Education is important, but the proper education is more important. Teaching children the basics of common sense is more important than filling their heads with trivial facts they will not remember beyond third period.

Teach The Children Well
A Gay Opinion 6/26/01
by R.A. Melos

I heard a joke today. A father and son are standing in their backyard, and the young son sees two spiders mating on the patio. "What are those two spiders doing?" the son asks his father.

"Those spiders are mating," the father replies. He sees his son's curiosity and begins explaining further. "See the spider on the top?" the father asked.

The son nods.

"Well," says the father, "that one is called a daddy-longlegs."

"Then the one on the bottom is a mommy-longlegs?" the son asks.

"No," the father replies. "That one is also a daddy-longlegs."

The son looks down at the spiders, raises his foot, stomps them to death, and says, "There'll be none of that around here."

It's a good thing I'm not Spiderman, or I would've been doubly offended. Of course humor is subjective. While searching today's New Jersey Home News Tribune for my horoscope and the comics section, I read an article on newly proposed state legislation which would require teachers to set aside 30 seconds a day to read a 56 word excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, teach sex-education courses stressing abstinence, and social studies courses covering the nonviolence philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr., in an effort to instill certain values in New Jersey youth.

I howled. Oh, I do agree with the teaching of the nonviolence philosophies, and I do think the Declaration of Independence actually deserves at least one full minute and maybe 112 word excerpts, and I completely disagree with stressing the teaching of abstinence without fully disclosing the other dangers of unprotected sexual intercourse aside from the teen pregnancy factors.

It was the comment on the effort to instill certain values in our youth which really got to me. After all, if our parenting society isn't satisfied with the values and morality in our youth, aren't they reaping what they themselves have sown? Why should New Jersey taxpayers be expected to watch their tax dollars being spent through legislation mandating teachers to do the job of the parents?

As a single gay male with no children, I've never given much thought to the education of our youth. Not being a parent I simply never cared what was being taught to the young people of today's society, since it had no bearing on my life, assuming values were something to be taught in the home and not the classroom. Although, since I am a taxpayer, and my money would be going toward these "values lessons," I would like to know whose values, aside from those of dead nonviolence proponents, will be taught?

I'd like to know my values, those of a single gay male with no children, will be expressed, and given more then 30 seconds and 56 words in which to express them. I'd like to know the youth of my home state will understand why it is important for homosexuals to be given the rights and benefits of legally recognized marriage, and why it is important for hate crimes and anti-discrimination legislation to be adopted nationwide, protecting people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as age, race and religious beliefs. These are values I want to see instilled in the youth of today.

Although, after witnessing some of today's youth hanging around the side of a local grocery store, I question the value of teaching values. I would suggest we put off teaching values and start teaching common sense. We can start off with the basics like, don't touch a hot stove, or don't stick your finger in an electric socket. Two or three years of this repetition should eventually sink in, and we could then move on to more complex theories of common sense, such as, don't play in traffic, and the ever popular don't run with scissors.

I'm not really trying to be flip about this, as I truly do believe it is more important to teach common sense before we stress values like abstinence on a generation with a collective attention span of a short music video. I don't mean to denigrate the youth of our society, since they can do that all by themselves, just watch an episode of MTV's Spring Break hosted by Jerry Springer.

No, my message today is one of humor and common sense. It's sadly obvious the New Jersey legislators aren't joking when they wish to reduce the Declaration of Independence to daily 30 second 56 word excerpts, nor, unfortunately, are they joking about the stressing of abstinence in sex-education courses. On the other hand, I'm not joking about the teaching of common sense.

Once we start teaching common sense, maybe we will get around to teaching tolerance in matters of sexual orientation. Who knows, maybe one day arachniphobic jokes will be as much a thing of the past as homophobic jokes.


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