As a career public-school educator, I hear far too much nonsense about how the “right” curriculum and the “right” teacher mindset will magically cure low student achievement and all social ills. I can’t think of a dumber outlook. For those that still cling to this fantastical notion, how many more decades of tax-payer scammed ineptitude must they be presented with before changing their minds? Of course, how many people still think Covid will be resolved with a 5th or 6th booster? As Mark Twain once observed, it is easier to fool people than convince them they have been fooled.
Insofar as I can tell, participating in the government monopoly on education is one of the most damaging things we can do to young people. Indeed, after injecting Covid vaccines into and forcing masks upon perfectly healthy children, sending our kids to public reeducation camps almost ensures a lifetime of misaligned values and certainly reduced learning outcomes. I hope that within my lifetime we see the disbanding of every Department of Education in this country, both state and (especially) federal.
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Schools fail because it is neither a school’s function nor within its scope of practice to inculcate little minds the way they need or deserve to be taught. Therefore, it’s important to note that the sole power of molding and raising young people resides in the home. For this post, I wanted to share a story to illuminate that point.
Each day, my toddler learns something new. She explores and demonstrates the innate curiosity of a child that is simultaneously fascinating and exhausting. She is also keen on what is happening around her. She watches what her mother and I do closely. Often, she mimics me.
The other night, while hosting a family gathering, my wife and I wanted to remain at the adult table and so offered some Play-Doh to kiddo in her highchair. (I think Hasbro makes Play-Doh, and they will make our next Woke list, but as Mel Gibson said in his 2000 film The Patriot – “I’m a parent; I haven’t got the luxury of principles.”). Thanks, Mel.
As she played, I turned into that dad who took something perfectly fine and ruined standard play with it forever. After we rolled balls, rolled out snake shapes, and smashed it into pancakes, I thought I might get a laugh – and more importantly entertain myself – by smushing the Play-Doh onto my forehead and seeing if it would stick there. It did.
Like kids do, my daughter instantly grabbed the closest ball and put it to her forehead, too. She protested when it didn’t stick and pleaded in her own way to obtain my assistance. I happily acquiesced, and after applying what I thought was massive pressure to her skull, we looked at each other with globs of colorful putty adhered to our faces. It was a beautiful moment of innocent fun and mutual play, but I thought little more of it.
The next morning, however, as she was walking around the room, my daughter’s gaze landed on the little containers of Play-Doh and immediately motioned to her head. This mime act of reaching to the putty and putting it on her head last until she had the real thing repositioned as it was the night before. While you know things as parents, often intuitively or with the knowledge simply resting latently in the back of your head, it was at this moment that I was reminded how critical parental modeling really is.
In my head the previous night, I was simply making something up on the fly in order to stave off the eventual squirminess. I was correct in that my actions bought a few minutes of placation, but I also taught my daughter something else. I didn’t teach her with words; instead, I taught her with my actions. She did the rest from there.
How many kids don’t get a smiling father to obligingly apply unholy units of force onto their daughter’s forehead with colored putty? How many, instead, don’t get that attention at all? How many more watch and learn only what happens on a screen, via the babysitter known as a smartphone, tablet, or television? Still yet, how many more witness acts of cruelty against pets or loved ones in the home?
I don’t pretend to be Father-of-the-Year, and I certainly don’t make the claim that my daughter is better than yours (though I do think she’s the best kid ever and will tell her that every day that I can). I don’t have any pretensions about my daughter not facing her own struggles in my or her lifetime. She will, like every person who has ever lived, grapple with various levels of genetic, environmental, cultural, societal, interpersonal, and whatever other kinds of challenges present in the normal course of the human condition.
That being said, it is criminal negligence on the part of parents to not offer every opportunity within their power that models and uplifts the very best of the human experience. My version of play, learning, and love will look different than every other parent. I roll Play-Doh until my skin dries out. I read Hop on Pop until the pages fray. I go on walks when it’s -40 degrees outside because our house is small and if I am bored then she is bored. There is no wrong way to parent if it means you’re spending time with your child and engaging them with the world.
I am glad to see parents protest at school board meetings and I am glad to see fresh voices run for school board seats. But I want to save everyone’s time. The only education that matters is the type that occurs in the home. Government-funded schools are a burden on the taxpayer, and more distressingly, they are a burden on the very souls of our children.
Don’t protest anymore; just pull them out or never send them. Public schools might have served a useful purpose once (maybe?) but they most certainly do not in the modern world. And, because they are a government entity, they will never improve or change for the better. Stop voting for levies, stop sending your kids, and reimagine education.
In the meantime, I have some Play-Doh to find.