The Stigmatized Science Fair Project: School Indoctrination, Power Abuse and Passive Parents

indoctrinationFrom Lenore Skanzy’s useful and fascinating blog Free Range Kids comes a report from a mother whose Middle Schooler’s science fair project was summarily disqualified after he devoted months of work on it because it involved Airsoft guns, the realistic-looking gun replicas that shoot plastic pellets—toys, though expensive ones, much favored by pre-teen and teen-aged boys. The Airsoft was not physically featured in the project display; apparently the boy was punished for having the bad taste to use anything that looked and behaved like a gun in any activity related to school. According to the mother, his experiment, involving the spin on propelled objects, received a high enough score to send him and his experiment to the regionals, had he not been slapped down for daring to use a toy gun at his own home.

What is going on here? What is going on is a concerted, widespread nation-wide, ideologically-motivated and unethical effort by teachers, administrators and school districts to create a pervasive anti-gun, anti-gun ownership, anti-Second Amendment and pro-gun confiscation culture in the schools, ensuring, through cultural reinforcement, that future generations emerge from public education thoroughly phobic about guns no matter what their purpose. This abuse of power, a particularly stupid, sinister and ignorant abuse of power, is being encouraged by elected officials and the news media, and it is the tip of a very ugly iceberg.

This isn’t about guns, though they are the target this time. It is about school personnel and schools using their influence to implant ideology and political policy views in children, which is neither their job nor the appropriate role of public education. In the past (and present) these efforts have been focused on drugs, cigarettes, environmentalism, homosexuality, religion, sex, “social justice” and other issues that require nuanced instruction without ideological slant to be appropriate topics for the classroom, and for the most part, teachers have neither the skills nor the restraint to meet that standard. Now, spurred by Newtown, they are determined to inculcate their charges with the simple-minded (and wrong) message “Guns baaad!“, so they will happily, at some glorious future date, surrender their Constitutional right to defend their homes and families with firearms. Parents, media commentators and government officials who look benignly on this process are naive and foolish. The technique, which includes, as we have seen, punishing and stigmatizing students who show any interest, favor or familiarity with guns so that a clear message goes out to the rest (“Guns baaad!” Previous messages: “Single motherhood OK!”…”Nuclear energy evil!”…”War always wrong!”…”God is great!” “America racist!”…), is effective, and it is alien to a democracy that holds that the government has no business telling us or our children what to believe.

It is a mistake to regard the students punished for bringing LEGO guns to school, or wearing an NRA T-shirt, or biting their pizza into the shape of a gun, and attribute it just to gun phobia and incompetent school personnel. That is doubtlessly part of it, but the cumulative effect of all this is to make children not only fear guns but to link the very concept of guns with rejection and punishment….and it is not accidental.  This is Skinnerian conditioning and negative reinforcement, not just excessive discipline. The mother who reported the science fair episode wrote that she wasn’t too upset about it because her son’s grade wasn’t affected and he didn’t care about the regionals. Wrong. She has an obligation to object strenuously, and to work to build consensus among parents, even anti-gun parents, that the disqualification was outrageous, unfair, abusive and intolerable, as is any effort by the schools to dictate ideological attitudes.. Schools must not be allowed to punish children for liking or thinking about guns, any more than they should be allowed to punish children for believing in God, thinking illegal immigrants shouldn’t have drivers’ licenses, holding that the results of global warming are too speculative and uncertain to justify hamstringing industry, arguing that the national debt is too large, insisting that couples should be in a stable, committed relationship before they have children, or knowing that the Yankees suck. School indoctrination is dangerous and wrong, a totalitarian device, and parents have a duty as parents and as Americans to stop it even when they happen to agree with the particular message being implanted in their children’s malleable minds.

Causing me to emit a loud scream and begin pounding my head against the wall was this, the closing paragraph from “Mom of a Boy Not Going to Regionals”:

“I really have the utmost respect for the administration of my childrens’ school.  I know that it is the crazy hypersensitive world that we live in today that makes decisions like this one happen.  If they had better options in the face of the tragedy at Newtown, I wholeheartedly believe they would have chosen those.  And I don’t really know if our administration or the state that made the final decision.  All I know is that it was the decision that was made. I think that sometimes administration is forced to do things that look like solutions in order to make people who have been all jazzed up by the media feel better.  Better they do something that accomplishes nothing than nothing at all.”

This is an irresponsible, foolish, naive, namby-pamby, cowardly, civicly outrageous and ethically lazy response to a serious national, educational and cultural problem of profound importance.  Every single sentence is a surrender, and an abdication of responsible parenting and citizenship:

  • “I really have the utmost respect for the administration of my childrens’ school.  Respect them? For punishing her child when he did nothing wrong? For encouraging irrational gun phobia? For making the statement that science must be suppressed for political purposes? For being stupid, abusing power, and making up rules as they go along? She respects that? Why? What is respectable about incompetence, unfairness, indoctrination  and ignorance? What is respectable?
  • I know that it is the crazy hypersensitive world that we live in today that makes decisions like this one happen.  It doesn’t “make” anything happen. Professionals are supposed to be able to make decisions based on their duties and obligations, according to principles, logic, standards and laws. It is not professional to make “crazy hypersensitive” decisions because others are. That is called cowardice and incompetence.
  • If they had better options in the face of the tragedy at Newtown, I wholeheartedly believe they would have chosen those.  Explain how punishing a kid for using a toy gun in a legitimate science fair project is a better option “in the face of the tragedy at Newtown” than anything. It’s not a fair option, a reasonable option, a sensible option or justifiable option, so how can it be “better” when it isn’t even good. Or is she saying that indoctrination is the best option available? If so, this mother is willing to let strangers twist her child’s mind into their preferred ideological shape, with no objections—indeed, she thinks it’s “the best option” to prevent a Connecticut school massacre that occurred months ago. She is as irresponsible a parent as they are abusive educators, and an incompetent citizen as well.
  • And I don’t really know if our administration or the state that made the final decision.  What’s the difference? They are one and the same, the end result was to victimize her son, and it is her duty to protest.
  • All I know is that it was the decision that was made. Ugh. What’s done is done, it’s probably for the best, who am I to judge, hey, they’re the experts, you can’t fight city hall, they are only doing what they think is best, I have to walk a mile in their shoes, what are you gonna do?, we should pick our battles, they have a lot of things to worry about, don’t make waves, let’s all get along…apathy, rationalizations, laziness, foolishness, passivity, abdication of duty and responsibility. “Mom of a Boy Not Going to Regionals” is the kind of flabby-minded citizen who will allow her child, freedom, rights and liberties to be stolen from right under her nose, and will shrug it off as not worth arguing about. She is our political leaders’ favorite kind of citizen, and she is a nice, friendly, happy, kind threat to the nation.
  • I think that sometimes administration is forced to do things that look like solutions in order to make people who have been all jazzed up by the media feel better And this is OK with her, apparently. By all means, make ignorant people “all jazzed up” by an incompetent and irresponsible media “feel better” at the cost of her son’s educational experience, thus validating the media’s unethical conduct, and allowing ignorance to trump education.
  • Better they do something that accomplishes nothing than nothing at all.”  Time to start banging that head! Not giving her son due credit for a project he worked diligently on is “nothing.” The statement itself is idiotic; in context, it means “Better they do something that accomplishes nothing but unjustly punishing my own son  than nothing at all.”

Yes, the mother’s lazy reasoning and passivity is more frightening than the school, because her attitude is common and pervasive, and there are a lot of people like her. School indoctrination, however, is frightening enough.

_________________________________

Pointer: tgt

Facts: Free Range Kids

Graphic: Digital Counter Revolution

18 thoughts on “The Stigmatized Science Fair Project: School Indoctrination, Power Abuse and Passive Parents

  1. “What is going on is…”

    Why Jack, are you suggesting that there is a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy?? Perhaps future President Hillary and her husband will be able to disabuse you of such wasted speculation – if you can refrain from heckling them. Certainly the Clintons, the science fair student’s mom and her son would be completely comfortable and unconflicted with a new U.S. Constitution that begins with “We the sheeple…” But first, DOMA and guns must go.

    • Lots of educators doing the same thing independently because they are of similar mindset, arrogance, narrow-mindedness, incompetence and ignorance does not constitute a conspiracy. It is not coordinated or concerted action, just common action.

      • Even if the actions are just common among multiple independent actors (which they are not, independent, that is), not coordinated or concerted, it serves the same purposes and advances the same ends. The powers within various “establishment” strongholds know that, and strive to enable it all, exploiting to maximum possible benefit to themselves “similar mindset, arrogance, narrow-mindedness, incompetence and ignorance.”

        Perhaps a little off topic: I am looking for an ideologically and ethically neutral one-word antonym for “austerity,” as it relates to governments’ economic policies. So far, the only candidates I have found are levity, plenty, and opulence. Those just don’t quite seem to match what I’m looking for. But they are wonderfully Orwellian, if you oppose “austerity.”

  2. “By all means, make ignorant people “all jazzed up” by an incompetent and irresponsible media “feel better” at the cost of her son’s educational experience, thus validating the media’s unethical conduct, and allowing ignorance to trump education.”

    And that’s without even contemplating the collusion between the media, who get everyone ‘all jazzed up’ and the administration who is forced to act ‘because the publice demands it.’

    In other words, the politi-media complex gets to write themselves a blank check and do whatever the heck they want. And people will praise them for doing it. The checks and balances are gone, they’ve figured out a way to bypass the braking system. Now we just have to hope that we’ll like the world they want us to live in.

    The very fact that that’s our best hope guarantees I won’t.

      • This is beyond absurd and the mother is just as culpable in perpetuating this abuse as the bureaucracy that is institutionalizing it.

          • I didn’ t know you did. That’s why I asked. If you heard the music at the link, though, that might have had the same effect on you as it has had on me, only worse for you. So far, I have been able to listen to tunes at that site and keep my stomach from pushing my meals back toward my throat. But someday, my luck may run out; I can’t help but suspect there is some kind of “aural Ipecac” in those sounds, you know like how lights can do the strobe thing to induce nausea? I wonder if the kind people who have supported the site’s creation even realize how those sounds impact.

            Of course, imagining that the mom is singing the lyrics of that one song, adapted to worship a false god, is fairly nauseating too, but by a slightly different cognitive-reactive pathway.

  3. Sounds more and more like school. Feeling and associated feelings trump common sense and logic. In another thirty years it will feel like we’ve moved the whole country to mars…er…Venus.

  4. It’s stories like this that make me extra-grateful for my own parents idealism, and their willingness to go to the wall for both of their children not just to fix an unjust punishment or poor grade, but just because we were in the right and the teachers were wrong, and you don’t teach your kids to cave to authority simply because it’s there.

    • It’s stories like this that make me shudder like I avoided a bus collision, because if we hadn’t pulled our son out of public school for home schooling, I’d be in jail now.

      • Aside from good parents I was lucky and went to a small-town school where there was less chance of giant cogs of bureaucracy crushing out common sense. I did have one run-in with a new principal who tried to suspend me for carrying a pocket knife allowed by the student code, though, on the grounds that “even if it’s allowed, it makes people uncomfortable.”

    • Parents (on the grand scale) aren’t very good teachers, or judges of what should be taught. You really need specialists, and the ability to judge the specialists.

      I suspect there would also be significantly more indoctrination in the private sphere than in the public sphere. The public schools do have some limits.

  5. When I was a high school lad, a quarter century ago, one of my physics projects involved shooing a BB gun through two strips of foil. (And timing them with an Apple II.)

    This was done in the classroom, mind, in a suburban public school.

    I heard, but did not witness, that the when the superintendent of schools visited one evening, this experiment was demonstrated for him. He fired the BB himself — and missed the foil, hit the alligator clip holding it, almost putting his eye out with the ricochet.

    Also, to tie in another thread, I recall my physics teacher borrowing my Swiss Army Knife on more than one occasion.

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