COVID-19, School and Autism – Religion and Politics

One of the least effective, if easiest things to do, is to talk about a particular thing, when your experience with it was bad, ignoring the ways in which the same thing was or is beneficial, useful or even essential to others.

Yesterday, I was going through social media accounts and came across a “post” by a person who basically related their disdain for schools as a rule.

As a younger man, I might’ve done basically the same thing this individual did, and frankly, I entirely understand their perspective on the one hand. On the other hand though, I’ve come to see the utility of schooling, not as what others intended it to be, but as a necessary thing, nonetheless.

You should be aware that I’m not here attempting to support or defend a particular type of school—neither public, parochial, Catholic, private, nor any other type. Nor am I trying to say that it always works in any wise as I would desire it did. Even so, I have a bone to pick with anybody who assumes schooling is “worthless.” Even ignoring the obvious benefit of education.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m the father of a Moderately Autistic child. You should know that being so gives me even more reason to support schooling of one sort or other.

I’ll be the first to admit that, as a younger man, I seriously questioned the need to “school” people in things like even current high school level math and science. Granted, that covers an awful lot of territory, and at the basest levels, I think such studies are warranted. That is to say, pretty much everybody should be taught to multiply, divide, add and subtract. As well training in managing one’s finances should be more or less universal. And this says nothing of the need to be able to read, write, and comprehend the words of others.

Anything past that, in my view, should be something that only folks who intend to push forward in certain disciplines can take as “electives” or precursors to specific courses that move them along the path they choose.

Telling a person who has no interest in doing anything other than cleaning buildings, or working as a security guard, that they must learn even mildly advanced math or science, is likely not just a waste of the monies spent on such an endeavor, but a waste of their time and effort as well.

It’s true that some folks start out thinking they’re never going to go into things that ultimately end up being their primary line of business. Even so, the for the majority of such folks, that’s not the case.

In all this though, I digress. The point I’m intending to make is, even though there are many issues with the education systems in the United States and elsewhere, it still serves important purposes.

This is particularly true for those of us with “special needs children”—though in truth, it applies to a great many others as well.

To begin with, there are households in which there are single parents (and some are in that boat for reasons largely beyond their control—for others, it’s something over which they had control, but seemed to be the best choice out of all they saw). If these folks intend to live off the government, then maybe school is not such an important thing from their perspective. Otherwise, being able to have their children educated while they go out to earn a living is a serious boon.

Even for those who do choose to be under the “government’s care,” if they don’t take the time to teach their children the things they need to know to be successful, productive members of society, the rest of us suffer as a result.

For those who choose to go off to work every day—to make a living for themselves and their families—the benefit of schools is that their children don’t sit in “holding areas” awaiting pickup.

Even in the worst case, where the children learn little, at least they’re being engaged and dealing with social situations. In better scenarios, they’re actually learning valuable lessons along the way.

My current social status is not something I care to discuss here. The important consideration is that, I’m responsible for the wellbeing of my child, and together with someone, or on my own, there’s nobody at home to care for my Moderately Autistic son when I’m out making money to pay for our expenses and enjoyment.

Where I could go into detail, I shan’t. Know only that, until and unless I can find a way to support my family where I’m at home while I do it (or can bring my son safely where I work), he must be somewhere other than home alone.

Whether that’s school or daycare does matter. His time in school has helped to plunge him into social situations it’s not readily possible for me to provide. It’s also helped him to see that it’s not just daddy who wants him to learn things others take for granted (read here, “reading, writing, counting and other such simple activities”).

Even being in school, he has consistently lagged behind children his own age, and frankly, if he ever catches up, I think it likely he will be a young adult by the time that happens.

Putting it simply, for someone like my boy, some sort of schooling is more or less essential.

Making this harder is the fact that, even if I stay home, and am able to work from home (and you may count this as experience speaking), I have little time to devote to acting as teacher to my child.

Some people seem to be laboring under the delusion that working from home means traipsing about, doing as you please. The schedule is just as rigorous working in my home office as it ever was sitting in an office in a formal workplace; maybe even a little bit more so.

Yes, it’s true I can step away from my “desk” at home in order to spend a moment with my child. It’s also true I have to “make that time up.”

The point of all I’ve said up to now is simple. If you think school is worthless, or even unimportant, consider what it does for both parents and children that would be substantially more difficult if the schools ceased to exist, or even attempted to move to an online only format. If that’s not a sufficiently strong motivator to keep it around, be “selfish” and consider the ill prepared workmates with whom you’ll have to deal if ever it’s not around.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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