It has become common for schools to not only impart knowledge to children, but to also take care of a basic need of life, namely, food. This is evidenced through the presence of school lunch programs and now even breakfast.
The last few years demonstrate that schools are no longer content with offering meals to students. They now monitor the food that comes through school doors in home-packed lunches. Prime examples of this include the Colorado school which reprimanded a mother for packing Oreos in her daughter’s lunch and the Australian mother who got in trouble for sending her child to school with a slice of chocolate cake.
Now it appears that the school food police have moved beyond sweets and are going after other types of food as well. The Telegraph reports:
“‘A school’s ban on sausage rolls, pork pies and fruit squash from children’s lunch boxes has provoked a furious backlash among parents.
The policy, which the school says is led by Government guidelines, states pupils are encouraged to show their packed lunches to a member of staff before and after they have eaten.
It states: ‘Pork pies, sausage rolls, pepperoni sticks are high in salt and saturated fat. ‘These items should not be included in a pupils [sic] packed lunchbox. If found a parent will be called.’”
Of course, in this case as in others like it, the child’s well-being is always put forth as the primary reason for the intervention by the school.
But while these dietary actions may appear to be done out of respect for the child’s best interests, they also seem to send a strong message about parents. In brief? A parent cannot know what is best for his or her child.
According to former New York teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto, that message is one which schools have been subtly peddling for a long time. In fact, Gatto declares that there are a number of assumptions schools regularly make against parents. These include the following:
1. Parents are Ignorant
Parents, Gatto notes, are not certified “experts” in how to raise children. Teachers are the ones who have expert knowledge of how children learn, think, and do. As such, “Protecting children from the uncertified is a compelling public concern.”
2. Parents aren’t the True Authority
According to Gatto, school is designed to accelerate the process of children questioning the wisdom of their parents:
“Children will inevitably grow apart from their parents in belief, and this process must be encouraged by diluting parental influence and disabusing children of the idea their parents are sovereign in mind or morality.”
3. Parents are Dangerous
As Gatto explains, “An overriding concern of schooling is to protect children from bad parents.” Because of this, schools must reclaim their rightful place as “the proper parent [who] has predominant responsibility for training, morals, and beliefs.”
As every parent should recognize, these three assumptions are often unfounded. For centuries the parent has been considered as the one responsible for the child, a fact to which even Aristotle testifies in the Nicomachean Ethics when he says, “For the father is the author of the child’s existence, which seems the greatest of all benefits, and of his nurture and education….”
Is it time schools remember this truth?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.