Sunday, October 25, 2009

A wee bit more parenting could go a long, long way. But then, where would that leave the totalitarians?

The Baron has posted an excellent article by GoV's Swedish correspondent LN, called "Why do Swedes behave like Swedes?". The topic of the article, which I've given away in the title of this entry, is one that is certainly near and dear to my heart, as well, I know, as some of my readers. Below I've excerpted a couple of paragraphs from the article which had me going "Amen!" as I read. Without further ado,

LN writes:

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a clinical psychologist from Canada with a reputation for penetrating to the heart of complex parenting issues, and the author of the internationally recognized book Hold On to Your Kids — why parents need to matter more than peers. Dr. Neufeld’s message was that the younger generation’s lack of adult contacts in the Western world is one of the most disturbing and misunderstood trends of our time — peers replacing parents in the lives of our children. Dr. Neufeld has dubbed this phenomenon peer orientation [j√§mn√•rigorientering], which refers to the tendency of children and youth to look to their peers for direction: for a sense of right and wrong, for values, identity and codes of behaviour.

But peer orientation undermines family cohesion, poisons the school atmosphere, and fosters an aggressively hostile and sexualized youth culture. It provides a powerful explanation for conformism, aggression, schoolyard bullying, and youth violence; its effects are painfully evident in the context of teenage gangs and criminal activity. It is an escalating trend that has never been adequately described or contested until Hold On to Your Kids. Once understood, it becomes self-evident — as perhaps do the solutions.

Pardon me while I say, once more, Amen!.

I'm reminded that it was Horace Mann who first introduced a series of changes into the Massachusetts schools way back in the 1840's which would eventually lead to full-fledged John Dewey style, mind numbing progressive education in America's public schools. Hence Mann is affectionately known by his modern acolytes as "The Father of Public Education" in America, not so affectionately by those of us who clearly see the error and eventuality of his ways having come to full fruition in our public schools and the half brain-dead members of our society that the public schools are largely responsible for producing today.

I have in my possession a facimile edition of Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. Published in the front of the edition, in a series of "green pages" as they're called (which aren't included in the online editions that I've seen), is a reference to Mann's destructive influence on America's education system. Elsewhere we find that the implementation of Mann's plan for public education in America, under which the state, via the creation of a powerful state "Board of Education" which Mann himself was selected to head (imagine that), at first received strong resistance and righteous indignation from a select but precious few respected educators of the era who could see and actually predicted where Mann's state-run progressive education would eventually take us in America. Too bad that Mr. Mann's plan eventually won out over a more commonsensical, American approach to education. The importation of foreign ideologies and ideologues has ever been a bane on our society. But I guess that's a subject for a whole 'nother post.


chiu_chunling said...

Yeah...children need parents. I feel stupid even bothering to mention something so obvious.

In a broader context, this naturally applies to all humans as children of God. And the inverse is true, most who assert that children do not need parents first asserted that they themselves did not need divine instruction. The results of children looking to their peers rather than their parents are clear. The results of humans looking to each other rather than to God are identical.

Terry Morris said...


A salient point that I think can't be made often enough.

I have a lot of friends and relatives (all nominally Christian) who have no qualms whatsoever with government programs which they think make their lives easier. And, of course, if you talk to them about it, they consider themselves more deserving than the average welfare case. The deeply rooted problem in that attitude, of course, is that they rely on government to supply their 'needs' rather than on God -- a direct violation of God's commands to his children. That tendency in some folks is a lot like gambling in my opinion. Both are extremely addictive, and potentially life destroying. Which is precisely why I've never set foot in a 'gaming' casino. Indeed, were it up to me there wouldn't even be the temptation for it because they simply would not exist. Period.

chiu_chunling said...

Ah, gambling. The polite form of theft. As I see it, the real evil of gambling is that it is a genuine zero sum game. Wealth is not produced, it is merely transferred.

This is the essential distinction between gambling and high-risk investment. The adept speculator performs a vital service to the healthy market by driving up prices (the motive for increased production) in advance of a supply or demand crunch. Society as a whole benefits if shortages can be anticipated in time to develop increased or alternative supplies of essential products. Winning at speculation doesn't actually require that anyone else lose.

On the other hand, no realistic mechanism exists to completely eliminate non-productive betting without making pre-judgments about which sorts of high-risk investments cannot possibly produce positive returns. You can at best outlaw practices which have demonstrated they produce no overall benefit, one cannot accurately predict the benefits of a risky scheme before it is tried. If you could, it wouldn't be risky.

So, in principle, one cannot eliminate gambling behavior. It is the natural response of zero-sum thinking to any situation of flux. Indeed, one of the major problems with the existing market is that it is saturated with speculators who don't understand the function of speculation, they see it merely as another form of gambling. One can see the same problem in government.

The problem with becoming addicted to the wealth-transfer winner/loser zero-sum game mentality is that human existence requires consumption to continue. If you get locked into a behavior which shuffles the wealth around instead of actually creating more, you inevitably end up consuming everything and then...well. Musical chairs.

The world is now playing musical chairs...and the music has already stopped. The players are all just humming loudly while angling for one of the remaining seats. But the longer people keep playing games rather than producing, the fewer chairs are left.