School shooters are crazy

The Columbine killers and most other school shooters are severely mentally ill, concludes psychologist Peter Langman in Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters.

Released just before the 10th anniversary of Columbine, the book is all too timely as Germans try to figure out why 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer murdered 15 people, including nine students and three teachers at his former school, before killing himself.  An unsuccessful student from an affluent family, Kretschmer had been treated at a psychiatric clinic for depression. Allegedly, the teen bragged about his plans on a chat room the night before the attack:

“I’m sick of this shitty life, always the same — everyone laughing at me, nobody sees my potential,” it said. “I’m serious Bernd — I got guns here, and I’m gonna head over to my old school tomorrow and have myself a good ole barbecue.”

Langman describes Columbine killer Eric Harris, 18, as a rage-filled, egotistical, conscience-less psychopath.  After reading the journals of Dylan Klebold, 17, Langman diagnoses him as “psychotic, suffering from paranoia, delusions and disorganized thinking.”

. . . Like Klebold, four other psychotic shooters profiled by Langman “were suicidally depressed and full of rage at the inexplicable unfairness of life,” writes the 49-year-old psychologist. “In addition, they were not living in reality. They all believed that people or monsters conspired to do them harm … They were confused and desperate and lost in the mazes of their minds.”

The most prevalent misconception about school shootings, Langman contends, is that they are perpetrated by loners or outcasts striking out against classmates who bullied them. In reality, most shooters were teased no more or no less than their peers, most had friends, and most of the victims were targeted at random.

How do you tell the kid who’s dangerous from the kid who’s just fantasizing? Look for “attack-related behavior,” says Langman. But it may be seen only in hindsight.

About Joanne


  1. I for one am amazed to learn that “The Columbine killers and most other school shooters are severely mentally ill.”

    Then again, I am always surprised that ice feels cold and that I get wet inside a shower.

  2. Thank you, Captain Obvious! Up until now, I always thought it was the perfectly sane, mentally healthy/fit person who went on a senseless rampage.

  3. Margo/Mom says:

    I am surprised to see the assertion that the school shooters were neither outcasts nor loners, and were not teased or bullied more than others. I thought that other studies had shown differently. This also doesn’t quite fit with the description of a “rage-filled, egotistical, conscience-less psychopath.” This guy didn’t have any problems with peer relations?

    I suspect that in the case of anyone who falls outside the norm–for any reasons, whether emotional, mental, physical–causality becomes very complicated. Young kids with facial anomalies are affected by their inability to interact with others via a “social smile.” People who are deaf may suffer increased levels of paranoia amongst an exclusively hearing social situation. Kids who have trouble perceiving/understanding social cues have trouble getting along. There are many interactive features to any “condition.”

    It’s hard to imagine that social exlusion could bring about the mental condition that leads to mass killing. On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine than such a mental condition has not precursors in terms of social interaction that might have provided opportunities for diagnosis or prevention. I would imagine that the book makes fascinating reading.

  4. Well, I see several people have beat me to my comment. I have a question, though. How can I make money and get published making observations like people who kill others for no reason are crazy?

    Seems like it beats working.

  5. Ponderosa says:

    Teachers see the whole spectrum of humanity. A certain percentage of the twelve-year olds I see are going to be seriously mentally ill, and I often have a hunch of who they are. But since I don’t have a degree in psychiatry, I usually don’t say anything. I did once mention my hunch to a school psychologist; he looked at me like, “Who are you to be saying this?” He showed zero inclination to do psychological tests on him (the kid struck me as a budding paranoid schizophrenic). No one wants to hear me telling them that this kid seems psychotic, sociopathic or schizophrenic, so I keep my mouth closed. Maybe I shouldn’t.

    As for the school shooters: Michael Moore and the others who tried to turn Columbine into a parable about the evils of bullying were way off the mark –there is such a thing as organic mental illness that has little to do with a kid’s social environment.

  6. “The Columbine killers and most other school shooters are severely mentally ill…”

    Was this another result of the groundbreaking research at the Center For The Study of The Totally Bleeding Obvious? I hope to God none of my tax dollars were spent on this, though I have to assume they were.

  7. It seems to make sense to me that there are probably a multitude of influence impacting a teenager’s decision to go on a killing spree. In my own teaching I saw good kids act out violently as a response to bullying, and I’ve also wondered about the mental health and stability of several of my most problematic, energetic and docile students.

    Mass-killing school shooters are a more unique situation, but I think understanding these individuals is more complicated than throwing them into the lump category of mentally-ill.

  8. Margo/Mom says:


    I think you must have Michael Moore confused with someone else. His Bowling for Columbine did not suggest that the shooting there had anything to do with bullying. He, accompanied by a couple of surviving victims, were able to get K-Mart to stop selling bullets.

    Yes, there is such a thing as organic mental illness. However, it is difficult to conflate this with “consciouslessness,” or even ongoing danger. I would point out that people who suffer from various mental illnesses also suffer from enormous social stigmas–among them being the assumption that they are inherently dangerous (or odd, or funny, or undeserving or unappealing) cannot help but have an effect on someone who is struggling to maintain.

    My understanding of “consciouslessness,” however, is that it more typically derives from severe and early conditions of abuse–kids who are sexually abused as infants, locked up in closets for years, starved, burned repeatedly with cigarettes–these kinds of things–or completely denied any opportunity to bond with a human being. Even these kinds of experiences are no guarantee–some factors such as innate resilience, some bonding experience at the developmentally just right time, etc. can provide a different outcome.

  9. Reports on the German incidents–there have been two–miss the cultural background. The first incident, some years ago, came at the hands of a boy who was not allowed to sit for the Abitur, the school-leaving exam for high schoolers. In this second incident, I believe the boy had been expelled from school for forging a doctor’s note.

    Yes, they were not sane. However, the high pressure academic system, with its rigid rules, also bears blame for these shootings in Germany. Make a mistake, and you are out! For teenagers, it very much could seem as if their “life is over,” if they’ve been shut out of the path to success. An insane student, who’s just been given a shock of that nature, can be very dangerous.

  10. Deny, deny, deny the obvious, if you must; it won’t go away.

    The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). Compulsory education is compulsory first and educational second, if at all.

    “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, and brutal violations of common sense and common decency.” –H.L. Mencken

    From: Hyman and Penroe, Journal of School Psychology.
    “Several studies of maltreatment by teachers suggest that school children report traumatic symptoms that are similar whether the traumatic event was physical or verbal abuse (Hyman,,1988; Krugman & Krugman, 1984; Lambert, 1990). Extrapolation from these studies suggests that psychological maltreatment of school children, especially those who are poor, is fairly widespread in the United States….”
    “In the early 1980s, while the senior author was involved in a school violence project, an informal survey of a random group of inner city high school students was conducted. When asked why they misbehaved in school, the most common response was that they wanted to get back at teachers who put them down, did not care about them, or showed disrespect for them, their families, or their culture….”
    “…schools do not encourage research regarding possible emotional maltreatment of students by staff or investigatiion into how this behavior might affect student misbehavior….”
    “…Since these studies focused on teacher-induced PTSD and explored all types of teacher maltreatment, some of the aggressive feelings were also caused by physical or sexual abuse…It is known that when this disorder develops as a result of interpersonal violence, externalizing symptoms are often the result (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).”
    “While 1% to 2% might not seem to be a large percentage of a school-aged population, in a system like New York City, this would be about 10,000 children so traumatized by educators that they may suffer serious, and sometimes lifelong emotional problems (Hyman, 1990; Hyman, Zelikoff & Clarke, 1988). A good percentage of these students develop angry and aggressive responses as a result. Yet, emotional abuse and its relation to misbehavior in schools receives little pedagogical, psychological, or legal attention and is rarely mentioned in textbooks on school discipline (Pokalo & Hyman, 1993, Sarno, 1992).”
    “As with corporal punishment, the frequency of emotional maltreatment in schools is too often a function of the socioeconomic status (SES) of the student population (Hyman, 1990).”

    “Furthermore, according to a report for UNESCO, cited in Esteve (2000), the increasing level of pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil violence in classrooms is directly connected with compulsory schooling. The report argues that institutional violence against pupils who are obliged to attend daily at an educational centre until 16 or 18 years of age increases the frustration of these students to a level where they externalise it.” –Clive Harber, “Schooling as Violence”, p. 9, Educatioinal Review V. 54, #1.

    “…It is almost certainly more damaging for children to be in school than to out of it. Children whose days are spent herding animals rather than sitting in a clasroom at least develop skills of problem solving and independence while the supposedly luckier ones in school are stunted in their mental, physical, and emotional development by being rendered pasive, and by having to spend hours each day in a crowded classroom under the control of an adult who punishes them for any normal level of activity such as moving or speaking. (DfID, 2000, pp 12, 13)” Quoted in Clive Harber, “Schooling as Violence”, p. 10, Educatioinal Review, V. 54, #1.

    “…(M)any well-known adolescent difficulties are not intrinsic to the teenage years but are related to the mismatch between adolescents’ developmental needs and the kinds of experiences most junior high and high schools provide. When students need close affiliation, they experience large depersonalized schools; when they need to develop autonomy, they experience few opportunities for choice and punitive approaches to discipline…”(Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education, Stanford University), Kohn, “Constant Frustration and Occasional Violence”, American School Board Journal, September 1999.

    “Violence at school is a prevalent problem. According to a national survey of school proncipals (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1998), over 200,000 serious fights or physical attacks occurred in public schools during the 1996-1997 school year. Serious violent crimes occurred in approximately 12% of middle schools and 13% of high schools. Student surveys (Kann et al, 1995) indicate even higher rates of aggressive behavior. Approximately 16.2% of high school students nationwide reported involvement in a physical fight at school during a 30-day period, and 11.8% reported carrying a weapon on school property (Kann et al, 1995).”
    “Research on victims of violence at school suggests that repeated victimization has detrimental effects on a child’s emotional and social development (Batsche & Knoff, 1995; Hoover, Oliver, & Thomson, 1993; Olweus, 1993). Victims exhibit higher levels of anxiety and depression, and lower self-esteem than non-victims (eg., Besag, 1989; Gilmartin, 1987; Greenbaum, 1987; Olweus, 1993). Karen Brockenbrough, Dewey G. Cornell, Ann B. Loper, “Aggressive Attitudes Among Victims of Violence at School”, Education and the Treatment of Children, V. 25, #3, Aug., 2002.

    “Results showed that the over-representation of Black males that has been cited consistently in the literature begins at the elementary school level and continues through high school. Black females also were suspended at a much higher rate than White or Hispanic females at all three school levels.” Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Howard M. Knoff, “Who Gets Suspended From School and Why: A Demographic Analysis”, Education and the Treatment of Children V. 26, #1, Feb. 2003.

    “The failure to provide education to poor urban children perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty, dependence, criminality, and alienation that continues for the remainder of their lives. If society cannot end racial discrimination, at least it can arm minorities with the education to defend themselves from some of discrimination’s effects.” Justice Clarence Thomas,

    “Criminal violence emerges from social experience, most commonly brutal social experience visited upon vulnerable children, who suffer for our neglect of their welfare and return in vengeful wrath to plague us. If violence is a choice they make, and therefor their personal responsibility, as Athens demonstrates it is, our failure to protect them from having to confront such a choice is a choice we make, just as a disease epidemic would be implicitly our choice if we failed to provide vaccines and antibiotics. Such a choice-to tolerate the brutalization of children as we continue to do-is equally violent and equally evil, and we reap what we sow. …” Richard Rhodes, Why they Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist.

    “August 1, 1939”

    I and the public know
    What all schoolchildren learn,
    Those to whom evil is done
    Do evil in return. –W. H. Auden–

  11. SuperSub says:

    Concerning your suggestion that school is responsible for the development of aggressive and violent behavior amongst low-income urban youths… have you seen a preschooler curse out or fight another child? Hmmm, I wonder where they got their violent behavior from.

    Yes, schools do create a conflict for students raised in violent or abusive households due to the innate nature of order in schools… yet it is not the school’s fault for the student’s behavior.

  12. A statistician in the office of the Attorney General, State of Hawaii, gave me these charts.

    Roland Meighan, “Home-based Education Effectiveness Research and Some of its Implications”, Educational Review, Vol. 47, No.3, 1995.
    “The issue of social skills. One edition of Home School Researcher, Volume 8, Number 3, contains two research reports on the issue of social skills. The first finding of the study by Larry Shyers (1992) was that home-schooled students received significantly lower problem behavior scores than schooled children. His next finding was that home-schooled children are socially well adjusted, but schooled children are not so well adjusted. Shyers concludes that we are asking the wrong question when we ask about the social adjustment of home-schooled children. The real question is why is the social; adjustment of schooled children of such poor quality?”

    “The second study, by Thomas Smedley (1992), used different test instruments but comes to the same conclusion, that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than those attending school.” …p. 277
    “12. So-called ‘school phobia’ is actually more likely to be a sign of mental health, whereas school dependancy is a largely unrecognized mental health problem”….p.281

    San Francisco Chronicle 2005-Nov.-01
    “The UC Berkeley-Stanford study found that all children who attended preschool at least 15 hours a week displayed more negative social behaviors such as trouble cooperating or acting up, when compared with their peers. The discrepancies were most pronounced among children from higher-income families.”
    “Children from lower-income families lagged behind their peers who didn’t attend preschool an average of 7 percentage points on the measure of social behavioral growth. But children from higher-income families lagged 9 percentage points behind their peers. These wealthier children did even worse when they attended preschool for 30 hours or more: They trailed their peers by 15 percentage points.”
    ” ‘It’s not clear why children from higher-income families exhibit more negative behaviors than their stay-at-home peers. Fuller speculated their peers might be in enriching home environments that include things like trips to the library as well as dance and music lessons. Other studies have found childcare centers negatively affect children’s social development’, said Jay Belsky, director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues at Birkbeck University of London, in an e-mail interview.”
    ” ‘It is time to come to grips with what all too many have denied for all too long, namely, that all disconcerting news about adverse effects cannot be attributed to low-quality care, which has been more or less the mantra of the field of child development and the child-care advocacy community for decades,’ Belsky said.”

    Compulsory, unpaid labor is slavery.

  13. Dick Eagleson says:


    This being an edu-blog, you might try making sure you have something spelled correctly before adding the scare quotes. The word Joanne used in her post was “conscience-less” – i.e., having no conscience, no sense of the rights of others or any compunctions about injuring or killing them. The term you used twice, “consciouslessness,” OTOH, seems to be a clumsy synonym for “unconscious,” a term which can mean either “sleeping” or “unaware” in different contexts. The word Joanne used and the word you used do not mean the same thing. The word you used was wrong.

    The rest of your posts, to the extent I can decode them at all, seem to be a reflexive defense of what you, correctly, see as an explanation for a particular episode of severe dysfunction that violates one of the core left/liberal posulates about reality, namely that everything is explainable in terms of social interactions. If this were not true, if there actually is such a thing as sui generis evil in the world, then the grand liberal project of creating the perfect social order by minutely dictating the “correct” way for everyone to behave at all times is inherently impossible to achieve. Can’t very well have ideas like that floating around! How else is one to understand your evidence-free assertions that of course bullying must have had something to do with it and, gee, maybe school shooters are all abused by their parents too. Then there is this from your second post:

    Yes, there is such a thing as organic mental illness. However, it is difficult to conflate this with “consciouslessness,” or even ongoing danger.

    On the contrary, the conflation is straightforward. It has been demonstrated via fMRI brain scans that some people are simply born sociopaths. In normal human brains, there is a difference in physical location between where knowledge about people is stored and processed and where knowledge about things is stored and processed. People are, indeed, social animals, so a normal hard-wired distinction between between people and things is quite a reasonable thing to find. In sociopaths, however, the “people” location is almost or entirely unused. People are just more things and are filed accordingly.

    There really are such things as bad boys (and girls) among many other quite real things denied by your philosophy.

  14. Mr. Eagleson,

    Tigers in human form walk among us. Do we have to make more of them?

  15. SuperSub says:

    Again, you are assigning blame to the wrong factor. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to blame juvenile violence on the frustration that students feel in being forced to go to school.

    A more likely scenario is that the rise in violence and crime during the school year is due to the socialization of the overall student population with a small but inflential population of malcontents. During summer months the juvenile criminal population is less concentrated. This also explains the differences between homeschooled and public school popultions – Little Johnny is learning as much from f-bomb dropping Kurt as his teacher. Young children are highly impressionable and will adopt most any social behavior that they are exposed to – so if you expose them to misbehaving children without proper supervision, they will adopt the same misbehaviors.

    If anything, the data supports the idea of removing most non-compliant students from regular classrooms and putting them in a separate setting, a big no-no in today’s world of heterogenous grouping and political correctness.

  16. Well Malcolm, good thing the world is filled with loving, supportive and nurturing parents who, just given the money, would teach their children great things at home (HEAVY SARCASM ON)

  17. Dick Eagleson says:

    Tigers in human form walk among us. Do we have to make more of them?

    They do, indeed. My point, however, is that they are, in the main, born and not made. Thus, the occasional grim emergence of yet another homicidal sociopath of middle or high school age is guaranteed to continue until the shallow end of the human gene pool is purged of its atavistic toxic sludge. This will happen – in my estimation within another generation or so – when the state of biological knowledge advances to the point that human genetics becomes amenable to routine modification on an engineering basis and ceases to be the exclusively Darwinian casino game it has been since time immemorial. Compulsory attendance laws, alas, may be supported or damned for many reasons but a putative role in the creation of mass murderers is not among them.

    For what it’s worth, it is my opinion that a certain amount of coercion is inevitable and necessary in the course of seeing to the education of children. The extreme libertarian/objectivist view of children as miniature adults, and its leftist cognate in the widely held liberal views that children should be indulged in their whims so long as some pretense of “creativity” is observed, are IMHO self-evidently barking moonbat nuts. Children are born with fully functioning Rand-level egos, to be sure, but without wisdom or perspective. Until they have become acquainted with the realities of existence, they are unequipped to make sensible decisions about the large issues of their lives.

    They can, obviously, achieve such a state, but it takes time and adult supervision ready and willing to prevent them haring off in stupid or dangerous directions in the meantime. This is where parents and schools are supposed to come in. That fewer and fewer of either seem either inclined or equipped to do their jobs in this regard is, indeed, a modern tragedy. The wretched state of so many schools – particularly the pedagogical Superfund site that is the LAUSD here in California – may be properly understood only as representing a grievous lack of certain essential forms of prophylactic and tonic coercion and their replacement (nature abhors a vacuum) with a combination of politically correct indoctrinations and a tolerated regime of Lord-of-the-Flies-style peer gangsterism.

    As for Mike in Texas, the point of your allegedly heavy sarcasm escapes me; indeed, strikes me as industrial-strength cluelessness instead. Surely you are aware that somewhere between 1 and 2 million U.S. children are now homeschooled by parents who are, indeed, loving supportive and nurturing and who have elected to do so, in almost all cases, without any monetary assistance from Big Daddy State. Your fellow hacks in the teacher unions are certainly thus aware, even if the news has somehow failed to reach you personally. The vitriol directed at homeschooling parents by educrat establishment types is second only to that lavished on nascent voucher programs, charter schools and other manifestations of widespread quiet revolt by long-abused “clients” of failed big-city monopoly school systems. A day of reckoning is coming for the takers, wasters and abusers. Obama cannot save you!

  18. School shooters aren’t necessarily crazy. They’re evil.

  19. Margo/Mom says:

    Mr. Eagleson:

    You are absolutely correct. I did intend “conscience-less-ness” rather than consciouslessness. Mea culpa. Magid and McKelvey discuss the relationship between infant bonding and development of conscience in “High Risk: Children without a Conscience.” In my opinion they take their legitimate findings, from examination of the research, way too far in suggesting that infants in child care face a risk equivalent to that of children who are severely neglected/abused. Nonetheless, they provide a very readable summary of the research connecting healthy bonding with the development of knowledge of right and wrong—and the ability to act on this.

    With regard to the rest of your rant—left-wing knee jerk and all that—I suspect that you are reading in things that I did not say, as well as overlooking some that I did. All research into school shootings is based on a very small sampling of such crimes—making most conclusions somewhat speculative. Among factors that may or may not have any causality or correlation are the fact that all in the US since the 1970s (possibly before—I just wasn’t looking at studies that went back that far) have been male. They were more likely in southeast and western states. Some suggest that violence in general is more prevalent in these states and may have an impact. According to some sources, bullying has been reported as an experience of 22% of the shooters.

    While I have not yet had the opportunity to read Langdon’s book, I do note that some reviews mention that he also presents the case that many factors (including those within the school environment) must be considered in order to arrive at an understanding. As I suggested—and apparently you missed—even if a pure mental health issue is suggested, kids who bear the label of ED (Emotionally Disturbed) are about three times more likely to have been victimized by bullies in school. It would be irresponsible to overlook the results of social ostracism that accompany mental illness in either children or adults. One should also remember that even the term “insane,” is one that has legal, not clinical, meaning.

    To suggest that there is a single “box” into which school shooters can fit is to oversimplify, as well as to run the risk of over-identification of certain populations as being “dangerous.”

  20. (Malcolm): “Tigers in human form walk among us. Do we have to make more of them?”
    (Eagleson): “They do, indeed. My point, however, is that they are, in the main, born and not made.”

    The nature/nurture dichotomy is sterile. Think in terms of risk factors. School is a significant risk factor. School policy is a policy lever (something policymakers can manipulate). Genetics is not a polcy lever, so there’s no point in distracting attention from school policy to genetics.

    (Eagleson): “Until (children) have become acquainted with the realities of existence, they are unequipped to make sensible decisions about the large issues of their lives. They can, obviously, achieve such a state, but it takes time and adult supervision ready and willing to prevent them haring off in stupid or dangerous directions in the meantime. This is where parents and schools are supposed to come in. That fewer and fewer of either seem either inclined or equipped to do their jobs in this regard is, indeed, a modern tragedy.”

    Before 1900 or so, chicken was more expensive than beef. “You men eat your dinner, eat your pork and beans. I eat more chicken any man ever seen” (Back Door Man). Ranchers knew how to raise cattle cheaply; they just branded calves and turned them loose, and rounded them up in the fall. Farmers could not raise chickens by this strategy, and confining flocks in close quarters led to mass mortality from epidemic disease, so chicken was the Sunday dinner treat. Around 1920, people learned how to vaccinate against Newcastles disease and other contagious diseases of chickens. Today, farmers raise chickens in factory farms. Eggs roll from under hens into trays. Farmers collect eggs and incubate the next generation. Computers weigh the market price of fryers, the growth curve of chickens, and the price of feed, and compute the optimal date of slaughter. It’s automated. In the last 80 years we have bred the instinct to brood eggs out of some breeds. These breeds, like modern maize, will not survive without human help.

    We have had compulsory attendance statutes on the books in some US States since the founding of the US.

  21. Ponderosa says:


    I loved your paragraph about the need for some benign coercion of kids. Great, quickening writing.

    I don’t share your anger at unions, however. The unions, it seems to me, aren’t a problem AS unions; to the extent they’re a problem, it’s because they’re filled with teachers whose heads have been filled with bad ideas –and that’s the fault of the misguided, wrong-headed “progressive” education establishment. The American Federation of Teachers has actually been a beacon of good sense –Randi Weingarten, its president, and Albert Shanker, her predecessors, are smart, no-nonsense intellectuals who argue for sensible policies.

    And I don’t share your cynicism about Obama. Did you read David Brooks’ column a few days ago in the New York Times? It tells how Obama’s mom got him up at 4:30 every morning so that she could give him extra tutoring. The guy knows what a solid education looks like; I don’t think he’s likely to be hoodwinked by fads and charlatans.


    Are you saying that when seriously mentally-ill people behave badly, it’s because they’re evil, not because they’re ill?

  22. BadaBing says:

    Let me correct that. I’m saying that not all school shooters are mentally-ill, but that their murderous rages are evil. I’m also saying that people that do evil are not necessarily mentally ill, but they are evil. Everyone has a dark side. Anyone is capable of committing heinous acts. In our left-leaning society, the concept of evil has been eradicated in favor of explaining away evil acts as the product of environmental factors. This probably started with Marx, who believed that the dictatorship of the proletariat will usher in a world devoid of greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. I prefer the following paradigm:

    An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

    “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

    One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

    The other is good–he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

    This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.”

    The grandson thought about it for a minute, and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

    The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”

  23. Malcolm-
    Are you comparing children to chickens?

    As for your risk management argument… what’s the risk of non-compulsory school attendance with respect to our nation’s economy and scientific advancement?
    You’re throwing the baby out with the bath water with your ‘some students are corrupted as a result of going to school so let’s stop mandatory schooling’ argument. Instead, why don’t we find those corrupting influences and effectively prevent them from corrupting the general populace, so the the general populace can still retain the benefits of mandatory schooling?

  24. (Sub): “Are you comparing children to chickens?”
    Gee, I figured the similie was pretty clear. I should add that cultural evolution works faster than biological evolution.

    (Sub): “As for your risk management argument… what’s the risk of non-compulsory school attendance with respect to our nation’s economy and scientific advancement?”

    Zero. Thomas Edison was homeschooled, and went to work at 13. Hiram Maxim left school at 13 and apprenticed. The Wright brothers didn’t finish high school. Cyrus McCormick was homeschooled. Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school. Albert Einstein opposed compulsory attendance. Taxpayers get nothing from compulsory attedance, compulsory financing of schools, and policies which restrict parents’ options for the use of the taxpayers’ K-12 education subsidy to schools operated by dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel that they wouldn’t get from a voucher-subsidized market in education services, or from an unsubsidized, uncoerced market except violence, vandalism., and drug abuse.

    You’re throwing the baby out with the bath water with your ’some students are corrupted as a result of going to school so let’s stop mandatory schooling’ argument. Instead, why don’t we find those corrupting influences and effectively prevent them from corrupting the general populace, so the the general populace can still retain the benefits of mandatory schooling?

    It’s not bath water, it’s sewage. The corrupting influence is compulsion.