Thanks Dan Benton
Mike Levine: The first day of school Published: 2:00 AM – 09/02/09 Quick, before they leave this morning. Take a good look. Touch their faces, run your hands through their hair. We got antsy with them last month, but now we want time to stand still. Like falling leaves and chilly mornings, some great force signals us today. We are aware of life passing. See the kindergartner with a brave, bewildered smile watching her mother cry as the school bus pulls away. The high-school freshman with a lump in his throat hears his father whisper everything will be OK. Brothers and sisters who fought all summer now hold hands. Today is proud, today is helpless, today is tomorrow. This is a special morning, wrenching and sacred. As a young reporter, I’d wonder why. What’s the big deal about the first day of school? I would write down quotes in my notebook and comprehend nothing. Then I became a parent. I found out. We mark time by today. On this morning, we remember our own parents and our own childhood. We are filled with the smell of old raincoats, the sticky bond of classroom glue, the childhood knot of worried excitement. We were so small and lost. (Secret: A part of us is still lost. We tell no one.) Now we have children of our own. On this morning, we remember the holy moment of their birth. We see this is all just a matter of time. Once, we thought our children were ours alone. Each September, on this day, we learn better. Nothing is ours to keep. Time passes through our eyes this morning. We see our children as newborns, we picture them as grown-ups. We see them walking their own children to school. Time passes in the beat of a heart. I have seen my first kindergarten boy walk into his dorm on his first day of college. A few days ago, my younger son left for college. I stood there, at once empty and full, as frightened and proud as the morning his first school bus pulled away. Come on, it’s getting late. The bus is coming up the road. I’ll keep this short. Make sure they have everything they need. Double check. Write their name on the book bag. Sweetheart, did you remember your lunch money? Dad, don’t call me mushy stuff in front of the other kids. They are right. Like the summer birds leaving us, our children know what to do. Like September leaves waving on the trees, we, too, give way to the winds of change.
The New ‘New Education’ – The Atlantic
Biocentrism: There’s no time and no death
The Gift of Death – George Monbiot
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There are just some kind of men who – who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.
And why I wish we had stayed out there…
“We homeschool our children.
I don’t talk about this very much in public, because most people assume that homeschoolers are either religious zealots or antisocial freaks, and we’re definitely not the former. Maybe a bit antisocial, but I wouldn’t call it “freakish” per se. We just don’t like seeing neighbors’ houses. Or neighbors. People, really … okay, maybe a little freakish after all. But that’s not why we homeschool.
We homeschool because we want to be more active participants in our children’s education. That’s not a knock on our local public schools, which are as good as they come. That’s not a knock on private schools in the area, many of which are world-renowned. We homeschool because most of the practices and structures of the modern school, public or private, exist for the benefit of the institution, not the child. There’s nothing evil or bad about this, it’s just inherent in the logistics and organization required for any effective institution responsible for hundreds or thousands of people. But it’s not just logistics. It’s not just the bus schedule. It’s also the curriculum. It’s also the homework and the testing. It’s also the social structures and social behaviors that are embedded in the modern school.
Modern education is a perfect example of the Industrially Necessary Egg — spotlessly clean and cool to the touch, not because that makes for a better tasting egg, but because the protein factories that supply mass society with mass quantities of eggs require chemical washes and refrigeration to turn a profit. That’s fine. I get it. We live in a big world where lots of people want eggs, and the protein factories satisfy that desire pretty effectively.
But what’s not fine is that we have all been nudged into believing that the Industrially Necessary Egg is the Best Egg, that a fresh egg, which isn’t scrubbed clean and never sees a refrigerator, is an Inferior Egg. We have all been nudged into believing that of course 13-year olds should be grouped with other 13-year olds during most waking hours, that of course there should be a clear delineation between home life and school life, that of course the school day should mirror the adult work day, that of course classroom lectures are the most effective pedagogy, that of course children can only be socialized by letting them roam free in a big flock from one semi-shepherded environment to another.
I don’t begrudge the practices and structures of modern schools. Necessary is as Necessary does.
I don’t begrudge the taxes that I pay to support these schools. Don’t tell anyone, but I’d pay even more to support public education and public safety.
What I begrudge is the question that I always get when I tell someone that we homeschool our kids: “Don’t you worry about their socialization?”
My response: “Don’t you?”
My god, hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers have doubled over the past 10 years. Tell me you don’t know a family touched by this tragedy. Tell me you don’t see how our children are sexualized and objectified at a younger and younger age, not by predators lurking outside some gender-neutral bathroom, but by themselves, adrift in the vast oceans of social media. Tell me you don’t see how drug and alcohol use by our children is changing in form, where instead of getting high to party they get wasted to obliterate themselves.
None of this is the fault of the Industrially Necessary School. But it’s not unconnected, either.
So yeah, we want to be active participants in our childrens’ lives, and that’s why we homeschool. Not to shield them or isolate them from reality, but to be there for them as counselors and teachers as they confront reality. And not just to be there for them when mass society allows us, when it’s our turn during the work week to take responsibility for our own kids, but to embrace that responsibility all of the time. Because it IS our responsibility all of the time, no matter how much mass society facilitates and nudges us into partially abdicating that responsibility so that we can work longer and longer hours in service to the Nudging State and the Nudging Oligarchy.
I know that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I know that homeschooling is impossible for most. I know that when I say “we homeschool” it is entirely a royal we, where my wife shoulders 99% of the burden. But I also know that you don’t have to homeschool outright to be a truly active and engaged participant in your child’s education. Everyone can do that.
Engaging actively in our children’s education has given us two great gifts.
First, the stress level in our family evaporated the day we got off the industrially necessary schedule of the school and onto the organically beneficial schedule of the child. Imagine if you suddenly found three or four hours of new time every day. Imagine how that would reduce the stress in your life, and now think about giving that gift to your child. Even if you can’t escape entirely the scheduling clutches of the Industrially Necessary School, simply recognizing how much of your child’s schedule is institutionally nudged on you and them rather than educationally required of you and them will change everything.
Second, we were able to inject a program of critical thinking and critical speaking into our children’s curriculum, what a classical education would have called Rhetoric and modern education calls Debate. I dunno … I never did Debate in high school, and my prior was that this was impossibly nerdy and more than a little silly. I could not have been more wrong. Our girls can think on their feet. Our girls can stand their ground. Our girls can make a persuasive argument, and they can recognize how others try to persuade them. My favorite part of a critical thinking/writing/speaking education? Our girls have demolished hundreds of smarter-than-thou mansplaining-in-training boys in debate competitions around the country. What does a curriculum of critical thinking/writing/speaking look like? It looks like girls and boys of different ages and backgrounds, all practicing and competing on an equal footing in a battle of research and wits — now there’s a socialization we can all support!
And here’s the kicker. Our girls are now teaching these critical thinking and critical speaking skills to those who have a hard time raising their voice effectively in a Team Elite world, from middle schoolers in Bridgeport, Connecticut to high schoolers in Malelane, South Africa to prison inmates in California. What do I mean when I say we need a Movement to change the world? This.
What I’m describing is the difference between education and training.”
Imagine a barrel with roughly 5.8 billion balls — one for everybody in the world. Each ball will determine important factors (e.g., your birthplace, IQ level, gender, ethnicity, skills, parents) in your “new life.”
“If you could put your ball back into the barrel, and they took out 100 balls at random — and you had to from pick one of those, would you put your ball back in?” he asked.
In addition to not knowing which ball you’ll get, there’s another catch: “Of those 100 balls, five of them will be American. So if you want to be in this country, you’ll only have five balls to choose from,” Buffett explained. “Half of them will be women and half men. Half of them will be below average in intelligence and half above average in intelligence.”
He asked the students again: Do you still want to risk taking a second shot at life?
“Most of you won’t want to put your ball back,” he said. “So what you’re really saying is, ‘I’m the luckiest 1% of the world right now, sitting in this room — the top 1% of the world.”
And that’s exactly how Buffett feels. “I’m lucky to be born where I was because it was 50 to one in the United States when I was born. I’ve been lucky to be wired in a way that, in a market economy, pays off like crazy for me,” he said.
You don’t need ‘luck’ to be happy
WarreBuffett acknowledged that not everyone is as lucky as he is because it all depends on the system that one is born into.
“[Bill] Gates says that if I’d been born three million years ago, I would’ve been some animal’s lunch. He says, ‘You can’t run very fast, you can’t climb trees, you can’t do anything. You’d just be chewed up the first day,'” said Buffett.
He closed the lecture by encouraging everyone to think about happiness from a more practical standpoint: None of us can live life all over again, but we can increase our overall happiness by choosing to make changes in our career, goals, finances, health and relationships.
“A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel. It is precious. She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed. Obviously, it has been transliterated directly, word for word from Mandarin to English”
Getting There: Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.
The hotel: This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.
The Restaurant: Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.
Your Room: Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! . You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts.
Bed: Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.
Above all: When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.”