While I take Karl Taro Greenfeld’s point about all that homework, lost in all the details is the primary assumption that he shares with his daughter’s teacher, and (presumably) his daughter: the justification for the very homework treadmill upon which is daughter is running, breathless, itself. Why do all that homework? Because she’s in an elite middle school, that’s what elite middle schools do. Why send your daughter to an elite middle school? So she can get into an elite high school. But why do that? So she can get into an elite college, duh. Why? So she can get an elite job and live in New York City and stick her own kids on the homework treadmill so they can …. etc. Within the scope of this article, Mr. Greenfield seems unable to conceptualize of any other mode of existence.
I know this isn’t true of Mr. Greenfield himself, since he wrote, among other books, SPEED TRIBES, a book about various Tokyo lowlifes. Indeed, as he says, he himself was busy getting high in 8th grade, not doing 3 hrs of nightly homework. He turned out alright. I guess I’m just wondering, why not move out to Wyoming and take his daughter camping on the weekends and deer hunting on the weeknights and go to state college instead, where she can drink beer in the stands on football Saturdays and come home to run the local Natural Resources District? Or some other – any other – less conformist path? Because based on this article, it would seem what the system he is describing really teaches is Obey, Obey Obey – if you want the Golden Carrot of Eliteness. Otherwise you’re going to be stuck down with the hoi-polloi eating pork & beans, bowling, and going to NASCAR. Is the “elite” path so elite that we are not to question it at all? LINK: