Education is Not About Making Better Workers

US Department of Education

While I am on record about favoring smaller government and in general I applaud President Trump’s recent proposal to downsize and merge some federal cabinets and agencies, something about the merger of the Departments of Labor and Education stuck in my craw.

What bothers me is how the idea betrays the current belief—which crosses party lines—that education is about raising a new generation of employees and workers.

Among the specific proposals outlined is a plan to merge the departments of education and labor into a single Department of Education and the Workforce, or DEW. The combined agency would oversee programs for students and workers, ranging from education and developing skills to workplace protections and retirement security.

We hear all the time that we need to have better schools for our children so that can have better opportunities for jobs. We see parents fretting over pre-school programs in order to ensure their children can go to the right colleges and get high-paying jobs after graduation. But is that really what education is? Is education primarily just another name for trade school?

Yes, I want my kids to have every opportunity to live out God’s plan for their lives as adults, to be able to provide for themselves and their families, to contribute to society. But I also want them to be good people. I want them to be thoughtful, intelligent, and curious about the world. I want them to enjoy the beauty that surrounds them in nature and in music, art, poetry, and books. I want them to know what it means to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good neighbor. I want them to understand history in order to make wise decisions about the future.

Education isn’t about sitting in a school for 12 or 16 or 20 years in order to secure a career. Education is about human formation, about learning to think, to know, and how to ask questions. Education is about becoming a better person.

Government is perhaps one of the worst instruments for doing any of that and the higher up the government food chain you go, the worse that it becomes. Because education is about forming individuals, whereas the federal government only sees statistical millions.

It would be better if the plan was to eliminate the federal Department of Education all together and re-examine how we go about educating children in this country. But, alas, given the state of politics today, we’d be lucky to see these two cabinet agencies merge.

An App for Tracking Your Children’s Ailments

Finally. For years, Melanie and I have bemoaned the lack of an app to help parents track their children’s sicknesses over time, like heir temperatures and what medicine you gave them and when. It’s especially difficult when you’ve been up all night and you have multiple kids sick at once. And then you’ve both been giving out the meds.

It looks like Feevy is the answer.

The app lets you track a child’s temperature on a graph over time, so if you take their temperature every few hours, you can go back over all of your recent readings and see if their temperature is holding steady, trending up, or trending down at a glance. You can also add things like medications that you’ve given them and when, so you make sure not to give them too much in too short a time period, and add notes about how your child is feeling at various intervals.

It lets you sync the data with someone else as well! It’s $2 right now. iPhone and iPad only.

Babysitting 1.0

A new dad who happens to be a software engineer leaves hilariously detailed instructions for the babysitter of his newborn son:

“Hey, this is a quick primer on dealing with an infant. Hope it’s useful for you.

  • He gets a bottle every 2 hours (today, he started at 9:30a)
    • 3 oz, warmed to blood temperature in microwave in mug of water
      • In your Microwave, this proved to take about 30 sec
    • During feeding, Wiggle the nipple gently until you can tell he’s getting suction
    • The vent will be dry
    • You’ll see bubbles rising to the formula’s surface inside the bottle as air enters via the vent
  • In case of crying
    1. Is his diaper dirty?
      • Simple test is if the front feels swollen; if so, he’s peed at least.
      • Poop will have a distinct smell; carefully open the back and look for signs
        • He poops every other day, so it probably won’t be an issue
      • See [Skills/Changing a Diaper]”

And so on …

Why We Homeschool

Washington State has issued new standards to public schools on teaching kids as young as kindergarten about the myriad of genders we have invented:

Beginning in Kindergarten, students will be taught about the many ways to express gender. Gender expression education will include information about the manifestations of traits that are typically associated with one gender. Crossdressing is one form of gender expression. […]

Fourth graders will be expected to “define sexual orientation,” which refers to whether a person identifies as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual; they’ll also be taught about HIV prevention. Children in fourth grade will be told that they can choose their sexual orientation.

Whether you are morally opposed to homosexual activity or not, so-called gender identity is not an appropriate topic for five-year-olds. And certainly, the discussion of any sexual activity is not appropriate for 10-year-olds.

It seems like alarmism and hysteria to declare we live under a totalitarian system, but how else to describe a system of indoctrination under governmental authority that declares parents and their professed moral views to be irrelevant to the greater need of society to shape children according to the social re-engineering principles in vogue.

The New Foundation of Society

From Rod Dreher today on Obama’s transgender bathroom policy:

Think about it: we already expect so much of our public schools, and now … this? Is it really so important to force schools to let boys play on girl teams, and vice versa, and so forth? Progress, I guess. …

Whenever liberals accuse conservatives of waging culture war, I think of things like this and wonder what kind of world they live in inside their heads. Was this a pressing need right now? Did the federal government have to nationalize bathroom, locker room, and athletic team policy, to enforce a highly controversial point of view onto a diverse nation that was never consulted?

This tracks with so much else of the liberal SJW agenda. Schools have been tasked with so much more than teaching reading, writing, math, social studies. Now they must “teach ‘life skills,’ nutrition and a school-board approved simulacrum of morality while simultaneously functioning as essentially medium-security prisons for fear of threats both internal and external,” according to an article by Chris Stirewalt, linked by Rod.

The school has become the preferred institution of Big Government to replace the family and the church as the foundations of society. Obviously, it’s because the schools are controlled by the bureaucrats, sometimes directly, but often indirectly through massive federal and state funding that all comes with strings attached. They strip parents of their right and duty to raise and form their children according to their own principles and values and they do so because parents won’t raise their children according to the new SJW ideologies. And churches must be pre-empted as well because the pesky constitution puts them outside the control of those same bureaucrats and because they stand for those values that the SJWs don’t want parents instilling in their kids.

Obama and his allies know that imposing Gay/Straight Alliances and transgender bathroom policies on children in schools is important because they know the way to change American to their warped thinking is through indoctrination of children. You don’t have to believe me. They say it themselves.

Yet another reason we homeschool our children. I wonder how long before that becomes illegal.

Disciplining Children, the Little House Way

No matter how much times change, human nature remains the same. Thus the lessons of child rearing we see in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, as explicated in this Crisis article, remain applicable today:

  1. Children need clear boundaries.
  2. They need consequences for transgressing those boundaries.
  3. They need to know trust is earned and can be lost and must be earned back.
  4. They need to be able to trust their parents not to be cruel or capricious, to love and respect them, not to ridicule them or hold them up for public mockery.
  5. They need to know that discipline is not just an anger response, but can be accompanied by love, caring, comforting, and even shared laughter. But it still must be discipline.

Although the Ingalls family lived in the nineteenth century, they still set an example for the twenty-first-century families who are faced with the knowledge of one thing that does not change: Children make mistakes. Knowing this, adults in positions of authority who want to discipline children with dignity can do what Pa and Ma did.

We can set clear boundaries. We can listen. We can talk privately and confidentially with the child. We can ask questions to help us better understand what happened. We can calmly determine sensible and just consequences—without forgetting to smile. We can believe the child can and will do better.

I don’t always live up to these ideals.

As I’ve heard snippets of the Little House books in recent years–in audiobooks during car rides, as Melanie reads aloud to the kids, and as Isabella has read them aloud to me–I’ve been impressed by the life lessons found there, whether about the dangers of the world, the way to be a family, or fair dealings in a market-based society.

Whole milk really does do a body good

Like coffee and eggs and butter already, whole milk is being rehabilitated from its bad reputation. It turns out skim (yecch!) and low-fat milk aren’t really better for you. In fact, you may be better off with whole milk.

In a new study published in the journal Circulation, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and his colleagues analyzed the blood of 3,333 adults enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study of Health Professionals Follow-up Study taken over about 15 years. They found that people who had higher levels of three different byproducts of full-fat dairy had, on average, a 46% lower risk of getting diabetes during the study period than those with lower levels. “I think these findings together with those from other studies do call for a change in the policy of recommending only low-fat dairy products,” says Mozaffarian. “There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy.”

It turn out obesity is not just about how many calories you eat, but the kind of calories. They found when people reduce fat intake, they replace it with sugar or carbs, which are worse for you.

We’ve only ever given our kids whole milk and they’re all skinny things, and certainly not part of the obesity epidemic among American kids. What they don’t drink is soda or juice. But try to go out to any restaurant, especially fast food, and all you’ll find is low fat milk. Heck, McDonald’s, if I’m giving my kid your hamburger and fries, some whole milk is an improvement in nutrition.

Dyeing Easter Eggs, 2016 Edition

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We had our traditional Holy Saturday activity of dyeing Easter eggs. As the family has grown it has become a bigger and bigger production. Apparently, waiting for the eggs to dye sufficiently is too much for them to do at the table, so in between they would go outside and literally run around. Thankfully, it was a decent day. Not exactly warm out, but they went in shirtsleeves and long pants.

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