Serpent

Mandatory Education: Teaching Pigs To Sing

by Blanche Barton

“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

One near-universal I’ve heard in talking to hundreds of Satanists is their rage at conventional education. Even if they were successful and made good grades in school, they feel their real learning took place outside the classroom, resenting the hours of time wasted fidgeting behind desks. An equal number of us were dragged kicking and screaming through the diploma mill, labeled mentally slow, habitually truant, violent, attention deficient or hyperactive, with all instinctive passion for learning systematically crushed out. Many young Satanists are still serving their twelve-year sentences, feeling alien, angry and alone.

There’s good reason for our deep-seated disdain for and resistance to mandatory education. It goes against every principle of Satanism. It’s not your imagination; schools are designed to make you complacent, homogenized and to extinguish any spark of curiosity or willfulness you may possess. The structure and attitudes presently used to impose education on children developed around the time of the industrial revolution. Since factories required workers to be minimally educated so they could run machines without chopping their hands off, a system quickly evolved that would be the best training for dutiful 9–5 laborers. Children were constrained to receive an assembly-line education, with appropriate information shoved into their heads by the particular worker at a particular station, and, after a designated time, were spit out the other end like so many radios. Today, children are still taught the moral value of getting up at 7 am every morning, going to a place you don’t want to be, with a lot of people you’d consider your inferiors to take instructions from someone you can’t respect. This trains you to be a responsible citizen who will contribute to the workforce without grumbling, questioning or inciting to riot.

Despite public cant, our schools and our society in general—don’t support learning. We pay lip service to respecting education but we don’t reward it materially. Drug dealers, rock stars and baseball players get the money and the glory; you don’t necessarily make more money if you’re smarter or work harder in school. Consequently, schools are no longer expected to teach basic skills. Modern American public schools are battle zones. Not just gun-battles over drugs but battles over political agendas, religious indoctrinations, morality and values. Nothing is exempt perceived political implication—history textbooks, science texts, library books, students’ rights, multilingual education, offensive or insensitive language, teachers’ own sexual orientation or political leanings all become more important than readin’, writin’, and ’rithmatic. The most basic, objective facts are sacrificed to “politics.” The whole concept of “objectivity” is considered to be a false construct designed to repress multicultural diversity. Education is an incidental and bitter pill shoved down the throats of unwilling, unmotivated captives by teachers who are afraid to fail students—for fear they’ll be accused of racism or have their tires slashed or both. Kids don’t expect to be challenged to perform, memorize or demonstrate competence anymore. Most public school students would be insulted if they were suddenly compelled to complete the level of scholastic tasks expected of children in the 1930’s or ’40’s. We’ve all be inundated with depressing statistics about declining literacy rates, how American high school graduates can’t locate China on a globe, or even know what a globe is. College educators complain that students arrive in their hallowed halls unprepared, without the most basic writing or math skills.

Despite public cant, our schools
and our society in general—
don’t support learning.”

I don’t blame individual teachers. They’re overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated. They are expected to dodge bullets and students’ fists to impose intelligence on their charges, just as doctors are expected to magically impose health on uncooperative patients. People who become teachers are usually idealistic and driven; they certainly aren’t drawn to the field for the money. But between the petty administrative politics, overcrowded classes, belligerent students, endless rules and the increasingly dangerous environment, many of the best teachers find themselves burning out, abandoning their professions.

The established methods clearly are not working. So why isn’t tax-supported mandatory education being challenged? Modifications are debated, more testing and stricter graduation qualifications are decreed, yes. Even vouchers have been proposed to satisfy mandatory education requirements, which would allow each student a certain amount of tax money to be used on a school of his choice. If kids need to be caged in minimum-security prisons while their parents work, I don’t mind spending tax dollars to do it. But the hypocrisy offends me. Let’s not go through the pretense of hiring teachers and expecting them to act as unarmed guards. Let’s not go through the motions of buying textbooks and building on-campus libraries where the most intellectually valuable books are debated off the shelves anyway. Don’t shove kids who really do want to learn something in with the shit disturbers. Qualified teachers should teach where they’ll be appreciated, where they can communicate their enthusiasm for knowledge to children who are eager to learn. Let’s hire guards and baby sitters to minister to the needs of kids who are proud of their stupidity. Kids don’t want to be in school; parents don’t want to be involved with their children’s learning—so why force it on them? As with drug laws, let people choose to be satisfied—as long as they are also compelled to suffer the consequences and defensive reaction that dissenters might impose upon their “indulgence.”

But no one offers the bold step of eliminating compulsory school attendance altogether. Why not? Not because we want children to learn anything. Because “free” education has become big business, supporting a whole web of unions, bureaucracies, publishers, and special interests. And any shrewd Satanist will tell you that if big business and/or big government is giving you something for free, you’d better listen for the time bomb ticking inside the pretty package.

…“free” education has become big business, supporting a whole web of unions, bureaucracies, publishers, and special interests.”

The brainwashing isn’t even ineptly masked anymore. Corporations have stepped in to “help” fund public schools by donating educational materials in the form of videotaped lessons, complete with the assaultive pacing the Nintendo generation has come to expect, splashy attention-grabbing graphics and, of course, advertisements for the companies’ products discreetly sprinkled in. There are powerful forces who want more authority over how we live our lives, who want to undermine couples and families, and want increasing control over our children’s minds from an earlier and earlier age. Parents are urged to enroll their diapered toddlers in early childhood education classes, and child day care programs begin when mothers return to their jobs, sometimes only a few months after giving birth. Any repressive interests know how important it is to mold children’s minds to their agendas, and how to defuse any independent impulses before they ignite independence in others.

Teaching Our Own

In light of the abysmal non-education kids get in public school, Christians have always had the option of sending their children to parochial school. Since we don’t want our children indoctrinated with Christianity, Satanists seem to naturally gravitate to one solution: homeschooling. It’s a vision many of us carry from schooldays, when we were thrown onto a playground of tedious, dull-witted savages. Some Satanists have been homeschooling their children for years; others are sending their kids to public school with a wait-and-see attitude, vowing to spring them at the first sign of induced befuddlement. Our attitudes toward mandatory education grow inevitably out of the same disdain we feel for other aspects of institutionalized life. Unlike other religious groups who increasingly advocate homeschooling, Satanists object to public schools not just because of imposed religiosity (as Christianity per se or in the guise of multiculturalism), but we resent the presumption of homogenized thought and method. Every child is expected to learn the same thing at the same time in the same way, regardless of interest, individual pacing or learning style.

How can one teacher, it would be asked, be expected to cater to the individual learning needs of 30-35 people? They shouldn’t have to. It’s unrealistic; especially in this hypersensitive climate, when there are more diverse cultures than ever before blending into the same classrooms, and teachers are expected to walk a tight-wire communicating values that won’t offend anyone. If public schools can’t fulfill the needs of the majority, how can we expect them to teach our children? They can’t even teach in one language! In all fairness, we are a minority religion, with values, priorities and a mythic context that is far from the mainstream. We would probably be just as frustrated by a mandatory curriculum in 1945 as one in 1995. For Satanists, the problem is as much the method as the content.

Homeschooling, on the other hand, offers many advantages to Satanists, and seems to fit easily into an ideal lifestyle most of us would adopt, given the opportunity. Modern technology is diabolically enabling us to fulfill those ideals. Satanists, with or without children, naturally try to arrange their lives so they can work outside the mainstream, choosing a creative field, commissioned work, or a position in which they can do most of the work freelance or independently. The computer network revolution has been a great boon to Satanists and non-Satanists who are most productive working out of home offices. In the coming century, working at home will be the rule rather than the exception for certain professions. The sharp line between “home” and “work” will no longer exist. A flexible schedule will mean people can work, learn or socialize at 3 pm or 3 am, if they are so inclined. Women will no longer be torn between their professional and domestic lives. Both men and women will have an opportunity to do both, weaving work and home and children together more comfortably than they can now.

Satanists are driven people. We don’t need children to complete our lives, as our identity or as our sole creative expression. But if you’re in a stable relationship and your compulsion to have children finally outweighs your reservations, it will mean that you and your partner should realistically evaluate the resources children demand. The biggest drains are not financial, but on stores of patience, humor and primarily, TIME. Having a child is a time-consuming proposition. If reasoning Satanists are going to make the commitment to have a child, they’d want one parent at home caring for the child full time (at least until we can get some of those fabled Satanic daycare centers going!). If at least one parent is going to be home anyway, the teaching will come naturally and constantly. That doesn’t mean that the at-home parent can’t work as well, at least part time. It’s good for children to see both parents involved in their own pursuits.

Satanism is ideally suited to homeschooling. Though we’ll have to discover the “how” through impulse, intuition, and trial-and-error, some of the “whys” are readily apparent:

1) One major criticism people often lob at home learning is that the children don’t have the opportunity to “socialize” with other children their own age. They always use that same word. “Your children will be isolated,” we’re cautioned, “unable to relate to others, will miss out on the proms, the football games, graduation, and all the events that all the other kids will be part of.” This criticism is invalid in general. Kids “socialize” every day. It’s unavoidable. They interact with their parents, siblings, grocers, mailmen, other children in their neighborhood, their parents’ friends and their children... For Satanists, it’s even less of a problem. Socialization is exactly what we would view as harmful to our children. Public school brainwashes them to be mindlessly violent, unquestioning of authority, unimaginative, and easily brainwashed by “peers” and packagers. They study not to satisfy their own curiosity but to gain approval from some arbitrary authority who will label them an “A” or an “F” person.

2) Homeschoolers are often accused of being isolationists and elitists. Christian or liberal advocates often feel compelled to apologize for their stance, or go through long-winded explanations justifying their decision. Satanists would proudly plead guilty! We don’t have to apologize. We already bear the Devil’s name; we are elitists and want our children to grow proud and strong.

3) Most Satanists would feel that children learn better when they are allowed to learn at their own pace, following their own obsessions. Smart kids consider school boring and stultifying. Learning should be student-centered, allowing the child to generate his own enthusiasm. That can’t be done in an education factory. If, according to some bureaucrat’s study, a child should know how to read by age 4 and do arithmetic by age 6 then they’d better all know how to do that or they’ll be labeled “learning disabled.” Children’s early development—crawling, walking, teething, talking, toilet training—has a wide range of what’s considered normal progress. But all that is supposed to come to a screeching halt when they enter school. They have to learn how to read, do arithmetic, write, comprehend, all within a strict, universal timetable. No more left to the individual child’s initiative and exploration. By constantly being told what to learn, where to go, how high to jump, the child is robbed of the opportunity to develop his own self-discipline, as well. School institutionalizes and sabotages the mind, short circuits independent will, which is what it’s designed to do.

4) Homeschooling eliminates the dividing line between “home” where you play, eat, sleep and fight with your siblings, and “school” where you do as little work as you can to get a good grade. Learning doesn’t only happen between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm; that presupposition undermines the very curiosity and sense of wonder that children are born with. Learning doesn’t stop when you’re eighteen years old, either, and there’s a vast smorgasbord of subjects we’d love to explore or review ourselves! What better way to do it than to share that excitement egotistically with your own offspring? Working, playing, learning, thinking and living should all be threads of the same seamless tapestry.

5) Satanism is antithetical to “enthroned lies.” Most of what is now taught in public school is either erroneous or severely slanted, in order to mollify special interest pressures. If a child can have an opportunity to examine facts presented as objectively as possible, he is better equipped to reason for himself and challenge irrationality when he sees it. Satanists have strong values that we want to communicate to our children. Those values aren’t available in public school. You can’t be sure your child is getting the kind of public input you want him to have unless you do it yourself.

Instead of being indoctrinated into a fascistic political agenda, Satanic education would emphasize what was once considered well-rounded literacy. A broad knowledge and application of art, architecture, geography, literature, music, world history, cinema, languages, mathematics, theatre, sciences, etc., is vastly more important to a Satanic Priest than lessons in multicultural sensitivity. Or, for that matter, memorizing the Lesser Key Of Solomon and tracing the sigils from Avon Books’ Necronomicon. A classical curriculum might revive in us some of the magical powers of discernment and discrimination most of us have lost. Don’t tolerate pretentiousness. When a woman brags that she’s getting a degree in “Women’s Studies,” you can smile sweetly and say (as one of our Priestesses did recently), “Oh great—you mean like cooking and cleaning and balancing a budget. I’m so glad modern women are taking an interest in Home Economics.”

6) Homeschooling establishes family/clan unity. Children see their siblings and parents as co-learners, recognizing their strengths and foibles, not divided against each other along arbitrary lines of age or sex. Satanists are, by definition, the “Others,” the outsiders—not by posture but by birthright. Smart, independent, creative children are always aliens in society. We can find strength in ourselves and in others like us, namely our family and our extended Satanic family. Also, we have a network of knowledgeable, influential people among us and, as our children grow, we could develop a potent web of mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities among ourselves.

7) We don’t want to send our children onto the battlefield before they’re mature enough to know there’s a war going on, and to have the ammunition to fight it. Many of the most basic Satanic principles preempt problems that public education seems to find insurmountable - sex education, AIDS education, drugs, birth control, violence in the media, guns on campus, censorship of study materials, interracial conflicts... We should not have to subject our children to problems they wouldn’t have if the school and the TV God didn’t construct them as problems. We want our kids to learn, not waste time. Our ideal would be to teach our children to be strong-willed enough to see through the bullshit in society before they are bombarded with it.

Many of us found the school playground to be a painful battlefield, not because of drugs or guns but because we hated interacting with other kids. Satanic children are naturally set upon by other children, and by insecure teachers. They are bound to be brighter and more aggressive toward the status quo by nature, because that’s what they’ll be learning at home from their Satanic parents. That’s what being a Satanist is. And our children shouldn’t have to suffer for asking uncomfortable questions.

8) Much of homeschooling is religiously motivated, and ours is really nonetheless so, in the sense that our religion dictates our priorities and values. Many Mormons have been trying to educate their children at home for years, some dying in gun battles because of it. Catholics started their own system of private schools instead of allowing their children to be exposed to ideas without Papal approval. Modern born-again Christians want to keep their kids away from a liberal, humanist, evolutionist agenda.

Unlike others, however, Satanism is a religion uniquely qualified to advocate home learning. Our religion is not antithetical to rationality. On the contrary, Satanism encourages intellectual challenge. “Faith” and self-deceit are our enemies. We want our children to be free to question all things, not shackle their minds to any one view. Concerned non-Satanists who learn about our religion only through talk-show hype, who would fear we would “indoctrinate” our children to Satanism, have less to worry about with us than with Christianity. Since our religion isn’t dependent on dogma and blind faith, no indoctrination is necessary. Our attitudes about life, animals, magic, success, Satan, science will inevitably seep in, through our opinions and example. A child should be free to explore anything he’s drawn to. Even Christianity can be examined as the dominant mythic context—cultural anthropology in action!

Whose Kids Are These, Anyway?

You’d think the right to educate your own children would be a basic, inalienable one. But it’s not. Any empowerment of individuals is hotly resisted by teachers’ unions and the grand bureaucracy that depends on mandatory education. That’s why such groups lobby for prohibition or severe restriction of homeschooling: It would lower their “ADA” (Average Daily Attendance). Fewer students in school—fewer teachers hired. Besides, in today’s climate of professional experts in all fields, we are programmed to feel incapable of teaching our own children. “They” say you can’t possibly be qualified to teach your own children, and we’re trained to believe them. Such important matters should be left to “experts.” At the same time, legislators, reacting to demands from their constituencies to improve education, have enacted stricter national standardization tests in public schools. That trickles down to imposing similar demands on homeschooling families, which undermines their most positive strength—being able to gauge the pacing and content of studies to each individual child. Some homeschoolers feel a legitimate responsibility to keep their fingers on the political pulse, sounding the alarm if they perceive negative trends. Homeschooling today is not, in most states, the illegal activity it was 10 years ago. Laws vary from state to state, with different requirements for periodic tests, curriculum submissions, certifications, and various other paperwork. But at best, home learning is tolerated as an unorthodox alternative.

No one has reliable statistics on exactly how many homeschooling families there are; that’s the way they want it. But it’s clear that the level of public education has reached such a nadir that many intelligent people are opting for homeschooling now only because the average parents begin to suspect their children would learn more just by staying home and reading or watching television. It’s become an increasingly important plank in the Religious Right political platform. Gordon Liddy has advocated it on his syndicated radio show. The home PC has opened worlds of learning possibilities for Everyman. Learning CDs, textbooks, entire mail-order curriculums are now available from publishers recognizing a burgeoning homeschooling market, making it a more accessible option than ever before.

The current homeschooling explosion could create some strange bedfellows. Not all homeschoolers are Christian but they are a strong faction, along with an articulate backbone of politically-avid atheistic/ humanistic iconoclasts. This latter influence has a heritage in the educational libertines who started several “alternative” colleges and schools in the wake of the 60’s. Many of these were based on non-conformist ideas about self-initiated or student-centered learning, written evaluations instead of grades, “co-learners” instead of “teachers,” an emphasis on process over product, “schools without walls” (i.e., learning in the community) and “learning how to learn.” They are largely atheistic or humanistic and have the same kind of disdain for education factories that we do.

It seems that the secular and Christian homeschooling factions have been able to set religion and politics aside, working toward preserving their children’s rights to learn. A tenor of mutually-beneficial separatism seems to pervade most home learning literature. Most have also tried not to develop a dictatorship within the homeschooling movement; there is no “right” way or one absolute authority. They recognize the strength of homeschooling is in the diversity of motivation, content and methods for each individual family, much as Satanism is protected from big-money exploitation by having our altars in our homes instead of in great cathedrals. Should we, as a point of Satanic policy, decide to be vocal homeschooling advocates, it will be interesting to see if our support is enthusiastically integrated.

Not all Satanists will be economically free enough to have one partner at home teaching their children, or be able to make the compromises necessary to arrange their lives to do so. If you can’t, then have as much influence on and involvement in your child’s learning as possible. Teach him not to take everything he’s taught in school as absolute truth. Any negative judgments about his abilities should be taken with reservation. Those Satanic children who do go to public or private schools will be interesting experiments in themselves. Their willful enthusiasm will be labeled disruptive—or gifted—as a homogenizing system tries to categorize a race of children genetically and environmentally antagonistic to homogenization.

For further research:

Growing Without Schooling—Request a free sample issue from GWS, 2380 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 104, Cambridge, MA 02140-1226.

Home Education Press—Has an excellent magazine, Home Education Magazine, and many informative books, including Good Stuff, an invaluable resource for anyone who loves learning. Christian slant is obvious but not overwhelming. Send for a free catalogue from HEP, PO Box 1083 Tonasket WA, 98855-1083 .

National Homeschool Association—PO Box 327 Webster, New York USA 14580-0327 .

The Legality of Private-School Homeschooling in California by Stephen Greenberg, J.D.

Homeschool World

First printed in The Black Flame, Volume 5, #3 & #4, 1995.
Copyright © 1995, 2001 by Blanche Barton and may not be reprinted without permission.