Reading, writing, arithmetic and life

“He came dancing across the water,
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.”
– Neil Young, “Cortez the Killer”

What does that have to do with what I’m blogging today? Nuthin, that’s what. It was on the radio when I started, and I like it a lot.
Went to see Garrett’s second-to-the-last game of the season today. He played particularly well, converting on a couple of nice drives and rebounding and defending exceptionally well. I think his team won, but I’m not sure because there’s kind of a lax attitude toward the scoreboard. Which is good. That’s why he’s playing in this church league. It’s very low pressure. (I should explain here that I’m not religious at all, though I defend anyone else’s right to be. As long as they don’t try to convert me. Or anyone who doesn’t want to be converted.)
Anyway, the low pressure part is the upside. The downside is it’s sometimes hard to talk to the kids. I’ll explain. Two or three years ago, I was an assistant for Garrett’s team. I enjoyed it. The kids were great. The only bad part came when I would ask about school and the grade they were in. Doesn’t sound like a difficult question, right? Here’s the answer I’d invariably get: “Well, that’s kind of hard to say. I’m home-schooled. I’m supposed to be in fourth grade, but I’m probably really in fifth.” You wouldn’t believe how often I got this answer. I warned my wife, but she occasionally made the mistake of asking, too.
It’s not that I have any great love for public schools. Garrett’s school has uniforms, and I hate them. It makes the kids just another brick in the wall. I’ve been called to the school two or three times to bring a belt that he forgot. And, trust me, doesn’t need. (I won’t even get into the time my wife got called about the other son and the first words she heard was, “We assure you, your child was safe.” Turns out he’d been “threatened” by his 75-pound girlfriend.)
But this home-school thing kinda freaks me out. Are most parents even qualified to be teachers? Mine weren’t. My big worry is that it is creating a generation of kids that have no idea of how to interact with their peers.
Children miss something by not being with people who aren’t like them, even if the kids who aren’t like them are mean and dirty and disrespectful and disruptive. Because guess what? There are mean and dirty and disrespectful and disruptive adults, too. And you can’t hide from them forever.
I respect that these parents are trying to protect their children. But there are also some pretty wonderful and wise and different people out there that these kids won’t ever meet if they don’t interact with anyone but people like themselves.
Parents might just be keeping them away from the new world in that palace in the sun. The one Cortez was looking for. The one we all want to find.
So I lied.


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