|To Be or to Do||Are the Democrats Crazy?|
by Christopher Chantrill
May 22, 2004 at 8:00 pm
IN FRIDAYS Wall Street Journal, Diana West announced that she had removed her twin daughters from school and was now educating them at home: home-schooling them, as we now like to say. It seemed to her that there was no way on Gods green earth that [she] could possibly teach [her] girls less than they learned in that school. She was referring to the elementary school her children attended in Montgomery County, Maryland in fourth grade.
Of course, on top of learning nothing in school her children were also subjected to a farrago of PC-centric narrative: Columbus viewed from the bushes by a Hispaniolan girl, Thanksgiving celebrated as a diversity of cultures, and a poetry project that turned the classroom into a Greenwich village coffee-house with everyone dressed in artistical black. As the postmodernists have taught us, all such narrative is about power, and clearly the power interest at the Montgomery County schools does not privilege the middle-class culture of rules, roles, purpose, and discipline.
But wont these two little girls lack socialization skills if they are educated at home? Thank you, senator; Im glad you asked me that.
In his magisterial Blank Slate, Harvard professor Steven Pinker addresses exactly this issue. What is it that molds children? Is it nature or nurture? Is it heredity or is it parental influence. Is it schooling or is it peer pressure? As usual, the answer is startling and, in retrospect obvious. The most important measurable influence is the genes. The next most important influence would be parenting, right? Wrong. The research shows that parenting has almost no effect.
So what does make a difference? You guessed it: Peer pressure. In almost every case, [children] model themselves after their peers, not their parents. When we talk about the importance of a childs environment, we think about parents. But in fact, the important environment is the one the child experiences in the company of other children.
British psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple testified to this in a chilling piece in the Summer 2000 City Journal. Back in the bad old days, when poor children went to school barefoot, his father was plucked from poverty and the slum by the public education system. Having been found intelligent by his teachers, he was taught Latin, French, German, mathematics, science, English literature, and history, as if he were fully capable of entry into the stream of higher civilization. In todays progressive era, this opportunity is no longer available to the intelligent slum child. Todays teachers assume that the slum child is fully equipped culturally by the environment in which he lives... There is no reason, therefore, to induct him into anything or to bother to teach him anything. As one 15-year-old attempted suicide told Dalrymple: They say Im stupid... because Im clever.
Another teenager, who developed an interest in French literature, was mocked, teased, threatened, and humiliated... Excrement was put through her mailbox at home. Despite everything she went to college and then returned to the old neighborhood to teach Frenchuntil one of her students tried to rape her.
You can see where all this is leading. If the decisive influence on a childapart from genetic inheritanceis not parenting but socialization, at the playground, in school, and at the soccer game, then the one important thing a parent can do is to set their child down next to the right peer group, so their child will be socialized by children that are intelligent, curious, inquiring, and big hearted, rather than mean, ignorant, and wearing baggy pants down to their ankles. The one thing for a parent to avoid would be a neighborhood where a kid could easily get mixed up with the wrong crowd. The one objective for liberal do-gooders would be to make sure that underprivileged children that showed an inkling of intelligence would be streamed into schools that diverted them from the cycle of violence in the streets.
Its not that hard to do. It takes about six weeks in newly opened inner-city prep academies to turn little monsters into docile, well-behaved students, and thereby create a peer environment that values learning and the middle-class virtues of rule-following and good manners.
Diana West believes, like 49 percent of home-school parents, that her daughters can get a better education at home. But what does such a general statement mean?
The truth is that public education has always been trying to mess up our kids education. The noble Horace Mann, founder of public education in the United States, was a cats-paw of Harvard Unitarians who wanted to cure Puritan children of their Calvinism, of Protestants who wanted to cure the Irish of their Catholicism, and of socialists who wanted to cure children of their individualism.Today, its postmodernists that want to cure children of their Americanism.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says we should....
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State