I had “the talk” over the weekend with a 5-year-old family member.
I would like to have been a fly on the wall when Jacob Blake, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant, Andrew Brown Jr. and others who tragically lost their lives in the chaos of police calls gone wrong were sat down and told how to avoid such fates by not posing what might be perceived as imminent danger to armed officers of the law.
Having personally endured a few minor brushes with law-enforcement as a young person, I would advise all families to have such conversations about complying with police and other authorities—regardless of one’s supposed ‘privilege’ level.
In fact, it should be less of a ‘talk’ and more of a life-modeling lesson that children internalize through the actions of their parents and respected adult figures.
For them: Stop endangering yourself & police by failing to obey the 1st time. Simple.
For you: Take MLK name out ya filthy insurrection-inciting mouth & stop stoking a volatile situation by ignoring the laws in a country you’re supposed to be helping lead.
YOU are the system.
— Ben (@Ben24336570) April 27, 2021
But the talk I had with my young relative, “E,” was rather the opposite of that.
To be certain, the child is being taught about respecting authority and all the necessary lessons of modern-day social etiquette.
But at some point—sooner than later in the politically correct, doctrinaire world we now inhabit—children also will need to know how to properly question and contextualize the falsehoods they are being fed about American culture and history.
It isn’t my purpose to second-guess parents and teachers, of course, but rather to augment that education with ideas and experiences that may lend alternative perspectives—and to re-normalize that which cancel culture has sought to efface.
Thus, I began the process early Saturday morning, after being woken up by E.
It was the same hour that I fondly remembered for the bygone tradition of watching Saturday-morning cartoons.
Streaming services may have rendered the old network programming obsolete. Nonetheless, it remains a special hour for kids E’s age: when most grown-ups are still sleeping but an entire weekend—and lifetime—of possibilities lies ahead.
I put on some old cartoon classics, such as “Popeye” and “Tom and Jerry,” while I foraged in the pantry for our breakfast.
As we sat down to watch, E said to me, “Did you know that the world is much bigger than you think?”
Although unsure what prompted the observation, I saw a teachable moment presenting itself.
“As a matter of fact, I have been to the opposite side of the world,” I replied. “Would you like to see my souvenirs from Japan?”
Having spent a few years as a teacher, I’d previously dabbled in this sort of impromptu instruction.
One day, for example, when there was a pomegranate in the fridge, we had engaged in a mini-unit about the myth of Persephone. Afterward, I had hoped to spark in E the interest to explore various tales of Greek mythology using a coloring book I had been given long ago.
As a Christmas present, I also invested in the full set of Tuttle Twins books by Connor Boyack. The books cover a range of conservative-friendly lessons for kids—from free-market capitalism to law and order to Ayn Rand’s objectivism and the history of the Federal Reserve.
While E may still be a little too young, and the opportunities too sparse, for us to fully immerse in them, I am looking forward to augmenting my own education by our reading them together in due time.
This particular Saturday, I brought out a large box of mementos from my personal travels, including journeys to Tokyo, Europe and various parts of the US.
I pulled an atlas from the bookcase, and we located where we were at the moment and where Japan was.
Suddenly, I remembered my own kindergarten experiences poring over the class globe to spot Okinawa, where Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies had lived.
After learning about sumo wrestling, kanji, sushi markets and Buddhist temples, E’s attention began to drift toward a fragment of the Berlin Wall that I had picked up at Checkpoint Charlie on a trip to Germany.
We found Germany on the map and discussed Europe briefly, until E discovered a souvenir of the Million Dollar Quartet that I had gotten from Sun Records in Memphis.
Next, E came across a silver Donald Trump coin I had been given.
All at once, my special memory box began to feel more like contraband.
I wondered how to relate my admiration for the former president in a child-appropriate way that would not conflict with the messaging E would receive elsewhere from relatives who were not fans.
I realized, however, that this absurd, knee-jerk impulse was a reflection of how successful leftists have been in stigmatizing conservative viewpoints—even for someone who spends his entire work-week steeped in them. Thus, I proceeded to ask what E knew about the president.
So commenced “the talk.”
Soon after, E found a postcard from my visit last summer to Georgia’s Stone Mountain.
As I identified the three Confederate leaders on the granite relief, I remembered my own discovery of the illustrious Lee family, first passed down by my grandmother when I encountered a little lead soldier of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
I had leap-frogged from that to learning about Lee’s father, “Light Horse” Harry Lee, and Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion, who led the South Carolina militia to victory during the Revolutionary War.
As E and I proceeded down the memory hole of forgotten US history, I wondered which, if any, of these lessons would be preserved once critical-race theory supplants traditional education with its cult-like ideological agenda.
More than ever, I realized, regardless of how the culture war plays out in our nation’s school system, it was up to me to pass along my worldly knowledge to E and others who will inherit whatever remains when the dust settles.
With that in mind, I decided to devise my own mini-units in cultural counter-programming. They will employ similar types of artifact boxes to encourage independent learning, just as I arrived at so many of my own cherished lessons through self-discovery (with the sideline support from so many great teachers).
I hope to blog more on this project via a personal website (tinyurl.com/maga-education) and am including a few example ideas below.
Civil War History
The goal of this lesson would be to recognize both the historic and human impact of the conflict and the ways in which America continues to deal with the legacies of both slavery and federalism. It would seek to address the virtues and flaws of both the Union and Confederacy, as well as the recent efforts to tear down historic monuments.
- Postcards from Stone Mountain featuring images of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis
- Photographs and collectibles from battlefield visits during the Civil War sesquicentennial, including Ft. Sumter and Appomattox Court House, where the war began and ended
- Small Civil War figurines (not lead) that can be painted and played with
- Historic artifacts such as Civil War bullets (if available) or readily available souvenirs like mock currency and cotton
- On-site visits to regional points of interest
Shakespeare / Western Lit
Although the attacks on Western literature are a long way from succeeding, the tenacity and audacity of those who seek to cancel culturally ‘problematic’ figures like Shakespeare cannot be taken for granted. This lesson would examine both the canonical literature that has fallen into disrepute and the cultural values that gave birth to it.
- Books by Dr. Seuss and other children’s lit authors with a discussion of why they are under siege that represents the pros and cons of censorship
- Child-friendly study of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and an art project involving the characters
- Examination of ways Shakespeare has influenced culture using The Lion King, Gnomeo and Juliet and other child-friendly versions
- Exploration of Elizabethan England, London and the Globe Theater including bookmark or other gift from Shakespearean landmark
- A look at controversial American lit, including artifacts from Monroeville, Ala. (basis of Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird) and the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton, Ga.
Trump / GOP History
Emphasis would be on conservative principles and philosophy while taking a broad view of GOP history (inclusive of pre-Republican founding fathers) and its role in supporting American liberty.
It also would examine the ways in which traditionally “liberal” Democrat leaders like JFK and FDR represented values that conservatives have embraced or adopted. And, of course, it would address the cultural stigma surrounding Trump/modern Republicans and how to civilly and respectfully stand one’s ground in the face of opposition.
- Coinage portraying historic GOP/conservative leaders
- Buttons, bumper stickers, political signs and other election memorabilia
- Photos from Trump rally
- Virtual tour of the Reagan Ranch and use of downloadable resources from Young America’s Foundation
- Reading of Tuttle Twin series (including optional lesson plans and learning resources) to introduce key conservative concepts
Follow Ben Sellers on Parler at https://parler.com/profile/Sellers.