Beyond basics: Schools must teach 'virtues and habits' of free people
"Back to basics" education isn't enough, writes Gillian Richards on The American Conservative. "Some conservatives have responded to morally toxic content in schools by implying that proper education should be morally neutral," just "the practical stuff" needed to get a job, she writes. Everything else is up to the parents.
But, "education is about forming a student’s character — about cultivating certain virtues and habits," Richards writes. While "parents are the primary caregivers and educators of their children, schools must cultivate and reinforce what’s taught at home."
"We want kids to have the basic knowledge and skills to get a job and make a living," she writes. But it's not enough to teach "facts" or "science."
As the Founders knew, students need "the virtues and habits that sustain a free and lasting republic."
Teach great literature that builds character and shapes children's "moral imagination," writes Jennifer Frey.
In great literature, characters make choices between right and wrong, they face dangers, threats, and other harms, as well as opportunities, choices, and temptations. They sometimes find themselves in extraordinary circumstances that call forth heroic virtues in them or that may bring out the worst in them. . . . Reading great fiction and literary nonfiction (such as biography) helps children to see reality in a deeper way.
Captain Underpants may be fun, but it's not feeding your child's mind, writes Frey. She recommendsThe Tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, Arabian Nights, the folklore of the Brothers Grimm, the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson, children's versions of The Odyssey and Beowulf, as well as The Hobbit, The Princess and the Goblin, The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, Number the Stars, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Wonder and other children’s classics.