I am not altogether sure why I keep finding myself flipping through the pages of Iron Ink. One explanation is that I am a glutton for punishment. Another is that it must be like the proverbial train wreck, I just can’t help looking. Plus, we all have guilty pleasures, right? (Right?)
Today, the sultan of swat has decided to pick on public education, one of his favorite scapegoats for what aileth the world. And recalling my daughter’s recent inservice resisting bullies in her government , I mean, public school, a few thoughts passed. Quoth he:
“Weymouth Child Development Center”
My first instinct was to think, “Wow, I’m amazed that they are being so honest about it.”
Here we have a setting where parents will drop their children off for the day and while they are at work they can have the satisfaction of knowing that a bunch of strangers are developing their children for them. How will their children be developed? The parents won’t know. What will they teach the little children? The parents don’t know. But what they do know is that their children are being developed and they know that they get to pay those people good money for the privilege of having those strangers develop their children for them.
As I thought about it I thought the new sign said it all. All schools, whether schools that happen in the home, or private schools or state schools should be thought of as “child development centers.” Children, who are not yet shaped in their thinking, enter into these locales and are shaped and massaged in their thinking and character in a particular direction.
Amongst the plethora of assumptions, to be a modernist is to accept the premise that something other than the family makes human beings. So when the secular-modernist speaks as if his efforts do make (or “develop”) human beings the religio-modernist agrees in order to be able to rail about how the neighborhood preschool is cranking out the devil’s minions.
But what is interesting is that secular educationalists have long since abandoned the over-realized and deeply transformationalist notion that they actually make human beings and have un-carefully just hung on to the outward language, as it were. Whatever else is going on there, nobody at Weymouth is making or developing anyone. To boot, if Weymouth is anything like the secular educational institutions with which I am intimately familiar, I’d wager they’d all quite agree. Theocrats like McAtee are really just swinging at shadows, fighting an old modernist battle that his perceived enemies have really given up on. What adds humiliation to embarrassment is that our fellow religionists give no signal that they might have even the slightest clue that the greater balance of secular educators consider the home the final authority. (This is where most interlocutors will surface with horror stories, for example, of school districts forcing students to be indoctrinated with sexual orientation sensitivity training or some other such project shot through with highly sensitive values. But this proves nothing except that sometimes institutions do really dumb things for which they ought to be corrected.)
Indeed, as McAtee ably demonstrates, the modernity stubbornly nurtured within still holds fast to the premise that another institution apart from the family has any hand in making human beings. We should be clear here: making isn’t the same as influencing. In contrast, older expressions of Christianity (and other religions) teach that the family alone is ordained to make human beings, for better or worse. Whatever else this implies, it also means Jesus-hating pagans and Jesus-loving believers have an equal shot at making good human beings.
Christian Americaism usually goes hand-in-hand with a supposed high view of the family, as in the Virtuecrat lingo of family-values. But the brutal irony here is how there is actually more a merely high opinion of the family than high view. In much the same way the Roman church, whatever lip service might be afforded it, raises the church above Scripture (liberalism reason and evangelicalism experience), here the day school is raised above the family. In softer expressions it may be said that the school is an extension of the family. But it seems to me that a better two-kingdom outlook, situated in a Kuyperian notion of sphere sovereignty, understands that institutions overlap one another instead of one extending another. Once we begin to think in terms of the latter it seems there is no way to maintain the premise that there really is no redemptive version of any creational enterprise. So while plenty of institutions and factors certainly can and do influence human beings, when it comes to the project of making them, the family alone is ordained for such work.