In Raleigh, N.C., on the backside of the Department of Education building is a structure known as the Education Wall. Completed in 1992, the EW was created by artist Vernon Pratt and writer Georgann Eubanks. Engraved into the polished red granite are messages that presumably reflect my home state’s commitment to children.

One of the messages reads “You are a child you are suitable to be awed.” Interestingly, featured on the North Carolina Public Schools Facebook page is this quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

The only conclusion one can draw from this inadvertent juxtaposition is that education bureaucrats in North Carolina are confused. On the one hand, they are in awe of children; on the other, they believe children should be taught humility. King could certainly tell them that a child who believes he or she should be the object of awe is also a child who is unteachable. Awesome children, like awesome adults, do not believe they are capable of error.

I am a North Carolinian. Thanks to the EW, I now realize that I was cheated of my birthright by miscreants who did not think I was awesome. In fact, I remember both of my grandmothers telling me, on separate occasions, that I was a “very bad little boy.” I was informed of my badness not to make me feel worthless, which it did not, but to correct, which it did. When people who love you tell you, as a child, that you are bad, they are telling you because they love you.

My grandmothers’ tone was a combination of sadness and hope. They were not angry with me. Despite my inability to articulate any of the above, I understood and resolved to do better. One day, I hope to live up to their standards.

Another saying on the North Carolina Education Wall informs us that “Love works where discipline failed.” This is not philosophy. This is pulp fiction. Love is not the antithesis of discipline. In the proper raising of a child, both unconditional love and unequivocal discipline are necessary. Love and discipline are not two different things; rather, they are complements.

Do American educators and bureaucrats truly believe in this unmitigated drivel? If so, then we are all in a heap of a mess.

A wall of my grandmothers’ parenting aphorisms would have been far better.

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