Thursday, June 14, 2007

This is not education.....

"I'm going to encourage you to have sex and I'm going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately," panelist Joel Becker, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist, told the students. "And why I am going to take that position is because you're going to do it anyway."

This quote is from a recent event held before Boulder High School students. Dr. Becker was part of a panel from the University of Colorado's Council on World Affairs. The only caveat issues was that students should do it "responsibly and understand the consequences." Students were required to attend.

Honestly, I was somewhat outraged by this, even though I don't have children. I can't help but wonder how parents feel about having these kinds of values (or lack of values, as the case may be) taught to their children in the public school system.

One thing is for certain. If I'd had children, they would have been home-schooled. There is no way on God's green earth that I would have allowed my children to step into a public school. Wouldn't have happened on my watch, even if I'd had to teach them myself with an old blackboard and an abacus!

I remember the very first hints of what was to come when I was in college. Detached moral philosophers in the ivory towers of academia had come up with a new educational paradigm called "Values Clarification". It's basically just relativism. The students were taught there is no right or wrong, no absolutes and that morality was defined by one's own "feelings" about a subject. They were told to decide for themselves on each issue and that "the most important thing is that you do what is right for you."

It crept into the educational system at all levels. It didn't come in with a bang but gradually insinuated itself into every facet of education, not just psychology or philosophy classes. It was not presented as an alternative viewpoint. It was taught that it is the expected viewpoint.

I am ashamed to admit that this hogwash is the brainchild of people from my generation.

Freedom of choice is a wonderous thing but I believe freedom of choice is for adults. It is for adults who are emotionally and intellectually developed and understand that choice brings responsibility. It also brings a willingness to accept consequences. Moral authority is not for people who have not matured enough to handle it.

And moral education does not belong in the schools. It belongs at home.

Kids need direction. They need leaders. They need to know they can depend on adults around them to guide them well. This is about the worst example of "leadership" I can imagine.




Christine said...

The sex ed birth control/std prevention talk wouldn't bother me too much on a personal level. BUT (there is always a but;-) I think parents should be informed before hand and given the choice to opt out if they so chose.

The drug thing--no way. "I'm going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately." Just wrong. I'm no angel--I had my crazy days and my experimental days, but drugs are illegal and even if it is hypocritical, i don't want anyone teaching them how to do them. They should be teaching them NOT to do them. Drugs have torn some loved ones from my life. I am not ok with teaching their use in our schools.

meno said...

I wonder if he was going for shock value.

I can tell you that no child of mine has ever gone to public schools either. I went to public school, and i know whereof i speak.

There are kids who do NOT have sex or use drugs in high school. There are many more who do. The ones who don't are considered a bit odd, moreso with regard to the drugs than the sex.

I believe that values have to be passed on from parents. Even if the kids don't embrace those values when they are in high school, maybe they will "get it" later on.

But to say that there are no absolute rights and wrongs is preposterous.

Anonymous said...

To homeschool is to dedicate yourself (body, mind and soul) to your children in a way that simple parenting doesn't require you. It isn't for everyone and it isn't for the faint-of-heart, either. But it's certainly a healthy alternative to what you just wrote about! Here's a key point though....this was a speech delivered at a COLLEGE, not a high school. And the fact is, if your children don't have their minds made up (firmly made up) about what's right and what's wrong by the time their are eighteen? You've pretty much not done your job, as parents. That's the sad truth. So all of you who have little ones? Get off your blogs and go spend time with the kiddos!! Cece

thailandchani said...

Cece, actually it occurred at Boulder High School.

I agree though that college students are usually set in their ways.. but I still wouldn't encourage that kind of values clarification in any educational setting.


More on comments later. I am moving mattresses and it's just about knocking me out!

Hot here today.



ellie bee said...

Excuse me, there is no "appropriate way" to use drugs illegally. Period.
To show you the flip side, here in Middle Georgia, no sex education is allowed. Abstinence is the only thing you are allowed to discuss. I was asked by a group of mothers of senior girls to teach about breast self exam in health class and the Board of Education forbade it--it was "too sexual". Imagine their faces when I asked if I could teach the boys testicular self exam or would they consider that "jacking off"? (Funny, they haven't asked me back to any meetings...)
Why can't people just stick to the facts and educate these kids with useful information--that is all they really want anyway. They will decide for themselves what they want to do, but could we please at least TRY to equip them with some appropriate facts?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Instructing children to do what is right for them because there is no absolute morality, if carried to its logical extreme, will lead to widespread murder, rape, drug addiction, and whatever else feels right at the moment.


flutter said...

I love that there is no faith that a kid will ever do things responsibly, or maybe make the decision to not get high and sleep around.

I heard this day in and day out in public school growing up and you know what? I did none of those things.

Carla said...

Thanks for bringing this to light. I can only hope that this is not the norm. Children should not be encouraged to do those sorts of things. They do, however, need to be educated on the consequences of such actions.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to read the whole speech. It's possible that was just the teaser to get their attention. I'd like to hear how the "responsibilities and consequences" part of the lecture was handled.

I'm a strong supporter of public schools. If everyone home schools their kids, we'll end up with a Balkanized America where nobody can understand or get along with anybody else. I already see it happening in Texas, where the Christian fundamentalists have completely segregated themselves.

slouching mom said...

I sat on this one overnight, because I needed to take some time to think it over. And then ThomasLB essentially said what I wanted to. (Thanks, ThomasLB!)

Teenagers are notoriously hard to reach, and I think that his statement might just have been a rhetorical device to get them listening.

I too am a proponent of public high schools, for the same reasons ThomasLB specified. In addition, I think homeschooling deprives kids of the chance to interact with their peers, no matter how painful those interactions can be; they're still important.

And, if I assume that the psychologist's statement was NOT a rhetorical device, then, like Christine, the sex part of it doesn't bother me, because frankly, I think he's right. But the drugs part of it bothers me. A lot.

kaliroz said...

I'm a big public school person.

I think you can't lay the blame on how kids turn out soley on what they encounter in the public setting. I think it all, and always, goes back to home. Those kids whose parents are involved in their lives will make better decisions and do things responsibily whereas the kids whose parents are unplugged or are involved but not INVOLVED (like the super crazy sports parents who ignore all other facets of their child's life) are going to be the ones who, well, do dumb things.

Public education in this country could be a lot better, but it's not all terrible. And it's not all lax and lewd. Education is what you make of it. And there are a lot of teachers in the public system working their guts out trying to make sure their students are prepared for the world.

What this guy said is shocking but, as others have said, maybe that was the point. The abstinence only policies certainly aren't working and "Just Say No" is just a joke. So, maybe by being blunt about things he was hoping to perk up their ears. Or maybe I'm giving him too much credit.

And I have to disagree about teens not being able to make moral judgements. Sure, teen brains aren't fully developed and, really, won't be until their in the mid-to-late twenties, but you have to give them room. Room to think and grow and figure things out. And, sure, you give them direction but you can't be dogmatic about it. Dogmatism fosters rebellion which fosters bad behavior.

Just my two cents.

Hel said...

I agree with you that morality could never be the responsibility of goverment run institutions that show little regard for the effects that their "free choice" have on the weak and the vulnerable.

I agree that teenagers should be made aware of the consequences of their choices without telling them that those choices are bad "because I say so". But to tell a group of young people that they will have sex and that they will take drugs is just some guy trying to be hip and with it and hey I'm so cool. I speak your language.

MsLittlePea said...

I don't remember caring about(or paying attention to) what any adult said at any of those mandatory assemblies in high school. I imagine the kids who went to this panel didn't either. If these words were absolutely not taken out of context and he really did mean these things, it's not the sex part that would bothers me it's the drugs. My parents, like many, had this genius idea that if they never spoke to me about sex or drugs, I would never know or experiment with either of them. So any info I got, I got from my friends. And I ended up making a lot of misinformed decisions because all I ot at school was 'abstinence only sex ed' something I don't remember anyone practicing. I always promised myself that when I had kids, I wanted to be the one to educate them about those things. Unfortunately people are still afraid to speak to their children about these topics not thinking about the fact that friends, Dr.Becker and MTV will be informing them then. I hope those comments really were for the shock value.

Cecilieaux said...

Frankly, if I had my druthers, all drugs would be legal (with the sales heavily taxed to pay for treatment of addiction). The drug problem is a psychosocial problem that is not going to be solved by the police or the courts, much less high school assemblies. Society and individuals have to change.

As to middle Georgia, former home of slavery and Jim Crow, there are many things not to imitate from that part of the country. Ellie Bee just offered a few more.

As to sex, the advice stands to reason. It's the best, pseudo-shocking way to get kids' attention about risks and consequences of sex. What kid doesn't roll his or her eyes when an adult recites non-nos the adults didn't observe in their youths?

Let's not become fuddy duddies now that we're middle aged and tut-tut about "wanton youths," like our parents did.

The Atavist said...

I wondered decades ago where all of the moral relativism that started in the 1960's was going to lead us. To many, it was a non-issue twenty, ten and even five years ago. Now, that we are beginning to reap what we have sown, it is suddenly under scrutiny and rightfully so. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many comments here decry moral relativism.

Maybe there is still hope for us.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I attended public and private schools, and think that there are benefits to both, along with obvious problems.

I also question whether many of the home-schooling parents are academically qualified to be their children's only teacher. They seem more interested in their religious agendas than in encouraging their kids to think for themselves.

Also, as stated in other comments, there is value in daily contact with peers, even when it is less than optimal. How else can kids learn about living in the real world, and not in a fundamentalist commune?

There was much to deplore in the schools I attended, and those of my children. I had many conferences with their principals and teachers to try to correct untenable situations, but on balance, I still believe they were better off learning to experience conflict and inequity as preparation for life. And if I may, my children's successes have not proven me wrong.

QT said...

First off, I have to say that the picture you have posted almost made me cry right here at work. I always ask myself WHY do we feel it necessary to keep wild animals in these conditions?

I know, so off topic.

Anyway, I have very mixed emotions about what you have posted, Chani. While I don't think this is the right message, I also feel blindly repeating the mantra of abstinence from drug use and sexual activity until one is "old enough" to handle it, fails too often to be used as a policy, especially one applied as generally as it is today.

Keeping information about women's bodies a secret is not the way, either. Sometimes I wonder if the religious right has to be so fervent because they have such dirty minds themselves? The primary function of boobs is feeding babies. There is nothing sexual about learning to take care of them!

I am opposed to homeschooling mostly because I feel that the growing mind needs to be challenged with different ideas. It is too easy for homeschooling to be turned into some kind of isolationist rhetoric on the part of a fundamentalist - either on the left OR the right.

As bad as some public schools are, at least what they are teaching is open to the public for viewing.

thailandchani said...

Christine, that is my main argument. I don't mind education about anything ~ even drugs.. but leave the values clarification out of it. How about teaching coping skills so kids won't feel the need for anesthesia?


Meno, the scary thing is that he seemed quite legitimate. If he was trying to shock, it would have at least been understandable. His belief is simply that kids should be able to do anything they want.. because, after all, they're going to do it anyway.


Ellie, that's like the opposite end of the continuum. Why is it that so many don't understand the nature of balance? Sheesh!


Susan, exactly. That is the logical extension. It entirely negates the rule of law.. if not the spirit of it.


Flutter, I understand. I never went that way, either. Of course, it was a different time and didn't have the same peer pressures.

Of course, I drank like a lush.. but that's another issue. :)


Carla, agree completely.


Thomas, I agree that it can have that effect if it's not done well. If I'd homeschooled, I would have made sure my kids had exposure to other cultures, other ways of thinking and other well-rounded activities. My objective wouldn't be to brainwash them, but to educate them. Public schools are just out of control, as far as I can see.


SM, I think the drugs part bothered me a lot, too. The thing that really caught me in the craw though was the moral relativism.


More responses very soon! I just hit the wall. :)



Anonymous said...

I'll say one thing for you, Chani. When you put something out there, you get people thinking & talking!!

Whether or not you agree with homeschooling really wasn't my point. Besides, there will NEVER be a time when EVERYONE homeschools. It takes too much time and effort. And from what I'm seeing these days, most parents don't care enough to try. They are owned by their house and car payments and run by their desires to be successful. Meanwhile, the kids have a cellphone to keep in touch -- what more do they need??

Anyway -- my real point is that if your children don't have morals and strong personal beliefs in place by high school -- you've pretty much lost the battle. Cece

Anonymous said...

The parents in Boulder were not happy, that's for sure. It was sloppy on the part of the school to have this Dr. speak without knowing what he was going to say, and stupid if they did it knowingly.

Kids need a good sex education, certainly better than what they're getting now. I wish I understood how or why so many parents blow it on this topic. I guess I'll find out.

And the drugs? That was intolerable.

There's no way I could home school my children in the elementary years, just for my own sanity. Even so, I know I will need to be an active partner in their education, filling in the gaps, and I can see how parents get overwhelmed with the competing elements of life.

Anonymous said...

Public schools are like public fill in the blanks. Sharalin Becker

Deezee said...

I agree largely with ThomasLB.

My son is just finishing his nineth year of public school. While I have many issues with the structure of the teaching, the experience of the broad diversity of the students through these years has greatly benefitted my son and prompted provocative conversations. He has learned to navigate a landscape beyond the sculpted and the safe. While I would opt for more creative and original teaching, I am still a big believer in public education (though it needs some serious improvements these days.)

Re: drugs and sex, I don't even remotely believe in the abstinence only teaching trend. My son and I speak of these issues frquently, and I encourage him to wait, wait, wait, but I also give him information so that he when faced with a decision, he can make an informed on.