Sunday, July 25, 2010

Religion Across The Curriculum

Somewhere around 1980, I worked on a psych unit that had the TV going pretty much steadily from 7AM - 11PM. Patients could watch what they liked - there weren't that many choices - and staff would adjudicate disputes. So someone was watching 700 Club or something similar, where a very exciteable man was describing the new school curriculum they were going to use somewhere. It had "Jesus Across The Curriculum." They were going to work Jesus into the history lessons, the math lessons, the English lessons. A coworker, who had gone through 13 years of private Catholic school, groaned. "I got so sick of that. You couldn't just learn about anything for itself. It always had to have Jesus pulled in somehow."

I had mixed feelings. Still do. We had only one child then, a toddler, but eventually my sons went to varying amounts of public vs Christian schools. In simplest form, there are ways in which Christian viewpoint fits naturally into teaching, some ways it doesn't. Additionally, there is an overall ethic of study which includes Christian virtues. But some places, it's just forced. And if you have ever seen some of these curricula, you would know that it not only theoretically could be shoved in inappropriately, it has been.

Fast forward to 1996. When my oldest son was looking at colleges, one of the ones he wanted to visit was Sarah Lawrence. He liked their method of instruction, the seminar-conference. It does sound attractive for some types of student. So. We stop off in Bronxville on our last stop before home on our college-visiting trip. Jonathan is in being interviewed, and I am sitting in a comfortable waiting area reading the course catalogue. In the introduction, I read that every course taught at the school is required to address the issues of race, gender, class, and a few other things. Sweet Jesus, don't let my son like this school, I thought.

You could call it Marxism Across the Curriculum, but that would be extreme, and not entirely precise. You could call it Liberalism Across the Curriculum, but that would be too mild. No matter. It is, in much the same way as a Christian school, the religion of the tribe injected into every part of the teaching, whether it fits naturally or is forced.

SLC is a private school, they can do whatever they want and aren't answerable to me or anyone else about it, other than their own community. I just want to make clear exactly what is happening. When Codevilla refers to the Ruling Class being instructed in highly similar viewpoints from Boston to San Diego, he is referring to this. In every era the young elite are instructed into the norms they are expected to hold when they later come to rule. This isn't necessarily evil, nor is this static in any society. But it is usually suffused with the religion of the elite, or what attitude they should have to the religion of the nation.

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