An Exception to Prove the Rule

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I am not prone to use the phrase in the title, but I can think of no better way to describe this situation....

I am glad I am not facing the prospect of raising children in Seattle. No only are the public schools dumbed down by political correctness, at least one private school is succeeding spectacularly in giving them a run for their money, according to an article at TCS Daily.

The teachers [at Hilltop Children's Center in Seattle] decided [the accidental] destruction [of a classroom Lego town] was an opportunity to explore "the inequities of private ownership." According to the teachers, "Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."

The children were allegedly incorporating into Legotown "their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys." These assumptions "mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society -- a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive."

They claimed as their role shaping the children's "social and political understandings of ownership and economic equity ... from a perspective of social justice." [bold added]
Ayn Rand once wrote a famous essay, "The Comprachicos", in which she drew an analogy between a barbaric practice, once described by Victor Hugo, of forcing children to grow up encased in containers that would cause them to grow up into circus freaks -- and modern educational practices like this one, that seek to mold the minds of children rather than train them to think for themselves. The teachers tease us with quotes from some of their best -- um -- products:
"A house is good because it is a community house."

"We should have equal houses. They should be standard sizes."

"It's important to have the same amount of power as other people over your building."
Would that these teachers had such a comparatively innocent motive as selling their pupils! At least they would realize the low commercial value of Marxist indoctrination!

It is easy enough to show that these teachers are at least attempting to destroy the young minds in their charge. Just consider a few of the implications of any of these arbitrary, self-contradictory notions at any length at all. If your power over "your own" building is no different than that of any passer-by, who are you to forbid the peeping tom or thief (Oops! Silly bourgeois me!) or escaped murderer from next door to move in with you? And what if you want or need a bigger house than the one you have now? Do you just take over space in another's house? Do you submit to some authority? If so, how the hell does he know what you need? What would he care, anyway? Maybe he "needs" all the houses and knows that everyone in them "needs" a one-way train ticket to a "work camp".

It may seem ironic that I, an advocate of the total privatization of education, would report such a glaring failure on the part of a private school, but it is not. No private industry is free of incompetence, shoddy quality, or even the occasional instance of fraud, and this example merely shows us what that would look like in education. The advantage of extending property rights to the field of education by privatizing it is the same as it is for any other industry: That we would not all be forced to place our children in the care of monsters like the faculty of this outfit. (Nor would its principal, upon hearing about this travesty, need fear firing these "teachers".) We could take our business -- and our children -- elsewhere.

Instead, as we see with public education every day, we have "community schools" which provide their students with the same meager -- but "standard" -- preparation for adult life, and over which everyone has "the same amount of power" (i.e., none) to change. Fleeing to private schools is not an option for most because taxation makes it harder for many parents to afford better alternatives and -- along with the fact of competition that charges nothing -- for other parties to provide them.

So by providing Marxist indoctrination to children, these child abusers are demonstrating to responsible parents everywhere the value of a private educational system. If you don't like what you are paying for, you can take your business elsewhere. That is real power, and that is what teachers like this want to take away from you and your children.

-- CAV


Amit Ghate said...

Hi Gus, nice post! You could also have titled it: Philosophy Trumps Economics. That is, whether or not certain parts of the economy are free or socialized, the values and ideas in the society will guide many of the institutions. But your closing point remains, only with freedom can those who disagree actual follow their ideas and eventually effect changes to the overall culture.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks! I thought it especially important to make the point when I noticed this happened at a private school.

Paul said...

The teachers of that school have written a detailed article, describing their philosophy and educational methodology at:

"Why We Banned Legos"

Acccording to the teachers, here is what the children naively believed about the concept of "ownership" before the Lego incident:

* If I buy it, I own it
* If I receive it as a gift, I own it
* If I make it myself, I own it
* If it has my name on it, I own it
* If I own it, I make the rules about it

But during the "re-education", they learned the following:

* Collectivity is a good thing
* Personal expression matters
* Shared power is a valued goal
* Moderation and equal access to resources are things to strive for

These principles were then concretized into the following rules for Lego play:

* All structures are public structures. Everyone can use all the Lego structures. But only the builder or people who have her or his permission are allowed to change a structure.

* Lego people can be saved only by a "team" of kids, not by individuals.

* All structures will be standard sizes.

As the teachers happily noted:

"With these three agreements -- which distilled months of social justice exploration into a few simple tenets of community use of resources -- we returned the Legos to their place of honor in the classroom."

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for digging that up, Paul. This is actually even worse than I thought it was!

So these kids are allowed to play their own unsupervised zero-sum game for awhile, which will necessarily include some good (e.g., ownership) premises and some bad ("public use" entitles one to pull). There is no productivity because this is not really capitalism and these are just kids, so it gets nasty.

And then the socialist teachers jump into the fray after the destruction, blaming all the ugliness not on the lack of supervision of the kids, but on whatever capitalistic premises they had. They come up with one inane game after the other, interlarding them with "instruction" on "social justice", and teasing the children with the prospect of at least getting to do something semi-fun again -- the Legos.

And these bastards have the nerve to wax sanctimonious about "power"! Good God!

It is sad to have to "hope" that the kids learned hypocrisy here, and figured out what their wardens wanted to hear so they'd get off their backs and bring the Legos back ASAP.