Re: SOC: Social Contract Education (Was: More Green Party)

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Mon Jul 03 2000 - 12:03:55 MDT

>Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> > The missing ones would probably include: Human Nutrition, Personal
> > Finance, Comparative Political Systems, Comparative Economics,
>> Self-Defense, Scientific Method, Logic, Philosophy, Art....
>The problem here, which I haven't seen mentioned is that most of these
>latter things are expected to be taught to people by their families
>as they grow up. The fact that we have to now consider moving them
>into schooling shows just how bad our "home education" system has
>gotten in many cases.

This sounds reasonable at first glance. But I wonder how accurate
this is historically. How far back are you going? What settings are
you considering?

Human Nutrition is pretty scientific. I suspect women were taught to
cook and men ignored the subject. Maybe feeding of children was
taught to women as part of child raising, but I don't believe
nutritional requirements were known until the relatively recently,
and was not routinely taught to men as part of taking care of
themselves. I think men expected their wives to figure out what food
to cook. What if we change this to Life Extension? Then it
definitely is a new subject not regularly taught at home.

I doubt that Personal Finance was regularly taught at home. I think
most children were taught how to carry on their father's trade.
Farmers were taught to farm. I don't think anyone explained how to
invest or save for retirement. Most extended families took care of
the elders and let the children take over the business. The concept
of self-financing through later years never occurred.

I suspect that Comparative Political Systems and Comparative
Economics were never taught. At least, they were not fairly
compared. I think traditional teaching would have been that our
native system is the best and those damn foreigners do things
strangely. Few would have taught their children to evaluate all the
different systems for strengths and weaknesses.

Self-Defense might have been taught in the "Wild West" of America in
towns where many people had guns. These would have been small
localities. Most of the frontier was peopled by farmers, miners,
settlers, and the like. They expected to settled some land and live
quietly. They may have had to encounter danger while travelling to
the west, but afterwards, they wanted to settle down.

I have similar doubts about Scientific Method, Logic, Philosophy and
Art. These were the studies of a Renaissance Man. Most common
everyday people never studied these topics. I believe that
traditional home schooling usually consisted of some basics of
reading, writing and arithmetic. I don't think scientific
experiments, classical logic and problem solving, philosophy and art
were usually included.

In summary, I think you are romanticizing home schooling too much.
Even if these things were taught in some homes, most homes didn't
even teach basic literacy. Most farmers taught farming. Most
hunters taught hunting. Historical people did not have as much time
as we have today. Often, their children started working the business
or in factories or mines when they were 12 or 13. The idea that they
had lengthy or extensive education, or that home schooling was
traditionally better than modern education is exaggerated.

Harvey Newstrom <>
IBM Certified Senior Security Consultant and Legal Hacker.
Engineer, Research Scientist, Public Speaker and Author.
Extropy Institute Benefactor since the last millennium.

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