I am not sure if this is good news or bad news, but it’s pretty clear to me that the purpose of school is to teach kids to be PC. Because how else will you do it? Think of all the major shifts in the social mores of the US: schools were the focal point for civil rights, for example. Evolution plays out in schools. And now, LGBTQ rights are playing out in schools. Schools teach kids how to succeed in a world different from their parents.
On one hand, I think this is a good thing. In order for children of immigrants to be able to assimilate, they have to go to school. Otherwise assimilation would take generations. And I’m pretty sure that immigrants come here because they want their kids to be like kids who live in the US. Is this racist or insensitive? I’m not sure.
But I’m thinking out loud now: The history of the Jews in Europe is that every time they were isolated from the rest of the population they were poor and anxious (perhaps the Shtetl is the genesis of Jewish anxiety?) and when Jews were assimilated into the national population they flourished. Well, okay. Things did not really go well for the very assimilated population of German Jews in in the 19th century but I think I am making my point: children of immigrants want to fit in (in fact it’s a very American thing to make jokes about being first-generation.)
I don’t have an editor right now. It’s been maybe 15 years since I have written without an editor. It’s scary. Is the Jewish stuff an unnecessary tangent? I love having an editor, but I don’t love waiting for an editor to get around to editing. The trick to writing without an editor is to be brave without someone looking over your shoulder to tell you it’s okay.
So Jews. Yeah. I think it’s important for Jews to feel both a part of the larger community and still hold onto a Jewish identity. This is the core problem of living in the melting pot that is the US. And this, more than anything else, is what I think is the challenge for public school. As a democracy we believe in the power of the melting pot. As parents we have an instinct to keep our kids separate so we can control their moral conscience. And these conflicts are universal to the immigrant population – regardless of ethnicity.
In an effort to be supportive, my mom sent me an article about homeschooling growing in popularity. The article is about how parents in Texas are taking their kids out of school because school is spending more and more time on making sure the kids are politically correct. I feel like the quintessential open-minded liberal to tell you that I agree with the Christian homeschoolers.
I like that school teaches kids that they can get on board with political correctness and even though their parents can’t. The truth is that learning to be PC is actually learning to think like your own generation. Which means kids today don’t need to go to school to learn to be PC, they can just watch YouTube. So you can either let your kids watch YouTube or send them to school. But somehow they need to connect to their generation. They don’t want to be part of your generation because being part of your generation would be lame: duh.
As a democracy, we want an electorate that feels part of the group. The Federalist Papers talk about how much trouble it is to run a democracy with people who are not PC. Madison, Hamilton and Jay don’t use the word PC, of course, but it’s implied. And herein lies the problem of a homeschool parent writing without an editor. My life is one big history tangent right now because we’re studying for AP European history and AP world history and I’m doing the tutoring because I don’t want to pay for it.
Did Voltaire have an editor? Probably no, because his plots are tiresome. If asked me to help your kid become a writer, the first thing I’d say is, “get an editor.” Then I’d probably try to sell you on hiring me to be the kid’s editor, but the point is that everyone writes better with an editor.
Life is more interesting if you take risks. It’s risky to homeschool, but I like being scared. It’s risky to write without an editor, but I like being scared.
Wait. I’m lying. I don’t like being scared. People homeschool because they feel that no other choice makes sense for who they are. Being brave is what we do if there’s no other choice. I need an editor. I don’t want to be brave, I want to write and have someone save me from myself. People who send their kids to school also do it because there is no other choice. School is a great way to assure you or the kid or both you and the kid are fitting in. We all want that. Just not all of us get it from school.