Since I’ve started blogging in the early morning I think my rant-muscle has softened. Catch me any time after about 11:15 and I’ll be ready to release my frustrations about anything from the deteriorating quality of Burn Notice to the fact that my sister’s public school has re-written the Ten Commandments with no noticable God Taint. They’re really called something line “progress for living” or some other Stuart Smalleyesque huggyfeely name. I just call them the Godless Commandments.
But right now I can only gin up enough enthusiasm to open my bottle of Coke and stare at the screen.
No. Wait….I feel another remark coming on.
Here’s the thing. I’m all for the separation of Church and State. As a Christian person I don’t want some president or congressional representative or judge telling me that I have to do something that I believe to be completely against my faith but that the Federal and State governments think is just dandy.
Frankly, as a libertarian I would vastly prefer the complete privatisation of the school system. It’s not like anyone else could do any worse at running things, really. The more I see of what goes on inside a public school via my sister the more I’m convinced that public education is a massive boondoggle. We on the outside hear about how the school system needs more money.* And they do. But what they really need are more teachers and especially teachers’ aides. If there were people hired at minimum wage or slightly above who could do a lot of the prep work then teaching professionals could actually be free to teach. My sister is spending 2/3rds of her summer “vacation” doing administrative work. It wouldn’t be so bad if her pay wasn’t based on a 40-week year. Teacher’s salaries are justified at a lower level because they have all that “vacation” time. But most of the teachers I know spend that time off doing things like cleaning their classrooms, assessing incoming students and prepping for the next year. It’s essentially five weeks of unpaid work.
*Last year when the school got a grant the money wasn’t spent on bringing in new teachers or hiring support staff for current teachers. It was spent on buying new Smartboards. Gadgets. Gadgets which require MORE prep for all-new gadget-based lessons. We’re in a ridiculous territory here.
And of course, as I mentioned earlier, the most ridiculous thing is this new Life Skills Package her secular school is introducing. Someone has gone through the ten commandments, Hammurabi’s Code, The Wiccan Rede, The Golden Rule and Common Sense to compile a series of behavioural dictats along the lines of
No Put Downs:
To never use words, actions, and/or body language to degrade, humiliate, or dishonor others
There are nice ideas behind this stuff but it just kills me that we have a bunch of historical texts across numerous faiths and cultures that already say these things. And we won’t study those faiths and cultures. Instead the goal seems to be to flush everything down the memory hole and come out with ideas that have had their historical contexts expurgated. It kind of creeps me out, actually, because it gives the feeling of floating in a sort of historical depravation tank, untethered to what came before.
I think it is an essential part of education to reinforce the idea that all people are links in a chain that stretches back into the dimness before memory. That you are special but not unconnected to the world around you, before you and after you. It gets dangerous to unmoor people from their history as it takes them away from a feeling of society and creates a sort of superego saturated by extreme self-importance.
It’s fantastic that schools are teaching decency and kindness. I just wish they wouldn’t try to make it look like those things were invented by some seminar spokesperson with basic PowerPoint skills.