A popular quote asserts, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” Schooling has never been a neutral enterprise.
Disputes over the control of education and what children should learn have been with us for centuries.
One of the most troubling cultural battles in post-Confederation Canadian history was known as the “Manitoba Schools Crisis.”
Manitoba’s entry into the Canadian Confederation in 1870 was dependent on an agreement to set up separate school systems that would protect French-speaking Catholic Métis against cultural domination by growing numbers of English-speaking secularists. The original Manitoba Act granted constitutional protection for religious schools that had existed by law or practice at the time of the union.
Over the next several years, many French Catholic Métis chose to move further west. A cultural battle in Manitoba was triggered by a series of controversial laws supported by the growing Anglo-Protestant majority.
False Promises of 'Progress'The 20th century ushered in promises of continuous human progress and permanent transformation.
In politics, reform liberals and progressives pledged to produce universal human flourishing through the managerial skills of government experts.
Marxists sought to overthrow bourgeois rule and replace it with a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” When the working class declined to join the revolution, neo-Marxists turned to identity politics and the long march through the institutions. Schools were at the top of their target list.
In colonial North America, faith and continuity played an important role in the lives of settlers and the indigenous peoples who converted to Christianity. Up to the latter decades of the 19th century, most schools were organized by religious orders.
Over the past few generations, leftist intellectuals have eviscerated classical liberal education. From early progressives such as John Dewey to the “Critical Pedagogy” of Paulo Freire and “grievance studies” in modern faculties of education, teachers have been directed to “teach the child and not the subject.”
Today, students are being deliberately estranged from their parents and groomed to participate in every radical "woke" political movement under the sun. “Political literacy” is the goal. Actual literacy has been declining for decades.
This summer, the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, triggered a 21st-century version of their province’s 19th-century schools crisis. Winnipeg school trustees joined a global list of militant activists committed to the deconstruction of traditional values and the transformation of Western civilization.
School teachers used to be guided by tested traditions and scholarly academics. The ethos that guides them today is filled with Marxist illusions, divisive identity politics, and out-of-control neo-paganism. Governing authorities are literally sacrificing impressionable young people to the caprices of woke ideology.
What's to Be Done?As I write this from my home in Nova Scotia, a local nonpartisan group of parents and citizens is organizing a public demonstration outside of Halifax City Hall.
The organizers want to protest the “sexualization of children, grooming and the undermining of parental rights.” They seek to assert that it's “the duty and responsibility of parents to provide for the well-being of their children and to protect them from all undue and harmful influences from all outside forces.” Similar school governance conflicts and popular demonstrations have been occurring throughout North America.
Over the coming election cycles in Canada and the United States, it'll be interesting to see whether or not establishment politicians are listening and what, if anything, they're prepared to do about the corrosive educational practices of the "Woke" Reich.