This fall, I had the disturbing experience of sitting in on my daughter’s second-grade Zoom class. A full-time school psychologist kicked off her weekly session of “Social Emotional Learning” by prompting the seven-year-olds to admit that COVID-19 is scary. Do you have anything at home that makes you feel better when you’re frightened? She instructed the kids to leave their computers and return with an object that they might cuddle for the remainder of class.
The remarkable thing about this scheduled lesson was that it was not prompted by any indication that the students were afraid of COVID. The lesson itself seemed as likely to induce anxiety in those who were not anxious as it might be to soothe it in those who were. A class begun with girls sitting like scholars ended with them slouching like Linus, clutching a blankie.
Since the advent of lockdowns, parents have been catching glimpses of what’s actually being taught in school. Because I send my daughter to a religious school that shares our values, I’ve gotten off easy. Many parents are discovering content—much of it lectures and online material that appear in no textbook—stunningly radical, devoid of rigor and apparently calculated to alarm.
“The only way to characterize the messages being pushed are the words ‘negative,’ ‘nihilistic’ and ‘anxiety-inducing,'” said Luke Rosiak, an investigative journalist who’s been following what’s being taught in secondary schools for over a year. “The prospect that adults are inducing depression and hopelessness in children to further political aims is something that I think should disturb anyone.”