The 2015-16 school year started a few months ago. It was my turn to spend a day offering my wisdom and experience in the day-to-day activities of the students. As I walked into the first classroom, I felt like I had been transformed into the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie, Kindergarten Cop. Everywhere I turned, it was mayhem. One girl kept yelling, “Mine!” Another child was sprawled on the floor, refusing to listen to anyone. There were three boys in matching shirts shoving a fourth, telling him his color didn’t match and he couldn’t stand with them.
As I made my way through this throng of wild and emotionally charged students, I found the teacher. To my surprise, she wasn’t doing anything to rein in the chaos. Instead, she issued one affirmation after another about the importance of feelings and embracing them. She continued to let the students know, free expression of their emotions is what made them special.
Befuddled, I left to see if I could help with phys ed.
When I arrived, I saw a group of students shooting baskets. Some were going in easily. Others could not even hit the backboard. After a few moments, the coach blew his whistle, called them over and told them how outstanding they did. He reminded them that results are not what mattered, but that they tried real hard. He then added, declaring someone a winner was tantamount to saying everyone else was a loser, making such a statement both hurtful and unfair. As all the students smiled, he concluded by saying the important thing to remember was being part of one big village where everyone remembers their place. At that, he handed each of them a gold star and told them to get changed.
I headed for another classroom, hoping I’d be more help there. As I entered, I was delighted to see the topic being discussed was the formation of our nation and the role the Founding Father’s played in developing the Bill of Rights. The teacher was discussing the Second Amendment. As she talked, I realized she was quoting it incorrectly. She told the students the amendment called for the right to create a militia and only those in the military had a right to be armed. She smiled sweetly and added that it made sense to let the Army have that power and the Founders were very smart to make sure no one could take away the means for the military to protect the people. I began to interject, but was quickly shushed. She told me the First Amendment didn’t give me the right to create a climate of disagreement within the room. She said the Founding Fathers understood a need for harmony and to create a safe place to be free of harassing ideas and hurt feelings.
I turned on my heels and left. I couldn’t believe what these first-time students were being taught. I headed to another room, my thoughts whirling through my head. This time I entered a room where the discussion was basic economics. On the board was a lone stick figure, drawn rather large and with a big sack in his hand and a dollar sign on it. Next to it was written, “The 1%.” Underneath the figure, as though perched on the top of a pyramid, two lines created a triangular wedge, where dozens of smaller stick figures were drawn. None of them were holiding anything in their hands. Next to them was written, “The 99%.”
The man teaching the class then explained that there are a select few in the community, represented by the lone stick figure, who were lucky and able to take home more wealth than others. He went on to caution them not to think that the 99% work less or not at all. On the contrary, he told them, many who are not as fortunate work even harder, but have more of their money taken away by the 1%. Because of such fortune, it was only right that those with less should get their fair share, to create an equal and balanced society. He said it was important, in a healthy society, that those with exceptional gifts, should give to others, based on their needs.
I interjected. I pointed out that wealthy individuals in our country, by an overwhelming majority, had earned their wealth through hard work, long hours and taking risks on innovative ideas. Because of that, they are able to provide jobs to many others. The teacher was polite and allowed me to finish. He then addressed the class. “See boy and girls? This is what we’ve been talking about. This myth of success is designed to keep the 1% from sharing with those less fortunate. They don’t want to give back to others after so much was given to them.” He shook his head with an air of condescension. “Boys and girls, let’s illustrate and you tell me which is fair. When Johnny goes out to the playground, he has all the kickballs, while everyone else has none. No one but Johnny can play. But, if Johnny gives a ball to each student, everyone gets to play. Which way is better?” The room erupted with cheers about Johnny sharing with everyone.
I tried to explain that taking something that belonged to someone else was theft. If someone chooses to share, that makes them a charitable person, but to make them give away their possessions was the same as stealing. The teacher, with less patience this time, pointed out that it is only stealing if one person takes from another and then keeps it for themselves. But, if someone was helping to redistribute wealth from the more fortunate, then that would be the true definition of charity.
I left. It was disheartening. Everything seemed upside down and backwards. I decided to try one last classroom to see if I would be of any help.
When I entered the last classroom, the teacher had moved all the desks and chairs to the edges of the room. The students were playing some kind of game. My heart began to lift. As I came closer, the teacher continued talking, holding her arms out wide, moving in a slow circle, while children moved out of her way. “Safe spaces are very important. Think of it as your special barrier surrounding you on all sides. It is all yours and only you get to choose what can be allowed to enter. You have the right to stop people from judging you, hating on you or even not liking you. It’s a bullyproof space where you can be safe from anyone different than you.”
The kids’ eyes were wide in awe as they smiled, imagining the power of their own safe spaces. She went on. “When large groups of people share the exact same views, it can be even more powerful. For example, no one likes guns because of how dangerous they are. When we all come together, we can create a safe zone where no one will be allowed to bring in something so threatening.” They were delighted, filling the room with the, “Ooos,” and, “Ahhs,” of children being shown a wondrous, magical object.
My heart fell. What was this person teaching these children? They were not being challenged to see multiple points of view. They weren’t being exposed to various cultural differences or traditions. They weren’t even allowed to hear criticisms or learn how to accept skepticism of their own ideas. They were being fooled to believe they would never have to listen to anyone else who was different. Her lesson ran contrary to the entire foundation of the philosophy of education!
Before I could object, they formed a circle and began to sing, “Safe Space,” from the creators of South Park. As they finished, they were all filled with that same sense of inner pride and empowerment as before. I could not control myself. “Don’t you understand that song is a parody?!”
They looked at me with quizzical stares. The teacher cleared her throat and was polite (too polite) and asked me to explain what I meant.
“Parody!” I yelled. “the
A stern look fell over her face. She put her arms out and came toward me. “You are not allowed in my safe space. It’s time you left.” She continued advancing, swinging her arms. I had no choice to but to retreat from her, not wanting to be hit by her ridiculous gesticulations. “You are the reason we have to protect these children,” she snarled.
I left. I had never before experienced such a display in my life. These students were not being given any of the tools necessary to deal with reality. They were being told their invisible bubble would be an ever-present, all-protective layer, keeping them from having to be challenged, questioned, offended or harmed by anyone, nor forced to relate to different races, origins, religions, traditions or views for the rest of their lives if it made them uncomfortable. They had become cry-bullies, embracing a life of victim-hood and self-imposed disenfranchisement. It was an entire generation of Regressive Leftists, ready to abandon all of the hard-fought gains of those who came before, in exchange for the cozy, warm blanket of their own ignorance.
On my way out, I noticed a poster on the wall with a picture of Shakespeare in the center and the familiar red circle and slash overlaid. Underneath were the words, “No more old, dead, white guys.”
No, for all its similarities, I had not visited a preschool. This was a college campus, where the once shiny Ivory Tower of high-minded, thoughtful and enlightened principles of education had given way to a dingy, leaning, corrupted and crumbling structure, ready to fall under the weight of it’s own irrelevance.
As I left the campus, I recalled the words of Aristotle, who reminded his students repeatedly that the highest virtue in the pursuit of knowledge was courage, because, without it, how could anyone embrace any other virtues at all?
Until we teach our young to be courageous in the face of Regressive Leftist cry-bullies (and their nonsense), the world of Academia will forever remain the final resting place of the weak, the insecure, the petulant, the self-absorbed and the pathetic, always holding a stack of victim cards, with no one left willing to care enough to listen to their plight.
Don’t our children deserve better?