I am on a French Impressionist track these days. Currently I am listening to Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major, Second movement.
A couple of days ago I ran into a woman who worked in the office of the school where I taught for several years. She reminded me why I don't subscribe to the local paper: I'm tired of seeing former students photos there.
Not for earning awards or any graduating from college. But because they are dead or in jail.
My former colleague told me that a student I taught in the fourth and fifth grade was now going to prison for murder.
I remember this boy as being a behavior problem and I did my best by allowing him to come in to my music room and help me set up each morning. Probably he was glad to get out of his homeroom class, but I found if I could develop relationships with my students outside of class, it helped with discipline issues.
A couple of years later when I walked into the Middle School where he was, he saw me and greeted me with a big smile. That surprised me because I had never seen him smile before.
I know there are deeper and more serious reasons why too many children are turning out the way they are but I also saw that the children we taught were getting more and more out of control, not only because of their chaotic home life, but because we as teachers are not allowed to provide any consequences for bad behavior. And, frankly, we teachers spend more time with these children than their parents do.
Why do I mention this? (And sorry if I've depressed my readers, I'm feeling a little depressed myself since I learned about this student.) Because the book I'm reviewing offers some acute observations as to why too many students are falling through the cracks.
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I would give this book ten stars if I could. It should be required reading for anyone with children.
Esolen writes in the form of irony. He tells you all the effective ways that will kill your child's imagination, sense of wonder, creativity, appreciation for nature, a healthy view of love and sex and body image, and sense of the transcendental.
Each chapter breaks down exactly how to accomplish this. Carefully follow his instructions and you too can have a child that will roll along on that assembly line of correct thinking, and conform to ideologies dictated by mass entertainment (he refused to call it pop culture because there's nothing cultural about it) and they will be shoved out at the end into a nihilistic, bleak, adult who can then turn around and start the process over with their own children.
Perhaps needless to say, his narrative is sarcastic, at times bitingly so. Those who don't agree with his stance may not appreciate it.
A few of his admonitions:
1. Don't peddle truth; only shades of grey because all ideas have equal merit.
2. Keep your child indoors as much as possible, preferably in front of a television set so they will be unable to truly socialize with other children, create their own games, songs, chants, or how to resolve conflict for themselves. Keep them forever monitored.
3. Keep them in public school for longer and longer hours and shrink summer vacation because spending eight hours or more a day under florescent lights in a windowless room is healthy. Make sure recess is minimal as well as lunch to prevent any free socialization. This must all be managed by adults- but not their parents; their parents need time to be themselves as they pursue their careers.
4. Games must be formal and structured by adults in the form of sports. This also will prevent actual socialization and cull the imagination.
5. Replace fairy tales with political cliches and fads. Better yet, crush their spirit by making them constantly fearful that the world is about to be destroyed by evil people who are bent on destroying the environment, making animals endangered, and let's not forget "global warming" oh wait... we're calling that "climate change" now...anyway, don't let them read actual books from bygone times. Oh, and don't let them look at great art or listen to great music. Those things irreparably spark the imagination.
6. Ridicule anything that is heroic or patriotic.
7. Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex.
8. Level distinctions between man and woman (or spay and geld).
9. Distract children with the shallow and unreal. And surround them with noise. They must never, ever have moments of silence.
10. Deny the transcendent or fix above the heads of men the lowest ceiling of all.
I thought the book was refreshingly honest, especially after spending several years as a public school teacher. He knows what he is talking about and expresses his acutely perceptive observations with a shrewd eye for language or as someone who actually spent most of his childhood outside, reading quality books and quietly contemplating the transcendent.
View all my reviews
For those who pray, please pray for this young man. He is the same age as my son. They went to school together. Horrible things happen to people in prison and I just pray for his salvation and protection.