Reblog: What’s Wrong with the World

Two gigantic facts of nature fixed it thus: first, that the woman who frequently fulfilled her functions literally could not be specially prominent in experiment and adventure; and second, that the same natural operation surrounded her with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything as everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment (even when freed from modern rules and hours, and exercised more spontaneously by a more protected person) is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

OK, it’s not a blog.  It’s a book…but it’s free?

Brought on because of Some Folks following up the “I have no idea how you do it” question of caring for a half-dozen kids with the “when are you going to do real work?” question. :D

Author: Foxfier

Former sailor, current geek, conservative, mother and practicing Catholic. Refugee from the Seattle blob. (No, we DIDN'T vote for those taxes!) Elf is my husband, our kids are Princess, Duchess, Baron, Empress, Chief, and Contessa.

17 thoughts on “Reblog: What’s Wrong with the World”

  1. There was a Newspaper Cartoon (I think Family Circle/Circus) that showed the Mother having a young female survey taker at the Door.

    The first question that the “girl” asked was “Do you work outside the home”.

    Upon getting the No answer, the “girl” said “As a non-working woman….”

    In the middle of that we see the Mother reviewing everything she does in the day and then she shuts the door in the “girl’s” face. :twisted:

    1. Yeah, started as a joke, but some folks– !

      *laughs* I try to keep a sense of humor, but I swear, do some folks hear themselves?

      1. IIRC Lots of the jokes in that Cartoon are things that actually happened in the cartoonist’s family.

        IE “We can joke about them NOW”.

        So I saw that joke as based on something that actually happened and seen as humorous later on.

        IE your “do some people hear themselves?”. :lol:

  2. Yeah, that is some of my reaction.

    To labor truly when working for hire, you have to be alert to ways to do things better, and eager to learn how to do them. Some of what you would wish to learn has been known to other people, but obtaining it may be far more difficult than it would be to invent it yourself. A smart but inexperienced type working manually with others will watch what they do, and try it out, in addition to experimenting. A manual worker who has to be trained in every motion, carefully, by example, is still educable, and if they persist may be quite valuable in that work.

    Three aspects of the public education system are the process, the curriculum, and the people implementing the process. A creative, intelligent person, with some real understanding of the limits of the industrial engineering tools commonly using in industrial experimentation, statistical process control, etc., can look at the academic discipline of Education, and conclude that with what we know now about statistics, measurement, and the fuzziness of humans, that the process is theoretically unsound. The curriculum is not even a varied, interesting or useful mixture of truth and lies. This tends to imply that school teachers are unimaginative minds that learned purely by rote.

    It seems to me to be a lack of confidence to suppose that your child is so narrow and rigid that they are best educated by such minds using that process. Unless your child is so terminally ill that they will not reach adulthood, you do not have complete information about what they will do as an adult, nor can anyone fully prepare them so far in advance for every task that they take on.

    Anyone can reasonably anticipate that a parent will at least need to do some creative thinking to fill in the holes left in the education provided by others to their children.

    I personally believe that the process, environment, material, and personal of public school are so lacking that any reasonable effort at homeschooling would be better.

    Furthermore, they try to control the education process to give uniformity of result, and economically, your children do not need to be exactly the same as everyone else’s children.

    If you teach your children to work, think, and learn, they will be able to exceed what you put into them. And each is different, so it takes work to help them reach their potential.

    Some of them will choose to be parents, some of them will choose to be scientists, engineers, soldiers, etc. Parenting is one of the most important jobs, too important to be trusted to mediocre unambitious sorts hired and managed by a bureaucracy.

    The ambition of excellence in parenting is no less worthy than the ambitions of laboring truly in science, engineering, war, etc.

    While it is possible to succeed without having benefited from good parenting, it takes far more work, and many successful people are the result of good parenting.

    Some of the contrary view is malicious lies of communists. Some of the contrary view is people who haven’t thought through measurable and important. The ‘work’ that is measurable by a bureaucracy is considered ‘important’ and ‘real’, no matter how much it isn’t. But something as deep and narrow as homeschooling, that cannot be measured by standard, periodic, centralized means without ignoring or killing it, is not important somehow.

    Even for tasks that are important and measurable, the attitude seems to be that if you don’t want to be Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Holmes, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet or George Soros, you don’t “want to change the world”, and are wrong to seek mainly to labor truly.

    1. To labor truly when working for hire, you have to be alert to ways to do things better, and eager to learn how to do them

      I hadn’t made the connection, but– today is Shepherd’s Sunday.

      The Priest’s reading was about how “the hired man who works for pay” will not lay down his life for the sheep, because he’s there for the pay, not for love of the sheep.

      My dad’s cows were not his property, but they were his cows, by this metric, same way that mom is a teacher even when she’s not being a paid educator– but it’s still an important distinction to make.

      Which rhymes with your larger point!

    2. I had a fairly intense moment of connection with the daughter recently when I asked her if she wished I’d had the guts to homeschool her sooner.


  3. Chesterton’s erudite common sense is always such a joy to read. He had a rare ability to see and explain the sorts of things that many of us understand instinctively from experience and observation, but have trouble articulating. I would dearly love to see him engage in an old-fashioned, by-the-rules debate with one of today’s post-modernist “thinkers.”

    1. The only problem I have with Chesterton is that he’s impossible to quote.

      You’ll have a three paragraph long section, and it is just blessed BRILLIANT, and you try to pull a nice little quote out….and you can’t, because it is all important.

      K, TWO problems, one is that he takes me a long time to read. Because a lot of what he says makes me think, in a fun way. Husband and I were stuck for three days without internet, and I only made it halfway through Orthodoxy! (Got a bunch of scribbled thoughts, and some great discussions, but– the book is simply not THAT big.)

      1. It’s the virtue of not being a bumper sticker thinker or writer. The vice of his virtue, if you will.

        What kept me off Chesterton was the notion that (outside of Father Brown, etc. which I loved) was that he was an R.C. thingy for RC-ers. It’s a bit of a double-whammy. The only thing more off-putting would be to be an evangelical* (aka “Calvinist”) thingy.

        I had to read for myself to perceive.

        (*reader, I married him and have spent decades of married life in his church)

        1. I think the patron saint of paradox would be delighted by that description.

          I am resisting making a joke playing on the whole Catholic/universal thing here, but can’t think of a good one. The Contessa (2) is sitting on my knee playing Starfall interactive video/books on the tablet, I’ll blame that! Or maybe not enough coffee….. *grin*

  4. For those who dislike reading pieces longer than “The Monkey’s Paw” or such on the web, Amazon’s got a Kindle edition for the same low price.

    So, rather than finding him a Catholic writer for a Papist public, we discover a Papist writer for a catholic public.

    1. Ooh, nicely done.

      I think you can download an ebook from Gutenberg, but I’m all for raising the popularity of Chesterton on Amazon!

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