Written on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 by David L. Goetsch
I am sure conservative Americans love their children and want the best for them. Since this is the case, I have a question for conservatives: Why are your children still in public school? You would not let your little children play in a busy street, jump off the roof of a ten-story building, or drive a car at the age of five. You would not do these things because doing so would put the lives of the children you love in peril. With this said, why then do the majority of conservative Americans turn their children over to public schools that put their children’s lives in peril by subjecting them to twelve years of leftwing indoctrination and mind control.
What is at risk may not be the physical well-being of your children—although with school shootings becoming more and more common their physical well-being is certainly a consideration—but their ability to think for themselves, develop the academic skills necessary for success in a global world, and internalize the values their parents are trying to teach them. If you think I exaggerate, consider the latest trend in public schools nationwide: replacing great works of fiction with non-fiction books that might include such inspiring works of literature as EPA manuals.
In 46 states, students in the public schools will soon be reading an EPA manual on levels of insulation required in buildings or a treatise on invasive plant species in California instead of literary classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter, and Silas Marner. The plan in these 46 states is to require that 70 percent of the books children read in the K-12 system be works of non-fiction. That in itself is not a major reason for alarm. After all, the best book ever written is non-fiction.
The problem is that not only are the public schools moving away from classic fiction to non-fiction, the states in question are providing teachers a list of “approved” non-fiction books from which they must select the ones they will teach. The list will be comprised not of great works of non-fiction, but of books that are supposed to help prepare students for the workplace. What a nonsensical claim. What this move will really do is create an easier pathway for introducing leftwing indoctrination into the classroom.
Preparing students for the workplace—the supposed purpose of the move away from classic literature—is certainly a worthy goal and one that needs more attention in schools and colleges. I spent 36 years as a professor of business preparing students for rewarding careers in the workplace. However, I never lost sight of the fact that we were preparing students first for life and second for the workplace. Part of the rationale for providing a well-rounded education is to ensure that not only can graduates secure rewarding, responsible positions in their chosen fields of endeavor, but they can also be good citizens who are able to deal with the eternal verities of life, propagate the values of a civilized society, and think for themselves rather than being led by the nose like sheep.
I suspect that the real rationale behind the move away from classic fiction to non-fiction can be found in the attitudes of liberals toward these two just-mentioned aspects of a well-rounded education: eternal truths and the values of a civilized society. First, liberals do not even subscribe to the concept of eternal truth. The holy grail of the left is moral relativism. Heaven forbid that students learn from the study of classic fiction that there are actually eternal truths, truths that have been with us for all time and are still with us. For liberals to allow children in the public schools to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge is to allow them to learn that eternal truths not only exist, but must exist if we are to have a civilized society.
Speaking of a civilized society, to have one we, its members, must subscribe to a set of broad values that govern our behavior and how we interact with each other. Once again, the last thing liberals want school children to learn is the values that grow out of the Ten Commandments, the very values that have undergirded western society for all time. It is the steady erosion of these values that have made ours such a coarse and uncaring society, a society in which innocent unborn babies are murdered for the sake of convenience, homosexuality is openly endorsed, elderly people are warehoused like so much unwanted baggage, and corruption in business and government is rampant.
Public school officials who advocated for the move away from teaching classic literature attempted to disguise their nefarious motives by claiming that: 1) children do not enjoy reading classic fiction, and 2) reading fiction does not prepare students for jobs. As to whether children enjoy reading fictional literature or not, who cares? Children enjoy very little of what they must do and learn to become responsible adults who contribute something positive to society. As to whether reading classic literature prepares students for the workplace, that is not its purpose. However, students who dislike reading fiction but are required to do so anyway will learn one of the most valuable lessons that can be taught in preparing people for the workplace: People in the workplace often have to do things they do not enjoy and, hence, do not want to do. Work is not always fun—that’s why it is called “work” and people get paid to do it. If it was fun it would be called “play” and people would do it for free.
My final comment on this move away from teaching classic fiction—the latest in a long list of steps taken by liberals to control the minds of students and turn them into the radical leftwingers of tomorrow—is this: if you are a conservative and still have your children in public school, take them out. Find a private school, Christian school, or charter school for your children and if these options do not work, homeschool them. Whatever the reasons are for sending your children to public school, they are vastly outweighed by the damage that will be done to them after 12 years in such an environment. You would not loan the family car to someone who was determined to destroy it. Surely your children are more important than the family car.
It is by studying good literature that students learn the power of words and the critical lesson that words have meaning. Graduates who understand the power and proper use of words are more difficult to lead down the garden path of liberal orthodoxy with false but persuasive rhetoric. The study of classic literature helps students become critical thinkers, not something one will learn reading an insulation handbook from the EPA or a treatise on invasive plant species in California. Of course, the fact that critical thinking can be learned by studying classic literature is one of the reasons liberals who long ago took control of public education in America would rather have students read non-fiction works off of their approved booklist.