Okay, look. I love that everyone sends me homeschool links. One of the huge perks of being a blogger is that every day people send me links to articles about topics I’m interested in. It’s like a personal news tracking system. Also, sometimes I’m really touched when people send me wacky links that I love, even though they are totally off topic. Like this one: open-faced sandwiches that look like famous paintings. But because I argue about almost everything, I find myself wanting to argue with people about the links they send. But if I attack the link in email then the person will be scared to send me links again. So I have been saving all my tirades for a blog post. A list of links I hate:
1. Someone launched a place online to learn DIY skills. This is so Generation Y. A Gen Y-er built this site because they have no DIY skills and they like to be told what to do. Look, all self-directed learning is DIY. How could it not be? What is another way to learn if you are on your own? Watch someone do it? What kid would want to do that?
2. People bragging that their kids are going a gap year. Are you kidding me? I can understand this as part of the British aristocracy: a gap between boarding school and going to college in Wales or Scotland to find a similarly land-rich spouse. It’s really a year where you spend other people’s money having sex in exotic locations. But look, the gap year is not an education innovation. If your kid has been stuck in school for fifteen years, and you’re about to send your kid away to college, which clearly they are not excited about or they would go immediately, then you have a big problem on your hands. Your kid already has a huge gap in their education: no one taught the skill of being self-directed. So your kid needs to get a life, not a gap.
3. Lifehacker giving advice about how to be efficient with homework. What’s amazing about this link is not the advice: of course there are tricks for doing homework faster to get it over with. The amazing thing is the source. Lifehacker is a community of people who are creating lives that are independent of the system. They are innovators who typically do not work 9 to 5 and do not live on a straight and narrow path. Yet somehow they think it’s totally fine to tell kids to live a life that they don’t believe in living. Culturally it’s acceptable to tell kids to do well in school even if they are not interested in school.
4. The New York Times writing about the flipped classroom. School reform is like trying to fix the prison system without letting any of the prisoners out. So any discussion of school reform is inherently stupid. But there’s one quote here that is shocking. It’s a guy saying they may as well try the flipped classroom because “we have nothing to lose” because his particular school is in the bottom 5% in the country. School reform is about treating kids like guinea pigs. It’s about giving up on a child’s ability to explore and it’s predicated on the arrogant assumption that a school reformer’s worst idea is better giving the kids freedom to try their best ideas.
And really, I think one of the big reasons I write this blog is to see the world more clearly. I used to click links like these and I could not see through them. I thought, “Oh, what a cool idea for kids.” But now I see how much energy adults spend trying to give their own lives meaning by creating programs to keep the meaning away from kids.