Ah – the age-old question of whose rights take precedence: the parents’ right to educate (or not) their children as they choose versus the right of a child to get a decent education, despite having been born to parents who, for whatever reason, want to teach them only whatever the parents deem ‘appropriate’.
This is not as clear-cut a debate over whose rights ought to be supreme as anyone would like to pretend, on either side of the proverbial fence. But, this important and difficult issue is eclipsed by the much larger, much more difficult to deal with issue: who in their right mind would trust the government – ANY government – to be competent to educate, rather than indoctrinate, anyone about anything?!?!?
I sure don’t – and am vigilant about all kinds of ‘messaging’ in my kids’ schools. Yes, I do actually hang out at the schools a bunch: less so now that the younger one is in high school, but just yesterday, I saw some not-too-subtle political messaging flier at the school with some covert anti-Semitic undercurrents (and have spent the day pondering what to do about it and how best to raise it with the school…and am no closer to an answer).
And yes, I do read all of my kids’ textbooks and other ‘materials’ and talk with them about it so as to use the attempts at indoctrination and downright brainwashing into learning moments both about the topics of the indoctrination and about the methodology that was employed, so they would know to recognize these attempts at manipulation in the future. I firmly believe that this is a necessary step in protecting them – and, as their parent, that is my #1 job!
So, whom should we trust to educate our kids?
It seems to me self-evident that if I were my children’s primary educator, as home-schooling parents are, I would necessarily impart my prejudices to my children, just as the government-run schools impart their indoctrination. But, in the home-schoolers’ case, there is nobody who can step in and present a competing point of view the way I can contrast my views to what is being taught in a government-run school: this, in my view, is a very serious problem. A person cannot grow up to be a well-rounded, reasoning individual if they are only presented with one set of views: they will never learn to critically evaluate differing philosophies and thus cannot grow up into fully functioning, rational, reasoning individuals.
It matters less, I suspect, whether it is only the government’s point of view that children are exposed to or only the parents: children must be taught how to think for themselves, and that can only happen of they are aware that deep philosophical differences do indeed exist.
Oh, I know I have no idea what the solution should be or where the lines of competing rights should be drawn – I’m just voicing my misgivings with the currently available options.
What do you think?