Sticks and stones break bones, but words hurt more subtly. Old-school advice was that, growing up, one had to grin and bear it, let a few of our psychological wounds scab over, and get on with life.
But that is not “new school” wisdom. Nowadays, moved by a perhaps overweening sense of kindness (or politicized fear) educators tend to prohibit certain words, the better to protect some folks from taking offense.
The New York Post reports that, in a “bizarre case of political correctness run wild,” the people in charge of public schools have
banned references to “dinosaurs,” “birthdays,” “Halloween” and dozens of other topics on city-issued tests.
That’s because they fear such topics “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.”
Dinosaurs, for example, call to mind evolution, which might upset fundamentalists; birthdays aren’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses; and Halloween suggests paganism.
Even “dancing’’ is taboo, because some sects object. But the city did make an exception for ballet.
The “educrats” say such exclusions are nothing new, and I believe them. They’re inevitable when you have a government-run school system that “services” a wide diversity of “clients.” The only real solution is to stop having the government run the schools. If you must support education with tax money, give vouchers to poor people. That would let a diversity of tutors and schools compete for parents’ and students’ attention . . . perhaps sometimes by catering to fears of dinosaurs, Halloween and dancing.
Odd, though, in one sense: If you really want not to “evoke unpleasant emotions in the students,” you could stop making them take tests. For most kids, tests are the most unsettling, truly horrifying aspect of schooling.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.