I prefer not to post twice in one day, but this just came to my attention and it can't wait.

YouTube's ostensibly well-intentioned censorship of the Marketplace of Ideas is no doubt creating a large number of undesirable, secondary effects. (See the definition of bad economics in my previous post, "Inflation and Health Care.") But because these are less visible, or even invisible at present, it's hard for many people to be concerned—especially when the primary effect of that censorship is to suppress ideas they don't like anyway.

But this is something entirely different. The primary effect of YouTube's censorship of this warning about the dangers of fractal wood burning—from Ann Reardon of How to Cook That—ought to be concerning to everyone: People are going to die.

This video is not, obviously, the one YouTube took down. But Ann is re-posting the relevant parts from the banned video, putting her livelihood on the line should she further incense the YouTube gods, because it's that important. Here's the short version, but do watch the video—before it disappears. It's only 12 minutes long.

A popular internet "hack" called fractal wood burning because of the beautiful patterns made in the wood, is extremely dangerous and has maimed or killed a number of people who thought it would be cool to try. It's a process that involves ramping household current up to 2000 volts using a scavenged microwave transformer, jumper cables, metal spikes, and a liquid-soaked piece of wood, all done in a home environment by people who haven't a clue what they're doing—what could possibly go wrong?

Ann's video will show you what, clearly and graphically. Her warning had been building momentum (#3 spot when searching for "fractal woodburning") and undoubtedly saved lives, but that's now been lost, and even if YouTube restores the video on appeal, experience has shown it unlikely to be recovered.  I'm doing my part to get the word out.

Why YouTube took this warning down for violating its safety concerns, yet leaves the how-to videos up, is beyond even my conspiracy theories to explain.

 


I reviewed Ann's How to Cook That site, and it eventually became the inspiration for many of the creations featured in our grandson's Daley Delights business, but I have no financial stake in either of them. I do, however, get an occasional sample of the Daley Delights. :)

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, July 1, 2022 at 12:40 pm | Edit
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Not many of my readers are familiar with the writings known as the Apocrypha. I find it a shame it took me so long to discover something so important in classical literature and art, but better late than never. Anyway, parts of it are fascinating, other parts less so. For me, wading through the books of the Maccabees is somewhat of a slog, as I'm not fond of endless recountings of wars and battles—not here, not in the Old Testament, not in the Iliad—but that's just me. True, it's interesting to read about the historical period between the Old and New Testaments; nonetheless I find the stories of Tobit, Judith, and Susannah more enjoyable.

There are some gems hidden amongst the tales of fighting, and here is one of them, found in the first chapter of Second Maccabees:

When our fathers were being led captive to Persia, the pious priests of that time took some of the fire of the altar and secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern, where they took such precautions that the place was unknown to any one. But after many years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but thick liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it. And when the materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and what was laid upon it. When this was done and some time had passed and the sun, which had been clouded over, shone out, a great fire blazed up, so that all marveled. ... Nehemiah and his associates called this “nephthar,” which means purification, but by most people it is called naphtha.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, July 1, 2022 at 6:39 am | Edit
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When my economist husband tells me an modern article is both consistent with everything he learned about economics in college and in life, and has also taught him something new, I take notice. The article in question is Inflation Reaches Unicorns, by John Mauldin, and should be accessible at that link.

It truly is about economics: investments, venture capitalists, inflation, and yes, even unicorns ("large, well-known companies [which] are choosing to stay private long past the point where they would once have gone public"). It's a cogent and interesting analysis of how we got where we are and where we might be going.

However, what really made me perk up was some excerpts from a forthcoming book by Edward Chancellor, entitled, The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest. Here Chancellor is actually quoting "Bastiat"—probably French economist Frédéric Bastiat—and it's not clear to me where one ends and the other begins. It's the thought that counts.

In the sphere of economics, a habit, an institution, or a law engenders not just one effect but a series of effects. Of these effects only the first is immediate; it is revealed simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The others merely occur successively; they are not seen; we are lucky if we foresee them. The entire difference between a bad and a good Economist is apparent here. A bad one relies on the visible effect, while the good one takes account of both the effect one can see and of those one must foresee.

The bad economist, says Bastiat, pursues a small current benefit that is followed by a large disadvantage in the future, while the good economist pursues a large benefit in the future at the risk of suffering a small disadvantage in the near term. The American journalist Henry Hazlitt elaborated ... in his bestselling book Economics in One Lesson (1946). Like Bastiat, Hazlitt lamented the "… persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of any given policy, or its effects on only a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on the special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences."

As I read this, what struck me was its applicability to much more than economics. In particular, read the above paragraphs with an eye to the response of our leaders to the COVID-19 crisis, and you'll see a stunningly accurate description of "bad economics." A more obvious example can hardly be imagined of considering only the immediate effects of a policy, and its potential effects on only a special group, while not only neglecting, but actively suppressing, any thoughts about what might be the long-run effects of that policy on the community as a whole.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 5:25 am | Edit
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Here's another YouTube channel we've been enjoying: Chris Cappy's Task and Purpose. How on earth could I enjoy videos about military tactics, strategy, history, and weapons? Here's a quote from the channel's About section:

Chris Cappy the host is a former us army infantryman and Iraq Veteran. This YouTube channel is a forum for all things military. From historical information to the latest news on weapons programs. We discuss all these details from the veteran's perspective. The first priority with our videos is to be entertaining.

I guess it's the last sentence. Chris Cappy is knowledgeable and entertaining. He may bill himself as "your average infantryman," but he's not your average military college professor droning on in the front of an auditorium filled with bored students.

The video that hooked me is the one below, How Camouflage Evolved (15 minutes). I'm certain we have grandchildren who would find it as enjoyable as I did.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 25, 2022 at 10:40 am | Edit
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A friend, who has been experiencing the dating scene, offered the following warning.  I just fancied it up a bit.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 6:46 am | Edit
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Back in another life, I worked for the University of Rochester Medical Center. However, that was not how I met David H. Smith, the discoverer and developer of the now-common vaccine against Hemophilus influenzae b. That relationship began when my gynecologist suggested that I might want to help Dr. Smith out with his latest research project.

The following quotes are from the URMC article linked above, which recently came to my attention and inspired this post.

After training in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston, Dr. Smith served as a captain in the US Army in Japan. While a medical officer, he became the first to link chronic granulomatous disease to a deficiency in white cells. Back at Harvard, he continued his postdoctoral research in molecular genetics and bacteriology and served as chief of lnfectious Diseases at Children's Hospital from 1965 to 1976.

Harvard's legendary professor, Charles Janeway, an early researcher on the human immune system, became Smith's role model and mentor. At a time when much research focused on antibiotics, Janeway challenged his young doctors to expand their vision. At the bedside of a child enduring the agony of meningitis, Janeway said, One of you should try to find a vaccine to prevent this terrible disease. David Smith took up that challenge, and a I5-year quest was begun.

While at Harvard, he continued studying the biology and epidemiology of bacterial drug resistance factors and in 1968 began the search for a vaccine to protect against Hemophilus influenzae b., the cause of bacterial meningitis. Working in close partnership with Dr. Smith was his research colleague Porter W. Anderson, Ph.D.

In 1976, Dr. Smith was called back to the University of Rochester to chair the Department of Pediatrics. ... Dr. Smith and his research team worked flat out on the search for a Hib vaccine. By the early 1980s, the first Hib vaccine had been tested, licensed, and was being produced in a small laboratory within the medical school.

When I entered the scene, in early 1979, Smith and Anderson had a vaccine that worked for older children, but nothing to protect infants and very young children, a critical, dangerous gap. The research project that I joined was working to address the problem by vaccinating women who were hoping to become pregnant, and following their immune responses, through testing for antibodies in the mothers' blood during pregnancy, the babies' blood after birth, and also in breast milk.

It worked! I had a proper immune response, as did our child, who gained further protection through my milk.

I don't know what steps led from that study to the eventual development and acceptance of the H flu b vaccine in use today (it's now called Hib), but even though it was not yet publicly available, they—at my request—very kindly provided it to our second child, born in 1982.

Stung by the resistance of any major pharmaceutical company to buy rights to the vaccine, Dr. Smith decided to create his own pharmaceutical firm. In 1983, he resigned his chairmanship and founded Praxis Biologics. ... By 1989, Praxis had the largest number of new vaccines in clinical trials and one of the finest manufacturing facilities in North America. The initial Hib vaccine (1990) was the first vaccine to be licensed in the U.S. in a decade. The second, a conjugate vaccine, was the first to be licensed for universal use with infants since the rubella vaccine for measles and mumps.

("The rubella vaccine for measles and mumps"? Okay, we all know what they mean, but the article could have benefitted from a proofreader.)

The following is from Dr. Smith's obituary in the New York Times:

In the early 1980's, about 20,000 cases of Hib invasive disease in preschool children were reported to the Federal Centers for Disease Control. In about 12,000 of those cases, the children had meningitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes that can be fatal or cause permanent brain damage. In 1997, a few years after the vaccine became available for infants, 258 cases were reported.

It was a privilege to be part of that work.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 19, 2022 at 12:23 am | Edit
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I'm not generally one to splurge when it comes to our kitchen. We still have the same wallpaper that was on the walls when we moved in more than 35 years ago. Same floor, same cabinets, same counters. Porter has made a few minor additions, and we've had to change a few things out (sink, appliances) as they broke. My philosophy has always been, if it still works, why replace it? And when I do buy something, I'll spend money on quality, but not luxury. That's not me.

Until now. Actually, January.

I needed new pots. When we replaced our stove a few years ago, I decided not to get an induction range, as attractive as they were, because I'd have had to replace almost all of our pots and pans, and I didn't want to do that. But we did get a flat-topped stove, which I like a lot, but unlike our previous ranges it turned out not do well with pots are at all warped. I lived with that for quite a while, but it finally reached the point where it just wasn't working. I needed new pots.

I can't remember where I first heard of Hexclad. I do remember thinking, "What a cool idea," then looking at the price and going, "Nope." The old pots still worked well enough back then. But I kept hearing about Hexclad, and I really liked the concept: a pan that cooks like cast iron, needs only a one-time, very easy seasoning, can be washed in the dishwasher, and has a non-stick surface on which you can confidently use metal utensils.

So when this set turned up for $299 at Costco, I was primed and ready.

I liked them so much that 13 days later I ordered a small pot and a small frying pan directly from the Hexclad store. They were on sale. One thing I've learned: never buy a Hexclad item for full price, because it's going to be on sale eventually. That means it's only wildly expensive rather than impossibly expensive. Even with the Hexclad direct sale, the Costco prices are better—but they only have a select few offerings.

Until July 3, Costco has this attractive pan set, and this griddle available and on sale, along with the pot set I bought earlier and a couple of other pans. I don't need any of these at this point. But the pans and the griddle are rather tempting, I'll admit.

I have no connection whatsoever to the Hexclad company—other than as customer—or to Costco for that matter. And I can't vouch for more than six-months' experience. But so far, I am finding this cookware to be delightful.

You can find Hexclad products on Amazon as well. One caveat: the company has a lifetime warranty, which, as is common with such things, only applies to the original recipient, and does not cover cookware sold by "unauthorized dealers." I don't know what constitutes an authorized dealer (Costco apparently is), but it's just something to watch out for.

End of commercial. This wasn't intended to be an ad....

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 16, 2022 at 2:10 am | Edit
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I have lived under three different American flags.

Flag Day, 2022

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 at 6:57 pm | Edit
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From the official travel.state.gov website:

The CDC order from December 2, 2021, requiring persons aged two and above to show a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States, is rescinded, effective June 12, 2022, at 12:01AM ET. This means that starting at 12:01AM ET on June 12, 2022, air passengers will not need to get tested and show a negative COVID-19 test result or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding a flight to the United States regardless of vaccination status or citizenship.

Hallelujah! I expect a large jump in foreign travel now, because as we know from vivid personal experience, the threat of finding yourself stranded in a foreign country for an indeterminate period of time is a big deterrent to travel.

The news is not quite so good for tourist destinations in America, as the order is still in effect requiring foreign visitors to be vaccinated. We haven't quite caught up to countries like Switzerland, which officially states,

There are currently no entry restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No proof of vaccination, recovery or testing is required for entry into Switzerland.

But we have made a very good, if overdue, start.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 12, 2022 at 3:20 pm | Edit
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Back in April, we ran into an opinion piece by Gary Smith entitled, "Believe in Science? Bad Big-Data Studies May Shake Your Faith." (Yes, I do save up articles in my Blog Idea Bank. Sometimes they're too out of date by the time I get around to them, but often they are still relevant.) The link is to the original article at Bloomberg, but if you've run into your free three article limit, you should be able to find it in many other places, including the New York Times and our own Orlando Sentinel.

Smith's thesis is that the current availability of so much data that can be mined, refined, poked, prodded, and manipulated is making for bad science. There's some good science, too, but a lot that is simply nonsense—and we don't know which is which.

The short article is worth reading in its entirety, but here are some quotes to pique your interest.

The cornerstone of the scientific revolution is the insistence that claims be tested with data, ideally in a randomized controlled trial. ... Today, the problem is not the scarcity of data, but the opposite. We have too much data, and it is undermining the credibility of science.

Luck is inherent in random trials. ... Researchers consequently calculate the probability (the p-value) that the outcomes might happen by chance. A low p-value indicates that the results cannot easily be attributed to the luck of the draw. [This number was arbitrarily decided in the 1920's to be 5%.] ... The “statistically significant” certification needed for publication, funding and fame ... is not a difficult hurdle. Suppose that a hapless researcher calculates the correlations among hundreds of variables, blissfully unaware that the data are all, in fact, random numbers. On average, one out of 20 correlations will be statistically significant, even though every correlation is nothing more than coincidence.

All too often, [researchers] correlate what are essentially randomly chosen variables. This haphazard search for statistical significance even has a name: data mining. As with random numbers, the correlation between randomly chosen, unrelated variables has a 5% chance of being fortuitously statistically significant. Data mining can be augmented by manipulating, pruning and otherwise torturing the data to get low p-values. To find statistical significance, one need merely look sufficiently hard. Thus, the 5% hurdle has had the perverse effect of encouraging researchers to do more tests and report more meaningless results.

A team led by John Ioannidis looked at attempts to replicate 34 highly respected medical studies and found that only 20 were confirmed. The Reproducibility Project attempted to replicate 97 studies published in leading psychology journals and confirmed only 35. The Experimental Economics Replication Project attempted to replicate 18 experimental studies reported in leading economics journals and confirmed only 11.

It is tempting to believe that more data means more knowledge. However, the explosion in the number of things that are measured and recorded has magnified beyond belief the number of coincidental patterns and bogus statistical relationships waiting to deceive us.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 6:28 am | Edit
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I've written before about our city's decades-long interest in innovation, particularly with regard to wastewater solutions. Here's another reason to be a happy resident-and-taxpayer, featured in our local city newsletter. Turn to pages 4-5 to read about our public-private partnership that aims to turn two problems—algae bloom in lakes, and biosolids from wastewater treatment—into oil and natural gas. Our little pilot program produces only 4-6 gallons of crude oil in a day, which is 1/7 of a barrel at best. (The U.S. consumes about 20 million barrels of oil per day.) But hey, it's a start! And our lakes are getting cleaner.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 8:15 am | Edit
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When our kids were in school, individual learning styles were becoming a big thing. They were each given a test that supposedly categorized them as Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic learners. We could see some truth in the results, though the skeptic in me wasn't sure it had any more basis in reality than finding some truth in the Chinese Zodiac descriptions you see on the placemats in cheap Chinese restaurants.

Here's a presentation that agrees with my cynical view (15 minutes):

The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning styles approach within education, and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing.

There's a large body of literature that supports the claim that everyone learns better with multi-modal approaches, where words and pictures are presented together, rather than either words or pictures alone.

Ultimately, the most important thing for learning is not the way the information is presented, but what is happening inside the learner's head. People learn best when they're actively thinking about the material, solving problems, or imagining what happens if different variables change. 

I call this just another bit of evidence for the harm we do when we label people. You're a kinesthetic learner, she has ADHD, he's "on the spectrum," I suffer from face blindness.... Sometimes labels can help us understand ourselves better, but more often they encourage us (and our parents, teachers, employers) to shut ourselves up in boxes and put limits on our abilities.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 5, 2022 at 3:40 pm | Edit
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You heard it here first.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has always seemed dangerous, and somewhat demented, to Western eyes, and his invasion of the Ukraine seems to bear out that impression.

Commentators delight in explaining how deluded the Russians were at every level, expecting to find Nazis on every corner and a hero's welcome from the Ukrainian people. How is it that they had only pre-Chernobyl disaster maps and thus had no idea what they were walking into when they dug into highly radioactive soil? Why do the soldiers and officers so often act like poorly trained recruits? And why is their military equipment so old, sometimes almost half a century out of date?

Everyone knows by now that COVID isolation has driven mental health crises through the roof, and anyone who watched the Olympics knows that Putin has taken those recommendations to the extreme. Is it possible that the president of Russia has simply been driven batshit crazy?

Maybe. Probably.

On the other hand, there could be another explanation.

Suppose you're the president of a country with expansionist ambitions and a burning envy of Western military technology. What do you do?

  • You could pour a lot of money into developing and building modern equipment for your own military
  • You could ramp up your espionage network and steal the technology and then build your equipment
  • You could buy captured American military equipment from the Taliban

Maybe your economy won't stand up to a large increase in military spending. Maybe you don't have the resources to build what you need. Maybe you resent the time it would take to do the job well. So what do you do?

Maybe, just maybe, you invade a nearby, relatively defenseless country. And you do it very poorly. Like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick,* you aren't hoping to win. At least not yet.

You send in your greenest troops and your vehicles and guns otherwise destined for the scrap heap. You lose no opportunity to tweak the rest of the world with your arrogance, your obvious incompetence, and your crimes against civilians, thereby raising the hackles of countries with the greatest array of the most advanced military technology in the world. You allow the war to drag on and on, giving these countries plenty of time to pour billions and billions of dollars worth of advanced technology and powerful equipment into the land you have invaded but not yet captured.

And then?

Then you bring out your A team, your first string, your best and most experienced soldiers, along with the most modern equipment you can muster, all of which have been held back just for this moment. In one fell swoop, you crush the opposition and capture all that lovely best-in-the-world military might.

 You lost some inferior soldiers and a bunch of scrap-metal tanks. So what?

Well, okay, you didn't count on the damage a massive embargo would do to your economy. In the end it might have been cheaper to do the work yourselves.

Then again, with all that captured equipment and intellectual capital, the next invasion is going to go a lot more smoothly....

 


*No relation to Fenwick, Connecticut, as far as I know

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 7:42 am | Edit
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In church yesterday, as in many places across the land, veterans in our congregation were asked to stand and be honored.

I'm fine with that—veterans should be honored every day.

But here's something to remind us that Memorial Day is for honoring those military heroes who cannot stand up because they are lying in graves all over the world, having given "the last full measure of devotion."

Here, today, I once again especially remember Porter's granduncles, who each served, fought, and died in France during World War I, as part of the U. S. Army's 101st Machine Gun Battalion.

Harry Faulk

Harry Gilbert Faulk, of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, son of Olaf Frederick and Hilma Reuterberg Faulk, wounded in action near Chatêau-Thierry, France, July 25, 1918. Died of his wounds later that day.

 

 

Hezekiah Porter

Hezekiah Scovil Porter, from Higganum, Connecticut, son of Wallace and Florence Wells Porter, killed in action near Chatêau-Thierry, France, July 22, 1918.

 

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 30, 2022 at 7:47 am | Edit
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My constant prayer during Pandemic-tide has been that we would learn to think outside our traditional, largely unquestioned, boxes of life. And so we have.

Many more workers—and their employers—have discovered that remote work can be a good thing. This is not new; back in the day we called it "telecommuting" and it came with both blessings (work from anywhere at any time) and curses (work from everywhere all the time). But, thanks to the pandemic restrictions, the number of people exercising this option has grown to where it's having a significant effect on the demographics of the country. Just ask the citizens of New Hampshire, whose real estate prices have been driven through the roof by pressure from Boston- and New York City-dwellers who no longer need to live in an expensive city to work there. Again: blessings and curses.

More exciting to me is the surge in home education.

A friend sent me this Associated Press article from mid-April, confirming what I've been hearing elsewhere: Homeschooling Surge Continues Despite Schools Reopening.

The coronavirus pandemic ushered in what may be the most rapid rise in homeschooling the U.S. has ever seen. Two years later, even after schools reopened and vaccines became widely available, many parents have chosen to continue directing their children’s educations themselves.

Families that may have turned to homeschooling as an alternative to hastily assembled remote learning plans have stuck with it—reasons include health concerns, disagreement with school policies and a desire to keep what has worked for their children.

[A Buffalo, New York mother] says her children are never going back to traditional school. Unimpressed with the lessons offered remotely when schools abruptly closed their doors in spring 2020, she began homeschooling her then fifth- and seventh-grade children that fall. [She] had been working as a teacher’s aide [and] knew she could do better herself. She said her children have thrived with lessons tailored to their interests, learning styles and schedules.

Once a relatively rare practice chosen most often for reasons related to instruction on religion, homeschooling grew rapidly in popularity following the turn of the century before [it] leveled off at around 3.3%, or about 2 million students, in the years before the pandemic, according to the Census. Surveys have indicated factors including dissatisfaction with neighborhood schools, concerns about school environment and the appeal of customizing an education.

As usual, even a good article gets some things wrong. Home education is no new phenomenon, but as old as the hills. Abraham Lincoln was just one of many homeschooled presidents, though in those days they called it "self-educated." And for a very long time it had nothing in particular to do with reasons of religion. Children were home-educated by necessity (schools unavailable, or children needed at home, e.g. Lincoln), because of an intellectual mismatch between child and school (e.g. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein), because the atmosphere and philosophies of the schools differed significantly from those of the parents (sometimes associated with a particular religion, sometimes not), or simply because parents and/or children were dissatisfied with what the schools had to offer. In the last quarter of the 20th century, it is true, homeschooling ranks were swelled by Evangelical Christians who had discovered that the Amish were right: home education could meet their needs better than public or even Christian schools. This raised the public's awareness of an educational phenomenon whose adherents had mostly been trying to fly under the radar, and led to home education's establishment as a valid and legal educational approach—at least in the United States. This new familiarity—nearly everyone now knew a homeschooling family—opened the field to many others, with varied reasons for their choices.

The proportion of Black families homeschooling their children increased by five times, from 3.3% to 16.1%, from spring 2020 to the fall, while the proportion about doubled across other groups. [emphasis mine] ...

“I think a lot of Black families realized that when we had to go to remote learning, they realized exactly what was being taught. And a lot of that doesn’t involve us,” said [a mother from Raleigh, North Carolina], who decided to homeschool her 7-, 10- and 11-year-old children. “My kids have a lot of questions about different things. I’m like, ‘Didn’t you learn that in school?’ They’re like, ‘No.’”

[The mother from Buffalo] said it was a combination of everything, with the pandemic compounding the misgivings she had already held about the public school system, including her philosophical differences over the need for vaccine and mask mandates and academic priorities. The pandemic, she said, “was kind of—they say the straw that broke the camel’s back—but the camel’s back was probably already broken.”

I find it especially exciting that minorities are discovering that they are not locked by their circumstances into an educational system that is not meeting their needs. The pandemic restrictions have given families of all descriptions the opportunity to taste educational freedom*, and many, having made that leap unwillingly, have chosen to stick with it.

Choice is the thing. If the great relief expressed by many parents at the re-opening of schools is any indication, I'd say that home education is unlikely to become a majority educational philosophy in America. But it works so well for so many families, including those who opt for different educational choices at different times in their lives—we ourselves made use of public, private, and home education at one time or another—that I'm thrilled to see homeschooling on the rise all over the country, and even the world.

Our established educational system is understandably threatened by any challenge to its power. (Nonetheless, we had many teachers who cheered on our own homeschooling efforts.) But powerful monopolies—in education as well as government, medicine, transportation, information, and all other essential services—are dangerous, even to themselves. Healthy competition can only make our public education better.

One new homeschooling mother summed it up well:

It’s just a whole new world that is a much better world for us.


*I realize that many homeschoolers are cringing at the idea that the at-home learning offered by schools (public and private) during the pandemic bore any resemblance to the true freedom of home education, since it usually attempted to replicate as much as possible the restrictions inherent in formal, mass instruction. Nonetheless, it opened eyes ... and doors.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 1:34 pm | Edit
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