How I became a conservative

Chapter I


I grew up in Southern Calif. in the idyllic 50s. Though one idealizes one’s youth, these were good times - a wholesome era of traditional values portrayed by OZZIE AND HARRIET and by HAPPY DAYS. (Good, but they could have been better.) How useful was high school? In school I ran around with the ‘establishment’ crowd many of whom were student leaders. Reading We weren’t assigned authors we would have loved like Jack London and Ernie Pyle. Writing Spelling, vocabulary, and some grammar lessons were good, but we didn’t write enough. Math Besides the basics, what was necessary? Not algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and they didn’t improve our thinking as was claimed. Social studies (not social ‘science’) History was interesting for some, but left out most of the countries. We didn’t have enough geography, current affairs, or social problems. Sports Overdone Other We took science and language, but didn’t use them. Art, music, and speaking were not academic and could have been after-school activities. We were told little or nothing about: resume writing, job hunting, managing money, traditional values, human nature, corruption, politics, media bias, religious scandals, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, prejudice, and the pros and cons of joining the military. We were not told about maturity in relation to adolescence, friendship, courting, sex, parenting, vice, crime, religion, cults, politics, youthful idealism, and liberal and conservative thinking. When it came to college, the preparation wasn’t serious. We were too busy having fun and becoming ‘well-rounded.’ The last day of school we tore up our notebooks and threw the pages around the halls in celebration. At graduation we were inspired and praised. People congratulated us. Why? We Back to top 6 hadn’t done much. Much of our schooling was busywork while we grew up. How much was useful? Probably half - the three r’s, some social studies, typing, driver’s ed, first aid, shop, home economics. Though not academic, the clubs, student paper, student government, and talent shows were useful and great fun. After-school sports were a superb outlet for athletes, providing conditioning, challenge, competition, recognition, teamwork, discipline (and getting yelled at). For others they provided school spirit, band, drill team, and pep rallies. Could these drives be harnessed for academic or vocational decathlons (and be practical, which is not true of the national spelling bee)?  If I could change school, I would group students according to achievement, not age, use more lay teachers, and provide vouchers to give families a choice of schools. Schools would have to compete for students and teachers. I would prepare students for the real world by requiring achievement in: 1. Traditional values (basic to maturity. Students could clean the schools, as in Japan, to learn some of these.) 2. Mental health (courses and counseling - to promote maturity). 3. Physical health (diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol, drugs, Pregnancy, first aid, longevity, etc.). Students maintaining good health wouldn’t need sports. 4. Career counseling (to find one’s primary interests). 5. Apprenticeships (so students would graduate with marketable skills). 6. Practical academics (geared to the real world). Many things contribute to these six categories - hobbies, clubs, scouts, sports, student government, TV, reading, travel, living in different regions, a second language, summer camp, volunteer and paid work … . Students could be tested on and given credit for their achievements in these areas. Everyone would gain - the school by tapping the outside world, the parents for their efforts, and the students by getting a practical education and a head start. A big step toward this would be