Christine O’donnell, Witchcraft, And EducationAugust 22, 2021
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By Bruce Deitrick Price
(Summary: the big question is why the public schools waste so much time on weird non-academic topics, most of them hostile to traditional beliefs? The real witch in this story may be the Education Establishment.)
This is a story about a missed opportunity.
But first we have to ask what is the big deal? Still a teenager, O’Donnell dabbled in witchcraft; and then moved on. It shows she’s open to new ideas but doesn’t lose her perspective and become rigid. No wonder ideologues are upset with her. Personally, I believe I’m more afraid of Marxists than of witches.
Second, has anyone noticed that this entire country dabbles in witchcraft every October? It’s called Halloween; and it’s become a major national event. The symbols and iconography of witchcraft permeate American life for a few weeks every year; witches on broomsticks appear in millions of lives. Are all the people who participate in this witchfest unfit for public office?
But let’s move to the heart of the story. O’Donnell, a teenager, dabbled in witchcraft because her boyfriend, a teenager, was intrigued by witchcraft. And where, we should ask, did he (or they) get such ideas? Are there people walking around who suddenly have witchcraft moments?
No, I think we have to look at one of the more bizarre features of our public schools, which is that they routinely import exotic subjects such as witchcraft, Wicca, Deep Ecology, Earth Education, Earthkeepers, body modification, paganism, Gaia theory, nature worship, death education, suicide education, values clarification, sex education, New Age spirituality, to name a few. It’s a long list; and probably a few of these things have turned up in every school.
What business is it of public schools to mention witchcraft and the rest, never mind teach them? I believe the answer has two parts:
These exotic subjects serve the function of taking time away from academic content. Children studying witchcraft, etc. are NOT studying biology, math or French.
Next, exotic subjects like witchcraft, etc. undermine traditional religions, customs, and values. Kids learn to disrespect the beliefs of their parents, and to feel alienated from the society’s long-cherished attitudes.
For the Education Establishment, witchcraft is a twofer. Sabotage content. Sabotage ordinary American life. Wow, it doesn’t get any better than that.
So I was upset with Christine O’Donnell for a reason no one mentioned. She should have attacked the subversive atmosphere at her public school. She might at least have wondered, in passing, why in the world was witchcraft discussed? Why was time wasted on it? Why was it dangled in front of the kids as something weirdly fascinating from a faraway part of the universe?
Teenagers will usually find ways to rebel. They don’t need much help. But some public schools, to the degree they can get away with it, are often engaged in a sort of scorched earth attack on anything conventional or traditional.
The main tactic that John Dewey and his progressives (my favorite witches) introduced into American life was a steady attack on academic content. Dewey specifically said don’t worry about geography, math, history, reading, and all that stuff. What matters is the social life of the child. Now, does Dewey have to write his intent on a billboard at the end of your street? His goal was a socialist America. This was no secret to the people at Teachers College in 1920 and thereafter. Elite educators fell into the pattern of whittling away at anything intellectual or academic, while simultaneously praising or admitting nonacademic content any way they could reasonably do so. They’re still doing this. Witchcraft was merely one of many convenient ways.
If people want to study witchcraft, it’s their business. But public schools have a special mission they like to neglect, which is teaching children the foundational knowledge they will need throughout their lives. I’ve been urging Republicans and Conservatives to make education an issue in all elections. I hope Christine O’Donnell, looking back at her own experiences, will suggest how public schools could be improved.
Bruce Price writes about intellectual matters on his site Improve-Education.org.
About the Author: Bruce Deitrick Price is the founder of
, a high-level education and intellectual site. One focus is reading; see “42: Reading Resources.” Another focus is education reform; see ’38: Saving Public Schools.’ Price is an author, artist and poet. His fifth book is “THE EDUCATION ENIGMA–What Happened to American Education.”