Links to Consider, 9/1
'Moonlit Piglet' on nonbinary high school kids; Noah Smith on Elite Overproduction; Henrich and others on kinship norms; Timothy Taylor on intimate/remote
High school teacher ‘Moonlit Piglet’ writes,
I had six classes last year, and I didn’t have a single one without multiple students who identified as transgender. Some classes had more than others, but the absolutely lowest number was two in a 26-person class. Most of these students were just non-binary, but I had least five in the midst of actual medical transition, along with quite a few more who spent their days planning how to get the process started. I’d estimate that 70% or so of these students are female, and talk about breast binding and “top surgery” are common conversation topics at lunch time. It’s hard to not step in when you hear an obviously depressed, dysfunctional teenage girl working out how she can convince her parents to approve a double mastectomy, but what can you do? If I said anything at all, I’d be fired in a heartbeat.
He argues that transgenderism is deeply sexist, because it relies heavily on gender stereotypes to give a teenager the right label.
they’ve created (or at least encouraged) a sorting system where “girl” is the category for feminine children, “boy” is the category for masculine children, and anyone who even comes close to the edges of either gets plucked out and relabeled non-binary. It breaks my heart to think these students are growing up in such a rigid, self-policing culture, where the gendered expectations I thought we’d put behind us now structure their basic sense of self. When I was their age, my school had a fair share of bullies who would taunt girls with short hair by saying they must really be boys – but at least the school administrators back then didn’t agree!
And I have suspected this for a few years now:
In these internet-poisoned youth subcultures, being a boring straight kid (especially a boring straight girl!) puts you at the absolute bottom of the hierarchy, a totally acceptable target for barely-concealed contempt and passive bullying. I had a group of queer students who ate lunch by my desk every day, and every other joke they made was about the one “token heterosexual” who liked to hang out with them. Of course, she was non-binary too by the end of the year – you can only take peers “punching up” at you for so long before you’d want to join them on their level.
I assume that this is more intense the higher the status of the school. If I had teenage kids, I would send them to a religious school, and not one that draws from the most affluent parents.
long-term reforms to reduce the cost of college, and the debt burdens students incur, will reduce the stakes of the post-college job scramble. Universities should avoid marketing materials that depict them as a golden ticket to wealth and intellectual fulfillment, and should offer career counseling that prepare students for a realistic job market. And government should implement apprenticeships, vocational education, free community college, and other programs that make working-class life a decent bet — in addition to reducing inequality, this will make college graduates feel less “elite” relative to their non-college peers.
He points to data that suggest that we graduated too many humanities majors earlier in this century, leading to a lot of dissatisfaction, because the demand was not there for them. He points out that more recently computer science seems poised to overtake the humanities as a desired major. I recommend the entire essay, even though it is long.
Joseph Henrich and others write,
we establish a robust and economically significant negative association between the tightness and breadth of kin-based institutions---their kinship intensity---and economic development.
Pointer from Tyler Cowen. In Rule of the Clan (see my review), Mark S. Weiner argues that it is common for societies to rely on kinship norms to provide social order. But strong kinship ties impede a society’s ability to adopt the sort of liberal norms that enable markets and democracy to work.
Paul Heyne suggests that one approach to this concern is to believe that we all live in two worlds: a face-to-face society and a commercial society. Moreover, the moral rules for the two societies are not the same.
I call this our intimate world—friends, family, and co-workers—and our remote world—celebrities, politics, and the market. One point I make is that these worlds are mashed together on our smart phones, and I think that creates a lot of dissonance and confusion. I also find it interesting that Russ Roberts’ new book Wild Problems is predominantly about choices in our intimate world, while most economics is about choices in the remote world.
The moonlit piglet provides dispatches from the carcass of public education. Most disconcerting of all is the fact that he knows he cannot speak any truth to the kids whose lives it is ruining without being immediately and severely punished. Add to this the fact that the younger ones can arbitrarily be forced to bind their faces with masks and you have a banal, ever-present system of repression managed by smiling government employees. The school system has become a dystopian archipelago of behavioral brain-washing. Reform? OK, but first, get your kids the hell out of there.
What happened to the FITs?