This blog is public spirited, and particularly concerned with education. Recall our criticism of the ahistorical and culturally inappropriate offerings at the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History here in Washington, or our review of the benefits of going to East Carolina for college. Most recently, we promoted science education. We are also concerned with elementary and high school education, and want to publicize Best Practices and outstanding innovation.
Which state would you say is the most progressive in terms of high school education? Well, you’re wrong. The answer is Texas.
First of all, I’m a proponent of including practical skills — life skills, if you will — as part of every student’s public education: basic mechanical skills (home and car); basic cooking skills; basic economic information, such as how to create a budget, what happens when you exceed your budget (“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen, nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”); and the like. In essence, high school, which now only prepares high school students for the next stage of education — a step many will never take, and most will never complete — also should prepare students to become functioning adults.
Texas, as is its wont, takes things another Texas-sized step.
Texas has interscholastic barbecue competitions.
That’s right: in Texas high schools, you can now letter in Barbecue. There’s a High School Barbecue Cookers Association that conducts tournaments. “Our focus is on the following Career Pathways – Culinary Arts, Agriculture, Family Consumer Science, Welding, Ag Mechanics, Robotics, Engineering.” The competition includes all of the various elements of starting and running a barbecue place with a full menu of “Beef Brisket, Pork Spare Ribs, Chicken, Beans (Pinto), and Dessert.” There are rigorous rules: you can’t bring your own meat or marinades. Keep your Wagyu to yourself, rich school districts! It’s a pure contest of skill in the use of wood, heat. and meat: a blow for equality. Welding (e.g., to build the cooker) is just one element.
The teams thus learn practical skills that can serve them throughout life, including skills that can build a well-paying career. The Pflugerville team members will never need to live in their parents’ basements.
Freud noted that love and work are the essence of happiness. I would add barbecue, but either way Texas is preparing these students for a life filled with happiness.
Congratulations to the Lufkin High School FFA Barbecue Team, winner of the 2019 State Championship, to all the winners in the individual categories, and to all the students who participated.
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