Wednesday, December 30, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: Schools And Social Capital

CURMUDGUCATION: Schools And Social Capital
Schools And Social Capital

I'm in the middle of reading Robert Putnam's new book (The Upswing) which has gotten me to thinking about his previous work, Our Kids. What has struck me in particular about the latter is his writing about social capital and the children of this country.

The definition of social capital is, in general, a little fuzzy. Putnam's, as put forth in Bowling Alone, another of his books well worth reading, is that it refers to "connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them." My own shorthand is to think of it as the ability to say, in any situation, "I know a guy."

Your child has expressed an interested in playing piano, and you have an old friend who plays, so you call up to ask about lessons. Your child says they'd like to know more about how the hospital works, and you know an administrator up there that you did some work for once. Your child is in trouble over some light theft, but you went to school with a guy in the prosecutors office, so maybe you make a call, or maybe you don't even have to because he says, "I know this kid's family. Let's go easy."

For someone with lots of social capital, there is always slack to be cut and always a large network of support on which one can depend. It is what we think about when we look back to a past where if you were a resident of tight community, a member of a squad, a part of the team, then somebody CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: Schools And Social Capital