Make It Stop!

Look how cavalier we’ve become about childhood.

How liberally we allow others to guinea-pig our children … and how uncourageous we are in their protection.

Too many reckless people toy with their innocence, tamper with their sexuality, and monkey around with their learning. Too many are too determined to over-water their brains … and starve their childhood instincts.

Is anyone truly comfortable with “grit” and “rigor”? “Career ready”? “Academic kindergarten”? Who thought these were good ideas … for very small kids just around the corner from their crib-time?

And more important … who gave these theories power and importance?


But here’s the kicker.

Confront this madness … express parental regency … and you’ll likely be clowned and mocked … certified as a creature from educational antiquity. A dusty thinker … unhip … out of step with the modern moment. All that’s wrong with 21st century parenting.

And that beat-down shivers parents and shuts ‘em up … so the madness can go on and on. That’s been the intimidation tactic for a long while.

Every day produces new absurdities in academic newspeak … calculated nonsense to make room for some new idiocy based on lying truisms … Recess creates feral anxiety. “Close reading” will unlock literary passion. Testing is the true compass of modern education. And computer-based-education is the New Testament of modern pedagogy.

These things make my head hurt.

But that’s nothing compared to what they do to children.

* * *

Gurus seem determined to out-guru each other … push the farce-factor to new extremes.


So they take the educational temperature of children nearly all day long … x-ray their emotions … scan their noggins like luggage … and perpetuate adult madness on their developing humanity.

* * *

Little learners are manipulated as though they’re GMO’s … genetically modified organisms. Little programmable spud-people.


The goal, I guess, is to produce a bumper-crop of genetically identical kid-sprouts … each measured and charted and pie-graphed for their sameness. Like apples in an orchard. Or pumpkins in a patch.

I suppose that’ll make everyone extra-happy … and society will love the tasteless results.

Lawmakers will laurel themselves. Superintendents and principals will beat their chests. Test-makers will pat themselves on the back … and classroom teachers will be less anguished over their futures.

And this joyless crop of young learners will conquer some very important benchmarks and be meticulously prepared for …. for what? More testing? More measuring? More probing?

Where does all this take us? And what becomes of these children?

Will anyone ever bother to discover who can dance? Or tell stories? Or lift up other souls? Or is that passé? Musty? Obsolete?

What about the guitar pluckers … and the drum bangers … and the kids with a naturalness for the spotlight? What about mini mad-scientists and would-be Dalis? And secret poets and closet composers? What of the pint-sized historian who whittles Roman swords of balsa wood … and knows more about Julius Caesar than Mrs. Caesar?


Doesn’t any of that count any more? Please tell me it does.

Once upon a time, tests told teachers and parents how the sprout was sprouting … and what was needed to sprout some more. They weren’t used to punish or sanction or condemn. They were used to inform and direct and suggest. When did tests become the infallible tape measures of success? When did they become almighty?

Children don’t ripen on anyone’s schedule. Some rush straight to ripe in no time at all. One sit in the sun for what seems like forever. But they all come of age.

How about we try something different … some new-fangled bit of educational sanity?

Let’s let the gardeners garden … and pull the weeds and water the sprouts. How about we slow down … and stand back … and let the wonder bloom.


And remind ourselves that God never intended for all of them to be perfectly perfect at the same things … at the same moment.

They’ll ripen well enough … despite the neurotic insistence of psycho-educators who think that genius is found on the nib of a No. 2 pencil … and inside a bubble.

Stand up for your children. Practice your regency.

Denis Ian



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