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Intentionally raising kids in a topsy-turvy world

Do you send your kids to public school? Have you looked at the outcomes of this path for others who have done so? Do you think your kids will magically end up different?

Do you home school? If so, what are you teaching them? Do you think the best you can do is teaching in the home the same ineffectual slop they serve up in public schools?

It's time to think about what you are doing, and honestly apply the capability God gave you to figure out and do what is best for your kids.

Historically, a child's formative years would be spent apprenticing adults in what they do. Boys worked with their fathers. Girls worked with their mothers. Boys knew exactly what it meant to be men. Girls knew exactly what it meant to be women.

It didn't take very long to reach competency in this immersive environment.

Individuals could still choose whether to embrace or eschew the example they were given, but they knew very well what reality was like.

Fast forward to today. The development of children is outsourced to compulsory public schools. So-called parents actually only care for their children part-time. In fact, after school, extracurriculars, and time spent with friends is subtracted, a modern parent doesn't do much more than occasional babysitting.

And what do children learn in school? Almost 100% of the time is spent memorizing and reciting trivia, increasing percentages of which consist of highly questionable veracity, and almost none of which has any vocational application whatsoever.

Modern children leave high school intellectually very much the same way they arrived, and, today, head off to college for four to six more years of trivia--this time mixed with even more alcohol and illicit sex than high school. From here they emerge having spent twenty-something years in "education" lacking almost any valuable skill, critical thinking ability, or correct ideas about life.

Our expectation is that these people will somehow magically transform into good citizens and self-supporting workers. Surprise! They don't. We SAY that our education system is designed with a certain purpose in mind. And yet, what it actually is is a very effective bubble that protects young people from practically every aspect of reality, allowing them decades of time to develop and entrench ideas, behaviors, and attitudes that are disastrously out of alignment with reality. Not surprisingly, when this bubble violently pops at college graduation, they find themselves in a world that has no use for them, repulsed by the only paths that would make them happy, and hating everything that would make them better.

When you want a certain outcome, you should design the process to generate that outcome. Common sense, right? It's almost as if the idea of modern education is that the way to produce successful adults is by subjecting young people to ideas and actions as far away as possible from what successful adults think and do.

What would a system designed to produce intelligent, capable, valuable people look like? It would probably look a lot like the historic parental apprenticeship program used for thousands of years by every human. Can this be improved upon? Absolutely. Technology allows children to have access to information and opportunities beyond the limits of their parents' experience. But the framework itself has yet to be matched by any other alternative.

It seems to me that the absolute best thing a parent can do is:

1) Design a homeschool curriculum that optimizes the path to a GED. Keep trivia to the minimum needed to obtain a GED.

2) To the extent possible while marching toward a GED, and full bore thereafter, focus on teaching critical/divergent thinking, intentional living, and problem solving. Choose a valuable vocational field as the context in which you teach these ideas. Computer science and electrical engineering are two good choices.

Realize that your choices as an adult will have an effect on the good you can do for your kids. For example:

1) If you did not prepare for and choose vocations where one of you can stay at home, your ability to do what is suggested here will be limited. Do what you can in the time and resources you have, and they will still have a significant advantage over their peers. For example, instead of putting them into after school sports, use that time to teach them things that matter more than what they learn during the school day.

2) Stay at home moms will be able to teach their daughters how to be wives and mothers better than career women. The effects of this cannot be overstated. It is exceedingly detrimental to women and their children to adopt the idea that their years prior to 30 should be filled with hedonistic frivolity and, once they start to show signs of age, what is left is what they give to marriage and children. One false idea widely promoted is that girls should experience the same kind of education as boys. Many reasons are given for this. Here is the reality: If you follow that advice, in addition to all the challenges women face in finding a husband worth marrying and learning the difficult lessons needed to be a good mother (all of which they will have to do with many years less preparation due to filling that time with vocational training and/or working), you are creating an almost insurmountable barrier of forcing your daughter to choose between the quick-and-easy reward of what tend to be simple jobs that women take and the hedonistic pleasure that money buys and the long haul, mundane role of a wife and mother. If you think many girls choose correctly when presented this choice, look around. While most eventually recognize the Faustian bargain they have made, they almost never do so until they are 30+ and their ability to qualify for a good husband and learn what it takes to be a good wife and mother is exceedingly reduced. To avoid unnecessary suffering and maximize her joy, a young woman should know everything she needs to know to be a good wife and mother and be seeking for that at the earliest possible age.