Cutting the Cultural Meat Out of American Education

I wonder how Providence Journal columnist Julia Steiny would feel about the observation that she’s moving ever closer to an Anchor Rising point of view. In her column, last week, she drew from her summer reading list to suggest that political correctness is gutting the aspects of American education that made for good, devoted citizens:

[E.D. Hirsch Jr.] observes that in the 1980s, people began to draw away from our commonality and into constituencies — gender, race, religious and national origins. While culturally important, Hirsch calls the era of ROOTS the “neo-tribalism,” that eventually grew into the shrill partisanship now dominating modern public discourse. Cynicism grew like mold around the pie-in-the-sky ideal of the common good. …
By scrubbing the curriculum of anything that does not meet political correctness, we fail to teach our children about the democratic faith. And by doing so, we invite them to take our freedom and heritage for granted. American children need to understand that cultivating the common good allows each of us to thrive as a unique, even eccentric individual.

Using Thanksgiving lessons as an example, Steiny describes how it ceased to be acceptable to certain factions for schools to teach a sunny version of the story of the pilgrims and native Americans to young children and add in the darker side later. Meanwhile, parents didn’t want their holidays ruined by “an Indian-oppression story.” Given the insinuation of this dynamic across the curriculum, public schools have just become employment-training facilities.
Perhaps after another year of columns, Steiny will move toward agreement with many of us on the right that she’s currently providing the sunny version of the politicization of our schools. It’s not that political ideals have been scrubbed from public education, but that the ones being taught are often antithetical to the founding principles and culture of the United States.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
13 years ago

“[E.D. Hirsch Jr.] observes that in the 1980s, people began to draw away from our commonality and into constituencies”
I am wondering if this is another case of people believing that history began with their birth? I don’t see anything unusual in the 1980’s.
My father moved here from the South earlier than that. Although accustomed to the color line, he was amazed by the subdivisions of white people, “Italo-American Clubs”, “New Hibernians”, etc. With the suburbanization of America, “Irish” and “Italian” neighborhoods seem to have disappeared.
I think it is well to remember that America is the “melting pot” which never boiled.
Not having lived a few hundred years, I am not sure that “political correctness” is new, or just a new name for an old phenomenon.
It does seem peculiar in its willingness to show disdain for our heritage. It also seems to me that this has always been an integral part of “class struggle” which disdains the accomplishments of the “aristocrat” and elevates achievements of “the worker”. Although seldom heard anymore, our “founding fathers” became “Dead White Males”. “Pilgrims” and other early settlers became “Indian Oppressors”. Slavery has been dead for 150 years, after hundreds of thousands of whites gave their lives in a war to end black servitude. Still, Brown University revels in re-discovering it. I believe the French refer to this as “nostalgie pour la boue”, although this is usually used to describe the desire of the “upper classes” to imitate the fashions and manners of the “lower classes”.
Since thanksgiving is mentioned in this article, why is it never explained how Squantum could walk out of the woods and speak English to the Pilgrims? Is it an embarrassment that the “noble savage” had spent 8 years at the Court of St. James?

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