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Wokeness Is Coming for Classical Christian Education


BY: DAVID GOODWIN | JANUARY 20, 2023

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/01/20/wokeness-is-coming-for-classical-christian-education/

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Classical Christian education is not ‘racist’ or ‘misogynist.’ Its texts address the universal truths about the human condition.

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It’s been a good year for classical Christian education. New school starts are up threefold, a book on classical education became No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, and on Jan. 26, Fox Nation will release season two of a popular series on classical Christian education, “The Miseducation of America.” Of course, with growth comes attention. What is unusual this time is that someone with ties to our movement — one of our own — draws focus to a growing divide.

On Jan. 12, in the online journal Current, Jessica Hooten Wilson asked, “Is White Supremacy a Bug or a Feature of Classical Christian Education? It should come as no surprise that, within her mainstream academic ecosphere as a scholar at Pepperdine University, she gets pressure. “I experience regular pushback from those who perceive [classical Christian education] as white, Western-only, and male-dominated.” She proceeds to cast aspersions on a few people and organizations — including, indirectly, mine. Her accusations become a pretext for her thesis: “If the classical Christian school movement is to survive — let alone flourish — we must oppose all forms of racism and misogyny and stand with the beauty, goodness, and truth that we hold up for our students.” I’ll take her up on that charge.

Hooten Wilson is a staccato note at the end of a new tune within our circles. Her article praises those groups she believes are taking the right steps. So far, I’ve heard no one publicly state the thesis so clearly as she does: “We should peruse the authors of the works and, if applicable, the editors or introductory writers to ensure an assortment of voices … as well as an equality of both sexes. If we look at the table of contents of a textbook or a reading list for a semester and find not a single woman or person of color in that list, then that curriculum is misrepresenting the classical Christian tradition.”

Choosing the Classical Canon

For the better part of three millennia, philosophical, theological, and literary authors labored to create the classical canon, representing countless cultural influences. Over much of this same time period, learned scholars have made lists of those that deserve “canon” status. It is unclear if there are minorities or women in Cassiodorus’ list of authors (400 A.D.), or Leonardo Bruni or Battista Guarino’s lists (humanists from the 1400s) — they don’t use those categories. Mortimer Adler and his team of about 40 renowned scholars chose the most widely recognized list of books in our time based upon their contribution to “the great conversation.” Adler’s merit-based criteria required a work to have changed the course of history and to have developed the collective Western mind. What Adler’s team did not do is look to race or sex as criteria.

The Western classical tradition has long included people of every race and sex in a particular way: The tradition deals with a body of texts that address the universal truths about the human condition, rising above our culture’s current quest to silo everyone into an intersection of identity.

Whatever your identity may be, the long journey toward Aeneus’ destiny amplifies the tension between duty and desire. The hilarity of twins unknown to each other, living in the same city, begets “A Comedy of Errors,” no matter your race or sex. Would Hooten Wilson tell the young women and minorities in our schools that they cannot fully converse with these texts because their voices are not represented in them? Shall our schools sacrifice universal human dignity on the altar of token inclusion? Hooten Wilson limits her criteria to women and minorities. Some, like Kimberle Crenshaw, will not be satisfied with this attempt to diversify our reading lists — there will always be one more disaffected group.

Duped into Old-Fashioned Racism and Sexism

By Hooten Wilson’s standard, we must scrape and scrape until we find a “fair” representation of “diverse” contributors. “I am especially excited about the number of women that we added to the Middle Ages list. … Classical schools should look through their reading lists to make sure women and persons of color are not excluded from their curriculum.” Classical Christian education should not be duped by the spirit of our age into old-fashioned racism or sexism. This spirit was cultivated not by our tradition, as Hooten Wilson claims, but rather by the Frankfurt School.

During the 1930s, a group of cultural Marxist scholars set up shop at Columbia University. The Frankfurt School set out on a mission to end the influence of Christianity in our culture. Their thickly veiled product called critical theory deliberately divides us by whispering one small lie, presented in two axioms: For a person to relate to anything, or gain from anything — in this case an intellectual tradition — it must have elements that “look like them” and match their “identity.” And, a second axiom follows: Thus, if something does not contain “diverse and inclusive” elements, it is racist or misogynist. These fruits of critical theory travel down a circuitous path from the Frankfurt School, to Hooten Wilson’s proposal, to a few classical educators who take incremental steps toward critical theory — all of this under the trendy label of “inclusiveness.”

True Liberation Through Classical Christian Education

Classical education was created to, and has, liberated the minds of countless people groups in history, and it is capable of doing the same in America today — and beyond. It has been at the forefront of the march for freedom and education; for individual rights apart from race or class or sex. If we let the very toxin that infects progressive education get into our classrooms, we’re doomed. This toxin was created and propagated by those who hate our tradition. Should we voluntarily drink it?

My daughter recently graduated from New Saint Andrews College. This is one of the institutions that those in Hooten Wilson’s camp label “misogynist.” The college seeks to uphold and respect traditional Christian femininity, which displeases feminists who seem to hate femininity. Misogyny? When my daughter brought her friends to our home over Thanksgiving, I remember listening to the conversation and thinking, “Where do these women come from? They’re strong, bright, extremely well-read, fluent in ancient languages, and honoring of Christian truth — including their God-given womanhood.” None were weak women. All seemed faithful, happy, and confident. I don’t think any of them would want Hooten Wilson’s prescription for their reading list.

Is Racism a Bug or a Feature in Classical Christian Education?

The Frankfurt School’s purpose was to deconstruct. To do so, they inserted a “bug” in our educational system: critical theory, and all of its descendent forms. Some in our movement now offer a batch of code that has this bug embedded deeply within it — in the form of reading lists. By Hooten Wilson’s reckoning, these groups are heading in the right direction. The rest of us are not. Will our institutions continue to follow her lead by adopting coded terms like “Kingdom Diversity”? Or will we recognize the code as a virus and say, “No thank you. The classical Christian tradition is above all that nonsense — and the nonsense of white nationalists, by the way. May a plague be on all your racist houses.”

If classical Christian education is to survive, it has to reject the foolishness of our age and embrace Christ’s way alone. Christ’s church favors neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free.

The humanities are great because they unite. They are universal. Women and non-Europeans are now, in our present time, contributing to classical Christian education in spades. I work so that all children can rise up and join the great conversation without barriers.

“Identity,” however, won’t fit here. Check it at the door. We are Christ’s. We are classical. Those who want to be loved by the spirit of our age will become intoxicated by it, and slowly die of its poison.


David Goodwin is the editor of The Classical Difference magazine, the president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, and the co-author of The New York Times no. 1 best seller “Battle for the American Mind.” You can find him at Substack.

COMMENTARY: How I Lovingly Guided My Child Away from Transgenderism — And How You Can Too


BY: ANONYMOUS | DECEMBER 02, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/12/02/how-i-lovingly-guided-my-child-away-from-transgenderism-and-how-you-can-too/

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I had to accept my limits, but that didn’t mean I was helpless. Parents are still the most important influence on their kids.

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About a year and a half ago, I noticed that my son — let’s call him Andy — was putting rainbow stickers on his phone. And a friend alerted me that Andy rebuked her daughter in a group chat for being “so cisgender.” I did some delicate digging, and it became clear: My child, then 13, was flirting with going “trans.”

He’s not alone. The number of transgender-identifying kids is up 20 to 40 times since a decade ago, to 1.5 percent of all teens. And the gender facilities that say they are the experts have been unmasked. Videos and statements have revealed that doctors in these so-called clinics are willing to give 15-year-old girls double mastectomies and call it treatment.

I wasn’t about to send my son off for experimental medical interventions that didn’t treat any underlying psychological issues. In this, I think I’m representative of the silent (and bullied) majority. Still, what could I do?

The first thing I had to do was to realize that the gender cult is powerful, and I can’t control the choices and feelings of my kid. I had to accept my limits, but that didn’t mean I was helpless. Parents are still the most important influence on their kids.

Finding a New School

I was lucky: My son was at a private school that did not push kids, behind their parents’ backs, into exploring alternate sexualities and getting “treated” by lifetime medicalization. If my son had been at a trans-affirming school — which means just about any public school — I would have been undermined at every turn.

At this school, however, he did have a cohort of “rebel” friends who all seemed to identify themselves as gender-questioning. And the school itself was not academically challenging enough for Andy. So I focused on academics, and we looked for a new school that would be a better fit on that score — and still supportive of my values. Finding one gave him a fresh start and a new peer group.

Building Real Identity

Next, I decided I would not provoke Andy by debating gender and trans issues. Maria Keffler in her book “Desist, Detrans, and Detox” reminds parents that transgenderism in adolescents is less about sex and more about identity, identity, and identity. A few decades ago, Andy probably would have worked through his teenage crises by going goth or arguing with me about religion. These days, becoming one of the letters in LGTB is the shortcut to being interesting, not “basic.”

Well, I didn’t want to make gender-bending the way he was going to differentiate himself from his parents. If he had been openly claiming a different so-called gender identity, maybe I would have been more confrontational about it. But since he was just flirting with being trans, not yet eloping, I decided not to make the topic of the sexes even more important than it already was. Instead, I focused on helping him build an identity in a healthy way.

I made it a priority to compliment him, every day, praising him for all the good things he is. Every time I “caught him” being funny, smart, helpful, generous, thoughtful, or kind, I noted it out loud. Every day, multiple times a day. I tried to help him see that these things are more important to his identity than some exotic “gender.” I also tried to help him feel more at home in his skin. He was given lessons in a sport he enjoys, so he could experience his body being strong and agile. Whatever reduced his alienation from his body, I encouraged.

Open-Ended Questioning

Next, I focused on building our relationship. I asked a lot of open-ended questions, and I made goofy jokes. We laughed a lot. I learned about him and signaled that I was interested in learning more. De-escalating tension and increasing the joy between us was key.

If Andy wanted to wear a vintage shirt that looked like it belonged on a French aristocrat from a few centuries ago, I just shrugged and let it pass. As long as what he chose was somewhere within the boundaries of socially acceptable male clothing, I didn’t make a fuss. After all, being a man (or a woman) is large enough to encompass differences in style, personality, and interest. It’s the trans movement that stereotypes the sexes, telling us that a sensitive, artistic boy must actually be a girl. Nonsense! My son could be a man and wear pastels.

When opportunities arose in everyday life, I pointed out the differences between men and women. In talking about school athletics, I would casually observe, “Oh, in high school, the athletic teams are divided by sex, because by puberty, boys develop more muscles and have more lung capacity than girls.” I never made these into arguments, just objective remarks.

In fact, we didn’t talk about so-called gender much, although I was prepared to. I coached myself on how to respond with neutrality and interest. I was determined only to ask questions. “I’m not clear how, if gender is socially constructed, that it is also an infallible identity deep inside the person?” “Help me understand. If gender is fluid and changeable, why should people get surgeries to alter their bodies permanently?” Books and essays pointing out transgenderism’s inconsistencies helped me clarify my thoughts. Still, I vowed I would only provide my own answers when Andy asked me a question — only, that is, when he was truly curious about my thinking.

I did take Andy to one talk on gender by a speaker who was calm and sympathetic but still supportive of my values. When he asked why he had to go, I simply said, “It’s an important topic, and this point of view is not well-represented in the culture.” Afterward, when I asked him what he thought, he said, “It was fine,” in a tone of voice that indicated the opposite. I dropped it; the talk still gave him a lot to chew on, even if he didn’t want to admit it.

Limiting Technology

One other piece was key: technology. Much trans proselytizing happens online, with anonymous adults love-bombing vulnerable kids. These adults sell the idea that acceptance can be found only in their new trans family and not in their real home. Some parents need to take drastic steps regarding their kids’ online presence. Fortunately, the screen problem was one I had been addressing for a long time, so I could be more moderate.

Andy did not have a smartphone, although even flip phones these days have internet browsers. I gave him a new phone designed for kids, one that had some carefully curated apps but no internet browser. For computer time, he was limited to an hour a day, and I trusted the internet filters I managed on his computer to keep him off the porn sites and the sexually explicit forums that cater to trans-questioning kids. All that limited (but didn’t eliminate) his exposure to pro-trans pressure. As a bonus, I got a much more cheerful kid at home who wasn’t always in front of a screen.

The point of all of this was threefold: to be the good guy, to distract him from all gender talk all the time, and to provide other identity options than the trans one.

Upping My Parenting

Lastly, I played the long game. Even when I didn’t believe it, I kept repeating to myself that the universe wouldn’t give me a kid that I couldn’t care for. That I had his best interests at heart — and online trans gurus didn’t — and I could wait this out with patience. I prioritized him when we had downtime in the evenings, not my phone. And I did the things I needed to, like sleeping enough and getting my own support system, so I could be available to him. Should I have been doing all of this all along as a parent? Well, of course, and in fact, it’s not like I had to do a total 180 when this emergency happened. Some of these things I was already doing, sort of. But I still needed to level up my parenting.

This summer, when he decorated a new phone, there were no rainbow stickers on it.

I wouldn’t say we are out of the woods, but he seems uninterested in the whole gender question. His wardrobe choices are less outrageous, and he’s not anxious, angry, and approval-seeking. Instead, he’s engaged and happy at school and at home, and he doesn’t need to be “different” according to the trans script. He’s happier being different just as himself. That makes me one happy parent.


This byline marks several different individuals, granted anonymity in cases where publishing an article on The Federalist would credibly threaten close personal relationships, their safety, or their jobs. We verify the identities of those who publish anonymously with The Federalist.

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