Friday, June 19, 2015

On schools


Following up on this.
Schools really shouldn't tolerate talk-back from students, so he got what he deserved. Still, it would be interesting to know what kind of disruptive behavior is tolerated by school officials and if he was singled out because he hurt the feelings of petty tyrants. In any event, this will all be in the rear view mirror quickly.
Schools shouldn't tolerate backtalk (in the good old days they sure didn't), but maybe the Prussian "progressive" education system we adopted in the late 1800s isn't the best. One of Bob Wallace's points. School as kiddie jail (granted, some of that's needed given their charges' cognitive limitations, but it's a perfect hideout for petty tyrants... and pedophiles), turning people into cogs for the machine; that was the "educators'" dream.

But some kind of school is of course natural and inevitable. Suppose you homeschool. You probably aren't a master of all fields of knowledge, but maybe your church friend Bob can fill in the gaps in your math or science skills, while Betsy also from your church is an avatar of home ec (French, P.E., computers, etc.). Before you know it, you have a little private school. Harvard Lampoon wrote a parody like that 30 years ago, about kids playing hooky at the mall. (When malls were popular, pre-Internet. I always thought they were a waste of resources. We had perfectly good downtowns we trashed or abandoned.) Soon... some of the store owners start teaching video-game machine repair and auto shop, and the kids "sing mall songs and do little mall dances," and even have rivalries with other malls. Rah rah.

That said, if you want to truly homeschool or unschool, and you have the knowledge and the time, go for it. This medium is the greatest library in history. For the cost of your Internet connection, you can get a humanities education, including "great books."

Actually, kids' brains are still developing but they're not stupid. Of course they resent being herded into kiddie jail and resist the forced socializing by forming cliques. (Sometimes even as evolved as junior fraternities or mini-gangs.) Working-class kids wanted to get out and make money and make babies, and a lot of them did drop out; actually pretty smart. (As a good friend says, learning HVAC repair now is probably a lot better than many colleges.) A better society would make that happen again, for every class, for everyone who wants it. True college is for the 14% of smart kids who can benefit from it (future doctors, engineers, and real "great books" humanities talents), not sleepaway camp for rich airheads or a ripoff for everyone else aspiring to be middle-class. "It takes a village": extended family, neighborhood, parish, for young people to be adults when their bodies say they are, at their sexual peak. (Not our nonsense with extended adolescence.) Employers for the young men and built-in help with child care for the young ladies. I don't know how to make it happen again.

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