Grave New World
by Gail Jarvis
by Gail Jarvis
Lew Rockwell has created a Homeschooling Archive with a collection of informative articles on this fast-growing trend. If you are a parent with a pre-schooler and are torn between public school and homeschooling, the articles in this new archive could help you decide. Also, this article on problems in public schools in Beaufort, South Carolina might be beneficial.
Although Beaufort is a relatively small town, it is not immune to the PC craziness sweeping the nation. This is especially true of Beaufort County public schools. What I'm going to relate is true but it might be difficult to believe. However, if you consider the radical changes occurring in public schools during in the last few decades, it will not only seem believable but inevitable. The phenomenon generally described as Political Correctness has infected public schools where young students, in their formative years, provide captive minds for instructors to test their latest social experiments.
In the 1980s a new educational philosophy was developed: "Outcome-based education." Briefly, OBE calls for centralized control of educational standards as opposed to local control. A central authority establishes outcomes for not only "academic" standards but, equally important, "affective" (emotional) standards. Although academic standards alone served us well from the beginning of civilized society until the 1980s, they do not satisfy the cultural elites. Reading, writing and arithmetic must now share the stage with behavior modification. Schools are conditioning students to comport themselves in the manner that best accommodates a multicultural society.
The OBE commissars justify the need for "affective" learning with the argument that "children need to be carefully socialized in multiracial and ethnically diverse institutions in order to provide a basis for an orderly, yet tolerant society." However, OBE's "tolerant society" claim is called into question by comments made at an OBE training seminar where the instructor characterized fundamentalist Baptists as "ignorant, dangerous religious extremists, prone to abuse children." Once again, as we have seen with other PC initiatives, OBE's tolerance only goes one way. Their way.
Although many schools, including those in Beaufort, have not implemented outcome-based education, their educational philosophy is, none-the-less, quite similar. Social modification is as important as scholastic instruction. Egalitarianism and, of course, "sensitivity," drive this new social conditioning, and various untested techniques are now being tried out.
Some Beaufort schools experimented with cooperative learning groups. Classes were divided into small groups of roughly five students each. For each group, the teacher tried to create a mix of diverse students as regards skills, gender and ethnicity. The group was graded as a whole rather than individually. Some children complained to their parents that they could not move on to new material until everyone in the group was ready. They had to wait for slower learners to catch up.
Another PC experiment literally enraged parents of young boys. Their sons were required to come to school dressed as girls in order to help the boys empathize with the "inequities" girls face. Some of these parents stood firm against the school's directive and refused to comply.
This final example of what is happening in Beaufort schools is one that I consider the most appalling. This episode concerns a clever and spunky little girl, Tracey Merrill (not her real name) who will soon have her seventh birthday. Tracey is a Brownie in the Girl Scouts and exceptionally bright for her age, so much so that she skipped a grade when she first entered school.
Like any young child, Tracey eagerly anticipated her birthday and her parents were almost as excited as she. A special birthday party was planned based on a theme chosen by Tracey: Hawaii. Tracy wanted her birthday party patterned after an Hawaiian Luau. At first, she toyed with the idea of inviting both boys and girls. But, after explaining to her mother that "Girls act differently around boys," Tracey decided that her party would be strictly a "girl thing." The list of invitees was trimmed to eleven of her girlfriends at school.
The little girl and her mother designed special RSVP invitations featuring an Hawaiian motif. Grass hula skirts were obtained for the girls and an excited Tracey set about making leis using artificial flower petals strung together with dental floss. Her Dad agreed to videotape the birthday party.
As the special day drew nearer, Tracey's teacher accidentally overheard two girls discussing a party. After interrogating them and learning about the birthday party, the teacher immediately placed a call to Tracey's mother. The teacher explained that it is against school rules to invite only selected members of a class to social events because those excluded may feel slighted and have hurt feelings. Even worse, those not invited may feel that there are even more sinister reasons for their being excluded. The school required that if a parent plans a social event for their child, the entire class must be invited.
The frustrated parents, not wanting to cause problems for their daughter at school, reluctantly agreed to send additional invitations to the rest of the class. The number of possible attendees increased to 25. Particulars of the birthday party also had to be altered. Hula skirts and leis were discarded. And, with increased expense to the parents, the party was changed to a cookout for 25 with as much of an Hawaiian flavor as possible.
Tracey was confused over the compulsory changes to her birthday party plans. She also felt a little guilty as though she had done something wrong. But, of course, she had not. Simply stated, the public school Bolsheviks placed collective interests above individual interests, in this case the birthday wishes of a little girl.
This incident is another minor milestone in our journey to what might be called a Grave New World. By all indications, this new world will be characterized by excessive government controls and regulations; few personal choices, and an absence of spontaneity.
March 10, 2004
Gail Jarvis [send him mail], a CPA living in Beaufort, SC, is an advocate of the voluntary union of states established by the founders.
Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com