Le tenere menti dei nostri bimbi vengono esposte tutti i giorni a una duplice minaccia, due “incubi verdi”: il pedofilo al parchetto e la maestra fissata con l’ ambiente.
Poiché il secondo esemplare è più numeroso e scorrazza indisturbato ancora oggi (2012) libero di interferire nell’ educazione dei più vulnerabili, ogni sana crociata contro le molestie all’ infanzia dovrebbe accordargli la precedenza.
The cult of environmentalism demands that children abandon all independent thought about the nature of rights and obligations, replacing it with mindless subservience to the value judgments of their teachers.
It wouldn’t be difficult for teachers to address environmental issues in a refreshingly different way—as invitations to critical thought. I believe, for example, that my child is old enough to think sensibly about the issue of whether to leave the water running while she brushes her teeth.
When she lets water run down the drain, she denies other people the use of that water. The value of that use, to a very good approximation, is measured by the price of the water. Cayley, now aged nine, is capable—with a little assistance in the form of leading questions—of estimating how much water escapes during a toothbrushing session, the value of that water, and whether that value is or is not high enough to justify the effort of turning the faucets off and on. That’s a good exercise in estimation and a good exercise in arithmetic. It’s also a great way for her to discover the true miracle of the marketplace: As long as Cayley cares about her own family’s water bill, she will automatically account for the interests of everyone else who might be interested in using that water.
But Cayley’s teachers have not wanted her to think clearly about such issues, perhaps out of fear that clear thought can become a habit, and habitual clear thinkers are
not good candidates for subservience. Instead, those teachers have pronounced from on high that because water is valuable to others, we should be exceptionally frugal with it. In an inquisitive child, this raises the question: With exactly which valuable resources are we obligated to be
exceptionally frugal? A child who is observant as well as inquisitive will quickly recognize that “all valuable resources” is not the teacher’s preferred answer. For example, teachers rarely argue that “because building supplies are valuable to others, we ought to build fewer schools”; even more rarely do they argue that “because skilled workers are valuable in industry, we ought to have
Where is the pattern, then? What general rule compels us to conserve water but not to conserve on resources devoted to education? The blunt truth is that there is no
pattern, and the general rule is simply this: Only the teacher can tell you which resources should be conserved. The whole exercise is not about toothbrushing; it is about authority…
My daughter has been taught that all endangered species should be preserved, but she’s also been taught that the AIDS virus should be eradicated. When Cayley’s third grade teacher required her to write a report on the endangered species of her choice, I encouraged her to choose the AIDS virus. (I was unsuccessful.) The AIDS virus is probably only one of many species that are not yet as endangered as they ought to be…
… That’s why American junior high school kids can tell you exactly how fast the Amazon rain forest is shrinking, but have absolutely no framework for thinking about whether it’s shrinking too fast or not fast enough. It’s easy for a teacher to write a number on a blackboard (the rain forest is shrinking by such-and-such a number of square miles per year) and demand that students memorize that mere fact, unilluminated by any theory. It’s much harder to get students to think…