The anti-racism curriculum, which is increasingly being adopted by the American K-12 schools, contains so much misinformation that the growing backlash has predictably centered on course content. Teaching children that the US Constitution was designed by whites to enslave minorities, that modern scientific concepts are racist, that “correct” mathematical answers are few for people of color, and that the classics of Western literature are replaced with social justice Theory is not, as most parents think, that their children should be raised.
Unfortunately, outrage over the subject has led even thoughtful observers to overlook the fact that bright curricula involve much more than distorted views of history, scientific method, and social relationships – they also employ teaching methods that have been shown to be they cause serious psychological damage regardless of what is being taught. These include the frequent use of shame, forcing public confessions of so-called “privilege”, accepting one’s own socio-economic background as an excuse for not attaining it, and promoting ideological conformity as the best way to deal with social conflict.
To understand how emotionally damaging these methods can be, it pays to think back to a time when every graduate school impressed its education teachers with the importance of building a youth’s self-esteem. Even the professors who felt that the K-12 classroom should be used more systematically to improve racial relations understood the importance of building each student’s self-confidence. If anything sociological research had proven, it was the link between self-esteem development in childhood and adult success later.
Unfortunately, today’s bright curriculum does far more to undermine a child’s sense of worth than to build it up. In fact, one can hardly think of a more effective way to care for disorganized and incompetent adults. As a senior teacher in the Buffalo Public School system recently said, anti-racist classrooms have evolved into little more than a series of “scolding, guilt, and demands to humiliate yourself in order to make another feel empowered.” .
Of particular clinical concern is the systematic use of shame to make even the youngest students personally responsible for historical events over which they had no control. As the August 9, 2019 issue of Scientific American reported, people who are deliberately ashamed – even for a modest violation of social norms – are at much greater risk of depression and anxiety disorders. They are also more likely to avoid close relationships and repress emotions, even decades after a humiliating event.
It turns out that those who have been repeatedly embarrassed for any reason are significantly less likely to have the risk taking necessary for adult success. They fear that failure could lead others to devalue them further and only dare to do the things that are guaranteed to end well. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Psychology, some are permanently incapacitated by feelings of inferiority, hopelessness, and helplessness.
It’s no surprise that school-age children are particularly vulnerable to socially-induced humiliation. Since younger people’s identities are not fully formed, they are overly sensitive to being judged due to their uncertainty about how to deal with the expectations of others. This fact has been apparent for years when it comes to online bullying, but the high-minded social justice rhetoric normally used to justify curricula has unfortunately led many of us to overlook what psychoanalyst Carl Jung once called “Soul-eating” consequences referred to artificially induced guilt.
While some might argue that playing with the emotional well-being of American children poses an acceptable risk to the goal of ending racism, evidence so far suggests that shame in the classroom is just as likely to cause discrimination as healing. “Shame is the ultimate divider,” warns psychologist Anna I. Smith. “It’s a me versus them feeling. A deliberate act to make you feel like an outsider. “As a” pointing gesture, “she says, it can easily do the opposite of what was intended.
New York Times and Washington Post health reporter Ashley Abramson agrees with Smith, noting that a growing number of professionals have expressed serious reservations about the way Americans try to deal with the legacy of racism. “While a healthy dose of guilt about the collective role in anti-black racism can motivate people to listen, learn and do better,” she writes, “experts say wallowing in shame could do the opposite . “
Using shame and other confidence-defeating techniques to reshape a child’s personality would be sufficient under the supervision of a licensed professional, but bright curricula are usually implemented by teachers with no clinical experience or mental health certification. Worse, their work is often done without regard to the legitimate concerns of the students’ parents.
For example, at Magnolia Elementary School in Seattle, fifth graders were instructed to read books on racial inequality and then asked to share their subsequent feelings with the group. Headmistress Katie Leary proudly admits that Magnolia’s methods create an outlook “that may be different from her home culture” but has no problem with the idea of “having anti-racist children in school, regardless of whether they are in an anti-racist one Live at home or not ”.
Christopher Rufo, reporter for the City Journal, says kindergarten teachers in the aforementioned Buffalo Public School curriculum compare their skin colors with crayons and then watch a video of dead black children talking to them from beyond the grave about “racist police and government sanctioned individuals “speak violence.” By the time the same children reached fifth grade, they were taught to view larger society as a “school-to-grave pipeline” for black children and a place where one million adults at any one point in time Minorities are “caged” – psychologically disruptive views that are unlikely to be shared by every parent.
Even school districts that seem to seek community input don’t really do so. As I write these words, the Education Board in my hometown of Redding, Connecticut, has partnered with the board of neighboring Easton (both cities share a high school) to form a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force. That committee, in turn, has set itself the task of doing what many similar groups across America have been doing in recent years – design surveys of local students and parents, the results of which are believed to be used to improve the curriculum. But never do these efforts – usually driven by local progressive activists – involve consulting a seasoned pollster who can uncover hidden agendas, ensure that the results are interpreted fairly, and confirm that subsequent changes in the classroom are as humane as ideologically influential.
How much psychological damage today’s curricula have already done to American school children is something we will likely never accurately document. Given the increasing pressures under which university researchers are currently working, no academic will risk his or her career to answer such a question.
What we do know, as former New York Times writer and editor Bari Weiss recently noted, is that the progressive ideology at the heart of the Woke School is based on remarkably remarkable tactics: “Conviction is being replaced by public shame. Forgiveness is replaced by punishment. Mercy is replaced by vengeance. Pluralism with conformity; Debate with De-Platforming; Facts with feelings; Ideas with identity. “
We also know that teachers with documented therapeutic competence are able to provide an environment for care for children at risk. Studies show that educators who can develop a trusting relationship with their students – a relationship characterized by unconditional warmth and affection – can also inspire students from broken, unstable, and nursing homes. Unfortunately, this type of non judgmental encouragement is just the opposite of how ideologically motivated anti-racist curricula expect modern educators to behave.
Regardless of whether you believe America was founded in 1776 or 1619, it is important to recognize the enormous psychological risk anti-racial education takes on young people. Aside from any inaccuracies that could be claimed about American history, curricula have been brought far too close to psychiatric misconduct for a loving parent to be comfortable with.
Dr. Lewis M. Andrews is the author of the new book “Living Spiritually in the Material World” (Fidelis Books).