I also had a very good conversation about the book with Alan Colmes on Fox Radio last night. Mr. Colmes seemed to me genuinely interested in the subject, although I could not help but suspect that he had entirely missed the point of my argument.
For example, on the subject of education, I mentioned my admiration for home-schooling, a phenomenon that I consider one of the only authentically radical social movements of any consequence in the United States right now. Mr. Colmes’s response was: “But not everybody can home-school. They don’t have the time.” But that is the point precisely: Attempting to replace our current one-size-fits-all educational arrangement with a different one-size-fits-all educational arrangement probably would not constitute an improvement. We are an extraordinarily diverse and complex society, and we require a multiplicity of educational choices. I will not be satisfied until the typical family has at least as many educational choices as shampoo choices. Home-schooling would be great for some, and we should do our best to get out of the way to allow them to innovate and experiment with it. Traditional neighborhood schools will work for some, too, and there probably will always be a role for places like Andover and the Haverford School. And there will be room for things we have not thought of yet. This is evolution, and it would be hubristic of us to imagine that we can plan it in advance.
What home-schooling shows us is that the market and other kinds of voluntary cooperation can produce eighth-grade Latin curriculums as well as widgets and cell-phones. The model of cooperative knowledge-building that has been so successful at Wikipedia also is present among home-schooling families. Unleashing that sort of innovation and creativity would be transformational; having me or anybody else impose my preferred model of education on the rest of the country, on the other hand, chokes off that sort of development.
“So, who should we vote for?” Mr. Colmes asked at the end. And that truly misses the point.