Best Valedictorian Speech Ever?

I was impressed enough to believe this was a fake, but I found the YouTube of Erica Goldson reading it at her graduation.

YouTube here.

Coxsackie-Athens Valedictorian Speech 2010

Here I Stand

Erica Goldson

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years . .” 
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?” Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.” “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student. “Thirty years,” replied the Master. “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?” 
Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

This is the dilemma I’ve faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, “We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don’t do that.” Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.

H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. … Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim … is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.

To illustrate this idea, doesn’t it perturb you to learn about the idea of “critical thinking.” Is there really such a thing as “uncritically thinking?” To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?

This was happening to me, and if it wasn’t for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren’t we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.

The saddest part is that the majority of students don’t have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can’t run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.

For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, “You have to learn this for the test” is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.

For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.

For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.

So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn’t have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.

I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a “see you later” when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let’s go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we’re smart enough to do so!

Burdens and Blessings

I have held off blogging about The Enigma in the hopes that she would blog for herself; such a thing would be extremely challenging, and I’ve seen some kids do it who are then attacked by their commenters as being fakes.

There is a process called “facilitated communication” by which one person holds the brain-injured person’s hand at the wrist and this helps the brain-injured person “type out” a message on a board. The reaction from the casual bystander is to think the facilitator is doing it, not the brain-injured person. (Of course, anyone who tried to force The Enigma to do anything would realize how silly an idea that was.)
You can read about one aspect of the controversy here. The Enigma is one of those kids who has gradually gained independence in facilitation. For some things, she doesn’ t need any help at all any more.
In the previous post, Troop mentioned something about having crosses to bear, and it reminded me of a discussion I’d had with a friend when The Enigma was around ten. He was talking about a basketball player or movie star who had a handicapped kid (maybe adopted one, even).
“They say it’s a blessing? Is it?”
“What?”
“Having a special needs child. Celebrities are always talking about what a blessing it is.”
“Are you nuts?”
I thought—and I still think—this is just a stupid celebrity thing. I mean, what are they going to say: “Every day is a soul-crushing burden”? (Not that I have felt that way, but I’ve certainly seen parents who did.)
It’s hard to enumerate the costs. Financially ruinous, of course, several times. (Most recently, shortly after being reduced to a part-time employee, The Enigma incurred a $12,000 dental bill.) My own health shot (or at least diminished), as I’ve spent 15 years tending her at nights because she doesn’t sleep well. (Health experts disagree on a lot of things, like nutrition and exercise, but they all seem to agree that not getting enough sleep will kill you.)
To say nothing having missed many of the joys of a normal life with her, and feeling that loss acutely as each of her siblings grow up.
A blessing?
But then, it has to be said that if the condition is horrible, some of the fallout has been decidedly positive. The Enigma attended a special school where they said their ABCs and motored her through doing cut-outs; at twelve, with the help of the Institutes, we put her on a home program, where she ultimately developed the ability to comprehend over 20 different languages.
So, her siblings also have been homeschooled. The Boy was a particular beneficiary as he could’ve skated through school on charm.
Also, looking into alternative approaches to handling The Enigma’s condition led to the elimination of my allergies, and seems to have The Boy on the road to recovery for his diabetes.
Now, I’ve come to understand The Enigma somewhat better over the years. We don’t really understand these kids—I’ll get into why in a later post, but curiously tantalizing fact is that blood tests on them have revealed compounds similar to hallucinogens—and it’s true that they are alien to us, in the sense of their experience and intelligence. (Homo sapiens bases its idea of intelligence on the ability to speak.)
But even respecting that difference, let’s not pretend that brain injury is not a deficiency. Even if it results in hyper-intelligence in certain areas (as I believe it does, which is something else I’ll get into later), let’s not go down the deaf route of declaring some kind of legitimate lifestyle choice.
It’s a challenge. And a struggle. But as Troop points out, there are many crosses to bear. If there’s a sin, it’s allowing yourself being defined by the burdens rather than the blessings.

The Bitter Homeschooler

This came to me in an e-mail. I think it’s kind of funny, and while there’s a lot of truth, I’ve never felt bitter about the questions. Intriguingly, most normal folk are mildly interested by the concept. Teachers on the other hand split between very supportive and rather indignant. (Without fail, the indignant ones are hard-core union-lovin’ Leftists.)

  1. Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is (and it is) it’s insulting to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?
  2. Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.
  3. Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
  4. Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.
  5. If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.
  6. Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling.You’re probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.
  7. We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.
  8. Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.
  9. Stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.
  10. We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.
  11. Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my
    children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.
  12. If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, lease understand that you’re calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.
  13. Stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in “homeschool,” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it’s crowded and icky.
  14. Stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day,just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education (and many of us prefer a more organic approach) we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.
  15. Stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get
    to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
  16. Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.
  17. Stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days, I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.
  18. If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t,thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.
  19. Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as her parent. I don’t see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.
  20. Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be
    as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.
  21. Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s homeschooled.
  22. Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.
  23. Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.
  24. Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get because they don’t go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.
  25. Here’s a thought: If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

I found the source of this. It’s by Deborah Markus, and was originally published here.

Today Is Not That Day, Part 5

Well, actually, yesterday wasn’t that day. Pardon my lag.

The President gave a speech to all the little prisoners yesterday. You know the ones I’m talking about: The ones sentenced to 12 years of school?

I don’t care what he said. Well, I do care what he said, but it’s not the issue. (This is like health care: It wouldn’t matter if it were perfect and free, it’s not an appropriate task for government. The injury added to the insult is that it will mediocre and overpriced.)

I wouldn’t always be against a speech being played in class; Pearl Harbor or 9/11, for example, the President could come out and say something, and that’d be appropriate. But just casually? Like this? Feels like Orwell.

I could make another point, too, about how the government education system creates people who are unable to survive on their own and feeds into the government welfare system, which fosters an inability to survive—and how despite all this neither system can be meaningfully reformed or eliminated—but this would just bring us to healthcare again.

The Boy Gets A “B”

The Boy was very pleased to discover he’d received a “B” in his first college course. I’m–well, I come from a family where “A"s were expected, and barely noted, but I was pleased because there was a lot of work and pressure associated with this grade. He went from keeping his own schedule and deadlines to keeping someone else’s very quickly.

And what’s more, he learned stuff. He can talk about movies now in a fairly erudite fashion. I often found more than a bit of disconnect between classes I learned from and classes I got "A"s in.

Anyway, I learned stuff, too, about what he needs work on. And, not surprising, it’s just more reading and writing. That’s what education used to be, mostly: reading and writing. And, mostly we’re talking form and style, with a few grammatical/punctuation issues. The content of what he wrote was pretty damn good. (He wrote a "memoir” of himself from the perspective of his shoes. Funny guy.)

Homeschooling or not, exposing your kid to a college class ahead of time is probably a good idea. Recommended.

Cons of Homeschooling?

No, this isn’t about homeschoolers who have gone to jail, but about the negatives to homeschooling, as put forth in this article.

Some of these are kind of dubious as negatives, IMO. Like the first two: having to accept your kids the way they are and them having to accept you, and having to accept full responsibility for your life and actions. I mean, you can avoid those things a little if your kids go to school, but mostly you’re just fooling yourself if you think that you can get away with doing them for long, no matter who you farm your kids out to during the day.

And I’m sure the writer of this knows that perfectly well.

A lot of these are matters of courage. And a fairly mild sort of courage at that (but not one to be disqualified). Having to answer a lot of questions, angst, paving your own way and standing up alone are all matters of courage. There is a chance that some petty bureaucrat will decide to destroy your life, of course, which is not insignificant. But we all face that threat, increasingly, and it’s not going to get any better if we all keep our heads down and do what our masters want.

So that just leaves a few other issues.

Do you have to be more resourceful than ever? Maybe. But it’s never been easier. You don’t have to go to libraries, museums, parks, or anything else, because you have more at your fingertips than the wealthiest, most powerful people in the world had 30 years ago. And that information can make it that much easier and cheaper to go to libraries and museums and parks as you wish.

Do homeschoolers have to struggle with balance more? No, not really. They perhaps have to struggle with balance differently from other parents. It’s funny, though: Even back when The Boy was at a regular school, and I signed him up for scouts, I was sort of dismayed that scouts was an excuse for father-and-son time.

I already spent tons of time with him, even back then. (His younger sisters had not yet been born, I was making great cash part time, and even working at home some days.) I was trying to expose him to things I had no experience in! I’ve never needed an excuse to spend time with my kids, or a structured occasion (like scouts), but the issue of spending time is an interesting one I’ll come back to at the end.

Working parents have to juggle their work and other schedules with their kids’ school and extracurricular activity schedules, homework! (And most parents seem to be spending more time actually educating their kids through homework than the schools are doing) That’s a serious balancing act!

But then, Takahashi is talking about becoming so consumed with homeschooling that you forget your own interests, which I think isn’t such a big problem once you find your homeschooling groove. Part of becoming consumed by your child’s education stems from the structure of traditional schooling. There’s a competitiveness, a race condition in every class, in every year, and with the entire track from nursery school on.

You’re missing out in part of the fun if you just map traditional school on to homeschooling. The Flower loves her Egyptology, and her butterflies, and her engineering projects, and while she works consistently on her basics, it’s really the extra time pursuing the things she loves that will fuel the passion for learning we’re all born with.

Remember, a homeschooling parent has 365 days a year to draw on. That’s more than double the number of days for some public school years. Private school years are traditionally shorter, in fact, because a public school gets paid to run while a private school costs money to run. And most of the days they do attend school are wasted.

So, you know, you’re not exactly competing against the Jesuits, if your goal is just to give your kid a better education. (And you can beat the Jesuits, too, pretty easily, if that’s what you want to do.)

Which actually brings me around to the point I wanted to touch on back with my scouts story. Homeschooling requires self-discipline.

The home/school/work segregation enforces a certain structure. This structure is a good substitute for actual self-discipline. I’ve seen my mother in and out of work over the years, and when she has a job, she’s a machine–not only does she do her job, she produces in the other fields she’s interested: Quilts get made, bread gets baked, races get run, clothing sewn, whatever. This is quite apart from excelling in her work, which she does.

When she’s out of work, she seems to have no time for anything. And it’s impossible to find out what she’s done with her time. It took me a long time to figure it out, but without the structure of a job, she tended to fritter and fuss. (I’m much the same way.)

Homeschooling requires you to create the discipline for your children–something most would agree many parents go light on these days, but you also have to create, you know, prarie style discipline. You need to make sure the work gets done at the times it can best be done. (Doing intellectual work in the mid-afternoon, e.g., is usually a bad idea.)

Academics, chores, extra-curricular responsibilities all have to be managed by you well enough so that you can teach the kid how to handle them, and ultimately let them take over those responsibilities so you can go back to slacking.

In the meantime, you have to get plenty of rest, eat right, exercise–you know, be an adult. That has to be, by far, the biggest insurmountable “con” of homeschooling. We’re at a bread-and-circuses point in our culture, where nobody has to grow up or do anything they find unpleasant.

If you’re homeschooling, you’re going against that, doing work you don’t need to to produce kids who are also going to tend to embrace work habits that are archaic. You’re an ant in a world of grasshoppers, basically.

But, well, somebody has to keep the world going.

Freeblogging!

The inimitable Freeman Hunt has had a blog for quite some time, but I never linked to it because she didn’t blog much. But since the new baby came around she’s stepped it up a bit, so I added her to the roll. She has a couple of posts I wanted to call out, too.

Item the first: He Is Not Coming. This is a rather depressing and scathing indictment on modern society, not entirely undeserved. But I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion. How many people 235 years ago fit the mold that Freeman outlines? A small percentage, to be sure. We have a much smaller percentage today, to be sure, but we also have one-hundred times as many people (in this country). The percentage can afford to be smaller–with the only rub being that there has to be an appreciative audience.

I believe a segment of the audience is getting more receptive with each passing day.

Also, while The Boy and I are looking at learning Latin (on Victor Davis Hanson’s advice), I would note that the Founders did not know the language of relativity, of computing, of information science and so on. The game has changed and education needs to reflect that. Today, the primary skill may be knowing how to sip from the firehose.

The past had its festering effete as well, even if today universal education and socialism has allowed them to spread their disease as a philosophy.

Finally, I’m not sure we need a “he”. I think we need–and may have–a “we”. That’s where the “he"s and "she"s will come from. We don’t need a revolution: We need a hundred revolutions. The rot came from the top down; the cure will come from the bottom up. Economics may work better supply-side; liberty must needs be demanded.

Item the second: Freem also linked to a blog called "Life is Not a Cereal” with an entry on what to do if your homeschooling kids get “school envy”.

Homeschoolers are not immune to “grass is greener”-itis. This is almost entirely resolved by acquainting them with the realities of industrialized schooling? Yes, those kids get to have recess. But, yes, they must take it, whether they want it or not, it is always an exact amount of time, and hell, you never know when you’re going to be stripsearched.

As the entry also points out a little bit of consumerism can take the edge off: Let the kids buy “back to school” supplies or lunchboxes, for example.

Finally, it’s not unheard of for homeschoolers to let their kids take the senior year of high school. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with that, though it’s preferable that they have their college degrees first.

Anyway, check out Freem’s blog. Oh, especially these pictures from her grandfather from 1952. She claims they’re military but they look an awful lot like The Thing From Another World to me….

You See, Bob, It’s A Problem Of Motivation

One of the advantages of home-schooling is that you can motivate your child idiosyncratically. In fact, education should be idiosyncratic: Just logically, you want to maximize what your child learns, so you should really direct it as gingerly as possible.

A simple example is reading material. The most successful English classes I had gave broad parameters for reading material. Meanwhile, the books that everyone has to read, are often loathed for the rest of the student’s life. And very often (kaffcatcherintherye) they’re more about what the teacher thinks will be important and long-lasting versus what actually is.

And, of course, what is important? There are a lot of gray areas.

But I think it’s generally safe to agree that the reading and writing material handed out to early grade-schoolers is pretty worthless. (Same with music handed out to people learning the piano, too! It’s almost like they want reading or playing to be boring.)

So, how to motivate a first- or second-grade reader? Reading’s not so much an issue for The Flower. She likes to read in bed at night.

But writing is more of a problem. First of all, it’s an obsolete skill! (No, really, The Boy’s notes all have to be typed!) But setting aside the issue of writing-by-hand, there’s a matter of what to write.

What motivates The Flower? What makes her want to write and re-write and write some more?

Contracts.

She’s drawing up contracts delineating her rights and responsibilities, what services will be rendered against what the rumener– renumer– what she’s gonna get paid.

Another lawyer.

Well, The Boy went through that phase, and it’s passed. So, there’s always hope.

The Boy Goes To College

We had planned to send The Boy off for the winter session, but it’s a really, really big deal around here to get a 13-year-old in. The Dean has to give personal permission, papers must be signed, oaths sworn, etc. This all magically vanishes at 14.

Bureaucracy is a wondrous thing.

Not complaining, mind you: There’s still plenty ‘round here to teach him.

Anyway, The Boy is at his first class today. Summer session is a dicey time to start. Classes are relatively intense (two hours a day, every day) and, of course, you have the “teacher factor” magnified. An easy teacher is probably going to be extra easy in the summer, while a harder teacher is going to concentrate all the work he’d normally give into half the time.

He wanted to take a business or economics class–he’s got his eye on an MBA before 20–but they were full. I suggested the cinema class. I figure that it will be interesting, and I hope not to grueling–but it will get him used to being on campus. (And get him some legit university credits.)

Update to come shortly.

Links You May Have Missed, But Probably Would Like To See, If Only You Knew About Them

These are for me as much as you. I’ll thank me later. Mostly from Twitter.

Via Freeman Hunt : The blog of Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose” PBS series. Funny that for all the PBS crap I got shown in school, this wasn’t among the viewing options.

Via Andy Levy via Allahpundit: Face transplant story with pictures. Amazing.

More on the voucher situation from the WSJ: “If, however, you are a pol who piously tells inner-city families that public schools are the answer – and you do this while safely ensconcing your own kids in some private haven – the press corps mostly winks.”

Also, today is not the day where I wish I sent my kids to public school.

27% of all marketers suck? Sounds a little low to me.

Funny and short: Why copywriters should be native speakers.

Cringely talks about the future of television on the Internet. It’s interesting.

Hot: Bill Whittle schools John Stewart on the history behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The beauty of being a useful idiot is that you never have to research and you never have to say you’re sorry. Because, damn the facts, you’re right, and Harry Truman was a war criminal.

Lastly, Tabitha Hale aka Pink Elephant Pundit has started doing a radio show/podcast/audio blog/whatever the hell the kids these days are calling it. Episode One is here. I was going to listen to it, but there’s, like, the entirety of “Walk This Way” at the front and that used up any time I had, plus confused me.