It does not take a great deal of penetrating insight to see that our society loves good stories. Why is that? I think in large part it is because the imagination can go to such wondrous places – far away and long ago – and as Tolkien once said so very well “…the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God.” (J.R.R. Tolkien:A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter)
Unfortunately not all fiction takes our children to God. Some very palpably draw our children from Him. Our schools have an obligation to introduce our children to the highest quality literature but under the guise of “realism” some very dark and hideous material is presented to them.
I had a rather dramatic episode clearly demonstrate this reality to me a few years ago. My son was enrolled in an on-line creative writing class and after a few weeks, he came to me with a disturbing reading selection. It involved a scene with an adult woman in bed with a 16 year old boy, her emotional manipulation of the boy to kill her husband, and a vivid description of the murderous deed. When I protested to the teacher about this selection, she said it was a mistake and she purged it from the system. Three weeks later another selection appeared worse than the first in which a young girl was being sexually molested by boys, her repeated rape by her father and then her eventual, vividly described suicide. I again protested, this time taking my son out of the class. I was assured that it was another mistake. The school has sincerely apologized and took steps to assure me that these kinds of selections wouldn’t slip in again though the teacher didn’t say anything other than “I respect your choice.” My concern here is two fold. One, this class had been going on for some time and the assigned readings had been given, and undoubtedly read, by many students before my son brought it to my attention. Why didn’t any other student protest? And if they did, why didn’t any other parent take the simple steps of having this material purged? My second concern is that these selections were taken from a school text book. What in the world are our texts books putting out?
I had another mother come to me recently and tell me she had to pull her daughter out of her freshman literature class because two of the books were clearly inappropriate, one being unashamedly pornographic. She had me look at the book and after perusing it for only a few moments, I came upon a scene in which a man was taking a woman’s under clothes off her body…graphic language included. Is this what we are paying for? Is this what we entrust our children to?
I have been a teacher for a lot of years; I have worked in both public and private schools, and I have known heroic teachers who work very hard to ensure that our children receive the best of educations, but I have seen examples of the opposite too. There is something wrong when students are given such horrendous material and only a very few voices are raised in protest.
Are we too busy to see what is being given to our children or are we perhaps fed the lie that “Well, this is the real world and we best let our children know the truth.” I had to ponder this possibility, and I came to the simple conclusion that yes – pornography, rape, seduction, and corruption of all kinds, is the real world – in hell. But that is not where I plan on sending my kids. That is not what I want them educated in – Elementary Evil 101.
We are a busy people, parents especially so, but we have a higher calling than even our earthly supervisors can supersede and that is to be the authorities and mentors of our children. We must know what they are reading and being exposed to; we bear the responsibility when their souls are turned from God because we did little protect their purity and guide their values. Schools can be wonderful places for education in so many ways, but parents are the primary educators of their children and as such we must be on guard.