Who Knew?

 

I read just about everything written by Michael Lewis, starting with Moneyball, through all the  sports and financial tomes he published. He has interesting perspectives and is a good storyteller. The sports stuff is good entertainment and thought-provoking, the financial stuff is a little chilling, and his latest pronouncement on Canadian housing as outlined in an article in MacLean’s adds to an already disturbing picture of market manipulation on a grand scale leading to the destruction of liveability in much of Canada’s urban landscape. The recent revelations of casino money-laundering in B.C. only adds to the feeling that there are subterfuges being used to skirt both the letter and the spirit of laws and to pervert the market mechanisms that are supposed to provide a measure of affordability for those residents who need to work and live in our communities.

Studies seem to indicate that foreign ownership is not the major problem, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the phenomenon of overseas capital as one of the exacerbating factors, especially when it appears that there are “underground banks” in play and that real estate developers constitute the largest group of those flushing large quantities of cash through the gaming system. Also in play is the accumulation of debt by those signing up for mortgages, some of which may not be within the realm of realistic repayment, particularly in case of a retrenchment of the market where the asset might become less valuable than the sum of the debt incurred to purchase.

The U.S. is being run by a clique of bandits who have assumed the reins of power and are busy ensuring that the satisfaction of their greed, as well as that of their puppet masters, is being satisfied to the detriment of society and the environment. We in B.C. have toiled under a government for the past decade and a half whose main mission seemed to be sequestering the benefit of the commons for the benefit on party donors, many of whom are in finance and real estate, either directly or indirectly. This has generated a socio-economic structure where there has been a pretty thorough decoupling of any relation between housing costs and salaries/wages, meaning that a lot of folks can’t afford to live anywhere within reasonable proximity to where the jobs are, and that, increasingly, jobs go begging because there is no one around to work them as they flee what are unrealistic markets for housing. The knock-on effects of twisted markets are being felt outside the urban centres as people sell out of the rich markets and take the resulting cash to lower-cost areas, but the real estate and finance people follow them, and prices rise sharply with the arrival of these newly-wealthy real estate refugees, pricing the locals out of their own market.

Real estate people love it, as both buying and selling causes the honey to stick to their hands, bankers love it, because the create money from nothing and take it back in as a representation of real wealth, and officialdom seems loathe to anything other than minor tinkering for fear of alienating powerful constituencies and not wanting to be tagged as having caused the pain that will inevitably result from a marketplace that is so out of kilter. However, that pain will come, and experience teaches us that those with the greatest political clout will be those who feel it least, while those who have pawns in the game will take it on the chin. After all, unless you live in Iceland, you haven’t seen any of the people responsible for the last crash held to account for it. The prospects for the next “correction” don’t seem all that rosy either.

Committed to Canada

 

How strange it can seem that, when a trade dispute arises, one of the principals in the dispute seems all of a sudden to become solicitous of the well-being of the constituents of one of the other parties involved in the dispute. Such seems to be the case with the current round of sniping over aircraft contracts, originally between Boeing and Bombardier. With Bombardier having a good chunk of its investment held by the Province of Québec and with Bombardier, over the course of several decades, having been the beneficiary of considerable largesse on the part of the federal government, one might conclude that Boeing has some legitimacy in their claims against Bombardier. Silly me, I neglected to pay attention to the duopoly that is supposed to govern the whole of the aeronautical sphere, airline division, to be divided more or less equally between the lion and unicorn that are Boeing and Airbus. So when Delta Airlines purchased a significant chunk of Bombardier’s C100 (I believe it was), Boeing cried foul and asked for the imposition of tariffs to countervail the unfair advantage that Canada offered in terms of subsidies. 220%, boys, just like that! Make America Great Again, and a follow-up of another 80%. We’ll show them! Never mind that Boeing is so fat with US military contracts of the type that could unto themselves be considered a subsidy that they didn’t, it would seem have a comparable aircraft to sell to Delta, but Delta could easily buy something that Boeing makes to keep Boeing happy…so Canada is making rumblings about playing hardball by negotiation a deal for used Australian F-18s rather than a purchase of new F-18s from Boeing, but would these not be serviced by, hmmm…, Boeing? If this conjures up thoughts of Alice in Wonderland, you’re probably on the right track. And then we get this, on the Web, on television, and who knows, it may be in print as well, I no longer read pulp dailies, so I don’t know:

Committed to Canada

Committed they are, to continuing to sell as much as possible at the highest profit to a country whose aeronautical industry has been consistently suborned over the last many decades to the interests of outfits like Boeing. They will toss us a bone from time to time, but Boeing is committed to generating shareholder value and nothing else. This commitment is reminiscent of the protestations of eternal faithfulness at the altar that is little other than a prelude to divorce. It’s offensive.

The Plague of History?

Saw this at Marianne.net this morning:

(Is it necessary to unbolt the historic figures who’ve become an embarrassment? Renaming streets and removing statues of former slavery advocates: the controversy has arrived in France.)

A local city councillor brought this debate to the fore some months ago and it stirred up much debate, a lot of it less than civilized, and raised the whole question of how we perceive and deal with history. In question were the name of a local school and a street that carried the name of an openly racist politician and government agent whose policies did considerable harm to both orientals and First Nations people.

A first thought is the actual history that gets presented, initially at home and at school and the extent to which that history becomes the internal narrative. I know it was instructive coming to Canada in the last months of high school and being subjected to an entirely different perspective on history than what I had absorbed through the school system in the U.S., where I grew up. The cognitive dissonance set up by the new narrative, along with considerable openness and encouragement from parents who had a view of history that often was more nuanced than the textbook version, has lead to a willingness to at listen to “alternate” views of history and a desire to uncover as much of the overall narrative that I can form at least a provisional outlook on history and how that might guide any actions that stem from that outlook.

The second thought is that we all tend to construct our own narratives based on our own experiences and our exposure to whatever depth and breadth of history we have encountered. We’ve likely, many of us, had the experience of connecting with someone who has read the same text as we have, or watched the same documentary, and come away with a completely different take on what actually happened and what might be the consequences of those actions. This phenomenon can really muddy the waters of possible debate and common thought leading to action. Even when we can arrive at consensus about historic events, it’s a bit of a trick to intuit motives on the part of the players, and even trickier to map out a course of action, or inaction, as the case may be.

Is there a reasoned and generally acceptable approach to dealing with the enshrined who turn out to non-conforming when it comes to contemporary mores? Can the enshrined remain atop a pedestal with a degree of opprobrium attached to their notoriety? Can we use these discussions as a jumping off point for acknowledgement and possible redress of past wrongdoing? The evidence thus far isn’t all that encouraging with many not wanting to unearth the past (implying that it’s being kept out of mind to begin with) and others unwilling to acknowledge that some of our forbears acted out of less-than-benign motivation, with some stepping deeply into the pool of racism, sexism and general barbarism. How do those of us alive today square our own attitudes with the deeds of illustrious forbears with feet of clay? Is there sufficient will and resources to effectively redress the wrongs that were done under previous iterations of our societal structures?

All the ideas and questions in play need to be part of the process of dealing with A.W. Neill, with Sir John A. Macdonald, with all the Confederate Statuary that riled folks up at Charlottesville, and all the centuries of French public figures whose likenesses are bolted to pedestals around France. I suspect that there are other jurisdictions where the same discussions will arise, in addition to which, we need to deal more forthrightly that we do currently with the leading figures of our own days and the deeds that they perpetrate in our name.

 

A Tale of Two Cities

…except, in this case, it’s a case of two attitudes defining a single city.something that seems to come to the fore when crisis is upon us. The constructive side of the two outlooks was outlined in some depth is Rebecca Solnit’s book A Paradise Built in Hell, a telling litany of how self-help and community organization develops in times of great stress and potential societal breakdown.

Houston in the time of Harvey is very much a case in point.

Case #1 showed up on a news broadcast that my wife was watching the other day, and the owner was quoted elsewhere in the press as saying something like: “To Hell with profits.” When people see human need and the common good as a higher calling than whatever the status quo was, we’re all better off.

 

 

Case #2 is not such a happy outcome, in which a mega church had to be shamed into contributing to the well being of the dispossessed and the despondent, despite the clear message in the New Testament about duty of care. This piece from iconoclast sportswriter Dave Zirin, delves into the shenanigans of not only televangelists, but sports franchise owners and the havoc they wreak, with seeming impunity, on the public accounts (remember that roof replacement at BC Place?)

 

The Houston Stadium Grift Comes Home to Roost

 

One can only hope that, in this battle for the soul of humanity as we enter a time of greater danger and precarity than humanity has faced in and phase of its “civilized” existence, the answer will lie behind Door Number One, with figurative mattresses for all.

 

 

 

Somebody Finally Got The Right Answer

 

Georgia Strait Photo

Times Colonist Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carole James pulled the rug out from under David Black’s bid to bring the Commonwealth Games back to Victoria. Black et al labelled the action a disappointment and a serious missed opportunity. Black, whose press organs dish out regular doses of corporate pap and local feel-good stories hidden among all the advertising, had, at one point, spoken of games that would be at no cost to the taxpayer, if I remember correctly, but in this instance the bill was to start at a cool $400 million with a guarantee of coverage for any cost overruns.

The original announcement that a group was seeking to host the Games had me jumping up and down out of my seat and shouting “no!” repeatedly at the screen as i relived the whole business of the Olympics, the referendum, the promise by Larry Campbell not to do it and the subsequent reversal and when do we actually get to see the books from 2010? Anything that hides under a rock the way that Gordon Campbell buried the process and all the financials so that no one could ever hold him to account.

Notwithstanding the secrecy surrounding our own IOC fest, it seems clear with a quick scan of installations in Brazil from last year and from the turmoil from within the IOC itself, that Games, on the whole, are a terribly expensive distraction from important business, and one might be lead to suspect that the IOC is not the only body using sport and high ideals to hide an agenda of land speculation and corrupt contracts, though that would be pure conjecture on my part.

Thusly do I raise a glass in celebration of the voice of reason that said, in this case, “No, thank you.”

 

Amid The Storms, A Tempest In A Tea Cup

(The title refers to this post about musings on things ephemeral, like taste in music, the viability of a particular commodity in the market, and individual people, even as we experience social and environmental upheaval all around us. Maybe this is my version of fiddling as Rome burns.)

I first picked up a guitar in 1967, having been a trumpet player of sorts up until that point. It was a Harmony acoustic and I had to look twice to figure out that my left hand was supposed to be the fretting hand. I’ve been a little crazy in love with music as far back as I can remember and grew up in a family where all of us were involved recreationally with music, and there was often music being played on the hi-fi when someone wasn’t blowing on something or another.

I went right over the edge listening to a plethora of fine guitarists in the time where we lived within easy walking distance of the Fillmore Auditorium and a short bus ride from the Avalon Ballroom, and guitars ruled the sonic world as the rock, blues and jazz idioms got stretched. I’ve never gotten over it, having lived through several iterations of the blues rising from the dead, of rock reinventing itself, of the integration of the many musics of the world, and all the crossovers that defy classification bursting forth. I even fell in love with some of the twang of Nashville, as well as classical music and bits of just about everything, but I keep close to some of that bluesy-rocky guitar-drenched sonic assault that first bowled me over as a teen, to the point where I actually laid out money for instruments and took to playing.

I abandoned any thought of seriously seeking performance options about the time that I started to learn more than a few chords and some melody lines. I had a ’61 Strat that I bought out of a used shop in Stockton on a visit to a friend at UOP in 1969. Poverty forced the sale of it a year or so later. It was candy apple red and a lovely instrument, as attested by the new owner’s refusal, flat out, to sell it back to me a year or so down the temporal road.

Duane Allmän and Dickey Betts were big favourites so it wasn’t a total surprise that I bought my Gold Top about the time Brothers and Sisters was released. I still have it, and still play it, though with little of the fire and flare displayed by Betts and friends (Les Dudek also played one at a show the ABB played at the Coliseum that year). That was also about the time that Robin Trower surfaced as a solo artist, highlighting the next phase of the Hendrix legacy. The list of players got longer and longer, and continues even today with players like Eric Gales, Gary Clark and the like.

So this one aggregator to which I subscribe, Next Draft, had this reference to the demise of the six-string electric, occasion for some reflection. The trigger seems to be a somewhat steep fall-off in the sales of electric guitars, and the sentiment on the part of the author that there just aren’t the Guitar Gods that studded the musical firmament during the years between 1950 and 1990, say. It’s true that few achieve that stand-out status attached to the playing of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and the Eric Johnson/Joe Satriani, EVH crowd, but part of that is that there are elementary school students who can make a lot of the older folk sit up and take notice, at least in terms of navigating the fretboard with dexterity and speed. Then there is the so what factor, the been there, done that saturation of some forms of music with old-time guitar solos, riffs and fills, along with the yearning for something different. Some people will never appreciate the virtuosity of John McLaughlin because he strays so far from the simple-mindedness of pop hooks. His music requires attentive listening and associations with other phenomena than dating, so it’s just irrelevant to a lot of folks.

 

Sales might also be flagging because of market forces, such as the possibility that the market is just saturated. It doesn’t take too many years of selling a million and a half guitars to hit just about everyone who is going to persist at playing, and the antics of Jeff Beck in Blow-Up,

Jimi Hendrix at Monterey,

or some Pete Townsend stunts

are rare enough that most of these instruments persist out there in Nature, being bought and sold at a discount or a premium depending on name and provenance, in an eternal spiral of possession and relinquishment. The instruments after which six-string cognoscenti lust most have also become fodder for speculation with many of the most prized instruments ending up in display cases, never to be played again, while others might be subject to sales into collections where they will be played, but many of these collections are large enough that it’s unlikely that any but the most go-to instruments will see more than the occasional glimpse of daylight (stage spot?). There is a bit of a parallel with fancy cars of a sporting nature which really are meant for young folks, particularly the roosters on the way up saying something about their suitability for reproduction: those that can afford that luxury are generally old enough that they should be beyond trolling, just as many guitar collectors have become unsuitable candidates for seriously engaging with their instruments.

Last question (for now): does it matter? Music is based on change and we’re all witness to levels of change perhaps unprecedented in human history. Even at the small scale that popular music represents in the totality of human culture, itself an infinitesimally minor part of the universe we inhabit, this might signal nothing other than the passing of a generation into oblivion and its replacement with something else. I know I still love much of the music in question here, and that I have never taken to some of the succession of genres that have come along since it was new, ground breaking and fresh, but I wouldn’t ask anyone else to go down with the Guitar God Ship.

 

Bad Mouth

Politics is high school with guns and more money.
—Frank Zappa
Aside from the frightful causes of the rise of the current American administration and the even more frightful aspects of the administration itself, it is a telling spectacle to listen to these folks as they react to events such as a missile test on the part of North Korea. The tenor of the language is better suited to a clique of elementary schoolyard bullies than to international diplomacy. When Rex Tillerson sounds like a true elder statesman because of the bar being set so low, it’s clear that others, including the bully-in-chief, are going to leave much to be desired in the realm of linguistic capacity for conveying nuanced and thoughtful responses to crises of any nature.
That’s not to say that the traditional diplomacy, however eloquent, does not have much for which to answer, but the current crop are nothing of an improvement in any kind of substance that would counterbalance the vacuity and puerility of their language. It comes as no surprise that these folks are clearly out of their depth and damnably proud of it. It rather reminds me of another rather nasty little quip from Frank Zappa:
The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.

Junk Science, Junk Journalism

The good news is that traditional media, long since captured by the forces of monied greed and power, are bleeding value in a way that, under normal circumstances, would presage their demise in fairly short order. The bad news is twofold.

Firstly, we seem to have a government with a tendency to prop up said media in the name of perpetuating “Canadian Culture”. This is the culture that gave us environmental devastation, residential schools, unending war, the security state, laughable levels of economic and political inequality, contaminated food and water, climate disruption (despite all the pretty words) and a willingness to ignore the ills that confront large segments of the population, and I don’t see that it merits any support from its victims, nor should the “winners” be allowed to redirect their largesse toward PostMedia and its homologues through tax deductions or preferential policy. In the Free Market (a chimera and a camouflage if there ever was one) they should fail and disappear, remaining only in history as a reminder to those that would make themselves irrelevant to a broad swathe of the population.

There certainly is another side to Canadian culture, the dogged persistence of Terry Fox, the  farmers who ponied up to ship hay from one end of the country to another in time of drought and shortage, the folks who scheduled holidays to go and help with recovery following floods, the CUSO crowd who went to Africa and elsewhere to teach and make a selfless contribution to the betterment of lives in underprivileged communities, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who were so giving when disaster struck in New York City, the FN communities who flew to the rescue of passengers and crew of the Leviathan II , the communities and citizens who responded so generously to the appeal to support refugees and people who volunteer and donate to prop up the failing social safety net. Perhaps we could employ any contemplated funds destined for the press to repairing the tatters in the aforementioned safety net.

Sadly, secondly, it seems that Greenpeace, the target of Princess Margaret’s wrath, has indulged in some chicanery in enticing good folks to contribute to their fund to defend against Resolute Paper’s SLAPP suit. This would be entirely unconscionable were it not the norm, often in government circles, and frequently in the realm of commerce and finance. Our language and visual referents have been so twisted and diluted in the pursuit of commercial advantage as to border on incomprehensibility. People who do this at a personal level lose credibility and trust, eventually being shunned by those who practice a modicum of integrity in their dealings with others, while it seems normal practice in business where the caveats are buried, if expressed at all, in the fine print and legalese attendant on contracts and end user agreements.

Ms. Wente falls into her own morass when she allows her vituperative screed to be published under a headline that hyperbolizes Greenpeace as a menace to the world, after which she extends her hand to the Canadian public for alms to support her in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed.

D’Ya Think?

 

Crap! reacting to headlines on MSM sites is likely about as real a waste of time as exists in this universe, but there’s this on the landing page of the Globe this morning:

On the verge of being dethroned, Christy Clark’s BC Liberals seek atonement

It remains to be seen whether Clark will actually move out of the way. Certainly the publication of a piece by the Times Colonist written by none other than Perhaps-Shoulda-Oughta-Be-A-Guest-Of-Her-Majesty Gary Collins is emblematic of the coverage given by Postmedia folks and their ilk of the hazards of the Dipper-Green Arrangement, and as a long and tainted history has shown us, most anything wrought by Clark & Co. is likely not at all what it seems. You can almost hear the little crabs crawling around under the rock over the noise of the tide clamouring for change.

There is talk of flip-flops on donations, Oh,well, what have we here? this is the same idea floated tin the legislature six times by the opposition and which polled a vast majority of support from friend and foe alike. but was rejected by those who benefit most, and, strangely enough, have continued to benefit since the election of May 9. It reeks of closing the barn door about the time that the last horse wheezes across the finish line, and that’s without the caveat so often in play with Miz Christy: When? You can easily feature the interior chuckle when this promise materializes in the Throne Speech with the unspoken little thought bubble hanging over her head reading; “When hell freezes over!” It’s also easy for us to visualize the crossed finger behind her back, right over the tramp stamp of a leech emblazoned with the family motto: “Sucker!”

The same applies to the revelation that there is a bit of an *ahem* social deficit stemming from the last sixteen years of corporate giveaways, environmental rapine, a general tapping down the heads of those Less-Fortunate-But-Always-Wtih-Us poor folks, a rise in whose rates would impede the dotting of the landscape with bloated and useless megaprojects dreamed up like so many erector sets for the SNC-Lavalin types and their brethren whose names so prominently grace the BC Liberal donor lists.

Patience. Vigilance. A hair-trigger on saying what needs to be said as a veritable tsunami of bluster, wishful thinking and outright lies washes over the province. I really would like to see Messers. Weaver and Horgan get to put their political experiment to the test. Another election right away? Not so keen just yet, but that would also get us a look at the underlying strength of the NDP-Green accord: how would these two and their henches work out some form of collaboration to ensure that Clark loses the keys to the kingdom and that they would be able to move forward with a mutually-agreed program of forward motion and redress of wrong doings by the current régime.

Bullshit Baffles Brains

Uniconformity? Photo by Scott Webb, via Unsplash (https://unsplash.com)

 

It’s no mystery that there is a serious crisis in the operation of human society, and there are many explanations for why this has come to pass, but it looks increasingly as though humanity may be nothing more than a failed evolutionary gambit and that we are about to bring our temple down around our own ears in the most Samson-like fashion, at least partly through a lack of ability to deploy the reasoning that was touted as the distinguishing feature of humanity (our opposable thumbs may have been the instrument of our undoing).

 

This thought got somewhat focused most recently via a piece from urban homesteader Erica Strauss about the fine experience she has had schooling her children at home. There are a couple of really important and relevant reasons why this works, and she lays all this out in a very readable and thought-provoking manner that leaves me with more questions than answers (as thought-provoking pieces should).

Reason number 5 is a good place to start, because it is at the source of all that ensues. Says Ms. Strauss:

The Vice Principal isn’t a bad person, but her world is juggling legally mandated administrative bullshit constantly. I have very little tolerance for administrative bullshit on a good day, and when I think it’s jeopardizing the safety of my kid…well, I know a few terms that describe how deep inside the administrator’s intestinal tract such concerns should be filed, but they might scorch the eyeballs of our more delicate readers.

The public education system has become increasingly tied up with administrative constraints as a succession of governments in most locales have become more prescriptive about what will and what will not be taught and about how student and faculty interactions will be moderated. This, of course, coincides with the rise of litigious behaviour on the part of most everyone concerned with education. In most jurisdictions, the clear trend over that last half century has been to standardization of both instruction and of evaluation and the questions and answers that guide the educational process have been increasingly written by people who know how to run a business within the current paradigm and are more concerned with perpetuating that paradigm than they are with providing an education that will produce a society whose citizens will have some sense of belonging to a common, yet flexible entity. The intellectual and emotional agility to navigate and sustain the sense of belonging and the flexibility to tolerate and encourage a multiplicity of approaches to participating in and shaping society is difficult to engender when the answers must be machine-scored multiple choice in nature, and often, if there is only one right answer, the question it asked would have been totally irrelevant. The saddest part is that the education system abhors unresolved questions and conflicts and enforces conformity of one kind or another using the biggest hammer it can find. It’s the kind of authoritarian treatment that many would like to be able to implement themselves, but that has produced a likely preponderance of students who come through the system with a sense of having survived rather than having been launched on a path to some version of fulfillment.

From this idea stems the rest of the reasons for keeping the kids at home. “It fits our lifestyle” may not be for everyone, especially a household where either or both parents (or a single parent) has an enforced schedule that precludes any thought of spending any substantial part of the day with the offspring, but obviously works for those who have created a life that revolves around the homestead and where both parents, in this case, can devote time to both direct instruction and to the creation of experiential learning events. If we consider that the whole of the school day can be devoted to a “field trip” where there are directed experiences and reflections, we are already likely to generate more curiosity and interest that we would with the typical day in public schools shuffling from one desk to the next, and the encouragement to reflection without outside direction gives the possibility of even greater exploration and synthesis.

A quick digression might be appropriate here, because this is not intended as a diatribe against public schooling. There are many teachers and administrators who go to great lengths to provide students with the opportunity to engage in experiences that will stimulate reflection and questioning. There are, thankfully, still field trips, visiting guest speakers, internet explorations, work experience and other vehicles deployed by concerned educators to flesh out the bare bones of an educational curriculum that is almost constantly in need of supplementation. These educators also know how to modify and adapt both standard curriculum to the needs, readiness and abilities of their students, and they also understand that the impact of the experiences may be delayed as students process and integrate what they have seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched and shared with other students and staff. However, not all educators operate on this premise, and even those who do face enormous constraints in terms of time, resources and money, as well as strictures in operating procedures and militate against the implementation of anything that deviates in the slightest from the core curriculum and the published institutional routines.

Free from these strictures, parents can achieve what most educators can only admire from afar, and Ms. Strauss is quick to acknowledge that helping hands are readily available:

The resources for homeschooling in our area are incredible. We live in a little pocket of suburban Seattle with many homeschooling families and strong school district support for homeschoolers. In fact, there is a public homeschooling school – with a campus and everything – that we partner with.

If society encourages home schooling and fosters the initiative of parents by providing  resources and constructive guidance, and if there are other homeschooling parents willing to share resources and perspectives, the chances of desirable outcomes are considerably enhanced. This goes hand in glove with being curriculum nerds:

Tactically, we find the planning aspect of homeschooling just kinda…fun. My husband has his masters degree in Adult Education and designs educational curriculum for a living, and nothing makes me happier than a complicated, intricate project requiring nerdy research and multiple spreadsheets. Ask us to plan 4 years of classical high school education and we’ll call that date-night.

I suspect that the Strauss couple has much to contribute to the home schooling of other students in this little universe, endnote everyone would consider the development of learning maps for students to be pleasure on the “date night” scale, but almost everyone can have something to add to the resource pot and many can benefit from the expertise of those who know how to encourage and channel learning.  This is like public school with only the enthusiastic and knowledgeable educators and without the strictures and administrative bullshit.

The other two reasons fall into the general heading of a process that allows for allotment of time according to the needs of the student and the homeschooling parents:

 

Early grade homeschooling is more like one-on-one tutoring. Unless (student) is a giant ass, it takes us about 45 minutes a day to do a core curriculum – what we call “table work.” We cover math, phonics, handwriting, and reading. He’s 6, heading into 1st grade. That’s all he needs. Over the course of the day we also do history, some art, some science – but that happens more organically. That leaves him a lot of time to still be a kid and just play or deep-dive on his interests.

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling makes traveling with children so much easier. You can take advantage of off-season discounts and odd-routings to nab great deals on airfare, apartment rentals and more. You can hit popular destinations off-peak and spend less time battling crowds who all have the same 10 day spring break window.

 

There are some students who go through the standard school system as happy campers, navigating the shoals of curriculum, regimentation, staff and student personality issues and general growing pains with a minimum of fuss. For many, there are anxieties and conflicts to the degree where these vicissitudes can’t be seen as an opportunity to generalize and synthesize some constructive learning. and where the greatest need is for refuge: home schooling can provide that cocoon, but what Ms. Strauss shows is that there is more than shelter in the home school, that learning happens at all hours of the day and night and in physical surroundings far removed from the classroom. The outdoors can be the place and time for all manner of “curriculum fulfillment”, as can time spent at work with a parent, or a trip to the beach, or a visit to a local merchant, baker, or animation studio. Even those who are well-adapted to the maladaptive system often do a great deal of their real learning outside of the classroom, particularly once they can read, and as they learn to observe and interact with their surroundings, the whole world becomes the classroom in a way that is much less constricted than it has perforce to be for those spending the bulk of their days within the four walls of the schoolhouse. If a student doesn’t have to measure learning by keeping pace with his peers in a class, then time and space can be trump cards rather than limitations.

The fly in the ointment arises from this question:

If society is a common undertaking, how much commonality to we need to make it work?

A look at what goes on in what passes for society of late indicates that there is a lot of pull in different directions, intellectually, politically, spiritually and economically that makes us look more like cohabitants than social beings, and, with the “Let’s go to Mars first” crowd, we seem even less inclined to even cohabitate. The recent rise of the terms Fake News and Alternate Facts seems symptomatic of the splintering of any coherent knowledge that would bind us together as a society, and it looks, as times, as though there is an amorphous mass of humanity that is so deeply asleep as to be incapable even of denial of the need to establish common knowledge and, horrors, common sense. The way our current education system works, it seems unlikely that it can be much of a remedy for our current quandary, and the kind of home schooling undertaken by folks such as the Strauss family is great for those who have parents willing to shoulder the load, but for those students without such parents, the options close up quickly, and there will also be those who are homeschooled with the idea of narrowing the education to a set of tenets held closely and dearly by the educating parents who wish to isolate their progeny from the hurly-burly of broader society, meaning that there is a good possibility of cultivating citizens unwilling to participate and interact with all manner of groups in society that don’t share their world view.

There is, of course, no easy answer, and I fear that time and inertia will militate against our being able to achieve some sort of consensus balance in our educational endeavours, though Finland seems to have devised a system where they rely on a short school year, short school days, an inclusive and flexible curriculum implemented by concerned and involved parents and educators and which acknowledges the central rôle played by parents and students in engendering learning outside of school locations and hours. However, even the implementation of that sort of structure seems hard to envision in our current circumstances.

I, of course, have all the answers, but mostly, so does everyone else.