Influence people

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Teach Your Children

Every year, Washington, DC's public schools spend more per child than any state in the nation ($29,409, to be precise). Yet DC's students continue among the nation's poorest performers in math and reading, and only 60 percent finish high school.

We understand the reason, as  our forebears understood it a century ago, when the following appeared in Gustav Stickley's magazine The Craftsman:

"Before the home can be expected to do its share toward solving this problem of education that now besets the country and puzzles the wisest heads among us, there would have to be some change in the character of the home. But of this we do not despair. The present tendency toward trivial pursuits and artificial living is merely the reaction from the hard and burdensome drudgery of household and farm work a generation or two ago. When the burden was lifted by the introduction of machines and labor-saving devices it was only natural that the pendulum should swing in the opposite direction and that work and education alike should be delegated to the organizations of trained workers outside the home.

“But it is pretty nearly time for the pendulum to swing back, and even now we are beginning to realize that lighter burdens and added leisure mean that we now have time for real life and moral and mental growth on a broader scale than we have ever known before. When we grasp the opportunity and utilize it for the training of our children, there will be no more ground for complaint against the schools.”

You can't change the "character of the home" in DC. 
But you can help increase literacy. Donate now to DC LEARNS.


  1. Bob, thanks for your blog post. I do have a request of you, since your words confuse me a little. Let me summarize my understanding of your post's meaning. Then, if you would, please confirm or correct my impressions with your clarifications.

    - A century ago, Gustav Stickley wrote of the decline in the "character of the home".
    - He saw hope in the move toward automation and more leisure time, since that would give people more time for "moral and mental growth on a broader scale".
    - You respond that, sadly, it did not happen that way, since "You can't change the 'character of the home' in DC" and (seemingly) anywhere.
    - You suggest an opportunity to "help increase literacy" in spite of the lack of hope for change in DC's home.

    If you mean what I have said above, I agree with the need for literacy, but I disagree with your response to Mr. Stickley about the home (which I apply, maybe incorrectly to a fairly hopeful opportunity to strengthen the family). It takes concerted effort, a focus on love, and a willingness to serve anyone. Yet, I have found reasons to hope and "work like Heaven" in the face of hellish circumstances.

    However, maybe I misunderstand you... I hope to hear your clarification and/or response soon.

    Thanks, Bob! Have a blessed New Year's Eve and beyond!
    Eric Hatch

  2. Thanks for your comment, Eric.

    I'll try to simplify my point.

    Stickely thought Americans were wrong to waste their leisure-time in "trivial pursuits and artificial living." He also thought parents were wrong to delegate their children's upbringing to "trained workers outside the home."

    A century later, I find that I agree with him.

    The statistics make clear that DC's schools are broken. But they don't make clear that many students' homes are as well. The kids lack champions for the "moral and mental growth" Stickley longed for.

    We can't easily fix the hundreds of broken schools or thousands of broken homes in DC. But we can do something that will promote greater literacy. Donate to LERNS.

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