Now that conservatives are done basking in the glow of last Tuesday’s decimation of the Democrats, it is a good time to remind everybody that the election did not change anything about the fundamental ideological orientation, such as it is, of average Americans. Yes, they’ve had several years now to see the bankruptcy of progressive, statist governance, but they no more embrace constitutional, limited government today than they did the day before the election.
For that to happen the culture must change, and for the culture to change, the liberal hegemony in entertainment, media, and education must be challenged and overcome. Whether that is from within the industries and institutions themselves, or from conservatives creating their own alternatives, or preferably both, cultural transformation is the only way the promise of America’s founding can be recaptured.
One example of where this is happening in baby steps includes my recently Hillsdale-graduated daughter, Gabrielle. She just started teaching 5th grade at a public charter school in the Tampa, Florida area. I’ve always thought that conservatives cannot just sit by while over 50 million(!) children are daily being brainwashed and indoctrinated by liberalism in America’s public schools. But this monopoly is a very tough cookie to crack because the teachers unions completely dominate every aspect of K-12 education.
But charter schools are a way for sanity and truth to get a foot in the door, or at least a little toe, and specifically classical charter schools, like the one where Gabrielle teaches. The title of the article about her school tells you just how radical it is:
New Pasco charter school focuses on the classics, humanities
I didn’t even know that was allowed! Ever since John Dewey and the progressives ruined American public education starting in the first half of the 20th Century, anything to do with the classics and the humanities, the past, and anything not focused on “progress” was increasingly ignored. Not unlike the progressive governance of Obama and modern Democrats, that just hasn’t worked very well.
Prior to Dewey, American children basically studied what we’re now calling classical education. In addition to learning the skills of what it takes to become a truly educated person, it also taught the truths of what made Western Civilization so special, and what made this American experiment in republican government so unique in the history of the world. It had the additional benefit of working, of producing children and then adults who become productive,self-reliant, contributing citizens to a healthy Republic. Classical education could not be more different from what we find in 21st century teachers colleges and public school classrooms (and many private schools as well).
Among the many incredible things Hillsdale does, it has a charter school initiative that helps parents and citizens seeking a charter develop their academic programs. I don’t believe Hillsdale was directly involved with helping Classical Prep get started, but they recruited at Hillsdale, thus Gabrielle teaching there; they deeply value what a Hillsdale education can do for their teachers. One thing Gabrielle has pointed out is that not many teachers or administrators at the school, or any, really get classical education and how qualitatively different it is from your basic public school curriculum. The founders of Classical Prep hope Gabrielle’s presence will attract more Hillsdale graduates. I’m betting her passion for classical education and her students will do that.
What makes classical education so powerful and so countercultural is that it teaches and presupposes that there really are things such as goodness, beauty, and truth, and that these are not simply subjective states of the human mind, but inhere in a reality that is objectively true. Such a view of reality, or worldview, is the diametric opposite of the dominant zeitgeist of our contemporary intellectual and cultural elites. Measured against such a substantive perspective that is completely consistent with human nature, progressive schemes of top-down dominance have no chance.
I’ve said this many times: the current liberal hegemony in American culture is every bit as solid and eternal as the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall, the fall of which happened to be on this very date, November 9, twenty-five years ago. This liberal cultural domination is destined for the dustbin of history, as Ronald Reagan predicted of the Soviet Union not many years before the Wall fell. Many conservatives today are just as skeptical of liberalism’s wall falling as most of us where prior to this day in 1989 when the that tyrannical symbol of communism came tumbling down. Truth has a way of winning out in the end.