Ryan McMaken wrote an excellent piece recently, explaining “3 Reasons the Left Keeps Winning.” The article was short and sweet, but its points were profound and insightful. The first two reasons McMaken gave for the victory of the Left are, one could say, fraternal twins: “The Left Understands the Importance of Ideas and Ideologies” and “The Left Takes a Long-Term View.” In the article, McMaken made numerous references to education, i.e. the inculcation of ideas in the minds of children; the dissemination of ideas through school teachers and college professors to subsequent generations of youth. One thinks these ideas merit some further consideration, in light of the mess that we find ourselves in presently. McMaken has hit the nail on the head.
One could look to the arts and the culture as a source of corruption in the minds of our youth, of course. This has been a great pastime on the right since at least the 1960s. One could attempt to lay the blame at the feet of media pundits and journalists, too, if it weren’t for that devil of a problem that many young people don’t read news articles or watch news broadcasts. Maybe the drugs have crept into our neighborhoods and into the hands of our youth; the ghost of Timothy Leary is urging them to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” This is possible. However, there does seem to be one problem—more obvious and troublesome—which stands tall above the rest. Namely, that many of our children spend their waking hours, and at least a dozen years—their formative years—in the charge and care of radical socialist, collectivist, and fanatically atheist teachers.
For how long have we known that the avowed enemies of our civilization have been running our educational institutions? For how long have we known that our schools, from primary and secondary schools, to colleges and universities, were indoctrinating our children in Marxism, collectivism, fanatical atheism, and all manner of ideologies which, just a few generations ago, would have been identifiably inimical to the values and ideas of American society and culture?
In classes, at least those dealing with the study of man, such as history, it seems plausible that little more has been produced than a profound hatred and disassociation on the part of the students. Innocent babes have been devoured by wolves; their hearts, minds and souls formed in an environment in which they are taught to memorize the loathsome lessons of a collection of cruel and hateful ideologies.
Many of them listen and obey, as they are instructed to do by their teachers, and as they are encouraged to do by their parents—to the extent that they have parents who take an interest in their education. The others, those children who are fortunate enough not to pay much attention in class, do not seem to emerge from the experience any happier or any less angry than the rest. Though they may not all complete their homework, the schools nevertheless pressure children to take their lessons home with them and continue their studies in the evenings and on the weekends, lest they find something more stimulating to do in their free time.
For twelve years, many of these children are subjected to this malformation and indoctrination. All the while, many of them are encouraged by teachers and parents to commit themselves to their studies and excel. Many students, especially those of exceptional intelligence or diligence, are encouraged to continue their studies for a period of years in undergraduate school and, possibly, in graduate school. The cost to them is not just that of tuition and fees, room and board, but the forgone opportunities to begin their lives, to begin their work, to start a family, or otherwise to pursue their own ends.
How often, and how readily, do we shake our heads and look down our noses at these youth? How could they emerge, after all of this, and yet suffer from a deadly combination of ignorance, hatefulness, and ingratitude? How, indeed.
Let us consider a hypothetical situation, a mental exercise, if you would. Imagine approaching some of your libertarian, free market, conservative or religious friends and confiding in them one of your most embarrassing secrets: that you are considering a career as a schoolteacher, an educator of children. One suspects that many of them would call you a fool; according to dictionary.com, a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgement or sense. You would willingly endure the indignity and the tedium of attempting to teach hopeless children in exchange for a meager wage? Good Lord, and their parents, they must be insufferable! Meanwhile, the collectivists, many of whom hate mankind, recognize teaching as among the noblest of pursuits, the noblest of professions. Teachers are heroes and saints to the Left.
In all fairness, your more conservative friends do have a point. There are obstacles. The tides are against you. The state will require licensing, which means pedagogy, examination, and scrutiny. The state will also require your school to meet certain “standards,” which will mean state-sanctioned curricula. Plus, how are you going to get past HR (human resources), DIE (diversity, inclusion, and equity), and all of the rest of the alphabet soup? The hiring committee? The department head? The principal? The parents?
Mercifully, though, there are some good options. There are private schools—Christian schools, chief among them. There are also secular private schools dedicated to providing children with a classical education, such as those which were founded by the Mises Institute’s own Robert Luddy. The Great Ron Paul has his homeschool program. There are even some public charter schools that have sprung up out of the ground, dedicated to the same—the Barney Charter School network that is affiliated with Hillsdale College, and the Great Hearts network, to name just a few.
Beyond the simple recognition that there are serious problems in our educational institutions, perhaps more of us ought to get serious about seeking out those schools and institutions which remain, in the old form, dedicated to the inculcation of knowledge and the cultivation of virtue. More of us, this author included, ought to utilize and support them—perhaps we ought to thank them for their service! One of the silver linings to this year’s lockdowns and cultural revolution, as many commentators here and elsewhere have pointed out, is that many parents are finally waking up to the reality of our educational institutions and doing just that.
The case could be made that much of what ails the human mind, the human heart and the human soul are the results of ignorance, miseducation, and malformation. Though not the sole cause, certainly many of the troubles and evils in our hearts, in our homes, in our communities, and in our country can be traced back to their roots in the schools and institutions of higher learning, and the damage which they have wrought upon the minds, hearts and souls of so many.
One need not embrace the ignorant, hateful, and ungrateful thugs and criminals who have so plagued our streets and darkened our living rooms of late. One must recognize, though, that man does not emerge from the womb with a hammer in the one hand and a sickle in the other; nor a dogged hatred for mankind in his mind and in his heart.
Perhaps it is time that we set about to fix the problem which so many of us have, for so long, left alone. Someone must tend to the flock, though it is a dirty, difficult, and lonely task—nor are there fortunes to be made as a shepherd. Yet, someone must shield the babes against the wolves in sheep’s clothing. After all, those poor old liberal arts aren’t going to teach themselves.