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Education Without Much Optimism for Future

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This is a weird question and I'm sure it's not something many people think about. I definitely do not want to have a political discussion. 

We accept that climate change in real in our family and I believe that we are already feeling the effects today. I think our children (my daughter is 9) will live in a very different world, to say the least. 

Education is usually undertaken with optimism for the future. We want our kids to go to college and get nice middle class jobs, buy a house, have children of their own, etc, etc, etc. 

What should our children's education look like if we are not optimistic about the future? 

I just read this article today and it sums up my thoughts about the future. The End of the World will be a Non-Event

How do we prepare our kids for that world? My thoughts are to emphasis the liberal arts. Teach my daughter how to think for herself. I remember reading something (not sure if it was fiction or non-fiction) about Holocaust survivors reciting Goethe. It stuck with me. 

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Agreeing with Jean -- our goals in educating our DSs were first about *character*, and helping them to be the best people they could be, and to be the kind of men who would reach out to others with friendship, help, service, etc, and be persevering, self-disciplined, and understand how to work/support themselves and their families, etc. Our second overall goal was to help them be able to read well, because then they could teach *themselves* anything they needed to know for the rest of their lives. And our third goal was to help them be good thinkers, to help them be able to make wise choices throughout their lives.

Level of income, or specific jobs, or specific lifestyles *never* entered in to our goals for educating our DSs.
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That said, some thoughts in answer to your question, "How do we prepare our kids for that world?":

As a Christian, my faith gives me hope for the future and purpose for today, so I would suggest that faith and involvement with a community of faith might be something to explore. Volunteer work with those in need also helps provide purpose as well as bring satisfaction by tangibly working to "make things better".

As far as education, yes, literature, art, music, theater, as well as other performing and visual/studio arts help feed the soul. Foreign Languages, History, Psychology, and the other Social Science areas help us to understand one another, and can perhaps help us to better see how to work together as communities, nations, and internationally.

I also think that learning about science and technology, with a focus on how research and knowledge in these fields can help us radically change (in positive ways) the way society lives within the environment, is a very positive and helpful thing to study.

What about learning how to do things by hand -- bake bread, sew, knit/crotchet/weave, garden, use tools and fix things, etc.? Those will always be personally satisfying activities, as well as useful skills in case of potential disasters or drastic, future changes.

Edited by Lori D.
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“Faith, Hope and Charity to strengthen me 
Faith, Hope and Charity to set me free” a hymn I used to sing in Roman Catholic elementary school for Friday church mass. 

Faith & Hope - I am agnostic but keeping faith and having hope is important. Grit and optimism is what I hope to inculcate in my kids, I think it is more important than whatever book learning my kids do. Have faith in humankind and have hope in the future. If you are religious, let your faith be your pillar of strength.

Charity - Giving from the heart is nourishing to the soul. Whether it’s time and/or items/money. I am privileged in a way to be a 3rd generation middle class family. I hope my kids would partake in charity work for life because they care and want to give from the heart. 

The job market when I graduated from college in 1997 was horrible as Asia was battling the Asian financial crisis (1997-99). I have no idea what the job market would be like for my kids. What I can do as a parent is to try to inculcate the life skills of adaptability and lifelong learning. When life throw curveballs, I hope my kids don’t wallow in self pity but instead adapt and react in a positive manner. I hope by homeschooling that my kids would not see learning as a chore but as lifelong enrichment to their lives. 

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller https://www.afb.org/about-afb/history/helen-keller/helen-keller-quotes

Edited by Arcadia
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I don't share your lack of optimism, but I do believe in preparing kids for anything that might happen.  And that is a broad spectrum of possibilities IMO.  They need to be strong, flexible, skilled, creative, knowledgeable about both basics and technology, low-maintenance, able to live and collaborate with others, and a lifelong learner.  A world view that does not fear death or poverty would also help.

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I'm not terribly optimistic about the future, either, and the question of how to become the sort of person who can live well in it, how to raise kids who can likewise live well in it - that's on my mind a lot.  It feels like the world is trending downward and somehow we need to climb an uphill path against the flow, only we're so. very. steeped. in the downward habits ourselves =(.

On the one hand, I made my (theoretical) peace with not seeing a middle-class future for my kids when I disentangled my Christianity from it.  I realized that, in many ways, middle-class goals don't mesh well with the ultimate goal of Christianity, and so being a Christian may well require relinquishing middle class goals when they conflict.  AKA, I relegated middle-class goals to secondary status, gave them up as a primary goal.  So the prospect of losing out on those secondary goals was no longer a tragedy, but something that needed to be accepted in any case, as part of pursuing a greater good. 

But on the other hand, even within our current comfortable circumstances I feel woefully insufficient for the task - both pursuing that greater good myself and preparing my kids for pursuing that greater good - let alone in the far more difficult circumstances I worry the future holds.  (Plus, I've become deeply skeptical about first-world life in general - I'm coming to see the whole thing as a ridiculously wasteful, unsustainable lie that insulates us from reality.  So it's not just that I need to make my peace with the possibility of a non-middle-class future as I pursue a greater good, but that I'm coming to believe I shouldn't be living in a middle-class present - that part of pursuing that greater good doesn't just mean being prepared to lose middle-class trappings if needs must, but rather must involve pro-actively *rejecting* a ton of those trappings because they are insanely wasteful and reality-defying.)  We're so far down the downward slide: my grandparents were better suited than my parents, who are better suited than me, and - God help me - I'm better suited than my kids, despite how full I am of downward slide habits.  I mean, the very fact that we currently have resources that give us a chance to prepare for a harder future is itself a huge gift - and I feel like I'm wasting so much of it.  That we (meaning my family, but also kind of our country in general) are being grasshoppers, not ants - taking our ease now while we can, instead of toiling in preparation for harder times ahead.  I've been convicted recently that I need to quit bemoaning this and start taking steps to do something about it.  Starting with repentance and prayer.

 

In general, I think the best preparation for living well in a harder future is to live well now - aka, assiduously pursue the greater good *now*.  *Live* our values, our beliefs, in everything, even - especially - when it is hard.  For us that means to bring our faith in Christ into the whole of our concrete, everyday lives.  So things like dealing with suffering and death, putting repentance and forgiveness at the center of our dealings with both God and man, not returning evil for evil, receiving God's gifts and loving God and neighbor in response, living for someone outside ourselves, having hope in someone outside ourselves - Someone who is worthy of the trust.

And secondarily, as a subset of that greater good, to pursue the basic practical skills that are the bedrock of life.  Root yourself in concrete, messy reality, learn how to do the basics (growing and fixing food, building tools and shelter, making clothes, etc.).  And also root yourself in the liberal arts, in the humanities, in the really human things.  Root yourself in the whole of reality: material, immaterial, spiritual.  Because that's good to do anyway, no matter what is coming.

And be incremental about weaning yourself and your family off the parts of modern life that are ubiquitous but are unsustainable or are arguably doing more harm than good or are preventing you from pursuing the greater good, instead of going whole hog, "get rid of it all right now".  But don't entirely ignore those things either - if you strongly believe that things need to change, then live out that change.  But live it out sustainably.

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I grew up in the 70's.  We were pretty sure there was going to be a nuclear war or the world would end before we grew up. I think each generation has its terrors but I have faith that we will overcome or adapt.  Education is not for jobs it is for becoming an educated person.  

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Read more dystopian literature?   (more Alas Babylon and less Hunger Games stuff).  Just kidding.  Sort of.   Some of those books have really good ideas.

We aren't particularly religious and I feel like there are few practical things individuals can do and they are a mix of -try to help the world- and -give our family the best chance for survival-.  Cut down on plastic use, try to reduce your carbon footprint, stock up on canned vegetables and water.

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My grandparents were young parents during the Great Depression.  As their parents did, they made do, and they learned from their experiences & shared that knowledge.  That latter is the key...sharing the knowledge openly so that we all take advantage to solve our current problems,  survive and move forward.  They had to cut lose some freeloaders; times were hard and all had to pull their weight.  The even bigger problem was political and it took decades to undo what the local kingpin had done to nontribal members.

The point of education is to learn to communicate very very well and to understand what it means to be human.  Humanity's storehouse of knowledge, how to think, how to act as a group and as an individual, how to discover more knowledge.  Prepare by knowing history and participating in your community.  Look at Bridgegate.  Look at your school district.  Are we seeing our fellow humans hoard, hold others hostage, or are they sharing the wealth and improving life for all?  Do people show up at the campfire wanting the fruits of your labor in exchange for your life?  Your children must learn to communicate well and to do that they need knowledge.

Remember the liberal arts include math and physical science.  With that and thinking skills, your children will be able to find and maybe access water.  

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7 hours ago, kiwik said:

I grew up in the 70's.  We were pretty sure there was going to be a nuclear war or the world would end before we grew up. I think each generation has its terrors but I have faith that we will overcome or adapt.  Education is not for jobs it is for becoming an educated person.  

 

I agree with this. My mom had drills at school about what to do during a Russian attack and today’s kids have to worry about school shootings. The world felt unstable and scary after 9/11. There is always something to worry about. Personally I don’t share your concerns and I would encourage you not to share your concerns with your daughter. Let her be excited about the future and help her find her way. What that means depends on her interests and goals which you can help nurture. 

Edited by ExcitedMama
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I would recommend taking a media freeze and focus on living life and teaching your dd life skills that are valuable without technology.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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nm

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16 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

An education that teaches someone to learn and be interested in new things doesn't depend on a middle class lifestyle. 

 

16 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Agreeing with Jean -- our goals in educating our DSs were first about *character*, and helping them to be the best people they could be, and to be the kind of men who would reach out to others with friendship, help, service, etc. Our second overall goal was to help them be able to read well, because then they could teach *themselves* anything they needed to know for the rest of their lives. And our third goal was to help them be good thinkers, to help them be able to make wise choices throughout their lives.

Level of income, or specific jobs, or specific lifestyles *never* entered in to our goals for educating our DSs.

 

8 hours ago, kiwik said:

Education is not for jobs it is for becoming an educated person.  

 

I don't disagree; making a living is *not* the greatest good, and education ought to center around being equipped to pursue that greater good.  (Although making a living does fall under the greatest good umbrella - it's not antithetical to pursuing the ultimate good, but *part* of that pursuit.)

But for me, and I think for many middle- and upper-middle-class Americans who consciously value something over material success, there's an unconscious assumption pursuing those greater goods will also naturally result in achieving those lesser goods of a middle-class life.  So you don't feel like you're *giving up* anything by aiming for higher goods.  Your choice isn't higher goods OR middle-class goods; rather it's higher goods+middle-class goods versus middle-class goods alone.  It's not just a net gain, but a positive in all ways - you lose nothing in pursuing higher goods - the assumption is that your middle-class future is set either way.  The lower middle-class goods are simultaneously seen as less important than the higher goods, yet the assumption that those lower goods will always be there is the invisible foundation supporting pursuing higher goods over those lower middle-class goods.

(You see that in articles on Tiger Moms: so many upper-middle-class American parents reject the Tiger Mom approach because they think it's harmful to their kids, that success isn't worth that kind of sacrifice.  But at the same time, they still want their kids to achieve the same sort of tangible success as the kids of Tiger Moms, only without all the sacrifices the Tiger Moms impose.  They assume that their kinder, gentler parenting will do both: result in emotionally healthy kids who also achieve on par with their peers.  IOW, that they can pursue the higher good of emotional health without undue loss of tangible success.  I was the same way with unschooling and delayed schooling: all the benefits of dropping out of the rat race with none of the drawbacks - that you'd find yourself winning the rat race relative to your peers all while conscientiously refusing to participate.  All the benefits, with none of the drawbacks.  (Once you put it that way, it sounds rather foolish.))

So what happens when that foundational assumption - that your middle-class future is set - that you can pursue greater goods instead of lower goods while also ending up with those lower goods anyway - no longer holds true?  Then what?  Do you temporarily give up on pursuing higher goods, shore up your now-shaky life by shifting your focus to the foundational lower goods?  Or do you rebuild your foundation on something else, something more solid - ground your pursuit of higher goods in something other than the now-revealed-to-be-iffy lower goods?  Should the goal be regaining material security, or learning to live with the prospect of material insecurity, finding one's secure foundation elsewhere?  That depends on which is true: is material security the foundation for the higher goods, or is something higher the foundation for the lower goods?  Honestly, for me, I always thought that my faith was the foundation for everything else - it was supposed to be - but it took me losing faith in the everything else to realize how much I'd treated the everything else as the foundation for my faith. 

My point is that it's one thing to pursue higher goods over lower ones when you have faith that you will end up with the lower ones anyway; the cost of doing so is small.  Dealing with the repercussions of losing faith that you will end up with the lower goods at all is another entirely.  It's much harder to choose the pursuit of higher goods over lower ones when it comes at a high cost.  (I happen to think that the high cost is the true cost, which kind of mitigates my mourning.  I see my previous assumption of all the benefits with none of the drawbacks as a reality-defying lie.  I'm not unique in having to deal with the prospect of material insecurity; it was a lie that I ever thought material security was truly *secure* in the first place, and a lie that only wealth made possible in the first place.)

~*~

8 hours ago, kiwik said:

I grew up in the 70's.  We were pretty sure there was going to be a nuclear war or the world would end before we grew up. I think each generation has its terrors

This.  My previous expectations and assumptions were fueled by a very unique set of circumstances (growing up during the 90s prosperity, with the Cold War ending before I was old enough to properly grasp what it meant, but entering the workforce before the crash) - they were based on an historical blip.  So it hurt to have the bubble burst, but the bubble was a lie, so... As you say, every generation has its terrors.  There's nothing new under the sun.  ETA: Life requires hard work and sacrifice - and this is not a tragedyHard isn't a synonym for bad.

Edited by forty-two
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One thing I've noticed: losing faith in material security, it's pushing me to do what I should have been doing anyway.  I mean, nothing about how I'm now living my life is dependent on the future becoming worse.  If it stays as it is or gets better, everything I'm doing to live well, to pursue the greater good is equally valid and applicable.

It's like Rod Dreher's Benedict Option: while the push to change came from realizing that things are bad, the actual changes are good things that need doing no matter what.  It's the difference between fleeing the bad and pursuing the good.  Shaping your life around fleeing the bad - or even fighting the bad - is woefully incomplete (and something of a waste if the bad didn't really merit all your work to flee or fight it).  But shaping your life around pursuing the good?  That's worth doing no matter the circumstances.  And it's the best preparation to face the bad as it comes.

ETA: I don't have a lot of optimism about the temporal future.  But I have faith and hope in a good eternal future, which is the future I should be focusing on and living in light of anyway.  And doing that is the best preparation for whatever the temporal future brings.

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I understand what you're saying, but I don't/didn't prepare my children any differently than I would have during any other time.  We can't possibly anticipate everything that might go wrong, and even in perfect conditions, a sudden great tragedy could occur that changes everything overnight.  

So, I guess I concentrate more on a "bottom line" attitude...  If we lose everything, at least we have this thing.  What is that thing?  It used to bug me when people said they're thankful because in the midst of everything difficult going on, they at least still have their health.  As if health is the bottom line.  Except that that isn't even possible for a lot of people, and will never be at some point, for everyone.  So we have to dig further.  What's the bottom line?  To me, it's a peaceful spirit, a willingness to make the best of whatever is thrown at us, a desire to help and love others wherever and however we can.  And a simple joy in little things and little moments.  And honestly, to be content with that.  It doesn't hurt to also teach our children ingenuity, creativity, courage, compassion, and a spirit of adventure.  

For me, the bottom-most line is my faith, which means that at the end of the day -- which will happen for everyone at some point -- there's that.  So I work at nurturing that within my family however I can.

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You should read The Ultimate Resource". People are the hope of the future. Everything we learn, become, and do can make a difference. Teach your kids that!

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Two more things.

1/. The education is not about jobs I because so many people trot out the "we are educating/preparing  our kids for jobs that don't exist yet.  Well no I am preparing them to be a good, well educated human being.  By doing that they will also have more chance of find that job that fulfills them or at least pays the bills.

2/. The climate change crisis unlike the depression, cold war or nuclear missiles may be something we can do something about.  I am not sure whether this makes it more or less stressful.

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I guess it ultimately comes down to one's definition of education, doesn't it?  I mean, if education is just book-work then it is practically impossible to prepare for a changing future.  Both my parents and DH's tried very hard to provide us with the sort of education that would ensure a middle class future but a series of economic ups and downs (and to a certain extent our personalities/character flaws) meant that it is only in the past two or three years that our married life remotely resembles middle class and even there it's on the lower end and not really due to anything other than a series of fortunate events (i.e. not because of any particular action or virtue on our part).  And ironically, many of the solidly middle class folk we know are not educated: they are hard working and prudent with money (virtues that are useful under a variety of circumstances).  All that to say, I've not really been under the illusion that education is the golden ticket to a better future, kwim?

I am naturally an optimistic person, but I am also a realist.  I don't try to prepare my child for every eventuality and I think it is futile to speak of keeping as many doors open as possible.  This is why at the end of the day, the book-learning that my children receive are a small part of my parenting.  I focus on helping them gradually practice self-discipline and stoicism.  I try hard to make sure that they feel loved and have secure attachments and roots.  I try to make sure there is plenty of free time to play, build relationships and find their interests and passions.  I also try to make sure that my children experience the world first hand which means plenty of outdoor time and not over-protecting them from the realities of life, suffering and death (we've had a lot of elder care over the years).  I honestly believe that these are the things that will help my children in their adult lives, whatever the economy or climate.  Academics in the strict sense can support this broader education, but it can never replace it.

I don't deny the essential nature of book work (both in terms of being liberally educated and practically prepared for life in a literate society), but I deal with that by setting a reasonable amount of time for school-work and try to accomplish what we can in that amount of time.  I start off with about an hour for a six year old and my 10 year old works about 4.  I will not allow required book-work beyond five hours a day before high school and after that I figure each child will decide what their goals are and how to best meet them.  Having that time limit really helps me narrow down what is important as far as academics go and really informs my choice of books, curriculum and what subjects get taught regardless of what the future might bring.  I hope that my children will be able to understand the thoughts of others and express their own thoughts with clarity and maybe even beauty.  I do want to ensure that they are able to complete a college-prep math sequence if that is the path they chose to pursue and their abilities warrant, but more than that I hope to give them some appreciation for the subject.  Does that mean that we stick to the 3Rs before high school?  No, but it does mean that I prioritize our time in such a way as to meet those goals: the rest is gravy.   

OP, have you read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning?  It is a beautiful, hopeful story of a man whose ability to engage his mind in the most horrendous of circumstances allowed him to survive the concentration camp.  He argues that the greatest single factor in survival is having something to live for: those whose "something" is external to circumstances had a better chance of survival than those whose meaning was dependent on circumstances.  So, a man who lived for his work or even his family might die very quickly after that was taken away from him but someone like Frankl who could retreat into the ideas held in his mind was able to live because his life had a purpose, even in the camp.  Solzhenitsyn pursues similar themes in his work but Frankl's text is short and fairly easy.

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21 hours ago, forty-two said:

I'm not terribly optimistic about the future, either, and the question of how to become the sort of person who can live well in it, how to raise kids who can likewise live well in it - that's on my mind a lot.  It feels like the world is trending downward and somehow we need to climb an uphill path against the flow, only we're so. very. steeped. in the downward habits ourselves =(.

On the one hand, I made my (theoretical) peace with not seeing a middle-class future for my kids when I disentangled my Christianity from it.  I realized that, in many ways, middle-class goals don't mesh well with the ultimate goal of Christianity, and so being a Christian may well require relinquishing middle class goals when they conflict.  AKA, I relegated middle-class goals to secondary status, gave them up as a primary goal.  So the prospect of losing out on those secondary goals was no longer a tragedy, but something that needed to be accepted in any case, as part of pursuing a greater good. 

But on the other hand, even within our current comfortable circumstances I feel woefully insufficient for the task - both pursuing that greater good myself and preparing my kids for pursuing that greater good - let alone in the far more difficult circumstances I worry the future holds.  (Plus, I've become deeply skeptical about first-world life in general - I'm coming to see the whole thing as a ridiculously wasteful, unsustainable lie that insulates us from reality.  So it's not just that I need to make my peace with the possibility of a non-middle-class future as I pursue a greater good, but that I'm coming to believe I shouldn't be living in a middle-class present - that part of pursuing that greater good doesn't just mean being prepared to lose middle-class trappings if needs must, but rather must involve pro-actively *rejecting* a ton of those trappings because they are insanely wasteful and reality-defying.)  We're so far down the downward slide: my grandparents were better suited than my parents, who are better suited than me, and - God help me - I'm better suited than my kids, despite how full I am of downward slide habits.  I mean, the very fact that we currently have resources that give us a chance to prepare for a harder future is itself a huge gift - and I feel like I'm wasting so much of it.  That we (meaning my family, but also kind of our country in general) are being grasshoppers, not ants - taking our ease now while we can, instead of toiling in preparation for harder times ahead.  I've been convicted recently that I need to quit bemoaning this and start taking steps to do something about it.  Starting with repentance and prayer.

 

In general, I think the best preparation for living well in a harder future is to live well now - aka, assiduously pursue the greater good *now*.  *Live* our values, our beliefs, in everything, even - especially - when it is hard.  For us that means to bring our faith in Christ into the whole of our concrete, everyday lives.  So things like dealing with suffering and death, putting repentance and forgiveness at the center of our dealings with both God and man, not returning evil for evil, receiving God's gifts and loving God and neighbor in response, living for someone outside ourselves, having hope in someone outside ourselves - Someone who is worthy of the trust.

And secondarily, as a subset of that greater good, to pursue the basic practical skills that are the bedrock of life.  Root yourself in concrete, messy reality, learn how to do the basics (growing and fixing food, building tools and shelter, making clothes, etc.).  And also root yourself in the liberal arts, in the humanities, in the really human things.  Root yourself in the whole of reality: material, immaterial, spiritual.  Because that's good to do anyway, no matter what is coming.

And be incremental about weaning yourself and your family off the parts of modern life that are ubiquitous but are unsustainable or are arguably doing more harm than good or are preventing you from pursuing the greater good, instead of going whole hog, "get rid of it all right now".  But don't entirely ignore those things either - if you strongly believe that things need to change, then live out that change.  But live it out sustainably.

Thanks so much for your thoughts! 

There are stages to accepting the reality of climate change. I think I've been on the journey for about a decade. At first, I didn't think too much about it because I assumed that there would be some invention that would come along and fix everything. People have always worked everything out before, so why not now? But I've learned more over the last several years and it required putting aside what I wanted to see. I'm fairly well read in history so I knew that it wasn't really true that people have always been able to figure things out to make things right. I know that some people in some places made good choices and that other people didn't. I know that luck has way too much to do with survival. That's very uncomfortable to consider. 

When I began to realize that the best case scenario wasn't all that great, I had my "holy crap!" moment. 

I've read about how children need to be allowed to grieve over climate change. They won't have the future they should have and there isn't much they can do about it. We parents have to allow ourselves to grieve for our children's futures too. But allowing our children and ourselves to grieve requires honesty which is where education comes in. 

 

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6 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Thanks so much for your thoughts! 

There are stages to accepting the reality of climate change. I think I've been on the journey for about a decade. At first, I didn't think too much about it because I assumed that there would be some invention that would come along and fix everything. People have always worked everything out before, so why not now? But I've learned more over the last several years and it required putting aside what I wanted to see. I'm fairly well read in history so I knew that it wasn't really true that people have always been able to figure things out to make things right. I know that some people in some places made good choices and that other people didn't. I know that luck has way too much to do with survival. That's very uncomfortable to consider. 

When I began to realize that the best case scenario wasn't all that great, I had my "holy crap!" moment. 

I've read about how children need to be allowed to grieve over climate change. They won't have the future they should have and there isn't much they can do about it. We parents have to allow ourselves to grieve for our children's futures too. But allowing our children and ourselves to grieve requires honesty which is where education comes in. 

 

Your Dd is only 9. Your posts read like the doomsday burden you are placing on her shoulders is that of an adult's level of concern. I don't see parenting a young child as a time to instill fear and grief in their daily life. Things that are beyond their control are not the burdens of a 9 yr old.  Bad things happen and when they do, then they need to deal with them. Future events they have no control over that are not imminent (and I mean like Hilter rounding up the Jews in your city that night) are not what 9 yr olds need to be thinking about. You worrying about her future is not the same as making her fear her future.  Those are conversations for when she is older or if there is imminent danger.

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I am wondering what people mean by "middle class lifestyle."

My hope is that my kids and everyone else has "enough."  I honestly don't care where they fall on the class spectrum as long as they have "enough."

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51 minutes ago, SKL said:

I am wondering what people mean by "middle class lifestyle."

My hope is that my kids and everyone else has "enough."  I honestly don't care where they fall on the class spectrum as long as they have "enough."

For clarity's sake, I am not engaging in the OP's discussion about education and MC lifestyle. That way of thinking is completely foreign to my personal view of education. My comments are restricted strictly to placing a "condemned" level of burden on a child.

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8 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

 

I've read about how children need to be allowed to grieve over climate change. They won't have the future they should have and there isn't much they can do about it. We parents have to allow ourselves to grieve for our children's futures too. But allowing our children and ourselves to grieve requires honesty which is where education comes in. 

 

Hmm, I would think that children need to be able to grieve about the things that are in their lives right now and can be felt and experienced now rather than abstract notions like "climate change" or "economic instability."  But, overall, it seems to me that it is far healthier for a little child to be an optimist -- as they naturally are.  As I mentioned, we do not try to keep our children away from the realities of life, but we chose to focus on their immediate surroundings and not things beyond their "world."   I mean, is it really better for a child to fret about hungry children across the world or to be taught to not waste food or be gluttonous and cook a meal for a family in crisis down the road or help serve at the soup kitchen?  For us, sustainability is really about the old-fashioned virtue of not being wasteful and being a good steward of what God has provided.  We don't have long discussions about how cars are polluting the atmosphere, we simply chose to be thoughtful about when we use our vehicles.  I don't know what you're reading, but it seems to me that a child grieving over an abstraction is actually far more harmful for their overall development than the abstraction itself: David Elkind talks a lot about that in The Hurried Child

And as far as "the future they should have," do any of us really have the "future we should have?"  I mean, I don't live under an illusion that the world owes me something or that I deserve something.  I don't deserve anything: there is only the reality of what I have been given and I need to make the best of it.  Why burden a child with a sense of entitlement that they've lost?  I firmly believe that children will naturally be optimistic and resilient if we don't interfere with that childhood innocence.

Just focus on the permanent things, the rest will fall into line with just a little bit of common sense and a focus on the actual child before you.

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People look at me crazy when I answer their question: 'So what made you go get a Ph.D.?' with 'Oh, I did it for the personal challenge and reward.' 

Why is it seemingly foreign that education doesn't need to be a career-driven choice. This is the reason so many people are in their middle ages and unhappy in their career choice. Teach your kiddos to love learning for the joy and challenge of the experience. Educate them well and whatever the future holds, they will be prepared for it. People who are educated (skilled) and love to and are able to and seek to learn, will be better able to adapt to challenging situations should they arise.

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My Dd and I watched Within the Whirlwind the other night.  It is about a literature professor who was thrown into a Russian gulag during Stalin's reign of terror. She maintained her sanity by quoting literature to herself and others.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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5 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

My Dd and I watched Within the Whirlwind the other night.  It is about a literature professor who was thrown into a Russian gulag during Stalin's reign of terror. She maintained her sanity by quoting literature to herself and others.

 

That made me smile, that is a classic image of the Russian intelligentsia: one might not have any food or a roof over one's head but one will always have poetry.  My grandmother was able to quote poetry through Nazi occupation, Stalin, Perestroyka and the Orange Revolution: the most unstable, life threatening situations but the poetry was permanent.   I think this is very similar to the American Protestant who has large amounts of scripture memorized: whatever the circumstances they find themselves in there is an almost endless supply of verses to reflect on.

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2 hours ago, SKL said:

I am wondering what people mean by "middle class lifestyle."

My hope is that my kids and everyone else has "enough."  I honestly don't care where they fall on the class spectrum as long as they have "enough."

 

Not living hand-to-mouth in any stage of life is generally what people mean by 'middle class lifestyle'.  Being educated and in an HCOL may mean not able to live a middle class lifestyle without sacrifices....for ex some of the people parking campers on the street in the Bay Area are young educated couples with professional jobs, who have done the math.  They just don't have the employee parking lot available as you may have seen in TV shows from the 80s such as "Trapper John M.D.". 

 

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43 minutes ago, RenaInTexas said:

People look at me crazy when I answer their question: 'So what made you go get a Ph.D.?' with 'Oh, I did it for the personal challenge and reward.' 

Why is it seemingly foreign that education doesn't need to be a career-driven choice. This is the reason so many people are in their middle ages and unhappy in their career choice. Teach your kiddos to love learning for the joy and challenge of the experience. Educate them well and whatever the future holds, they will be prepared for it. People who are educated (skilled) and love to and are able to and seek to learn, will be better able to adapt to challenging situations should they arise.

Maybe it depends on what part of the country one is in, but around here it is not at all unusual to encounter folks who are working blue-collar jobs who study the liberal arts (usually history or theology) in their leisure and it's not because they've read The Well Educated Mind or are keen on restoring Western civilization: these are normal "Joes."  Their intellectual pursuits have no connection to how they earn a living: they pursue them out of love.  Ironically, these same people usually have a prejudice against "schooling" and will look at you like you have two heads if you mention grad school without a career goal (e.g. doctor/lawyer). 

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1 hour ago, RenaInTexas said:

People look at me crazy when I answer their question: 'So what made you go get a Ph.D.?' with 'Oh, I did it for the personal challenge and reward.' 

Why is it seemingly foreign that education doesn't need to be a career-driven choice. This is the reason so many people are in their middle ages and unhappy in their career choice. 

 

My husband and I are 46 years old so probably in the middle age group. Education doesn’t need to be a career driven choice as there is libraries in our days and MOOC in our children’s generation.

However my husband went to college on a academic merit scholarship because his parents won’t pay (because they think he is smart enough to get scholarships), worked a few years and then did his PhD on a scholarship. When my husband went back to college in 2001 to do his PhD, my boss then ask if I need financial help because we went from dual income to single income. Our monthly mortgage payments were $2.7k then and my monthly basic pay was $3.5k before tax and bonus. That was why my husband applied and interviewed for PhD scholarships. The monthly stipend of $3k was useful even though it was lower than his last drawn pay. My husband’s college choices were all determined by what can bring food to the table. He isn’t unhappy with his college choices because he fear food insecurity a lot more than a “boring” job. He is a reader like me and he is expanding his knowledge through reading that is not driven by job requirements. 

My dad could not afford college. My paternal grandparents run a family business and had eight children to feed. It was assumed that each kid would work after high school. My dad went to Teachers College in 1960 to get his diploma in teaching for free with a bond. He loves being a teacher and he taught for more than fifty years. However he would have picked that occupation just to go to college and have a job because my grandparents business wasn’t doing as well in the 50s/60s and there was food insecurity. 

My maternal grandparents could afford college for their five kids as they have stable rental income on top of whatever my grandpa earns as an odd job laborer. My mom and one of her older sister went. My uncle wanted to be a chef so went into an apprenticeship after high school. My mom chose nursing school and went in 1961. I have no idea what my aunt chose but she has been a law clerk for decades.

I have two postgraduates (one full time one part time) which my parents helped paid because my monthly salary wasn’t sufficient to pay for those. I did get a big pay boost after each postgraduate I took but my parents would have chipped in either way. My only sibling is nine years younger and went the full time community college followed by part time degree route so my parents have only one kid to “bail out” at one time. I was lucky to have a job during recession times and with parents willing to help financially so that I could go back to school before having a kid. I never had to worry that my college degree won’t land me a job, that tuition would be unaffordable because of the financial backing of “the bank of mum and dad”. It is a luxury that many of my engineering schoolmates do not have. They work in college and they have to work full time after their bachelors unless they land a postgraduate scholarship. I am thinking of doing another postgraduate that may or may not land me a job, our current home is paid and paying for a part time postgraduate isn’t a financial hardship currently since our kids isn’t in college yet. I am lucky/privileged to be able to pursue postgraduate studies based on interest. 

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12 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

 

I've read about how children need to be allowed to grieve over climate change. They won't have the future they should have and there isn't much they can do about it. We parents have to allow ourselves to grieve for our children's futures too. But allowing our children and ourselves to grieve requires honesty which is where education comes in.

When compared to the outlook of children in almost any period of human history, our kids have a pretty darn good future to look forward to.  Is it Utopia?  Of course not.  But I believe their chances of survival/personal success are at least as high as in any previous period.  Especially for girls.

Besides - while I'm not buying into the idea that climate change is going to be that drastic in our kids' lifetimes, I would remind you that climate change will be positive for some, negative for others.  Those who are able to adapt will be those least likely to incur negative effects wherever they live.

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5 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Your Dd is only 9. Your posts read like the doomsday burden you are placing on her shoulders is that of an adult's level of concern. I don't see parenting a young child as a time to instill fear and grief in their daily life. Things that are beyond their control are not the burdens of a 9 yr old.  Bad things happen and when they do, then they need to deal with them. Future events they have no control over that are not imminent (and I mean like Hilter rounding up the Jews in your city that night) are not what 9 yr olds need to be thinking about. You worrying about her future is not the same as making her fear her future.  Those are conversations for when she is older or if there is imminent danger.

I've never had a discussion about any of these things with my daughter. She doesn't know anything about climate change. She's learned about endangered animals in school. She attended a presentation in kindergarten about conserving water (we live in the desert) and went through a short period of not wanting to waste water. 

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5 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I've never had a discussion about any of these things with my daughter. She doesn't know anything about climate change. She's learned about endangered animals in school. She attended a presentation in kindergarten about conserving water (we live in the desert) and went through a short period of not wanting to waste water. 

THen I am not sure why she needs to grieve about the loss of her future due to climate change.  It certainly isn't the image your posts project.

Quote

I've read about how children need to be allowed to grieve over climate change. They won't have the future they should have and there isn't much they can do about it. We parents have to allow ourselves to grieve for our children's futures too. But allowing our children and ourselves to grieve requires honesty which is where education comes in. 

 

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3 hours ago, SKL said:

I am wondering what people mean by "middle class lifestyle."

My hope is that my kids and everyone else has "enough."  I honestly don't care where they fall on the class spectrum as long as they have "enough."

 

1 hour ago, HeighHo said:

Not living hand-to-mouth in any stage of life is generally what people mean by 'middle class lifestyle'. 

All I mean is by "middle-class" is having "enough", not living hand-to-mouth.  Nothing at all to do with being able to have status symbols or to conspicuously consume or to keep up with the Jones'.  Just the ability to have a stable life, to make a living wage while still having a bit of leisure time.

~*~

2 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

For clarity's sake, I am not engaging in the OP's discussion about education and MC lifestyle. That way of thinking is completely foreign to my personal view of education.

It used to be completely foreign to my view, too.  Then I realized that "having enough" wasn't at all guaranteed - by which I mean things like health care and jobs with living wages.  (And then I realized that even having another day isn't guaranteed either, which put the "stable life" insecurity into perspective.)  Even though I *still* believe in - and practice - educating to pursue the greater good (by which I mean a paideia, whole-life sort of education, not merely academic concerns), I now completely understand why people facing an unstable future focus on employability concerns.  Because when you feel like your future isn't assured, that's *scary*.  You start to strip away the fluff and focus only on the things that *really* matter - things that contribute to survival and things that are more important than survival.  The ability to make a living is pretty foundational to survival.  And when you are insecure about survival, when the prospect of not surviving becomes viscerally real - your list of "things more important than survival" gets pared down really fast. 

(But at the same time, you newly-shortened list of "things more important than survival" takes on new importance, because they are *more secure* than survival.)

Unless someone's got a really well-grounded, visceral understanding of how pursuing the liberal arts and humanities is genuinely and concretely *more important than survival* (or they genuinely see them as necessary to survival) then of course they are going to value the ability to make a living over them.  Because when survival is iffy, you pare down to survival and things more important than survival - and I can understand why the liberal arts/humanities/etc. don't make the list for many people.  (The only reason they make *my* more-important-than-survival list, in the second slot (along with practical education), is because a) my top slot, faith in Christ, provides a compelling reason for including them, and b) I've demoted survival way down the list.)

An important issue, I think - and maybe this is what you are getting at with "connecting education to MC lifestyle is completely foreign to your view of education" - is to genuinely *have* something you value more than survival and material concerns (something that really and truly *is* more valuable than survival).  That valuing survival over everything - and educating accordingly - is foreign to your view of education.  And I would agree wholeheartedly with that.  But I really understand how it happens now, in a way I didn't before. 

~*~

Also, I see education concerns as a far wider category than college concerns.  I strongly believe in whole-life education, education that prioritizes the eternal over the temporal and the immaterial over the material; I utterly reject educating (in the paideia sense) for material concerns only, or even for temporal (immaterial+material) concerns only. 

But at the same time, I completely and utterly understand college decisions being driven by employability concerns, and I don't think that implies a rejection of the larger benefits of education and learning.  It's just a realistic reflection that college is insanely expensive and that going into material debt for a largely immaterial benefit only works if you have *other* material resources with which to pay it back.  Which so many people don't have (like us, for example).  If the main material resources you're likely to have are the ones which will come from your college education, then it's foolish to borrow more material money for that college education than you will be able to pay back from that college education. 

Schooling is just a subset of education and learning, and college is just a subset of schooling.  There are so many, many other ways to learn.

(As well, I think there's a lot to be said for the concept of a day job.  If what you love isn't likely to pay the bills, then don't ask it to.  Find a job that gives you the time and resources to pursue what you love.  There are a ton of skills and talents that are of great benefit to oneself and one's neighbor - and you don't have to do them professionally in order to enjoy them and serve others with them.  There are a ton of things that are more important than survival - but it's highly unlikely that you can pursue those greater things *as* your means of making a living.  But you can pursue them *through* your day-job, and *outside* your day-job.)

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1 minute ago, forty-two said:

 

All I mean is by "middle-class" is having "enough", not living hand-to-mouth.  Nothing at all to do with being able to have status symbols or to conspicuously consume or to keep up with the Jones'.  Just the ability to have a stable life, to make a living wage while still having a bit of leisure time.

~*~

It used to be completely foreign to my view, too.  Then I realized that "having enough" wasn't at all guaranteed - by which I mean things like health care and jobs with living wages.  (And then I realized that even having another day isn't guaranteed either, which put the "stable life" insecurity into perspective.)  Even though I *still* believe in - and practice - educating to pursue the greater good (by which I mean a paideia, whole-life sort of education, not merely academic concerns), I now completely understand why people facing an unstable future focus on employability concerns.  Because when you feel like your future isn't assured, that's *scary*.  You start to strip away the fluff and focus only on the things that *really* matter - things that contribute to survival and things that are more important than survival.  The ability to make a living is pretty foundational to survival.  And when you are insecure about survival, when the prospect of not surviving becomes viscerally real - your list of "things more important than survival" gets pared down really fast. 

(But at the same time, you newly-shortened list of "things more important than survival" takes on new importance, because they are *more secure* than survival.)

Unless someone's got a really well-grounded, visceral understanding of how pursuing the liberal arts and humanities is genuinely and concretely *more important than survival* (or they genuinely see them as necessary to survival) then of course they are going to value the ability to make a living over them.  Because when survival is iffy, you pare down to survival and things more important than survival - and I can understand why the liberal arts/humanities/etc. don't make the list for many people.  (The only reason they make *my* more-important-than-survival list, in the second slot (along with practical education), is because a) my top slot, faith in Christ, provides a compelling reason for including them, and b) I've demoted survival way down the list.)

An important issue, I think - and maybe this is what you are getting at with "connecting education to MC lifestyle is completely foreign to your view of education" - is to genuinely *have* something you value more than survival and material concerns (something that really and truly *is* more valuable than survival).  That valuing survival over everything - and educating accordingly - is foreign to your view of education.  And I would agree wholeheartedly with that.  But I really understand how it happens now, in a way I didn't before. 

~*~

Also, I see education concerns as a far wider category than college concerns.  I strongly believe in whole-life education, education that prioritizes the eternal over the temporal and the immaterial over the material; I utterly reject educating (in the paideia sense) for material concerns only, or even for temporal (immaterial+material) concerns only. 

But at the same time, I completely and utterly understand college decisions being driven by employability concerns, and I don't think that implies a rejection of the larger benefits of education and learning.  It's just a realistic reflection that college is insanely expensive and that going into material debt for a largely immaterial benefit only works if you have *other* material resources with which to pay it back.  Which so many people don't have (like us, for example).  If the main material resources you're likely to have are the ones which will come from your college education, then it's foolish to borrow more material money for that college education than you will be able to pay back from that college education. 

Schooling is just a subset of education and learning, and college is just a subset of schooling.  There are so many, many other ways to learn.

(As well, I think there's a lot to be said for the concept of a day job.  If what you love isn't likely to pay the bills, then don't ask it to.  Find a job that gives you the time and resources to pursue what you love.  There are a ton of skills and talents that are of great benefit to oneself and one's neighbor - and you don't have to do them professionally in order to enjoy them and serve others with them.  There are a ton of things that are more important than survival - but it's highly unlikely that you can pursue those greater things *as* your means of making a living.  But you can pursue them *through* your day-job, and *outside* your day-job.)

Except you put words in my mouth that I didn't state.  For me, education is about giving our children an education which provides them the mental freedom to pursue the end for which they were intended (this is directly from Ignatian philosophy).   My POV is not connected to suburban MC lifestyle or employment.  It is about faith and perseverance to the end of life.  

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4 hours ago, RenaInTexas said:

People look at me crazy when I answer their question: 'So what made you go get a Ph.D.?' with 'Oh, I did it for the personal challenge and reward.'

I completely understand *why* you'd do it; I just don't understand how you (and people like you) practically *do* it, financially speaking.  It's like owning a yacht - so far out of my reach that it's almost beyond comprehension.

I mean, I have no idea how I will ever be able to pay for college for my kids.  It's scholarships or grandparents or all the loans, basically.  So if I can't picture how to cover my kids' increasingly-necessary-to-make-a-living-wage *undergrad* college, the idea of for-personal-fulfillment *graduate* education is so far out of my reach that I can't fathom ever being in that situation.  (Which is odd, in that both my parents and my sister would have no trouble doing so, so it's not like it's actually outside my family situation.)

I'd love to get theology and philosophy degrees.  But as that's practically impossible, I self-study instead.  I've had an ongoing research project for the past five years, and I've used the library and accumulated a lot of used books and used my dh's seminary alumni journal access.  And my dad has been working on a research project for thirty years, and never really considered going to school in his pursuit of it, even though he actually *could* (financially speaking, at least).  I heavily value learning and education, but I don't see college as central to that pursuit, just one path.  And an increasingly expensive path, at that, that puts it increasingly out of reach.

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I couldn't disagree more about "letting" children grieve over climate change and their lost future. In the first place, that's only going to be necessary if adults have scared the pants off of them, which I believe to be wrong. In the second place, we do NOT know everything. If we would study history at all, we'd know that situations come along that thwart the mistakes of man, at least sometimes. Out of control humanity is frequently checked by war or natural disaster. If we are on track to destroy the world through our ignorance and greed, there's no reason to believe that we won't be struck down before we can accomplish it. Even a series of EMPs wiping out our technologies would slow us down for a good while, and then we'd be very distracted by trying to survive without any appreciable skills...

I say this as a person who emphatically believes in climate change and who votes and contributes financially toward correcting our course. I see no other moral option. 

But the children must be raised as if they have a future, because we don't know that they don't, and the meaning of well-rearing and well-educating children is the same in any generation. Knowledge, skills, security, confidence, gumption, community, and love. It was true during depressions, war eras, epidemics, and more. Our children are not special, as far as staring down a potentially fraught future full of unknowns. They deserve a proper childhood as a critical part of their best preparation. 

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6 hours ago, SKL said:

I am wondering what people mean by "middle class lifestyle."

 

4 hours ago, HeighHo said:

Not living hand-to-mouth in any stage of life is generally what people mean by 'middle class lifestyle'.  

 

OP mentioned middle class jobs in her first post. I don’t think there will ever be a consensus on what is a middle class job or lifestyle. 

From Brookings https://www.brookings.edu/research/defining-the-middle-class-cash-credentials-or-culture/

“Definitions of the middle class (and indeed of classes generally) tend to fall into one of the three broad categories, based on economic resources; on education and occupation status; or on attitudes, self-perception, and mindset. Determining whether you are “middle class” requires different information for each of these three categories. For the first (cash), we need to see your bank balance. For the second (credentials) we need to see your résumé. For the third (culture), we need to see inside your head.

  • Cash: economic resources, especially income, wealth, freedom from poverty
  • Credentials: educational achievements and qualifications, occupational status
  • Culture: attitudes, mindset, behavior, self-definition” 

 

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55 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

THen I am not sure why she needs to grieve about the loss of her future due to climate change.  It certainly isn't the image your posts project.

 

When it's the right time. She's only 9. But there is already some grieving as she learns about animals that gone extinct. 

My observation has been that kids start worrying about climate change when they are in their young teens. Some children are affected at a younger age because they are personally affected by weather events. Today's children are much more likely to be affected by catastrophic weather events than I was as a child. Every year the fires and flooding are more widespread so every year more kids are personally affected. 

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I've never had a discussion about any of these things with my daughter. She doesn't know anything about climate change. She's learned about endangered animals in school. She attended a presentation in kindergarten about conserving water (we live in the desert) and went through a short period of not wanting to waste water. 

 

Knowing to not waste water is essential for survival just about everywhere.  Its not a new concept; anyone who grew up on well water knows it.  And those of us who are in communities that have experienced explosive population increases know the expense of finding new water sources...absolutely ridiculous that people do not understand the difference between treated and untreated water and what is used for what.  Waste of community water resources gets really personal when one has to flush lines because of the sand coming thru or there isn't enough pressure for one tap in the house to supply your cooking needs.  And I don't live in a desert. Not wasting vital resources such as water is a principle that every child should know and live by.

The only reason more dc are affected by catastrophic flooding is that there are more dc...population growth is high.  Even when I was a kid, the rivers flooded and you knew when you were looking at houses to look up in the trees and research flood plains.

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29 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

 

 

OP mentioned middle class jobs in her first post. I don’t think there will ever be a consensus on what is a middle class job or lifestyle. 

From Brookings https://www.brookings.edu/research/defining-the-middle-class-cash-credentials-or-culture/

“Definitions of the middle class (and indeed of classes generally) tend to fall into one of the three broad categories, based on economic resources; on education and occupation status; or on attitudes, self-perception, and mindset. Determining whether you are “middle class” requires different information for each of these three categories. For the first (cash), we need to see your bank balance. For the second (credentials) we need to see your résumé. For the third (culture), we need to see inside your head.

  • Cash: economic resources, especially income, wealth, freedom from poverty
  • Credentials: educational achievements and qualifications, occupational status
  • Culture: attitudes, mindset, behavior, self-definition” 

 

 

Those categories aren't independent.  We all know people who have middle class income, but spend so freely on goods and experiences that don't keep their value that the owners don't accumulate wealth.  What one keeps matters a lot more than the silver content of the spoon and the cash coming in. 

Edited by HeighHo

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25 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

Knowing to not waste water is essential for survival just about everywhere.  Its not a new concept; anyone who grew up on well water knows it.  And those of us who are in communities that have experienced explosive population increases know the expense of finding new water sources...absolutely ridiculous that people do not understand the difference between treated and untreated water and what is used for what.  Waste of community water resources gets really personal when one has to flush lines because of the sand coming thru or there isn't enough pressure for one tap in the house to supply your cooking needs.  And I don't live in a desert. Not wasting vital resources such as water is a principle that every child should know and live by.

The only reason more dc are affected by catastrophic flooding is that there are more dc...population growth is high.  Even when I was a kid, the rivers flooded and you knew when you were looking at houses to look up in the trees and research flood plains.

Actually that's not true. There has been more flooding in the USA recently and the intensity of the flooding is greater. 

Quote

The U.S. has experienced at least 24 of these "500-year" rain events since 2010, including Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

The "500 year" term is a risk assessment tool used for flood insurance, but scientists say the phrase is misleading. It actually does not mean that the event happens only once every 500 years, but instead that there is a one in 500 chance that this amount of flooding will occur in a single year. A 100-year event has a one in 100 chance of occurring. Researchers say these large storms are happening more often.

What Does 500 Year Flood Really Mean

An easy (and non-biased way) to confirm this is to look at what the insurance industry is doing. 

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15 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

Except you put words in my mouth that I didn't state.  For me, education is about giving our children an education which provides them the mental freedom to pursue the end for which they were intended (this is directly from Ignatian philosophy).   My POV is not connected to suburban MC lifestyle or employment.  It is about faith and perseverance to the end of life.  

I'm clearly communicating badly, because I likewise see education as about faith and perseverance to the end of life, and about pursuing the end for which they were intended.  I fundamentally *agree* with you about the point of education.  And I would say that what you just said *is* a form of "educating for things greater than survival" - is not faith and perseverance to the end of life of *greater* import than earthly survival?

And I'm not talking about MC suburban lifestyle or the employment which maintains said lifestyle.  I'm talking about living wage employment to support a family in a modest but stable way.  (I mean, heck, we are a one-income family in one of the highly-educated-but-low-paying helping professions, and I am more than satisfied with what we have.  But some of that is that we are fortunate enough to have parents who help us with the big-ticket things - we'd be in a lot different, more unstable place without that.  And we are not on track to be able to help our kids the way my parents are helping us, and that *does* concern me.)

That said, despite my concerns about the prospects of providing my kids with the path to a living wage and a stable life, I am *not* allowing those concerns to change how I educate.  I am *still* committed to educating with an eye to faith and perseverance to the end of life, whether or not that results in a living wage and stable life.  (Christ never promised us either.)  More committed, actually.  Because in accepting material insecurity as a given, it drives home that Christ offers the only security there is, that the goal of educating for faith and perseverance to the end of life is truly *the* goal that matters above all else.

But that's really kind of counter-intuitive in some ways.  I mean, Maslow and his hierarchy of needs assumes that the lower needs have to be fulfilled before you can focus on the higher needs.  It's not surprising that more people are willing to pursue things like the liberal arts when the lower needs are secure than when the lower needs are insecure.  And it's not surprising that people find their beliefs shaken when their lower needs become insecure, because they see those lower needs as the foundation for those higher needs.  But Christianity calls for the reverse: that really, the eternal things are the foundation for the temporal things, that the higher things support the lower things.  Seek first the kingdom of God.

 

I guess my point is that I agree with you about the point of education.  And I always would have said I agreed with you.  But it's a very different kind of agreement now than it used to be.  Before it was the blithe confidence of someone who felt secure in everything.  Now it's the more desperate, heartfelt clinging of someone who learnt the hard way that temporal security is only temporary, that eternal security is both the source of what temporal security there is and is the only true security in the first place.  And that gives me a lot of sympathy and understanding about what the loss of temporal security can do to a person, even as I think that temporal insecurity is the truth of things, and so everyone needs to reckon with it.  But there's a difference between understanding it in theory and having to put that understanding into practice.  My original understanding faltered very badly under practice - I was wrong about so much - and the experience of floundering and rebuilding was a humbling one.  And I suppose it makes me want to champion people who are in the same boat: viscerally coping with the loss of things they (wrongly) assumed would always be there.  Even as I in many ways agree more with the solutions of people who haven't struggled that way than the solutions of those who are struggling. 

 

In short (too late 🤣 ),
*I agree with educating toward the greater (eternal) things.
*But material insecurity still bites.
*And so I understand why someone suffering material insecurity would neglect the greater things for the material ones, even as I think they shouldn't do it.
*But it felt to me that a lot of posters didn't really grok *why* material insecurity would drive people to that foreign-to-the-poster choice (of material insecurity driving people to neglect the greater things for material ones). 
*Since that choice *used* to be foreign to me, too, but now I understand it (at least in part), I've spilled a lot of words in trying to help make that foreign choice understandable, which is not the same thing as trying to make it defensible.
*This does not include or address the non-material-insecurity reasons for valuing material goals over non-material goals.

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6 minutes ago, forty-two said:

I'm clearly communicating badly, because I likewise see education as about faith and perseverance to the end of life, and about pursuing the end for which they were intended.  I fundamentally *agree* with you about the point of education.  And I would say that what you just said *is* a form of "educating for things greater than survival" - is not faith and perseverance to the end of life of *greater* import than earthly survival?

And I'm not talking about MC suburban lifestyle or the employment which maintains said lifestyle.  I'm talking about living wage employment to support a family in a modest but stable way.  (I mean, heck, we are a one-income family in one of the highly-educated-but-low-paying helping professions, and I am more than satisfied with what we have.  But some of that is that we are fortunate enough to have parents who help us with the big-ticket things - we'd be in a lot different, more unstable place without that.  And we are not on track to be able to help our kids the way my parents are helping us, and that *does* concern me.)

That said, despite my concerns about the prospects of providing my kids with the path to a living wage and a stable life, I am *not* allowing those concerns to change how I educate.  I am *still* committed to educating with an eye to faith and perseverance to the end of life, whether or not that results in a living wage and stable life.  (Christ never promised us either.)  More committed, actually.  Because in accepting material insecurity as a given, it drives home that Christ offers the only security there is, that the goal of educating for faith and perseverance to the end of life is truly *the* goal that matters above all else.

But that's really kind of counter-intuitive in some ways.  I mean, Maslow and his hierarchy of needs assumes that the lower needs have to be fulfilled before you can focus on the higher needs.  It's not surprising that more people are willing to pursue things like the liberal arts when the lower needs are secure than when the lower needs are insecure.  And it's not surprising that people find their beliefs shaken when their lower needs become insecure, because they see those lower needs as the foundation for those higher needs.  But Christianity calls for the reverse: that really, the eternal things are the foundation for the temporal things, that the higher things support the lower things.  Seek first the kingdom of God.

 

I guess my point is that I agree with you about the point of education.  And I always would have said I agreed with you.  But it's a very different kind of agreement now than it used to be.  Before it was the blithe confidence of someone who felt secure in everything.  Now it's the more desperate, heartfelt clinging of someone who learnt the hard way that temporal security is only temporary, that eternal security is both the source of what temporal security there is and is the only true security in the first place.  And that gives me a lot of sympathy and understanding about what the loss of temporal security can do to a person, even as I think that temporal insecurity is the truth of things, and so everyone needs to reckon with it.  But there's a difference between understanding it in theory and having to put that understanding into practice.  My original understanding faltered very badly under practice - I was wrong about so much - and the experience of floundering and rebuilding was a humbling one.  And I suppose it makes me want to champion people who are in the same boat: viscerally coping with the loss of things they (wrongly) assumed would always be there.  Even as I in many ways agree more with the solutions of people who haven't struggled that way than the solutions of those who are struggling. 

 

In short (too late 🤣 ),
*I agree with educating toward the greater (eternal) things.
*But material insecurity still bites.
*And so I understand why someone suffering material insecurity would neglect the greater things for the material ones, even as I think they shouldn't do it.
*But it felt to me that a lot of posters didn't really grok *why* material insecurity would drive people to that foreign-to-the-poster choice (of material insecurity driving people to neglect the greater things for material ones). 
*Since that choice *used* to be foreign to me, too, but now I understand it (at least in part), I've spilled a lot of words in trying to help make that foreign choice understandable, which is not the same thing as trying to make it defensible.
*This does not include or address the non-material-insecurity reasons for valuing material goals over non-material goals.

No, you communicating clearly.  I am just not engaging in that conversation. Once we had a child die, my entire worldview toward the purpose of life fell solidly toward the eternal in very real terms, not just a statement. We currently live a **very** comfortable solidly MC lifestyle with the ability to provide our children with not just needs but wants. I don't share the OP's pessimism about the immediate (or even single generation in the future. I have a Dd her dd's age and grandchildren who are 8,7,5,3and 2 that are under a yr. I have more concerns about political/war scenarios than climate change impacting anything within the not so remote future.) It still does not change my response. We don't educate our children toward any specific future career. They choose their own paths and life is what they make it. That is why we have kids who don't want to attend college to 2 yr degrees to 4 yr degrees to grad school. Their lives. Their choices. 

But equally, we don't **do** school at home to mimic popular culture. We do **them** whoever that may be.

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1 hour ago, forty-two said:

 

I mean, I have no idea how I will ever be able to pay for college for my kids.  It's scholarships or grandparents or all the loans, basically.  So if I can't picture how to cover my kids' increasingly-necessary-to-make-a-living-wage *undergrad* college, the idea of for-personal-fulfillment *graduate* education is so far out of my reach that I can't fathom ever being in that situation.  (Which is odd, in that both my parents and my sister would have no trouble doing so, so it's not like it's actually outside my family situation.)

I don't worry about how I'm going to pay for my kids' college expenses: my role is to give them a solid education now and what they do with that once they are adults is their business.  I will always provide support, a place to live and any other help that is within our means but they all know that funding college is their own responsibility.  Honestly, I went to a local public university, lived at home and I never felt that it closed any doors for me.  Pre-kids I was able to compete and work at a national level with Ivy-Leaguers/LACers and the number of opportunities that I had had through my no-name school helped me be competitive/competent (e.g. research & publishing opportunities).    I don't know about other states, but ours has an in-demand fields free vocational training at the community college.  If a child is not ready to get a four year degree or doesn't get a good scholarship that will allow him to go straight to university without debt there is always the option of getting vocational training and then working your way through university.  This is the model that many people we know follow and it is successful.

As far as pursuing something for personal fulfillment, I don't know: my life ain't over until I'm dead.  My traditional midwife has recently graduated all her kids from their homeschool and is now in school pursuing a nursing degree to become a CNM.  She certainly does not have to do this, she is a great traditional midwife, but she wants to.  Now instead of kids expenses the money she earns delivering babies goes directly towards her higher ed costs.  It's hard for her to juggle everything as a grandma in her late 50s but she makes it work and she dreams of opening a birthing center someday.  I love philosophy and if I hadn't gotten married when I did would have started a PhD.  But, I can still read and if nothing else I'll be able to audit courses once I'm seventy at the state flagship university which has a solid philosophy program.  DH read a big chunk of the great books cannon on the bridge of a Navy ship and learned enough Latin to make teaching it into a second career while rocking our babies to sleep (he enjoys teaching Latin more than driving ships, lol).  While there is life, there is hope!

And just one more thing: I've lived through the collapse of a country.  I was right around OP's daughter's age.  Yes, life was hard and unstable and in the midst of the political and economic unrest there were earthquakes.  But, I don't remember being unhappy as a child.  My parents worried, of course, and worked to get us out whichever way they could and I saw some pretty disturbing things, but as a child all I knew was that I had my family, my books and a rosary in my pocket and that was all I needed.  It's still all I need.

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

When it's the right time. She's only 9. But there is already some grieving as she learns about animals that gone extinct. 

My observation has been that kids start worrying about climate change when they are in their young teens. Some children are affected at a younger age because they are personally affected by weather events. Today's children are much more likely to be affected by catastrophic weather events than I was as a child. Every year the fires and flooding are more widespread so every year more kids are personally affected. 

I'm not sure of your age, but I've been around a mere 52 years and I've seen and lived much bigger weather disasters than my kids have.  When I was my kids' age, there was such a big blizzard that a boy went missing and wasn't found until the drifts thawed in the spring.  Just one example.  I can also remember multiple tornadoes where I lived / live; but there hasn't been one here for quite a long time now.  You can look at any era and find many extreme weather events.

In all likelihood, the things that will most impact our kids as they grow are things we can't even predict right now.  Like, when I was a kid, who would have thought people would fly planes into the Twin Towers and cause thousands of deaths in seconds?  Who would have thought the Chernobyl disaster would have occurred?  Or the eruption of Mount St. Helens?  Or the Challenger disaster?  Or AIDS?  Or so many other things....  Instead, what people worried about, and didn't happen, were Soviet nuclear bombings and global climate destruction prior to 2000 (freezing or warming, take your pick).  On the other hand, who would have thought we would see so much progress in, say, race relations ... the idea that interracial marriage would be accepted for example ....  All these things we couldn't predict then will have parallels in our kids' lives that we can't predict now.  But it is extremely unlikely that their lives will be destroyed as some do predict.

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IMO the worst thing we can do for our kids is delay their age-appropriate life experiences, especially the opportunity to get themselves into scrapes that they must then get themselves out of.  This kind of life training is what they will need whenever any difficult situation confronts them down the line.

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Actually that's not true. There has been more flooding in the USA recently and the intensity of the flooding is greater. 

What Does 500 Year Flood Really Mean

An easy (and non-biased way) to confirm this is to look at what the insurance industry is doing. 

 

The assumptions underlying flood map zones are a subject of intense discussion. The insurance industry will take a profit maximizing position, not a scientific position.

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3 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

When it's the right time. She's only 9. But there is already some grieving as she learns about animals that gone extinct. 

My observation has been that kids start worrying about climate change when they are in their young teens. Some children are affected at a younger age because they are personally affected by weather events. Today's children are much more likely to be affected by catastrophic weather events than I was as a child. Every year the fires and flooding are more widespread so every year more kids are personally affected. 

Thinking about this some more it occurred to me that as far as her education goes you may be far better off focusing on teaching her discipline in the small things that she already has had some exposure to.  You mention that she went through a short phase of conserving water.  Why was it short?  That may be an area to focus on and not, as you might explain to her, because of climate change but because water is dear and a common resource and we have a responsibility to be good stewards.  Learning actual self-discipline now in this fairly simple matter will be far more important for her adult self than knowing all the arguments for and against climate change but being just as wasteful as everyone else (my experience with many college students).

As far as when is the right time to present ideas (and usual disclaimers apply: my eldest is ten, etc), I honestly think it depends on the child and in my mind later is better than earlier for things that are political or not directly connected to the child's life right here and now.  I tread lightly even with religious matters beyond basic catechism.  I don't want my children to have simplistic views of things: black & white no gray area so to speak.  I find that the earlier I introduce abstractions the more difficult it is for me to dislodge a false understanding of a particular topic.  With my kids, at least, I have found that waiting for their questions really does work better.  I try hard to build trust with my children so that when they have a concern or a question about something that they hear or read they feel free to ask me and then we can discuss on the level appropriate to their age.  Many issues that might be important to a family do not need to be part of the curriculum: they will naturally come up and be discussed when the time is right.  And the parents' attitude in presenting things is really important too: one can convey that something is important without being all doom and gloom even when speaking with teens.

I hope this helps somewhat with your original question since this thread has seemed to veer of course a little (as all such threads do, lol).

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We're up against a number of discouraging things, aren't we?

  • All of our kids are eventually going to die no matter what we do. (I've put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak, and instructed DS to live to be 100.) And we can't even make them in our own vision--some people who work very hard at parenting get results that break their hearts. But this is always reality for people who reflect, from Buddhists ("Abandon all hope of fruition," Pema Chodron notes) to Christians ("God doesn't call me to be successful. God calls me to be faithful," writes Sarah McKenzie).
  • Life is already getting worse for large numbers of people and other living things (but better for some). We are partly responsible for it, but we still have to meet our day-to-day needs. My air conditioning is on right now even though I know it's 50C in India and I know my local power company has 4 coal plants for every nuclear plant. i drive half as much as the average car owner, but ditching even half of what I have left would have huge consequences for us, including for DS's education.
  • We live in a society that is designed to overlook harms unless they have immediate economic consequences to those with power, preferring to refer to them as "externalities" if at all. Solutions are available now (please read Drawdown if you haven't yet) and need to be adopted on a widespread basis, but some people will not go all in until the water is up to their own front porches (After all, look at me in the point above.).

So here's where I am with that with my 11-year-old:

  • We don't watch the news.
  • We do talk about solutions and implement what we can at home.
  • We do advocate for adopting solutions where we might make a difference. (This video is worth a look.)
  • We educate for the things that he needs no matter what: strong reasoning skills; sound basic knowledge and love of learning; practical skills; healthy living; the arts; gratitude and generosity.

 

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Well now, which is a worse fate, climate change or that middle class lifestyle you describe? Joking!

slightly more seriously, I don’t worry about it, meaning, I don’t think I will live that long. My grandma lived to 104 and through two world wars and more than any one modern person would ever endure. My one year older than me cousin on the other hand, just got diagnosed with breast cancer. And so my life now and the education of my children is exactly carpe diem and the opposite of the utalitarian-get into college, pay for college, buy house have kids and cars thing. We travel now and eat the best food we can afford and I’ve opted out completely of an extremely lucrative career. This means I don’t have the markers of success that my peers now have, specifically brilliant careers and beautiful first and second homes or any sort of security other than retiring in the “third world” or euthanasia...I do have wicked vacation photos though! 

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