again, coming across like some kind of ESL science journal. But with the kids out of school, I find that I really must communicate so that an 8-year old can understand, and it's yielding some interesting lessons for us all.

The problem I'm now facing is that, during the school year, the children are under too much supervision, in a way. Not that there aren't brats throwing rocks, using foul language, and even making inappropriate sexual contact at the first, split-second opportunity. They're like little animals. My kids are relatively okay, I think, but still only seem to respond to behavioral intervention. I grow tired of hearing about how many stickers they have, and reward time with the authority figures (and I'm sure I still don't know the right terminology). I've never taken a shine to incentivizing routine at home. You eat at suppertime, go to bed at bedtime, or there's hell to pay. So who gets to be the big downer, the week after school's out? That's right: Daddy.

They have this slogan posted at the elementary school:

We Are Respectful
We Are Responsible
We Are Safe
We Are Learners

It used to say "Be Respectful," etc., with a picture of bees, but then they ditched the hive concept.  Too innocent for this community, I guess. The Principal tells me some 60 percent of the children have experienced some kind of trauma. "Blue Devil Time" is the collective time of acknowledgement now, instead of "Hive Time"...

Anyway, my kids didn't seem to have any idea what the first two parts of their little mission statement meant, when I caught one of them mouthing off to other members of the family, and another one lying. So I composed a little exercise for them to copy repeatedly and hang on their wall. Milly, after calling her brother a "stupid fat-ass," was assigned this passage:

Respect means looking out for someone, even if you don't like them and they aren't as strong as you. Or, they made you mad. Swearing is not respectful. It makes you sound stupid and ugly. If everybody did that, the whole world would be ugly and stupid.

I had tried to get an exposition written in her own words, but her twin sister Clara wrote it for her, some nonsense about getting in trouble. So, she was set to writing the following:

Responsibility means trying to be good, even when nobody else is being good, or no one is watching you. Lying is irresponsible. Making mistakes is the best way to learn, but if you aren't responsible, you won't learn anything.

I think I made a mistake in this last one, and it's interesting to me. Shouldn't it have read, "trying to be better," or "trying to improve," instead of "trying to be good"? This very issue seems to have divided communities and nations throughout history, with conservatives opting for good enough, and progressives pressing for change.

I think it hinges on the prior concept of respect. If you don't account for human development, either your own or other people's, then it makes perfect sense to be a passive-aggressive deadbeat. Conversely, if progress is merely economic expansion, and no one is held personally responsible... oh, yes, that has happened, too. In either case, are we learning? Indeed, are we even safe?


When I used Arko instead of Stirling with the witch-hazel, oil cleanse, lather pre-shave AND pumpkin prep, the hair was reliably softened yet again... but I failed to shave as close. So I cheated, and dry shaved under the ipsilateral jaw corner. No way I'm getting 12 hours out of this shady DFS, but it passes an alum test.

I want it both ways. I will have it both ways!

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