Friday, May 13, 2005

Seeds of Deception: A Review

Mind and Media provided a copy of Seeds of Deception: Planting Destruction of America's Children for me to review. I didn't receive anything other than the book for agreeing to do this.

This book is not a "fun" read, nor will it wind up in the annals of great literature. But its message, and the research provided in it, is both timely and important. I'll let you know what the book is about, what I think of it, provide links to other reviews, and suggest some resources to learn more and go deeper.

Georgiana Preskar, the author, describes a gradual awakening she had in the course of researching a government-funded program called SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity). You can read more about SEED at Georgiana's site, as well as here (a pro-SEED site) and here (an anti-SEED site).

What is SEED?

"The National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum, a staff-development equity project for educators, is in its nineteenth year of establishing teacher-led faculty development seminars in public and private schools throughout the U.S. and in English-speaking international schools. A week-long SEED Summer Leaders' Workshop prepares school teachers to hold year-long reading groups with other teachers to discuss making school curricula more gender-fair and multiculturally equitable in all subject areas." (link)

Sounds pretty good, right? What could be wrong with that? Let's investigate further.

From the pro-SEED "Key Ideas" page:

"Intellectual and personal faculty development, supported over time, is needed if today's schools are to enable students and teachers to develop a balance of self-esteem and respect for the cultural realities of others, in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. S.E.E.D. seminars often involve other school staff along with teachers; SEED seminars have also been held in colleges and universities, and with parents and students....

The S.E.E.D. Project works within schools to deepen the practice of a democratic balance between self and others in classrooms, schools, and society....Group conversation, intentionally structured, can support teachers and administrators in creating accurate, nourishing curriculum material, and pedagogical strategies that are more gender balanced, multiculturally equitable, and globally attuned....Schools contribute a $3,000 participation fee toward the cost of the summer training and year-long technical support. They also provide a $1,000 book budget for the school-based, voluntary seminar. SEED Seminars are led chiefly by teachers in K-12 classrooms. In some cases, parents, college teachers, and administrators have also led seminars."

The pro-SEED pages are filled with code words I, as a former educator, are intimately familiar with ("diversity," "self-esteem," "respect"). I spent two years as a graduate student in education, where I was prepared to teach English to children between the ages of 12-18. In my secular university education classes, I learned that "diversity" is code for the inclusion of every group into the conversation of the classroom. Educators, I learned, should strive for every voice to be listened to and given legitimacy within the democratic classroom community.

The Christian teacher or student quickly discovers the caveat to all this inclusion: the "voice" of the Christian is not desired or legitimized by those who dessiminate information through programs like SEED. The Christian, insisting on one Truth and one God, a God who judges sin and has a Law, is either entirely unwelcomed by the facilitators or is given a thin-lipped half-smile, chided for "intolerance" (another code word) of differing perspectives, and her raised hand rarely called on in discussions (or given a dramatic *sigh*). Honestly, even in the best-case scenario, the Christian is taught that his "truth" is no better than anyone else's, and while his "voice" is legitimate, there are many other understandings of life that are just as "true."

From the pro-SEED site:

"Perhaps, the only truth that that "Beauty is," still no small truth to expound upon.

For me, the beauty of the classroom gathering lies in its possibilities for seeing new varieties of Beauty. This multiplicity, in turn, enables both students and teachers to be engaged in conversation about an evolving definition of the beautiful. Such dialogue requires the practice of both/and thinking as participants acknowledge the varied experiences of reality which frame individual human perspective."

Where there are "varied experiences of reality" and "evolving" definitions of "beauty" (which here seems like a code word for that which is perceived to be good and right to an individual), there is no room for God to come in and say, "I AM." At least, not without a chance for a pantheon of other gods to rise up and say, "Well, I am TOO!"

This pluralistic pedagogy discourages fundamentalism. It's designed to. It's designed to deconstruct everything you thought you knew and make you see it in a new way--which happens to be a New Age, Socialist/Marxist way--and make you think that you "discovered" your own truth by delving into yourself and engaging with others' perspectives.

That's not to imply that ALL interest in diversity and multiple perspectives is wrong. Obviously we are all coming from differing socioeconomic and racial groups, for example, and certainly gender can influence perspective. And obviously, any person seeking to live like Jesus doesn't just talk, he listens. No problem. But programs like SEED do not merely attempt to help students dialogue and understand other perspectives. Instead, they actively seek to undermine tradition (including the student's religious beliefs) and delegitimize any perspective that argues against pluralism ("a theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds of ultimate reality").

As usual, when Satan is up to something--and when he really wants to thoroughly deceive--truth and lies are mixed, and lines are blurred. SEED is not the root of the problem--it's a leaf on a very large tree. But we can learn a lot about a tree from its leaves, and SEED is a really good example of what's been happening progressively (pun intended!) in public schools for years. It's not new. SEED is just a flowering bud on the New Age tree, preparing the last generations for the full-blown fruit of Mystery Babylon.

Preskar's work is really an unveiling of research, though it's presented as the story of her personal awakening to the New Age, paganistic underpinnings of modern American pedagogy (particularly the English classes I was trained to teach--but it exists in all subject areas). She is passionately concerned for the children who are being indoctrinated, and I appreciate that and share her concern.

Preskar reminds me of my parents: she grew up in the 1950s and sees that bygone era with rose-tinted glasses, waxing rhapsodic about how innocent things were then, and how much they've changed. While I don't think things were as hunky-dory then as she does, I do agree with her that America has descended morally at an alarming rate. (The people to whom I speak who disagree with this often end up, on closer examination, to be ill informed about occult history, current events, and how the enemy is infiltrating every aspect of public and private life.)

I did feel, while reading the book, that ideas of "conservatism" and "tradition" were too closely aligned with Christianity for my taste (I tend, as I've told you before, to be uncomfortable with labels whose baggage I dislike), but that is a small complaint in the face of the painstaking research Preskar has undertaken in order to sound the shofar. Those who think public schooling has not changed even from when you were in it needs to do more research and learn the lingo of modern pedagogy.

Other reviews, which do not really agree with mine but which present some good points and some other perspectives (because, of course, mine can't be the only right one--HA! Get it?....Get it?):

Questions and Answers

Mind and Soul


Don't miss this one: Dr. Henry Walther

Also, if you're interested in this kind of research, I have a couple of websites you should check out (also found in my sidebar). I can't speak highly enough of these ministries:

Kjos Ministries (see especially Education)

Adullam Films