The goal of education: pedagogical errors of educational authorities promoting gender ideology
By John Smeaton | 1 March 2023
This is the seventh in a series of articles, rooted in the teaching of Divini Illius Magistri, which seeks to assist parents in preparing their children to live as mature Christians in dangerous times. This series began on 18 January 2023 with The goal of education: a timeless message for parents from the Lion of Münster.
Educational authorities promoting or tolerating gender ideology make a number of fundamental pedagogical errors which imperil children’s souls and seriously harm their natural wellbeing, as well as that of society as a whole.
These pedagogical errors include:
- Indoctrinating small children with false doctrine which they have no possibility of refuting effectively;
- Pretending “to draw education out” of children, instead of drawing their attention to the objective reality outside themselves, revealed by natural reason and divine revelation;
- Invading parents’ right to the training of their children in accordance with the end for which they were conceived;
- Thinking they can produce good citizens by methods other than those which make for the formation of good Christians.
James Esses, in his article for The Spectator, “How Childline was captured by trans ideology” (cf. part five of this series), referred to the dangerous influence of Stonewall, Europe’s biggest gender ideology campaigning group:
“Examples of this include Stonewall’s statement that toddlers can ‘recognise their trans identity’, recommending the book Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl (which suggests that children can be trapped in the wrong body) for two-year-olds …”
Amazon’s product description of this publication speaks of young children “who do not identify as “boys or girls” finding the book “immensely reassuring” and that it will be “extremely valuable” in schools “for helping young children understand gender diversity and question stereotypes”. The description also points to “a number of useful discussion starters” with children, such as “Does it matter if Tiny is a boy or a girl?” and “What would you ask Tiny if you met them?” followed by information about organisations that provide support on gender identity issues.
Holding such discussions with children is crude indoctrination. Teachers are inculcating in them false doctrine when there can be no possibility, given the children’s age and complete innocence, of them being able to refute errors with reference to any sound doctrine previously taught.
Pope Pius XI’s cautionary instruction in Divini Illius Magistri, is clearly not targeted at the teaching of infants:
“And if, when occasion arises, it be deemed necessary to have the students read authors propounding false doctrine, for the purpose of refuting it, this will be done after due preparation and with such an antidote of sound doctrine, that it will not only do no harm, but will [be] an aid to the Christian formation of youth.”DIM, 86
Educational authorities in the archdiocese of Liverpool are also falling into the error about education of which Pope Pius XI warned in Divini Illius Magistri in these terms:
“[M]any [educators] with, it would seem, too great insistence on the etymological meaning of the word, pretend to draw education out of human nature itself and evolve it by its own unaided powers. Such easily fall into error, because, instead of fixing their gaze on God, first principle and last end of the whole universe, they fall back upon themselves, becoming attached exclusively to passing things of earth.”DIM, 6
By discussing questions like “Does it matter if Tiny is a boy or a girl?” with small children, teachers are pretending to draw education out of their pupils, and reducing morality to the subjective feelings and views of individual human beings, and, thereby, drilling into children false teachings and morals about gender.
Teachers are also disobeying Catholic doctrine, based on the teaching of the Old and the New Testaments, on the inviolable right of parents to the training of their children, in accordance with the end for which God created them.
In connection with the right of parents, Pope Pius XI cites the teaching of Pope Leo XIII thus:
“By nature parents have a right to the training of their children, but with this added duty that the education and instruction of the child be in accord with the end for which by God’s blessing it was begotten. Therefore it is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make absolutely sure that the education of their children remain under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty, and above all to refuse to send them to those schools in which there is danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety.”DIM, 35
Finally, by teaching such blatant falsehoods as transgender ideology, which are the antithesis of Catholic teaching on God’s purpose for human sexuality, Catholic educational authorities are making the error of subordinating the spiritual to the temporal powers of the state and its sex education policies, inclusive of the LGBT agenda, instead of fulfilling the duty delegated to them by parents.
“The proper and immediate end of Christian education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian; that is, to form Christ Himself in those regenerated by Baptism, according to the emphatic expression of the Apostle: “My little children, of whom I am in labor again, until Christ be formed in you.”DIM, 94
Elsewhere in Divini Illius Magistri, Pope Pius XI writes:
“How grave therefore is the error of those who separate things so closely united, and who think that they can produce good citizens by ways and methods other than those which make for the formation of good Christians. For, let human prudence say what it likes and reason as it pleases, it is impossible to produce true temporal peace and tranquillity by things repugnant or opposed to the peace and happiness of eternity.”DIM, 54
Part eight of this series of articles will focus on the moral obligation of parents, teachers and others responsible for children’s education publicly to resist the promotion of gender ideology — even by authorities in the Catholic Church.