One of the arguments often heard against home schooling is that it doesn’t provide children with skills for socializing. If this is the case, how is it that we are bombarded with anti-bullying harangues, zero-tolerance anti-bullying policies, and ceaseless anti-bullying programs? It is as if government schools actually (if inadvertently) teach anti-social skills.
Over time, I have discovered a number of Canadian libertarian bloggers, and a number of Canadian blogs that advocate libertarian solutions to specific issues (such as school choice). It has taken a while to find the ones I know of, and I am sure there are others yet to come to my attention. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one site where all this material could be promoted and discussed!
To that end, I propose an internet forum for Canadian libertarians. There is already a very active conservative forum, which provides an idea of how the new forum could work, but in sum, it would act as an aggregator for Canadian libertarian blog posts, as well as news and topics of interest to Canadian libertarians. Although I am too busy to run the project myself, I am certainly willing to pitch in, particularly in development. If you have the interest and the expertise (but mostly the interest) in making this project a reality, please let me know. I have a sense that libertarianism is on the rise in Canada, and a little effort on the part of just a few people at this stage could have outsized effects over the coming years.
Please, give it some thought, and spread the word.
In Wyandotte, Michigan, 15-year-old Kerrigan Brandon lies brain dead from an overdose of xanax, methadone, and cold tablets that she took a month ago. She is expected to die any day, and because her family may need some financial support, some of Kerrigan’s schoolmates are selling custom T-shirts and bracelets to raise funds. If you are a normal person, you will recognize this for the touching gesture that it is.But if you are a state functionary, you might see it as something potentially more sinister –
“(Kerrigan’s friends) say school officials told them, they couldn’t sell them (at school) because the attention could glorify drug use.
We tried reaching out to the school principal, a truck was parked in his designated spot, and a school employee went to the office to let him know we wanted to talk-but we were told, he wasn’t available.”
Canadians could be forgiven for dismissing this story as more craziness from the next door neighbours, but I caution against doing so. Public schools in Canada rest on a foundation made of the same incentives as are those in the U.S., so events will differ from each other only in time and degree. If it happens down there, it can happen up here. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
The Victoria Libertarian Book Club is halfway through our current book (Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age). Pivotal to the story is a book/device named “A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer”. From Wikipedia –
“….originally intended for an aristocrat’s child in the Neo-Victorian New Atlantis phyle”….”The Primer is intended to intellectually steer its reader toward (living) a more interesting life”….”and grow(ing) up to be an effective member of society. The most important quality to achieving an “interesting life” is deemed to be a subversive attitude towards the status quo. The Primer is designed to react to its owners’ environment and teach them what they need to know to survive and develop.”
The Primer falls into the hands of a young girl who, despite being impoverished and abused, flourishes under its influence. This result is very much in keeping with the outcomes I would expect to see were the state separated entirely from education. In a short time, the market would be providing highly accessible, highly affordable, highly effective services that would enable children from disadvantageous environments to blossom into intelligent, happy, responsible adults. But so long as the state is involved, isn’t this just a bunch of wishful thinking? Perhaps not –
“With 100 million first-grade-aged children worldwide having no access to schooling, the One Laptop Per Child organization is trying something new in two remote Ethiopian villages—simply dropping off tablet computers with preloaded programs and seeing what happens.”….”Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”
There are signs that the children are learning to spell and to read. And once they have learned to read, they can read to learn. We live in a wonderful world, full of possibility. If we choose to eschew violence and coercion in favour of peaceful cooperation, there is no telling what we might accomplish.
Hunter Spanjer is a three-and-a-half-year old student attending public school in Grand Island, Nebraska. He is deaf, and communicates in sign language. The manner in which he signs his name is of such grave concern to school administrators that they have “asked” his family to change it –
The first time school administrators saw little Hunter signing his name, I imagine they made straight for the fainting couch, clutching their pearls tightly to their bosoms. Hopefully, someone had smelling salts on hand.
In all seriousness, the most nauseating part of this whole matter has to be the prissy bureaucrat assuring us that they are “working with the parents to come to the best solution for the child.” Good idea! Allow me to make some recommendations to the Spanjers:
Replace Hunter’s current sign with something that looks like arming and throwing a grenade. Better yet, use a stabbing motion and nickname him ‘Butcher”. Or perhaps there’s a sign for shotgun, bazooka, or AK-47 that doesn’t look so threatening as Hunter’s innocent little cross-fingered drum rolling. Whatever you elect to do, I hope you agree with me that the best solution is the one that teaches your son that dignified human beings don’t retreat in the face of foolishness emanating from officious little fusspots. He has enough challenges as it is.
Quebec students have been protesting for over 100 days , and I have repeatedly heard pundits debating whether or not increased tuition would lower university enrollment. I would think it’s more important to determine whether or not it lowers university graduations.
And if you weren’t being forced to subsidize university students, why would you even care about that?
Thankfully, public schools aren’t the only (or chief) means of obtaining an education. If that were the case, people would have to wander around in a state of economic ignorance for most of their lives, never fully appreciating even a relatively simple concept such as opportunity cost. Briefly stated, the opportunity cost of something is the sacrifice related to the second best choice available to some individual, or group, who has picked among several mutually exclusive choices. For example, the opportunity cost of a book may be the hour I have to work in order to purchase it. Or it could be the number of lattes I can’t afford if I buy the book. Sometimes, making a cost/benefit analysis along these lines can make the difference in determining whether or not to purchase something. But let’s face it – math is hard. So what’s the solution? Red Ferret points the way –
“How Many is a cute and free little iPhone app which lets you instantly calculate just how many hours of your work it will cost to pay for that shiny bauble you see in the store window. Not only that, but it will give you a more direct and probably painful comparison via Lattes. If that pen costs you 30 luxury soy Chai lattes with sprinkles, is it really worth it? Really?”
Sadly,the app only calculates lattes or hours of work, but if you enter the price of something else, then you can mentally replace ‘lattes’ with ‘ice cream sandwiches’ or something else you might purchase. Who knew studying economics could be so entertaining?