Friday, February 09, 2007

Reality = Propaganda, an unabashed rant

When I was a kid struggling through puberty and toward my early teens, faced with the knowledge that I was "different" (which turns out to be true for everybody, but even to this day my first thought is that it was more true for me), I learned from my school that I was "from a broken home." Possibly I'd heard it on the television, too, but my teachers and principal told me directly.

Was that reality or propaganda? Should my parents, who lived apart but spoke more and had a better relationship than most together-parents I'd met, have sued the school for imposing the school's morals on me?

In this day and age, were the same thing to happen, I'm sure the parents could indeed sue. Picture some poor, sniveling kid coming home, just a wreck because he'd had it made clear to him by figures of authority that he was from a broken home and therefore he, himself, was broken. He could never be like those other kids. Alright, it's a little far-fetched with all the divorces and everything, but it could happen. And the parents would have a case. And I have mixed feelings about it, but I think that it would be wrong.

Somebody has to teach a child to translate the many stupidities of the world into concepts that make real sense. At some point a child has to make her own way. She can, as I did, disagree. And it's very likely the responsibility of parents -broken or otherwise- to teach this to their child. It's not the kind of thing schools are set up to do. Kids will be faced with propaganda all over the place, and they're going to have to learn to differentiate. Yes, the commercial does tell you that if you eat chocolate all day long, you'll be happy. No, it's not real.

Okay, but what about the fact that we were taught history?

Is it reality or propaganda when you teach a room of boys and girls about all sorts of interesting ways that men have shaped the world; when you have them memorize a whole lot of important men's names; and then you lead them to learn about daily life in early Canada, when women took care of the home while the men went out to work? Reality or propaganda, people? Because I have to say, the message seemed pretty clear to me.

Schools are a messy, sloppy place. I can't say I'm happy with how the public school thing is going, but I can say that it's a fair representation of how messy and sloppy real life is, pretty much everywhere. Schools are responsible for teaching kids how to learn. They dwell a lot on what to learn, because frankly it's easier to assess knowledge than ability. Also, the what in our world is a language all its own. Facts are building blocks to higher concepts, and you do need a certain number of facts to get from a to b in the learning process. So okay, schools are also responsible for teaching facts and concepts, representations of the real world kids will face, stuff that maybe they can't learn in the home.

So now we have school-teachers here in the States having the nerve to represent the fact -the fact- that there are gay parents with kids in the world. "Non-traditional families." Is that reality or propaganda? Should parents be allowed to sue the schools for imposing the schools' morals on their children? Shouldn't the parents' lawyer be able to show these parents some stats about the fact that non-traditional families exist in the world, and just say, "I'm sorry, I'd really like to take your money, but we're not going to win."

And why do I have the feeling that they could win anyway?

Today's "news" on CNN:

School wants lawsuit over gay discussions dismissed

"Robert Sinsheimer, an attorney for the parents who filed the lawsuit, called the homosexual discussions and materials 'a form of propaganda' that goes against the parents' religious beliefs."

Maybe it is about God again. Maybe, since some people have got the perception that God is being stricken from the record by crazy liberals, there should be a tit for tat thing. "Okay, if you get to take God away, I get to take gay parents away."

That's fair, isn't it? Well, here are my arguments:

First, God isn't real. Gay parents are real.

Yeah, I'm thinking that wouldn't go over all that well. But God has his own schools, all set up to teach your kids about God! Reality doesn't have any schools at all, if you start taking real people out of what's being taught by our teachers.

Which leads me to my second argument: Let's just take all people out of what we teach in schools. You want tit for tat? How about I sue the school system for teaching my kid (yes, yes, I know I don't have one, bear with me) that straight parents are normal, that straight parents are the foundation of our society? That there's always a mommy and daddy. That a "real family" has a mommy and a daddy, and so therefore when I lived in a "broken home," my family wasn't real. If you look at a lot of the early stuff kids are given in schools, I expect that's what you'll see. The simple, charming, no-nonsense model for life. How is that not teaching my child the school's morals? Shouldn't I get to decide what to teach my child about what's right for a family? So let's take all people, all relationships of any kind, out of the schools.

Let's therefore stop teaching history and literature, thank you. And language is probably out. Math is probably okay... except that + and - looks awfully sexual, so we'd better take Math out too. Let's not even talk about sociology, psychology, politics.

I know I know! We can just take them to school on the bus, and have them sit there, and then we can take them home again!

Oh wait, we already do that. Hmm.

Reality check: Gay parents exist. Often, they are happy. If this fact is shown to your child, it is not propaganda unless you consider reality is propaganda, unless you just want to keep your child from learning about the world. If you want to limit your child's learning to what you and your preacher can teach him... Keep him home. On the whole, I don't think our society would suffer too much from his sniveling ass staying out of our schools and our reality.

For everybody else who has the guts to send their children out into the world, to grow and become fully-fledged individuals, to face new ideas and maybe even "wrong" ideas and find their own strength to handle them one way or another... Remember that schools are just as messy and sloppy as the real world, and it's your job to teach your children about how you deal with that messiness and sloppiness, or if you don't, then how you want them to be more courageous than you have been.

Difficult? I can only imagine. But from what I've heard, pretty much the only part of making new human beings that isn't difficult... is that + and - part that God doesn't approve of anyway.


1 comment:

sjer said...

Ummm... can I say amen? One thing though, are you seriously saying that eating chocolate all day won't make you happy? That's the only thing about this post that doesn't make me want to stand up and cheer.