The power to educate is the power to indoctrinate. When governments instead of teachers and parents take over an educational system, they start with the money. Once they get the district and local school systems used to feeding on Federal money, they start to feed curriculum down the food chain, as well, dictating what should be taught to children as a condition for receiving that Federal money. There is method in this madness. The Nazis understood it well, as did the Soviets. There is a saying, “The child is father to the man.” Its meaning is clear. A child’s mind is keenly receptive to what he (or she) is taught. It is a learning mechanism instilled by nature to enable a child with no life experience to trust completely and to believe that is told to them by those who guide him, i.e., the authority figures in his life.
Usually, the first of these authority figures are the child’s parents. It is their job is to instill in the child basic values or right and wrong, good and bad. The presence, absence or competence of parents is a crucial factor in a child’s upbringing and the absence of these affect the very basic issues of a child’s life at the early stages. When a child is well fed, well protected and well taught the basics of right and wrong, good and bad, by proper example, he learns these basic values and they become guiding norms which will carry him through life, at least into adulthood. When the child is not properly fed or protected, or when examples are not properly set, the norms are skewed and the values the child develops will be skewed, as well. The variations of this basic set of facts bring up a whole new set of topics for discussion, which cannot be addressed within the scope of this essay.
After a child’s parents, come the child’s teachers, who should continue leading that child gradually toward enlightenment through education. From the first day that child is taught his first school lesson, until he is an adult, that child is supposed to be given the tools, skills and perception, i.e., the standards, to lead a life which will eventually be independent of parents and school teachers. At that point the child must be fully equipped to see truth and reality and to be able to make decisions based on the broadest possible understanding of the issues underlining those decisions. Life and survival depend on this ability. In an ideal or near-ideal world, the education of that child works perfectly toward that end. But there can be and often are complications and distractions in this process.
Notable among these is the greater emphasis placed on equipping a child technologically, through science and math or through training for a profession without the requisite preparation of a philosophic comprehension of the deeper more fundamental values. Teaching a child to be competitive, on the principle that life will be competitive, may have its advantages in certain areas, such as in sports, but this set of values must always be taught in the greater context of the eternal norms of honesty, truth, goodness and beauty. As naïve as this may sound to some people – indeed to many people – society could not function if pure competitiveness, i.e., purely cutthroat action, is the highest norm. Indeed, the corruption of the fundamental norms or their subversion to the value of beating someone at something, causes many of the ills we experience in today’s society, even in the relative freedom we experience in America. This is one extreme, which conditions a child to survive at all cost against others, and to adopt success at all cost as a mantra. Some parents carry this principle far beyond reason, invoking threats of litigation if high grades, earned or unearned, are not awarded to their child. They use mechanisms provided to them, which may be initially intended to help children with disabilities, but which have been so widened in definition that they become burdensome to the teaching and learning process. Man parents now claim “learning disabilities” that are no longer legitimate, such as one case in which a parent claimed their child was not smart enough to learn in regular classes and should, therefore, be held to a lower standard, in a regular classroom. These gradually corrupt the purpose of learning which should be to teach students how to think clearly and discern reality, not to acquiesce in the parents’ demands for the sake of political correctness. One kind of corruption now permitted it the infusion of specific messages fed to students as fact, and which corrupt students’ ability to discern truth from propaganda. For example, if a child is taught that government can and must provide all opportunities for a life, that child will adopt a mindset that guarantees the suppression the necessary will to educate themselves into independent thinking, and instead accept government to provide for survival and success.
Nature decrees that, no matter how intelligent a child is, that child is also automatically trusting, or even gullible, thus malleable to a set of values instilled in him or her. There is an ongoing attempt by government to separate students’ education from the authority of parents and even from teachers by dictating content in the classroom. This has been done many times in history by totalitarian regimes because it works remarkably well. The classroom is like a fertile field in which to plant the seeds of political and civic conviction for every child who sits in one and is taught by a dedicated teacher. Even more than parents, the classroom gives the opportunity to mold a child to a way of thinking which will become ingrained in his nature and will form the basis for everything he learns or thinks or does for years and years to come, in almost every case, until that child is a full grown, fully developed adult, or even beyond. This is why the fertile ground of the classroom, especially in the early grades, is a target of Liberals, a battleground they wish to seize and occupy so that free thinking people are no longer able to exercise their will. They know, as does everyone, that what is taught and learned by students is what will ultimately shape society. And generations of such exposure will engender that shape for generations to come.
What used to be called a “liberal education” was a general exposure for each child to a set of values that were open and free, thus to enable the child as an adult to make decisions and to shape his own mindset based on truth, reality and goodness. Alas, now, the term “liberal” has been corrupted to mean anything but true freedom. Notwithstanding the bad press teachers get these days, the only hope for returning the educational process to its purest roots resides with teachers, who, when working with sincere parents whose intentions are rationally in favor of providing real education that enables their children to make life decisions unfiltered and unadulterated by propaganda. A return to the old fashioned concept of the PTA would be a good first step in this urgently needed direction.
FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American Conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital in human discourse.