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Ocean View

by Michael Leppert

More College Degree

A reader recently remarked that in Vol. 4, Issue 1, my statements about a three-tiered system of degree-granting sounded as though I were bashing college and degrees. In that issue, I maintained that this tiered system is necessary in order to restore the value of a degree and inform prospective employers and others that the degree-holder is either marginal, adequate or superior in his/her field of study. To me, this reader's take is approximately the same as saying that Martin Luther was bashing Catholicism when he nailed his "95 Theses" to the church door. Quite the contrary is true. Luther was a true believer in the root of the Catholic church; he was suggesting true reform, a purification, if you will, of the tangled, twisted and corrupted top growth. I too, am suggesting a purification and revival of our nearly-meaningless degree-granting system.

I think that a university degree should mean something important: That the bearer of said degree knows some amount worth knowing about the field of endeavor. A degree should not leave room for doubt in anyone's mind that the bearer cheated his way through the degree program or that his wealthy father donated enough to the alumni association to ensure that the marginally academic son would "achieve" the sheepskin. A degree should be rock-solid evidence that the bearer knows either a little, an average amount or very much, about the topic for which the degree stands. Otherwise, what in fact, separates the degree-holder from the non-degree-holder? At this stage of degeneration, nothing.

Of course, every holder of a degree should agree with me. The present system denigrates and diminishes the symbolic skill level of each and every graduate, just as fool's gold can devalue the real item until discovered and removed.

Founding Fathers

As I read about the Founding Fathers of our country, (and their wives) I am repeatedly impressed with how brave they were! Many of them had money or other means -- John Hancock, for instance, was the wealthiest man in Massachusetts at the time he signed the Declaration of Independence -- in large enough script that "King George can see it without his spectacles." Imagine the wealthiest man in Mass today leading a move for independence against the established government!

And Hancock was not unique among these people. Many of them had much material comfort and security they risked in order to forge a country which conformed to their beliefs. I am not sure that I have ever met anyone with such intestinal fortitude -- even in the mirror . . . but I can dream, can't I.

Hoodoo Science Dept.

A great resource for anyone interested in hearing about some nutritional information and "hoo-doo science" (my term, discussed in this column in Vol. 4, Issue 2) is the cassette tape "Dead Doctors Don't Lie" by Dr. Joel Wallach. He is a Naturopathic Doctor (D.O.), representing his company which sells colloidal minerals, but the information and knowledge he dispenses on the tape are great listening and learning and good for a laugh.

The "S" Word

Columbine High School, in Littleton, CO re-opened recently. My first question is "Why?" My second question is, if you were discussing homeschooling with any of the parents of students at that school, would they ask you "What about socialization?"

Gimme Shelter

Do you ever have anyone tell you "You homeschoolers shelter your children too much. Sooner or later, they will have to deal with the 'real world' -- then what?" The truth is that parents who say this helped create their "real world." by having an institutional school mentality and passing it along to their children. The real world these people refer to is rife with bullying and peer pressure featuring a constant undercurrent of needing to "fit in" with some unspoken, unnecessary, unhealthy and arbitrary social code(s).

Public schools were established for two purposes: To provide an education of some sort to the teeming throngs of poor, immigrant children streaming into the U.S. from Europe and secondly, to ensure a steady supply of compliant factory workers, already "socialized" in an appropriate fashion for such work. The highlights of a perfect factory-worker mentality are dullness, lack of initiative and immersion in the herd -- today referred to as "peer pressure." (This is misleading, as 'peer' means one's equals, not necessarily those one is surrounded by.)

John Taylor Gatto and Dr. Oliver DeMille both touch upon this entire field of socialization from different vantage points. Mr. Gatto was a junior high teacher in Manhattan for 30 years and knows about this beast, institutional schooling, from working within its belly.

Dr. DeMille points out that the job opportunities for the coming century will be divided into the factory worker division, the professional division and the entrepreneurial division.

Those who are properly socialized for factory work conditions will work in fields requiring such "skills" as those listed above. Dr. DeMille calls these "low-paying government jobs" as well as other factory-type positions in the private sector.

The professional category will remain roughly the same as it is now, with doctors, lawyers and a few other actual professional positions. I say "actual" because of the current practice of colleges and universities' promoting a "professional" status for every endeavor under the sun in order to sell a sheepskin for it.

The entrepreneurial category will also remain approximately the same as it is now, except for the fact that many, many of today's homeschooled children will swell tomorrow's ranks of self-starters and self-leaders in the entrepreneurial stratum. These "sheltered" ones will be emulating and re-creating the world they have known as youngsters -- the sheltered world all of us parents see so often when our beautifully socialized little ones and their equally sheltered friends play for hours on end with little or no need for adult intervention! The "real world" is ephemeral, created by what is within each person who is a part of it. If you are manifesting the innards of an unwashed, uncouth, institutional barbarian, then guess what your real world looks like?

If you have been sheltered from developing the innards of a barbarian, and have a sense of respect for yourself and others -- even those who are barbarians -- then guess what your real world will be?

Of course, I believe that anyone is capable of change. A person who has been a victim of institution training can overcome it. Free will makes all of the difference. But, it is important to remember that we homeschooling parents are intentionally sheltering our children from a world which should never have been created in the first place -- the world of institutional schooling with its herd mentality, lunch-money shakedowns, too early an awareness of sex, ducking bullies as well as ridicule, and mental dullness -- which will become the adult reality for most of the children in its grip.

So, in my "real world" my son fits right in by being "sheltered" from the lowest social behaviors and folkways. Most of the homeschooling families I speak with have the same assessment: I (and we) do not intend to raise children who have to learn the public school norms and mores in order to navigate their adult world. Rather, they will change the reality and create their own -- better -- adult world!

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