[Editor's Note: Welcome Instapundit readers. Since you're new here, I should explain that our little boy in the video is three years older now, and not all that interested in Presidents anymore, but he is the Greatest Ten-Year-Old Drummer In The World.]
[Author's Note: There is no editor]
Er, I misspoke. I was wrong. Flat wrong. The wrongness, it burns. I messed up. Brain fart. Don't be mizzled, brother; I misled you. I disseminated misinformation to the point of dissimulation. I bore false witness, even if it was against myself, mostly.
Here's the whopper I told, almost without thinking:
Our children are homeschooled.That's not quite correct. Mi dispiace. I best get to expiating my guilt by explaining myself to you fine people, before I end up asking a ghoul with a hot trident for a glass of icewater for all eternity.
Words mean things. At least they used to. They're currently debased and euphemized until nobody knows nothin' about nuthin' by reading the newspaper. "Homeschooling" has been freighted with meaning, and it's not the meaning I want it to have, but I used it anyway, because newspapers that call someone's boyfriend their "partner" have worn me out. I tried using the lingua franca to save time. It was a mistake. Let's fix it.
It would have been much more accurate for me to tell you that my children are receiving a public school education at home. They are. They simply don't attend the public school; they're getting this education from my wife, inside my house.
Hmm. But that's bound to give you the wrong idea, too; you'll assume that means we're giving the kids the same sort of education that's being offered in those buildings they still call public schools. You see, there are no public schools in America that I know of. They're reeducation camps for people that weren't educated in the first place, maybe, or little prisons, or pleasure domes for creepy teachers, or places where tubby women work out their neuroses about eating on helpless children at lunchtime -- but there's not much schooling going on in school. A public school is a really expensive, but shabby and ineffectual, private school that collects their tuition with the threat of eviction from your house.
I grew up in the same town as Horace Mann. I know all about public schools. The concept is as dead as a Pharaoh. The idea that universal literacy and a coherent public attitude toward citizenship would result in a better life for the country as a whole was a sweet one, and it worked for a while, until they "fixed" it. They've been fixing the hell out of it for over half a century now. They fixed it the way a veterinarian fixes dogs, to my eye.
Here's Wikipedia's list of Horace Mann's reasons for public schooling:
(1) the public should no longer remain ignorant
(2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public
(3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds
(4) that this education must be non-sectarian
(5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society
(6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers. Mann worked for more and better equipped school houses, longer school years (until 16 years old), higher pay for teachers, and a wider curriculum.
Let's take them in turn, and see how Old Howlin' Horace's ideas have turned out in what's called the public schools, but aren't anymore.
1) Is that cursive? I don't read cursive.
2) The public seems completely uninterested in what happens in public school, or they wouldn't send their kids there. Anyone really interested in public schools is horrified by what they find out. Talk to a teacher about what they're required to do in there -- after they've had a few drinks. I have. One I spoke to referred to themselves as a "tard farmer." Do you want to sent your children to a "tard farm"? We don't.
3) My children are from a variety of backgrounds, all by themselves. We didn't turn either of them away. Tell my Irish grandmother and wife's Calabrian grandfather that all white people are the same. Bring a weapon to defend yourself. A "back-up piece" is probably a good idea if you're talking to my grandmother, by the way.
4) Public Schools aren't non-sectarian. They teach their own religion, and persecute any vestige of any other, except for momentary alliances with subcultures that will help them persecute what they feel is the dominant culture outside the school.
5) Parents are not allowed to enter a public school, even to walk their children to the door. Children are routinely persecuted for any behavior that deviates one iota from the what a militant vegan on a recumbent bicycle prefers. That's not the spirit, method, or discipline of a free society.
6) Teachers are well-trained and professional -- just not in delivering an education to children. They are trained to be vestal virgins in a weird temple that forgot where they put the statue of the deity of mammon they worship. If public school worked, everyone who graduated from it would be capable of teaching in one.
The teachers in public school are as much at the mercy of this weird situation as the students. A teacher recently told us she has to keep a dossier on every child in the class, every day. That's the Stasi, not Goodbye, Mr. Chips. They said that it's not possible, really, so they have to make stuff up to finish it. All that time is subtracted from what little time they have for the kids in the first place. The teachers don't know where all these weird directives come from any more than you do. They just don't want to get fired for forgetting to rat out little Timmy if he chews his Pop-Tart in to a recognizable weapon-like shape. They go along to get along.
We like our kids too much to go along to get along, so my wife and I set up our own public school. The desks are in a row. There's only one row, with one desk, but still, it's a row. There's a flag on the wall, unironically hung, because we're not ingrates. The public --our children -- have not remained ignorant. My wife and I would appear to an alien as the most "interested public" on the face of this earth, since we're doing it ourselves, with no help and no money, and a lot of opposition, while the rock-and-roll moms abandon their children at the public school so they can go get their infected tattoos looked at. Oh, and by the way, 100 percent of our students are immunized against childhood diseases, because Jenny McCarthy isn't regarded as an adequate peer reviewer for Jonas Salk at our school. She is at the public school.
Our children are taught moral rectitude, by word and deed, just like Horace Mann intended. His term, "non-sectarian," had nothing to do with being irreligious. He explicitly said one kind of Christianity shouldn't trump another kind in school. That's it. A very strict Know-Nothing religion, consisting of little more than a fetish for recycling and ancient imaginary score-settling, is all that is allowed in public schools. That's not non-sectarian. That's one sect. Hell, we allow our children to know that there's more than one kind of light bulb. That's blasphemy in public school.
As I said, I grew up in the same town as Horace Mann. So I know for a dead cert that they tore down Horace Mann's house and put up a shitty stripmall in its place in the 1960s. It's the absolute perfect metaphor for what happened to his idea, too.
Bam! Out of the park, Sippy.
This little essay should be available alongside the When The Baby Arrives fliers in every "western" maternity waiting room.
Sipp, I understood what you meant when I commented that I saw no negatives in homeschooling. I saw the results of it when my brother home-schooled all of his kids. I realized much too late that I should have done the same thing, and I regret it to this day that I did not. The "public schools" are wasting everyone's time and accomplishing so little, if anything.
John Taylor Gatto wrote an excellent book called, The Underground History of American Education, for those who would like an exact picture of what's going on at government school. I quit calling it public school 15 years ago. Fabulous post, Sipp.
You apologized. You are now disqualified from participation in politics, professional sports, and entertainment.
This is purty much exactly what I expected when you said "home schooling". You and the Mrs. are doing good by doing right by your boys.
You give Mr Mann way too much credit. Even if his real goals were the ones stated in Wikipedia, an organization run by the government could never deliver it - and Mann probably knew that.
The fixing of schooling 50 years ago was 1963. According to US Army draft records, the level of illiteracy in 1963 was 5 times what it was in 1940. Why was that? Universal public education was taken over by progressives in the 1930s. As another commenter stated, you can read all about it in John Gatto's book.
This is great if the children's parents are able to manage it. But what about inner city kids? Who is going to teach them at home? Taking an isolationist attitude towards public school is no more tenable than taking it towards foreign affairs: sooner or later, the chickens are going to come home to roost. In the case of cities like Chicago and Detroit, it is sooner.
Inner city children could be taught in co-ops of interested parents in the inner city if it weren't for truancy laws. And the chickens are coming home to roost in Detroit and Chicago despite massive spending on public schools...
Inner city children? I know plenty of middle and upper middle class families where both parents work, and they've been warehousing their children since the age of two. One reason these families are thrilled with public school is that they can be relieved of their children for the majority of the day without paying tuition at private "pre-schools".
Part of the fraud, of course, is calling day care "schools". "My three-year old is going to school today." If school is simply trapping a group of children in a room and ensuring they don't eat each other, then the jig is up.
Hoo boy, where to begin.
The poster above seems to think that to teach a child you have to know more than the child. That thinking comes straight out of the south end of a north bound male bovine. All you have to do is let the child be interested in the world around him, and aim him. Even in Detroit's abandoned libraries I'll bet you could find enough material to do better than what could be found in the local feral warehouse.
Our oldest came home from the 4th grade in a private school crying wondering "if I should mark answers wrong so kids would like me". That was enough of that. We yanked them both.
What's interesting is the oldest is now in a private college, on an almost free ride. He is in his third year, and is finally taking something related to his major. The amount of hours he went through that have absolutely nothing of worth other than to keep tenured professors employed is really discouraging.
Hi Mal- Many thanks.
Hi Dr. Dave- We tried to send both our sons to public school for a while. We gave up and did it ourselves. We've never regretted the decision. Many thanks for your support and friend ship.
Hi Leslie- Your kids are living proof that teaching at home works. I hope ours are, too.
Hi Glynn- Thanks for reading and commenting.
Hi Sam- Many thanks.
Hi Anon- I'll leave it to you to decide if I gave Horace Mann too much credit. One notices that Franklin didn't tear down the house I grew up in to build a mall.
Hi Hubert- Thanks for reading and commenting.
I fear you are making a grave error, because you are new here. My wife and I are poorer than any "inner city" parents. We live in a a very poor mill town in western Maine, in a house that was formerly abandoned, and we don't even have central heat yet. Neither of us has a college degree. We have no special privileges to make teaching our children at home easier than anyone else. It's important, so we do it.
Hi Josip- Thanks for reading and commenting.
Hi DadofH - Thanks for reading and commenting.
And that is the end of the discussion.
"It's important, so we do it"
Old Horace implemented the Prussian Volkschule in Massachusetts then tried to peddle it to communities in other states for its "ideals." The others preferred to stick with their little red schoolhouses. So Mann approached state legislatures selling it instead as a solution to the "immigrant problem."
The Volkschule was the brainchild of J. G. Fichte, widely considered the Ur-Vater of Naziism. He decided, after Napoleon routed the Prussians at Jena that the problem was that the yeoman class (farmers and craftsmen) was too self-reliant.
His innovations for making them more dependent on the state:
Grades, to demonstrate that your work is for the subjective approval of your betters and to be completed for no tangible reward.
Bells to mark periods, to condition students to the state controlling their time.
Rows and columns of desks, to impart a sense of isolation within regimentation.
Homework, to prove that the state may intrude on family time.
A campus with no places to escape scrutiny, to eliminate the sense of privacy.
And, most importantly, a high-sounding curriculum of idle knowledge with no processes taught start to finish so that students, for all their enforced diligence actually gain no useful skills.
Does that sound like an educational model that offers any ideals?
Congrats on the 'lanche! I love your writing enough to be slightly jealous.
And I know what you mean about the word "homeschooling." My peers and I usually joke it should be called "van schooling," by virtue of the amount of time we spend in our mini (and w big families, the full sized) vans, transporting various children to various activities.
I called it "schooling without walls" once, when I was trying to impress somebody, but my most accurate description is "parent-directed education."
Maybe public schools used to be largely parent-driven, once upon a time? I'm not old enough to know the answer to that question.
Anyhoo, great to have met you & your lovely boys!
Well said, as always.
If you love your kids, consider homeschooling. We started doing so two years ago for our three kids, best decision we've made in a long time.
We all 'homeschool' whether or not our kids are institutionalized!
I like 'parent directed education'. Sometimes you park your kid in front of the best person for the subject that you can find, whether it's music or medicine. Might be YOU, the parent.
You can't know everything, but parents know their child the best.
Anyone who reads Sipp every day is being schooled by him. And what a teacher he - and yes, his wife, who I've met and instantly liked, too - is.
So does your public school teach French? My daughter will be fluent by the time she is four, at her public school. She willl probably take up a musical instrument and team sports too. And she already has plenty of friends from her daycare. You know they taught her sign language when she was two! Sounds pretty good to me. No doubt there are plenty of bad schools, but there are plenty of good ones too. Even down here in New Orleans.
Hi noone- Thanks for reading and commenting and for your kind words. It's nice to hear there are regular people out there still slugging away. We still are.
Hi Charlie- Thanks for reading and commenting. I had no idea that Horace Mann was a time-traveling shapeshifting lizard-people Nazi. I'd like to think of him as a hispter Nazi, though; you know, he was into it before it was cool.
Hi Russell- Thanks for reading and commenting.
Hi Edurebel- That's an important point. If parents take in interest in their kids, the kids generally turn out interesting.
Hi everyman- Thanks for reading and commenting and for your kind words.
Hi Anon- Thanks for reading and commenting. AFAIK, Maine has no requirement that students learn a foreign language any longer. A large minority of the population of Maine is Franco-American, but the only school I've heard of here that taught French in a serious way was a Catholic School, and it closed down a couple years ago. The students can't read, write, or spell English very well if you ask me, so adding French won't help.
Why don't you put a male of the species into that school of yours and get back to me in twelve years or so.
"If public school worked, everyone who graduated from it would be capable of teaching in one."
I suspect that even those not graduated from same are capable of teaching at the same level of competency now demonstrated.
Long time no read, and I'm much the poorer for it.
I worry I'm not doing as well by my kids as I should, but I have no doubt as far as NOT sending them into the meatgrinder that is education.
I, too, was brought up in Franklin, Mass. Went to Brick School for 1st Grade and got taught by Ms. Dorothy Perron, the best teacher I ever had (and I ended up graduating from M.I.T., so I got exposed to some pretty good teaching).
I do remember as a youth going on a field trip and being shown the memorial marker stone from where Horace Mann was born. 'Tis true, folks - that stone, moved from it's original location, sits on the periphery (see, told you I went to a fancy school) of a parking lot.
Ron! My paisan! Drop me an email at sippicancottage*at*gmail.com and tell me your name, and I'll search my memory banks for it.
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