The wonderful Dave Freer has a post up at Mad Genius Club this morning about an online encounter he had with a librarian. It seems this woman really loves her job, at least that is what she kept telling him. For a moment, I was excited to read that there was a librarian somewhere who did still love what she was doing. There are times when I feel that is as rare as finding a teacher in the public school system who truly loves teaching. All too soon, however, I realized that she didn’t really love her job. What she loved was being able to push an agenda on those who come to her for a recommendation about what they should read.
You see, like others who have been attacking the Sad Puppies, she seems to feel that anything that doesn’t fall under the aegis of the SJW cause du jour is something to be avoided at all costs. We shouldn’t be exposing the minds of our youngsters to such horrible things like Heinlein or — gasp — Correia. It is her job, her duty, to push socially relevant books and hurray for big publishing for recognizing that duty.
This isn’t anything new. At least the attitude isn’t. It is the same attitude I faced when my son we in elementary and middle school. Summer reading lists were the things of horror, not only as a student but as a parent. Teachers and librarians would sit there come September and scratch their heads and blame the parents when students would come back to class after the summer vacation and admit they hadn’t read many of the books on the list. Rarely did a teacher or librarian actually ask the student or the teacher why they hadn’t done so. If a parent commented on they why, we were either treated like unwashed heathens who didn’t care for our kids or we should have known there was this super secret, never to be discussed alternate reading list we could have chosen books from.
What folks like this purported librarian seem to forget is that people will not read if they are not entertained by fiction or interested in non-fiction. Force feeding kids — or adults — some artificially determined “right think” will only work for so long and only with so many folks. The rest of us, those raised to think and question will soon grow tired of the self-appointed powers-that-be trying to spoonfeed us intellectual pabulum.
Where does the blame for this fall? There is no one person or sector where the finger can be pointed. Why? Because a lot of folks had hands in it. There are those parents, all too many of them, for the last 20 – 30 years who took the stance that they didn’t have time to raise their kids or discipline them and turned it all over the the schools, only to threaten lawsuits and more when they suddenly realized the schools weren’t doing what they wanted.
Then there are the local and state governmental bodies that control the school districts, either directly or through funding. Athletics — read football — were promoted while minor little courses like languages, art, music and the like were cut back or cut out altogether. Back in the dark ages of my elementary school days, we had music every day. We had French and Spanish lessons two to three times a week. We had recess, something else that all too many schools have done away with because someone’s little darling might be picked last for the kickball team and have his feelings hurt or little Susie might fall and scrape her knee and we just can’t have that.
I also blame the federal government for forcing things like No Child Left Behind on districts without anyone really thinking about how it would impact most districts. In order to fulfill the requirements of that horrid piece of legislation, all too many districts wound up gearing their curriculum to the lowest common denominator in the classroom instead of spending the money for programs to help bring that lower denominator up.
Oh, wait, I forgot. Too many districts that would have done just that couldn’t for too many years because of another wonderful piece of state legislation (at least here in Texas). We had the Robin Hood provision where the more affluent (and boy did they have an odd definition of affluent since my mainly blue collar to middle management district was included) school districts had to send a proportion of their monies to the lesser well-off districts. The result of that was that all districts were harmed.
And, in the middle of all that, while concerned parents were watching their school buildings age and technology wear out while new football stadiums were being built or new natatariums, what are children were being given to read went from inspiring biographies and histories and fiction that made our kids’ imaginations soar to “socially relevant” books. Think about it. As a kid, especially one on your summer break, what would you want to read? A book about Hank Aaron and his baseball career or one about a 13 year old in the projects who had been raped by her uncle? Would you rather read Have Spacesuit Will Travel or read about teen suicide?
But it is even worse than that. The books our kids are being forced to read, the textbooks they have to study for class teach them that it is bad to be an American. If you have a son, he is taught that he has to atone for the “sins” of all the men who came before him. That is especially true if your son is of the pale variety. We have districts adopting curriculum that alters words and phrases from our core political documents so they now support the current SJW causes.
But we, those who remember what those documents say and those who don’t want our school indoctrinating our children to become parodies of the Stepford Wives or Westworld, are the evil part of society.
It is past time for us to step up to people like the librarian Dave interacted with and say “No. It isn’t your responsibility to teach my child anything. If my child comes to you, looking for a book about climate or ecology or even wanting a fun science fiction novel, you don’t give him a book that concludes with humans evil and must be destroyed to save Mother Gaia. If my son comes to you wanting a book with adventure in it, you don’t give him one where the bad guy is automatically the businessman and the good guy. You don’t give him a book where someone is declared evil just because he happens to be male. You don’t get to choose what topics and stances my child gets educated in, especially since you are not educating. You are trying to indoctrinate.”
In short, it is time for parents to take back the job of parenting. It is time for educators to remember what the word “education” means. Hell, if they still don’t get it, point them to what happened last week with Brian Williams. Here was a so-called respected reporter who got caught “misremembering” the events that happened in an active war zone. He chose to make the story about himself instead of remembering that the duty of a reporter is to report the news, not make it. Unfortunately, that is something all too many of his fellow “journalists” have also forgotten.
But the fact of the matter is, our education system has forgotten that it is there to educate. That means you give students all sides of an issue and you teach them how to examine the facts, draw inferences and come to their own conclusions. But maybe that is too abstract of an idea for our liberal arts colleges to wrap their collective minds around these days. It is so much easier to simply tell students what they should think and believe in and then turn them loose like a bunch of lemmings and see how many of them actually jump off the cliff into the pile of glitter that awaits all true SJWs.