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Institutional Failure


I was going to blog more this afternoon but I sprained my damn ankle, and am dealing with a mild mononucleosis relapse, and so am in a rotten mood. I’m going to sit on the couch and read Houellebecq. That should cheer me up, perverse pessimist that I am. If that doesn’t work, then Wodehouse.

Meanwhile, here’s some dystopian delight from the comments section and the mailbag. I’m being comic-snarky about my afflictions, but the things these two readers write about are very serious, and I hope you’ll take them that way.

Reader Heidi comments:

I’ve been contemplating this note to you and your readership for quite awhile now but haven’t had the time to really sit down and hammer out the words in a way that made sense.

Everything that you’ve been writing about with regard to education in America right now has been played out in our family to one degree or another. Our oldest child is in her second year of college. She was homeschooled all the way through high school, but began attending a local community college, with a very diverse student body, when she was 15 in order to fulfill some strict requirements that our state has for homeschoolers. That, in and of itself, was a terrific experience for her and our second child followed suit.

Ditto for her as far as how that played out both academically and socially. The only negative came when a teacher suggested, on the first day of a lower level composition class, that they should prepare themselves for what could be a terribly bumpy semester, emotionally. He said that they should avail themselves of “counseling services” because the material they were about to study could cause them to “self harm”. He went on to say that he was hoping to really “dig deep” into current culture and was planning to have them both watch and intellectually dissect the film Deadpool as one of their assignments. When one of the students protested that the college probably wouldn’t let him do that, the teacher assured them that it *would* be happening.

Needless to say, we pulled our 15 year old from that class and she took a European Lit survey course instead.

Then came the hard part. Oldest child goes to a Catholic university and lives at home where we get full reports on how nominally Catholic said university is and how dismal the social life; fraternities, sports, drinking and sex being the primary activities. She transferred to a public university with the claim, “I can spend thousands less for what might be a better education!”

Turns out that…nope. The public university is filled with classes on how to make up for your privilege, your whiteness, your successful upbringing, how to read history through a trans lens, how to dissect poetry from the literary point of view of black lesbianism etc. etc. Because of her grades she was invited into the honors program where she took classes with African American professors who shamed the white students, especially the white men, about pretty much everything. She was mortified and *left the honors program* because she said she simply couldn’t spend the next two years sitting in classrooms deflecting all the negative garbage that was being thrown at her.

She was very upset over the experience. She said it made her feel, for the first time in her life, that blacks and whites might have zero chance of working out their issues in her or indeed ANY lifetime. The divisiveness was being fed. By professors. In the classroom.

She is also a writer and has a job writing for a university publication with a wide readership and over 500 other writers on staff. The managing editor will often throw out column ideas to the pool of writers in order to generate dialog and a few of them have been…doozies. One, just mentioned to me last night, was “Six Boys You Will Definitely Sleep With Before College Is Over.” Here’s another, “Why I Don’t Have To Tell You I’m Trans Before You Date Me.” Another, “Why You Should Tell Me Your Trans Before I Date You.” And on.

You can’t make this stuff up. It’s really happening. She has backed off on having any kind of “college experience” and is now just waiting for it to be over so she can “live my real life.”

Second child is enrolled at a much smaller Catholic college and will also live at home but we do not have high, or rather ANY, expectations that the college is Catholic in anything but name.

Finally, child number three who was homeschooled through fifth grade and expressed the desire to attend school has spent the last four years suffering (I don’t use this term lightly) at a Catholic boys school under the most un-Catholic conditions I could imagine. We’ve pulled the plug. He’s staying home this year and will homeschool and attend the same community college his sisters did.

We had hoped for a much better experience for all of our children. Hoped that the adults in charge and the children being taught would all have known better than to behave they way they did, they are, they will continue to. It’s shocking in a way that I can’t fully express but I’m telling you that education in America is DEAD and there will be no resurrection. I can’t point the finger at exactly who or what handed it over to be crucified, but they did, and it was.

Educational institutions.

So, how’s the institution of the family doing in preparing the young for a healthy, productive adulthood? A different reader writes:

I’m a caseworker and I see the darkest side of American life. Sometimes I wish Christians, who fail to grasp the depth of collapse in American culture, could spend a day with me. The truth is dark, disturbing, and disgusting.

Today, I found out that the brother of one of my kids raped his own grandmother, either before or after, he murdered her. DNA testing confirmed this.

Another boy in one of my coworkers’ care watches ISIS videos on youtube and tells people he wants to cut their heads off. He’s ten.

Methamphetamine use is ubiquitous among parents here and makes up a large percentage of the reason kids are brought into state custody.

The state throws therapeutic fixes at them that don’t work. One mother has been involved with the state since the mid 90s and has done all the classes we recommend. Her kids are again in our care.

What everyone needs is the Gospel. It alone transforms people and gives their restless hearts a place of true rest and peace. If we can see how far Christianity is from the modern secular world and stop courting it, we’d begin to see the need for a “parallel polis.” Since I’ve started working here it has shown me the desperate need of a counterculture that looks at life, from birth to death, in a completely different way than our modern world does.

That’s … powerful. That man sees things that I can scarcely comprehend.

If you choose to respond to either or both of these reader comments, kindly restrict yourself to serious commentary, not snarking. Feel perfectly free to make fun of my medical malaise, however, and the fact that reading Michel Houellebecq honestly cheers me up. My wife thinks it’s very weird. She’s not entirely wrong. I tell her that anything I read that helps me to see the world more clearly cheers me up, in some way.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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