Category Archives: people

The Resurgence: Father's Don't Provoke Your Children

Thoughts On “Christian” Child Abuse

The Resurgence: Father's Don't Provoke Your ChildrenAnother couple has been found guilty of murder for the death of their child after they used the “parenting” advice found in the book “To Train Up A Child” by Mike and Debi Pearl.

The New York Times headline lumps all corporal punishment under the same roof as the abusive advice of the Pearls.

A friend of the parents most recently found guilty points out “the Pearls are not professionally trained or educated in child development.”

First off let me be clear: These parents are evil and deserve the full and just punishment for  the abuse and murder of their children. How heartless, callous, cruel, and stupid must you be to consider sending your young child naked into the cold to be reasonable punishment, a good idea?

Yes, children are sinners just like you and I, and discipline is necessary to guide them into being healthy adults, but the goal is never to break the child. These are children, not horses. Discipline is about structure, structure is about direction, direction is about purpose. The goal of discipline is to grow within the child the self-discipline necessary for them to be able to accomplish their own purposes in life. Breaking a child’s will robs them of purpose and so is not a legitimate goal or form of discipline.

Parents who consider advice such as the Pearls dispense sound are doing grave disservice to their children at best, and are harming their children immeasurably at worst.

But we have to also be clear about a few others things as well:

  • Professional training in child development does not in any way make a person a legitimate expert able to dispense advice that would be any more right or effective than the destructive trash put out by the Pearls. Experience and success, or even an honest understanding of the source of ones failures, are more likely to present advice worth reading, and even if that is read, it ought to be run past your own common sense, for what is successful with one child may not necessarily be successful with another, even one in the same family.
  • Corporal punishment, spanking, is often illustrated with extreme cases where the intent is clearly harm to the child, when there is no proof that is how it primarily exists. The very fact that these isolated cases are such big news is that they are isolated. Most parents are not beating their children with plastic tubing until they “draw into a quiet shell and obey”.
  • The Bible in no way supports the ideas of breaking children down. Instead, twice in the New Testament Paul tells fathers to not provoke their children to wrath, anger, exasperation, embitterment, or discouragement (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21).

So far as we know the Pearls have not committed any crimes themselves. Freedom of speech and of the press means that in this country at least they ought to still be free to publish their drivel and silly people are still free to follow them. Not every child raised by adherents of the Pearls folly die, and some even turn out all right I’d presume. But like the leftist Democrats in the Westboro Baptist “Church” the Pearls ought to be confronted with wisdom and truth by some, and studiously ignored by all others, and parents ought to be surrounded by their family, friends, and community with good and sound advice and help and support.

The Blueberry Story: A Failure Of Analogy

I came across the Blueberry Story recently. It didn’t pass the sniff test, but I couldn’t immediately explain why.

Jamie Vollmer was the CEO of an ice cream company that made, at one time, what some considered the best ice cream in America. He was also a sharp critic of the public school system, and shared his criticisms before an assembly of teachers and educators.

I was convinced of two things.  First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step with the needs of our emerging “knowledge society”.  Second, educators were a major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly.  They needed to look to business.  We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement!

At the end of this particular talk he took questions from the audience.

As soon as I finished, a woman’s hand shot up.  She appeared polite, pleasant – she was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.

She began quietly, “We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream.”

I smugly replied, “Best ice cream in America, Ma’am.”

“How nice,” she said. “Is it rich and smooth?”

“Sixteen percent butterfat,” I crowed.

“Premium ingredients?” she inquired.

“Super-premium! Nothing but triple A.”  I was on a roll.  I never saw the next line coming.

“Mr. Vollmer,” she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, “when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?”

In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap….  I was dead meat, but I wasn’t going to lie.

“I send them back.”

“That’s right!” she barked, “and we can never send back our blueberries.  We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant.  We take them with ADHD, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all!  Every one! And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it’s not a business.  It’s school!”

He was unable to reply to such ideas. And it took me a day to realize what was wrong with this teachers argument.

First, there is truth in both what Mr. Vollmer said and in what this teacher said. Neither of them are completely correct, and neither of them are completely wrong.

The big hole in this educators argument is that children are not the only resource in a school.

When you’re building a product commercially you gather all sorts of raw materials and assemble them and process them to create a finished product. Businesses are primarily rewarded by doing this more efficiently and with more quality than other companies. However, simple physical raw materials are never the entire picture.

You can take blueberries and cream and sugar and eggs and ice and salt and throw them together all day and it will not turn into ice cream. You must have a goal, a guiding principle, a primary idea which directs the process from beginning to end. This idea begins before any raw materials are assembled and achieves fruition and is born into reality in the end product.

In a school children are both a raw material and eventually the fruition and reality of this idea. A healthy, intelligent, wise, productive and strong member of society is the hoped-for result of any school. When children are the raw material (as small children first coming into the school) they indeed cannot be turned away. The school must take any and all. The teacher is right about this.

However, there are many other raw materials which may (and indeed should) be turned away at the loading dock for insufficient quality. Teachers are one of the raw materials of our education system. Those who can’t do, teach, is a sad but true tale of many who comprise the front lines of education in America. Low academic standards does not attract the best and the brightest to this profession. Many of the best teachers teach because they love to. Many others do it because they cannot find so secure a position with as healthy a payroll or extensive benefits in the private sector.

Education philosophies are another raw material that can and should be examined in light of reality and not in light of the establishment’s preconceived notions of the state of the world.

Specific subjects that do not pertain directly to healthy functioning in society also ought to be turned away at the door.

The lesson that schools should take from business, first and foremost, is that competition is good for everybody involved.

The only people who will be hurt by school vouchers, charter schools, more local control of education, and less federal nannying are teachers who aren’t up to snuff and entrenched and ensconced administrators who cannot really justify their silly existence.

The teacher was right, they can’t turn away children from school. Every child can and will benefit from learning truth. But learning and truth are not necessarily the same, and to fail to see the difference and to support a system that is so obviously and painfully failing yet another generation of children is to fail to see yet another blade laid to the neck of our great nation.

Government Gets It Wrong. Again.

Evil phone attacking innocent but distracted motorist

A new study is out reporting that laws forbidding cell phone use, both texting and calling, while driving do not have a significant impact on the number of car accidents. Instead, it’s distractions, not just cell phones, that kill.

In the Wall Street Journal:

Laws that forbid motorists from using hand-held phones or texting while driving don’t appear to result in a significant decrease in vehicle crashes, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute expected to be released Friday.The study, expected to be released at a conference in Washington, D.C., Friday, comes amid stepped-up efforts by federal highway-safety regulators to ban texting while driving and curb other forms of driver distraction. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood earlier this week announced rules to forbid commercial truck and bus drivers from text messaging while driving. Mr. LaHood has said he would ban all texting while driving if he could.

But the government and do-gooders who live by restricting others will not give up so easily.

The Transportation Department won’t be troubled with little things like facts:

…it is irresponsible to suggest that laws banning cell phone use while driving have zero effect on the number of crashes on our nation’s roadways. A University of Utah study shows that using a cell phone while driving can be just as dangerous and deadly as driving drunk. We know that by enacting and enforcing tough laws, states have reduced the number of crashes leading to injuries and fatalities.

In that statement they claim one substantiated claim, that the University of Utah found cell phone driving is as bad as drunk driving, and one unsubstantiated claim phrased in such as way as to scoff at substantiation, “We know that by enacting and enforcing tough laws, states have reduced the number of crashes leading to injuries and fatalities.”

That’s pretty much the same as leading an argument with “everybody knows…”, appealing to common sense without factual basis.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, which sponsored this new study, is financed by the insurance industry. This will lend credence to the study as insurance companies need to mitigate risk in order to maximize profit, and this report claims there is much less risk than previously assumed.

The facts (WSJ):

The HLDI studied data on monthly collision claims in four states that banned the use of hand-held phones by motorists before and after the bans went into effect. The HLDI also compared collision data from states that enacted bans on driving while texting or phoning to accident claims in states that didn’t enact such bans.

In New York, HLDI said its researchers found that collision claims decreased compared to other states, but the decrease began before the state’s ban on hand-held phoning took effect.

The HLDI data don’t show whether drivers involved in accidents were using cellphones at the time. But the HLDI said in a statement “reductions in observed phone use following bans are so substantial and estimated effects of phone use on crash risk are so large that reductions in aggregate crashes would be expected.”

So what are we left with? Restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving which do not affect the number of accidents.

Sounds like and apology and lifting of the regulations is in order.

Likelihood of this occuring? Nil.

Story in CNET.

Story in the Wall Street Journal.