Bomb Throwing Pacifist

If you took that happy, smiling guy from the box of Quaker Oats, handed him a bottle of gin and a rifle, and pissed him off to a point where he decided he wasn't going to take it anymore, you'd get a little something like this.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The joy of homeschooling...

Ok. Now that things have sort of hit a lull here at work, I am happy to say that I have had a chance to update BTP a little more often than has past been the norm. However, this sacrifice comes at a heavy cost. Thus while you, gentle reader, are no doubt thrilled to see more BTP columns more frequently, the more observant of you will have noted that the overall quality of the conservative columns criticized has dropped dramatically. This is not an oversite, I assure you. For while I would certainly love to present you with a well-thought out, point-by-point rebuttal of the more reasonable (read- less crazy) columns hammered out by the wingnutosphere, if I am going to be writing columns this frequently, I have to be allowed to slack off in certain fields.

As such, instead of taking the time to come up with something really incisive and smashing with which to beat the fascists, I simply said "screw it. Let's just pick the most assinine colum we can find and go from there." And while actually choosing one out of the untold countless myriads proved to be quite possibly the most difficult task out of the entire process, I am pleased to report that we have a winner. His name is Nathaniel Blake, and his topic for today is going to be on home schooling (a topic near and dear to my heart as well). Take it away, Nate!

Homeschooling, sweet homeschooling
Nathanael Blake

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Last week a New York Times article profiled the ordeal of academic applications: essays, interviews, application consultants, tuition of $10,000 a year or more, and the stress of separating families.

The article was about private preschools in New York City. The following is
representative of the tribulations chronicled among well-heeled parents.

Nathan, I hate to break it to you, but while I am sure there are some parents out there who do want to spend that much money and effort on their child's education, the NYT article you mentioned (which can be found here, btw) doesn't really seem to spend a whole lot of time talking about what these preschools offer. After all, depending on how many hours the teachers work, the after school programs offered, and how long the preschool in in charge of keeping the kids, $10,000 would not be an unreasonable sum to expect. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER),

"[T]he National Center for Education Statistics projects the total cost of a year of K-12 public school to be $8800 for 2002, with an average pupil- teacher ratio of 16:1...Therefore, NIEER assumes the average cost of preschool during the academic year would be the same as the K-12 cost-per-child, approximately $8800."

Thus, adding in a 5-10% cost of living differential for the expenses involved with living in NYC, the cost of $10,000 a year for preschool doesn't sound excessive. After all, a year of regular education by itself costs close to that much, and is only free because it is funded by the government via the joys of public education.

And if you're trying to use this as an excuse to plug homeschooling due to it's cost efficiency this early in the game, then I hate to break it to you, but a full-time parent staying at home to teach and mind the house...let's see...2080 hours in a year plus a minimum wage of 5.15 (plus 50% to be generous since we hope most people fit to teach kids can do a little better than minimum wage)= $16,068.00. That is the basic cost of a year of homeschooling your children, if not more, representing the lost income the second parent might be making if she or he had decided to let the kid attend public school and go out into the workforce to earn money. Under that model, a year of preschool will actually cost you about $6,000 LESS than homeschooling your children.

For me, reading this story increased my determination that if probability wins out and I marry and have children (I'm archaic enough to believe that to be the proper order), they will be homeschooled.

Hopefully you won't be so archaic as to inform the happily just-married missus of your grand pedagogical plans for her until after she's already married to you with a child on the way, eh? I've got to say it, but I can't help but admire a man who not only knows what he wants out of his life, but has already figured out what he wants out of his future wife. Let's just hope you get this all squared away before you tie the knot.

But though over one million children are homeschooled in America, there's a surprising amount of resistance to the idea, even from many who support other alternatives to the state schools (i.e. charter and private schools).

When I tell people about my plans for my (hypothetical) children, I invariably hear the same infratentorial objection, which is that they won't "socialize" properly. No one ever tells me that homeschooling will stifle my children's academic ability.

It all depends Nate. If your wife is a young earth, six-day creationist who believes that Black people are the descendants of Ham and that global warming is just a myth, then I think it would be fair to say that your children's academic ability will suffer as well, yes. If she actually is semi-qualified to teach children and can at least be trusted to teach the basic facts as to why the sky is blue and where dinosaurs come from, then the only real stunting your children will experience is the knowledge that Mom is somehow much smarter than dad, and yet through some cruel twist of fate she ended up shackled to him for all time.The stereotype is quite the opposite: homeschoolers are smart but socially inept.

There are, to be sure, examples of failed homeschooling, but its general record is better than the government's schools.

I'll take that bet, but it is of course contingent on what kind of a "record" we are talking about here. If we're talking about the education of production of well-rounded, literate people with years of experience interacting with different people away from home, then no. If the record in question is that of cranking out barely-educated religious fundamentalists who cruise right in to plumb positions at Bob Jones University, Liberty University, and political internships on Capitol Hill as a result of their "White Christian Minority" status, then you're bang on target.

There are occasional comments about the difficulty of homeschooling.

To be sure, it takes sacrifice, and there are some families that cannot undertake the task.

Fortunately for your family, any prospective mate will have to undergo a rigorous battery of tests including a willingness to submit to patriarchal authority, spousal obedience, and dignified silence in the presence of her natural superior. Sure, it will be a tough sacrifice on her part, but I'm sure you will prevail in finding such a woman eventually.

Yet what are we to make of the wealthy New Yorkers who send their toddlers to pre-schools with tuition higher than my university's? They aren't driven by necessity, but by the desire to get their children out of the home and out of the way. This begs the query: why have children if you don't want them to interfere with your life?

Nate, I have a hard time believing that these parents who are making tremendous sacrifices in terms of money, time, energy, and effort on behalf of their children's educations are doing it out of a desire to get their children out of the home and out of the way. After all, if they don't want to have to deal with kids all day long and can afford to shell out $10,000 a year for preschool, there are plenty of starving college kids out there who would be thrilled at the chance to be an au-pair for a wealthy, high-status family. After all, is it not possible that one of the reasons (if not THE REASON) these families are jumping through all these hoops is to make sure their children get a top-quality education from the get-go? Or is that just too crazy?

I think that the least parents can do is to match the Spartans and allow the kids to be raised at home for the first seven years. Longer is better--even through high school.

And of course to continue the ancient Spartan tradition of under feeding them so that they are encouraged to toughen up and steal food. And of frequent beatings. And of oily, naked, man-on-man (completely heterosexual, mind you) wrestling.

But the cry goes up that they must be socialized. In response, most homeschoolers point out the many activities available to them, from sports to music to church... hunting to fishing to Bible reading to target practice to weapons maintenance to watching wrestling on the tee vee. Heck, I'd say this give my childhood dream of being raised by Jaguars in the Amazonian rainforest a run for its money.

They're right: as homeschooling usually teaches more in less time, it leaves more time for both play and social activities. And I can attest that most of the long-term homeschoolers I know posses fine social abilities.

If by play and social activities you mean whittling, moving the lawn, playing Amazing Grace on the guitar and reading the Left Behind series for kids, then yeah. The long winter evenings must just fly.

Nevertheless, this view concedes too much. Why do we even assume that modern schools are a healthy way to socialize a child and set a standard homeschooling must match? The socialization of our school system is profoundly anti-social. Edmund Burke wrote of civilization as a partnership "between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born." In the schools, society doesn't even consist of the various generations of the living.

I agree. We must bend the rules of the public school system to allow for the admittance of the undead. It is the only way we can have a more Burkesque approach to raising our children! Of course, you'd still have to tackle the problem of Bob the zombie chewing on little Suzie's leg, but at least it would teach her some halfway decent social skills!

On a more serious note, where does this guy get off saying that public schools do not allow for a society that consists of the various generations of the living? I'm just guessing here, but any single public elementary schools is bound to have children within 8 years' age difference, not to mention the middle aged or elderly teacher, the youngish assistant/T.A., the middle aged principal, the indeterminate cafeteria ladies, and the friendly old minority janitor who only appears to be about 60, but was already working at the place when your great grandpa was solving arithmatic problems on his slate near the classroom stove. Now, I'm just guessing here, but unless Nathan here grew up amongst the Papuan Hill People of New Guinea, it doesn't really appear that he had a whole lot of generational diversity in his school environment either.

The standard (though rarely articulated) definition of successful socialization is to "fit in" with a lot of immature little savages raised by television, video games, and the internet. Spending at least 35 hours a week, nine months of the year, with 20-30 kids of one's own age (with a harried adult supervising) is the antithesis of what is needed in order to learn how to function in society.

While some would argue that learning to interact with a multitude of different people from different ages, races, genders, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds and interests would ultimately be an enriching and rewarding experience and would teach a child much about who he or she is and what he or she believes, it is quickly apparent that Nathan just hates children. I like to think that it's as simple as that folks. As such, his children must be protected and sheltered from any evil influences and problems they might have when forced to deal with bullies, unreasonable expectations, or ridiculous assignments. It is only by being insulated from non pre-approved other children that the Blake kids will ever stand a chance to growing up in the mold of their old man.

Give me the shut-in homeschoolers any day; from their family and their books, they will at least have some notion of life beyond their cohort and how to interact with it.

Or at least they will have internalized their parent's values to the point where any actual experience they may have with their own generation later on which challenges their preset beliefs will be seen as abberant and purged.

Enough with socialization; let us look at a case for homeschooling.

The strongest argument for homeschooling is the education that takes place in the public schools, or rather, the lack thereof. Reports on the sorry state of America's schools come out regularly, and it's always interesting to see how many spots we've fallen and what tiny nations (like Luxembourg and the Czech Republic) outscored us academically.

The problem isn't a lack of funding.

Egad, old bean! You mean the fact that both State and Federal funding for public education have dropped dramatically since the Reagan years has nothing to do with the subsequent decline of American public education! What an extraordinary revelation.

Rather, much of it is due to a fondness for egalitarian gestures. As Christopher Lasch observed, "Given the underlying American commitment to the integral high school – the refusal to specialize college preparation and technical training in separate institutions – make-work programs, athletics, extracurricular activities, and the pervasive student emphasis on sociability corrupted not merely the vocational and life-adjustment programs but the college preparatory course as well."

So according to Nate the reason why the American public education system sucks is because...well it sucks and there are no good programs. Apparently funding isn't an issue at all and the only reason schools don't have more in the way of sports, work-transition training programs, and extracurricular activities is presumably because despite the massive amounts of funding available (*pause, studio laughter*) teachers are just being lazy and sitting around loafing when they could be oiling up kids for their next wrestling match or teaching them how not to use a pneumatic nailgun. Nathan, schools need money for programs. You can't just expect the teachers to hold a bake sale every time they need a new catcher's mitt or need to hang new chains on the basketball basket now, can you?

People have varying intellectual abilities, and however much it may offend liberals, half the population is below average.

Which is why it is so essential that these people be identified and rounded up, and then assigned a place in the new order to labour as drones in the service of the Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Albert Jay Nock noted, "While very few can be educated, everyone who is not actually imbecile or idiotic can be trained in one way or another," thereby influencing the decision to "convert our schools, colleges, universities into training schools…but continue to call them educational institutions."


The rot extends from preschool to the universities, and there is no easy program for rejuvenation. But if you want the best for your children in their higher education, think about what and with whom they're learning in their lower levels, and consider taking a hand in their education. Not all families can homeschool, but it deserves more respect than it gets, and I think it the best option available.

Especially if "taking a hand in your children's education" consists of showing up after a hard day's work, kissing your wife, sitting down at the dinner table and asking "so, what did little Jimmy learn in school toda? *wink wink*"

Well folks, that's all for now. Join us again next time!

Marc with a C, 11:02 AM


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