Monday, August 11, 2008

Conversation with dental hygienist

Dental hygienist: … So how’s it going with your little girl? Are you still home-schooling her?
David: Yep. Actually it’s unschooling. But yeah, it’s great.
DH: Oh yeah, “unschooling.” So is she learning things.
David: Seems to be.
DH (incredulous): You don’t know for sure?
David: She knows how to speak English.
DH: All children know how to do that, don’t they?
David: Yes, without being schooled.
DH: Yeah, but don’t you think it’s different for, um, higher stuff, like reading and math and things like that?
David: No.
DH: You don’t think children need to be taught how to learn complex subjects.
David: Math and reading are considerably less complicated subjects than learning an entire language. If you mean particle physics? Perhaps but probably not. Livy already can do rudimentary addition. Once she get subtraction and division and multiplication, she’s good to go as an adult.
DH: But do you teach her anything in any kind of standard format?
David: No.
DH: So what else does she know besides English and addition?
David: She knows how to run her own life.
DH (snickering): Children don’t know how to run their own lives.
David: That’s what I hear.
DH: I know you disagree.
David: If parents back off and let their children bounce happily through the universe looking for that connection that gives their lives meaning, then the parent can grab a cigarette or a martini and enjoy the experience.
DH: Does your child ask lots of questions?
David: She asked me the other day where squirrels come from.
DH: What did you tell her?
David. Told her that squirrels came from even smaller animals a very long time ago.
DH: What do you mean?
David: I told Livy about evolution and we got into a complex and invigorating 30-minute discussion about how simpler life forms can become immensely more complex through the evolutionary process and how humans themselves evolved from monkeys and how we all share a large portion of similar genetic makeup, which led to a discussion about genes and unseen things.
DH: Oh, we don’t believe in that.
David: Excuse me.
DH: I would never say that to my children.
David (forgetting his gatekeeper): You don’t believe in evolution?!
DH (shaking head): No, but we believe that all beliefs should be taught.
David: But you’re a dental hygienist!!
DH (stopping teeth cleaning to understand gist of comment): What’s that got to do with it?
David: Can you grab anyone at random off the street and have them come in here and clean my teeth as amazingly as you do?
DH: Of course not.
David: Why not?
DH: Because I went to school for this. I …
David: What did you learn at school?
DH: Lot of things. What’s your point?
David: What kind of things? How come somebody couldn’t just stroll in here and make me all shiny?
DH: Gum disease and recession, enamel, bacteria, heart conditions, scraping, analyzing x-rays, lots of stuff.
David: You mean you learned a lot of facts about hygiene and cleaning and science stuff?
DH: Yeah, a lot!
David: Evolution is about facts – facts relating to reality. Archeology, anthropology, genetics, everything. Have you looked at the facts?
DH: We’re Christians.
David: What’s that got to do with it? You didn’t let that get in the way of learning facts about dental hygiene.
DH (laughing): David, you’re something else.
David: I’m a dental hygienist.
DH: You are?! You never told me.
David: I’ve just decided I’m a dental hygienist. If I wish it to be true and don’t wish to look at facts, well, then I can be anything I like and believe anything I like. So, I’m a dental hygienist.
DH: Well, I don’t think your patients will be too happy with you.
David: Sure they will. I’ll just tell them that their teeth are clean and that they should just believe it’s true and have faith that it is so and don’t worry themselves over facts.
DH (shaking her head and smiling): David, shut up and let me clean your teeth.

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