Children As Hostages To Fortune

Toddler HopscotchIn his rather cynical essay on marriage, Sir Francis Bacon wrote, “He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mis- chief.” While his edict on impediments is questionable, he was right in saying, “Yet it were great reason that those that have children, should have greatest care of future times; unto which they know they must transmit their dearest pledges.” We’ve broadened the meaning of hostage to fortune to include anything that, “could be harmed by things that happen in the future.”1 Fast forward four centuries to The Carpenters’ hit song, “Bless the Beasts and the Children,” with its lyrics, “For in this world they have no voice, They have no choice.” Children remain, and will always be, the most vulnerable hostages to fortune. As parents we are the ones who should have their greatest care and welfare at heart. We are stewards of our little ones.

After Obama proposed universal preschool in his State of the Union speech, there was a spate of articles and opinions online on how ill-advised this would be, substantiated by research and critiquing Obama’s reasoning. There’s a list below in the references—a list by no means complete. Some of them speak to the far greater impact of family in combating poverty and helping children succeed. Dig into early childhood research and you will find time and again that little children thrive best at home with mom. The truth is, however, that the Left has never let such studies stand in the way of their agenda. Why is that? In John Dewey the Social Engineer I quoted Jonah Goldberg from his book, Liberal Fascism (emphasis added):

Progressive education has two parents, Prussia and John Dewey. The kinder- garten was transplanted into the United States from Prussia in the nineteenth century…One of the core tenets of the early kindergartens was the dogma that “the government is the true parent of the children, the state is sovereign over the family.” The progressive followers of John Dewey expanded this program to make public schools incubators of a national religion. They discarded the militaristic rigidity of the Prussian model, but retained the aim of indoctrinating children. The methods were informal, couched in the sincere desire to make learning “fun,” relevant,” and “empowering.” The self-esteem obsession that saturates our schools today harks back to the Deweyan reforms from before World War II. But beneath the individualistic rhetoric lies a mission for democratic social justice, a mission Dewey himself defined as a religion. For other progressives, capturing children in schools was part of the larger effort to break the backbone of the nuclear family, the institution most resistant to political indoctrination.2

The family has always stood between progressives and their goal; indeed, the family stands between all utopians and their ideas of implementing the best society—ideas which always include coercion of those who raise objections to their plan.

Dewey wrote “My Pedagogic Creed” in 1897, a short essay that’s online, in which he advocates child-centered education, an education that is not so much to enhance the individual growth of the child as it is to enable the child to find his place in a group and “to conceive of himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs.” This collectivist thinking is echoed today in the mindset and philosophy that refers to people as “human capital.” On February 19th, Christel Swasey wrote this post on a speech given by Arne Duncan, the Secretary of the Department of Education, titled “Improving Human Capital in an Competitive World– Education Reform in the United States,” and on February 23rd, Oak Norton wrote this post on a paper titled “Framework for a Multistate Human Capital Development Data System.”

The Christian understanding that human beings are created by God in His image stands in direct opposition to the assessing and cataloging of people as human capital—an idea that springs from a concept of man birthed by statism, a religion of secular utopianism in which we’re cogs serving the wheel of the state. “At heart, all political problems really are moral and religious problems.” In Hegel: Romancing the State, I quoted R. C. Sproul as saying:

In statism, we see the suffix “ism,” which indicates a philosophy or worldview. A decline from statehood to statism happens when the government is perceived as or claims to be the ultimate reality. This reality then replaces God as the supreme entity upon which human existence depends.

Children are pawns to utopians because children are the future of society, and so become targets of indoctrination. But we should not allow children to be taken hostage by utopian statists. “…those that have children, should have greatest care of future times.” Our children need us to be their voice, to be a blessing to them in our protection, guidance, and love, because they themselves are our dearest pledges to the future, and indeed, they themselves also, are a blessing to us in the present.

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Posts on Common Core are currently listed in the right side bar. They are permanently listed in the Common Core subpage that’s found under Family→Children→Education in the heading.
Little boy and girl playing hopscotch together. Ilya Haykinson. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
1Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006. Accessed February 28, 2013.
2Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism (Broadway Books, New York NY: 2007, 2009) 326–327.
My posts on John Dewey are listed here at the bottom of the page.
R. C. Sproul, Statism. From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343. Dr. Sproul majored in philosophy in college. Hegel is also mentioned in Denying God’s Transcendence and A Christology of Feeling.

Columns on Obama’s State of the Union and preschool:
February 14, 2013: Shane Vander Hart, Obama Brags About ObamaCore in State of the Union Address, Truth in American Education.
February 16, 2013: The Editors, Preschool Science, National Review Online.
February 17, 2013: stlgretchen, Is Lack of Universal Preschool the Reason For Poverty?, Missouri Education Watchdog.
February 19, 2013: Rich Lowry, The Faux Empiricist, National Review Online.
February 19, 2013: Obama and UT Senator Push For Government Preschools: Why it’s So Wrong, COMMON CORE Education Without Representation.
February 20, 2013: Charles Murray, The Shaky Science Behind Obama’s Universal Pre-K, Bloomberg News.
February 20, 2013: The Editors, Preschool debate obscures core problem: Our view, USA Today.
February 21, 2013: Brad Jackson, Obama Pushes Universal Pre-K Despite Evidence it Hurts Children, RedState.
February 23, 1013: Susan Berry, HHS Study: Head Start Kids Have More Problems with Math, Social Interactions, BreitbartNews.
February 24, 2013: Matt Vespa, Obama Should Focus on The Family, Instead of Universal Preschool, The PJ Tatler.


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