search icon
Live chat

Connor Boyack: How to Empower Our Kids Against Marxist Thinking

“Any parent who doesn’t recognize that they’re on a battlefield, that their children are ground zero in this effort, is going to lose…Collectivists are trying to co-opt and change the minds of our children,” says Connor Boyack.

He’s the author of the Tuttle Twins children’s books, which have sold over 4 million copies. He recently released “America’s History,” a new Tuttle Twins story-based textbook. At a time when revisionist history runs rampant, it offers an honest look at American history.

“Give our kid a shield and a sword before we send them out into the intellectual battlefield. Give them a foundation of these ideas [so] that when they’re listening to their teacher or reading a textbook or looking at TikTok…they can evaluate those ideas, rather than just absorb them like a sponge,” Boyack says.

Subscribe to the American Thought Leaders newsletter so you never miss an episode.    

* Click the “Save” button below the video to access it later on “My List“.

 

Jan Jekielek:

Connor Boyack, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Connor Boyack:

Thank you for having me.

Mr. Jekielek:

You’ve got a new book. It’s actually a textbook.

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

And I’ve been doing some serious learning about all sorts of aspects of American history that I frankly just didn’t know much about.

Mr. Boyack:

As a Canadian, right?

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, yes, as a Canadian. Exactly. But so just tell me a little bit about the genesis of this project.

Mr. Boyack:

So a lot of people know that we’ve been doing the Tuttle Twins books for a number of years, eight years now. We’ve sold over 4 million. They’re spreading really well. But our existing books focus on ideas. They’re teaching kids the ideas of freedom, entrepreneurship, money, personal responsibility, the Golden Rule, and so forth. We hadn’t really focused on history itself.

And so a couple years ago, about two and a half years ago, I bought a whole bunch of textbooks that are being used in schools across the country to teach kids what they call social studies. But how are these books talking about the Constitution, about the Revolution, and the Declaration of Independence? So I read all these books, I’m flipping through them, and they all did a fantastic job at teaching what I call the superficial history. Who said what and when, on which date did this battle happen and who won, and all the names and dates and facts that kids are forced to memorize, regurgitate on a test, and then off they go.

What the books all failed at in my estimation was focusing on the ideas of American history, the philosophy, the values and why did these people do what they did? At best these books said, “They were upset about no taxation without representation,” and while true, that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, yes, so I noticed that every chapter you have has this section, Let’s Talk About It, which is basically saying, “Okay, so what are the ideas here?” Very deliberate.

Mr. Boyack:

It is deliberate because I had in the back of my mind, as we started working on this project, this quote we’ve all heard before, “Those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.” The problem is none of us have really been teaching kids to learn from the past. So why should a kid in 2022 care about what happened in 17 whatever? And we don’t really answer that question for kids. These books fail to kind of give a meaningful context for why kids should learn from the past and how they can do it. So, yes, at the end of all of our chapters, we pause to say, “Okay, what did we learn? What’s the idea? And then what does it look like to apply that to our modern world?”

Mr. Jekielek:

One of the big criticisms of contemporary education is that people are teaching children, the teachers are teaching children what to think, not how to think. But when you describe this, I’m almost wondering, are you not also telling people what they’re supposed to think about the past in these sections?

Mr. Boyack:

That’s a fun question. I would answer no in the sense that we’re teaching what happened. Certainly this is a history book. We have to explain what happened. But we’re trying to give a kind of language through which kids can understand what happened. The problem is existing books don’t give context. So it’s reading a foreign language. It’s like we’re giving these kids Japanese books or whatever, and forcing them to learn the language of history. 

By talking about how it relates to our world today, what we’re trying to do is help them understand the language of history, how to discuss historical events, and how to apply it to their world today and really spark questions. So our Let’s Talk About It sections at the end of every chapter are more designed to get kids talking to their parents or teachers about what happened, not by us saying, “Here’s a conclusive interpretation of what happened in the past and what it means for you.” But instead to say, “We think this relates to this modern event. What do you think about it? Let’s talk about and evaluate this.”

I’ll answer your question in this additional way. I was bullied a lot when I was a kid. I was a late bloomer so I was very short in high school. I was picked on, I was thrown in trash cans. It was a very unpleasant experience. There are two ways I think that I can approach and frame my own past. One is to say, “I’m a victim. Other people were unfair. I deserve reparations. Every bad thing in my life is because I was bullied when I was a kid. How dare the world? Woe is me. I’m a victim.” 

I’ve chosen to take a second route by looking at my past and that is to frame it in a way to say, “Maybe those kids who bullied me were being abused at home and they didn’t know how to handle that. Maybe I can have compassion for the underdog today because I know what it’s been like to be an underdog. Maybe I can be empowered to be kinder and help others because I know what it’s like.”

So I can frame my past to have a better future. And when we talk about the 1619 Project and Critical Race  Theory and these other things that are trying to shame Americans about their own past and make us feel guilty and bad about ourselves, I think that’s the wrong way to look at history. I think we need to frame history in a way not to say, “Here’s what happened. And here’s what to think about it.” But instead to say, “Here’s the history with all of its warts and bumps and bruises. How can we look at what happened in the past to better empower you and make a better world today?” And that’s what we’re trying to do is have history be a narrative that serves these kids to say, “What does it mean for you today? And what can we draw from the past that will help us make a better future?”

Mr. Jekielek:

Before we continue, I just have a message from one of our sponsors.

For all of you with retirement savings accounts, America’s federal debt is now at $30 trillion. And our policies during this pandemic are causing inflation to soar to multi-decade highs. A lot of folks are rightly worried about what this will mean for the retirement savings. You can protect your life savings with the only thing that has always held value, physical gold and silver. To get started you can call Goldco at (855) 973-0470 for a free wealth protection kit. They have an A plus rating with the Better Business Bureau. They guarantee highest price buybacks, and they always offer free shipping. Ask how you can even get $10,000 or more in free silver. Don’t wait, call (855) 973-0470. Now that’s (855) 973-0470.

And what would be an example of a dark aspect of American history that you tackle in the book that you try to basically give it as it was and not-

Mr. Boyack:

Sure. Yeah, I’d say there’s two. Certainly how the founders dealt with the Native Americans who were here and how colonization impacted some of the natives. That’s one. Slavery is the second. Obviously it’s the easiest. And as I mentioned a moment ago with like the 1619 Project and others, there are people who bring up that part of the past to make us feel horrible, to say there should be reparations, to talk about white supremacy and capital-

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, they say that it’s the defining-

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

-feature and structure of America, right?

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

So that’s how they frame it.

Mr. Boyack:

Again, because they’re doing that, I believe, because they’re fundamentally Marxist, the people who are doing this. What they’re doing by saying that is they’re wanting to take America in a different direction. Because again, history is all about framing something for a narrative that designs your present and your future. These individuals who are saying things like this, 1619 Project, many of these people are Marxist. They want to undermine the classical liberal heritage of America to take us in a more Socialist, Marxist, direction. 

How best can you do that? It’s by trying to cut at the knees the founding fathers and the ideas that they stood for by trying to make people disassociate themselves with Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and others, and say, “Oh, icky, they were slave owners. How evil they were.” And by disassociating ourselves from those individuals, we are also disregarding the ideas that they stood for. It becomes a very problematic situation, precisely because these people are creating this narrative to take our future in a different direction that I disagree with.

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, and there’s this idea of sort of separating society from the culture in which it was steeped in. That’s like every communist revolution basically did this, attempted to do it, or did it successfully.

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

That’s what strikes me as you’re speaking here.

Mr. Boyack:

Well, as we had to figure this out for the book, how do you talk to kids about these ideas? How do you talk to an eight year old about slavery? How do you talk about the nuance that’s needed? Do you just say this was evil and everyone who did it was evil? Or do you recognize it for what it was at the time? Can we look at someone like Thomas Jefferson, who had a very complicated situation himself with slavery, inherited a lot of slaves, kept a lot of slaves. And yet he himself was ahead of his time because he was privately writing and thinking about this, “moral evil,” he called it, trying to figure out how to extricate himself and the society of which he was a part from this problem. And so he, like many others of the time, grew up in this system, it was their culture, but we can’t look at it through a lens of our modern day educated society and judge them differently.

We can call it evil on its face, but we can at least afford them a measure of grace to recognize that when they’re brought up in a system like that, and when there’s all these economic and cultural and religious and other pressures kind of keeping this type of environment, it’s very hard for someone to act differently when that’s all they’ve known. And so in the book, we bring up slavery, to your earlier question, tackling this issue, we bring it up, we approach it in a way to say, “Let’s recognize that these people thought and live differently from us. And so let’s try and look at it through their life and their worldview rather than just punish them and judge them with our modern sophisticated understanding, because by trying to understand them more, then we can learn from them.”

If we just say, “Ah, they had slaves. They’re all evil, ignorant rubes, and white supremacists.” We can’t learn anything from them. We’re alienating ourselves, not only from them as individuals, but from the ideas that they believe were good. And so we’re trying to have that nuance to say, “They made some mistakes. There were some horrible things that happened to be sure, but also there was some good as well. And let’s build upon that.”

Mr. Jekielek:

In the book you talk about this question of, for example, just prior to 1776, obviously there was a huge challenge to authority that was fomenting.

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

People were very unhappy, no taxation without representation, and a lot more. And people took it upon themselves to stand up against the crown, sort of standing up to authority. Frankly, I found myself thinking, looking back at a number of different scenarios, but also when you look at the BLM protests and some of which were riots and so forth, certainly some of the people that were involved were thinking to themselves.

Mr. Boyack:

Sure.

Mr. Jekielek:

“There’s something bad that’s happening in society. We believe it. We need to stand up.” And so you have a very interesting way of tackling that.

Mr. Boyack:

It is a challenge. I will say, it’s a challenge to tackle these complex and controversial current events and modern situations in a way that we don’t want to be pushy for kids. We don’t want to scare them. We’re not trying to say all these horrible things are happening. Again, ours is an effort to say, “What can we learn from all of this and be better people and try and live a better society?” This one was an interesting lesson because here you have many of the founding fathers and their compatriots of the time being part of what was called the Minutemen Militia, being ready at a moment’s notice to go fight. Well, who were they fighting? They were fighting their own government. There was no separate government. They had these local councils and things that they were forming. But they were all Englishmen. They were still part of this government. And the British Redcoats were not this occupying military force from another country. It was basically their own military or national guard who were there.

And so when they came to Lexington and Concord, the Shot Heard around the World, here’s this clash between the locals and their own government. And the government was there to take the supplies, to try and deter some of the civil unrest from Boston that had been happening. Nevertheless, these people had a decision for themselves and that is, “The conflict is coming. These individuals are here. Are we going to fight them? Or are we just going to submit and stand for nothing?” I think of COVID. Here’s a case where people were going against their own conscience and doing what they were told, shutting down their businesses, not worshiping at church, wearing a mask, getting the jab, and so forth. Can’t say the V word, because then we get de-platformed or whatever now.

But here’s these people who were submitting to all of these things that they believe is wrong, many people thought that these things were wrong. And they have this question to ask for themselves. “Do I go along with what I’m being told? Do I trust authority and believe that what they’re telling me is true? Or do I figure things out for myself and then act based on what I know?” 

So suddenly what happened in 1775, 150 years later has relevance for us if we look at that story through a lens of saying, “What can we learn from the past to apply it today?” Suddenly the Minutemen in Lexington and Concord, it wasn’t just about this isolated battle that has no relevance to our modern world. Instead we’re placing ourselves in their shoes to say, “What might I have done? And then once I think through that, what might I do today? And how does that impact the decisions that I’m going to make about when I submit to authority, when I trust authority, or if I’m going to act based on my conscience or what I think is right?”

So those are the things we’re trying to get at in the book,  not just, “Let’s review history and learn what happened.” It’s more like, ‘We’ve got a lot of stuff going on today and we’ve got to evaluate what’s right and what’s wrong and what’s good. Why not try and draw from history a lot of inspiring examples and compelling stories that can help us evaluate those decisions that we have today?” That’s what we’re trying to do.

Mr. Jekielek:

What occurs to me is the foundational question is how does what I’m being told comport with what I’m seeing with my own eyes? We’re kind of going a little bit into the weeds here, but this is pretty fascinating.

Mr. Boyack:

It’s fascinating, and I’ll also use the word incapacitating for a lot of parents. What we’ve heard from our community. We’ve got, I don’t know, half a million families or so reading the books by now. And what we’ve heard from a lot of parents is, the best analogy I can come up with is that show that was out a year or two ago called the “Floor Is Lava.” And it’s this obstacle course where you can’t touch the floor because then you lose. So you’re jumping all these obstacles. Just this idea that the floor is in motion. There’s no foundation anymore. A lot of parents, that we hear from at least, are struggling with how quickly things are changing, how the mores of society are destabilized, how they feel that they can’t really trust institutions that they long trusted, at not having this solid foundation to plant their family on and their freedom and their faith and so forth.

And so we hear this a lot from parents. They feel like they’re in a constant state of flux. That to me is a question in the back of my mind is how can we address that? Is it just the speed of information today? Is it that things are changing so quickly and there’s so many voices chirping in our ear? Is it that the institutions that we’ve long trusted are kind of eroding? Declining church attendance, broken families, and all the rest. And how do we fix that? Because fundamentally I’m kind of a freedom fighter. I run a think tank. We try and change laws. We’re trying to fight for freedom. But when I work with the Tuttle Twins Project, trying to educate kids, it’s very much this question of how can we have long lasting change that empowers families to teach truth to their kids so that we have a long term generational impact on what we’re trying to do.

Mr. Jekielek:

Speaking of long term, it occurred to me that you’re looking at this time period for, I think it’s from 1215  until basically the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

Why 1215?

Mr. Boyack:

1215 is the date of the Magna Carta, which is kind of like the proto Constitution, this first attempt to document the protection of people’s rights. And so to understand the Constitution, we got to go back to the Magna Carta. But we also start with the 1200s because that is the time of the Silk Road and Marco Polo. So our book starts with this opening adventure of Marco Polo and this exploration. Why? Well, because to understand America, we need to understand what led to it.

So America formed because of colonization. We all know this. But why was colonization happening? It was happening because these guys on ships were risking blood and treasure to go to far away lands in search of something. Well, what were they searching for? They were explorers trying to find spices and all kinds of rare jewels and products that they could bring back to the Silk Road—this robust trade epicenter.

And so the real story of America is this story of trade, leading to exploration, leading to colonization, leading to America. So for us, America’s story doesn’t begin in 1619 with the importation of slaves, it begins in the 1200s with this effort to improve one another’s lives through trade and trying to have this great connection of sharing resources and ideas, that flourished from there to exploration and later colonization in America. We think America’s story really began in the 1200s and so for volume one in what will be a four volume series, we wanted to go back to the 1200s and start there.

Mr. Jekielek:

So I want to go back a little bit to what you were talking about to this kind of shifting floor, shifting reality, or the foundations being shaken, which frankly, a lot of people I think convincingly are arguing as one of the purposes of this sort of emergent woke or progressive neo-Marxist ideology. It is to shake those foundations. The belief is that these are just fundamentally bad, because of some of the things you just described, because of colonialism. Is this expressly a challenge to that, what you’re doing with these books and this textbook and the Tuttle Twin books, or is it just sort of a byproduct?

Mr. Boyack:

It’s absolutely an intentional confrontation to people who believe those ideas. So I believe that we are in a war of ideas. And I believe that any parent who doesn’t recognize that they’re on a battlefield, that their children are ground zero in this effort, are going to lose. If we don’t know that we’re in a battle, how can we ever win it? If we don’t recognize that there are people out there who are kind of progressive, Socialist, neo-Marxist, infiltrating the classroom, pushing their agenda: the media, academia, Hollywood, and all the rest. If we don’t recognize that this is an intentional effort on the part of people we vehemently disagree with, how are we going to win? We’re going to forever be playing defense, trying to mitigate our losses as best we can, but never gaining ground.

So for me as a so-called freedom fighter, this is an intentional play to say, “I know other people are out there going after our children,” whether it’s through schools or Hollywood and media or children’s books and trying to get parents talking to kids about totally different ideas. There is an effort out there to change the mindset of the rising generation. This is not a new thing. Collectivists for decades and centuries have recognized that they have to capture the minds and the loyalties of the young. Every authoritarian dictator in world history has tried to infiltrate the classroom. Just a few weeks ago Russia was announcing that the Kremlin is going to lean more into curriculum development to uphold the greatness of Putin and teach young people about this kind of communist mindset.

So this is not a new thing. Again, if we understand our history, let’s learn from it. And if we learn from history that collectivists are trying to co-opt and change the minds of our children, maybe then that can inform what we as parents do today, and that is give our kid a shield and a sword before we send them out into the intellectual battlefield. Give them a foundation of these ideas that when they’re listening to their teacher or reading a textbook or looking at TikTok or wherever they’re consuming information, give our kids a foundation where they can evaluate those ideas rather than just absorb them like a sponge. To our earlier point about authoritarianism, if our kids are just going to go trust authority, they’re going to get all kinds of counter messages that we don’t necessarily want them to or that aren’t best for them.

I think during COVID all of the Zoom schooling that happened for a period of time gave parents an insight into what their kids were learning because the parents could see. And it alarmed a lot of parents. It’s what in large measure led to the school board protests across the country that are still happening to this day. For me then, this project becomes an effort to basically wake parents up to say, “Whether you’re going to teach this or something else or a package of ideas or however you want to interpret what we’re talking about, the key is intentionality.” The problem is that they’ve just trusted these institutions. They’ve delegated to the schools the upbringing of their children during their most formative years to learn whatever the teachers and the textbooks say. But if parents are intentional, if they’re eyes wide open in saying, “What are my kids learning? What are the sources that we’re trusting? How can I teach my kids how to think and evaluate what they’re hearing from all these different sources?” Then I’m happy. Whether they agree with me or not at the end, whether they are wholesale drinking whatever the Tuttle Twins has to offer them or not, I don’t care. For me this is a mission in engaging parents to wake up and take charge of the education of their children rather than delegating it to someone else.

So there’s a quote from an evangelical pastor. “Can we as Christians really be surprised when we send our children to Caesar’s schools and they return home as Romans?” And to me, there’s a political corollary to that question. Can we as freedom lovers really be surprised when we surrender our children to the state to educate them and then they come home as statists or social justice warriors or whatever. We can’t be surprised, I don’t think. And so that speaks to the need for parents to be intentional, eyes wide open about what our kids are learning. And let’s have some robust family discussions rather than just accepting whatever we’re told is true.

Mr. Jekielek:

You’ve told me before that you’ve gotten a very good response from parents. Now, one of the criticisms for the book could be, and probably is that, “Hey, you’ve written a book for parents, not for kids.” Have you heard that?

Mr. Boyack:

Not really. The magic, I’ll say, of what the Tuttle Twins does, is that even though these are children’s books, they end up with a very wide range of accessibility. So for example, our traditional children’s series, which is kind of our best seller, are for kids ages five to 11. But we’ll have younger kids who read along, because the illustrations are cute. And they’ll listen to a story that an older sibling is reading. 

We’ll have teenagers reading these books that even though the book is beneath them in terms of the format, they’ve never learned a lot of these ideas in school or before. And then a lot of the parents, we hear all the time from parents who are like, “I never learned any of this in school.” And so we’re encountering a lot of situations where parents and kids are learning together. And that’s what we’re really trying to create are not children’s books so much as family resources.

So with this history book, the average age range that we’re positioning this as is like seven to 13 years of age, a little bit older than our kids books. But in all the test reading that we did before we launched what we were finding was something very similar to our books. Older kids would read it too. And then the parents were like, “Wow, I’m learning a lot as I read along with my kids.” So really for us, the goal is that it’s like, “Hey, family have dinner together. And then read a chapter of the book and talk about it.” That’s what we’re after. That’s where the magic happens.

And fundamentally for me, that is where I think our country is saved, is at the dinner tables across the country, not in the classroom, not trying to force teachers to teach what we want and hope that they teach it the right way and that kids remember when they go home what they learned that day at school. I don’t think that’s where we saved the country. I think it’s at the dinner table. And so for us, we’re trying to empower parents to have significant, robust, deep, meaningful conversations with their kids. No more of this, “Hey honey, what did you learn today?” “I don’t know.” And then they’re disconnected. We want parents and kids learning together. And that’s what the Tuttle Twins is trying to do with a book like this.

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, you even tackled the Milgram experiment in the book, which isn’t necessarily something you think of as in pre-Revolutionary War American history.

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

Right?

Mr. Boyack:

Well, it gets to this earlier topic of authoritarianism. We wanted to bring this in to show how much of a modern problem this is. This wasn’t just something that the founders had to deal with. The Milgram experiment of course, was after World War II, Stanley Milgram was this researcher and he was wanting to understand why so many Germans went along with the Nazis and just did what they were told. “I was just following orders. I was just doing what was expected of me.” And so he conducted this experiment to try and see if people would administer shocks to people in another room that they couldn’t see, just because they were being told from this guy in a lab coat with a clipboard, “Oh, you need to continue. Administer progressively more heavy shocks.”

And two-thirds of the people in this experiment administered like fatal doses of these shocks to the person in the other side of the room, despite the person in that room screaming bloody murder, saying, “Knock it off, stop.” And then to the point where they couldn’t hear the person in the other room anymore, presumably they were in incapacitated or dead. And yet two-thirds of these people on average would continue to administer additional shocks because they were told to do so. 

This experiment has been replicated again and again, and to me it speaks to this question of, for you and I, when we are told to do something we think is wrong, do we do it? Do we follow the law? Do we submit to authority? Do we go along to get along? Or how do we determine when we’re going to stand up and say, “I’m not doing that. I believe that it’s wrong.” This to me is a persistent question. It’s one the founding fathers dealt with in basically seceding from the world’s greatest superpower at the time and saying, “We’re done with you. We’re not going to obey what you want,” committing treason effectively. Can we follow a course like that and stand up for what’s right? Or are we going to be like the two-thirds of people who are willing to potentially kill another person just because an authority figure tells us to?

This is something I think is innate in humanity for us to grapple with. I think it’s something we’ve seen in the last few years a lot of people struggling with, and I think we’re going to continue to struggle with it. So that’s why we include it in a book like this to say, “These lessons aren’t from 250 years ago, they’re lessons for today. And so let’s learn from history with an eye towards understanding how these problems manifest themselves.” Differently, different context, different fact patterns. It doesn’t look exactly like it did back then. But again, there’s so much that we can draw from and learn from to apply to our world today if we read history with the intent of drawing those lessons out and then thinking about them in a modern context.

Mr. Jekielek:

As you’re speaking right now, I can’t help but think in all sorts of contexts now how powerful these authority figures, in some cases parents, in a lot of cases teachers. And of course, there’s been this huge debate about who really should have the authority, amazing that this is a debate, but it has been a debate in politics. And you have these teachers, Libs of TikTok is putting up all these examples of teachers saying, “No, I’m going to teach your kids now, parent.”

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

Very bizarre stuff like this. So authority is very powerful. We know that. And there’s this sort of battle as you’ve been describing for the children. I guess my question here is how is it that this kind of ultimately gets decided? Because it’s very different for, in some ways, in theory for children than it is for adults. But we live in this society where children are in many ways kind of considered little adults, at least by some very significant portion of the population.

Mr. Boyack:

That’s a very interesting question. I think, let’s start with that latter point. These are mini adults, up and coming adults. Do we want parents or teachers to just force on them a certain set of views and say, “Here is what you will believe and believe nothing else.” I think that’s dangerous. Even for someone like me who believes in a certain set of universal truths, I want to make sure that I’m teaching my children how to think so that I can say, “Here’s what I believe is true, but here’s how to evaluate whether you agree and what you think. This is your own quest, your own journey, to do.” 

That is a tough balance for a lot of parents. And the problem I think we face is that a lot of parents find themselves ill equipped to do that. I think that’s why so many of them have trusted teachers for so long. “They’re the professionals. They go to school to learn how to teach. They know what’s right.” And now parents are starting to increasingly realize, “Whoa, I let them on too long of a leash with my child. I got to yank that back and not trust them as much.”

But what we hear so often is parents doubting their own capacity to teach their children because they themselves feel like they did not adequately learn. A lot of them lack confidence in their own understanding of these ideas, let alone their ability to then express, defend, and teach those ideas to others, whether in a Facebook comment or in a dinner conversation with their kids. So I think we have a generational handicap in a sense where the schools for so long have been teaching this dumbed down civic illiteracy that they’ve been conveying to kids. And now we have parents who find themselves unable to talk to their kids about it. They trust the teachers. And now we’re in this kind of battle of parents versus teachers where it’s this question of who gets to teach the child, who feels more competent in doing so, and whose voice is going to be potentially the loudest or the most authoritative for that kid?

But fundamentally these kids are mini adults. They’re on their own journey. They have to figure it out for themselves. I think we’re doing them a disservice if we’re not empowering them to be critical thinkers, to learn how to learn. And I think increasingly we’re seeing that the schools are ill-equipped to do those things, or maybe they’re structured in a way that is antithetical to doing those things. And so for us, we’re trying to empower parents directly to do those things. Whether their kids are homeschooled or they’re in these schools that are deficient. We’re trying to help parents teach their kids, not just, again what to think, but, “Here’s how to learn. Here’s how to critically think about this. And then let’s have a conversation, even if you’re eight or 12 or whatever, let’s hear you express your ideas, challenge what I’m saying.” And that’s really kind of what we’re trying to structure.

Mr. Jekielek:

It’s funny because one of my favorite Tuttle Twins books is the Logical Fallacies book. I think we’ve talked about this in the past that you have these kids that are suddenly like, “Dad, I think that what you’re saying is a straw man.”

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

“You’ve created a straw man here.” And Dad is like, “Oh, just do what I’m saying, kid.” So this potentially actually creates problems. It’s easier to be able to just say, “Do it.” And sometimes you actually have to, because I don’t have time to debate this with you as much as I appreciate your deep thinking about this question.

Mr. Boyack:

That’s the one book where I’ve had more kids say thank you that they like the book than parents. I think parents have been a little more reluctant to say, “You’ve empowered my teenager to be an expert debater and challenge what I’m saying.” And even though there’s short term pain perhaps in those situations, to have to increasingly debate with your teens and as they evaluate things, I think there’s long term gain. Because for example, my daughter can be very stubborn at times. Very stubborn at times. And though that’s a short term challenge, I try and think of the long term potential.

She’s going to be a fiercely independent woman, and that’s going to be an amazing thing. So I can tough out the short term inconvenience as a parent. I can tamp down my desire to be an authoritarian and say, “Just do it because I said so,” and think through the long term potential that that has if we’re raising our children the right way, if we’re allowing them to challenge our ideas and evaluate them. It’s tough as a parent, it’s easier to just be authoritarian and force our ideas or viewpoint. But for me, the benefit comes from thinking of the long term impact of what we’re doing and allowing our children to practice being an adult, to practice their own independent ideas, and potentially even challenge us as parents. I think that’s healthy in the long term, even though it’s more difficult in practice than in theory.

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, it seems like parents are going, and COVID was a massive catalyst for this, parents are going through this realization that, “Wow, I’ve actually outsourced way too much of my parenting to the schools. These schools have now let me down. They’ve been teaching things which I’m not on board with in any manner, shape, or form. Now actually I’m kind of ill equipped to deal with it. What do I do?: Now, I think you’re a homeschooling advocate. I’ve had Kirk Cameron on the show. There’s this homeschool awakening that he’s been describing in this new film that he’s done. And so you’re actually also providing curriculums, aren’t you?

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

Not just for homeschooling, but also for classrooms and so forth.

Mr. Boyack:

Yes. Our goal at the end of the day is to have material to teach kids of any age, no matter how they like to learn. So for young kids, we have toddler books and little coloring books, sheets, and things like that. We’ve got, for kids who like listening, we have audio books. For kids who like watching stuff, we have the cartoon. We’ve got a family game. We’ve got a curriculum for teachers. So we’re trying through the Tuttle Twins to create a variety of content to speak to different kids, at different periods of time, in different learning situations as well.

So yes, we have a curriculum that teaches free market economics. We also came out with a curriculum that actually goes with the history book. So as you read each chapter then there’s different activities that you can do, recipes that you can make for some of the food that’s in there. For example, part of the story we talk about Continental Cookies and in the cookies, there’s all these different ingredients that relate to the different colonies, which is how we teach kids in the book the different kind of nature and perspectives of those colonies is by having these examples with these ingredients. And that’s their learning project to understand how all these colonies with their different backgrounds and circumstances came together to form one great country together. And so then in the activity curriculum that we have, we have the recipe and all the steps and kids can actually create the Continental Cookies.

It’s all meant to reinforce the story. It’s all meant to help them remember, “Every time I eat this cookie, I’m thinking about Pennsylvania or Delaware or whatever.” And so those ideas can stick a little bit more. So yeah, we have curriculums and all these activities designed to make sure that that message sticks, rather than just, “I read a story and off I go to the next thing.” We really want the retention so that we get the application. That’s how we make history come alive is by getting kids to remember what they learned and then apply it and that’s what our curriculum is designed to do.

Mr. Jekielek:

One review of your books is essentially that you’re trying to turn kids into little Milton Friedmans, Friedrich Hayeks, and Ayn Rands. How do you respond to this?

Mr. Boyack:

Wouldn’t that be a great thing? Imagine a world full of people who understood freedom. I love this review.

So people have charged us with propaganda, for example. We’re trying to propagandize children. To that I say. “Everyone is, everyone.” Because if you understand what propaganda is, it’s just the propagation of ideas. Now we use that in a negative context often, which is what we see in the classroom. It’s these activist teachers we see on Libs of TikTok and elsewhere. They close the door and they say, “I’m going to force my views on these kids.” 

That’s not at all what we’re doing. What we’re doing is equipping parents with resources so that they can talk to their kids about what they believe and have these conversations. Because again, those parents have the desire, but they feel ill equipped. They don’t maybe understand with a lot of depth the ideas that they innately feel. They don’t know how to talk to kids, just as I didn’t. The whole reason Tuttle Twins exists is because Elijah and I wanted to teach our kids, Elijah’s our illustrator. We wanted to teach our kids about these ideas. There were no books anywhere that would help us do it. So we set out to create some.

But fundamentally everything is propaganda. All of us, teachers, religious leaders, parents, we’re all communicating to the rising generation ideas that we believe are true. The question is who has the right to do it for our kids? Who’s going to be that preeminent voice in the minds of our children? And we think that ought to be parents rather than the state. And then we hear from parents saying, “I don’t know how to do it. I want to do it. I just don’t know how.” And so that’s where our resources come in, not to propagandize and convert them all into little Milton Friedmans, fun as that may be, but more to say, “Hey, Mom, hey, Dad, here’s something you can read together, talk to your kids about, see what you think about it?”

Mr. Jekielek:

I’ve been thinking a lot in a recent interview someone reminded me of one of Thomas Sowell’s sort of foundational question is, “Compared to what?” It’s a beautiful thing to remember, because it’s like, “Yeah. Okay. So this is what you’re teaching, but compared to what are the other options out there?”

Mr. Boyack:

Yes.

Mr. Jekielek:

Right? Then it puts this a little bit in stark relief, doesn’t it?

Mr. Boyack:

Yes, I think that’s a great way of putting it.

Mr. Jekielek:

Yeah. Another, you’ve been described as a right wing children’s entertainment complex. This must be from one of your favorite, favorite reviews.

Mr. Boyack:

This is one of my favorites. This is from CNN and they said that we’re guilty of creating a right wing children’s entertainment complex. What was interesting about this attack on us is that the author was basically making it sound like we were responding to nothing. They went on to say that, “Here’s these conservatives and they’re trying to reach the youth because they are reacting to what they perceive to be liberal indoctrination, which doesn’t exist and there’s nothing to see here.” So the author completely downplayed that there’s any legitimacy to the concerns we have about what kids are being taught with gender identity and anti-racist baby and communism for kids and all these silly things that are being taught out there.

So that was totally unfair where the author tried to completely de-legitimize the concerns that we have by saying that there’s no reason for us to exist and respond to non-existent liberal indoctrination when there clearly is. But what was fun for us is after the CNN article came out, we sold over 100,000 books because so many people were sharing the CNN article, “Look at them, they’re attacking Tuttle Twins and let’s go support the Tuttle Twins.” And so it ended up spreading a lot more books, to which I said, “If anyone has any friends at MSNBC who want to get them to attack us as well, we would welcome it,” because it seems like every time we get attacked, we just grow stronger, which is awesome.

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, this has been a wonderful conversation, frankly. Any final thoughts as we finish?

Mr. Boyack:

I guess, just by way of summation, I would say intentionality is the key. Again for me, it’s this call to arms. Parents out there, recognize that there are people out there who want to capture the minds and the hearts of your children. And if you don’t want that to happen, whether it’s the Tuttle Twins or something else, be intentional about how you’re talking to your kids, about how you evaluate what they’re learning and being exposed to, about what conversations you have in the home. To me, this is kind of the critical thing that we need today. It’s very easy to trust teachers, send your kids to school, kind of shirk that parental responsibility by delegating it to others.

But I think there are broader societal problems that we have because for decades, generations, we’ve all been doing that. I think we got to bring it home. We got to come back to the dinner table. We got to talk about current events and real world ideas. I know that scares a lot of parents because they didn’t grow up doing that. They feel ill-equipped. They’re public school graduates who feel like they didn’t learn. That’s why we’re trying to help. We’re trying to create resources to empower those parents. Whether they use our materials or not the goal is having those family conversations that bring us together, bring our world together, and make for a brighter future.

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, Connor Boyack, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the show again.

Mr. Boyack:

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Mr. Jekielek:

Thank you all for joining Connor Boyack and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. His book, new textbook, is America’s History. I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Follow EpochTV on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EpochTVus
Rumble: https://rumble.com/c/EpochTV
Truth Social: https://truthsocial.com/@EpochTV

Gettr: https://gettr.com/user/epochtv
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EpochTVus
Gab: https://gab.com/EpochTV
Telegram: https://t.me/EpochTV

Read More
Popular
Related Videos