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

From: James Rogers (
Date: Mon Jul 03 2000 - 07:33:30 MDT

>Harvey Newstrom wrote:
> 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?

Strangely enough, there seems to be a cultural reversal going on in my
generation (I'm 27) with respect to food and cooking. Few American-raised
women in my generation are interested in food or cooking, yet most of the
men I know in my age group are really in to it. The notable exceptions are
women who were not raised in the U.S.; most of these still seem to like and
prefer cooking. All the really good cooks I know in my age group are men,
and the occasional imported woman. This is, of course, a generalization
and I haven't observed it in the older generations very much, but I have
talked about it with a lot of people and in many households for my
generation, the men do most of the cooking because the women either don't
know how and/or don't want to. (I am in this position, and am a superb
cook, even if I do say so myself. :^)

My guess is that society may have pinned that interest/duty on the gender
that was least interested in it. I don't think cooking has been
de-assigned as an "official" gender role for all that long. I do see that
cooking ability among men is becoming a respected skill; one does not have
to worry much about being ridiculed for doing "girl stuff" if you enjoy

> 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 agree. Most people are, and have always, been left to learn for
themselves. I was lucky in that I got a basic grounding in these things
at home and was intelligent to pick up the rest myself.

The benefits of teaching basic economics and personal finance to every
child would be almost beyond calculation for a society. Most social
problems today stem either directly or indirectly from poor economic
choices and bad money management.

> 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 think "self-defense" as currently used is a modern construct. The only
self-defense that went on in the "Wild West" was probably against animals
rather than people.

The reason I say that "self-defense" is a modern construct is that, to a
certain extent, it implies a different social contract than I think
existed in, say, the Wild West. The difference is that today individuals
have abdicated the responsibility to defend society. In the Wild West, it
wasn't the thug versus the individual, it was viewed as the thug versus
society and an action in self-defense was a social good. Today it has
become more of an individual problem, man versus man, and if you are lucky
you won't get shafted when the police show up; you are no longer defending
society, you are merely defending yourself. Current self-defense classes
typically reflect this change in thinking.

-James Rogers

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