Industrial Waste… part 4

Last Saturday, Nate spent his Birthday working in a booth selling the coloring books he helped make for the Church fundraiser (for more on that click here).  Today is Sam’s Birthday and he, on the other hand, has opted not to lift a finger for anyone.  While the contrast is clear, it is also inconsistent.  Nate is by no means a captain of industry and Sam is hardly a sluggard.  I think they are each just the right combination of plough horse and puppy.  In fact, if we ere on any one side of the work/play equation in our family we tend to be heavy on the play.  Actually, I should probably say since moving to Hawaii we’re leaning REALLY heavily on the play side.  Hopefully some good hard work in the mountains of California this summer will remedy that.  The point is, there needs to be balance, especially with kids.

Playing Piñata in honor of Nate and Sam's Birthdays.

Playing Piñata in honor of Nate and Sam’s Birthdays.

The child-labor laws enacted in the early 1900’s did a lot toward bringing some of that balance into children’s lives, many of whom were spending a full days labor in factories and fields for substandard wages.  Unfortunately the compulsory education laws that soon followed, however well-intentioned, eventually served to throw off whatever balance was achieved.  Today, the average child will spend about 7 hours a day in the classroom with about 20-30 minutes of recess and 15 minutes for lunch.  Add to that the typical 1-3 hours they will then spend doing homework and squeeze in an hour of practice if they happen to play a sport, and that 9-5 job with an hour long lunch break Mom or Dad complain about is a cake walk.  American children are spending more time in the classroom and other school related activities than almost every other country on earth.  With the remaining spare moments devoted to screens of various shapes and sizes, actual play time has become a thing of the past.  For all our humanitarian efforts, how much have we really improved the lives of our children in the last 100 years?  With obesity rates, behavioral issues, and childhood stress at epidemic levels it seems this new life style is wreaking havoc on the body, minds and souls of our kids.  Especially our boys.

I want to pause here to emphasize two things.  Number one:  I am speaking in generalities.  While my own education was exclusively in the public realm, my husband’s was public K-12, private for University, and he has taught in Christian schools, primarily at the high school level, for almost 12 years. That said, the choice we have made for our own family is to homeschool.  I do not think this is the appropriate choice for ALL families.  The most important thing to me is that families have the freedom and the courage to choose what’s best for their own children.  The advent and subsequent evolution of compulsory education has done much to limit and obscure those choices.  So when I speak of compulsory education I am not merely targeting public schools.  I am targeting the GENERAL  practice of forcing children to spend the bulk of their entire childhoods in a classroom and doing school related activities, whether that be in the public sector, the private sector or even in a homeschool setting.  Good grief, just how many thousands and thousands of hours should it take to make a kid literate?  But I digress.  Number two:  from now on I am going to be speaking very specifically about the effect compulsory education has had on boys.  Now of course, in specifying boys I will once again be speaking in generalities :).  There are multitudes of boys who thrive and show great success in the modern classroom setting (I’m related to some of them), but a vast majority do not and those are the ones I am addressing in general.  Why just boys?  Click here for an explanation.

Now that everyone’s feathers are sufficiently ruffled, I have to leave you all dangling one more time because I have some serious Birthday business to attend to.  But before I go I wanted to inform all you kind folks that requested copies of the coloring books the boys made that we have some available for $4 each plus postage.  Just email me your request or leave a comment and we’ll work out the details.



6 thoughts on “Industrial Waste… part 4

  1. Yes, keep it coming! I’m getting a glimmer of why I got so messed up in about my second year of high school. Flunked every class in my third semester. Truant frequently. Hopped freight trains along the Mississippi. Rode my Schwinn single speed all over St. Louis. Hung out at small airfields hitching rides on airplanes. Jumped off 50 ft. cliffs into flooded rock quarries. Even attempted to build a wooden raft with the thought of floating down to New Orleans. Then, somehow, I got my act together. Went to night school a couple semesters and managed to graduate in four and a half years instead of four. My foolishness cost me some bragging rights, however. I was on the high school track team that last semester. At only 5’10” I was regularly high jumping over 6′. Five of us were selected to compete in the Missouri State championships. A few days before the big event, the coach told me I couldn’t go. I had been in school one semester too many. The high jump event was won at 5’11”.


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  2. Sometimes I wonder if we are living in the golden age of home schooling, and one day we may look back and say, “Remember when we had the freedom to…” but perhaps that’s just me being pessimistic. I agree with you, and it’s hard for me not to force tons of work on the boys because I LOVED school, and I often don’t get why they don’t! Dear little boys, why can’t you be just like little girls. Haaaaaa!!! And poor Alan. He wants them to be baseball stars, but……not happening. 🙂 We love the boys we have. It seems to be that what we actually have so far is one energetic could-be-a-gymnast comic book writer and one artist. I can’t wait to see what unfolds for the other two!

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