Archive for the ‘history’ Category

I was reading the letters section of my latest issue of Harpers, and one responding to Through a Glass, Darkly caught my attention (emphasis mine):

Perhaps evangelical Christians are predominant among homeschoolers, but they are not the entirety. Many people have kept their children out of school so that they would not be indoctrinated or “dumbed down,” to use a phrase of former New York State teacher-of-the-year John Taylor Gatto. Compulsive schooling, the brainchild of industrial magnates in the late 1800s, had the repugnant goal of creating a docile, easily exploited workforce. Schooling was, and is, intended to create parameters within which we are allowed to think. My children, whom I homeschooled can think independently, expressoutrage when it’s appropriate, and find time to read Harper’s. They’re a minority in the homeschooling world, but they are also a minority in mainstream America.

There are, of course, some excellent schoolteachers. But schools themselves are antidemocratic and bear great responisibility for the sheeplike behavior of our compatriots. To dismiss homeschooling itself as dysfunctional is to eliminate a potentially powerful tool for redressing the greater dysfunction of society. To assume that homeschooling belongs to evangelical Christians is no more accurate or fair than to assume that the whole country does.

Penny Teal
Mystic, Connecticut

Other respondents pointed out that while it may be true that many Christian homeschoolers may be teaching their children a skewed version of history, it is equally true that our secular public schools are not teaching history full or accurately themselves. If they did, then why would Howard Zinn have needed to write A People’s History of the United States?

I also strongly agree that schools and the authoritarian systems that govern them and standardized expectations can be quite detrimental to some people’s development. I speak from experience here as someone who simply cannot learn in the standard educational environment. I don’t know if it’s because I am diagnosed with ADD or some other psychological factor, but the only way I can learn is by following my own interests.

This is a topic that I want to write about expansively, specifically my own story of educational successes and failures as well as some of my friends. The theme of this is something that The Wire has brought to my attention, which is the failure of institutions to allow for individual freedom and mobility due to their need to maintain the status quo through varying degrees of conformity and often at the expense of the very people that they were established to help.

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James Madison

H/T to 1loneranger:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and … degeneracy of manners and of morals…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

-James Madison

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History for Kossaks

I just discovered this wonderful series of diaries on a wide range of historical topics. Here’s a couple that I’ve read and highly recommend:

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