Early last week I accidentally bought a ‘book’ called One Man Air Force, by Don S. Gentle. I say “book” because it’s only 50 pages, and I would have returned it (I was browsing WW2 books and hit the ‘buy with one click’ button), but the writing was so absorbing I had to keep going. It’s really nothing more than the account of the American-born Gentile joining the RAF in his eagerness to fly against the Germans — and then his learning to be a killer in the skies, outdoing even Eddie Rickenbacker once he’d transferred to the USAAF and begun flying P-51 Mustangs. Unfortunately, he perished soon after the war ended, while flying as a test pilot. Considering the utter joy he took in it, though, I suppose that’s probably how he would have wanted to go. A quote:
“At the rate of 700 miles an hour you can eat up all the distance there is in one gulp, but while you’re doing it it seems slow. You can think of a thousand things, and nothing seems to be happening in your life except that the plane is coming slowly toward you and you’re living a lifetime — as if it was a speed-up movie reel — and aging fast and growing old and older and looking suddenly at the end of your life in just about the time it takes to say it.”
Next, I did more damage to the TBR by reading The School Revolution, given to me a couple of years ago. In it, Ron Paul argues that mass schooling is a poor option for most students, setting them up for failure in higher education and in life. The answer is online learning, an area which is no longer the province of diploma mills: now Ivy League universities are offering free courses online. Paul advocates that parents seek alternatives to the mass schooling system, particularly homeschooling which would allow students to move at their own pace, encouraging responsibilities and initiative. Once the groundwork – -the ability to read and write — is laid — there’s no reason people can’t effect their own education with some guidance on the way. Homeschooling was growing rapidly in the United States as of the time of writing, and there are growing resources to connect parents to people in their communities who can teach at-home kids unique skills in field trips and the like. Paul discusses the economics of home education, pointing out that often the cost of one parent staying at home is recovered by removing the need for childcare during the summer. Paul is chiefly concerned with establishing a curriculum which meets students’ needs (including their growth as responsible, self-directed individuals) satisfies parents, and prepares them for the rigors of college. I read this not as a parent or as someone who may become a parent (at my age, most women have a houseful and no interest begetting any more), but as someone who believes freedom-minded people need to take positive action to undermine the state’s control of every facet of our lives, and to begin planting seeds for a rebirth of liberty and the revitalization of human-driven, not state-directed, civilization.