I am still SO. TIRED. But, I’m going to give this writing thing a shot.
I like what you had to say about your life and work. Good post. I couldn’t help but to think how it really exemplifies the differences between you and me. The whole “city mouse / country mouse” sort of thing. While you’re all about getting ahead in your job, living an expensive lifestyle, and having a busy schedule, I’m all about trying to find more ways to get back to nature, simplify my life, and focus on the little things.
I’m going to go on a tangent here about all the things that have been bothering me about the world lately, so please just bear with me and don’t take offense. Your post just reminded me of some of these things for some reason.
Here we go:
(I will address some of these ideas toward you, but that’s only because you personify a general way of living and being in the world that most of the culture engages in or strives for. Again, please don’t take offense. It’s okay for people to have a difference of opinion, I just want to take this time to highlight some of the differences between us [as well as between me with society in general] because I think that’s part of what makes this blog and these conversations interesting.
First of all, it bugs me how schools and education are geared toward “getting a good job”. Is that what our lives amount to?
I read the book Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto recently. This was a man who taught for 30 years in the New York City school system, and then quit (shortly after being named New York’s Teacher of the Year), and has been spending the rest of his life trying to reform our ideas about education.
What nineteenth century American experience demonstrated unmistakably is that an independent, resourceful, too well-educated common population has the irresistible urge to produce – and the ability to do so. Many famous “panics” of nineteenth century America were caused in part by a hangover from early Federal times and Colonial days when the common ideal was to produce your own food, your own clothing, your own shelter, your own education, your own medical care, your own entertainment, etc. The common population was still insufficiently conditioned to be interdependent and specialized.
Now, all we are are interdependent and specialized. We don’t produce things for ourselves and our families anymore. We consume, consume, consume. We consume products, we consume education, we consume everything.
Under this outlook, the classroom would never be used to produce knowledge, but only to consume it; it would not encourage the confined to produce ideas, only to consume the ideas of others. The ultimate goal implanted in student minds, which replaced the earlier goal of independent livelihoods, was getting a good job.
In that super long Wendell Berrry article I sent you awhile back, he writes:
The modern household is the place where the consumptive couple do their consuming. Nothing productive is done there. Such work as is done there is done at the expense of the resident couple or family, and to the profit of suppliers of energy and household technology. For entertainment, the inmates consume television or purchase other consumable diversion elsewhere.
When questioned about Why Do We Need to Learn Math, my high school daughter’s math teacher presented them with an essay that had a lot of great points about how math is important in problem solving (“each individual problem because a small but important lesson for solving problems in general”), which I thought were great answers. But then, on the subject of Can I Get a Good Job Without Learning a Lot of Math?, the essay says: In all honesty, anything is possible. However, less and less labor intensive jobs are available. Workers in those fields are being replaced by machinery and robotics. Someone has to fix all of those machines and robots.
Really? That’s what our lives and jobs amount to, fixing machines and robots? I’m so tired of hearing about freaking robots. (Have you read anything about the production of robots lately? There’s some crazy stuff going on.)
And I want my kids (and people in general) to have labor-intensive jobs. I want them to have their own businesses (to produce) instead of working for big corporations. Sitting down all day, working in front of a computer, and moving from one indoor location to another is not a good thing. There’s not enough natural movement in people’s lives. Not enough nature. We have really created an unnatural world for ourselves.
We are really moving away from a lot of the things that are really important in life in pursuit of things that aren’t.
The number one case in point being the family. Now, instead of making the family the most important thing in our lives, it becomes our schooling and then our jobs that are most important.
In another book that I recently read, Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton by Dale Ahlquist, he writes:
What common sense through the ages tells us is that most people have this simple basic desire: to have a happy family and a happy home. Chesterton says that “just now there is a tendency to forget that the school is only a preparation for the home, and not the home a mere jumping off place for the school.”
As is so often the case in the modern world, we have things exactly backward. In the process of turning our children over to the public education system, we have turned our backs on the home and the family. And we have somehow mislaid the primary purpose of going to school.
By turning public education over to “the experts”, we have undermined the natural authority of the family.