If you have a young child in a public school, you probably get a list of supplies that your child will need to have at the beginning of the year. Locally, our superstores place these lists in stands near the front of the store in late July or August. This way a parent can purchase the long list of supplies before school starts. These lists often include things like a pack of pencils, box of crayons, a ream of printing paper, erasers, glue, tissues, paper towels, folders, notebook, lined paper, etc.
What’s so interesting about school supplies? That’s found in what happens to them when they arrive at the school.
I wouldn’t have known about this had a friend not told me. We have homeschooled our children and never had to deal with this issue. According to my friend, she had purchased several pencils with her daughter’s name imprinted on them. They were cute and the young daughter really liked the pretty eraser on top. She was excited about the opportunity to use them at school that fall. Alas, it was not to be.
When the children arrived at school that morning, the teacher had place bins around the room with labels on them: “pencils,” “glue,” “tissues,” etc. Each child had to place the supplies they had brought in the appropriate bin. The young girl with the pretty pencils with her name on them placed her pencils in the bin along with all the other plain and ordinary pencils other children brought.
When she got home that afternoon, her mother could see her daughter was upset. “The teacher took away all my pencils,” she cried. Now, this may not sound like a big deal to you, but when you are 7 years old, it is larger than life. The wise mother knew this so she contacted the school.
She was told that this was standard procedure at the school. Some student’s families could not afford to purchase the supplies at all. Then there were others who could only afford to purchase the bare minimum and very generic supplies. By placing all the supplies in the bins, any student who needed something could grab it from the bin.
While this may not sound like a serious issue, it does have some serious long term effects. Before I discuss these ramifications, let me offer another example.
My sons participated in youth sports when they were young. I was very often the “Team Mom” and charged with planning the end of the year party and buying team trophies. It took me a while to see this for what it was, but each year, every child on the team was given the same trophy. It didn’t matter if you were a good player who practices a lot and, therefore, got to play a lot. It also didn’t matter if you were not very good or never made it to practices. All the trophies were the same.
When I was a teen, I also played youth league sports. I was an average, but not great, player. Our teams did often have a party at the end of the season. Very often, the players with the best averages or best performances were given an award. The others on the team left empty-handed. You know what I learned from this? If I wanted to get the award, I was going to have to work very hard to earn it.
While I simply do not possess the skills needed to earn a sporting award of any kind, there have been many things that I’ve done in which I could win an award if I chose to do so. I worked as a distributor for a cosmetics company. I was very good at selling make up, not because I possessed something that others did not, I was just willing to work harder than a lot of people. Because I worked so hard, I received many rewards in addition to the money I earned. Jewelry, handbags, clothing, and household décor were offered, but you only won them when you produced. There was never a time when everyone received a prize for just walking in the door and converting oxygen to carbon dioxide.
In a society in which everyone is treated the same, given the same supplies, live in the same type homes, allotted the same amount of money on which to live, all signs of excellence is lost. There is no reason to excel, give the extra time, or go above and beyond what is expected. There is no motivation because the rewards for your work would be the same that you would receive if you did nothing. This is called socialism and we are teaching it to our young children. In its extreme form, it is communism. The kid who is the fastest and willing to work the hardest still can’t get all of the Easter eggs if he is limited to only one color of them.
To be sure, most homes operate with a communist form of government when children are very young. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Since very young children aren’t capable of giving anything other than bodily fluids, and they require more fluids to replace those they give up, all of the burden placed on the parents. They give according to their ability while the child receives according to his need (and yes, the parents need love and snuggles, too, so the children are usually willing to give them).
As the children grow, the government form changes a little bit into socialism. Everyone has the same insurance and medical care, the same food, and the same clothing provision. Yet the children are required, most often, to do some household work. They don’t handle the big tasks, such as grocery shopping, paying bills, or scheduling, but they do have to clean their rooms and do other small chores. Some parents choose to give an allowance, or more aptly, a commission, based on the work they do. This, according to Dave Ramsey, is a great method to teach children that there are consequences for not working and rewards for doing a good job. Anyone who has ever been in the workforce knows how true this can be in the job market. The sooner you can teach your children this concept, the better. It will help them to better understand the free market and capitalism later on in their life.
What about the little girl with the pencils and the team trophies for everyone? If everything is equal for everyone when they are young, they may very well expect the same treatment when they are adults. Is it any wonder that employees of McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants have been striking in hopes of getting, not earning, a higher wage? They grew up being taught that everyone should be treated equally, so now that they are adults, they want to make the same wage as an electrician, office manager, truck driver, or factory worker.
When I teach government classes and we discuss the various forms of government, I make sure to explain to my students how important their education is. A high school diploma is most likely not going to get you a good job. Students need to know that higher education of some sort will be necessary to obtain a better paying job. If you are not interested in college, community college, a technical school, or some other training upon high school graduation, then you only need to learn one more sentence for the rest of your life: Would you like fries with that?