Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

[The following is a repost from 2011]

In her post Video Games, Home Education, and the U.S. Supreme Court, Brandy discusses what is being called the third wave of home school persecution, and has encouraging things to say.

In the course of her post she mentions the earlier days when “socialization” was the big issue that home schoolers had to deal with, but then explains that this newer form of persecution is based on the fact that when a parent educates his own children at home, he is passing his own ideas down to his children, and those ideas might be dangerous or unacceptable.

But I’ve come to believe that this is what the whole socialization argument was about – not that home schooled children won’t know how to interact politely with other people on an individual basis, but that they won’t know how to fit into Society at large, meaning, they won’t grow up to be good contributors to the national economy.

The other night we were at Home Depot looking at new flooring for our kitchen and the young woman who was helping us, mentioned the installation fee a couple of times. After a while, when we’d finished picking out what we wanted, she said something about calling to schedule installation, but I said, “Oh, I have a son – he does all my installation.”

She responded with mock horror at the idea of us not paying someone to do our work, and I said, laughing, “I know – our family is so bad for the economy.”

And this is the point: As soon as you figure out that you can raise your own kids from infancy to adulthood without needing a paid professional to do it for you, you figure out that there are scads of things you can do yourself, and those kids grow up assuming that doing things as frugally and as independently as possible is the way Normal people function. They pay for fewer and fewer services, and in a service economy, if everybody did that, where would we be? This, I believe, is what so many fear about parents educating their own children at home.

One of the first times we visited George Washington’s birthplace, one of the blacksmiths was telling visitors about how economically independent from Britain the Virginians strove to be, refining their own iron ore, for example, and forging it into the necessary items, instead of sending the ore the England to be refined and forged there, as Parliament wished. In fact, Parliament wanted all raw materials to be sent to England for processing, and then bought back (as value-added products, in today’s speech) by the colonists. So the colonists were supposed to raise sheep and harvest the wool, but send it straight to England for carding, spinning, and weaving into cloth which would then be purchased by the colonists to make their clothes from. The same with timber, which the colonists were expected to harvest and ship to England, to be turned into the lumber and shingles they would buy to build their houses and barns with.

But at the Pope’s Creek Plantation, where George Washington was born, all of the family’s basic needs were provided by the farm. The plantation functioned like a village, with a blacksmith shop, a spin shop (for spinning, dying, and weaving wool and flax). Cobblers and carpenters had their shops, too. Most of the Virginia plantations worked this way, and allowed their craftsmen, who were nearly all indentured servants and slaves, to hire themselves out to locals who needed their labor. In this way, local communities provided for all of their basic needs. Wealthy families bought luxuries from Britain when they shipped their tobacco harvest to London, but not the daily necessities Parliament wanted them to buy, such as cloth for everyday clothes, lumber, and hardware.

Well, this blacksmith, in giving us this history lesson, remarked that, “When a people have gained economic freedom, political freedom won’t be far behind.”

That’s something to keep in mind this weekend, as we celebrate our political independence from Great Britain.

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