What Are Friends For?

One thing I never liked about teaching was being the center of attention. I was told I’d get used to it, but in 20+ years, that never happened.

It’s not that I’m a shy wall-flower, far from it. It’s also not that I didn’t appreciate that stage-ease in other teachers when I was a student. In fact, I rather liked it.

Still, I always felt like, if I could design my own classes they would never be lectures, never large groups. Even though some of my large lecture experiences as a student were very positive.

But, that’s because getting lost in the crowd is so easy.

Far more challenging is small group, low structure. It’s a very unique dynamic and my personal preference. It’s not necessarily conducive to many teaching tasks, but it does work very well for other things. Especially if your goals are real community ties over speculative market drivers.

After all, when you consider what motivates most teachers, money rarely tops the list. Small group, low structure is the least beneficial monetarily speaking, for obvious reasons. That’s probably why it’s so rare.

Seven ladies in my tiny kitchen, oh my. BTW, that’s Kombucha we’re imbibing, not beer!

Many hands make light work. I think that means not just a lighter work load. It’s also ‘light work’ as in, bringing the joy of community into our work and into our homes. Incorporating the unique contribution of each individual toward a common goal. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s pretty much the opposite of what incorporation has come to mean in modern parlance—which is more like automatons performing tasks to perfection at the command of a central authority.

“Um, excuse me, but your Shankleesh balls are not uniform!”

We are witnessing in our ‘Institutional Affairs’ that not only are we being conditioned to not discuss religion or politics, but it is becoming a requirement for receiving public funding.

While personally I’m ambivalent to these policies, because on the one hand I appreciate a separation between Church and State. Still, on the other hand I perceive what’s actually happening is an enmeshment of Globalist agendas with local affairs. An infiltration which began long ago that lately has been picking up pace.

Perhaps it is unfair that Christian-affiliated groups are getting squeezed out of public affairs. I can certainly empathize with their predicament and growing resentment. And yet, far more important to me is that I have encountered first-hand and through others’ stories that part of the means to this end is being achieved by categorically excluding crucial topics from public dialogue.

The de-platform and shadow banning and cancel culture that’s being most hyped online often excludes what’s been happening locally in folks’ churches, State-run organizations like the Master Gardeners, and State and church-affiliated out-reach programs and charities, not to mention in the schools.

This in particular makes small gatherings an essential part of a healthy public and community life. Feeling threatened by group-think and ostracized for a differing opinion occurs far less often.

Particularly, when we are gathered around wholesome work, like learning skills together, getting necessary things done, or just sitting on the porch—shooting the shit, so to speak—group identity is replaced by an individual-level camaraderie, where the label is not the first thing on everyone’s radar and money takes the back seat to true care. Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Republican, Anarchist, whatever—these are the social constructs as much as gender identity or which church or which school or which job one has, if any at all.

Differences can be appreciated in a friendly and comforting surrounding rather than creating strict and professional-level hierarchies. Sure, it’s still great to have like-minds around, but they don’t have to be like-minds set in stone or the whole edifice risks collapsing.

When the goal is a better life, actually living it, politics is naturally relegated to the background, not because it’s a forbidden or contentious topic, but because in the manner of human relations it belongs in the background.

Or, even better, six feet underground!

Lunch al fresco with lots of ferments to sample, yum!

And for these reasons, I feel charmed and grateful for the, so far, two ‘Fermenting Workshops’ I’ve hosted here on the wee homestead, with a lotta help from my friends.

Thanks and well done, Ladies! What lovely and wonderfully productive days—I look forward to many more!

All in a day’s work—West African Sweet Potato Ferment, Lemon-Dill Kraut and Shankleesh to take home for you and your family’s enjoyment !

A very special thanks to Nicole Faith, our supreme community organizer and A+ homesteading student, who also provided these photos, along with her exuberant enthusiasm and gracious courage. 😘

Author: KenshoHomestead

Creatively working toward self-sufficiency on the land.

13 thoughts on “What Are Friends For?”

  1. The Nobel Peace Prize is a popularity contest. I guess I should have been more specific…Physics, Chemistry, Biology…the sciences. I still have SOME faith in the Pulitzer, but you are correct, it is corrupt, but then, so is the entire field of journalism. Not sure I agree about Edison/Tesla. Edison was just a little quicker at the patent office, but Tesla was far more concerned with theory, where as Edison was more focused on practical application. Tesla cornered the market on the possibilities of electricity, Edison put it to practical use. The Tesla Coil was groundbreaking and helped Edison, but nobody has a Tesla Coil in their living room with a light switch.

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  2. Are they merit-based though? Sometimes they are looking pretty political to me. Like, Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize? And with the Pulitzer you aren’t even getting in the ranking if you aren’t famous with the right people. And, Edison vs. Tesla—didn’t the wrong person win there, for all the wrong reasons??

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  3. There are certain competitions that are great motivators because they are still merit based (Summa Cum Laud, Nobel, Pulitzer, Poet Lauriat), but so many have become political that they have become worthless to anybody but the media (think: Emmy, Oscar, Golden Globe. Academy Awards). I am not a fan of “Participation Trophies” as they are the same as giving A’s in class for showing up. Some of the greatest advances forward were due to external competition: Edison vs. Tesla, Wright Brothers vs Samuel Langley, Alexander Graham Bell vs Elisha Gray. I think that motivation has to be a desire, not forced by external parties, which is what most primary schools try to do. When I sat down to take the SAT’s, I was not competing against the kid sitting next to me, I was competing against myself. Be good at what you are doing, and rewards will (normally) come regardless of “competition” so long as the playing field is not skewed (cronyism, nepotism, Affirmative Action, Quotas).

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  4. Such a shame! I’m sorry to hear it. But it does help to confirm once again that our systems are inverted. We focus on failure thinking it will teach us everything about success (‘no child left behind’) just like we focus on death (in science and religion) expecting it will teach us everything about life.

    Anyone who is intrinsically motivated, toward learning or achievement or personal growth, doesn’t need much competition at all, but we force competition everywhere. Even in the domestic sphere (cooking, ballroom dancing, I bet they even have ‘best preacher’ competitions!) Why? What’s wrong with grace and beauty and service and learning for their own sakes? (Really, I’m not asking rhetorically, I’d love your opinion!)

    Doesn’t it seem like a healthier attitude that a kid would be more motivated to impress his father and siblings than rooms full of strangers or teachers who don’t really care?

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  5. To answer your question: None. Absolutely zero. I have no lifelong friends, no great memories, and only ONE teacher I felt really gave a shit (my 10th grade English teacher). The increased competition had no bearing on my desire to achieve any goals. Making my Dad happy was my motivator. And beating my brothers/sister.

    As for your other observations, you are 100% correct. The future felons get all the attention. My 50th High School reunion is fast approaching, and I can assure you, everyone will know the turds that spent time in jail, but not the graduate who won the Pulitzer or The Congressional Medal of Honor.

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  6. That’s just sad! And yet, I’d bet, just like me, a good percentage of those teachers got into teaching because they enjoy interacting with students and they’d prefer smaller classrooms. They probably got to know the problem students very well, because your entire job becomes classroom management at that point.

    Here’s a question I wonder about. In your case, as a high-achiever, how much would you say the large classroom size and large school size contributed to a striving for excellence on your part, due to the increased competition?

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  7. Larger classes are not always fun for the student either. I went to an enormous high school, and graduated 22 out of 1005. Actually tied for 22 with 34 other people. I was Honors, President of INTERACT, Commander of the JROTC, 1400+ on my SAT’s, and accepted to 11 high end schools, but at graduation, I figure 80% of the teachers (including ones I took classes with), the guidance counselors, and two of the AP’s had NO FUCKING idea who I WAS!

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  8. well done!! No way i could do that. One I have nothing to teach and 2 i have nothing in common with 99.9% of the people in our area. we are the outcasts….the black sheep…i couldn’t stand being in a room with that many other people…I am a recluse!

    well done though….teaching your skills to those who want to learn it and your assessment of taking us done the prime rose path to hell by silencing everyone is well said!! good job!! you are brave!

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