Mailvox: Oh, I hadn’t noticed

JJ writes: I have written you before, Vox, and for the most part, I have agreed with your ideas. This time, I do not. For what it’s worth, I strongly disagree with the idea that home-schoolers love their children more than parents who send their kids to educational institutions, and I furthermore disagree that these institutions only propagandize children. This piece disparages parents who send their children to public schools, and it disparages the work of school teachers to educate children.

No, really? Let’s see. Who loves their children more? Those who spend the time and effort to personally educate their children and make the financial sacrifice this often entails, or those who happily park them for eight hours a day so they can drive new SUVs and live in newly refinanced homes? I argue that the former do, although as I have always admitted that it is not possible for everyone to homeschool, my criticism is clearly not applicable to all public school parents. Furthermore, I not only disparage the work of school teachers, I cheerfully disparage the school teachers themselves. There are always individual exceptions, but they are, on average, the least capable college students, the least intelligent college graduates, and taken in the collective, subscribe to a union that is one of the most socially destructive institutions outside of the federal government today. I have zero respect for public school teachers, and yes, I can make a very damning prose case for it.

For the record, I send my daughter to public school. I plan on sending my son there next year. The school has a solid track record for educational results, and I have met with the teachers, administration, and student’s parents to assess the situation.

Yeah, I pretty much assumed something like that before I got to this point. If you’re that hands-on and concerned, I imagine that you’ll be pulling them out soon enough.

All around this is the fact that my wife and I are constantly working with her after school and on weekends to improve her knowledge, her skills, and her critical and creative thinking…. Home schoolers do not love their children more than we love ours, Vox. I feel insulted by the insinuation. They just have a different opinion on schools.

That’s great, seriously. Although if your children do graduate from public school I expect that you’ll think she did fine in public school, though her success will largely be because you half-homeschooled her anyhow. I don’t doubt that most parents of public school children love their kids. However, I know that very few of them have given the matter any serious thought at all, but instead simply do whatever everyone else is doing. Since you appear to be of the opinion that I’m not a totally clueless fool, you might consider why I have no trouble declaring outright – not insinuating – that it is cruel to sentence a child to school, an act which indicates, at best, parental ignorance.

You see, we definitely have a different opinion on schools. Mine is informed as to the true purpose of the classroom, yours is not. I highly recommend you have a look at John Gatto’s work, The Underground History of American Education.

Mailvox: mixed schooling

Penicilloid asks: Vox, were you homeschooled?

Nope. I’m a half-and-halfer. Half public school, half private school. Bored out of my skull in both. I spent most of fourth and fifth grade sitting in the library reading, since the teachers saw no point in having me in the class. At university, I did much better with the three independent studies I did than with the classes that I seldom bothered attending unless they interested me.

Sentenced to public school

A US Army colonel writes: Thank you for your commentary on our dismal public education system. We have three small children, the oldest in kindergarten this year.He arrived at Kindergarten already reading simple books. Now, two-thirds of the way thru the year, he is still sitting through the teacher holding up signs with “THE” or “CAT” on them. Needless to say, he is BORED, BORED, BORED…. Consequently, he is sentenced to more of the same all next year in first grade. As soon as I leave the military, we will move to new location where our children can attend private, religious-oriented elementary school. That is our FIRST priority in choice of location when we relocate after the military.

Or better yet, consider homeschooling. I understand it’s not possible for everyone, but I do believe that it’s desirable for everyone.

Organizational rules are not law

Peter King writes: Did the NFL not read Owens’ contract? Did the NFL not understand that it could certainly be up for debate that Owens didn’t have to live with a new date to void contracts because he signed his deal with San Francisco before the new date to void was put into effect? I, and almost every other media person covering this story, should take a great lesson from this….

I wish the media would learn to stop listening to what purported authorities tell it and actually look at things for themselves from time to time. Perhaps they’d stop believing not only the NFL, but the IRS as well, every time the organization insists that the law says what it does not, in fact, say. Like the NFL, the IRS believes that it’s internally developed rules are synonymous with the law. Such is the arrogance of power.

The Viagra Monologues

From The New York Post: Rita Haley, president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the promiscuity aspect of the play doesn’t bother her as much as the title. “This guy has the right to have any kind of a play that he wants. What I do find offensive is that he is playing off the name of the ‘Vagina Monologues,’ which has a lot to do with women’s freedom and sexuality, but also has a lot to do with sexual abuse, which really isn’t that funny. So the play on the name is not very funny at all, and in fact is offensive.”

Actually, Rita, the fact that it offends you is precisely where the humor is rooted.

Doggerel is fun

JM comments: Congratulation on this week’s article! What a blast! I don’t know which newspapers carry you, but wherever they are you can be sure that armies of scissors will be marching.

I thought the homeschooling crowd might like it. And after all, it’s better to show your child how to be creative than tell them to do it. I’ve started to enjoy poetry a little more as I’ve gotten older – not a lot – and I’ll still read the prose renditions of the Iliad over the poetic ones, but I rather like Spenser and Byron.

In addition to that incident with the White Buffalo, Big Chilly and the little Lizard Girl, I did commit one other poetic crime in college. I submitted a short, but profoundly offensive poem that was not entirely bad in a modernist sense, and it was accepted for publication in the university’s yearly poetry journal. Half the volunteer staff quit over it in protest, which amused me to no end.

Homecollege is coming

RT writes: I am now in graduate school. They give so many readings. I am always busy. I keep dreaming that one day they will abolish classes and compulsory attendance. I always think, if only I did not have to go to class, I would have so much time to study and learn. Instead, I spend 60 hours a week doing school work or things at school. I hardly learn anything in class. My field is Political Science. I teach a class. My students’ average on the first test was 58%. So, I had to give them extra credit because I’m a new teacher and it’s assumed to be my fault.

I’m actually pretty optimistic about technology eventually obviating the need for most college as well. Let’s face it, it’s mostly an expensive way to learn how to funnel a beer and pick up venereal diseases. There is something to be said for a transition period before going off on your own, though, as the English aristocracy used to do, although it would be a lot less expensive and probably more of a learning experience to hand an 18 year-old forty thousand dollars and tell him to take a year to do whatever he wanted, with the caveat that when that year was up, he was on his own. A self-starter would go for that deal in a minute. The sheep, on the other hand, will still prefer five or six years of floating around a state university and a nice load of accumulated debt.

Sharon grasps the nettle

Is it true that taking out the terrorist leadership will make things worse for Israel? Or will Hamas dissolve into a bitter internecine battle for control of the terrorist group and its millions of dollars? If it were Arafat that had been removed, I would bet on the latter. I don’t know enough about Hamas to venture an opinion, but I would guess that Arafat will soon receive that martyrdom that he claims to be so ardently seeking.

I imagine the US military strategists are watching this closely. One way or the other, there will be some intriguing lessons to be learned from this.

The Linux Game Distro leader sends greetings

Bon writes: Well Vox, It would be rude for me not to pop by! I’m impressed your readers here seem quite behind the project overall, and I hope we can encorage some of them to join us on GBLD. TZ said: “I hope they do it so that it is bootable (insert disk, hit reset, wait a few seconds, play), and that it comes in multiple flavors (PPC for mac users, Sharp Zaurus?), and they come up with a standard API (so I could clone it for MacOS/Quartz).” We are aiming a bootable CD that runs on PC, PS2 and X-Box. Mac implementation would be great, but I think the team could use some help on that, are you avaliable to help TZ?

We are developing a Knoppix-style disc, and including some existing games. However, I am very proud that Vox is supporting the other aim of the project, which is to develop a new ‘killer’ game. Maybe, if we can come up with a must-have game, we will draw people to Linux. If we can run that same code on PC/PS2/MAC/X-Box then we can show game studios a way to reduce dev costs, and bring new users to Linux. My other reason for the project is to bring new programmers. Whilst I grew up using the Sinclair Spec48, the Commodore64 and so on, it was easy to break into a game and see how it worked. I learned to program that way, but today with licensed development platforms, young people don’t get that chance. Everything GBLD does will be published in source as well, so young people get a chance to learn as well.

The must-have game will draw people and get them talking. Maybe though, we will be able to help people learn about programming and make them really excited about whats possible on today’s hardware. Then we have started to build a new generation of programmers for tomorrow. FOSS is the only architecture that will allow us to do that, and I hope it works. At the moment most schools run MS software. It scares me that from day 1, young people are trained in MS software. Can maybe one of you good folks can tell me something? Schools have to pay for MS software. Schools then teach on MS products. Our tax pays to train people on proprietory products. If MS want to teach people their products, shouldn’t they either give schools the software for free, or schools should teach open source programs, and people can pay for MS training as a graduation?

That’s an aside however. GBLD wil hopefully bring new programmers and new Linux users, through a new game. I’m proud Vox shared my view and has offered his time and experience voluntarily.