everyone organises their room. just some people use different organisational schemes. it's a travesty that one particular type of scheme (empty floor, stuff in rows where it's nice to look at and hard to use, not much dust, etc) has a monopoly on being called organised or orderly. esp when it's not even all that great a setup. it's pretty impractical.

on the flipside of the coin, a lot of children could have better-organised rooms, and would enjoy it that way. but the solution isn't to go in there and move stuff around (mess it up even more), it's to not instill cleaning hangups in your kids.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

email is fun

On Sunday, November 23, 2003, at 08:37 AM, A Poster wrote:

Subject Line: shouldn't TCS be questioned?

Yes, of course. It even says so, does it not? Now, some people seem to have the idea that TCS holds itself up infallible, but reality seems to be against them. For example, I no longer use the "official" TCS definition of coercion.

(Of course, one should not make such a change haphazardly, or on a whim, but rather after deep understanding of the official definition, and its strengths. And one should be careful the new version really is an improvement. etc)

What happens to all those families out there who find that, according to their own lights, TCS seems like a really bad, dangerous idea?

Well, until they give some good reason (an argument), I will consider their lights wrong. But I won't hunt them down; all that *happens* (in my view) is they have worse lives than they might.

Even if some of it has changed their lives for the better? But that certain aspects of - say - hardcore rationalism, dogged belief in the TCS 'way', an abiding faith in the TV as a *good thing*, ditto eating what you feel like....all have and continue to.... feel a bit unnatural?

well i think you've misunderstood TCS here. while i will insist that TV shows are, in principle, great things, just like books, I will also concede that there are both many bad books and many bad TV shows. Personally I don't watch tons of TV. mostly japanese anime and movies and southpark oh and The OC. lots of other stuff is great if you have the right problem situation for it, and many people are too negative about TV, but for some problem situations not watching a whole lot of TV would make sense.

as to eating, well we should eat what we want, and we should want to eat the right things to eat. true and changeable. favorite and changeable. you need *both* sides of that coin. the solution to bad eating habits is not to eat what you don't want to. that's just hurting yourself. the solution is to find some good arguments about what is right to eat, and then want to eat that way because you really do believe it's right.

personally, i eat almost no candy and desert fairly rarely, and have a general distaste for too much sugar. i think i'm weird about that, but *shrug*. i *also* don't like salad much.

What if believing in these things starts to make parent feel totally duped and like he doesn't have enough faith in his own good ideas?

You should not hold ideas true because someone said so, not even Elliot Temple nor David Deutsch. You've got to act on your best theories, which means only arguments that you find make sense. Even if some theory is true, if you don't understand it, it's no good to you (though maybe it will be later). And if you do this, faith in your own ideas should not be an issue, because you would know of none you consider better.

Isn't this TCS working against itself? That would be a good thing, right? But then if the TCS parent turns off the TV because he wants to, and does the things he wants to do, because he strongly believes those things to be better for his children - and,yeah, he 'could be wrong, but so what? - he would be said to be reacting to his coerced and unhappy former way of life (and was possibly evil according to some of the TCS inner circle)?

Well, as to making choices for your children, it's not just that you could be wrong, but also that it isn't your choice to make. Children are people with their own lives. You should decide if you want to watch TV, and if someone says you should, you can decline their advice and not watch. And if your children want to watch, and you advise against it, it's still their call.

Just as TCSers will not rule any parent's life by force, parents should not rule their children's lives by force.

Isn't all this a bit fucked up? Maybe the parent should just go and get a life, take his children seriously the way it makes sense to him, be willing to question himself constantly, be aware of his fallibility, but forget all about the harm done to his home by the less desirable aspects of TCS

I want to point out that your understanding of TCS is fallible, so even if hypothetically TCS was perfect, sometimes your understanding of TCS would be wrong, and you would be right to act contrary to it when you thought you knew better. This is manifest in the way most of what you think TCS is wrong about, I think you've simply misunderstood.

Don't let "I think TCS says X" pressure you into doing X. Maybe it doesn't even.

Sometimes he can't work out which is worse, but maybe it doesn't matter,

Well, I can tell you that how you parent *does* matter to your children. So this stuff is important.

-- Elliot Temple

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)


I know! Since I have hits I should post about parenting. For the good of The Children.

TCS (Taking Children Seriously) is the true parenting theory. Its primary ideas are:

- Fallibility (certain knowledge is impossible; people can be wrong)

- No Authorities (ideas must be judged on their merit, not their source; therefore, children can be right and can't be automatically dismissed)

- Coercion is the state of two or more personality strands being expressed in different options of a single choice so that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his personality.

- Coercion is bad for knowledge growth, and quite simply hurts people, including children

- Common Preferences, coercion-free solutions to problems, are always possible

- This means, quite literally, that there is a possible way of parenting in which children do not do anything against their own will

- An important part of getting what one wants is changing what one wants to better desires, including more relisable ones

- Once we realise changing what we want to better wants is good, we no longer need fear always getting what we want as being spoiled or immoral -- as long as we improve our desires sufficiently it would only be good

- What people want is subject to morality, and thus children won't want horrible things, as long as parents offer sufficiently good moral theories

- Good ideas beat out bad ones in argument (and thus if parent's moral theories really are better than their rivals, parent won't lose argument)

- If your ideas are so great, have some faith in them to stand up to criticism!

- Criticism is good. Criticism is a gift. Cherish criticism

- Abandonment Parenting is morally wrong (parents have an obligation to help their children)

- Advice Advice Advice (parents should give children lots of advice, but children should be free to disagree)

- Don't Hurt Children (I can't say this enough)

- And most importantly: send all children to Hebrew School (joking)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

ap and unschooling

lets start with unschooling. is it any good? will it fail to be negligent? front and center on unschooling.com we find:

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience." -- Anne Sullivan

leave child to self. add water. mix. instant better child.

but that's not all. being outside causes people to be smarter. so does handcrafts instead of technology. we must oppose anything artificial!

ok next is AP. front and center we find:

“If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle; we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering. -Mahatma Gandhi

So first off children are tools for a political end. Next they are supposed to grow up ignorant -- this must be preserved at all costs. If they grow up ignorant, we won't have to struggle with them, they won't know anything but what we told them, so they'll act just like we always wanted. PS it's all about peace and love! (PPS if you've ever seen Trigun... lol)

But ok that's not quite as damning as the other one. Let's find another. Off to the What is AP? page written by the founders.

Whether you're new to Attachment Parenting (AP) philosophy or not, you've probably experienced that living in our culture can be confusing at best and very difficult at worst. All the popular childrearing books on the market today seem to negate each other--"Don't pick up your baby every time she cries, you'll spoil her"... "Babies can never be spoiled by picking them up" ... or "Babies need to learn to comfort themselves or they'll never learn!" New parents are quickly overwhelmed. The beauty of Attachment Parenting is that it is so simple! AP teaches parents that it's ok to listen to their baby and listen to their own hearts. It's a way of parenting that helps parents see the world through their child's eyes, a world of innocence, a world of unknowns, a world with so much to learn and a world that requires love in order to live. Even when parents feel confident in practicing AP they often have to weather criticism from well-meaning family and friends. Ours is a non-nurturing, no-touch culture against which AP runs counter. The pressure can place a lot of strain on parents. API was born out of these concerns and a desire to support all parents.

so let's see. they hate our culture. they think if we just "listen to our hearts" everything will be ok. now, you're supposed to listen to child too. ... unless you're heart overrides him. hell, even the most abusive parent will listen to child unless he doesn't feel like it. also the main problem with parenting today is failing to hug, "nurture", and love children enough. so do that. also don't stress out. if you're too stressed we have forums where people will say you're doing a good job and mean people are banned. and if you're really stressed, we recommend you just take a break for a while, to nurture yourself. as long as your heart says it's ok.

in conclusion i maintain left-wing parenting sucks. and although right-wing parenting also sucks, i think it's slightly better. mainly because i hate negligence so much.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom:

Social people interact breadth first. Anti-social people interact depth first.

Every choice you make excludes choosing otherwise.

Humans live by their creativity, not by devouring limited resources.

People twist their factual views to fit their moral views, not vice versa.

Children are people.

Young people are people.

A Few Consequences:

Anti-social people waste less time.

Trying not to exclude any options is absurd. Trying not to exclude some specific options isn't. "Trying to keep your options open," without the context of refering to some specific options, means keeping the ones that society cares about open. For example "You should go to highschool to keep your options open" means that highschool is helpful on the standard paths through life (it helps get into college and helps you get hired with or without college). Keeping options open in that sense, as a goal, is not a good way to live, because we should seek our own path, not choose between stereotypes ones.

We shouldn't ration our raw materials to last for 50,000 years. Not even for 1,000 years. How long exactly, then? Well, hard to say, but the market knows. The market knows because prices reflect supply.

It's not all that surprising that presenting, say, an anti-semite with a factual history of Israel, is ineffective.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Apparently Attacking TCS Is Fun

foo commented on this post:

[Elliot] said:

An important part of getting what one wants is changing what one wants to better desires, including more relisable (sic) ones

How could you knowingly tell the difference between changing what you want to better desires, and coercing yourself toward them?

Rational thought? You may think that's a non-answer, but what would you say if I asked you, "How can you knowingly tell the difference between disagreeing with me because you hate me and disagreeing with me because I'm wrong?"

How could you tell the difference between changing what you want to better desires and having been coerced?

Well a good start is checking whether you feel distressed. Or if you feel conflicted. And consider why you changed your view. Again, it's just a matter of rational thought.

You say give advice. Advice is good. Then you say "children SHOULD BE free to disagree."

Does this "should" mean what it normally means? "Should" is coercive, in normal English language.

It means that's the way the world should be. You could swap in "ought to" if you like. It's just a statement about morality -- if children are free to disagree this is a morally good state, and if children are not that is a morally bad state.

1 archaic a : will have to : MUST b : will be able to : CAN 2 a -- used to express a command or exhortation b -- used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory

That's coercive? Next you'll be telling me my inability to walk through doors is coercive. And gravity too. And all competitive sports. Just because you can't do anything at all doesn't mean you ought to be coerced; it's irrational to want impossible desires. And it's immoral to desire to do things you should not do. If you want it anyway and end up coerced that was your own wrongdoing at fault, not shoulds in general.

So, you intend to force children to follow their own advice?

No, I was just not going to discourage or punish disagreement.

Or merely have them consider that your advice isn't good? How can they tell the difference, as children, between following your advice to make you happy and following your advice because they want to?

I dunno; how can you tell? (the difference between following my advice to make me happy, or because you want to)

How can they tell the difference between following your advice because it makes them feel safer and doing so because they want to?

How do those even contradict? Someone might want to feel safe.

How can they tell the difference between not following your advice because they should be able not to and being free to not accept your advice?

You're worried people will go against my advice for the sole purpose of exercising their freedom? Why would anyone do that if he was never under my thumb in the first place?

How come coercion is bad for knowledge growth, as a statement, but parents are obligated! to not abandon/help their children?

Erm, the existence of obligations is not coercive. Next you'll be telling me not to make plans to meet someone somewhere. That's an obligation after all.

Aren't you coercing them help/not to abandon their children?

I'm pointing out they should want that, and if they don't they are immoral.

Why is this okay for adults, but not for kids? Is coercion only painful to children?

No, for all people.

Or is it simply that children didn't have a choice about being brought into the world, so it's unfair to force them to do things, but the adult DID have a choice, and in doing so, put themselves into indentured servitude to the child?

Well, yes, bringing a child into this world does give a parent some responsibility. If a potential parent will not want to help his child, he should not have a child.

Common preferences are not always possible. If you are in love with me, so much so that you want to marry me, and I cannot stand you, and never want to see you again, then there is no common preference here for future action.

If I love you so much why don't I want to be accommodating to you?

You can say "but someone will change their mind because they will want to have a "better" desire" but when people are in love, many times they cannot imagine that falling out of love is a better desire. there is no solution to this. No consensus can be reached. Recognizing that sometimes, no consensus can be reached is necessary. Obviously in extreme cases like rape there is no consensus that will be reached, either. Some situations have no solution. To think otherwise is to be utopian.

Common preferences are not possible when I insist on making unreasonable demands of others. As long as I do that, I won't find any. But what if I stopped?

No common preference is reached in a rape because one of the parties is intentionally malicious. That is not the situation when parenting.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (16)


when you buy perishable food, you sometimes won't be in the mood to eat it before it goes bad.

when you serve yourself a plate of food, you will sometimes put too little on the plate and get seconds. so too will you sometimes put on too much and throw the excess out.

when you cook, sometimes you will mess up, and the food will turn out gross.

some food you buy just won't be very good quality (like some fruit that turns out mushy or not sweet)

sometimes you won't read the labels closely enough, and will buy the wrong food by accident

sometimes you will make food for someone else, but because of miscommunication it won't be wanted.

sometimes you will start to cook some food, then change your mind about what you want to eat.

when you buy more than a bite of something new, you may not like it, and would thus throw most of it out.

the error rate on all these things goes down with skill. thus younger people, esp young children, tend to have a higher rate of throwing food out.

this is all to be expected. you shouldn't be upset in the slightest if 10% of the food you buy isn't eaten. more if you are young, or have young children, or have many children.

and none of these things qualify as "wasting" food.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Some Stuff About Parenting

Parenting as we know it is a horrid thing.

Children are dehumanised - parent knows best. You may say the parent usually does, and that's true, but usually the child doesn't disagree with his parent. In cases of a conflict, when a child is sufficiently confident to contradict his parent, his view must be taken seriously, just like one would listen if a friend thought you were in error.

Many parents consider children like clay to be sculpted into a good adult (read: valid person). This also dehumanises children who are people now. A child has preferences of his own, and these must be taken seriously, not the preferences of some imagined future person.

Parents believe that people can't always have what they want. In practice this is a transparent excuse to deny things to one's child. In principle, it says people are doomed to unhappiness. This is not true. Through a combination of creatively solving problems so people are better able realise their intentions and wants, and creatively analysing and changing their intentions and wants to better, more realisable ones, people can be very successful. There is nothing stopping them; the limiting factor is just their skill (morality).

Parents so often treat their own desires as unquestionable, unalterable truth, and from this point of view declare their children's desires impossible. Examples include the mundane (but still important) like a parent who insists he can't stand even the sound of violence and bans many movies from his home, or a parent who hates messes and insists child meticulously clean his room (why the child should clean the mess the parent hates is unclear). Another example would be a parent who says "I will feel like a failure if you do not graduate college, so you must go." Isn't it obvious this is the parent's problem and the solution is almost certainly for the parent to get over it? (unless child doesn't mind college, in which case parent is lucky and need not address his flaw) Sadly it is not.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Some Stuff About School

Skools are a horrid place. It starts with legitimised grade falsification over discipline issues like attendance and participation, and often over being sufficiently deferential to the teacher. It continues with the implicit assumption that children must be forced to learn that comes out in the constant forced feedback to make sure students are paying attention. This takes forms like graded assignments, quizzes, and participation grades. Worse still is that teachers design tests based on what they consider important, and so one must listen to teacher to pass tests. Tests should be designed by third party certification agencies, and classes should be optional things designed to help people learn the material (only the parts they want to learn, which may or may not be what's on the test - student's decision). Much like SAT prep classes (I imagine - never been to one). Of course, there would be other classes not designed for any sort of certification, with no need for grades. By separating the issues of certification and education, schools would be able to focus on one and thus do it better. And when it became popular opinion that current certification methods hurt people (we all know no one likes tests, but few people seem to care), then new certification companies sporting new methods would spring up to compete with the testing-based ones. And people would flock to them.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

School Is Like Broccoli

Parents have this broccoli stuff they've decided is Good For You, and make you eat it. They don't listen when you say you prefer steak.

Schools have this Educational Method (including homework, tests, textbooks, lectures, etc) they've decided is Good For You, and they have the Right Answers (which are sometimes wrong), which are also Good For You. They make you eat it. And they sure don't offer steak.

PS you can tell textbooks are worse than real books, because when real people (not students) go to a bookstore to buy something, they don't choose a textbook.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)