"Dr." Helen, "Is Eye Rolling a Sign of Intelligence?"
I'm not sure what happened; I had written one of those howlingly funny slice-o'suburban-life pieces about my wife's proclivities with the remote control (she hogs it; she runs endless laps at subliminal speed; she drives me crazy doing it: the sort of thing which has made me the much-admired Lileks of the Left). It turned--on a dime--into a screeching rant about a fashionably persecuted young Christian spelling bee champ, who, it turns out, doesn't know the definition of "Sabbath", and his mother, who graciously donates the time required to be Spokesperson for All of Christendom. Before I knew it this stuff was coming at me from all sides, including this comment from Tom Hilton at HFPST:
You know what a whole lot of religious people should give up for Lent? They should give up their exaggerated sense of grievance. Just a suggestion.
which I can't improve on however long I prattle away. Plus I thought the sudden darkening of tone destroyed the delicate interplay of our debate over The Gilmore Girls, which my wife thinks of as a quirky comedy and I think of as what the CIA got up to when surreptitiously dosing US population centers with psychotropic drugs proved infeasible.
And somehow I found myself reading "Dr." Helen, who gets the ball rolling downhill by indeed-linking to the hardscrabble du Toit clan, which linked right back to Madame Insty linking to a related piece she found "quite humorous and sad, both at the same time" and which, it turns out--you're sitting down, right?--was neither, (unless she meant the attempted humor was sad and the "factual" claims were funny, but I don't think she did, and besides, "ludicrous" is a perfectly good word and would have saved all that further exposition.)
Our theme here is that the Educational Establishment--you know, the one Establishment these people don't kowtow to--has conjured up the concept of Socialization (using Federal grant money, no doubt) in their never-ending efforts to wound homeschoolers. Du Toit calls the concept "a risible canard" and "specious nonsense", which raises the hope that it's Mrs. Pussification who's teaching the kids grammar.
We'd say the same thing about argumentation, but we've seen her work. The assumption of an opponent's bad faith--doesn't that demonstrate a lack of social skills? Maybe Kim du Toit is not the best person to evaluate the benefits of socialization.
But let's not waste too much time here. I don't have any more interest in the du Toit household than the Educational Establishment does. But there was one little bit I found somewhat shocking:
Another response is that the kids “miss out on so much”. Yeah, Daughter really misses that experience of perpetual teasing about her weight, and the physical bullying that went along with it, coupled with sadistic gym teachers who forced her to run a mile during PE class, in the hot sun.
We're going to ignore the fact that he calls his daughter "Daughter"; I'm guessing he'd already given all the good names to his guns.
First, this must be the sort of thing one encounters thirty times a day working in a complaint department or on a tech line: the "everything is totally fucked up and it's all your fault" routine, and we'll hazard a guess that at least 75% of the complainants have failed to read the manual or are flat out wrong. (The guy who manages my neighborhood liquor store keeps his competitors' ads in a folder under the cash register, and says that 90% of the time when a customer waves a bottle at him and tells him "you advertised this a dollar cheaper!" it's somebody else's ad.) Every time I hear these complaints about the system screwing somebody's precious Dependent I wonder how they live without telephones. My wife's email and school phone are posted in the student handbook. She deals with parents complaining about something or other all the time, not to mention the fact that there are four evening open houses per year. If little Dowry can't run a mile, if PE class was an exercise in sadism, who did you tell? Why didn't you tell the teacher, the principal, her guidance counsellor, and the school board that she would not run a mile, do anything outdoors, or get any exercise, and would sit out all those activities with your permission and at your insistence?
And don't get me wrong: being nominally socialized myself, I see both sides. Bullying and teasing are serious problems, and the response is not always sufficient. Our schools are, and traditionally have been, centers of enforced conformity and stifled creativity. But who wants them that way? Back to Basics, Increased (Armed) Security, harsher discipline, forcible "moral instruction"--what end of the political spectrum has been riding that pony for the past few decades?
Meanwhile, Dr. Mrs. Insty--the Anna Chennault of the Blogosphere--has unmasked the culprit: teachers are just skin-wrapped bags of ego and insecurity who channel their personal misery into the Educational Establishment. Really.
It seems to me that the main source of socialization for many kids, especially smart ones in public school, is found in learning how to cope with the egos of teachers who can't teach and other kids who are uninterested in learning anything beyond dominating the social hierarchy.
The woman is, so far as we know, a practicing psychologist and the mother of school-aged children who are not tutored at home--has she ever met, or spoken with, her children's teachers? Does she still allow those Ticking Time Bombs near her precious offspring?
Pfui. Read the satire that inspired this crap--we know it's a satire, because it says so right in the title, but feel free to read it with a mouthful of coffee. Little Elasah, the gifted scion of a family of religious maniacs, throws hissy fits worthy of the roadshow choreographer at a Chorus Line revival because he's smarter than all the other children, imagines the rules don't apply to churchgoers (where'd he ever get that idea?), and Doc Helen's diagnosis is "his teacher's probably frustrated because she doesn't have a man"? I have to wonder what would have happened had she found out that Norah Vincent was posing as the boy's gym teacher?
And Mom objects to little Kohath being given extra work! What the H-E-double hockey sticks did she expect the school to do? Stop teaching everyone else whenever little Zephaniah started acting out? Granted, I was educated in the last century, but it seems to me that one good punch in the nose would do more for that kid than forced isolation in the Scripture factory will ever do.