Create 19th century camps as a prerequisite for a high school diploma

We quoted Henry Adams a dozen years ago in our mischievous post How Your iPod is ruining America: “The American boy of 1854 stood closer to the year 1 than to the year 1900.” There were zero smartphones in existence at the time of our writing, no apps, no dominant Google or Facebook, and so on. Spengler reflects in a similar vein this year:

Three hundred years ago, pretty much everyone knew how their technology worked. Europe had lived for a millennium on the innovations of the Carolingian Renaissance: the water wheel, the horse collar, and three-field crop rotation. Everyone knew how a water wheel worked. Water pushed the paddles and gears turned the millstones. Not everyone knew how a steam engine worked, but a lot of people did. The same applied to internal combustion engines. Not only were those technologies easy to understand: They were easy to make. Any competent carpenter could build a water wheel. The Wright brothers built their first airplane in a bicycle shop. Henry Ford made his first internal combustion engine out of spare parts in a backroom at the Edison Illuminating Company of Detroit. How many people know how a computer works? Solid-state electronics depends on quantum theory, which is understood by one in 10,000 Americans at best.

We believe that disconnection from the past 150 years may spell ruin at some point. We’ve slopped hogs, milked cows, etc and though that’s no big deal, it is in the sense that the 6 or 16 or 26 year old may have no idea what we’re talking about. Taking Google, AI, Facebook, etc, as a base case for life conditions invites disaster. Imagine if, in order to get a high school diploma, you had to spend two weeks in a house without electricity and where you had to do a lot of old-style chores. No iPhone, TV, or other electronics. It’s an experiment worth testing out.

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