By Ed Konecnik
The tragic school shootings and the growing number of mindless acts of mayhem have stirred emotions and provoked debates about the root causes of these events. The most contentious aspects of the debates are the accessibility and the kinds of weapons used.
What is never mentioned or discussed are the principles and policies of the educational establishment that nurture an antipathy to making moral judgments and foster a mindset of inflated opinions and moral relativism. Students are taught that all lifestyles are equal even if they disagree with them and they should not discriminate between them. In other words “Do your own thing” and “Don’t judge me”.
Incorporated into the school curriculum is the dogma that students should be constantly praised how good they are regardless of whether their ideas or actions are praiseworthy or not. Awards for Excellence in competitive activities have been replaced by Certificates of Participation. This overabundance of juvenile “self-love” implants in the students an unjustifiable high opinion of themselves. They tend to become aggressive and even violent when confronted with criticism, disapproval or teasing.
There is a correlation of the escalation of school violence with the rise of “progressive” theories of education. Progressive education de-emphasizes learning a body of pre-established facts and information and replaces that with a child-centered approach that fosters a child’s self-expression and spontaneous impulses.
This theory holds that children do not learn by thinking but by feeling and doing. Teachers should not be authoritarian but facilitators and always praise students regardless whether they are right or wrong. As a result, students are dissuaded from making moral distinctions, fed a daily diet of an “I’m OK, you’re OK” philosophy, denied knowledge, and left with nothing but their “feelings” and “emotions.” Why are we surprised when they respond with acts of violence when things don’t go their way?
Guns and ignorance are a lethal combination. If we want to stop school violence and turn our schools into serious places of learning, we should restore a curriculum that emphasizes reason over emotions, knowledge over feelings, moral judgment over moral agnosticism and self-control over self-expression.