I’m still trying to get this school year off the ground, like an overloaded airplane with chickens and goats strapped to the top and everyone sitting on everyone else’s laps. It’s kind of a chaotic mess, but maybe by the middle of next week we will have figured out how to make it go and it will chug along in a sort of a functional way until we can land in June sometime. So anyway, my eyes popped open more quickly than usual this morning when I saw this story. Basically, a teacher on TikTok has come up with the novel idea that to quote the article: “asking kids to sit in their seats and listen to the teacher comes from ‘white culture’ and is therefore suspect.” Here is a transcript of the whole TikTok:
“So if PBIS concerns itself with positive behaviors, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Okay well what are those positive behaviors?’ And it’s things like making sure that you’re following directions, and making sure that you’re sitting quietly, and you are in your seat and all these things that come from White culture.”
“The idea of just sitting quiet and being told stuff and taking things in in a passive stance is not a thing that’s in many cultures. So if we’re positively enforcing these behaviors, we are by extension positively enforcing elements of White culture. Which therefore keeps Whiteness at the center, which is the definition of White supremacy.”
So….I just wanted to say a few things before I go on with my day. And I might as well number them because why not.
One, is it possible that this teacher has never been to another country? I grew up in the, oh why not let’s go for the gusto, “intersection” of several cultures. One of them was an African society (that’s not a white one, in case you aren’t familiar with the geography of the world) where children are absolutely required to “take things in in a passive stance.” And that wasn’t weirdly peculiar for the parenting ideals of the place in which I myself grew up. It is literally true across the whole continent of Africa…and also Asia, if not also South America, so really the whole world except for the newly insane West. Everywhere in the world in every place in time it has been the expectation that children learn in a quiet posture from everyone around them. It’s kind of a pity that no one can travel much now because I feel like this person doesn’t really know how the majority of the non-white world actually brings up their children and also hasn’t read any history or even a novel or anything like that.
Two, one way you can know that the West has not only embraced a “culture of death” but, as an ungodly consequence of that cultural priority, hates children, is that it has so privileged self-expression over self-discipline and self-control. If you really want to consign a child to misery and ruin forever, never ever teach him how to regulate his own emotions, his own thoughts, and his own actions. The way to happiness is not to have everything you want—I can’t believe I’m having to say this—but to be able to climb out of the own smallness of yourself for a little bit and experience not only a transcendent God but also other people. The fact that most Americans are confused about this and think that self-expression is the quickest way to happiness doesn’t actually make it so. Indeed, if you want to see happy children, go to another country. When you come home to meet American children once more, you will probably be deeply grieved, as I usually am, by the unhappiness of the average American child who has been, since birth, taught to express himself in all and every circumstance.
Three, it is in the tension between self-control and self-expression that truly interesting thoughts and feelings come into being. Of course no child should be so sat on that his personhood is erased. But if he is never taught to say no to himself, he will never have any good reason to say yes to anything. Literally all cultures before this moment knew this to be so, and so had interesting thoughts about things, but in these latter days, our confusion has produced the most boringly decadent way of being ever.
Four, it is also in the tension between self-control and self-expression that love becomes rich and real. A parent who never says no to his child does not love the child. He only loves himself and his own feelings about the child. A parent who always says no to a child similarly does not love the child but only loves himself. Requiring a child to sit and learn quietly is an act of love. It is an act of wisdom, for then the child can grow and learn and enter into the rich and beautiful world of other people, and love, and all that kind of thing.
And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go make my children do some things they don’t want to, not because I am a white supremacist, but because my children are human and they were made by God to worship him and love other people whom he has made. Have a nice day!