Denying the Right to Learn


In Isaiah 3:4, God states, “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.” Apart from referring to the childish leadership evident in many nations today, this verse has a very literal application in the increasing power that children wield over their teachers in today’s education system.

A recent Spectator article drew attention to the detrimental effects the policy of allowing children to “rule” in the classroom is having on Britain’s young. The widespread disciplinary problems and the declining standard of education—in fact, most of the problems in schools, the Spectator stated—come directly from the “terrible misapprehension that children are capable of deciding for themselves what constitutes correct behavior” (March 5).

Throughout Western society, laws are enforced that preclude teachers from using most forms of disciplinary action; children are taught only to “interpret data” (i.e. form their own opinion) without being taught the knowledge in the first place; absolutes are removed and answers increasingly cannot be said to be “wrong.” Thus, the absurd notion that right behavior and habits can be acquired with no teaching is becoming entrenched. “[I]t simply does not do to tell children things anymore: It is the wrong approach” (ibid.).

This approach does not work. Take one typical example: In Scotland, in just five years, violent assaults by children upon teachers rose over 900 percent, to 6,899 in 2002-2003.

Right behavior is a learned habit. As the great educator Herbert W. Armstrong often pointed out, animals are born with instinct; humans must be taught! Ironically, the approach of education today—in its great attempt to treat children as responsible adults who know how to make wise choices—is in fact treating them more like animals, assuming they have an instinct that will tell them the right thing to do. Children need to be instructed in the knowledge, behavior and self-discipline they need to live a happy and productive life.

The belief that children can figure out for themselves how to act, and that adults have no right to impose any sort of behavioral standard, is in fact impeding their ability to learn in every area. In protecting the so-called rights of children to behave as they will, the educational system is destroying the very “right” that it is designed to protect: the children’s right to learn.

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