Teaching our children to be puddin’heads

In Mark Twain’s classic The Tragedy of Puddin’head Wilson, the main character writes in his journal: “OCTOBER 12, THE DISCOVERY. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.”
My entry for October 12 would be different: “Columbus Day is a wonderful holiday, but it would be more wonderful to miss it.”
The reason is that educators throughout the country use the holiday as a platform for indoctrinating students about the evils of the great explorer and, by extension, much of the American enterprise as we know it. Fifteen years ago or so, when my older daughter was in fifth grade, the class celebrated Columbus Day by putting Columbus on trial. The idea that fifth graders have standing to try historical figures (shouldn’t students be taught that they need to understand before they judge) bothered me more than the identity of the historical figure in the dock. But it certainly wasn’t lost on me that this particular figure was the man who, as it were, put American history into motion.
Columbus Day in American schools may have evolved during the past 15 years, but apparently not for the better. In 1995, Columbus at least received a defense, however sheepish. If Barry Rubin’s report on his son’s fifth grade class is any indication, today Columbus is condemned without any “process.”
Rubin writes that “it would be possible to teach a balanced approach rather than either a European triumphalist view or an anti-white, anti-European, anti-Christian (or at least anti-Catholic) approach.” But such instruction is asking too much from many of our schools these days. That’s why it might be better just to call the holiday off. Why go out of the way to create opportunities for our children to receive self-hating indoctrination?


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