Back when the public schools were closed or online, someone I know burned themselves out working overtime to get the money to send their kid to a priv

Kids Can Recover From Missing Even Quite A Lot Of School

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2021-08-17 18:30:06

Back when the public schools were closed or online, someone I know burned themselves out working overtime to get the money to send their kid to a private school. They figured that all the other parents would do it, their kid would fall hopelessly behind, and then they’d be doomed to whatever sort of horrible fate awaits people who don’t get into the right colleges.

I hear this is happening again now, with more school closures, more frantic parents, and more people asking awful questions like “should I accept the risk of sending my immunocompromised kid to school, or should I accept him falling behind and never amounting to anything?”

You can probably predict what side I’m on here. I’m pretty skeptical of the value of schooling. Like everyone else, I took a year of Spanish in middle school; like everyone else who did that, the sum total of what I remember is “no hablo Espanol” - and even there I’m pretty sure I forgot a curly thing over at least one of the letters. Like everyone else, I learned advanced math in high school; like everyone else, I can do up to basic algebra, the specific math stuff I need for my job, and nothing else (my entire memory of tenth grade math is that there is a thing called “Gaussian Elimination”, and even there, I’m not sure this wasn’t just the name of a video game). Like everyone else, I once knew the names and dates of many important Civil War battles; like everyone else - okay, fine, I remember all of these, but only because the Civil War is objectively fascinating.

And I think that’s the whole point. We learn lots of things in school. Then we forget everything except the things that our interests, jobs, and society give us constant exposure/practice to. If I lived in Spain, I would remember Spanish; if I worked in math, I would remember what Gaussian Elimination was. I think a lot of the stuff you’re exposed to and interested in, a sufficiently curious child would learn anyway; the stuff you’re not goes in one ear and out the other, hopefully spending just enough time in between to let you pass the standardized test.

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