During a Black Lives Matter event a few years ago, in a live flash on cable TV, an enraged mother yanked her hoody-wearing son out of the protest and beat him with all her might. He stepped aside, tried to shuffle away, held up his arms as a shield, but did not fight back. The last we saw of them both, she was hauling him back home in no uncertain terms. This is what we call parenting.
What happened to parenting?
Some of the answer lies in a seismic philosophical shift that attracted a significant number of American intellectuals around the turn of the 20th century. Termed “relativism” or “pragmatism” or “instrumentalism” or “radical empiricism” – the names do not really matter – these ideas, or ideations, had the effect of convincing large numbers of people that truths they had known as universals were not really truths at all. More significantly, the underpinnings of the truths were ripped from their moorings with the result that a type of free-fall in human experience became the expectation or the “normal” – hitting the ground as a result of the free-fall simply an unfortunate and messy detail.
This philosophical shift effected geo-politics as some powerfully placed men and women, including America’s top political leaders, became enamored with the communist experiment in Russia. (See When the Chimp Saw the Light.) The shift altered the nature of our Constitutional Republic with Progressive Amendments changing for the worse the delicate power balance between the states and the federal government. The shift also began to effect how we educated our children in public schools. The concept of parenting began to change – we began to follow not lead the child.
Here is part of the history of what happened.
John Dewey, the father of our current notions in public education, as a “pragmatic instrumentalist,” thought that there is no truth, there are many truths. To Dewey, public education should be an agency of social reform. The teacher is to follow the whole child, not lead the whole child. He became a famed exponent of his New Education more commonly known as Progressive Education at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. It was introduced in New York City public schools as the “activity program” in 1935, deemed poison by many educators. Directing students to a life in democracy really meant directing students and teachers to a life in socialism, Dewey’s definition of democracy – “Here in America individualism and socialism are at one.”
Interestingly, it is Lenin who picked up Dewey’s activities program and forcefully implemented it in Soviet Russia in 1917. Lenin thought that before Communism could establish itself worldwide, totalitarian states would have to be established. The best way to establish totalitarian states, in his view, was to break down respect for authority, to undermine serious study in school, and the parent at home. The ensuing social chaos would provide the perfect excuse for establishing a police state that would be accepted by the Russian population just to create order.
John Dewey’s Progressive Education worked like a charm in Russia. Roaming hordes of juvenile delinquents became commonplace. College professors complained that students coming from Russian schools were not prepared for advanced learning and would do nothing unless the activity represented an “expression of self.” Discipline was non-existent. Stalin, having taken over from Lenin in 1924, used the resultant discord to establish a brutal dictatorship, and, having used Dewey’s ideas to break down society, reorganized the education system in 1932. Stalin went back to traditional instruction and reversed the inverted authority back to the teacher and the parent. The supreme irony is that just when Stalin was re-establishing traditional education in 1932, the sort of education system America was famous for, America was going the way of Lenin, elevating the child, demoting the parent, creating instability in traditional institutions under the guise of “building a new social order,” or, as Barrack Obama puts it, “transforming America.”
The nuclear family unit – Father, Mother, and Children – is the keystone to our entire social order. Within that unit, parents of minor children have the foremost say in their children’s upbringing, health, education, moral training, religious training, and personal development. Leading not following the child is a universal truth that, if not respected, guarantees the breakdown of the social order and, in the case of America, the Constitutional Republic itself, as Liberty would be required to give way to Tyranny. Dewey’s insistence on the opposite – building a new social order – lives on with breathtaking force in America’s public schools:
A Pennsylvania school district instructs teachers not to disclose a student’s gender identity issues to the student’s parents.
A former Governor of Virginia thinks parents should have no say in what their public schools teach.
California promotes itself as a safe haven for minor gender surgery even when one of the child’s parents refuses consent.
What do our Founding Documents say?
The Northwest Ordinance, 1787, passed by Congress under America’s first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, has the following provision in Article 3: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” Religion and morality, although the primary teaching functions of parents, were thought by the Founders to be properly carried forward in public schools.
The Declaration of Independence, undergirded by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, states that all people have an unalienable right to Life and to Liberty and to pursue happiness within the confines of Moral and Natural Law. Children are not developmentally capable of making decisions regarding their unalienable rights and are therefore bound by our Moral Law to respect and honor their parents and to obey adults in authority. Should any government be destructive of these tenets, the Declaration of Independence says that “it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government. . .” For public schools, this may mean new school board leadership.
The Constitution of the United States with its Bill of Rights, 1787 and 1791, has as its mission to insure domestic tranquility and to promote the general welfare. This goal is impossible without the acknowledgment and protection of the sanctity of the family and the notion of parental control implicit within it. Stalin deliberately destroyed this notion using the ideas from an American educator. Perhaps Americans will wake up from this nightmare and return to the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.
Miss Constitution has never gotten over seeing that loving mother rescue her precious son from his own immaturity – but that is what we call parenting; it is foundational to our nation.