How To Teach Your Kids To Read Good In Bad Sitchuwayshins
A New York Times spinoff magazine article came out a few days ago featuring an interview with Willow and Jaden Smith where they departed from the usual Hollywood banter-based self promotional fluff to touch on concepts like time being flexible, schools being a useless brainwash factory full of miserable kids, modern art failing to inspire people. Some other more esoteric subjects were brought up as well, but besides being a reminder of how rich people's kids get quite a different education from that of the average American, there was nothing particularly interesting about it.
Almost instantaneously a frightful anti-intellectual Twitter Holocaust began. Comment sections of the tattered remains of journalism frothed with snark and venom, raging against the elite (whom they usually spend so much time defending). For those of us who have been exposed to those ideas before (and don't find them particularly new or exciting) it was yet another dreary reminder of how far our education system has fallen from a time when it was the envy of the free world. In it's place we have the school-to-prison pipelines, where the lucky ones escape to a world of falling incomes and dead-end opportunities as the noose of a corrupt and decaying police state tightens around their necks.
The problem is while some people may have heard of Einstein very few actually understand even the basic Cliff's Notes version of the Theory of Relativity. This is because, let's face it, we are a country full of illiterates. Only 1 in 4 children in the United States grow up learning how to read, and the functional illiteracy rate is an astounding 48.7% according to a study back in 1996. Follow up studies suggest things haven't gotten any better, and in fact it's a problem that most English-speaking countries continue to struggle with.
Why We Suck And Fail
So what's behind the lousy numbers? English spelling. It's an antiquated and arbitrary system that has long outlived it's usefulness. Originally designed by fruity aristocratic twits, English spelling functioned as a convenient way to subdue vast populations by making education as difficult as possible for the lesser classes who can't afford the big bucks for proper schooling. English students require an astonishing eight years of studying to get a grip on non-verbal communication, while other languages that crank out capable readers in a fraction of the time. As this writer can attest, even with a few years of college under my belt I'm constantly battling with spell-check and looking up strange new words regularly trying to figure out how to pronounce them on my own.
Recently I've been learning about soil science and have come across words like "anion" and "cation". At first glance you might think they sound like "onion" and "vacation", but you would be so very wrong. In the work place this has a huge effect. If you tried to bust out your newly-acquired concepts to impress your superiors with the hope of improving your position on the farm it's very possible they might write you off as an idiot. That's a big score for The Man. One less uppity peasant to contend with.
Grand Theft Nation
In Hawaii the social effect of literacy has been much more profound. Back in the mid-1800 whaling days we enjoyed what was possibly the highest literacy rate in the world. Unfortunately around that same time some big investors in the sugarcane industry were also setting their sights on full-spectrum dominance and began a campaign of slowly destroying the Hawaiian language by promoting English immersion schools for a lucky few while simultaneously gutting the primarily Hawaiian schools for everybody else. In the two generations that followed (with the help of diseases and mass importation of cheap foreign agrucultural labor) they managed to almost completely erase Hawaiian as a spoken language, along with dozens of species of native flora and fauna.
There have been valiant attempts starting in the 1970's to bring back spoken Hawaiian, but unlike Hebrew there is little political to support any meaningful attempt at an effective revival. The colonialists won that war, after all. Why would they risk returning such a potent weapon to a new generation of possible revolutionaries?
Okay, maybe I lost you there. At IKYA we like to keep it simple, so let me break it down.
The process of the Colonialization of Hawaii can be summed up in one sentence: First they erased the language, then they stole the Kingdom. When you take away the ability for someone to speak and read their own language, you rob them of their identity. When you take away their identity, they become putty in your hands for whatever kind of manipulation your greedy little heart desires. The guns of the USS Boston pointed at Queen Lili'uokalani sealed the deal on that fateful day back in 1893, but it can be argued that the Colonialists' most potent weapon had been released decades before and continues to work it's toxic mojo to this day.
Now you may wonder what this little side-story has to do with anything. Besides the plantation years that followed and our current abominable education rankings this stuff is all ancient history, right? Ask the mostly-illiterate Hawaiians who make up 40% of the prison population in this state at any given time. For that matter ask any of the functional illiterates who account for 80% of the national prison population. What's the one major stumbling block that they all seem to have in common that's holding them back from leading normal productive lives?
Is it going too far to say that English spelling is an insidious form of class warfare and population control? I'll let you work that one out on your own time. Right now let's get down to brass tacks and figure out what it means from a survivalist perspective.
School Is Out Forever
Say you are in a grid-permanently-down situation thanks to Sunny the Solar Storm and it's pretty much home-school or no-school. You know the young-ins have to get their reading on, because explaining everything is really annoying and the smart kids who can gain valuable skills quickly and efficiently have a much better chance to avoid getting drafted by the local warlord for his next bloody turf battle. Your little girl loves metallurgy and has a heck of an arm, but your understanding of blacksmithing is rudimentary at best. Besides you have your own job to do, and teaching/learning at the same time is frustrating to say the least. Wouldn't it be better to toss her a few books and check in every once in a while to just make sure she doesn't hurt herself?
Now teaching a kid how to read English takes 8 freaking years. By the time she's ready to finally crack that Blacksmithing For Beginners book she's already at an age where there's significant pressure to jump into other (much older) professions. Her initial take might be bigger but the long-term benefits really suck. If only there was a way to speed up that reading process by stone-cold cheating with a solar panel and that old useless smart phone you have stashed away in a shoebox.
Introducing Project Unspell; possibly the best anti-life-of-prostitution software ever written. While the Department of Education is working hard to make math more difficult and less enjoyable with their crazy Common Core standards, a small group of independent experts with a much less-nefarious legacy has created a way to translate regular frustrating English text into a form that can be learned in a few short weeks. I won't bother trying to explain how it works since their website does a much better job answering questions, but after buying their first edition book and trying out some of the exercises myself I can definitely attest to the fact that it's way easier than it looks.
I'm a big fan of Dmitri Orlov's blog and books. He's one of the few people out there with a higher signal-to-noise ratio in the Doomer genre. More specifically I like people who actually consider the historical context of today's events, and in that department he's one of the best. When he initially announced Unspell I was highly skeptical but bought the book anyway. It's important to support one of the few voices out there who have actually done their homework. Plus he was interrupting my weekly doom-porn fix by alternating between his regular articles and blog-pimping Unspell. My curiosity finally kicked in.
The book arrived and got shuffled around from place to place for a bit until finally I cracked it and gave it a shot. Lot's of people talk about this or that gizmo/concept as being revolutionary, but the word gets thrown around so much that it's all but meaningless these days. As a person who tutored people in English as a way to make a few bucks during my college debt-slave initiation, I can honestly say Project Unspell deserves the title.
Sure, this may be coming across as borderline fan-boy raving, but considering the potential that this system has for the prepping community it's hard not to get excited. Even if Unspell never takes off your kids will still learn to read and speak regular English faster than anybody else's. Once they get the Unspell down it's not too much of a jump to match up Unspell words with their regular spelling, which of course they can do by themselves without the need for coaching on the correct pronunciation. That's a couple hours a day you just freed up for your own pursuits right there.
The added bonus is if it never gains popularity and you learn it with your kids, you now share a writing language and can leave notes that nobody else can read. No secret decoder ring AND they grow up a lot less stupid? How valuable is that!
The only downside is the initial itchy skin-rash feeling you get whenever diving into something that's new and not yet widely-accepted. It was a challenge for me to open the book and overcome my inhibitions about it possibly being a total waste of time. I imagine the sensation is similar to the one all those angry Twit-fighters had when they realized Will Smith's kids actually enjoy learning and seeking out advanced ideas and concepts on their own outside the confines of bureaucratically regimented thought-programming institutionalization.
And criticizing our schools? How dare they! Even if public education has been crashing for the past 40 years and only succeeds in making arbitrary rule-followers, mindless test-takers, and model prisoners for the for-profit gulags... it's still OUR system dammit! Too bad the lucky ones had to wait until college (because they were wasting all that extra time learning how to read) to be exposed to Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Maybe they would have figured out early on that it's always better to be the one who goes out and gets a little fresh air now and then, even if it means that sometimes the other prisoners want to do whatever it takes to shut you up.