Education is a Double-Edged Sword
How To Address Learning

Education is a double-edged sword, which means we need to acquire education carefully or else.

In quest of education

In quest of education

One of the advantages of being old as the hills is that I have seen and learned a lot during my educational journey. In elementary school, I learned a great deal from Bert the Tuttle. In case the Russians attacked us by dropping an atomic bomb, Bert taught us how to duck and cover. This is a video that I saw years ago while I was at Collins Track Elementary School in Pennsauken, NJ.

Granted, watching a seventy-year-old video today seems both very dated and nearly useless. If an atomic bomb had been dropped near Pennsauken, NJ, covering my head while hiding under my desk wouldn’t have protected me very much. I would have been vaporized.

However, the duck and cover videos from decades ago have seen their day and been forgotten. No one younger than fifty has ever ducked and covered. Replacing that genre of protective videos are the lockdown drills. Since the mass shooting in 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado, many schools have adopted lockdown drills of varying types. Some of the drills use police officers, while others don’t.

In my previous essay, Aggressive Chimpanzees, I mentioned living in Dixon, IL, the hometown of Ronald Reagan. In 1978, I was elected to Dixon’s School Board. There were two issues I spent a lot of time addressing during my tenure.

The most time-consuming problem was dealing with the safety of the school buses. It came to a head when one of the buses broke down in the middle of a bridge in Dixon. Several dozen young elementary students had to be escorted safely across the bridge.

I asked a friend of mine who worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation as an inspector for his help. We went on an unofficial inspection of the entire bus fleet. That cursory safety inspection found that every one of the thirty-plus buses had significant problems, from bolted-shut emergency exit doors to bad tires.

The school board terminated the contract after I presented the data to them. That meant parents had to take their children to school for the rest of the year. The safety of the students was more important than the inconvenience to their parents. Nevertheless, I still heard from many distraught parents.

The other issue that created a great deal of ire was some parents wanting to ban books from the Dixon schools. Some irate parents wanted to burn a litany of books like Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. They didn’t like Twain’s use of the N-word regarding blacks, which meant, from their perspective, that Twain was racist. Obviously, they didn’t know much about Twain. While they were dissing Twain as a racist, Twain said that the Emancipation Proclamation “... not only set the black slaves free, but set the white man free also.” Twain’s assumption was that whites were educated enough to understand his statement.

Their lack of education proved George Santayana correct. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Today, we haven’t learned much from Santayana. School boards and our society, in general, are arguing about Critical Race Theory, CRT.

The groups rattle against teaching CRT in K-12 schools. Why? It would make white students feel uneasy. Hmmm. First, it isn’t being taught in elementary or high schools. Additionally, they are also rewriting American history for textbooks. This is one example.

Revised history books

Revised history books

So, racial mistreatment of slaves “developed patience” and “the truest freedom” for people in human bondage.

This is another ignorant claim from a textbook, “Although the slaves faced great difficulties, many found faith in Christ and learned to look to God for strength. By 1860, most slaveholders provided Christian instruction on their plantations.” That absurd statement is from the textbook “America: Land I Love.”

Many textbooks maintain that less than 2% of American families owned slaves. At a superficial level, it is true. However, that statistic is valid only in that less than two percent of Americans in the North and South had slaves. If you compared the number of slave owners in the South, Southern slaveowners represented 20% of the Confederacy.

Vice President Alexander Stephens of the Confederacy said that “its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported that the three most popular and used curriculums in Florida are Abeka, Bob Jones University Press (BJU), and Accelerated Christian Education (ACE).

An Abeka textbook stated “evangelizing black Americans” meant that “the slave who knew Christ had more freedom than a free person who did not know the Savior.”

Betsy DeVos was the U.S. Secretary of Education under Donald the Dumb. DeVos’ purpose was to “advance God’s kingdom” educationally. She wanted to provide families with vouchers to enroll their children in private schools, primarily Christian schools.

Interestingly, education is a double-edged sword. Either we will learn the mistakes of the past and change our behavior, or we will rewrite history. We need to be honest and remember Santayana’s warning. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Rewriting history is not learning; instead, it repeats past mistakes like racism.

The video is John Oliver discussing CRT.