Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Starving the Minotaur - By Karen Karacsony

We conservatives are quite the enigma.  On the one hand, we shake our fists at the Beelzebubs of Antifa and denounce their lawless barbarism.  On the other, we demand that government schools stay open so that we can send our children to the leftist factories that produce the very Marxists we loathe.  We make our young people the targets of the Socialists' weapons of mass instruction and then bemoan the loss of patriotism among our youth.  Are we self-destructive?  Or simply daft?

Maybe neither.  Perhaps we are fearful.  As products of the School System ourselves, we have been conditioned to believe that the only people qualified to teach our children are those who hold government credentials.  Yes, we have a vested interest in our children and love them in a way that a government employee cannot.  And yes, we see them for the individuals they are rather than as one of the dozens of kids in Mrs. Peabody’s class. But teach them?  Is that even possible? To answer that question, we could look to statistics showing that homeschooled students outperform their public-schooled peers on standardized tests and the SAT; that they fare better in college and graduate at a higher rate.  But doing so merely perpetuates the moderns’ myth that the chief end of education is cramming for tests and regurgitating information that is forgotten five minutes later.  We set our sights too low.  If we are to preserve Western Civilization, we must aim higher.  Instead of fashioning competent test-takers, we ought to be in the business of grooming minds for greatness -- minds like those of the home-educated Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Edison, and C.S. Lewis (to name a few).  It isn’t a classroom our kids need, but a proper education.  As Abraham Lincoln exemplifies, even the backwoods of Illinois can be mightier than the most distinguished of schools.   

Perhaps it isn’t academics we fret about, but socialization.  We worry that our children won’t make it in the real world if they spend more time with Mommy and Daddy than with their peers in the non-binary, Marxist world of wokeness.  Never mind that the autodidact Benjamin Franklin was the toast of the town or that the self-taught Alexander Hamilton was as dashing as he was valiant.  We grew up learning in artificially age-segregated classrooms; our offspring should, too.  Or should they?  Instead of sending our children to government institutions where they spend their days dodging bullies and revisionist drivel, why not avail ourselves of homeschool communities where field trips, co-ops, park dates, and extracurricular activities abound?  Let the statists rely on Uncle Sam to supply friends for Johnny and Jane.  And let patriots look to like-minded families and neighbors for the same.

If not socialization, might it be finances that keep us slavishly chained to government schools?  If so, it may come as a surprise that a good education is far more affordable than the teachers unions would have us believe.  We don’t need to pay for buildings and a school nurse.  We just need a Bible, a library card, a math curriculum, and a Latin curriculum (and in high school a formal science curriculum).  I can personally vouch for the efficacy of this multum non multa (much not many) approach to schooling.  Yes, my children do exceedingly well on standardized tests -- and on the National Latin Exam.  But it’s more than that.  Much more.  My kids spend their school days in the corner of the world where Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome intersect.  From reading Esther’s Mordecai, they have learned that they are to prostrate themselves before Almighty God, not Haman’s henchmen.  From Homer, they have learned that the unbridled anger and seething resentment of an Achilles can bring down a nation.  In translating the Vulgate, they have gained gratitude for the monks who helped to civilize Western Europe.  And in studying German (one of their electives), they have gained an understanding of the language and culture that launched the Reformation.  Western Civilization, with all its virtues and vices, forms the warp and woof of their scholastic endeavors.  My children could no more smash a statue of George Washington than they could take a hammer to their right thumbs.  For them, it’s personal.  Western Civ isn’t a classroom subject but a heritage bequeathed to them.  Their forbears aren’t their enemies, but their benefactors. 

Still, I won’t deny that there are those among us who face economic hardships.  Some folks genuinely need government schools to help provide daycare and meals.  For now, at least, it seems they are destined to languish in public schools.  But maybe we’ll help to free them one day.  Maybe we’ll raise money to provide scholarships for private schools.  Or maybe we’ll start schools of our own. We put a man on the moon.  We can figure this out.

And figure it out, we must.  The time for a mass exodus from government schools is long overdue.   We can defund the liberty-loathing teachers unions.  All we have to do is walk away. It’s that simple; we have that kind of power.  The lefties can’t indoctrinate our children if they aren’t there to be indoctrinated.  Nor can they undermine the family unit if families are far from their crosshairs.   We don’t need legislation or a government plan.  We just need to stop feeding our children to the Minotaur.