Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Solo Hiking and the Politics of Child Safety

I don’t know how I traversed from solo hiking the sagebrush trails of the Gunnison Valley to Alaska politics but I did.  You are warned, political commentary ahead.  That sort of thing comes from walking alone. Well, not just walking, It can be splitting or stacking firewood, skiing, or taking the kayak out on my lake.  There is something about putting the body to work that calms the working mind and pulls the head out of the proverbial ass.   Don’t believe me just try it.   

IF your are stuck and can’t move forward on a writing project or hung up with a problem you are trying to solve, or maybe some one really pissed you off.  Get up and get moviing.  Vacuum the house, clean the gutters, mow or take a walk.  Your mind will thank you because your thinking will improve and with it your mood.   You can do this with a partner but I find real power in solo hiking.   Simple, focused exercise alone allows one to think, to dawdle, to rush and even sing without referencing another mind.  It can be a form of meditation.  

I was hiking this way on a nice trail outside Gunnison, Colorado when I started thinking about the Alaska state legislature –– talk about some one pissing you off!–– and then my mind turned to the Alaska’s Safe Children’s Act more commonly know as Erin’s law. on which Mike Dunleavey put his conservative, we know what’s best for everyone Christian twist.    The intent of the law is for schools to be required to train students about sexual assault, abuse, and dating violence.  Unfortunately, politics is not tidy, so the bill has been weaken to make the instruction optional and carries what would generally be seen as christian conservative language against sex education and the like.  While I understand Dunleavey’s concerns about burdening school districts in these tight budget times, he’s motives are consistent with his anti public education and conservative politics, an interesting position for a man who made a career in public education.  

I have mixed feeling about the law itself because it has good intentions, but is another partial solution that avoids arguments of a deeper nature.  I also don’t like the legislature parsing curricula; this is complicated enough for people who know what they are doing.  For example, how can we pretend to teach students about protecting themselves from sexual assault and abuse without teaching them about sex and sexual relationships, roles, expressions, forms, and vocabulary? We can’t.  But many people don’t like Johnny and Suzy finding out where babies and pedophiles come from. 

My hiking trail was long enough –– and I was slow because I was hiking at 8000 feet –– that I could chew on this problem  a while.  It seems we need something like a wellness and human living curriculum that replaces PE and health.  We could stuff this new curriculum with all the good biology, safety, nutrition, and exercise stuff we know kids need.  We can include how the body works and how to keep it working, how to stay safe in our surrounding including hazards like fire, drugs, bullies, sugar and predators, human and non-human.  Part if this curriculum would include critical thinking and decision making.  Even Ann Coulter agrees with me about this part.  She says even college students aren’t being taught to read and think critically.  Her financial success as the master of sweeping generalizations is evidence of that.  I digress, another outcome of solo hiking: the mind will wander.  

Back to the topic.  The more we can teach kids about being safe and healthy the better, and we know that knowledge is power, even scary knowledge like sexual awareness, especially in a state where sexual assault, rape, and abuse are rampant.   Some things aren’t optional and child safety is one of them.

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