That being said, I better start doing regular dumps of my entries so that I have a backup of these occasional nuggets of wisdom.
A number of benefits are bestowed upon me the minute 8:30 A.M. rolls around on the Monday following my on-call week. The immediate benefit is that I am no longer on call and I am able to hand off any pending issues to the next victim... I mean engineer on the rotation schedule. I am particularly fond of that, since shedding responsibility can be an immensely pleasing action when you're tired and bitchy about handling stupid tickets for a week. The second benefit is that you find yourself with a great deal of extra time, time that is no longer being consumed by vague noises about problems that make no sense. When you go from having all your time occupied to having a surplus of the aforementioned commodity, you find ways to fill in the spare hours and minutes when you're at work. Recently I discovered that my supervisor (a very devout Catholic) is home schooling his children. At first I was rather surprised by this, I thought that by and large home schooling was a practice that had fallen out of favor, especially when you consider the demands it places upon the parent who is doing the home schooling. In today's hustling, churning, hectic world there are few families that have a single member who is able to hold still for ten minutes, let alone take the time to teach a child for five to seven hours a day.
Add to the equation the fact that my supervisor is now the proud father of five children, all of differing ages, and you start to really get a sense of the obstacles that his wife has to overcome.
Now don't get me wrong, I applaud him and his wife for taking on such a huge responsibility. I was only surprised they were home schooling because of the number of children that they had, and the amount of time that he's away from home and at work. I had thought he would be sending his children to a religious-based school, there certainly are a wide variety to choose from in this area (aside from being part of the corn belt, Illinois really is part of the bible belt too, even if it doesn't want to admit it). One of the reasons that he has cited for this was "by doing home schooling my wife and I can control what our children are exposed to, and what beliefs they might learn." I was cool with the whole idea, right up to that point. As soon as he spoke those words little red lights started to spin in my head and a siren went off somewhere in the back of my thought process.
I'll be the first person in the world to tell you that our public education system is a shambles. My opinion, quite simply, is that it's a walking, talking zombie that should be decapitated and buried before it does any more major damage. Corrupt board members, underpaid teachers, gifted students going unrecognized and un encouraged, challenged students being herded into "special" courses that really do little to help... in my twelve years in public education I saw all that and more. The school district that my parents lived in wasn't a bad one by any means, in fact it was probably one of the better ones because of the amount of yuppification that was taking place in my town. However, that fact didn't stop it from being a great example of what not to do if you want to teach your children and make it a worthwhile education (Some of the scandals in my school district even made their way onto the local evening newscasts). However, even with all those problems, with all those massive faults that have embittered me towards public education... all those problems aside, there is still one major benefit to public education: exposure. Children who attend public schools are exposed to opposing ideas, new beliefs, differing personalities. They are exposed to strife, politics and cliques. They are given a chance to interact in a microcosm, a miniature reflection of today's society and values. I do not deny that all these conflicting ideas and values, all these different personalities, behaviors and pieces of information can be very confusing. However, it is my firm belief that while confusing it can be very beneficial. Children should not be cookie-cutter duplicates of ANYONE. They should not be a replica of their parents, nor should they be the cogs that some school systems attempt to mold them into being. They should be their own person, find their own centers of belief and their own core set of values. How can a child possibly develop their own identity if they aren't exposed to other children who were raised differently than themselves? How can they find their own beliefs if all they are ever taught, if all they are ever allowed to witness are the ones that their parents hold, and all other external contact is carefully controlled and hermetically sealed lest some little idea that the parents do not approve of slip past? This sort of backwards, close minded thinking is responsible for some of the darkest times in the history of our species. I would think that we as a race might take away some lessons from it.
Now, if it's your personal belief that the world is flat, I am not going to demand that you change your mind. It's your right to believe whatever you want, just as it is my right to believe the world is, in fact, round. I can also understand the desire, even the need to instill your values into your children. It is, after all, your chance for two things: one, to help shape the world and two, have a small piece of immortality. The second is perhaps a more powerful notion than you might first believe, but think about it for a moment and you probably will start to agree. We all want to leave a lasting mark, and if we can instill a powerful enough belief into our children, maybe then it will get passed on to THEIR children because they felt it was important enough. That, in turn, could be passed on to the next generation, and the next, and the next, thus ensuring that a small part of you is continuing on. I can understand that line of thinking, and even appreciate it to some small degree. But I find it morally reprehensible to deny your children even the glimpse of another belief or idea simply because you don't agree with it, Saying that some other person's values are evil and corrupting is the lazy man's way out of this situation. You owe it to your child to give them exposure to the world so that they can learn how to function in it. How can they adequately defend the beliefs you're trying to teach them if they never knew there are opposing beliefs out there? It's a big world, and it has a way of steam rolling those who are not adequately equipped to defend themselves. Worse yet, when his children get old enough to think for themselves they're going to see the isolation they've been placed in and are probably (if they are even remotely like a typical adolescent) going to be prone to lashing out at both my supervisor and his wife for placing them there. Once the children are past that reactionary age and are better able to think through the situation they may come to resent their parents for not providing them the exposure necessary to become well-rounded, socially developed human beings.
Without the confrontation and social interaction that is provided by the public education system, it is my firm belief that these children will be stunted and ill-equipped to function in today's society. They won't know how to relate to their peers, they will lack understanding of how to interact with people who hold radically different opinions, and they'll be lost as to what to do when their own ideals are challenged. While I laud the goals my supervisor has set for this endeavor, I fear that the ultimate result will be a failure and may even end up alienating him from his own children.
Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide