As I was driving Monday morning, I heard a discussion on Glenn Beck’s program that was particularly bothersome to me. It wasn’t that uncommon for this time of year. In fact, I overheard a couple of similar conversations in person this last weekend. It all involved the question of whether or not young people are being properly told the meaning of important national holidays, like Memorial Day.
The guest host filling in for Beck, as well as the callers he was talking to almost all placed the blame for this lack of civic knowledge at the feet of our public school system. Anyone who knows me or who has listened to my radio program for any length of time knows that I am not one to excuse the failures of our school system – either the national superstructure of academia, the college professors who are writing the textbooks, the teachers’ unions who are advancing ideology over education, or the legislators who pretend to know how best to write curriculum. The whole system is lacking.
But what always makes me uncomfortable about these kinds of conversations like the ones on Beck’s show, is the fact that too often the “failure of our schools” becomes an excuse for our own failures as parents. The very same adults who are worrying about what our schools aren’t teaching their kids, ironically aren’t taking the time to teach it to their kids themselves.
Even amongst conservatives, who seemingly understand the values and ideals of personal responsibility, there is a serious lack of awareness that we shouldn’t be relying on a group of adults employed by a government agency to teach our children the significant cultural and societal traditions we cherish.
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This isn’t to excuse schools when they fail to properly transmit American values and Western ideals onto our students – not at all. Incidentally, I will say that when it comes to Memorial Day, the holiday typically falls at the end of a school year, where if the schools are even still in session, they are most likely in the rushed and hurried stage of student finals and grade confirmations. While that isn’t an excuse as to why some schools aren’t teaching about Memorial Day and its significance, it is at least an explanation.
But in the larger sense, this is my point: Biblically the responsibility for training up the next generation falls upon parents. Period. This isn’t about it taking a village. It isn’t about it taking a school. It is about it taking a family – parents, specifically. If parents choose to utilize the government school system as a supplement to the education and teaching they are providing to their children, so be it. But the government school system should never be seen or viewed as a proxy parent, or a replacement for the role Mom and Dad play in a child’s upbringing.
The moment that mistake is made, our culture has far more problems than kids not properly understanding Memorial Day.