The goal of Education is Transformation

Transformation is Always the Goal of Education

By Regina Piazza

What is one thing public education and home education have in common? The obvious answer would be…education. However, as we see in Vladimir Lenin’s ominous promise to, “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world,” perhaps transformation is the true common denominator, as transformation is always the goal of education. Therefore, at the heart of the question of whom we trust to educate our children lies the bigger question of whom we trust to transform our world.

Education in America is Eroding

Four decades ago, Former President Ronald Reagan illuminated the outcome of trusting the declining public school systems in his 1983 report titled A Nation at Risk:

“Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people…

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves….

Our concern, however, goes well beyond matters such as industry and commerce [i.e., STEM & College and Career Ready]. It also includes the intellectual, moral, and spiritual strengths of our people which knit together the very fabric of our society.”

Are We Embracing Socialism?

Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, states, “When one in four Americans want to eliminate capitalism and embrace socialism, we know that we have failed to educate about the historical and moral failings of these ideologies.”  This startling statistic is widely evident in the government-controlled school systems’ promotion of Critical Race Theory (CRT), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and LGBTQ++ coercion, where children are deceitfully maneuvered from parental teaching to State indoctrination.

At the heart of the question of whom we trust to educate our children lies the bigger
question of whom we trust to transform our world.

Undeniably, a parent is charged to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”(Proverbs 22:6 NKJV) However, in an act of calculated division, totalitarians such as Hitler, Lenin, and Mao have used this Proverb in their attempts to eradicate the family and shape the minds of the upcoming generation with the intent to, in those infamous words of Lenin, “…transform the whole world.” This exceedingly conspicuous tactic is front and center throughout America today. It has been clearly spelled out in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4 of the United Nations Agenda 2030, with which the United States has cooperated:

“Our vision is to transform lives through education, recognizing the important role of education as a main driver of development and in achieving the other proposed SDGs. We commit with a sense of urgency to a single, renewed education agenda that is holistic, ambitious, and aspirational, leaving no one behind. This new vision is fully captured by the proposed SDG 4 ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and its corresponding targets. It is transformative and universal, attends to the ‘unfinished business’ of the EFA [Education For All] agenda and the education-related MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], and addresses global and national education challenges. It is inspired by a humanistic vision of education and development based on human rights and dignity; social justice; inclusion; protection; cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity; and shared responsibility and accountability.”1

Is the intent of this agenda not clearly stated—“to transform lives” through global state control of education and the Marxist indoctrination of children?

The Family is The Solution

This agenda is in stark contrast to American parents’ unique success in cultivating a firm foundation of freedom in our nation, even before the development of our Constitution. Historically, American families have worked, worshiped, and educated while being undergirded with the self-evident truth that sacrifice over self-service and self-governance over government restraint cultivates freedom, yet our modern families continue to succumb to the subtle and consistent conditioning toward the UN’s divisive preference to bring all schools under government control.

Now, more than any time in our Nation’s history, is the time for parents to boldly and courageously assert our inherent responsibility to direct the upbringing and education of our children and vehemently reject the UN report’s claim that “the State remains the duty bearer of education as a public good.”2

Now is the time for families to awaken from their self-imposed financial slumber, revive atrophied personal civic responsibilities, recalibrate family priorities, and recapture their God-given right to educate, by exiting the institutions of indoctrination—the government-controlled K-12 schooling systems.

Now is the time for families to cultivate and practice ownership and discipline with the honorable motive of self-governance and freedom.

“The family has always been the cornerstone of American society.
Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values
we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedoms.”

President Ronald Reagan

Kevin Roberts, President of the Heritage Foundation, states, “If a nation takes on the character of its people, then our classrooms are ultimately about the formation of citizens and souls.’’ Family is the best classroom—not government, entitlements, or vouchers.

Family necessitates devotion to one another, to our work, and to our inheritance. 

Family promotes time-honored values, protects the dignity of life and marriage, and is the most trustworthy institution in civilization.

Family teaches that work is worship, and you must pay your own way—freedom’s prerequisites.

Ronald Reagan once said, “The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedoms.”

Through devotion, sacrifice, and commitment, the family establishes, inculcates, and maintains freedom. Families, therefore, are incomparable educators and the trustworthy remnant to guarantee that enduring transformation occurs in the world.

Check out these other blogs on family and education.

Regina Piazza profile headshot

Regina Piazza is a 13-year home educator with Classical Conversations® and has held multiple roles including Tutor, Director, and Support Representative. She is a former Air Force veteran and two-time business owner who ran for Florida State Senate for the first time in 2022. She is currently working to preserve education and religious freedom as the Florida State Advocate for Classical Conversations.

To hear more from Regina, check out Episode 24 of our podcast, Refining Rhetoric, “Why a Homeschool Mom Ran for Senate with Regina Piazza.”

  1. Education 2030: Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. (2016). Accessed 5/9/2024. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000245656
  2. Zancajo, Adrián & Fontdevila, Clara & Verger, Antoni & Bonal, Xavier. (2021). Regulating Public-Private Partnerships, governing non-state schools: An equity perspective. 10.13140/RG.2.2.16374.93760. Accessed 5/9/2024. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/356915329_Regulating_Public-Private_Partnerships_governing_non-state_schools_An_equity_perspective
Homeschool vs. Public School

Homeschool vs. Public School

At some point, you’ve probably heard the question asked (or maybe you’ve asked the question): why homeschool when your child can go to a public school funded by the government?

But perhaps we should flip that question around. Homeschooling has grown in popularity with families throughout the United States. Several studies suggest that between 5 and 6 percent of school-age children are homeschooled (that’s about three million kids), and this number increases year by year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents found themselves homeschooling either outright or de facto—and that only increased the popularity of homeschooling!

So what is it that makes homeschooling increasingly attractive and public schools so unattractive?

Why Homeschool?

There are more reasons to homeschool than ever.

Religious Freedom

Religious freedom is one of the most repeated answers offered by parents when making the decision to homeschool their child. Public schools don’t incorporate religious studies into the classroom. Public school curricula may teach a different set of values and beliefs than what parents believe and want to instill in their child.

Homeschooling, on the other hand, affords parents the opportunity to incorporate Bible studies, prayers, and values throughout the lesson plan.

Safety and Security

Concern over a child’s safety is another reason why parents choose to homeschool. Some children are subjected to negative influences such as bullying and the presence of drugs and alcohol in public schools. These negative influences can affect a child’s academic performance in the classroom.

However, in a homeschool environment, parents are able to watch over their child and help them develop without those stressors and dangers.

Personalized Learning

In a homeschool setting, parents are able to offer more personalized learning for their child. Public school teachers have a classroom of students with different abilities and levels of learning.  The lesson plans won’t be tailored for each individual student.

Homeschool allows for the parents to assess their child’s strengths and weaknesses and help build lessons around their needs. This type of teaching provides flexibility to give the child what they need to learn and skip ahead if they grasp the subject.

Family

Homeschooling is a family effort. There is collaboration between siblings and parents to come together and share knowledge and experiences. This level of connectedness goes beyond what can be provided in public schools.

The opportunity to reinforce family values and beliefs while developing a stronger sense of self is why many families choose homeschooling over public schooling.

Want more reasons to homeschool?
Read: “The Benefits of Homeschooling: A Graduate’s Perspective

Why Not Public School?

These are a few reasons why homeschool parents often decide to homeschool their children rather than send them to public school. Here are two such reasons:

Lower Academic Outcomes

Studies have revealed that homeschool students typically score higher than public school students on standardized tests. Parents’ level of education does not change the student’s success.1

Homeschool students also typically do better in college. Homeschool students have a higher rate of graduating college than students who attended public school. One study revealed that homeschooled students graduated with an average GPA of 3.46 while their public school peers graduated with an average of 3.16. The same study also showed that homeschooled students graduated from college at a higher rate (66.7%) than their peers (57.5%).2 3

Poorer Social Environments

Contrary to the popular misconception, homeschool students are often better socialized than their public school counterparts. They are more likely to participate in political drives, sports teams, church ministries, and community work.4

Public schools, meanwhile, often present challenges for social development, such as bullying, discouragement, and negative peer influences. For example, according to one study, 5% of students between the ages of twelve and eighteen reported that they had been afraid of attack or harm at school in 2019.5

That’s 1 out of 20 students, and the average class size in the USA is 20.3.6

The evidence is abundant and the collective experience of homeschoolers shows that homeschooling works. Public schools, on the other hand, afford poorer outcomes all around.

Why send your child to public school when you can homeschool?

Written By: Classical Conversations®

Joint Ownership and Your Child’s Education

By Lauren Gideon

Many people in America own timeshares or at least have been to one of those awful presentations. The concept is simple. Merriam-Webster defines a timeshare as “an agreement or arrangement in which parties share the ownership of or right to use property (as a resort condominium), and that provides for occupation by each party, especially for periods of less than a year.”

The concept at hand regards how investors share ownership and rights to property. For many Americans, this is a tolerable relationship where all parties get pages of fine print and give their informed consent. 

Does Joint Ownership Actually Exist?

Here is my question, though: Does joint ownership actually exist? In 1828, in the first edition of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Languageownership was defined as “property; exclusive right of possession; legal or just claim or title.”

The difference here is collective ownership vs. individual ownership. They sound similar, but they are, in fact, mutually exclusive. Once a collective owns something, the individual does not. And once an individual owns something, the collective does not have ownership. 

Culturally, we like the concept of collective ownership. Why? Vacations are both valuable and expensive. They are genuinely beneficial to relationships, mental health, and stepping away from life to gain perspective, see new places, and gain education. 

So many good things come from vacations. If time and money allow, one could say vacations are essential. For most families, the friction comes not from whether we should take a vacation but from the question: “How are we going to pay for a vacation?”

Enter the timeshare industry, which has capitalized on the strain between the value of vacation vs. the expense. The presentations capitalize on this tension and propose a solution: shared ownership. This proposal stems from the relationship between investing and ownership. (I don’t know of any timeshare holder who actually thinks they have exclusive right of possession.) 

A Multiplicity of Ownership Means No Individual Ownership

This leads me to my point: multiplicity of ownership means no individual ownership. Collective owners or investors are merely stakeholders. They each have a vote and a voice but are still subject to the collective’s will. 

The unfortunate consequence with outside investors is that—by definition—you have forfeited exclusive ownership. Individual ownership and collective ownership are mutually exclusive.

The stakeholder relationship works in many common relationships where responsible parties can tolerate giving up individual ownership. Roads, city ordinances, and vacation abodes are some of our collectively shared possessions.

But what about those central responsibilities we possess? When is deferring to the stakeholder option an abdication of responsibility? For instance, scripture indirectly warns about having outside stakeholders in a marriage (Gen. 2:24). No outsider should have a vote in your marriage. The couple answers to God alone; therefore, it is imperative that they do not sell out to other investors who do not share in their unique and personal responsibility. 

This same idea can apply to very private matters of the human experience. As James Madison said, 

“More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government, where a man’s religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy. Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and inalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.”

To summarize, there should be no stakeholders in someone’s religion or conscience. Madison repeatedly warned against trampling the private property (exclusive, individual ownership) of someone’s conscience.

How Do We Categorize Our Family’s Education?

Here is our closing question. How do we categorize our family’s education? Is it common or sacred? Is it public or private? Referring back to the vacation dilemma, education is also an essential commodity. It is more essential than a vacation, and given our budget limitations, the appeal to invest with multiple investors is strong. 

The unfortunate consequence with outside investors is that—by definition—you have forfeited exclusive ownership. Individual ownership and collective ownership are mutually exclusive. Moreover, stewardship of your family’s education belongs to you at the end of the day; it cannot be outsourced. Our ownership in this field is sacred, and we all bear personal responsibility. This is the message we should aim to communicate to future generations.

  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me, I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

Read other articles written by Lauren here.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations®. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship I.Q. on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

looking through a magnifying glass lens at the first words of the Declaration of Independence, "We the People"

9 Resources for Learning About the U.S. Constitution

By Lauren Gideon

There has been a revival among conservatives to improve our functional U.S. Constitutional literacy. It’s only natural when things devolve into disorder and chaos to wonder, 

“What happened?” 

“How did we get here?”

“Where did we get off course?” 

To answer these questions, one would have to learn what the course was and where the course came from before one could assess the deviation from that course. This curiosity to rediscover the “course” is a good thing. The human experience is full of good things, and like all good things, achieving or acquiring them requires of us the same weighty virtues of ownership and discipline that Classical Conversations® highlights for students in the Challenge programs. 

Thus, before proceeding to the following list, heed this disclaimer: 

If you want a “quick fix” for improving your U.S. Constitutional literacy…. this is NOT the list for you. 

The U.S. Constitution

When learning about something, one should always start with the thing itself. It’s interesting that when you finally meet someone that you have heard much about ahead of time, you can’t ever really unhear those things or unknow them. 

For better or for worse, you will (at least initially) always see that new person through the lens of what you heard about them. The same is true of ideas and documents. This is one of the reasons why classical educators are so passionate about reading source texts before we turn to functional summaries or commentaries. 

Webster’s Dictionary 1828

Inevitably, you will run into words that are outside our modern vernacular. Look them up! And look them up in a dictionary completed in close chronological proximity to the document itself. 

While you are at it, pick up a good biography of Noah Webster for a fascinating window into how unique and essential this dictionary was for the formation of American culture.

The Declaration of Independence

After reading the U.S. Constitution thoroughly, you might be disappointed. Let me explain. No one gets through reading the rules of Monopoly and says to themselves, “Wow, that was profoundly inspiring!” Rule books, by nature, are quite dry and boring. The point of the rule book is not the rule book itself, but the rules allow you to play the game! The game of Monopoly is enjoyed by many families for something other than the excitement of the rule book. 

The U.S. Constitution is merely the rule book. The Declaration of Independence articulates so beautifully the “why.” These documents are so intertwined that they ought never to be divorced. The U.S. Constitution is the manifestation, the conduit, and the protection of the truth claims spelled out in the Declaration of Independence.

The Articles of Confederation

It is important to remember that the U.S. Constitution was a “do-over.” It was not the first attempt to make manifest the principles of the Declaration of Independence. However, there was enough unfavorable public sentiment surrounding the Articles of Confederation and the perception that they had missed the mark, to tolerate what was called the Second American Revolution. 

The new form of government created was literally illegal under the Articles of Confederation. 

While this may cause internal conflict for those with warm affection for the rule of law under the U.S. Constitution, it is something worthwhile to wrestle with. It’s important to remember that things haven’t always been the way they are, nor is there any assurance that they will stay this way if the public perception and sentiment wills otherwise.

Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

In modern America, there is debate on whether we can know what the Constitutional Convention meant by the words and phrases they used. This question is only tolerated by those ignorant of James Madison’s exhaustive notes on every conversation that transpired. 

What was included, what wasn’t included, why did they choose the words they chose; all this and much more give us the conversational context to every element debated. The fewer the debates, the more unanimously certain positions were held by the convention. 

Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers

Beyond the internal debate, a national debate transpired as well. The Federalist Papers argued for the U.S. Constitution, while the Anti-Federalists opposed ratification. More important than the sides men took are the ideas they unpacked. Often, these papers hospitably acknowledge the weakness of their positions while confessing the limitations of a free society.  

By reading these papers, we can deeply dive into the comparison, circumstance, relationship, and testimony of these ideas.

Discourses Concerning Government—Algernon Sidney

Like people, ideas have family trees and ancestors. While the ideas that shaped the U.S. Constitution are as old as time itself, curious observers have done their part to articulate what previously lived outside of the body of human discovery. 

Algernon Sidney was one of those discoverers. His thoughts ultimately cost him his very life when his own unpublished writing was used against him as a second witness to convict him of treason. Sidney’s writings, though written about 100 years before the American Revolution, were so influential that Thomas Jefferson had this to say about them in a letter to Henry Lee:

Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration—John Locke 

The other modern author named by Jefferson was John Locke. His Two Treatises of Government was published around the same time that Sidney was alive. These two men pioneered ideas such as “just power being derived through the consent of the governed,” which flew in the face of the Divine Rights Theory. So, it is plain to see how the Declaration of Independence did not invent any new ideas. The Declaration merely served as an inventory of collective sentiment shaped by the ideas discovered and shared by brave men who gave their lives for the transcendental ideals enumerated in our Declaration and consequently informed and transformed our form of government, the U.S. Constitution.

The Bible

It cannot go without saying that the U.S. Constitution is not divinely inspired. Only one text can make that claim. So, when looking at anything else in the created order, we must consider the authority of Scripture. 

We began this conversation considering “the course” or “how things ought to be.” While the Scriptures may not explicitly say how humans ought to form a good human state, it does teach us about spheres of authority, the principle of justice, the idea of having multiple witnesses, the image-bearing nature of humanity, and other building blocks. 

While we may often wish for a cookie-cutter example that we could cut and paste, there is no quick fix for searching out the mysteries of Scripture either. Let us remember Proverbs 25:2 (ESV), “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” 

It is our joy and responsibility to bring everything under the dominion of Christ’s authority: to discover, to name, to identify, to compare, to understand, to inform, to discern. In this discernment of revelation through Scripture and the created order, we, too, can wisely participate in this enduring classical conversation. 

Read other articles by Lauren here.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations.  She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

How to be an American Citizen

By Lauren Gideon

The original article, “How to be an American Citizen: The Relationship between the Represented and the Representative,” was published in The Cultivated Patriot.

There is a lot of confusion these days (and dare I make us all nauseous and use the word “misinformation”), drowning the American citizen. We don’t always know what is going on, but even more than that, we haven’t been trained in what to do about it. The battle cry of our generation is “Just DO something!” If that doesn’t make you snicker a wee bit, this installment might be for you.

Republic or Democracy—What is the difference?

As American citizens, we live in a republic, meaning we have a representative government. Most often, though, the United States is falsely described as a democracy. This distinction could fill up this entire paper, so instead, I will summarize. In both systems, the ultimate power is held in the hands of the voter.

Direct Democracy

In a direct democracy, however, the voter would literally vote on every issue. There is no assurance that what the voter votes for is moral or just. It is truly an expedient representation of the will of the people. Thomas Jefferson, who was initially endeared to this style of governance, was disenchanted by it over the course of his service as Governor of Virginia. While unverified, he is credited with saying, “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.” So, while mob rule is expedient and gives ALL the “power to the people” ALL of the time, it can potentially be very dangerous. Consider the unbridled mob-like mentality of the past several years on ALL sides of the political arena.

“Democracy is nothing more than mob rule,
where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%.

Republic—Representative Government

A republic is still organized with the citizen as the highest authority. However, a republic is less efficient and expedient. Our power as citizens is vested in those we choose to represent us. We vet, we interrogate, we debate, and then we select. Our selection is our seal that the individual we’ve chosen is the best person for the job that we could find within the population for that office. This process is THE exercise of the citizen’s authority in the framework of a republic. This description is by no means a marginalization of the citizen’s role. In the “Just DO something” age, it’s essential first to define what we should be doing.

The exercise of this role is much more complex than scribbling in an oval with ink a few times a year (much less every four years!).

Who are our Representatives?

Our representatives represent us in the office and exercise authority on our behalf.

Ideally, how should you select a representative?

Find someone with sufficient knowledge, who understands that knowledge, and has wisdom in applying that knowledge. Another way of articulating the qualifications: do they possess true principles? Building on those principles, can they reason well? Lastly, could they strategically apply those principles to any potential circumstance? That is how we ought to select our representative.

Two Seasons of a Representative

This process has two seasons: first, the selection (a primary and general election), and then the term in which they do the representing.

During the representative’s term, we should support and encourage the candidate the majority thought was best suited for the role.

Support means we consider the principles we base our decisions on. These become the mechanisms of conversation and sometimes persuasion. We winsomely advocate for applying these principles on issues based on the merits of goodness, justice, and wisdom (or lack thereof). We thereby partner with those representing us.

Terms have different lengths, but they all have limits. Like all healthy assignments, there are seasons of assessing, or “performance reviews,” if you will.

Who performs the reviews, you ask? The voters. Can we all agree that there are qualifications for the heavy responsibility of giving performance reviews? You would need to know the standard or “ideal,” and you would need to know the merits on which the representative was selected in the first place. And you would also need to be engaged enough to know what transpired during the term and WHY. The assessment is a layered puzzle that will take more than a yard sign, a piece of literature, or a social media post to perform. But as the sovereign in this great nation, “We, the people,” have this high calling and responsibility to rule our country well. We need to hold ourselves individually accountable to the measure this office deserves.

“We, the people,” have this high calling and responsibility to rule our country well.

Our Responsibility as an American Citizen

Juxtapose the calm, calculated, time-consuming, discipline-requiring paradigm as stated above with the suggested playbook of our age. Verbs enlisted to the cause include yell, scream, e-blast, force, fight, rally, bully, protest, and “make your voices heard.”

If you don’t join the mob, this will mean to others that you aren’t yet awake enough. If the wicked have succeeded in this vein, isn’t it time we “borrow a page from their playbook”? And if your representative doesn’t bow to your beck and call, he’s “forgotten who he works for.” After all, “We the people” make our demands. If enough people want something, a representative should be bound to give it to them. And if our representative doesn’t, we choose vindication over virtue.

Which Playbook do we use?

If the stakes are high (as the last commentator I listened to told me they were), ought we use the most effective playbook for the task? Yes and no. I am not confident we have a modern example of a diligent, virtuous approach to politics by which to form a fair comparison. Perhaps there still is wisdom in the path of diligence, and, to a degree, we can generally anticipate that we will reap the seeds we sow.

Additionally, the wicked have always prospered, and they will until the end of this age. So, to take a page from the wicked’s playbook to achieve a moral end is inconsistent and incompatible. Also, is it just those “other” people who are tempted to be tiny tyrants?

Tyranny is All Around Us

If dominance is how the team moves the football down the field, would they give up their tyrannical ways once they reach the end zone? Victory would mean nothing less than a regime change where one tribe steals the scepter to wield how they see fit. To quote my colleague, “Tyranny is awful except for my tyranny… which is ok.

To get back on track, I am not assuming that we will always see eye-to-eye with those who represent us, especially if we are “on-ramped” into this cycle somewhere in the middle. It would be imperative that we identify what season we are currently in with each individual representative.

Do our Research!

As an American citizen, we need to do our research, and then enter into a relationship with these civil servants who represent us. We can get to know them, their background, and their priorities. Like any new relationship, we ought to find what principles we have in common. Then, when we meet a division of opinion, we appeal on the merits of goodness, justice, and wisdom. We build our reasoning on something timeless, outside of mere opinion, on some truth that both can identify. Provide authoritative sources. And then be professional!

When this fails, it will, at some point—we need to evaluate. What level of division is it? Is it a deal-breaking disagreement? Should it be? Or is it an area of minor consequence? Review season is coming, and you will take your role more seriously this time. After you have made your appeal to your representative, and once primary season is at hand, it’s time for the community to reevaluate if they (and, more importantly, truth) are best represented by the current representative. This can not happen in a vacuum.

The constituents must compare notes, events, circumstances, choices, and actions. They must focus on winsomely persuading their neighbors to vote based on what is good, just, and wise. They must consolidate their voting power to find the best representative for their community.

We will Reap what we Sow

As American citizens, we vet, we interrogate, we debate, and then we select our representative. We remember that our selection is our seal that the individual we’ve chosen is the best person for the job we could find within the population that is being represented by this office. And from the last term, we realize we will reap what we sow.

When the primary season is over, what’s done is done. And it’s back to the season of civil relationships.

Read other articles written by Lauren here.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations. She co-leads and teaches through an organization committed to raising citizenship I.Q. on U.S. founding documents. She and her husband homeschool their seven children on their small acreage, where they are enjoying their new adventures in homesteading.

Feminism: The First Wave

Feminism: The Radical First Wave

By Elise DeYoung

“What began as a movement with the principled intention of equality for women has turned into an abstract ideology that is seeking to overthrow all traditional structures under the guise of women empowerment.”

I wrote this over a year ago for a thesis project, which I titled “Behind the Veil of Feminism.” My goal for the assignment was to look beyond the boss babe propaganda and the gender pay gap debate to answer the deeper question, “What is the ideology of feminism?”

After researching its ideology and those who have historically promoted it, I firmly concluded, and still believe, that feminism is, in fact, “an abstract ideology that is seeking to overthrow all traditional structures under the guise of women empowerment.”

However, I excused first-wave feminism, arguing that feminism fell short of its original, righteous design during the third and fourth waves. It wasn’t until recently when I revisited the first wave, that I became convinced that feminism has never been “a movement with principled intentions.”

Feminism, from its conception, has always been a dangerous ideology, designed to destroy all traditional structures and ways of life.

The Origin of Feminism

The ideology of feminism was born out of the minds of women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women were discontented with the status of women in 19th century America. They worked to revolutionize the relationship between women and the broader society.

The movement was officially conceived in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention with the signing of the Declaration of Sentiments. The first wave ended in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

This period of feminism is largely looked upon with approval by both conservatives and progressives because it resulted in a woman’s right to vote, which in turn led to educational, vocational, and political equality between the sexes. Surely, with these results, we must conclude that first-wave feminism was principled and beneficial. Before we come to this conclusion, we must challenge ourselves with the question, why didn’t feminism dissolve after these political wins? Why have we continued to see a second, third, and fourth wave (each more radical than the last)?

Because the feminist mission was not complete after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The amendment was only a means to an end to the early feminists. So, what then, is their end? Thankfully, we do not have to ponder this question long because the early feminists clearly laid out their radical intentions in the Declaration of Sentiments. After examining exactly what the first feminists wrote, I believe it will become clear that the end of feminism has always been social revolution through the reproach and replacement of men and the rejection of the family.

Social Revolution

Leftist movements always have a shared value of revolution. Whether it is climate change, critical race theory, or the LGBTQIA+ movement, all progressive movements call for the dismantling of the past to prepare for the restructuring of the future. Feminism is no exception to this rule.

In the Declaration of Sentiments, Elizabeth Stanton makes the case that in order for women to have the rights they deserve and the positions in society that they desire, a political and social revolution is required. Stanton writes that such a revolution “Has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.”

Stanton wrote revolution into the fabric of feminism. The ideology itself demands the overthrowing of systems, ideas, and traditions which constrain it. Revolution—the foundation of the philosophy—has manifested itself largely in feminism’s insistence on the reproach and replacement of men in society and the rejection of marriage.

All progressive movements call for the dismantling of the past to prepare for the restructuring of the future.

The Reproach and Replacement of Men

We are never surprised today when we hear feminists complaining about the so-called “patriarchy” and expressing their disdain for men. However, this argument has been made since the founding of the ideology.

Stanton wrote, “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.” She continues by saying, “He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.”

The brash claim that all men have “an absolute tyranny” over all women is not new. From the beginning, feminists have implanted a disdain for men into their followers. They have done this largely by convincing women of a long list of grievances that men have committed against them. Stanton included such a list in her declaration and used it to justify the destructive nature of the ideology of feminism against men. In short, she argued that men have conducted the government, conditioned society, and instituted religion in order to oppress women. You may be more familiar with this concept as it is known today—the patriarchy.

The feminist solution to this alleged problem is for women to stand up and overthrow men’s tyranny over them. Or as we hear it today, “women need to be empowered to rise up and overthrow the patriarchy.” The effects of this thinking have been women replacing men in almost all spheres of life. Husbands and fathers have been replaced by single mothers or unconventional family units, the universities have been dominated by women, the military has manipulated its standards to uphold women over men, and the workplace has been radically reworked to value women workers over men. The list goes on.

Whether you support these social trends is irrelevant. The fact that cannot be denied is we are seeing the replacement of men in society, and this is all by the first feminists’ design.

The Rejection of Marriage

The most destructive war that feminism has waged since its founding is the war against the traditional family. Some may be tempted to believe that the feminist attack on the family began in 1963 when Betty Friedan published her book Feminine Mystique. In it, Friedan argued that the station of a wife and homemaker is equivalent to that of a slave—where the home is a prison, children the chains, and the husband the jailer. Sadly, this flawed thinking dates back much farther than the 20th century.

The most destructive war that feminism has waged since its founding is the war against the traditional family.

The Declaration of Sentiments reads, “In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master—the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.” From its beginning, feminism has ruthlessly attacked the institution of marriage by degrading and misrepresenting it.

Not only this, but the early feminists have always fought to loosen divorce laws to favor wives over their husbands. “He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; …the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.”

A world in which men “lose” and women “win” in a divorce was the world that the early feminists were seeking to create. Thanks to legislation like no-fault divorce, we are living in the first feminists’ imagined utopia where marriage vows are easily broken, and families are routinely torn apart.

The Results of Feminism

Feminism is arguably one of the most powerful leftist movements in history. This is partially because it has had over two centuries to do its damage and also because it has wrongly been accepted as a societal good.

Feminism is arguably one of the most powerful leftist movements in history.

Whether you consider the decline of masculinity, the rise of “boss babe” culture, the acceptance of abortion as a “Constitutional right”, the rejection of marriage, and the rise of divorce—it cannot be denied that we live in a society today that has been gravely affected by the ideology of feminism.

While we cannot attribute all these civil illnesses to feminism alone, we must recognize that this was the future that the first feminists envisioned. Elizabeth Stanton closes her feminist declaration with the words, “We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.”

Congratulations, Elizabeth, you got your wish.

It should not surprise us when we see modern feminism bent on destruction. The first feminists planted these seeds of destruction and revolution from the beginning. They only needed time to grow.

We need to stop excusing first-wave feminism as a “principled movement” because once we accept that premise, we lose the fight. Feminism has always used corruption and destruction as its means to its end—and that end has always been a revolution of society, the reproach and replacement of men, and the rejection of marriage.

Read other articles by Elise here.

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Elise DeYoung is a Public Relations and Communications Associate and a Classical Conversations® graduate. With CC, she strives to know God and make Him known in all aspects of her life. She is a servant of Christ, an avid reader, and a professional nap-taker. As she continues her journey towards the Celestial City, she is determined to gain wisdom and understanding wherever it can be found. Soli Deo gloria!

Good Friday - It is Finished!

Good Friday: It is Finished!

By Edward Murray

How could that Friday be good?

Let’s be honest: to call the day of Jesus’ crucifixion “good” is counterintuitive and sounds odd to the watching world. How can we call a day marked by suffering and mourning “good”? How can we say that a bloody cross is “good”?

Yet, this day most definitely is good, because it marks the most powerful and momentous weekend in history! This is the weekend that all of history points to – where the world was changed forever! 

On this day a couple millennia ago, Jesus paid for our sins and rose from the dead, showing the world that the grave has no hold on him. Moreover, for those who are marked by Christ, his resurrection serves as an eternal receipt, proving that their debt is completely paid.

Without the cross, there is no gospel

You can’t have Christianity without the cross. Sure, Jesus is a great teacher, whom we must learn from and model our lives after, but if we don’t have the cross, we don’t have the gospel. If we don’t have a real resurrection of the eternal Son of God in bodily form, occurring in real-time history, then everything is meaningless.

“You can’t have Christianity without the cross.”

Spanning the gospels, one will find various angles recorded of the cross. Yet, in one account recorded by the apostle John, we see Jesus lifting the battle cry that Good Friday points to: “It is Finished!” Not only is THIS the most relieving statement anyone has made in history, but it’s quite possibly the most powerful sermon ever preached, and only with three words.

“…So they took Jesus, 17and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written…”

28After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:16-30 (ESV)

The Christian’s rest and relief extends into eternity

One of the hardest things I’ve ever accomplished in life was when I earned my master’s degree. Of course, suffering is relative, but academics don’t come naturally to me. I had to work very hard to get to graduation. And I can still recall how I felt the day I walked across the stage to receive my degree and relish knowing it was finished! Whatever relative turmoil and trial any of us have faced in life to arrive at a proverbial finish line, Jesus’ “finishing” takes that temporal rest and relief, multiplies it by infinity, and extends it to eternity!

In our passage, one of the key things to focus on is the apostle’s recording in v. 28: “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst.’”

What does John mean when he says that this scene occurred to ‘fulfill the scripture’?

To answer this question, John alludes to Psalm 22 with Jesus’ reception of sour wine and his garments being divided. However, one of the most significant elements of this passage comes from John’s mention of the hyssop branch (v. 29).

Don’t miss the significance of these elements leading us towards Jesus’ final breath that Friday. With the hyssop branch, John points us to the primary aim of Christ’s mission. It reminds us of the atoning blood sprinkled during Israel’s Passover celebration: God required blood to cover his people, so that their blood wouldn’t be required as the cost for their sins.

In Exodus 12:22, we read about the first Passover. In order to escape the penalty of the final plague, God’s people were to “take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts…” Additionally, this was likely David’s allusion when he confessed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)

 At the Passover, the threat of judgment – a final plague – loomed over all the people, both Egyptians and Israelites. It didn’t matter which people group they belonged to. To escape wrath, the blood of an unblemished lamb was required by hyssop to paint the entrance to one’s house.

By turning to Jesus, you can look to that Friday and say, “It is Finished! It is complete! My debt has been paid, and my sin is atoned for!”

There are only two options:

(1) You pay the penalty of the plague.

or…

(2) A substitute pays the penalty of the plague.

To put this another way, when Jesus received the sour wine with hyssop, the Lord of the universe proclaimed that he finished in real time what the Passover only pictured and typified.

You and I have an eternal debt that we cannot pay. We have sinned before the Holy Eternal Triune God of the universe, but Jesus’ proclamation is that he has finished his work, and the threat of judgment can be spared and atoned for if you look to him as your substitute. By turning to Jesus, you can look to that Friday and say, “It is Finished! It is complete! My debt has been paid, and my sin is atoned for!”

And, keep in mind, Jesus doesn’t say that it is potentially finished, but that it is actually finished! Elaborating on this would take a whole other series, but for now, it can be said that this is a beautiful mystery. Jesus fully atoned for the sins of his people over two thousand years ago, and on that day, when he said, “It IS finished!” he declared this for all who ever have and ever will call on him.

“Believe this, rest in this, and proclaim this!”

The worst day in history was the best day in history

That Friday was good! And this coming Friday, when we look back to his crucifixion, we can mourn the sin of the world and the punishment it deserves, while at the same time proclaiming the goodness of that day.

Dear Christian, remember the truth this week. Believe this, rest in this, and proclaim this! At the cross, Jesus completed the task and proclaimed that it is finished!

And when you’re done remembering Friday, remember that he rose on the third day, which changes everything.

Edward Murray profile headshot

Edward Murray currently serves as Manager of Special Projects and Policy Research for Classical Conversations® and The Homeschool Freedom Action Center. He is a native of Augusta, GA, and an alumnus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, where he earned his M.Div. He lives in Newport News, VA, with his wife and three children.

School Choice Isn’t School Choice: My Argument

By Lauren Gideon

I recently wrapped up a year leading Challenge A with Classical Conversations® students. On the last day of community, the students took turns reading their assigned persuasive essays. While each student chose their topic, two had chosen the same topic. 

But they chose different sides!  

After the second student finished reading his essay, arguing opposite the first, do you know what happened? Absolutely nothing! The entire class sat unfazed. They didn’t rush to take sides; they didn’t vote against or ‘cancel’ the minority opinions… no name-calling, and no identity crises. These students haven’t been taught to be offended.  

Look at the Merits of an Idea

They have been taught to look at the merits of an idea as a distinct thing, regardless of the person, their character, their tribe, their emotions, their perceived urgency, and the many other distractions that keep us from discerning the idea’s own merit. We call these logical fallacies, and our students learn how to set them aside and ask, “Is this a good idea?”  

The students’ non-reaction was profound. As adults in the classroom of the world, we know participants are almost always triggered. Public discourse revolves around every angle EXCEPT actual merit. If we want to be virtuous participants in this sphere, we must ask ourselves, “In what way do I need to remove similar logs from my own eyes?” With log-less vision, we can see issues more clearly. 

Another hindrance to our clear vision is social cliques, is when everyone in our perceived tribe seems unified in their position, our objectivity becomes blurred. A prominent topic plagued with this emotional baggage is “school choice.”

School choice has nothing to do with providing more choices. Its singular operative action is to require taxpayers to fund alternatives to the state-provided option.

School Choice is Misleading

Some advocates of “school choice” begin their appeal through statistical arguments. A recent publication opened with the 2022 RealClear Opinion Research poll that argued that “72% of Americans support school choice—the ability of parents to choose the school that best fits their children’s needs.”1 

Why is this significant? First, this communicates the sentiment that “virtually everybody agrees.” This says nothing about whether the viewers should agree with this issue or not. If this premise were asserted to my Challenge A students, they would instinctively reply, “So what?” We call this a bandwagon fallacy.

Additionally, the term “school choice” itself suffers from equivocation. Presently, educational options are legal and available in all fifty states, meaning that proponents equivocate “school choice” with “taxpayer funding for free-market products.”  

School Choice forces Critics to take an “Anti-Choice” Position

Should taxpayers be forced to fund the free market? Moreover, how do legislatures ensure that this money is spent on the type of quality education that is in the public’s best interest (or the government’s interest)? What accountability will ensure the money is spent the way these well-intended policies prescribe? Historically, how well has state government performed this task within their current educational jurisdiction? To what degree could this idea affect the cost and quality of educational options? Does the free market stay ‘free‘ once it is taxpayer-funded? Fundamentally, do we want to expand state-sponsored regulated education or expand actual free-market educational choice?

This IS about a Choice

As the emotions rise among voices on both sides of this issue, remember that the collective conversation does obligate participants to regard sides or emotional manipulation. This issue, like all issues, ought to be about ideas and not the people who hold them. This IS about a choiceLet’s lay aside these culturally acquired discernment liabilities and use those beautiful, classical tools from Challenge A

Check out these blogs and this website for additional information on school choice and educational freedom.

Lauren Gideon profile smiling at the camera

Lauren Gideon is the Director of Public Relations for Classical Conversations.  She has been a home educator since her first student was born 18 years ago. She came to Classical Conversations for support when the student count in their home grew beyond what she thought she could navigate on her own. In addition to homeschooling her seven children, she co-leads community classes that unpack our nation’s founding documents and civic responsibility. However, she is happiest at home, preferably outside, with her husband of 18 years, tackling their newest adventure of building a modern homestead.

  1. “New Poll: Overwhelming Support for School Choice.” American Federation for Children. Accessed on 3/19/2024. https://www.federationforchildren.org/new-poll-72-support-for-school-choice/ ↩︎
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Does School Choice Mean Education Freedom?

By attorney and reporter Kevin Novak

The following was published in the Western Journal on August 27, 2022, and is a credible source for thinking through the issues surrounding “school choice and education freedom. The views expressed in this opinion article are those of the author and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by the website owners.

In our current day, school choice is a popular topic for parents and voters to consider, especially with rising inflation, our current environment post-Covid, and the legislative-sessional season. We are all presented with various cases regarding government funding for education. But with the prospect of financial aid comes multiple elements that aren’t being said.

Kevin Novak poses legitimate questions regarding school choice in the following article, including lowered taxes, privatized education, and educational freedom.

“Consider these inquiries. If a legislature has the present ability to pass ‘school choice’ legislation, why does it not instead pass legislation that lowers taxes? In conjunction, if a legislature has the present ability to pass school choice legislation, and it being the case that many children have escaped the civil government school system, why does it not instead decrease spending on civil government education? And how would passing more school choice laws produce more financial freedom for people or more thought freedom for children?”

Read the full article here.

Also, read other articles about school choice and educational freedom here.