September 11, 2014

QotD: The real lesson taught by mandatory “volunteer” work

Filed under: Economics, Education, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

What about the rationalization that charitable extracurricular activities teach kids important lessons of moral engagement? There are reasons to be skeptical. A skilled professional I know had to turn down an important freelance assignment because of a recurring commitment to chauffeur her son to a resumé-building “social action” assignment required by his high school. This involved driving the boy for 45 minutes to a community center, cooling her heels while he sorted used clothing for charity, and driving him back — forgoing income which, judiciously donated, could have fed, clothed, and inoculated an African village. The dubious “lessons” of this forced labor as an overqualified ragpicker are that children are entitled to treat their mothers’ time as worth nothing, that you can make the world a better place by destroying economic value, and that the moral worth of an action should be measured by the conspicuousness of the sacrifice rather than the gain to the beneficiary.

Steven Pinker, ” The Trouble With Harvard: The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it”, The New Republic, 2014-09-04.


  1. that’s weird. I thought the lesson was “get your kid a fucking drivers license”…

    Comment by Liam — September 12, 2014 @ 00:05

  2. Ah, but that’s one of the few things that the kid has to manage on their own. Unless, as in certain ethnic communities in Toronto, you get someone else to take your driving test for you, of course.

    Comment by Nicholas — September 12, 2014 @ 08:04

  3. God, that would explain a lot

    Comment by Liam — September 14, 2014 @ 15:07

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