January 19th 2020
When I was in eighth grade, a teacher announced we were going to study capital punishment. The methodology for this process was that the class was divided randomly in half, and each side was assigned the task of writing an essay: one half pro, one half con. After we had completed our essays, the students engaged in open debate about this complex issue.
Perhaps this sort of objective process of critical thinking is still practiced in some American schools, but it surely seems scarce. In its place, secular liberalism, and "progressivism," have become the Church of the American State, administered through public schools.
When Roe v. Wade was decided, the schools may have taught that abortion was legal, but they did not instruct children that it was moral - that was left to parents in the home. By the time marriage was redefined so two men could claim it together as a constitutional liberty, the landscape had clearly changed - not only are children being instructed that homosexuality is the moral equivalent of heterosexuality (in conflict with numerous faith and cultural traditions), but they are being taught that they can select their gender orientation and gender "identity." In Vermont, young children are offered transgender hormone treatment in preparation for transgender surgeries - and if the parents disagree, a court order can bypass them.
Today's children are being institutionally indoctrinated to be unreflective, uncritical automatons of the liberal cause - on immigration, climate change, abortion, and whatever the progressive cause du jour demands. Preying on children is not just for predators anymore. For instance, school walk-outs to ban firearms are not balanced with school walk-outs to uphold the vital Second Amendment and its protections against tyranny. Those who label Donald Trump a tyrant do not teach children to study both sides and consider the importance of an armed citizenry when society is threatened with a tyrant.
The "climate justice warriors" have now taken America's schoolchildren hostage in their battle to impose their tyrannical carbon tax on the citizenry. They encourage children to block traffic, lie in the streets, skip school - because "the world will end in 11 years!" They are not studying both sides of the anthropogenic climate change debate, let alone critically assessing effective responses. Even if the climate is changing from human activity, and even if the world will implode in 11 years, the carbon tax is an ineffective, patently regressive, and inegalitarian measure. This would make a good two-sided essay assignment for critical young minds to weigh.
But children are not being taught to be critical thinkers - they are just being conditioned to be critical of "the other side," mobilized as pawns against their own parents and grandparents. In George Orwell's 1984, the citizenry is kept in fear of fictitious foreign wars to ensure slavish compliance. In today's real-life 1984, children are conditioned so that questioning the carbon tax, gun grab, or transgender mantras will lead to withering condemnation - perhaps even disciplinary action. These kids most surely won't be blocking traffic in an "anti-carbon tax" march.
Critical thinkers might challenge the use of fossil fuels absorbed in these marches: both getting students to events and blocking traffic. In one case, cows were stalled in the hot sun for more than 15 minutes while disruptive children blocked a parade, but no one complained about "bovine warming." This is not an effort to aid critical thinking or introspection, but the opposite. It is called indoctrination.
Education teaches always by comparison. Complex issues proffer contrasts best weighed side by side. This also nurtures civility - appreciating opponents' perspectives even if there is disagreement. This ancient process has been swept aside with oversimplified conclusions that are then instilled as undeniable fact, and those who take exception are stifled as ignorant, backward, dangerous, even criminal.
But what is criminal is this process by public schools of indoctrinating the young? This practice is blatant, unapologetic, and nearly universal. "Black Lives Matter" flags fly at most of Vermont's schools - has there been consideration of what that group stands for, its objectives, the legitimacy of its complaints, the plight of children in Africa, or how it seeds racial division in direct conflict with the teachings of Martin Luther King? No, there has not, which is evident every time a school announces its decision, always parroting the same ignorant claims of "raising awareness." As if, when I was in eighth grade and the country was roiling with urban poverty, we children were somehow unaware of the issue.
Particularly flagrant is the institution of "active shooter alerts," which unquestionably terrify - even traumatize - many students instead of providing security to make them feel safe. (I attended a school through the late 1970s where an armed female undercover officer patrolled the hallways and grounds daily - didn't seem very extreme.)
Intellectual oblivion is now instilled by vitriolic partisan ideologues who have infected America's public schools, themselves incapable of the critical analysis of which their charges are deprived. How can teachers send kids out block traffic to call for an economically enslaving tax scheme without assessing its numerous shortcomings, alternative regulatory ideas (like installing pollution control devices on lawnmowers, or restricting fireworks displays), or actually teaching the children to pollute less?
This last issue is where the uncritical indoctrination is most evidently proved. Teachers are not instructing children to turn down thermostats at home, turn lights off when not in use, or take short showers. They surely aren't teaching them to spend less time on computers, TV, or videogames. These decisions of consumption are "left to the home." The uni-dimensional "solution" to curb consumption by a corporate-funded, government-imposed tax means they can go on consuming, externalize their anger at those who pollute less than they do, and just pay a tax to keep on polluting. It takes a special kind of indoctrination, and an utter failure of education, to craft that degree of stupidity.
This simple-minded decline in public schools did not happen overnight. Somewhere, the teachers were inculcated into the same brain-dead condition, or they would be the ones leading children out of, not into, the Orwellian Hell of unquestioning lockstep. Ah, but what grand consumers these little proles will be when they grow up to be teachers - polluting and consuming more than ever, they will now pay an additional corporate-government fee in the confident delusion that they have made a difference.
All that remains is for them to rally to confiscate all firearms so that Big Brother can fully protect them from the world.