The Pencil Today:

Should I Believe What I See?

I’m as ambivalent about home schooling as I am about traditional schooling.

The schools I went to, by and large, stifled creativity, served as public relations firms for a mythic America, and were more concerned with turning me into a malleable consumer than they were with helping me learn how to think. From what I understand, public schools these days have become even more proficient in churning out obeisant wage slaves.

No thanks.

1962 Graduating Class

Interchangeable Parts

But at least schools hire trained professionals who are dedicated to the art of teaching, even if many of them insist on calling it pedagogy. Home schools are run by, well, people.

People, after all, have proven themselves to be capable of championing and/or embracing Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, homeopathy, quick weight loss plans, angels, and Fox News. Do we want people teaching our kids?

Didn’t think so.

Nevertheless, it’s been my experience that home schooled kids seem to be far more capable of dealing with adults than traditional school kids. The typical 14-year-old handles being introduced to anyone over the age of 25 with about as much glee as I have when forced to clean up a hairball in the middle of the night.

Mopey Kid


Time and again, I’m nearly awestruck by the ease and charm with which home schooled kids converse with older folk. I just met a couple of home schooled kids yesterday at a swell outdoor party near Lake Monroe. They were 14 and 16, a girl and a boy, respectively, and they were more riveting conversationalists than two-thirds of the adults present.

Their mom explained: “They weren’t brought up in an environment of us versus them the way kids are in school.”

They looked me in the eye, they contributed witty comments, they seemed curious about what I had to say — in short, they were human beings and not just cardboard cutout mopey adolescents. And, when all is said and done, the job traditional schools seem to be best at is pumping out cardboard cutout personalities.

Whenever I run into a seemingly fully developed kid like the two I met yesterday, I immediately think, home school.

How many logical fallacies go into making that assumption? Tons, I suppose. Surely my evidence is anecdotal and, yes, I’m cherry-picking my examples. Throw in the complex question fallacy and the false dilemma fallacy, and you’ve only started chipping away at my premise.

The question I need to ask myself every time I think I’ve seen another proof that home schooling results in dynamic, lively, connected teenagers is: Have I just been assuming that every single mopey teen I run into goes to traditional school?

Answering that question won’t prove or disprove the efficacy of home schooling in developing kids who aren’t alienated pains in the ass. That’s a tough nut to crack.

I’ll have to satisfy myself with the answer that there is no answer just yet.

We Only Believe What We See

I tell the story above to illustrate how easy it is — even for such a titanic intellect as this keyboard clacker — to come to a conclusion based on incomplete or faulty data. And the sad thing is, apparently, pretty much all sides of the political debate today view this holy land through such a fogged lens.

A study by researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey finds that better than one-third of the voters in these United States believe Barack Obama still is fudging his birth certificate, one out of four of us are certain that US government officials at least knew about the 9/11 attacks before they happened, and one of five of us are convinced Obama stole the 2012 election.

Obama Photoshopped

Guess Who!

All in all, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe in one or another political conspiracy, and I’m not talking about the cozy daisy chain that big business, Congress, and the corporate media have been stuck in since time immemorial. No, I mean conspiracies wherein elected archcriminals and Dr. Strangelove types plot to control the world through false flag and black bag jobs, mass hypnosis, and/or the surreptitious planting of substances or microchips within us.

The truth is we’re bored with reality and really want the world to be a series of episodes of The Twilight Zone.

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