Althouse | category: education



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"When I see the boys going to school and doing whatever they want, it really hurts me. I feel very bad."

"When I see my brother leaving for school, I feel broken, Earlier, my brother used to say I won't go to school without you. I hugged him and said you go, I'll join you later. People tell my parents you shouldn't worry, you have sons. I wish we had the same rights."

The Taliban have said that schools and universities are only temporarily closed to women and girls until a "suitable environment" can be created.... Regarding some of the other restrictions, the Taliban say they were imposed because women were not wearing a hijab (head covering) or following Islamic laws.... 
"We always wear a hijab. But it doesn't make a difference. What do they mean? I don't understand," Tamana says....

"[W]hether children should work more hours in dangerous jobs appears to be settling in as a partisan issue."

Writes Helaine Olen, in "Expanding child labor is exactly what America’s kids don’t need" (WaPo).

The words "appears to be settling in" make me wary. And what are "dangerous jobs"? 
Republicans in statehouses nationwide are racing to make it easier for companies to hire youngsters.... In Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed legislation doing away with regulations demanding 14- and 15-year-old teens receive a work permit before taking on paid employment. A bill in Ohio seeks to allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work until 9 p.m. during the school year, in defiance of federal law. In Minnesota, a Republican legislator introduced legislation to let the construction industry recruit 16- and 17-year-old workers. In Iowa, a bill in the state’s House of Representatives would make it easier to employ 14-year-olds in the meatpacking industry. Unfortunately, yes. A bill co-sponsored by Sens. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine) and Maine House Democrats Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree would allow parents who own logging operations to employ their 16- and 17-year-old children to operate mechanized equipment — under supervision....
Let’s be clear: We’re not talking about kids babysitting, getting a summer job, or working at the mall for a few hours after school, all of which are perfectly legal. We’re talking about teenagers working long and late hours year-round in often dangerous occupations, endangering their health, rest, safety and future.... 
If there are concerns about a labor shortage, expand the number of legal immigrants, help teens get work permits to do safe after-school jobs — or simply raise wages. What doesn’t make sense is for one party to be more concerned about the imaginary threat of drag queen story hours than about jobs for children that could cause irreversible harm to their life prospects.

Oh! I was not expecting drag queens to make a late-breaking appearance in this column. There's always some issue that's more important than some other issue and you can always call out your antagonists with a charge that they're more interested in one thing than another. And we can argue forever about where all the various threats appear on the continuum of real to imaginary. 

What's at issue here is teenagers working — 14 to 17 year olds. How much do we want to protect them from work? We're not talking about the government requiring them to work. The government does require them to attend school — at least until they reach the "dropout age." But what jobs are available to them if they choose to work? Why does this break down into a partisan issue? The WaPo columnist would have us believe it's that old problem of Republicans lacking what Democrats brim with: empathy. 

ADDED: You know what is "dangerous... mechanized equipment"? A car. Why do we let 15 and 16 year olds drive? They could kill themselves and others and often do! And what about a power lawnmower? Google the question and you'll see it's generally accepted that 12 is old enough. And of course, we let teens join the military and use the most dangerous equipment in the most dangerous contexts when they are 18. 

Nothing suddenly changes at 18, so if you're a year or 2 younger than that, and you can drive a car and use a lawmower (and a snowblower), what workplace machinery is too dangerous for you? I suspect that some of this is about depriving young people of options that might reduce the number of seats filled in the high schools of America.

"Fields once wide open to English majors — teaching, academia, publishing, the arts, nonprofits, the media — have collapsed or become less desirable."

"Facing astronomical debt and an uncertain job market, students may find majors like communication arts and digital storytelling more pragmatic.... And yet another important and dispiriting part of the story is that the study of English itself may have lost its allure, even among kids who enjoy reading. They are learning to hate the subject well before college. Both in terms of what kids are assigned and how they are instructed to read it, English class in middle and high school — now reconceived as language arts, E.L.A. or language and literature — is often a misery.... By high school, 70 percent of assigned texts are meant to be nonfiction. Educators can maximize the remaining fiction by emphasizing excerpts, essays and digital material over full-length novels... A typical high school assignment now involves painstakingly marking up text with colored pencils in search of 'literary devices' — red for imagery and diction, yellow for tone or mood, etc. Students are instructed to read even popular fiction at an excruciatingly slow pace in the service of close reading in unison. They’re warned not to skip ahead. You wouldn’t want anyone to get excited!"

Writes Pamela Paul in "How to Get Kids to Hate English" (NYT).

Of course, most reading in school should be nonfiction! Older children should be reading science and social studies, learning things about the world, finding out what may interest them enough to lead to a career. 30% of the school day is plenty of time to take up the challenge of somewhat difficult fiction. As for "popular fiction" — read that on your own free time, whatever you want, at any speed. 30% of your school is still for reading fiction, and yet this columnist thinks it's somehow disastrous.

"A head teacher has apologised after replacing all the mirrors in a girls’ lavatory with motivational posters urging them to stop wearing make-up...."

"A picture shared online showed one that read: 'If all girls started wearing no make-up and comfortable clothes, guys would have no choice but to fall for girls because of natural beauty.' Others say 'Beauty is nothing without brains' and 'Dear girls, make-up is a harmful drug. Once you start using it, you’ll feel ugly without it'.... Neil Morris, the head teacher, [said t]he mirrors had been removed... to stop the lavatories becoming a 'congregational social area'.... 'The English department had used this as an opportunity to provide some argumentative discursive letter-writing,' he added. 'They put up some provocative posters.... This has produced some frenzied, powerful writing and debate. With hindsight, the posters should have been placed in the classroom area, not in one toilet.'"

"My parents, who were low-income and immigrants, instilled in me the very great importance of finding a concentration that would get me a job..."

"... 'You don’t go to Harvard for basket weaving' was one of the things they would say.... So, when I came, I took a course that was, like, the hardest course you could take your freshman year. It integrated computer science, physics, math, chemistry, and biology. That course fulfilled a lot of the requirements to be able to do molecular and cellular biology, so I finished that, for my parents. I can get a job. I’m educated.... I took courses in Chinese film and literature. I took classes in the science of cooking. My issue as a first-gen student is I always view humanities as a passion project. You have to be affluent in order to be able to take that on and state, 'Oh, I can pursue this, because I have the money to do whatever I want.'... I view the humanities as very hobby-based."

"People start to re-examine their lives. Let’s do something we can wrap our hands around."

"Knowing how to go into the woods and find a mushroom that you can take home and cook for dinner feels like something solid, or tangible."

The NYT is stirring up travel ideas for East Coast people to go to the West Coast and compete with the locals looking for things growing in the wild. It's the opposite of locavorism... is that the word? I'd like to suggest locavoraciousness... a word I just coined.

I mean, don't the locals treasure their foraging spots? And here's a man who's commercialized what I would think would be carefully shielded lore. Or is that a silly concern when we're talking about the San Francisco Bay area? But isn't this NYT article at least playing with the concept of getting close to nature? That doesn't fit with getting on airplanes and flying thousands of miles! And what about the damage to the environment when you fly? I think you ought to take an on-line class in foraging, and the class should focus on how to forage within walking/biking distance of your home. Bring back "Stalking the Wild Asparagus."

For my Wisconsin readers: Here's what you need to know.

ADDED: A reader shows me that DuckDuckGo returns some earlier uses of "locavoraciousness," so I withdraw my claim of coinage. And I vow to check DuckDuckGo before claiming any coinage in the future. 

"The E-Sports High School... was founded with the intention of feeding the growing global demand for professional gamers...."

"In truth, few of the students will become pro gamers. E-sports have never caught on in Japan, where people prefer single-player games. And careers are short anyway: Teenagers — with their fast-twitch reflexes — dominate. By their mid-20s, most players are no longer competitive." 

The "unexpected demographic" is the young people who are simply refusing to go to school, such as "Torahito Tsutsumi, 17, [who] had left school after bullying drove him into a deep depression. He spent all day in his room reading comics and playing video games. When his mother, Ai, confronted him about it, he told her that his life was 'meaningless.'"

"Last week, in a conversation with colleague Gail Collins, [Bret] Stephens argued that a couple with a combined income of $400,000 a year doesn’t necessarily have a lifestyle we’d describe as 'rich.'"

"'They’re scrimping to send their kids to college, driving a Camry, if they have a car at all, and wondering why eggs have gotten so damned expensive.' 'Granted,' said Collins, which was the most fascinating part of this exchange.... How have liberals gotten so comfortable with the idea that $400,000 a year — more than what 98 percent of the population makes — is really just a middle-class income?..."
Compared with the old establishment that survived on inherited wealth and social position, they are insecure, and many worry that their offspring will be downwardly mobile, which leads them to spend virtually all of their outsize disposable incomes on preparing the children to become star performers in the next round of competition.... 
What self-respecting mammals don’t want their kids to have it at least as good as they did? At the median household income, that’s even a semi-plausible demand, because here all government needs to provide is median-grade public goods.... If you would be satisfied knowing that your child had a secure but unremarkable life managing a Walmart in some exurb, the government could probably guarantee that.... 

But — as McArdle sees it — if you worked hard enough to get to $400,000 a year, you expected something bigger for yourself and then you'll probably want the same — and more — for your children, and — overspending for them — you're stuck with an ordinary life for yourself. The Camry. The eggs.

Is that really the explanation for the Collins/Stephens agreement? I don't know. But if it is, there are some good solutions for young people looking on and thinking I don't want that to happen to me:

1. Don't have children.

2. Don't get the idea that you're special and you need to win in economic terms. If you sort of win — within the range that you're likely to win — you'll still have an ordinary life, and it will be much more work and much more disappointing. So come to terms with your mediocrity early. If you do this, it's easier to....

3. Live somewhere cheap (and close to nature).

4. Do some sort of work that you can enjoy and feel good about. 

5. Go ahead and have children. If you're doing ##2-4, you can skip the non-having of children. Make life about love, not boosting these random new humans to the next higher rung above some other couple's random new humans.

"Declaring Emergencies and Banning ‘Latinx’: First Acts for 9 New Governors."

A NYT article by Maggie Astor. 

From the list of Democrats:
Wes Moore... the first Black governor of Maryland... issued an executive order to establish the Maryland Department of Service and Civic Innovation. One thing it could oversee would be a program he suggested to let high school graduates do a paid year of community service....
Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania/Through an executive order, Governor Shapiro opened the vast majority of jobs in the state government — 92 percent of them — to people without four-year college degrees.

From the list of Republicans: 

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Arkansas Governor Sanders banned the word “Latinx,” a gender-neutral alternative to Latina or Latino, from state documents, calling it “ethnically insensitive and pejorative.” (The term’s increasing usage has been a subject of right-wing mockery, but most Hispanic Americans reject it and the broader debate over it does not fall solely along liberal-conservative lines.) She also signed an executive order forbidding public schools to teach critical race theory, an academic concept that is not generally taught before college but that conservatives often use as shorthand for a wide range of teaching about racial injustice....

I'm impressed that the NYT writer was relatively fair and accurate about what it means to "teach critical race theory." The left approach to talking about this issue tends to be to stop after noting that the theory isn't taught to grade schoolers. Yes, you could go into way more detail about what part of the "a wide range of teaching about racial injustice" poses a problem for conservatives, but — speaking of shorthand — this is shorthand. Good enough. 

"The tale may seem like a throwback to 'Never Been Kissed' and 'Hiding Out,' PG-13-rated movies that featured the high jinks of adults impersonating high school students..."

"... to report a news story and hide from the Mafia. But students at New Brunswick High School said they were worried that [Hyejeong] Shin’s behavior suggested that her motives were far less comical.... Students told a New Brunswick Today reporter, in a video posted to YouTube, that Ms. Shin had requested to meet at least some people she met at a location outside of school. One teenage girl, who identified herself as Tatiana, said that the night before the woman’s arrest she got a text from Ms. Shin that left her feeling frightened for her safety. 'All I wanted to do was make her feel comfortable in a new school,' she said."

Here's that video. 

It's surprising this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. The school doesn't want to make a new student feel excluded. And there must be many lost and lonely young adults who wish they could regain the structure and camaraderie of teenagerhood. The person is not necessarily a predator.

Maybe some people are genuinely confused and feel that they "identify" as a teenager. I'm actually giving some thought to whether I'm being insensitive to transgender people by putting "identify" in scare quotes and by using the word "confused."
"The tale may seem like a throwback to 'Never Been Kissed' and 'Hiding Out,' PG-13-rated movies that featured the high jinks of adults impersonating high school students..."

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