DO I VACCINATE my son? You bet--and not just against the usual motley mix of physical childhood ailments. Almost every day our homeschooling curriculum offers a boost to his immunity against excessive respect for meddlers and control freaks.
In the course of teaching Anthony, I've discovered that inoculation against veneration of government happens almost inevitably. If you honestly teach history and analyze policies and their outcomes, education is something like a chicken pox party to build anti-state immunity. Over the last few years, he and I have delved into the dehumanizing effects of slavery and the Indian wars; President Woodrow Wilson's racism, nationalization of industry, and suppression of dissent; the presumption and failure of Prohibition and the war on drugs; the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II; the body count of militarism; the hubris of economic regulation; and much more.
If you're looking to dispel any starry-eyed misconceptions your kids may hold about war, the PBS American Experience episode about the 1968 My Lai massacre is a good place to start. It doesn't hold back on graphically documenting the grim events.
"That was pretty emotionally wrenching," I admitted to Anthony after advising him that the U.S. military generally conducted itself better than many rivals, who might treat such atrocities as par for the course. "Why don't you take the rest of the day off?"
The next morning, I emailed him a link to an article arguing that many school textbooks sanitize communism's missteps, treating it as a flawed economic approach rather than a totalitarian horror show. To illustrate the point, I added a well-documented piece about the Holodomor--an engineered famine inflicted on the Ukrainian people in 1932-33 by the Soviet government--and a short biography of thuggish lefty heartthrob Che Guevara. The readings combined into a powerful overview of both the sins of governing systems that seek to exercise total control and the foibles of the educational establishment.
OK. Maybe that was a bit much all at once.
Our lessons aren't solely a trail of tears through history. We also discuss the enrichment of our lives through the efforts of innovators, explorers, and entrepreneurs, and how their contributions stand in stark contrast to the damage often inflicted by politicians and government officials. We spend a lot of time on the high points of life, including advances in the arts and technology. Research about...