This weekend, home-schooling occurred to me for the first time.
I’m not going to do it, of course, for the high-minded reason that Scout needs to be exposed to people other than me, and for the real reason: I’m far too lazy.
But here's what caused me to relate to people who don't want their kids learning about Darwin:
Because February is Black History Month in the United States, all public school teachers are expected to do a unit on it. In Scout's class, the Family Project this month is profiles of famous black figures—Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton. Well, maybe not Fred Hampton. ("And then one morning, the Chicago Police ventilated Hampton while he slept.")
Our family's famous black figure is Jesse Owens.
So Cristie and I get to explain to Scout—so she can in-turn formally present to her six-year-old colleagues—who “Raydolph Hitler” was, and how he thought white people were better than … other people. You know, people like Jesse Owens. But the story has a happy ending, we’re supposed to feel: Owens won and Hitler got a lesson in anger management.
(I reckon we’ll wait until next Black History Month to tell Scout that after Jesse Owens won, Hitler privately shrugged off the victory as a shoe-in for someone whose ancestors “came from the jungle." And maybe the February after that, we’ll tell her that Owens actually thought Hitler was mistreated by the press; he felt snubbed by President Roosevelt, who “didn’t even send me a telegram.” Third grade? That’ll be the time we talk about how Owens was unfairly stripped of his amateur status and had to scrap together a living hustling for black exploitation films, racing against horses and running from IRS agents.)
Look. We could hold a long, boring million-man beer summit in this country on when and how it’s appropriate to introduce race and racism to our innocents, thereby inducing the lifelong intellectual and emotional epilepsy that will make them truly American.
But what are the chances that the exact best way to bring them into this deeply complex realm is all at once, Lincoln to Hitler to X, in February of their kindergarten year, because it happens to be Black History Month?
And then to have them learn the stuff from one another's imbecile presentations?
Is this stupid, or what?