The following is another horror story of modern education.
The Christian apologist, G.K. Chesterton once said: “When somebody stops believing in Christianity, he doesn’t stop believing. From then on, he believes in anything at all.”
As the educational system abandons Christianity, any number of harebrained superstitions threaten to take its place.
The day that parents could leave their children safely in the hands of the schools is over. From now on the word to parents is: “Wake up and be watchful.”
OPENING EXERCISES AT ST. PETER’S SCHOOL IN PARRY SOUND, ONTARIO ARE THE SAME AS TIME REMEMBERED FOR SO MANY OF US. THE CHILDREN PRAY THE ‘OUR FATHER’ AND SING O CANADA AND ARE QUICKLY SEATED TO BEGIN THEIR WORK FOR THE DAY, PRIMARY AND JUNIOR STUDENTS THEN BEGIN READING FROM A SERIES OF TEXTS CALLED IMPRESSIONS, PUBLISHED BY HOLT, RINEHART AND WINSTON.
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Although opening exercises at North Bay public schools may not be the same, the primary and junior students proceed to read from the same reading texts. In fact, Impressions is required reading for students in many Ontario schools. What does the series contain? The September 1990 issue of Focus on the Family’s newsletter Citizen printed an article describing a few of the stories contained within.
In the teacher’s manual for third-grade reader Under the Sea, for instance, is the direction to assign the children to “write and chant a magic spell” to make things in the room float, and then return the room to normal.
The third grade teachers’ anthology contains the following passage: “Zini lifted a curtain to look in a third dark place, and he saw – it isn’t easy to say what he saw. There were bodies and bones, and all sorts of horrors. So then, Zini knew his wife was a witch.”
Later the chief witch sys to Zini: “You deserve to die for this, but I will spare your life on one condition. Bring me the hearts of your mother and sister and you shall live.”
In the fourth-grade series is this passage about a pair of possessed boots:
The boots kicked and clomped, twisted, turned and in mad, frantic frustration banged me this way and that against the fence, until I was bruised and crying from the pain, holding on for life and in despair that there would be no end to the contest until my arms were torn from my body and I was carried off a horrible broken and bleeding stump to greet my mother and father without even the arms to hug them before we were brought to our end.”
Student book activities include a creative writing exercise in “Crystal Ball” gazing. Your child can enjoy an exercise in creating a galaxy, describing the secret powers it has. Next, imagine you are training apprentice embalming in ancient Egypt; you must accurately recount the very graphic details they have previously described in the process. Begin your lesson on extracting the brains through the nose of the corpse and explain what to do with the ears and toes which may fall off!
Today, the Impressions series is the centre of a heated debate in 27 U.S. school districts. Parents, both Jews and Christians, have demanded that the series be removed, regarding it as a violation of their moral and religious beliefs.
In Canada, this series is used in both public and Catholic schools. Spells, witchcraft, occult-type chanting, magic, necromancy, violence, and divination are featured in the series from grade three on.
“This curriculum comes extremely close to molestation of the tender innocence of a child’s mind…Some of these stories are just too much for children to handle. And if stretched beyond capacity, the tender, young psyche could collapse, which could lead to chronic fears and phobias through life,” writes family counselor, Jeffery Klippens in The Citizen.
Education Ministry approves
In Ontario, the Ministry of Education has approved the use of the Impressions series in Circular 14, the official guide to education texts in the province. Teachers are required to use only those texts which are contained in Circular 14.
I have written the Ministry of Education, Department of Curriculum Development to voice my opposition to the series.
The Ministry has contradicted its own guidelines. As a criterion for eligibility, Circular 14 states that school texts must be free of religious bias.
But New Age beliefs and occult practices are religious in nature. They should never appear in public school textbooks. In the separate schools, many of these substitute spiritualities directly contradict the Catholic faith.
After letters to the Ministry of Education and to the Minister herself, Ms. Marian Boyd, over the last two months, I was finally told in a reply that the Impressions reading series was acceptable for inclusion in Circular 14.
If a school board or a principal finds the series unacceptable they are free to choose other options approved in Circular 14.
I decided to follow up with a telephone call to Louise Nadeau, an Administrative Officer n the Curriculum department.
My questions to Ms. Nadeau were as follows:
- How can a secular body determine what is religious?
- Did those who chose the series for Circular 14 have clergy representation from the Christian or Jewish faiths? (The answer was no.)
- If the Ministry received objections on the grounds of religious discrimination, why have they not indicated this in Circular 14 so that unsuspecting school boards or principals would then make an informed decision when ordering of this series?
- After receiving complaints regarding religious bias, how can this series qualify for Circular 14?
- If a non-Christian public school principal finds the material acceptable and orders the series, is he acting in the best interests of the Christian and Jewish children in the school?
- The series contains New Age and occult material which is in itself religious in nature. In a public system which has prohibited religious indoctrination of religion, how can these books be deemed acceptable?
Ms. Nadeau really could not answer any of my questions. She documented all of my concerns and promised to bring them to a committee which will be reviewing Circular 14. At the beginning of our conversation, the issue was dead. It is now reopened. Letters from concerned parents do have an effect. Are any concerned? I hope they will write.
I have been trying to deal with the sinking frustration as to why parents in Canada are virtually silent in regard to this series.
After talking extensively to parents and teachers, I have settled on two reasons to explain this apparent apathy:
- Generally speaking, the readers never reach home. The reading and writing exercises are done almost exclusively in the classroom. As I described earlier, the worst of the material is contained in the teacher’s anthologies which most parents never see.
- New Age and occult beliefs are something Canadians are not familiar with. When I have shown people that some of the things contained in the series are forbidden by God, the reply has invariably been, “I didn’t know.”