Summer’s end gets my head to spin

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 8/7/18

A variety of odd thoughts have been spinning around in my head this week, searching for a pattern, or some unifying idea across the board. I think that’s what happens as I realize that summer is …

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Summer’s end gets my head to spin

Posted

A variety of odd thoughts have been spinning around in my head this week, searching for a pattern, or some unifying idea across the board. I think that’s what happens as I realize that summer is nearly over, and my mind starts to turn towards teaching children again: My brain spools up all the things that it hasn’t found a home for and desperately tries to resolve them before I get into the weeds of curriculum and schedules.

At any rate, here are the three that keep buzzing my tower, like Maverick ignoring air control and causing me to spill my mental coffee:

• Headline from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “Gay Teens Have Higher Pregnancy Rate Than Their Straight Peers.”

• My daughter, 17, is currently wrapping up her summer homework assignment for an Advanced Placement Literature Course, and, among the charming passages she has shared with me from the assigned novel, is this:

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I rapes real good when I’m drunk.”

She looked startled. “Ooooh, then pour me another.”

I know. Not exactly Shakespearian.

• Victor Davis Hanson recently penned a column detailing the similarities in our current divided nation with how the nation was in 1861. Among his “wedges” is the college campus, on which “The curriculum now was recalibrated as therapeutic; it no longer aimed to challenge students by demanding wide reading, composition skills, and mastery of the inductive method. The net result was the worst of all possible worlds:

An entire generation of students left college with record debt, mostly ignorant of the skills necessary to read, write, and argue effectively, lacking a general body of shared knowledge — and angry.”

What is the word? What is the word I’m searching for here to bring all this together? Ah, yes…

Confused.

I fear for the next generation. And, I know, that has been the same basic sentiment for every generation since, oh, about the late 16th century. But the degree to which we are putting muddled, idiotic thoughts into the heads of our youth seems to be accelerating. Is it any wonder that students, according to recent polling, would prefer the basic governing system of the collapsed Soviet Union to the one we have in the United States?

Teenagers have always been hyper-sexual — I’m not so old that I don’t remember. But every measure of teenage sexual activity right now is going in a direction that we adults (and I use the term advisedly) should be happy with: sexual activity is decreasing, teenage pregnancy is decreasing. At the same time, the “Me Too” movement is taking down men (and now women) of power in every industry all across the country, and has even spawned some provably false accusations (now, who could have seen that coming?) So, why in the world would we be having teenagers read — during the summer, in an untutored environment — a novel that features rape fantasies? Instead of, oh, I don’t know, Homer or Cervantes or Chekhov. And how can you possibly explain what’s going on in the LGBT community? Is it possible that weaponizing sexuality leads to confused and dangerous behaviors, especially among an already vulnerable population?

By the way, did you hear about the TedX featured speaker who makes the case that pedophilia is nothing more than a natural, healthy sexual leaning? No, no reason.

And then let’s send this generation off to college where educational confusion, sexual confusion, and massive debt get boiled together in a pressure cooker and percolate for four to eight years with very little purpose.

All this so that, 30 years from now, somebody can look back and say “we should have been able to see this coming.”

All this to say: parents, watch your children. Love your children. Teach your children. The world outside your doors is stranger than you can possibly fathom.

And get off my lawn.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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