From the high school frontlines in the culture war

Townhall.com Mona Charen July 7, 2006

A parent from Plymouth, N.Y., has sent along another example of liberals gone wild. Fishing through her son’s backpack (he’s a ninth grader), she found a crumpled up handout from the health teacher. The title caught her attention: “Dysfunctional ‘Family Rules.'” The handout is reproduced below with punctuation, grammar and capitalization as in original:

“Here is a list of some of the unworkable rules found in dysfunctional families

“Boys shouldn’t cry. (they should be like diminutive adult males, independent, self contained, and tough. they should bear pain and hurt with a kind of stoicism and emotional flatness exemplified by rugged males in cigarette commercials and by romantic depictions of fighters and the wild, wild west.)

“Girls should always be nice. (Talk nice talk. Never say anything negative. Do nice things. Never do anything that would make someone look askance at you. Nice girls DON’T.)

“Elders always deserve respect and come first. (No matter how the elder behaves, the elder must be treated gingerly, for and elder has power — even if it used capriciously and irrationally.)

. . . more

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30 thoughts on “From the high school frontlines in the culture war”

  1. Charen isn’t really specific about which of the “rules” she thinks should be taken off this list, but she makes a couple of claims which don’t seem to be supported by the text of the document.

    The document doesn’t really discuss sex or money, it talks about discussion of sex and money.

    And it’s a stretch to say that it “heaps scorn” on parents.

  2. Jacobse- no. I do have parents, though, so I’m not entirely a stranger to the family dynamic. Are you a teacher by trade?

  3. I didn’t think so. No offense intended, but the reason you miss Charen’s point is because you don’t have the responsibility or experience of raising children yet. You respond as if Charen is making an ideological argument. She isn’t. She is trying to protect children from an ideology — in this case ideas that implicitly mock character by teaching children that normalcy is dysfunctional. It undermines the stability of the child. Parents (responsible ones anyway) will have no trouble seeing this.

  4. Jacobse,
    A response like that sort of limits debate. It’s like a feminist saying, “A man can’t possibly have an opinion about abortion because he can never have the experience of being pregnant.”

    So I’ll ignore your first sentiment and continue writing, unless you want to end discussion. Your support of Charen is as vague as her discussion of the handout. The purpose of the handout seems to be to communicate that “sometimes families that have very normal-seeming rules can be dysfunctional.” And that does not seem to be unreasonable. In fact, some of those “rules” are downright creepy. If daddy’s coming into your bad at night, and mommy looks the other way, heck, a reasonable person would conclude that it’s okay to tell someone outside the family about that.

    The two “rules” that seem questionable are the one about sibling role models and the one about “work first, play later,” which seem to be worded so vaguely that they might contradict legitimate, healthy family norms.

    But Charen writes as if the whole handout is full of vicious ideology, which makes her seem like a knee-jerk reactionary. Are we to conclude that she thinks it’s never okay for boys to cry? And that children should always pretend that everything is okay at home?

    I don’t necessarily think the handout is a great learning tool, but I think it’s silly for Charen to treat it like a weapon in a culture war when it seems to be a poorly worded, frequently valid, occasionally misguided, piece of communication about traits that some hostile family environments may share.

  5. It’s not meant to shut debate, as much as examine the qualifications of the debators. The only reason I brought it up is that your reaction is one I would expect from someone with no children, hence the question.

    Read the piece more closely. All the examples are intended to reverse what historically have been the cultural norms. Please, no platitudes about how “norms need to be challenged” and other such nonsense. My child (and most parents feel this way) is not the moral property of the school system. Fortunately I am in a county with a conservative school district. Social engineering would not fly here. In other places, unfortunately, the state thinks they own the child.

    BTW, think a bit more about your charge of “conservative reactionary.” The worst school districts in America are the inner city schools in Democratic controlled cities. Maybe Charen’s brand of reactionary conservatism would help straighten them out. It is certainly working with the Catholic private schools. In fact, poor people are clamoring to send their children to those schools. The problem is that the liberals keep shutting down school choice thereby perpetuating the failed educational monopoly.

  6. Jacobse,
    In response to an earlier comment of yours, I don’t think I’m approaching this from an ideological perspective so much as a curricular perspective. As a parent, if you have a problem with a lesson given to your child, the most effective way to complain is to put into words what is wrong. The handout reprinted here does not seem to be a stellar example of health-class educational materials, but if you’re going to complain that the handout is inappropriate, you should be able to parse the claims it is making and explain which ones are wrong, and why that is so. You state that “All the examples are intended to reverse what historically have been the cultural norms.” From your statement, I infer that you have a problem with every single example listed in the document.

    But they aren’t all indefensible. It is okay for boys to cry sometimes, and a legitimate counselor, whether Democrat or Republican, would tell a high school student just that. It is okay for girls to be aggressive. If something is bothering a girl, it can be okay for her to say something negative about it. Do you disagree with that? Put another way: why, on earth, would you want to teach your daughter otherwise?

    Other criticized “rules” include, “Elders always deserve respect,” and “Don’t talk about your family to anyone outside the family.” And those rules, viewed as absolutes, really are dysfunctional. If Uncle Jimmy is asking you for sexual favors and mommy tells you not to tell anyone, RUN to someone outside the family and let them know, kids. If you disagree with that, say so. Then I’ll know what kind of person I’m talking to.

    And so I’ll reiterate: the only two rules that seem inappropriate in this document are the one about sibling role models and the one about working first. Whether the teacher had some legitimate point to make is lost there, they are worded poorly and contradict commonly held values which healthy families may well share.

    If you disagree, pick out some specific claims and explain why they are wrong, don’t give the document the blanket term “social engineering.” Teaching algebra is “social engineering” too, and I sincerely hope that a lot of it goes on in schools around the country.

    I didn’t call Charen a “conservative reactionary,” I called her a “knee-jerk reactionary.” I don’t necessarily think students should be politically indoctrinated in schools, but I question the conservative notion that there’s a concerted liberal effort to try to do that. At any rate, I don’t think the solution is to incorporate conservative indoctrination; it’s too remove the indoctrination altogether.

    Inner-city school districts are among the worst in America not because they lie in Democratic controlled cities, but because they are also among the poorest districts. I don’t mean that just in the sense that the schools have less money to spend per student; there is a strong correlation between parental income and student success. Private schools, because they are not free, attract families with higher average incomes. In the instances where private schools attract a low-income family, there’s a clear commitment on the part of parents to the education of the child.

    On an unrelated note, why does the “Leave a Comment!” section request my website if it doesn’t publish a link to it? If this discussion has some lurking readers who want to read more of my opinions, I welcome you to visit my blog at http://teethwherenoneshouldbe.blogspot.com/ .

  7. I can’t get into detail now, but the answer is pretty simple (which most parents will understand right away): children are not the moral property of the state.

    You see Phil, it is not the province of the state to determine the moral education of my child — it is mine. So when you say “At any rate, I don’t think the solution is to incorporate conservative indoctrination; it’s too remove the indoctrination altogether,” you are merely representing the same impulse that informs the teacher who wrote up the worksheet, ie: moralistic paternalism coercively applied.

    Here’s my solution. Keep the ideologues out of the classroom. Parents have the final say in the moral education of their children.

    In the instances where private schools attract a low-income family, there’s a clear commitment on the part of parents to the education of the child.

    Poor parents want to send their children to private schools too, but can’t because they don’t have the money. School choice would open this opportunity but the Democrats keep shutting it down. Did you know that the representatives that deny school choice send their children to private schools? This is another example of reserving privilege for themselves, while keeping the poor locked in poverty.

  8. I think you misinterpret me; when I said, “At any rate, I don’t think the solution is to incorporate conservative indoctrination; it’s too remove the indoctrination altogether,” I meant that the solution was to remove the indoctrination in schools. Parents should of course be free to indoctrinate their children as they see fit. I think, from the tone of your writing, you might agree with such a statement.

    Again, you use a vague term–“moralistic paternalism”–to describe a document with many specific claims, and refuse to point out which claims are wrong.

    I think our disagreement here might be over what constitutes “moral education.” If a teacher tells a child that it is acceptable to report sexual abuse to someone outside the family, for instance, that’s not moral education. That’s not ideology. That’s common sense. Again, I’ll invite you to agree or disagree with that.

    A health teacher who tells a class that it’s okay for boys to cry isn’t providing moral education. She’s giving the same advice that a mental health professional or a doctor would give. You seem to contend that no teacher has the right to make such a statement. Is that accurate?

    It sounds like you’re saying that all parents want to send their children to private schools, and that the state should pay for kids to go to private schools, which would have the effect of shutting down the public school system. So you want to replace a flawed public school system with total, state-funded, ideological education? I suppose that would at least allow parents to choose an ideology they’re comfortable with, but mightn’t that remove the input parents currently enjoy with public schools, where they can elect the school boards and their complaints must legally be heard?

  9. What I couldn’t figure out about this article is why the author believes that the handout was written by a “liberal.” It seems to me that it would have been fairly simple to make a phone call to the school in order to ascertain what part, if any, this single handout plays in the health curriculum. It might have been easy to speak to the teacher in whose class the handout was used. Mybe the teacher voted for George Bush. Maybe the handout is part of a larger packet of material that is staunchly conservative in tone. Maybe the handout gets used because someone printed up a thousand of the thngs 20 years ago. We don’t even know when the paper was discovered in the backpack — was it ten days ago? ten years ago? Who knows?

    Instead, the author assumes that the teacher, or whoever wrote it, is not just a “liberal,” but a “liberal gone wild,” and by the end of the piece concludes that the liberals have taken over the schools. And all this from a piece of paper on which the author cannot be bothered to produce any research.

    This piece is a great example of standard right-wing propaganda. It’s really a new literary genre that is an anecdote, but with it’s own special characteristics. It’s a fill-in-the-blank kind of thing. Here’s how it works:

    The dramatis personae consist of a Christian, a child, or some other good person, and a “liberal,” typically an elitist, or perhaps engaged in some “elite” activity. The story line is that the good person will be doing some kind of good and innocent thing — praying, reading the Bible, working, or just going to school. The liberal will then do something bad — and not just bad, but outrageous. In fact, the thing will be so outrageous, that this thing will be emblematic of all liberals everywhere, and it will demonstrate the vast and insidious influence of liberalism, and how, poison gas-like, it has spread even into whatever place it should not have gotten into. The piece will end with calls for action, in which the Good People have to take back whatever it is that the liberals have taken over.

    Typically in these pieces it is impossible to verify any of the facts. Also typical is that they have a kind of timeless quality, with no dates mentioned, and no particular context. For example, there is a group of Christians, the Christian Exodus movement, that wants right-wing Christians to move to South Carolina so that they can eventually take over the state and break away from the U.S. In this endeavor I wish them the best of luck, and have even thought of making a contribution. Anyway, I was reading through their web site one day, and one page detailed the reasons why they wanted to break away. On the page was this anecdote about how this kid in school was prevented from praying over his lunch. (“Outrageous! Look at what the evil liberals have done now!!!” — and so on.) I did a little research and found that the incident — disputed by the school — had taken place NINE YEARS earlier. But it was reported on the web site as if it were standard operating procedure in all schools as of yesterday.

    As I mentioned, the lesson of these anecdotes is always universalized to all liberals everywhere, and it is assumed that all liberals are more or less part of the same organism — that if you pluck a string on one liberal all liberals throughout the universe will vibrate.

    Liberalism is thus portrayed as a kind of evil free-floating consciousness of which liberals all partake, like the Borg in Star Trek, or the Cylons in the new Battlestar Gallactica. And like the Borg and the Cylons, liberals hate “us,” the good people, they hate America, and they actively seek the destruction of all humanity. Like the Borg and Cylons, part human and part machine, liberals have a kind of cold, cruel, mechanistic, inhuman feel to them. Some liberals may believe in God, but they are godless. Some may be moral people, but they are without morality. Some may know history, but they are outside all tradition. Some may think, but they are unthinking, operating mostly from evil instinct. Just when you thought it was safe, came LIBERALS, THE MOVIE, coming soon to a theater near you, rated R, children under 17 not admitted without a parent.

  10. “Again, you use a vague term–”moralistic paternalism”–to describe a document with many specific claims, and refuse to point out which claims are wrong.”

    I see nothing vague about it at all. Strangely, Phil wants to “parse” the “many specific claims” as if character, morality, and family were something akin to being a lawyer or philosopher. In this sense, he reflects the impulse to “social engineer” quite well. A child when presented with the above teaching will not be able to rationally, emotionally, and morally hold all these things together (and in relief) to make the appropriate moral judgment – namely, that the bonehead teacher is going about something (even if it is “well intentioned”) the wrong way. Much more likely the child will take away the wrong lesson. The teacher, and the philosophy behind it, does not understand the very basics of the word “character”…

  11. Strangely, Phil wants to “parse” the “many specific claims” as if character, morality, and family were something akin to being a lawyer or philosopher.

    Are you saying, then, that there isn’t a single statement in the handout that you disagree with? Why is it so difficult to give an example and state why it’s wrong?

    As a parent, you can tell your kids “because I said so” and insist that they accept your reasoning without question. But if you’re making a formal complaint to a school administrator about your child’s education, you’ll want to identify a problem and then give an example of that problem. You can’t just say “Tommy’s teacher is unfair.” You need to follow that up with, “Because she didn’t allow him to make up the exam he missed due to a doctor’s visit.” (Or something like that.)

  12. “Are you saying, then, that there isn’t a single statement in the handout that you disagree with? Why is it so difficult to give an example and state why it’s wrong?”

    It is not difficult at all – but it entirely misses the point. I disagree with the WHOLE thing, EVERY WORD, not because each does not have a “point” or truth behind them (no doubt “well intentioned”), but because the thrust of the document is to teach a modernistic/secularistic world view – that traditional character and family dynamics are “dysfunctional” to paraphrase Fr. Jacobse. You want to “parse” the logic. More important than the logic is the moral teaching.

    “if you’re making a formal complaint to a school administrator .. you’ll want to identify a problem”

    We did. It is the moral teaching that normal family dynamics are “dysfunctional”.

  13. I disagree with the WHOLE thing, EVERY WORD

    But you don’t disagree with every word, Christopher. That’s just silly. As you began reading the document, there must have been a point where you thought, “Whoa, this is wrong! This handout is trying to teach kids something I disagree with.” If you disagree with every word, then your reader must assume that you believe boys should never cry, and girls who are raped should never tell anyone. Only a monster would believe that, Christopher. I doubt very much that you are such a monster.

    High school students take courses in Math, Science, and English, but also in Health, Psychology, Sociology, and even Parenting. If you’re lucky, your child might even get Geography. It is ludicrous to suggest that a psych teacher must avoid all discussion of family dynamics, or that a Geography teacher must avoid all discussion of cultures. If you believe, as I do, that there are limits to the political statements which can be made in class, you have to be able to put those limits into words. You can’t just say that a lesson is too “modernistic.” That’s just whining. You have to explain what it is that makes the lesson modernistic. If you have a genuine interest in curriculum, you have to be able to put your ideas into words that have meaning to the listener.

  14. “But you don’t disagree with every word, Christopher. That’s just silly.”

    I do disagree with every word, and that is not silly. What is silly is take the context (the philosophy behind the words) away from the discussion and parse every word.

    “You have to explain what it is that makes the lesson modernistic. If you have a genuine interest in curriculum, you have to be able to put your ideas into words that have meaning to the listener.”

    Ok, it is clear to myself and Fr. Jacobse. Let me repeat something Fr. Jacobse said upstream – perhaps you missed it:

    “Read the piece more closely. All the examples are intended to reverse what historically have been the cultural norms. Please, no platitudes about how “norms need to be challenged” and other such nonsense. My child (and most parents feel this way) is not the moral property of the school system.”

    The lesson is modernistic because of the overall intent of the examples. You disagree in that you believe these norms need to be challenged (you use the example of the pedophile uncle upstream). I disagree. I don’t think the school system needs to be dabbling in challenging these healthy norms.

    So, you can see that we disagree with the thrust and intent of the whole document, every word…

  15. Christopher, what’s “healthy” and “normal” for one family may not be for another. Some families accept physical discipline of their children, while others don’t. Some families who are devout Christians oppose any secular celebration of Christmas while others may not. Some families don’t mind if their daughters are involved with athletics such as basketball while others may shun the very notion. Where do you come up with these idea that there are some universal norms for all families everywhere? Did you grow up with the Cleavers?! 🙂

    I actually agree in theory with Fr. Hans’ idea that we should “keep the ideologues out of the classroom”. Stick to literature, mathematics, history and the sciences. However, doesn’t keeping “ideologues” out of the classroom also mean keeping religious notions out of it as well? I’m not sure how the above study is an exercise in “ideology” while a “moment for prayer” or a Ten Commandments display is not.

  16. James,

    Your first paragraph is a nice example of modernistic, relativistic thinking. The idea of universal norms (i.e. universal morality) comes from “the law written their hearts” (Romans 2), and of course Revelation History, the Church. C.S. Lewis borrows the term “The Tao” in his important “The Abolition of Man” to describe universal norms. “The Abolition of Man” by the way is probably the best defense (or at least the most accessible) of natural law in the last 100 years.

    Also interesting is your assertion that we should keep the reality of universal norms out of education – which is of course the 3rd commandment of modern militant secularists. Should you not be trolling someplace else, like http://www.Episcopaliantoday.org?

  17. Christopher, there is a difference between “universal morality” and traditions that derive from ethnicity or culture. You seem to be confusing the two. It is a “tradition” in some families for the elders to move in with their children and grandchildren after they retire (as I believe it is in some Asian and Indian cultures). How many American parents do you see moving in with their children if they can afford not to? Not frequently. What has this to do with “morality” if both parties are happy with the arrangements?

    I’m really not sure what you’re suggesting are “universal norms”. Are you saying, for example, that women should never have been permitted to work outside the home? Should children always work in their parents’ professions? Should boys only play football and girls stick to cheerleading? Should boys never learn to cook? These aren’t instrinsically “moral issues”. If you see them as such, please explain how they are.

    I was not suggesting that there is NOT a wide consensus on universal morality (I think there is in a general sense). I’m simply trying to avoid the mistake of asserting that various cultural traditions are necessarily moral ones, too.

  18. James,

    The article at the top of this thread and the subsequent discussion has nothing to do ethnic customs and the like. I did not confuse the two – your the one that brought it up! Perhaps you did not read the original article and the subsequent discussion between Fr. Jacobse, Phil and I…

  19. I do disagree with every word, and that is not silly.

    “The?” You disagree with “the?” That’s silly.

    What is silly is take the context (the philosophy behind the words) away from the discussion and parse every word.

    How do we presume to know what the context is without analyzing the statements made?

    The lesson is modernistic because of the overall intent of the examples.

    You write as if intent can just be assumed. If the teacher (or the writer of the handout) responds with, “Actually, my intent was not to challenge healthy norms,” would you just accept that assertion, since the specifics of the content don’t seem to matter to you?

    You disagree in that you believe these norms need to be challenged (you use the example of the pedophile uncle upstream). I disagree. I don’t think the school system needs to be dabbling in challenging these healthy norms.

    How in the hell is keeping mum about a pedophile uncle a “healthy norm?”

    So, you can see that we disagree with the thrust and intent of the whole document, every word…

    What’s not to love about “askance?”

    But seriously, disagreeing with every word forces you to hold some pretty indefensible positions. To use the less extreme example, it follows that you think, “Health teachers cannot give boys the same information about the phenomenon of male crying that a mental health professional would give.” That position doesn’t hold water.

    All I can gather from your arguments (And those of Jacobse) are that you believe that, in public schools, norms should never be challenged. That’s not a workable curriculum guideline. Even announcing that the girls’ soccer team will be holding tryouts after school violates a widely-held cultural norm.

    Thus, if there are norms which ought not be challenged, it should not be difficult to identify _which_ norms should not be challenged.

    Will you consider a hypothetical piece of educational materials? What if a conference of educators produced a document which simply stated, “Because emotions sometimes surface in a classroom setting, every teacher in America, at every grade level, in every subject, has a right to tell boys that it is sometimes okay to cry.” Would you disagree with every word of that document?

  20. Phil,

    Now you are being silly. The author’s intent is pretty clear, and the authority that he assumes (or perhaps was given to him by the school) is manifest. This is a liberal document, with liberal assumptions and liberal intentions if there ever was one. Your life boat ethics and slander (i.e. alleging that I or Fr. Jacobse would have a pedophile victim remain silent) does nothing but reveal what desperate lengths your willing to go.

    Now, you being a liberal (you said as much when you said you only disagreed with the document in two parts – and your displayed willingness for educators to become moral guardians) might not agree with a conservative critique but I can’t explain it to you any better than what Fr. Jacobse has already said. Now, if you don’t understand why a conservative would be critical of said document, then go back to the home page of this website and read some of the articles. You also might try reading the archives of this blog. Notice that this particular article was posted under the title “culture war”. That’s your key, the phrase “culture war”. Understand that and you will get it…

  21. Christopher writes: “This is a liberal document, with liberal assumptions and liberal intentions if there ever was one.”

    The author of the article apparently contacted neither the school nor the teacher. So we know nothing about either the author, the author’s intention, or the place that this document has in the school’s curriculum. We have no evidence of the school’s health curriculum as a whole. We have no idea if the document was composed last year or ten years ago. In fact, we have no idea whether the document is even legitimate.

    More importantly, there is no indication that “liberals” as a whole would even approve of the sentiments expressed in the document. There is no indication that “liberals” would approve of such a document being part of the curriculum, if indeed it ever was.

    The interesting thing is that you assume, without any evidence whatsoever, that a “liberal” wrote the thing, and that “liberals” in general would agree with it. In short, you look for evidence against your perceived enemies, and run with it, when you don’t even know anything about the document. And you expect people to take you seriously. This is what we in the “reality-based” community call “pathetic.” Get a life dude.

  22. Christopher,
    I think I understand where you’re coming from a little better now. To you, it doesn’t matter what the document actually said, because the political viewpoints of the communicator take precedence over what is actually being communicated. So if an author is willing to criticize family dynamics, it is the willingness of that author, and not the criticism itself, that must be attacked.

    If we both agree that there are limits to what educators in public schools should be telling children about culture, values, or families, we simply have different remedies. I approach the discussion from a policy angle: what should educators avoid doing, so as not to cross the line? You seem to approach the discussion from a philosophical angle: educators should not be liberals, and therefore it isn’t necessary to describe or set limits for them to follow.

    I consider myself a moderate, but I think it’s a false dichotomy to say that a person (or a thing, like a handout) is either “liberal” or “conservative.”

  23. Note 12. Phil writes:

    As a parent, you can tell your kids “because I said so” and insist that they accept your reasoning without question. But if you’re making a formal complaint to a school administrator about your child’s education, you’ll want to identify a problem and then give an example of that problem. You can’t just say “Tommy’s teacher is unfair.” You need to follow that up with, “Because she didn’t allow him to make up the exam he missed due to a doctor’s visit.” (Or something like that.)

    Why do people who have no children presume to tell parents how to parent? It’s a lot like a single person trying to counsel marrieds. He thinks he understands marriage, but as any married person knows, he doesn’t have a clue.

    Look, the document is flawed for a very simple reason: it seeks to undermine the stability of the child. It calls functional behaviors dysfunctional. It lies and uses the classroom to do it.

    The reason you don’t see this as clearly as you should is that you don’t have children. You simply have no clue how pressing the stability of the child is upon a responsible parent. Again, a parent reading Charen’s piece understands her point immediately.

  24. Why do people who have no children presume to tell parents how to parent?

    I wasn’t actually telling you how to parent. What I said was that “as a parent, you can” do X and Y, because you have that right. That statement is nothing more than an affirmation of parental rights.

    I was giving you advice about how to complain to a school administrator. Having gone through the process, both as a student and as a schoolteacher, I feel a modicum of qualification to offer advice.

    It calls functional behaviors dysfunctional.

    I agree. I identified two functional behaviors which it called dysfunctional. If there are more, I really want to hear one. Don’t say “all of them,” even if you believe that. Pick an egregious example and explain why it’s really not dysfunctional. I won’t pretend that you agree with all of the others just because you’ve selected one to explain. I just can’t help but feel that your continued refusal to explain why one of the others is wrong is because you really don’t think that any of the rest of the lesson content is technically, factually, or pegagogically incorrect, you just don’t like the idea that any teacher could criticize any aspect of parenting or family life.

    And it’s okay if you think that. It’s a reasonable argument to make. I think it’s a generalization to say that “any parent” would agree with that viewpoint, and I think it would lead to strange impracticalities if effected in public schools, particularly in classes that deal directly with parenting and families, as a high school “Parenting” class would, and an Interpersonal Communication or Psychology class might.

  25. Note 25.

    I wasn’t actually telling you how to parent. What I said was that “as a parent, you can” do X and Y, because you have that right. That statement is nothing more than an affirmation of parental rights.

    “Parental rights”? Thank you Phil for affirming my “parental rights” but it simply reveals you still don’t get it. (Liberal paternalism knows no bounds.)

    I just can’t help but feel that your continued refusal to explain why one of the others is wrong is because you really don’t think that any of the rest of the lesson content is technically, factually, or pegagogically incorrect, you just don’t like the idea that any teacher could criticize any aspect of parenting or family life.

    No, I already told you twice (third strike you’re out), the piece labels functional social norms that foster family stability as dysfunctional behaviors. It’s blatant liberal propaganda foisted on children. Explaining this self-evident point step by step won’t help you see it more clearly. Other readers here have no trouble understanding it. Mona Charen felt no more explanation was necessary. If you cannot see this, then there is nothing more I can help you with.

    Ever wonder why so many people are homeschooling their kids? It’s because of liberals, who insist they know what is best for children, have taken over the schools. Poorer people cannot afford this choice so they are forced to keep their children in sub-performing schools by the same liberals who send their own children to elite schools.

    In other school systems, the liberal thinking has been pushed out leading to better discipline and higher grades. Believe what you want to believe Phil, but keep your ideas away from other people’s children.

  26. “Parental rights”? Thank you Phil for affirming my “parental rights” but it simply reveals you still don’t get it. (Liberal paternalism knows no bounds.)

    I think I’m understanding you better, Jacobse. I say something that is competely neutral, that no parent in his or her right mind would disagree with (that parents have rights), and you make fun of me because you don’t like me.

    Explaining this self-evident point step by step won’t help you see it more clearly.

    I just wanted one. I’m not even really sure that I disagree with you, when you get right down to it. When I criticize a piece of communication, I like to break it down and figure out why I’m criticizing it. You use the phrase “functional social norms that foster family stability” as if everyone is familiar with all of the same functional social norms, and I don’t think that’s accurate. If all of the norms on the list are functional, say so. I guess I’m asking for you to give an example so that I don’t put words into your mouth.

    The non-“lifeboat” example I keep mentioning is: Is it wrong for a teacher to tell boys it’s okay to cry? If you just answer yes or no, your readers will have a better idea of where you’re coming from.

    PS– For the record, I don’t dislike you. I think you’re kind of neat.

  27. Here is ANOTHER list of some of the unworkable rules found in dysfunctional families

    Boys and girls should always engage and compete together and girls should never use their gender as an excuse for not measuring up athletically.

    Boys should always be empathetic, sensitive to the needs of others, cooperating and never competing with others.

    Children always deserve respect and come first. No matter how a child behaves, society must align all the power power of the state with a child because adults always use their power against the well-being of children.

    There are no absolutes. Every person is different and every situation is different. What is right for one is always wrong for another.

    Never let anyone or any situation censor your thoughts, feelings or discussions. We are sexual, sensual beings all the time so human sexuality and personal feelings should be an integral part of, and brought up in every conversation and circumstance.

    Play is the work of youth. It is through play children learn and discover and never should chores or homework interfere in any way with the growth and development of a person’s creative aspect.

    In life, the authentic human must never allow the perceptions of others to color their unique expression of their individuality. Human beings are not property. No person, even sibling, has any responsibility over or for another human being.

    Children should always obey their teachers. (And it is the teacher’s job to see to it that everyone’s children make the RIGHT decisions — the decisions the teachers want. Then when the child reaches the magic podium of ‘graduate’ — 18 or 21– the Good Decision Fairy will plink the child on the skull with a magic charmed wand and make the student a full fledged adult who always makes Good Decisions.)

    Every child should make sure that teachers administrators and peers be initmately kept up to date with all aspects of their personal family life. (Otherwise parents will be free to live independant of teacher union constraints and negatively impact children with alternate ideologies.)

  28. Note 27.

    I just wanted one. I’m not even really sure that I disagree with you, when you get right down to it. When I criticize a piece of communication, I like to break it down and figure out why I’m criticizing it. You use the phrase “functional social norms that foster family stability” as if everyone is familiar with all of the same functional social norms, and I don’t think that’s accurate. If all of the norms on the list are functional, say so. I guess I’m asking for you to give an example so that I don’t put words into your mouth.

    No need to define the functional social norms here Phil. The author of the worksheet that Charen criticizes has already done so. Functional social norms are the subtext of the piece. Without them, the worksheet would make no sense. The author seeks to overthrow them. The difference between the author and myself is that she thinks the overthrow is for the better. You apparently agree with her given the attack on the universality (the “normality”) of the functional social norms you are launching above.

    I suggest you do a bit more background reading. I took a look at your new blog and noticed the same tendency there that you exhibit here, ie: you get swayed by the moral appeal of an argument without understanding the ideas behind the appeal, thus you don’t see what the practical consequences of those ideas once they are put into practice. Like most liberals you confuse intentions with results.

    I also suggest listening more carefully to your critics. They can teach you things. Let me offer the first criticism (from your blog): don’t allow a single subject and plural pronoun just to satisfy the the inclusive language crowd. Put another way, don’t subvert the rules of grammar to satisfy the demands of politically correctness. (We social conservative types call those who demand a change in language to fit a political ideology the “thought police.”)

    This is what is behind my comment upstream about liberal paternalism, particularly your invocation of “parental rights”. You probably won’t understand this point but I’ll give it a shot anyway: to have a non-parent tell a parent what his “parental rights” are, has the aroma of self-righteousness common to liberal paternalism that social conservatives smell a mile away. (Humility would be a good virtue to cultivate here, but it is hard to be humble and politically correct at the same time. That sense of superior moral virtue is hard to overcome.)

    So, if you really want to know how I think, read my pieces on the main site. (Don’t worry about putting “words in my mouth”. I’ll correct you if you do.) You should also read a piece by George Orwell called “Politics and the English Language” about the dangers of conforming language to fit a political ideology.

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