“I was educated once; it took me years to get over it.” Mark Twain
Back in 1970 Ayn Rand wrote an article that I kept with me for all these years. In fact it was that article that convinced us to send our children to Montessori nursery schools, and we can thank her for having that influence on our lives, benefitting our children enormously.
The article was published in “The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution”. It was entitled “The Comprachicos”, which was a borrowed term from Victor Hugo’s novel “The Man Who Laughs”. The background to it is very disturbing, recounting the “child buyers” (literal translation) of the 16C to 18C who bought children for the purpose of disfiguring them for the amusement of royalty in the carnival shows of freaks in European courts.
The analogy was to “Progressive” educational methods that do the same to a child’s intellectual and psychological development. The article goes on in a very scholarly and informative manner about child development, and well worth reading for anyone concerned about early child development and education, especially new parents.
It is extremely relevant to today; when you read it, be aware that the terminology may seem current, but this article was written in 1970. While I have enjoyed Ayn Rand’s novels, I find her articles far more informative and inspiring, and this one is really top shelf. I love children more than anything (except my wife of course – just in case she actually reads my blog!); they possess that wondrous spirit of the magical question “why”, as everything is about finding answers because they know nothing, but want to know everything; no filters please, no dogma, no agenda, just existence. What a beautiful human spirit to possess!
Unfortunately that precious human quality of early development is the least appreciated in modern public educational systems. In our schools today, children are not to be educated, but indoctrinated. This move toward political agenda’s is manifested so perversely in the curriculum recently adopted by California for K-12 kids that would teach them such things like capitalism is bad because it is an economic system that provided advantages for Jewish and Irish immigrants at the expense of Native Americans, and other such racial nonsense.
It ignores of course the fact that the reasons for the main Irish immigration, representing half of all immigration from 1840 to 1860, was due to religious persecution, political oppression, and near starvation. For Jews, the major immigration was late 19C and early 20C, the primary cause being religious persecution with horrible pogroms in Eastern Europe, and in post WWII as refugees from the Holocaust and war torn Europe, and some later in 1970-80 due to similar issues in the USSR. That these immigrations were caused by the prospects of the advantages of capitalism is such a twisted racial thesis that should be dismissed as a disgusting product of truly twisted minds.
This new California curriculum has as a core mandate what is referred to as the “Four I’s of Oppression”, i.e. ideological, institutional, interpersonal and internalized. Its stated goal is to “…build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance.” What does that even mean? Such an obvious politicized agenda adopted at the expense of vital early child development is perverse to a benevolent and productive educational experience parents should expect in order that their children are provided the necessary tools to succeed in life. Sorry Mark Twain, but this kind of flagrant indoctrination of children may very well be too much for them to get over. Not only will it deprive them of a sound education, it will mentally debilitate their common sense and ability to reason through the many issues that will arise in their lives.
Aristotle tells us that the purpose of education is to develop reasoning. The new California curriculum is loaded with terms so apparently contrived as to be inexplicable, but obviously intent on blatant indoctrination, sentencing children to an even worse educational experience than California provided previously. Take for instance the fact that the average fourth grader’s reading level is below first grade. Current educational philosophy is to find emotionally safe places free from the curse of logic, an instrument of oppression. Which philosophy would you want the people educating your children to embrace? Common sense tells us why we are where we are, but it takes fear to prevent us from doing something about it, fear that to object will expose us to the thought police and make us a target for ridicule as oppressors, racists, fascists, or whatever verbal weapon of identity politics is the flavor of the month, and eventually we would be “canceled”.
Consider this one passage of Rand’s article that really informs us of the insidious nature of educational thought like California’s new curriculum: “But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler than their predecessors: they do not hide, they practice their trade in the open; they do not buy children, the children are delivered to them; they do not use sulphur or iron, they achieve their goal without ever laying a finger on their little victims.”
Remember again that this article was written fifty years ago, but how prescient and applicable to our current dilemma. California’s new curriculum is more obviously twisted that earlier versions with similar intent, but they too had similar results than what the new will undoubtedly produce. Consider as an example a well-known public figure in Congress, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When questioned about how, given the egregious level of debt the US faces, she intends to fund the many social programs she advocates, she proposes the printing press as an unlimited source of wealth. While it only takes common sense and a modicum of historical awareness of where that would lead us, this product of a Boston College education lacks the common sense to understand you can’t spend from an empty pocket. By the way, she received a degree in economics, at a cost of $75K/year; this does not speak well of Boston College’s educational ability to develop reasoning in their students.
We find ourselves in such a state of affairs that our governments expect us to accept tribal collectivism rather than developing reasoning and a sense of self awareness in our children. This is a cruelty so perverse as to subject children to indoctrination rather than education. It is presented as a “progressive” agenda by a political class that oddly enough then complains that they are unable to understand why more and more citizens are opting out of public education in favor of private or home schooling, demonizing them as ignorant or narrow minded. It is their miseducation that creates such an elitist world view, denying any support for such options like vouchers and charter schools; you can always count on compulsion as their ultimate resort.
Their behavior reminds me of George Orwell’s adage about such people: “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”