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?
May 24, 2013 at 09:59
The Alberta Education Act was amended in move in this direction – home-schooling curriculum must conform to Provincial Materials – including SexEd and Non-discrimination based on orientation, gender or religion. In other words if you home school – you must teach ALL the Provincial Curriculum including the ones that advocate Alternative Lifestyles in Gr 6 and that no religion is better than any other religion – especially 7th Century Death Cults vs Christianity. No word yet on anyone having their children removed from parents for not teaching the Approved curriculum – like the Manitoba couple who had children removed because of supposedly being “white supremacists”.
That couple has now split.
May 24, 2013 at 23:50
I agree: never trust the government to act in the interests of anyone or anything but itself.
But when it comes to regulating education and child rearing, the issue is more complicated than that.
Some people feel strongly that not teaching children a religion is inexcusable, others feel equally strongly that doing so is inexcusable, and yet others just don’t care.
Some people feel strongly that not teaching children about proper care and handling of weapons is inexcusable, others feel equally strongly that doing so is inexcusable, and yet others just don’t care.
And so on.
There is no way to resolve these differences without violating peoples’ freedom, except to say, “each to his own.”
You raise your children your way, I’ll raise my children my way. And whose way was better will be determined by how our children do later in life.
True, the result will be that some children get raised better than others, and some get better educated than others, and some end up doing better than others in life.
But that’s bound to be the case anyway.
Every attempt to somehow level the playing field by fiat has failed miserably – resulting in more laws, less freedom and generally worse outcomes all around.
So I say, leave people free and let the chips fall where they may.
I tend to hold the same view – though I have the need to openly recognize its imperfection…