Why Don’t Schools Teach Children Morality and Empathy? | The Atlantic

The pressures of national academic standards have pushed character education out of the classroom.

Source: Why Don’t Schools Teach Children Morality and Empathy? – The Atlantic

“By omission, are U.S. schools teaching their students that character, morality, and ethics aren’t important in becoming productive, successful citizens?”

Most of my reader would at once answer some variation on “sadly, yes” – and we can see many of the bitter fruits of this in our society – but the fact that the question is even being asked is significant. You know the situation is bad when a mainstream, Left-leaning journal like The Atlantic is wondering whether we’re doing a poor job of teaching character, ethics, and morality to our students!

Granted, that is a job that is best done by parents and church, not schools. But like many other once-common life skills (I’m thinking of things like gardening, the use of simple tools, and home economics), ethics, morality, and character are things that many contemporary parents are ill-equipped to teach their sons and daughters, because they’re not too well-versed in them, themselves.

Despite the old tongue-in-cheek adage that “those who can’t do, teach,” you can’t teach what you don’t know, yourself.

What is interesting (though not surprising) to me is that students are hungry for such instruction, or at least discussion and guided exploration:

“‘Do you think you should discuss morality and ethics more often in school?’ I asked the class. The vast majority of heads nodded in agreement. Engaging in this type of discourse, it seemed, was a mostly foreign concept for the kids… As my students seemed to crave more meaningful discussions and instruction relating to character, morality, and ethics, it struck me how invisible these issues have become in many schools.”

This is indicative of an abject failure in our educational system. In an earlier and wiser age, the formation of students into not only good citizens, but good persons, was a primary – perhaps the primary – function of schooling. There may not have been a formal class called “ethics,” but moral lesson permeated the academic ones.

Duty to God and country, respect for duly-constituted authority, and compassion towards others were part of the curriculum: from the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord’s Prayer in the morning, through “reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmatic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick,” throughout the day. Stories (and poems, which tend to be especially memorable) selected for reading, reciting, and expostulating upon in various forms invariably carried a moral message.

That was already starting to go away by the time I got into school, in the early 1970s, and the trend has only accelerated.

Unfortunately, some of what it has been replaced by has been of questionable merit – the starkly utilitarian teaching-to-the-test of “No Child Left Behind,” and its successor, “Common Core” (as the linked essay describes) – or even frankly morally vicious, as in the moral relativism and intentional sidelining of traditional morality that has become the dominant ethos in the contemporary educational establishment over the last four or five decades.

We didn’t get where we are now overnight, and we won’t get back to a place of greater sanity overnight, either; but if reflections like the linked essay can be published in “mainstream” media outlets like The Atlantic, that at least gives some grounds for hope that pendulum may be starting, however slowly, to swing back. God grant it! It needs to.

QOTD: Turley on tradition, moral obligation, and harmony

While traditional societies believe that every person born into the world is born into a world of divine obligation, where we’re morally obliged to conform our lives into a harmonious relationship with the divine meaning and purpose of the world around us, globalistic secular societies reduce the human person to a sovereign individual who has no moral obligations apart from that which he or she chooses for his or herself.”

– Dr. Steve Turley

Secular, globalist, and Left-wing partisans would not see that as a reduction, of course; they see it as an elevation: the individual human being enjoys god-like sovereignty, and the ability to re-make the world around him or her (or “they,” or “xe,” or whatever…) in his/her/its own image. But they are wrong. The world is as it is, not as any of us would have it be, be we traditional or “progressive.”

The thing is, though, reality favors the traditional. It’s pesky, that way! If you jump off a roof, gravity kicks in, and you’ll likely break your leg (or worse). Men are better at some things and worse at others; and vice versa for women: traditional gender roles are not, contra the progressives, entirely cultural constructs; and the cultural norms that do exist are rooted in biological reality. Birds of a feather really do flock together. And no matter how badly you want to be a different “gender,” you are what your genes make you: you can fight them, but you can’t change them.

And you know all those dratted moral standards that so interfere with our freedom, from the Ten Commandments, to the fable of the ant and the grasshopper (and its analogs in other cultures), to the universal human norm that one should be very cautious about trusting those who aren’t part of one’s “tribe,” and especially those who have a known history of causing trouble?

Yeah, those: they’re there to keep you safe and secure, doing what needs to be done to in order (emphasis on “order,” since lack of order leads to chaos and destruction) to survive and thrive within a relatively close-knit and homogeneous community… which is the only kind you can be sure has your best interests at heart. In other words, moral standards don’t exist to make your life difficult; quite the contrary: they exist for your own good. Continue reading “QOTD: Turley on tradition, moral obligation, and harmony”

The Medical and Legal Establishment Has Got It Wrong On Alfie Evans | Musings of an Old Curmudgeon

Image result for alfie evans

Of all the worldwide comment on the Alfie Evans case, the core truth was best encapsulated by a headline in the Wall Street Journal: “Alfie Evans and the State. A medical debate that’s gone global is not about the money. It’s about power.”

Source: Musings of an Old Curmudgeon: The Medical and Legal Establishment Has Got It Wrong On Alfie Evans

Most readers are probably at least somewhat familiar with the case of Alfie Evans, a 23-month-old boy from Liverpool with a still-undiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder (a fact which is itself concerning), who died in Alder Hey Hospital in Britain after a British court ordered life support removed (technically, they ruled that doctors could order the removal of life support, which they did).

This, despite his parents’ valiant fight to take him to Italy for further treatment, which resulted in Alfie being granted Italian citizenship, the Pope chartering a state-of-the-art air ambulance to fly him there, and the Italian government and even military standing by to serve in a support role.

Despite international outcry and support for Alfie and his parents, the hospital not only took him off the respirator – after which he continue to surprise everyone by living four more days – but for even denied him sustenance and hydration, and went so far as to station a police cordon outside the hospital so that he could not be removed.

The argument was that airlifting him to Italy – where he would, as is generally accepted, have had no more hope of recovery than in Britain – would not be “in the child’s best interest.” Apparently starving and dehydrating him was.

I was a relative latecomer to this saga, but after learning about it, the incident has touched me deeply. I found the linked response to be particularly on-target:

“[At] every stage of this power struggle, the motive invoked was Alfie’s ‘best interests.’

“In the event, Alfie’s best interests turned out to consist of removing his ventilation, depriving him of nutrition for more than 24 hours, giving him minimal hydration and refusing, with the support of the courts, to release him from the hospital where this regime was being imposed on him. Although judicial permission had been given, in principle though not in practice, for his parents to take him home, this was deferred due to fears they might abscond with him to Rome and secure him humane treatment…

“Nobody expected a miracle cure at the Bambino Gesù (though its world-class clinicians might at least have succeeded in diagnosing Alfie’s illness, in the interests of medical research). What was expected was that Alfie could have ended his days among people who did not automatically regard his best interests as synonymous with death. His palliative care would have been of a high order and, as a moral principle, he would not have been starved or dehydrated to death – the point at which gently allowing a hopeless case to slip away crosses the red line to become euthanasia…

“And what about his parents? In that environment they could have spent invaluable time with their son, become reconciled to the inevitability of his death, in the consoling knowledge that every human endeavour had been exhausted in the effort to save him. That experience would have brought them – though the over-used term may jar – ‘closure.’

“Why was that not allowed to happen? The air ambulance ordered by the Pope was state-of-the-art, the medical personnel highly qualified, even the Italian military were involved and the danger of harm to Alfie in transit minimal; and, if he had died naturally, it would have been no worse than suffocating at Alder Hey. At least his parents would have done their best for him.

“But family and parental rights are being marginalized in Britain. It was spelled out from the judicial bench that parental rights took second place to the child’s best interests, a subjective term that turned out to be a euphemism for killing him… Here, however, we had two loving parents, in full agreement, trying to take their child abroad with every medical facility both in transit and at their destination, but prevented by the state.

“That is the grim reality: Alfie Evans [was] a prisoner of the State.”

It was and is a tragedy. Not Great Britain’s finest hour!

The Just Third Way: I. A Question of Human Dignity

Modern society, if there are any doubts, is in serious trouble. Over the last two centuries, the institutions of civil, religious, and domestic society — State, Church, and Family — have been revised, reformed, and reinvented to the point that these chief props of human dignity have become, to all intents and purposes, meaningless.

Source: The Just Third Way: I. A Question of Human Dignity

“Nevertheless, the real issue is not encroaching State power, but human dignity: the sovereignty of the human person under God. Human beings, as Aristotle put it, are ‘political animals.’ Institutions, up to and including the State itself, were made by people, for people. This is so that people can meet their own wants and needs (primarily acquiring and developing virtue, ‘humanness’) by their own efforts within a justly organized society, ‘the pólis’ — hence ‘political.'”

We forget this proper order – that the State (whether a representative Constitutional Republic or a Monarchy) exists to serve the best interests of the People as a whole, not the other way ’round, and that the proper goal of people is to become more fully human, not merely to acquire wealth, at whatever cost to our humanness – at our peril.

And then there is this:

The common good is not, however, the aggregate of individual goods. It is the vast network of institutions within which individual human beings as political animals realize their individual goods, primarily the acquisition and development of virtue — ‘human-ness’ — a seemingly subtle but important difference.

Unfortunately, misunderstanding of human nature and essential human dignity has resulted in social justice and socialism being confused in both Church and State. This has changed Church and State from the chief props of human dignity outside of the Family, to the principal obstacles to virtuous human development.

Religion — ‘Church’ — has been reoriented and updated to focus almost exclusively on people’s material wants and needs. At the same time, politics — “the State” — has changed from overseeing institutions that make it possible for people to meet their own needs through their own efforts, to meeting them directly, after those in power decide what wants and needs are legitimate [emphasis added].

Follow the link for a much fuller and more detailed discussion of these issues.

Live and Let Die – Maccabee Society

 

What does the decision of Charlie Gard say about society today? Parents should have every right to save their children. How did this become negotiable?

Source: Live and Let Die – Maccabee Society

I have not heretofore chosen to say much about the Charlie Gard situation, in which the parents of a child with a rare and typically-fatal disease were prevented by the authorities in the British health system from seeking experimental medical assistance which – though without guarantees – might have extended, or even saved, his life, if tried soon enough.

They prevented this even though the family had received more than ample donations to ensure that there would be no cost to the state, and even though the child, Charlie, had been granted permanent resident status here in the States, where doctors waited to do what they could for him.

And at the end, they even prevented the parents from taking him home to die – despite the fact that their argument had been, originally, that he deserved to “die with dignity.”

A British professor of law and legal ethics even went so far as to argue, in an op-ed piece in The Guardian (UK), that “children do not belong to their parents,” asserting that parents have no rights with respect to their children (!!!), only duties – “the principal duty being to act in their children’s best interests.”

Well, even if one buys the whole “no rights” argument – which I emphatically do not – the fact is that Charlie’s parents were attempting to do precisely that: since he was an infant, and not able to speak for himself, they were attempting to give him the best possible fighting chance for survival. In this they were actively, emphatically, and repeatedly hamstrung and blocked by the authorities.

Stemming from these specific circumstances of Charlie Gard, this Maccabee Society article points out the wider implications of this incident, and the precedent it has set. I found this an especially cogent warning:

“The cause for alarm behind the death of Charlie Gard lies in the fact that the court actively stopped the parents from seeking treatment. This marks a shift in attitude from one of permitting a parent to kill his or her child to one that orders the parent to kill the child. This obviously sets a dangerous precedent: if the state does not think it is worth it to save a life, even if it does not bear the cost, it can deny treatment.

“This bodes nothing less than death for so many others, especially the majority who do not have the moral and financial support that Charlie’s parents had.”

It is very far down the “slippery slope” to go from “you must not kill your child” (traditional viewpoint / classical Christian morality) to “okay, you can allow your child to die (‘death with dignity’) / kill your child (abortion) if that’s what you think is best,” to “you must allow your child to die, and you may not seek treatment to prolong his life!”

What are we becoming? May God help us.