Bruce Frohnen says the disgusting video of Mrs. Klein, the school bus monitor, being abused by a group of feral middle school boys speaks to a problem that cannot be solved by implementing more anti-bullying programs, or putting cameras in school buses. Excerpt:
Our current educational system is incapable of dealing with this or any other substantial issue of human behavior for the simple reason that it is incapable of treating children as human beings. I know many, many people who have been victims of bullying, as, on occasion, was I in my youth. But, looking back on my own experiences in school, I am convinced that no decision my wife and I have made for the upbringing of our children was more important than this: never, ever to allow them to be warehoused.
My wife and I have utterly abandoned the public schools; we also, by the way, have refused to send our children to any of the mammoth parochial schools that often are their only alternative. The inability of Americans to recognize the ways in which the simple problem of scale encourages pack behavior astounds me. And the role of the school bus—gathering children from miles around to ship them to one, central warehousing facility—has been critical to developing pack mentalities.
The death of the neighborhood school was no accident. Neither was it simply a liberal plot to empower the government. Even today one hears defenses of the warehouse model of schooling on the grounds that it is cheaper, provides more resources for the facilities left standing, and, most important from what I gather, provides for better sports facilities and larger, more talented teams.
It also, of course, tosses children into a mass of strangers, forcing them to compete with so many of their fellows in so many areas of student life that all but a few are left with only failure in a myriad of “fair” competitions. The result, not surprisingly, is anger at a system in which one cannot shine because one is never given the chance to learn to compete well within the small groups in which they can find something at which they are relatively good. The school system’s mass of disappointed, dislocated youth is kept in order, if at all, by adults who are overwhelmed by the sheer mass of humanity they must tend; adults who have been indoctrinated into an ideology in which virtue is an archaism at which one snickers and good character is a self-conflicting morass of radical autonomy, liberal pieties, and tolerance rooted in ignorance and self interest.
The secret of American schooling is that it doesn’t teach the way children learn, and it isn’t supposed to; school was engineered to serve a concealed command economy and a deliberately re-stratified social order. It wasn’t made for the benefit of kids and families as those individuals and institutions would define their own needs. School is the first impression children get of organized society; like most first impressions, it is the lasting one. Life according to school is dull andstupid, only consumption promises relief: Coke, Big Macs, fashion jeans, that’s where real meaning is found, that is the classroom’s lesson, however indirectly delivered.
The decisive dynamics which make forced schooling poisonous to healthy human development aren’t hard to spot. Work in classrooms isn’t significant work; it fails to satisfy real needs pressing on the individual; it doesn’t answer real questions experience raises in the young mind; it doesn’t contribute to solving any problem encountered in actual life. The net effect of making all schoolwork external to individual longings, experiences, questions, and problems is to render the victim listless. This phenomenon has been well-understood at least since the time of the British enclosure movement which forced small farmers off their land into factory work. Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.
By the by, a kid the age of my eldest son met him at a party the other night and, hearing that he’s homeschooled, told this perfect stranger she just met that — wait for it — he is not being properly socialized. Which is funny, if you think about it.