26 March 2012

A Sick Joke

Sometimes it feels as if our school system is at war with parents, and winning. The kids are just the ammunition.
Take homework, for example. Most schools load up the kids with hours of homework, which ruins a family's quality of life after school, putting parents in the position of being bad cops from the time school is out until bedtime. The kids are stressed, overworked, and tired. You might assume there is a scientific basis for assigning so much homework. Does it make our nation more competitive on the International playing field? Answer: Nope. In fact, the Charter School down the street, that presumably looked into best practices, gives kids time during the school day to complete all of their assignments.

Sometimes I wonder if American culture is nothing more than a sick joke.  It seems to me that everything Americans do, especially those in the middle class, is designed to signal status.  That seems to be the case with the modern school system and with homework in particular.  There is little value to assigning homework because it is so easy to cheat at it.  All that happens, as Scott Adams notes, is that everyone simply becomes stressed out over a triviality.

More to the point, the parents act like homework is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER and thus push their kids to complete it, even though everyone knows it’s nonsense.  Yet, in spite of knowing how little and unimportant homework is, parents push their children to do it, often with the encouraging rundown of how terrible life will be if you don’t do your homework.  “If you don’t do your homework, you’ll fail the class;* if you fail the class, you’ll fail school;** if you fail school, you won’t go to college;*** if you don’t go to college, you won’t get a good job;**** etc.”

The results of this constant guilt trip have begun to yield a diseased, rotting fruit.  “Relationship” no longer refers to the emotional connection one has with his fellow human beings.  Instead, it refers to how much wealth/status/income one has relative to one’s fellow human beings.  We are a materialist society, driven by our shiny things and the pursuit thereof.  And so, parents continually pressure their children to accomplish meaningless tasks in the hopes that doing so will eventually ensure their children’s ability to acquire meaningless material goods.

The punchline is that this is called the American dream.

* Translation:  you won’t be properly brainwashed.

** Translation:  you won’t get a piece of paper celebrating you’re pitiful intellectual accomplishments.

*** Translation:  You won’t be able to go to an overpriced indoctrination camp to get a piece of paper that tells prospective employer what a compliant little drone you’ll be.

**** Translation:  You won’t be able to sit in a cubicle all day filing meaningless reports and crunching imaginary numbers in order to earn enough money to satisfy the hedonistic and materialistic desires of the ugly hag you married, in order to support ungrateful brats that you don’t ever get (or, truthfully, want) to see.


  1. Can you just imagine what might happen if we returned to a guild system and had apprenticeships starting at age 13 or 14 instead of requisite schooling until age 18 (as Nobama has proposed)? Heavens, some actual productivity might actually return to American soil as people learn skills instead of how to analyze history via Critical Race Theory.

    I'm starting to talk homeschool very seriously with the husband. He knows I can do it, but he is not as skeptical of the public school system as I am, and he worries about socialization. Time to turn up the heat on that burner, I think.

    PS, from a (former) teacher's perspective, homework is useless busy work for the most part. There might be some reading or research that can be done (maybe 20-30 minutes or so, 2 nights a week) that can supplement what cannot be done during class time, but kids either get it or don't, and after a certain point, repetition is numbing rather than edifying. This focus on college is just dumb now. A BA or BS is what a high school diploma was or could be 30 or 40 years ago. I'd say 20 years ago, but I've been out of high school almost that long, and 20 years ago a HS diploma was the minimum standard.

  2. And what's truly weird about all this -- not just the emphasis on homework, but on school itself -- is that surely these parents remember their own school days. Surely they recall the ennui, the pointlessness, the dearth of actual learning. Yet they become parents and suddenly it's all School Is This Vital And Wonderful Experience For My Child.

    It's as if they're putting themselves through some parental ritual that they assume they're just supposed to embrace.

    They'd be far better served by fostering an atmosphere of learning and inquisitiveness within the family itself: encouraging children to read books, having a daily newspaper in the house, showing them the best ways to use the web, trimming down the mindless TV, etc.

  3. @Cranberry- but how will people learn to complete mandatory government busy work (i.e. regulatory compliance) if they aren't ever trained to in school? And what will happen to our economy then?

    @Display Name- It's amazing how humans block out the bad when reminiscing. I don't get nostalgia for times past because all of times past were terrible compared to the present (not that today doesn't have its own problems). We as humans simply tend to emphasize the good and forget the bad when remembering the past.