A generation ago, a great teacher amongst us never wearied of reiterating that in the Divine plan “the family is the unit of the nation“: not the individual, but the family. There is a great deal of teaching in the phrase, but this lies on the surface; the whole is greater than the part, the whole contains the part, owns the part, orders the part;
I agree with Charlotte Mason but would change her words to fit our times. The family is not only the unit of the nation, it is the unit of the world.
Pages could be written about this statement. First, one must look at history. Charlotte Mason wrote before communism and Naziism had bloomed and produced its drastic effects. Both attempts at social change (communism and Naziism) depended upon removal of children from homes and placed in schools where they could be educated into the new ideas. The family was the enemy of the state, an unnecessary mediator, an old-fashioned idea impeding the way to utopia or power.
Today, when I take my teenage daughter to the doctor, the doctor can attempt to interact with her without my interference. My daughter could get birth control, vaccinations, and an abortion without my consent. When I receive a welcome letter from a principal at a school, it says things like … “thank you for sharing your children with us. We promise to take good care of them.” At another high school, the motto is “We Are One, We Are a Family.” Many school officials envision their institution as the social center for a community.Teachers spend their time challenging the many accepted tenets of children’s families, encouraging students to “think for themselves”, “be an individual”, and “free your minds.” Schools have usurped parental roles in all basics. Parents are separated from children. Siblings are divided from siblings. This is the path we deem “normal”.
At a class I was teaching, one elementary student admonished another:
I wish your (little) sisters would quit coming to talk to you while we’re standing in line. They distract the other kids and then we get into trouble. Our line gets messed up.
I defended the poor student. I said,
How wonderful that her little sisters want to be near her! She must come from a close family that encourages sibling harmony. Imitation is the best form of flattery and here her little sisters come, wanting to stand next to the line where her big sister is. They want to show everyone that they belong to one of the cool kids, one of the big kids. This is a good thing. This is something to encourage, to foster, to repeat!
I couldn’t help adding,
That’s one of the main reasons I homeschool — so my daughters don’t have to stand in line all the time and shoo their little sisters away into their own grade!
One of the other teacher’s assistants in the room straightened immediately and retorted,
Standing in line is a part of life! How will they know how to get their licenses or jobs?
I couldn’t help firing back (the sarcasm was a little heavy):
Really? You really think that children wouldn’t know how to stand in line unless they learn it here? When they get their licenses, they won’t know how to grab that little number and sit until they’re called? At least there, they can read a good book while they wait!
I thought to myself,
I’m sure when my daughters are grown, they will mill around in the grocery store, completely at a loss as to how to pay for their food because they are so deficient in the school experience of standing in lines. What would we do without you? How do my children survive?
I almost started to wring my hands in pretended worry, but I realized that would be stepping too far. I dislike myself when I sneer. I changed the subject and brought it back to the shunned little sisters.
Anyway, I think it is lovely that O____’s sisters want to be near her. I think you should welcome them and be kind to them — even if it means standing slightly out of line.
But do you see my point? In Germany, it is still illegal to homeschool. Germany educates children according to state ideals and goals. In America, we’re less overt, but we’re doing the same thing — using schools to inculcate nationalistic ideals. The family is split apart. They isolate the individual under the guise of its glorification. And then, they conquer the individual.
The family is the unit of a nation. As parents, it is our responsibility to 1) feed our children 2) clothe them 3) provide protection 4) model a good character and deliver a moral upbringing 5) deliver an education (we have many ways to do this, but it is still our responsibility to make sure it is the best we can afford).
If we give these responsibilities over to our nation, it will form the nation’s goals and ideals in our children. The government will feed our children food that benefits it (government subsidized food and an addiction to it). The government will encourage our children to dress according to its values — consumerism. It will protect itself — teaching children to vote in a direction that will make them reliant upon the government and depend upon it for all their needs. The education will make the children fit for government ends.
The river can only rise as high as its source. If the source is the government, then its ideals are the highest our children will attain when educated in a government institution. If our children must be part of it, then parents must take precautions to counteract the many insidious ways the institution tries to separate families and form automatons. We should give them the best of the greatest minds (through the reading of great books) and a good deal of logic so they aren’t subject to wolves in sheep’s clothing. From grade levels to sex ed to special ed to bells and standing in line, a government institution will create food for itself. A government has its uses. Just don’t let your kids become one of them.
This video depicts so vividly what happens in schools. Notice the boy ridiculed for reading poetry. In school, he’s not allowed to read during class, because the teacher believes his material is more important. As long as teachers replace reading with lectures and worksheets, they bolster the conspiracy theory that the institution intends to keep children stupid and compliant. While I don’t agree with children burning their desks and throwing their teachers into the inferno, the violence reflects a truth we already see — that latent, seething revolution waiting to ignite. Shootings, fights, violence, bullying, suicides, drug use — if these symptoms occur among a group of adults, we’d blame poverty and oppression. But since it happens to children, we blame parents, TV, video games, sugar… anything but the institution where they spend their days. Truth is, the worst of public school life closely resembles prison life, from the violence to the sex going on in the bathrooms to the deep hatred of the establishment.
There is a second part to Charlotte Mason’s section that I have waited to include because it seems to contradict what I just wrote.
and this being so, the children are the property of the nation, to be brought up for the nation as is best for the nation, and not according to the whim of individual parents… we should remember that the children are a national trust whose bringing up is the concern of all.
Charlotte Mason wrote when nationalism was reaching a fever pitch. She, too, was a product of her time and place. She had not yet seen World War I or II or a communist state and their methods of dividing families to inseminate state ideas. In other words, I believe she was ignorant or blind to nationalism’s dark side.
What I believe we can take from her words, though, is our children are not for our own caprices. Eventually, they will become husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, employees and employers. We should raise our children to be …
I find myself searching for phrases like “gifts to the world”, “blessings to others”, “assets”, and I must throw them all away. If children are persons, then we must treat them so from the beginning. We cannot raise them to be gifts. They are persons. They carry the divine light.They are made in the image of God, a little lower than the angels. We must not objectify them. We should avoid terms describing how to use them.
We must remember children belong to God — that Supreme Being who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. We should tread softly when speaking of children at all. They are not us. They are not ours. They deserve respect, ideas, and a thinking love.
- Canada ranked 18th out of 35 in child poverty report (ctv.ca)
- The Versatile Blogger Award (gentleartoflearning.wordpress.com)
- A Not-so Surprising Prescription for Economic Recovery: Get Married, Stay Married (warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com)
- Videos to remind us what Charlotte Mason was on about. (mum6kids.wordpress.com)
- Education is the Science of Relations (gentleartoflearning.wordpress.com)
- Letter: Stand in line? (naplesnews.com)
- You are Qualified to Homeschool! (practicalpages.wordpress.com)
- An Ounce of Prevention … (gentleartoflearning.wordpress.com)
- Real-life Hunger Games in America – New York Times (blog) (rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Masterly Inactivity (gentleartoflearning.wordpress.com)
- The Theme of My Life: Risk, Stupidity, Rebellion, or Perseverance (oregonpilgrim.com)
- The Way of the Will and The Way of Reason (gentleartoflearning.wordpress.com)
- Time for a Homeschool Review (livelifewithyourkids.wordpress.com)
- Near-Perfect Days (oregonpilgrim.com)
- Brainstorming My Backstory (oregonpilgrim.com)
- Free Homeschool Planner Roundup (amyswandering.wordpress.com)
- Teachers Can Be Students (teachandlearnwithgeorgia.wordpress.com)