Against Primary Schooling: Anecdotes, Questions, and Commentary

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John David Duke Jr

David was begotten and conceived in the ordinary way in the middle of 1972, possibly on his father's birthday. Since then, it's been an unremarkable go, except for the time his dad took him to help disarm a Cherokee woman who was shooting at her mother with a rifle.

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  1. Avatar LeeEsq
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    Without getting into any of the deeper issues, doesn’t un-schooling and home schooling have problems of scale? Right now they seem to mainly work for certain values of work because everybody parent doing them has made a conscious choice to depart from the traditional forms of schooling whether public or private. So the parents are generally very dedicated to make things work. When you increase the number of kids that are going to be un-schooled or home schooled, you are going to get less able or even more apathetic parents. The kids will suffer a lot more than they would in a traditional schooling environment, where there are at least professionals in theory that can take up the slack of apathetic parents.Report

  2. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    For something that is supposed to be asking questions, that hypothesize a society without primary school, this certainly ignores the…rather large elephant in the room that this is literally impossible because parents work.

    Even when the post talks about being asked ‘How do you pull that off?’, the sole it gets into financial aspect of those, it is answered as if cutting back some luxuries somehow makes parents able to stay at home. No…it won’t.

    Something like 25% of all children are raise by a single parent, for the most incredibly obvious objection to that. I won’t even bother to try to figure out how many of the _remaining_ households need the income of both parent’s income, but it’s almost impossible it’s under a third, which means another 25% of the total…so at least half of all children couldn’t be homeschooled.

    It would be one thing if this post just said: Primary school is bad in general, or could possibly be replaced…which is honestly stuff I agree with completely. The entire system is broken.

    Or that the author, personally, thinks homeschooling is a better choice for him. Which…I have no opinions on.

    But this post is purporting to ask questions and treat this as a ‘thought exercise’, where schools sorta *handwave* don’t exist (Which is fine as a hypothetical), and it then seems to roll straight into ‘so everyone starts homeschooling’, without the ‘Wait, an actual _majority_ of parents need schooling to act as child care while working, and thus would not be able to homeschool’ thought occurring once.

    What would actually happen if public schools magically didn’t exist is that a lot of parents would be forced to put their kids in really crappy and cheap private ‘schools’ that were little more than daycares, and a lot of them couldn’t afford it anyway and children just…hung out at home unsupervised, or whatever. Like…that’s the very obvious result of the hypothetical as stated.

    But possibly this hypothetical is operating with the unstated assumption that no one _needs_ to work in this universe? Or at least, all family have one adult member that does not need to work.

    But I feel we sorta have to get into what is happening in a universe where all children _can_ be homeschooled before we can address the result of said homeschooling! At minimum, there’s some sort of universe income for single parents, which changes a lot of things.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      Even in two parent households with only one parent working, the house parent might appreciate kids out of the house for several hours every day as they do chores.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        For years my sister ran her church’s “Mom’s Day Out” drop-off day care. Sometimes the moms (and occasional dad) needed them gone for chores, sometimes for running the errands like groceries or buying adult clothing. Not to be overly critical, but a stay-at-home parent who says they need — just for example — six hours per day with the kids out of the house needs to get a lot better organized.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain
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          says:

          I suspect labor saving devices makes these things a lot easier for the post-WWI house spouse than they did for the pre-WWII in general and Pre-WWI house spouse in particular.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq
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            says:

            Which only prompts the question:
            After a century or more of “time saving” and “labor saving” devices, um, why are we so pressed for time and exhausted?

            Weren’t we sposed to be working 25 hours a week by now then taking the flying car home to the Monsanto House Of The Future?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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              says:

              Because positional goods don’t work like absolute goods.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Right, which is what causes me to go into one of my rants about consumerism.

                What does it say about our society that we are simultaneously at the historic pinnacle of human prosperity and yet ready to engage in national spasm of murder/suicide?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                “Our society”.

                Why not ask “what does it say about humans?”

                When I was a kid, 90% of my Dunbar Numbers were people I knew personally and had stood close enough to that I could smell their perfume or cologne. (The exceptions were Mr. Rogers and the cast of Star Wars.)

                Now? 90% of my Dunbar Numbers are pseudonyms.

                I used to compare my life to people whose funk I had experienced. Now I get to compare my life to people in New York, LA, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Cleveland.

                Those poor schmucks in Cleveland…Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                That’s possible but I’ve also seen exactly the opposite assertion.
                That in the pre-internet era people were forced to interact in meatspace with other people from different demographics.
                A wealth Betty Draper had to intereact with the butcher for example, or the Truman Democrat had to interact with a Republican doctor at their Elks Club.
                Nowadays, the theory goes, Chip has more interaction with Jaybird than his next door neighbor, and Chip and Jaybird are both from the same WEIRD demographic.

                I don’t know which theory holds true, but they both are premised on the idea that our dissatisfaction arises from comparing ourselves to others, which is a human trait observed universally throughout time.

                What I find noteworthy is that the epic struggle of the 20th century, the only one we here have ever known, was between Communism and Capitalism, which both had the same assumption, that if people had more stuff they would be content.

                This is I think, now obviously false. And I don’t think that we as a society have formed a sense of how to address this.

                My first inclination is to think of religion as an institution which could provide meaning to people’s lives but this doesn’t seem to be working.

                So, I dunno.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Specialized communities existed before the Internet, especially in the different sort of sub-cultures that couldn’t gain mainstream acceptance. These sub-cultures ranged from the LGBT community to the super nerdy to Neo-Nazis to Ultra-Orthodox Jews and the Amish. So a mixed bag of good, bad, and neutral there.

                Most people don’t fall into these specialized communities though and had to interact with a more diverse set of characters even if only lightly or as part of living your daily life.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Religion is something I’ve been thinking about recently. A lot of Western intellectuals have been cheering for the downfall of organized religion since the Enlightenment. The belief was that humans could become more rational, content, and happier beings without religion.

                Now we have a situation where Europe and it’s derivative countries are basically post-religion. People still have spiritual urgings though. They want their theodicy questions answered rather than accepting life is hard and a lot of it depends on luck. They also want the color provided by religion without any of its’ strictness. So the result is people turn to self-help cults that have many of the problems of traditional religion, none of the good aspects, and no ability to transform into something benign.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                Yeah, I’d say this matches my observations as well.

                If I criticize religion as failing to improve the human condition, someone could criticize secularism for the same reason.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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              says:

              It’s because the people who wrote about the 15 hour work week were basing their projections on their class prejudices. Most of these people were from a time, class, and place that valued leisure time over things. It turns out that many people value things over time, so they choose earning more money over more time off.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                I think it’s more than that… would suggest that it’s a combination of Concupiscence (JB’s positionals) and Baumol’s Cost Disease. Such that fighting concupiscence still leaves on vulnerable to rising costs, so to tread water you need to ‘do more’ which erodes the fight against concupiscence. And then you get the Marchmaine spiral(TM).Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      The weird thing about public school is how it’s such a great equalizer.

      If we *POOF* get rid of schools tomorrow, there will be ~10% of kids who would be better off. Like, immediately. They have parents who would be good teachers and who would make as much money getting the dough from the state that the school got for the kid. They’d be able to take that money and quit the bullshit low-paying job they’re working and really get the kiddos going.

      There are probably ~25% who would be more or less where they are now. No better off… but no worse.

      They would graduate and be in the same place they’d be if school still existed.

      Which leaves us the other two thirds. Which, let’s face it, would wander everywhere from “better off in some ways, worse off in others” to “a lot worse off”.

      I suppose the bottom 5% or so would not be any worse off being allowed to roam feral than they’d have been had they been in school because, well, you know.

      So we’ve made quite a trade-off.

      And now that we’re in a Safer-At-Home Pandemic, a lot of that top third is noticing that school is no better than they’d be able to pull off at home.

      And this top third is politically engaged.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        I think the ‘eliminate schools’ idea suffers from a similar error as the ‘defund police’ idea. It mistakes our society’s troublingly inconsistent and on occasions morally repugnant catch-all solution for the series of problems those very solutions are supposed to be solving.Report

        • Avatar James K in reply to InMD
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          says:

          I agree, if a social or political system isn’t doing its job properly, there are options besides “do nothing and make excuses” and “throw out the whole system and replace it with something radically different”. Reform is less romantic than revolution, but it has a better track record.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        The weird thing about public school is how it’s such a great equalizer.

        It manages to be that and the great _unequalizer_ too. Where people go to school is vastly relevant to how they do in school. The way we have set up the school system in this country, with it being funded by local property tax, is incredibly good at maintaining social class and decreasing social mobility…

        …except, without it, we’d be _even worse_! A poor person going to even the crappiest school is way better than…not. And meanwhile the upper class would get educated anyway, and the middle class would try to scrap together enough to maybe sometimes send the kid to some school-looking entity.

        They have parents who would be good teachers and who would make as much money getting the dough from the state that the school got for the kid. They’d be able to take that money and quit the bullshit low-paying job they’re working and really get the kiddos going.

        It sorta depends. Schools work at the level they are funded because they are industrial in form.

        Like…no parent is ever going to be able to pay for the equivalent meal for a kid at what it costs the school. Granted, the meals suck, but…that’s a deliberate choice. The school provide a sucky meal at much cheaper than the parent could provide a sucky meal. They could provide _good_ meals at much cheaper than the parent could provide a _good_ meal, also, if anyone wanted them too. This is because they operate in bulk.

        And same with other supplies. Teacher do not design curriculum for one student. (Except for the ones they have to write IEPs for.) If it takes X hours to design a curriculum, it takes that regardless of the number of students.

        There’s already such issues of scale in homeschooling that homeschoolers band together to be able to afford things. And some of those things only exist because they are basically left-over resources from schools.

        Like…would textbooks (Which many homeschoolers currently also buy) be published, or at least sold at the cost they are currently sold at, if textbook creators couldn’t, for example, have a guaranteed purchase by ‘Every seventh grade classroom in Virginia’? Maybe this matters less and less now that things are online, but…it’s still an issue.

        Removing the entire economics of scale from children’s education is costly as hell. The most expensive, of course, is paying people to be a teacher of one child instead of 25. But having things no longer bought in bulk also incredibly inefficient.

        On top of…somewhere around half of all parents, somewhere around 25 million people, have to quit their jobs to do this, which is…wow.

        Now, I’m not a guy who says ‘things must be efficient’ or ‘we can’t make large changes in society’, but…this is a pretty gigantic shift in society that we just handwaved right past.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      “this is literally impossible because parents work”

      this is the part where I, the asshole libertarian, suggests that UBI would fix this problem

      and you, the liberal, tells me that I’m an idiot and that’s impossibleReport

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        …um…did you miss where _I_ pointed out some sort of universal income would ‘work’? I literally said that.

        My point was not ‘a society where everyone homechools is unimaginable’, my point is ‘a society where all families have a parent that _can_ homeschool is so vastly different from our current society that the changes required to get to that point drown out any hypothesizing about education.’

        This article is basically ‘If we all relocated to Mars, we could plausibly fly around by wearing large wings on our arms. Imagine the societal changes that having flying people would result in!’.

        I’m not saying we can’t all move to Mars. But ‘moving to Mars’ needs a _lot_ of unpacking in how it works specifically, and what changes to society that would result in _by itself_, before we can even vaguely get into what ‘the ability to fly under our own power’ might mean.

        This article just sorta handwaves all existing human society to Mars somehow, like everything is 100% the same except less gravity.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
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          says:

          “This article just sorta handwaves all existing human society to Mars somehow, like everything is 100% the same except less gravity.”

          oh look, it’s you, the liberal, telling me that I’m an idiot and it’s impossibleReport

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck
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            says:

            Um…do you not understand what thought experiment are, and how they work?

            Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile mental exercise to imagine that every primary school is suddenly found uninhabitable and that all school taxes are immediately suspended so that parents may do as they will (a permanent condition, I mean; although this pandemic thing surely greases the imagination).

            No one is arguing this is an actual real thing that could happen! And thus you trying to claim I’m saying it is ‘impossible’ is…very odd. It’s a thought experiment, not a policy prescription or prediction of the future! We aren’t arguing for or against this situation, we’re accepting the premise of it happening, and talking about the results.

            But, people who are taking a thought experiment seriously can still turn around and point out the premise rather skims past some important things like ‘Are we living on the open surface of Mars, in domes, or underground?’. That’s pretty important to know when taking that hypothetical situation about flying people seriously as a thought experiment!

            Likewise, a question that postulates a premise of ‘What if the schools went away and all parents homeschooled?’ sorta just skimmed right past the ‘How the hell did all parents gain the time to homeschool?’ question. Which is, again, important to know within the context of the thought experiment.

            So people can ask for clarification.

            And no, me just guessing this could be done with a UBI (or paying just the parents, not universally) isn’t a particularly useful thing to do if that’s not what the author intended. It’s okay to assume minor details, but the specific assumption of something like a UBI has a lot of side effects that would cause as much social change, or more, as the explicit premise. So it’s sorta rude to just assume that’s part of the scenerio. Which is why I _asked_ about it.

            Also, all the schools magically closing and never being replaced is not really ‘possible’ anyway, so I have no idea what you think you’re arguing there anyway. Yeah, I’ll flatly say the hypothetical situation proposed is impossible currently, politically at least. It’s not even vaguely within the realm of current serious political positions.

            I think you have somehow confused the _UBI_ as the thought experiment…which is just you unable to follow a conversation or something. Maybe you should scroll go up and actually read the article instead of harassing me?

            I have at no point given my opinion on the possibility of a UBI. Hell, before this post, I hadn’t given my opinion on the possibility of ‘schools fail, everyone getting homeschooled’! (Because, again, you don’t give opinions on the ‘plausibility’ of thought experiments..thought experiments are allowed to be impossible!)Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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              says:

              And let’s predict the response of: David, you did say this hypothetical was impossible in your very first poorly worded sentence, so the fact you said you didn’t say it previously is a lie!!!!

              For something that is supposed to be asking questions, that hypothesize a society without primary school, this certainly ignores the…rather large elephant in the room that this is literally impossible because parents work.

              Except, of course, the ‘this’ is that sentence is not ‘the hypothetical situation’, it’s ‘homeschooling’. (Why would schools closing be impossible because parents work?)

              This is admittedly very very bad pronoun use, I hadn’t used the word ‘homeschooling’ at all yet, but I was posting both in response to the article about that in general, and immediately after LeeEsq’s post that had just talked about that.

              I think this paragraph, explains me pretty clearly:

              But this post is purporting to ask questions and treat this as a ‘thought exercise’, where schools sorta *handwave* don’t exist (Which is fine as a hypothetical), and it then seems to roll straight into ‘so everyone starts homeschooling’, without the ‘Wait, an actual _majority_ of parents need schooling to act as child care while working, and thus would not be able to homeschool’ thought occurring once.

              That was in my first post. Nothing has changed.

              (This entire post is just me getting in front of the weird-ass attacks DD keeps launching.)Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    says:

    Over the years I’ve read quite a few essays which note how the industrial revolution also reconstituted everything from medicine to family life to the relationsihp between the sexes.

    Like how medicine used to be the province of female healers, but then became professionalized into the territory of men. Or how people used to grow their food and make their clothes, but now work for a medium of exchange, now that these things are industrialized.

    And for the most part these changes were, on balance, beneficial. But they carried with them their own set of costs and externalities.

    As other here have pointed out, to have “unschooling” we would also need “unwork”, and some sort of refashioned household structure, and a delivery of goods which doesn’t rely on mass industrialization.

    As the leading proponent of a William Morris Smurf commune fantasy, I welcome our new craftsman overlords!

    I can for example easily imagine a series of small live-work cohousing dwellings where people band together to form extended household units, and assign some of their members to be the educators while the others worked.

    But…this is something of extremely limited appeal to anyone not named “Chip Daniels”.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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      says:

      Medicine was always the domain of men in the West. What modern medicine did was get rid of mid-wives for a period of time in some places by making delivery more scientific.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels
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      I am a bit perplexed as to how you can be a proponent of William Moris Smurf commune fantasies but also concede that it is a bit absurd that every Ren Faire attended images themselves a noble when the reality is most would have been serfs with horrible lives and some starving years because of poor crop production.

      Even William Morris stuff requires rich people to purchase it.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        I’m like, just the big picture guy! There are little people who work out all the details, man!

        More seriously, I fully concede that point, which is why the Arts & Crafts movement, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian vision never caught on, because they couldn’t compete with mass industrialization for its sheer capacity to produce goods cheaply.

        Nobody REALLY wants a handmade oak desk, and nobody REALLY wants to live a simple Amish life where you have two pairs of shoes.

        But what I find intriguing is how automation and AI threaten (or promise) to deliver a post scarcity society.

        One possibility of a post scarcity society, where people can fulfill their basic desires without struggle, is that people stop striving and simply enjoy the endless bounty provided by the machines.
        People could pursue gardening and handcrafts for fun and fulfillment, without needing to make it profitable.

        Another, much more sad but much more probable, is that our desires just grow exponentially to match the output of the machines.
        The struggle would be to see who can achieve hegemony over the machine output and bend the rest of the populace to their will.Report

  4. Avatar Slade the Leveller
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    says:

    My wife and I sent our kids to 13 years of public school education, by choice. We could have afforded parochial school, and we probably could have even home schooled. So, why a public education in what some regard as one of the worst public school systems in the country? First, because, at least in our experience, that is a politically motivated canard. Second, and more important, because we felt as though it would be a good thing for our children to be surrounded by kids they wouldn’t otherwise meet.

    We are bombarded daily by cries about the loss of a civil society. Those doing the crying are sending their children to schools where every child is, more or less, of the same socio-economic stratum. In fact, pulling them out of the very civil society they wish to promote. The attacks on our public education system (I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out who I’m talking about) we’ve had in the last 40 years or so are nothing short of the slow committal of national suicide.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Slade the Leveller
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      says:

      I can appreciate this; it’s sort of the obverse of why we homeschooled. Sometimes you’re the leaven, sometimes you’re the sugar that get’s sacrificed.

      In our case we’re sensitive primarily to the youth culture that’s run amok and isn’t managed by School Teachers or Admin (how could they?)… and we had no illusion that we would reform it more that it would shape us. So we worked on setting up a parallel community… but the goal is still community.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        Is youth culture really run amok? It might seem that way from the outside but I think statistically kids today are a lot less wild than they were during the high baby boom. Youth crime is down, people seem to be having sex latter, most communication is online rather than in person, etc.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq
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          says:

          Hearing about These Kids Today always makes me chuckle, since I came of age in the era of Saturday Night Fever, Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Boogie Nights.

          I really don’t know where it comes from, this idea that Things Are Declining.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            Hearing about “kids these days” from the rebel without a clue generation makes me chuckle.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degrraw in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            “Saturday Night Fever, Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Boogie Nights.”

            Boogie Nights did not come out until 1997 so you were in high school for a really long time.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            Movie high schools were always more interesting than real actual suburban high schools. The parties that I attended didn’t seem particularly wild. Just a bunch of teens hanging out. Although kids from other public and parochial high schools in my county seemed to have a somewhat more salacious teenage years or some of them did.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq
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              says:

              I know.
              I was a very late blooming nerd.
              The world that is depicted in Fast Times and Boogie Nights was real, but it wasn’t the entirety of that world.

              I mean, a lot of kids in my high school smoked dope and had sex, but a lot didn’t.

              Which is kind of like today. For every “wild child” who has a scandalous adolescence, there are a bunch more who just go to school and do their homework and lead ordinary mild lives.

              Which is kind of like forever. The world that Dickens and Twain write about, where Huck Finn and Oliver Twist drink and smoke and steal was a real thing, but it depicted only a small slice of reality.

              Kids are pretty much the same as they ever have been.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I’m just talking about my high school in general rather than me in particular. The high school parties were just a bunch of teenagers sitting around talking and drinking alcohol. Maybe some marijuana and tobacco was smoked. No loud music, no wild dancing. Then again, different varieties of nerds was the biggest clique at my high school. That might explain some things.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq
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          says:

          It depends… the question is whether children are participating in the adult community in comity with their parents. In some cases the schools are providing exactly that… in other cases I hear from a lot of parents how they are in active discord with their children – most are secular, some are religious.

          If you are aligned with the youth culture that your schools are propagating… then the outcome may be good. I’m not interested in arguing with people who deny youth culture at all… what we’re doing is building a youth culture that supports children graduating into community with us.

          That project is broader than a single family (properly understood)… and it could look like public schooling – in fact it might very well once have been public schooling. It isn’t anymore.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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            says:

            I hear what you’re saying but isn’t it fair to say that isn’t really about education? At least in the sense of mastering your 3 R’s and some critical thinking or whatever the narrowest, most banal definition of ‘education’ is?

            One person’s community and cultural comity is another person’s brainwashing (speaking hypothetically, seriously, not at all intended to be personal). And I know a retort to that is ‘want to see brainwashing? visit your local public school!’ And there’s some truth to that too. One of the reasons I probably won’t ever be using the public schools for mine is the push to teach things that are verifiably false for fleeting political reasons (see. 1619 project). I’m not kidding at all when I say I trust the schools run by the Archdiocese to be better at seperating out the religion from the academic instruction than the Godless, progressive school board.

            But even if all of those things are true aren’t we missing the core issue of how a public education (using the banal definition) service should work? I’m not against defection (hell I’m a defector) but as soon as we start talking about these other issues we lose sight of the problem at hand.Report

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        My daughter graduated high school in 2012, so I suspect we’re not too far apart in age, and I’d guess the same goes for our kids.She was enrolled in an International Baccalaureate program which was part of a neighborhood school, but participated in plenty of extracurriculars that were open to all students. And, the IB classes only really became self-contained in the last 2 years. (Short anecdote: she played softball and she was the only white kid on the team. Her coach nicknamed her White Chocolate.)

        She was exposed to plenty of “youth culture’ during her 4 years there, but it didn’t really sound any different than my 4 years, 30 years earlier. We didn’t change anything there, and she wasn’t adversely changed either. I’d like to think that’s because my wife and I provided good direction to her. I am firmly convinced she is a better person for having been exposed to a world a bit wider that her 2 whiter than white bread parents could provide.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Slade the Leveller
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          says:

          We’re such badasses we’ve defected from White People Schools.

          It’s a good thing when community/public education aligns with parents and provides good outcomes for children to flourish. That’s the goal. I think it’s still important to recognize that many folks feel trapped in a system that doesn’t align well. It would be better to have a better system everywhere for everyone… but absent that, properly functioning polities have various ways to opt out even within the system. That’s probably the biggest blind-spot I’d suggest ‘normies’ don’t see.Report

          • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Marchmaine
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            says:

            That’s funny, you rebel!

            The only home schooler I’ve ever known is my sister-in-law who did it for their youngest, more out of an inability to let go than anything else.

            The home school picture presented to the wider world is that of religious nuts who don’t want to risk their kids being exposed to ideas that don’t fit their belief systems, or parents who consider their (mostly ordinary) kids so unique that regular school couldn’t possibly deal with them.

            Between my singular in-person experience, and the stereotype, there is probably the real world of those choosing to educate their own.Report

  5. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    I probably disagree, although I think I disagree less than I thought I would.

    Points of disagreements (warning; these tread into quibble territory, but I here they are):

    I hated school. I hated it. Every day to me was drudgery, school soaking all joy out of life,

    I just don’t believe that there weren’t at least a few days, of the hundreds you would have spent, that weren’t drudgery. I do realize that hyperbole is a thing, and that failure to see hyperbole as hyperbole is probably most often on the interlocutor and not the one using the hyperbole.I also realize that I must give maximum deference to one person’s statements about their inner states and inner experiences. All that considered, though. I have a hard time buying it.

    For the first ten years or so, when people would ascertain that we school at home, the reaction was uniform: and just how do we socialize our children? Invariably, a horror story of anti-social homeschoolers would follow along these lines….Or some such logical nonsense.

    I understand that the portion I elided is, indeed, logically challenged because it’s argument by hearsay and by anecdote. I also understand that you’re saying that particular counterargument has given way to another. But the objection about socialization is something that needs to be answered by someone who advocates for unschooling.

    Point of partial agreement:

    I agree that formal schooling doesn’t work for everyone, as it didn’t work for you. And people like me who urge it (at least as a general proposition) ought to remember that. I will say that speaking for myself, I would NOT have thrived in a home schooling environment. At the same time, I’m probably almost exactly the sort of person who would strive in a formal schooling environment.

    The question isn’t, or shouldn’t be, whether it was good for me or people like me, but whether it’s good for most people. (Here, Lee’s point above about scaling enters into the picture.) My knee jerks toward saying it is. But I admit I haven’t much of an argument for that stance. And as someone without children, my stake in the outcome is somewhat less than most persons’.

    At any rate, thanks for writing this post.I don’t come away agreeing with you. But it made me think about the topic in a way that I might not have thought about it before.Report

  6. Avatar Marchmaine
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    says:

    Enjoyed the article; we’ve been homeschooling since, I dunno, I guess 2002? I’ve mentioned here before that we homeschooled primarily *for* the socialization; by which we mean helping our children grow into community with us and our broader community. Quite likely we lost a few points on various standardized tests, but with two graduated and 2 more in college, we can report we enjoy their community still.

    Anecdotally, my daughter is assisting a family who’s children are being remote schooled during the pandemic… and she’s mystified at the instruction the children are receiving; she’s expressed the gratitude that only comes from being on the far side of an experience for having the education she’s had.

    I’ll confess I don’t quite understand the homeschooling (and unschooling) triumphalism as the goal of education is virtue and community, and secondarily the R’s. Parent directed education would be our ‘policy’ objective… whether that’s done at home, in a co-op, or a publicly funded school (albeit differently oriented). We had a few friends unschool (one of them even wrote a book) and they were as much a part of the homeschooling community as the co-ops and others… I can’t say their children fared better or worse than any of the others. Quite ordinary, really.

    I’ll agree with you whole-heartedly that with 5 teenagers (and one 6yo) I can’t see any earthly reason to send a child to ‘school’ until maybe 12-14 (depending on the kid… boys seem to like group activities more around 10-14 – might seem counter-intuitive, but its true). I am sympathetic to the modern world’s need for daycare… but I’d rather we call it that than school. We also know a lot of families who have sacrificed a second income to build up this ‘privilege’ … we were among them, but through a series of shitty jobs no one wants to do (Sales), I eventually lucked into a, um, Career? So ours isn’t a repeatable path… other than to say we were prepared to sacrifice the income, but then didn’t have to. Of course, we’d have *more* if my wife worked… but sacrificing more isn’t the same as sacrificing enough.

    But to pull back the digression… the very positive encouragement I’d give is to consider skipping the elementary years entirely. There’s nothing you can’t teach your children through ordinary living for their first 12 years. More, even. But around high-school I understand where the anxiety about ‘falling behind’ kicks in. Build virtue, build family, build community, build privilege… the kids will be alright. It’s easier than you think and takes less time than you imagine.

    Thanks for the contribution.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Marchmaine
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      says:

      “I’ll confess I don’t quite understand the homeschooling (and unschooling) triumphalism…”

      Considering how many people suggest that homeschooled kids will end up as near-feral weirdoes who think that Jesus rode dinosaurs and women shouldn’t be allowed to read, anything better than that might be seen as cause for celebration.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        We taught our kids that he was more of a Dinosaur Wrangler than Dino Rider [we didn’t] … but that’s homeschooling inside baseball [it isn’t – not that Jesus couldn’t or didn’t wrangle or ride a Dino if he wanted to. Doctrinally we’re agnostic about the activities of the Logos prior to his Virgin Birth from his Immaculately Conceived mother.]

        But just to be clear, I mean that to say that while we’re positive about homeschooling and think more folks could benefit from it, we’re not absolutists about it. We have notions about reforming Public Education (Hi Vouchers), but not really abolishing it.Report

  7. Avatar Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Heh, comment in moderation for, I think, using the word sh*tty. Man, you guys are tough.Report

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