• Picture shows a small Minecraft village.
    homeschooling,  minecraft,  politics

    Political Studies through Minecraft

    I have reopened my Minecraft server in light of the Covid-19 restrictions and the need to have extra online social activities for children. I host events a couple of times a week on Minecraft and Zoom, and the children play on the server whenever they want in between those events. One question came up recently that introduced some very fun questions about political studies. Some children asked if they could have special areas on the server where they set the rules. A child demonstrated what he meant with a list of rules and the punishments he wanted to enforce. Was this allowed, he asked? So I’ve been thinking about that…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    American Political Studies Resources for Highschool Student

    I am a Canadian homeschooling my children, but we can’t help hearing about American politics. So, my husband and I are insisting that our children learn to understand the American political system as well as the Canadian system. Here is what we are using: The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is Paralyzing Democracy by Daniel Lazare. My husband recommended this one for understanding the limits of the American system. Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville. De Tocqueville was a Frenchman writing about America in 1831. He was incredibly optimistic about the United States and its potential. The West Wing, a tv series by Aaron Sorkin. This television show is…

  • parenting,  politics

    Jinx! and Political Studies Goofiness

    The following conversation is being shared with the permission of my children. My teenager jinxed the eleven-year-old. This rules of jinxing is that two people attempted to say the same thing at the same time, and the one doing the jinxing calls out that the other is jinxed. This means the jinxed person is not to speak until the other person says his name. The nine year old is advocating the eleven-year-old just ignores the jinx and speak anyway. “I do it all the time. What are you going to do? Punish me? Mom’s right there.” The teenager: “You can’t ignore the jinx. Society will fall apart if you ignore…

  • history,  politics

    Where does political authority come from?

    One of the books I’ve been reading recently is called Piety and Politics: The Dynamics of Royal Authority in Homeric Greece, Biblical Israel, and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia. One of the things it points out very early is that the divine authority of kings in ancient times is not necessarily the same as the European concept of the divine right of kings. In the later European concept the authority of God is bestowed upon the king for his whole life. The king is not accountable to anyone. In its extreme the will of the king could be taken to be the will of God. In the ancient understanding the god could…

  • Biblical history,  education,  history,  politics

    Sophists And Today?

    Aaron Sorkin’s television show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip aired in 2006. Already, the show feels somewhat dated and when watching it with our children my husband and I found ourselves trying to explain how the public debate was different at that time. (Just as one example, these days we hear more about the white supremacists than the religious right, but the show focuses on the latter, not the former.) There is something fun about stepping outside of the time period and thinking about the debates of other time periods. It is part of what I do in the secular Bible studies classes I’ve been teaching. I try to…

  • activism,  politics,  the ethical life

    The true reason I haven’t been involved in political activism for a while: not time shortage but fear of being wrong.

    Life is complicated. I look back at so many things I used to believe and I don’t hold those beliefs anymore. The knowledge of how my beliefs have changed makes me a bit more hesitant to express my beliefs. What if I say something now, and then look back at it a few years later and think “oh, how ignorant that was?” That is, of course, the reality of life. We all should be growing, changing, and accepting that our beliefs don’t hold still and we shouldn’t let that stop us from speaking about what we believe now. Yet perhaps it still needs to shape our actions. The awareness that…

  • activism,  history,  politics

    Conversations with Leigh Robertson and some reflections about making change in the world.

    I had a great talk with Leigh Robertson the other day. Our conversation wandered from talking about child labour as a focus for teaching children about the history of the labour movement to talking about the gig economy. Then we moved onto talking about the Danish resistence movement during WWII. It was really fun. Leigh is an Outschool teacher. You can visit her profile to see the classes she teaches. I’m sharing the videos of our conversation here and then I’ll comment with a few of the things I found particularly interesting. There’s a few take-aways I want to comment on. One, I appreciated what Leigh said about making change…

  • Picture of a five year old child holding a protest sign.
    goals,  politics,  the ethical life

    Making a difference

    Sometimes I feel helpless in the face of all the problems of the world. Then I remind myself there’s lots I can do to make a difference. I can: write a letter to the editor to try to change others thoughts on an issue and to let those who share my beliefs know they are not alone. pick up garbage beside the road. reach out to a friend and let them know I care. encourage good discussion in a world where we don’t always think things through. donate to organizations that are doing good work. volunteer with organizations. stand on a street corner in support of causes I care about.…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    teaching civics with reflections on a small town council meeting

    It is Saturday morning and I’m watching a video recording of a town council meeting that took place several provinces away. I’m taking notes to write the story up for my dad’s newspaper. The strange thing is, I actually find counsel meetings kind of interesting. I love the little details of small town life. The minor hockey club asked for their meeting notices to be displayed on the town’s signs. This would add to the frequency of which staff would have to change the text on those signs. The administration is willing to do it but want permission to draw up a policy, because presumably if they put the hockey…

  • climate change,  politics

    “500 climate change denying scientists” – yeah, no.

    I’ve been bothering to engage with some of the climate change deniers on the Sudbury Star’s Facebook page. They link to a Brietbart article saying that there’s over 500 scientists that are petitioning the UN to say there’s no climate crisis. I start looking up the scientists who signed the letter. I’m going through the top names, the ones who started the petition. From Wikipedia: “Guus Berkhout (born 1940) is a Dutch engineer. He has worked for Shell in the oil- and gas industry and served as professor of acoustics, geophysics and innovation management at Delft University of Technology between 1976 and 2007. From 2000 to 2002 he was chair…