I’m Sure That This Is False…


Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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30 Responses

  1. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    This is why I was homeschooled.Report

  2. The balance has tipped even more in favor of homeschooling my children.Report

    • Us, too. The elder would start Junior Kindergarten in the fall, but, for JK at least, we’ll be keeping her home.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      While I understand the appeal of home schooling, I cannot advocate strongly enough for sending your kids to communal schools. As a preschool teacher, there are experiences children have in school that are almost impossible to replicate at home. And I’m not talking about the 3 R’s, but the socialization that children go under when they are required to work with 10+ other children.

      But, yea, this story is crazy. It should be noted that it happened in England.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Perhaps that’s true, to some extent. But socialization can take place in many other contexts. I believed as you do, sent my kids to public schools for the benefits of socialization. The two girls weren’t particularly happy and my son developed a horrible attitude when he wasn’t challenged intellectually.

        The problem with this socialization meme arises around sixth grade, sometimes earlier, when there’s no more recess. Where a child of six might benefit from learning to share, he’s also being taught to sit in a chair and shut up and do as he’s told. By the time he’s ten, his curiosity has been crushed out of him. The disruptive children get all the attention, his own needs go unaddressed. Unchallenged, he daydreams and doodles and learns to hate the educational process.

        Playing is learning, too. Sure wish our educational system would come to that conclusion.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          My program is almost entirely play-based. But I work in a private school where I can do what I want.

          You are right that socialization can’t ONLY happen in schools; it is just really hard to replicate elsewhere. And I don’t just mean what kids learn about socializing and being friends. But also what they learn about working within a larger group/society. If you’re home alone or with a couple of siblings, your needs and wants are often going to be met often immediately; you might not have to wait days for a turn to do something as you do in school where you might have 20 other kids who have competing wants, needs, and interests. Learning to delay gratification, to defer to others, etc, things that I believe are fundamental skills necessary to successfully work within a broader society, are hard to replicate outside of school settings, at least given current societal constructs.

          To your point about creativity, have you seen this? http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.htmlReport

          • Avatar Kimmi says:

            I have a playground within a five year old’s walking distance of my house. There, twenty to thirty kids play, somewhat supervised. I think this serves as a reasonable facsimile of school, at least to what the Japanese would call school, where one lets the kids work things out by themselves.

            I have no doubts that few homeschooled kids go to these things, let alone are left there for most of the day.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:


              While I do believe in working with kids to let them hash things out on their own, and allowing for unstructured play, the playground is generally not sufficient to replicate such experiences and, without the appropriate overarching structure, can lead to the type of socialization you don’t want for your child. If parents do opt to home school, I would recommend at a minimum of hitting a busy playground up at LEAST once a day. On top of that, I’d recommend they collaborate with other home schooling families in their area for opportunities to bring the kids together for larger group interactions, work, and experiences. Lots of folks do do this, which is great, but many don’t.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Most of what kids learn in school they learn from their peers. A few teachers have some impact and we remember a few of them. But most of them are obliged to hew to a syllabus they did not write. In the process of demonising teachers, and perhaps some of them should be rebuked, we’ve only pushed the good teachers out of the profession. Most good teachers burn out after a few years.

                Socialization is something of a myth. Children don’t socialize when they’re made to sit in a chair all day long. They learn malicious obedience, the subtle arts of deceit and bullying and toadying. There’s little connection between effort and reward in that situation. For most kids, there’s no connection between home and school: look at the turnout for PTA meetings. Those kids whose parents are involved do reasonably well: the socializing is really going on between the parent and the teacher. Even the school day is screwed up: how come it’s not congruent with the working day? Because nothing has changed in a century: it’s still organised around the farmer’s clock and calendar.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                As stated, Blaise, my kids rarely, if ever, sit in seats. The only time I require them to sit in chairs is during lunch (approximately 30 minutes a day, but if they finish early, they can get up); they are also required to sit on the floor during group meetings, which probably comprise 45-60 minutes a day. Otherwise, they are up and about, unless they choose to sit while engaged in a particular activity.

                So perhaps I should edit: Rather than saying, SEND YOUR KIDS TO SCHOOL, I should say, SEND YOUR KIDS TO MY SCHOOL!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Well, sure, you’re in a preschool situation. Schools are really good with kids that age, they’re sweet and pliable and usually wonderful little people.

                It’s when they get to third and fourth grades where we slowly crush all the enthusiasm out of those kids, that sense of wonder and excitement about learning teachers like you instilled in them, heh.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Seriously, Blaise, check out that Ted talk. We are reading that guy’s book as our summer reading. I’m making a push to get “standing desks” and “sitting balls” throughout our primary school (PK-3). Don’t give up all hope!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Ken Robinson is brilliant. He says what I’ve said for most of my life: education is a fundamentally dehumanising process and it just doesn’t have to be this way. It’s an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing applied to human beings, stuffing these children’s heads full of the most appalling bullshit, driving out any semblance of creativity. In a world where robots can do a better job of repetitive work than people, why not teach creativity and exception handling? That’s where people shine, where they’re happiest, where they can make the greatest contributions.

                Hope is what we have when nothing’s happened yet. Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hope or make creative improvements within the parts of the system we control. The greatest teachers ask the best questions.Report

              • I’ve seen that Ken Robinson video before. It’s a paradigm shifter.Report

        • “The problem with this socialization meme arises around sixth grade, sometimes earlier, when there’s no more recess.” Exactly. My oldest is 13.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        You assume that the socialization we learn in communal schools is positive. I’m not sure that’s the case. I spent a lot of time past high school unlearning what I learned about people while I was in middle and high school.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I believe that it SHOULD be positive. And I bust my ass to make sure the kids in my class are gaining positive socialization. You are right that I probably can’t and shouldn’t generalize this. …sigh…Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            High school is weird.

            I think it may be highly related to a population problem.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            To be fair, at the preschool and grade school levels, I think it is largely positive. After that, it’s going to depend on the institutions and the kid.

            To be honest, since this is about nine year olds, I probably should have kept my mouth shut. I just have an automatic response, I think, when I hear about how communal schooling is necessary (or positive) for socialization.Report

      • Avatar James K says:

        I can’t speak to early childhood education (since I don’t remember mine), but I found the socialisation I received in High School worse than useless. The high school environment is radically different to how people interact as adults, and I’ve had to unlearn habits I acquired in High School that I developed to protect me from the noxious social environment.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I’m curious about the sentiments expressed by many about high school. I don’t share nearly the same disdain for it. I mean, high school sucked in the “High school sucks for everyone, John Hughes” sort of way. But I learned some of the most important things I know about life and people in high school. It’d be interesting to explore our various high school experiences, personalities, and how this shapes our perspectives on the issue.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            I wrote about it on Hit Coffee a while back. I’ll see if I can fish it out and put it on NaPP.Report

          • Avatar James K says:

            The major social lesson I learned from high school is that 99% of people are malicious idiots who will screw with you for fun if you show any sign of being different from everyone else. Since I’m terrible at concealing my quirks what I learned was to avoid people wherever possible and don’t volunteer information about yourself or your interests.Report

        • James K,

          For me high school socialization, and socialization at other school levels, were a mixed bag. Much of what I “learned” was wrong, comparable to the examples you cite. But I learned some, and it’s sometimes hard to separate the good from the bad.

          I will say that school by itself was insufficient. But for me at least, I would probably be more self-conscious and less aware of social cues and how to work with others if I had not gone to school. Your mileage of course varies.Report

      • The problem is that we don’t pay teachers enough – and we don’t pay police officers enough – so then we whine when we get subpar teachers and subpar police officers.

        Require teachers and police officers to have doctorates in their respective fields and pay them twice as much and have about half as many of them and you’ll at least get one smart person leading the class of thirty instead of an idiot and an idiot’s assistant (plus incorporate parents and various other benefactors into the process and have gold) and you’ll get one smart person solving crimes and figuring out solutions to crime instead of just pulling over black guys in Manhattan to harass. Create a culture of respect for teachers and police officers and this will be even easier.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      I did it with my last kid, the boy. Worked out great.Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    I assume this is false because we all assume the food is awful in Scotland, and therefore the blog is superfluous.Report

  4. “I’m Sure That This Is False……because it validates my ideology. (That’s how it works, right?) ”

    Well, if your ideology rests on the claims that school lunches in Scotland are bad or have been for a long time, that the Scottish / UK state does not respect freedom of speech of non-adults, and that (per the updates) a civil society exists in Scotland robust enough to compel the school to reinstate freedom of speech for this non-adult, then I guess the post validates your ideology.

    My question is whether this is comparable to those rare incidents where an incompetent police officer issues a ticket to an 8-year-old for running a lemonade stand without a vendor’s license, or whether it is comparable to, or indicative of, a systematic denial of liberty.

    For the record, I think the ban against the blog is ridiculous The ban against the child bringing a camera to the lunch room might be ridiculous, unless the school already bans the bringing of cameras to campus (e.g., as part of a larger ban on media devices that might distract from studying), which does not appear to be the case.

    As someone pointed out in another thread a while back, one accepts local news reports at one’s peril. However, and although I believe it behooves each of us to be hypercritical when we encounter anecdotes that tend to support our ideology, I won’t say it’s “false” just because it tends to support it.Report