When I was six, nothing was more important to me than pizza, the Blue Jays, and X-men. By certain contemporary standards, I was a selfish boy guilty of neglecting the plight of the marginalized. The National Post reported Wednesday that a father was angered when he saw the calendar of his six year old son’s day planner. December 17 was marked International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Feb. 6 was International Day of Zero Tolerance against Genital Mutilation, and what would an equitable, inclusive day planner for infants be without a call for Palestinian solidarity? The Toronto District School Board issues the planners at a cost of $10 each. Today, the TDSB is dedicated to extinguishing the ever present danger of childhood innocence.
A spokeswoman for the TDSB, Shari Schwartz-Maltz, explains that the board uses several suppliers to make the planners, plus some planners have specific pages unique for individual schools, making it hard to know how many schools received this exact planner. Couldn’t there be other planners running amok? Infants elsewhere might be readying for “9/11 conspiracy day,” or something similarly inclusive and equitable, but I suspect there are no “days of significance” honouring Milton Friedman or Maynard Keynes, those heroes of capitalism.
In one breath, a professor of education at OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) named Kathleen Gallagher clearly identifies the problem, then defends it nonetheless: “…no educator wants to overburden a young child with difficulty that he or she is unequipped for, but at the same time I have to say with equal vehemence that sometimes these prompts provide an opportunity, however difficult, for parents and children to have important conversations. And when it’s instituted in a calendar, it’s more likely that a child might ask their parents because walking around in the world, a child is going to encounter those ideas.”
The first part is lifted from Curb Your Enthusiasm when you say one thing before immediately negating it by saying “at the same time.” It’s less funny here. To be a nitpicker, you can’t argue both something and its opposite “with equal vehemence”…it’s clear what she vehemently believes. What’s really illustrative is her belief that six year old children require shielding from older kids on the playground who will inevitably talk about genital mutilation. She confuses her hyper-political OISE world of urgent causes for the world surrounding a six year old child. Kids only talk about genitals if they’re hit by a projectile, and that’s normally good for a laugh.
And Palestinian solidarity for six year olds? Outrageous. This supposes a highly partisan cause is universal, and even if it presented the issue in balanced terms, which of course it doesn’t, to discuss and learn about such a polarizing, complicated topic with kids so young is scandalously inappropriate. Perhaps the TDSB and OISE’s Gallagher expect parents to compare and contrast Theodore Herzl and Edward Said for their six year olds? This is standard issue from the school who awarded Jenny Peto a master’s degree for producing a rambling annotated autobiography. This is no accident, it’s propaganda. In another time and place, these children would be given machine guns and orders. Having an “important discussion” like this with a six year old is designed to go horribly wrong. Mommy, why do Jews love killing Arabs so much? Like Dicaprio in Inception, they’re planting a very controversial idea in somebody’s unguarded mind. Under the guise of enlightenment, militant lefties are brazenly and perniciously seeking to convert defenceless infants to their vile ranks. This isn’t a noble but “difficult conversation,” it’s child abuse. And I’m not in the least surprised.
Reckless, radical progressives make pilgrimages to OISE en masse because, even though OISE dabbles in education, the “school” is merely a front for its true purpose as an activist haven. During my year at OISE, I had a conversation with one of these humourless, disgruntled boors wherein he reduced Fifth Business, an internationally acclaimed novel about the way history is viewed, magic, and Jungian psychology, to a novel written by a dead white Christian man (I doubt it occurred to him that eventually he too would be a dead white Christian man). Immune to complexity, it never occurs to this species of philistine they can be mistaken, so they’re convinced they have a patent on morality. In the same class, “Actively Educating for Social & Economic Justice,” a kindergarten teacher-to-be volunteered that he was perfectly willing to reveal his political beliefs to the infants in his class. Politics in Kindergarten. Nobody in the room batted an eyelash. There’s a scene in Lord of the Rings where the evil Saruman watches his demonic beasts being formed from the nether regions of hell to wage war on the innocent. Such is OISE forming their teachers.
The National Post points out that OISE and the TDSB are not alone. The McGuinty government got heat last year for trying to introduce changes to the health education’s curriculum that would teach grade threes about homosexuality and grade sixes about masturbation—the latter a subject which, unlike say math or English, many students are autodidacts. Jan Wong in October’s Toronto Life reports on the growing number of Toronto public schools (more than 200 of nearly 600) have gardens where kids learn to grow vegetables while one in five can’t pass the grade ten literacy test administered by the provincially funded Education Quality and Accountability Office. (As of publishing, sadly this interesting article wasn’t available online). At this rate, believing school should have at least something to do with education will be seen as radical.