Thursday, May 12, 2011

Gloomy Day Ranting

I was going to write a witty and wonderful book review today, but my heart just isn't in it. Perhaps it's because we're into day two of the Great Deluge. We desert-dwellers who worship the sun don't do very well when our 70 and 80-degree dry sunny days are interrupted by two days of torrential downpours of rain then snow then rain then snow. It really contributes to a generally gloomy feeling.

What I really wanted to vent about is the gloomy state of our local public education system. Before I begin my diatribe, let me preface it by saying, yes, I know there are excellent teachers in the public schools. I'm not blaming the teachers who actually care about the students and the education they receive. Sadly, I'm convinced most of the teachers today really don't care about the quality of education in the schools and the main reason they don't care is because they aren't even aware of the severe deficit in knowledge that has occurred in the United States in the past 60 years or so. They can't possibly know because they didn't receive a well-rounded education themselves. And the reason they didn't receive a well-rounded education is because their teachers hadn't received a well-rounded education.

Maybe I should first define what I mean by a well-rounded education and also let you know that I have not received a well-rounded education. The only reason I know I haven't received a well-rounded education is because I know I don't know much and I've read books by people who are much more knowledgeable than myself. So please keep that in mind when you read what I have to say. A well-rounded education consists of a basic foundation in the classical Western tradition of literature, history and mathematics, with a fundamental knowledge of at least one classical language (such as Latin or Greek) and at least one modern language (sign language doesn't count). An educated person understands the basics of logic and doesn't engage in illogical reasoning except for amusement. An educated person listens to the arguments of others (provided they are also logical) and can passionately argue a point without bashing the person with whom he (or she...see, I can be PC when I want to be) is arguing. (I know I'm missing a bunch of those elements in my own education, but I'm trying to continue learning. That's one of the perks of homeschooling your kids for a generation or get a second chance to learn the things you didn't learn the first time around!)

How many of today's teachers have received this type of education? Most of them, I suspect, were taught by progressive professors who dismissed classical Western thought as so much yesterday's garbage. Darwin, Mead, Freud, Kant, Rousseau...these are the thinkers for the 21st century. Oh, wait, not many of today's teachers had to read any of these people, I would venture to guess. Instead, commitment to diversity and teaching kids to save the rain forests, stop global warming and have safe sex are the top priorities. We've moved away from the idea that the past has something to teach us to the idea that we know best how to form the future in to our own image. Popular culture is our teacher now.

Kids today are crying out for attention (as I'm sure they have always done). But as our culture has taken away the standards of decency that for so long permeated all levels of society, young people have to resort to even more extreme methods to get our attention. I know kids who praise and admire kids (who are still children, by the way) who embrace an alternative lifestyle. The popular kids are those who change their hair color every week, pierce unusual body parts and talk freely of sex, drugs and booze.

The young men use young women for their own gratification and they have their own cars (or the free use of their parents' cars) despite not having a job of their own. These same young men either wear skin-tight jeans they must've bought in the little girls' section of the department store, or they wear jeans that are so loose the crotch is at their knees. I know they must put a lot of thought into their clothing because they always have some sort of plaid or interesting print boxer shorts they proudly display as their pants fall down below their butts. (I often wonder: Who buys these boxers? I've seen them in the stores and I always end up buying the white briefs that come in jumbo packs of 6 pairs for $7 or $8. Those designer boxers cost about that much for one pair! Are their moms buying those expensive boxers for their sons to flash around town? Or are the jobless sons saving all their non-hard-earned cash to buy them for themselves?)

These kids dismiss religion as old-fashioned and outmoded and instead cling to darkness in music, appearance and lifestyle. In some cases, the parents either approve or at least don't disapprove. The parents might own a medical marijuana dispensary or the kids might be products of broken families. The only stability in their lives are the teachers in the schools they attend, but all the teachers know how to do is instruct them on deconstructing traditional values and replacing them with feminist and socialist ideologies. The teachers make a show of telling the kids to question authority but by that they really only mean question someone else's authority.

I can't end a post on a gloomy note. No matter how bad it seems, we Christians know the battle has already been won for us. There's a song that I love that's played on the Christian radio station by a group called Tenth Avenue North. The song is called "Healing Begins," and for me, it's a song about the grace of confession. The reality is the grace of confession and the love of Christ conquers all sin and death. My favorite two lines in the song are: "Sparks will fly as grace collides/ With the dark inside of us." Grace is powerful. It collides with darkness. It makes sparks. It is a cleansing fire. It is light.

All parents are home educators to some degree or another. We all have influence over our children, whether we like it or not. They will see the good that we do as well as the bad. Parenting is perhaps the hardest job on earth. On a rainy day like today my thoughts are gloomy and my heart breaks for the kids who have no one to guide them in the way of the Good, the True and the Beautiful. But I know in the end the Light will win. Because the Darkness can not overcome it. Sparks will fly as grace collides.


lweir said...

I appreciate your passion and perspective. Your children certainly demonstrate that you know much about godly parenting!

As a teacher married to another teacher, I am particularly affected by your perspective of educators. There are certainly aspects that I would agree with -- and other aspects that my personal experience as a teacher might negate. However, I am most curious about how you would go about changing the educational system. Also, do you believe that fundamental changes in the educational system could truly be made apart from fundamental changes in families and the culture at large?

Debbie said...

I don't know what Blogger has done with the comments that came in for this posting, but they've somehow disappeared into the great unknown. I think they're working on putting everything back. In the meantime, I wanted to address a question I had from a teacher regarding my generalizations of teachers.

Perhaps I was too harsh saying "most of the teachers today really don't care about the quality of education in the schools and the main reason they don't care is because they aren't even aware of the severe deficit in knowledge that has occurred in the United States in the past 60 years or so." I really don't know if most of the teachers today care about the quality of education or not. I'm not denying they care about their students. I think most of them do care about their students. My premise was they aren't aware of the demise of education because they weren't around when all high schools were teaching Latin, or when kids had to memorize long poems and recite them before the class, or when students had to orally defend their opinion based upon historical facts and not what the popular culture says is true.

I include myself in that description. I see the holes in my education as well as the holes in my kids' education. I want the best for them and that's not what I've found being offered in any of the schools I'm familiar with. That's why I'm homeschooling, albeit full of holes. At least I have some idea of where those holes are and how I want to fill them.

The second part of your question was what would I recommend for reform of the educational system and what about society and families. I'm still mulling over that one and I may write a blog posting on that. I suspect that will be even more controversial than this one.

Thanks for all your comments. I appreciate everyone who reads what I write and takes the time to comment. If I'm not being fair or charitable in my comments, please let me know.