June 2, 2010


Today's guest poster is Nick Brown, a resident and native of California who teaches history at a public high school. A public high school with a unique set of issues. Nick has two children, ages 5 and 3. He and his wife, Becky (yes, she's guest posted here before), are jumping into homeschooling next year. Here are some of his thoughts on why they are headed in that direction. Take it away, Nick! Okay, take it away Becky--she wanted her own preface included.

I need to preface: my husband is a pretty quiet, pretty mellow type of guy. And other than a few instances where he said he felt really strongly about me homeschooling the kids, he’s pretty much left the decision up to me and what I’m willing and able to do. All of this being said, when I read the following, I was a bit shocked by the vehemence. And then I realized he had just been through some very tense negotiations with his administration and had lost – to the ultimate benefit of a superintendent’s resume and the detriment of the students’ educations, so he’s a little disillusioned a the moment. Also, he had just finished reading around a thousand pages of Ayn Rand – which can be a bit overwhelming as well. So, here’s a peek inside my husband’s head. It’s surprising to say the least.

Earlier this year I came across the following passage as I was reading one of the great novels of the twentieth century: Atlas Shrugged.

“He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident efforts on teaching their fledglings to fly - yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child's education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think ... Men would shudder, he thought, if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival - yet that was what they did to their children.”
I immediately thought of my own children and couldn’t stomach the thought of these two little shining stars, sitting in a classroom filled with kids whose parents have not one single moral in common with me. How can I justify sending my kids to a place where they will waste 75% of their time, be exposed to wrong ideas and profanity, risk political indoctrination, and possibly violence?

I work in a public school, so I know that there is a dumbing-down that occurs; the CST has become so important that it drives curriculum, to the exclusion of other important materials. Those tests were written by bureaucrats with a certain political agenda that I don’t necessarily agree with. I know how much time is wasted on classroom management, mandated programs with little to no efficacy, waiting for the SDC, RSP, ELD students to catch up to the rest of the class, girls putting on makeup, boys posturing for attention, texting.

I want more for mine and I expect more for mine. Everyone should, but everyone doesn’t, so we’re left with the current failing system. And I don’t want to participate in it. Another of Rand’s paragraphs kind of sums it up for me:

"Somewhere, he thought, there was this boy’s mother, who had trembled with protective concern over his groping steps, while teaching him to walk, who had measured his baby formulas with a jeweler’s caution, who had obeyed with a zealot’s fervor the latest words of science on his diet and hygiene, protecting his unhardened body from germs – then had sent him to be turned into a tortured neurotic by the men who taught him that he had no mind and must never attempt to think."

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous01 June, 2010

    Wow! I appreciate the quotes and the post. I can understand Becky's preface... few words but powerful nonetheless.