A few weeks ago my son and I took a driving trip to Ohio for a cello institute. I want to tell you to read this post thinking about classical music filling our ears for a week. But I felt like it was a week TV. In the car driving there, in between lessons at the camp, and after playing cello all day we’d come home and order room service and watch TV. So I have seen a lot of commercials. And I realized that I can tell a lot about where education is going from watching TV.

Butterfly Garden
This is a product that has been sold in schools for forty years. You buy the butterfly larvae or whatever they are, and then you put them in your netting thing and watch them become butterflies. It’s a great commercial and it made me want to buy it for my kids. But I realized, as I was watching the mom help the kids have educational moments with their insects that what the commercial was really selling was homeschool. You can take the best of school and bring it into your home. I see the trend here is that parents feel more and more responsible for their kids educations.

Gerber college savings
That butterfly mom was white. I know you know that. It’s just how commercials are. There has to be a good reason to have a black person in a commercial. The default person is white. Please, do not badger me with comments about racism. I’m just reporting what is true. For example, the Reese’s Peanut Butter cereal has a great rap song in this commercial, so there’s a black kid singing and dancing to it. It’s how the world of advertising works.

So the Gerber college saving plan, (which I’ve written about before) is attempting to scare parents into saving for college. I’m not going to go into how stupid the plan is—it’s not just savings for school but it’s also a life insurance policy. Or health insurance. It’s unclear. But what’s clear is that it’s a scam, because who, really, can save for college? It’s too expensive. The only impact saving for college has is that the school awards less financial aid because you have money sitting in the bank. And, on top of that, it’s pretty clear that college is a huge waste of money.

But here’s the thing about this ad: It’s black parents who are doing the savings. What I take from this is that it’s becoming mainstream to think savings for college is stupid—the financial equivalent of a hamster wheel. The more you save, the more money they take from you. So Gerber has decided that maybe black families, who typically do not enter college at the rate of white and Asian families, might be suckers for saving for college.

The commercial is a sign that not saving for college is becoming socially acceptable and even forward thinking. Because it’s so clear that college is a scam.

Food commercials (all of them)
It’s the mom who is cooking. Even though men are doing more and more of the cooking, cleaning and childcare, that’s simply not true in the commercials. And I think this is because commercials are aspirational. And women do not want to have a husband who’s home taking care of the kids. Pew Research shows that a wide majority of women with kids would rather have a part-time job than work full-time or stay home full-time.

To me this means that women want to be the main caretaker and they want men to be the breadwinners. Because there is no other reasonable way for women to work part-time and support a family. (Generally speaking, part-time careers are not stable enough for families to rely on them for sustenance.)

This means that parents are leaning toward teaching kids at home, ditching college, and having the mom as the main caretaker. Once you have all that in place, it’s a small step to start homeschooling.