Death education at Columbine High
By Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld
Last weekend, the seniors at Columbine High School graduated. They tossed their
caps into the air, celebrating their liberation from twelve years of public education
where they were indoctrinated in the system's moral and academic chaos and were
undoubtedly glad to come out of it alive. Some of their classmates did not. They
remembered those who did not, omitting the names of the two perpetrators of the
massacre who were also supposed to graduate that weekend. Instead, those two chose
Which brings us to the subject of death education. Death education has been a
part of the progressive curriculum in virtually every public school in America for
at least the last fifteen years. Yet no one in the establishment, let alone the
U.S. Department of Education, has sought to find out what death education is doing
to the minds and souls of the millions of children who are subjected to it. But
we do have plenty of anecdotal information on hand.
For example, back in 1985, Tara Becker, a student from Columbine High, went to
a pro-family conference in Colorado to tell the attendees about death education
at the school and the effect it had on her. Jayne Schindler, who heard Tara's testimony,
Tara brought with her a booklet she had helped to compile for one of her
school classes. This booklet was called "Masquerade" and was full of subliminal
pictures and prose. Tara explained how she had been taught to use the hidden,
double meaning, subliminals and how she had focused so much of her time and
attention on death that she, herself, had tried to commit suicide.
A video was made of Tara's testimony and distributed nationwide by Eagle Forum.
The tape was aired on British television, and The Atlantic Monthly did a feature
story based on it. The producers at 20/20 saw the video and decided to do a segment
on death education which was aired in 1990. I remember that video very well because
I was called by the free-lance writer who was working on the story and sent her
some of the newsletters I had written on the subject.
Schindler writes, "Tara explained that the subject of death was integrated into
many of the courses at her high school. She said that death was made to look glamorous,
that living was hard, and that reincarnation would solve their problems. Students
were told that they would always return to a much better life form. They would return
to the 'Oversoul' and become like God.
"After one of the students at her school committed suicide, a 'suicide talking
day' was held and every class was to talk about death. Class assignments were for
students to write their own obituaries and suicide notes. They were told to trust
their own judgment in choosing whether to live or die."
So Tara began to think of suicide as a means of solving some of her problems.
She thought of liberating her spirit from enslavement to her body. She says she
also wanted to die to help relieve the planet of overpopulation. These were a few
of the crazy thoughts put into her head by her "educators." God knows what kind
of equally crazy thoughts were put into the heads of the two killers at Columbine.
Fortunately, Tara survived death education at Columbine High and lived to talk
about it. But thousands of students have committed suicide all across America and
no one in Washington has even bothered to hold a hearing on the subject. It is now
assumed that teenage suicide is as natural as burgers and fries. It's just one of
those things that teenagers now do in America.
But what seems to be happening as death education becomes more and more sophisticated
is that many of these teenagers with the suicidal urge now want to take some of
their teachers and classmates with them. After all, reincarnation is an equal opportunity
concept. It's for everybody.
How long has this been going on? Here are some excerpts from an article entitled
"Development Opportunities for Teachers of Death Education" published in "The Clearing
House" in May 1989, ten years ago:
This article reaffirms the need for death education and offers some methods
for improving pedagogical skills of teachers.
A task force appointed by the president of the Association for Death Education
and Counseling ... is charged to (1) carry out a study of the current state
of death education in U.S. schools, (2) make recommendations for the ideal K-12
curriculum in death education, and (3) make recommendations for minimal knowledge,
skills, and attitudes that teachers should possess before attempting to teach
death education to children. ...
Although we can assume that most pedagogical efforts are sound, recent examples
have surfaced, depicting miseducation and ill handling of attempts to address
dimensions of dying and death. Consider the following items from the Dallas
"Some have blamed death education classes for the suicides of two students
who attended courses in Illinois and Missouri. Other students have suffered
traumatic reactions. Minimally trained or untrained teachers have asked first
graders to make model coffins out of shoe boxes; other students have been instructed
to sit in coffins, measure themselves for caskets, list 10 ways of dying (including
violent death), attend an embalming and touch an undraped corpse."
Certainly mistakes do occur in many instructional settings and some minimally
trained teachers may, on occasion, handle situations inappropriately. But let
us hope that the above examples are rare and that effective death education
is the norm in our schools throughout America.
There you have it. A plea made ten years ago for "effective death education,"
whatever that is. What is "effective" death education? Can the educators tell us?
What about simply eliminating death education? But that won't happen, because if
we did, we'd have to get rid of values clarification, sensitivity training, transcendental
meditation, out-of-body experience, magic circles, outcome based education, drug
ed, sex ed, suicide ed, and now massacre ed.
Incidentally, the National Education Association has played an active role in
promoting death education. It sponsored the writing and publication of "Death and
Dying Education" by Prof. Richard O. Ulin of the University of Massachusetts. The
book, written in 1978, includes an 18-week syllabus for the death educator.
Dr. R. J. Rushdoony has written, "Humanistic education is the institutionalized
love of death." Meanwhile, the best the schools and President Clinton can offer
the kids is grief counseling and conflict resolution by trained counselors who will
have a lot more work to do in the future.