Ellsworth Toohey is alive and well and living in Seattle

Maureen Martin, writing at TCS Daily, notes that

Some Seattle school children are being told to be skeptical of private property rights. This lesson is being taught by banning Legos [sic].

A ban was initiated at the Hilltop Children’s Center in Seattle. According to an article in the winter 2006-07 issue of “Rethinking Schools” magazine, the teachers at the private school wanted their students to learn that private property ownership is evil.

…Legos returned to the classroom after the children agreed to several guiding principles framed by the teachers, including that “All structures are public structures” and “All structures will be standard sizes.”

What kind of parent sends their child to such a school? Ann Pelo, a teacher at Hilltop and co-author of the Lego re-education manifesto, gives us this portrait of Hilltop parents in a 2005 article:

Hilltop is located in an affluent Seattle neighborhood, and, with only a few exceptions, the staff and families are mainly white. They are also, for the most part, politically and socially liberal and highly educated. While many of the teachers live paycheck to paycheck, as most childcare workers do, the families at Hilltop are from upper-income brackets.

The article goes on to reveal much more than you want to know about how Hilltop is run. It appears to be more an experiment in statist psychological development than an educational venture. I can’t recommend the entire article, except as illustration of a mindset. It is aptly titled Playing with Gender, though just whose sexual identity is being toyed with is somewhat muddled:

I asked teachers to read and talk about each observation “not as teachers trying to understand the children’s points of view, but as who you are: a lesbian, or a person from a working-class background, or a Filipina, or a European American, or a woman.”

Heteronormatively speaking there is not a great deal to work with there, but the pursuit of such insights does not come cheaply. Hilltop charges $900 to $1200 per month to turn a capitalist ankle-biter into a proletarian intellectual-eunuch. This rate is substantially higher than that charged in the re-education camps of Mao or Stalin, but you do get to skip the slave-labor bits.

There’s only indoctrination-space for about 50 cribto-communists, but that still adds up to around 600,000 units of filthy capitalist lucre per annum. The school also promotes 20 minute long videotapes that sell for $60. Presumably, you can learn to distinguish a LEGO® from a Lenin Log in that time. (Lenin Logs, in turn, are distinguished from Lincoln Logs in three ways – 1) Lenin Logs only come in one length, 2) where the notches are cut is random, and 3) you have to stand in line an hour for each one you receive free of charge.)

Donations to the Hilltop 501-3(c) are encouraged. Probably, this helps parents cope with the guilt of having more money and better houses than the teachers, at least until everybody lives in the same public housing complex. Be careful what you advocate for.

If we could get a mailing list, I would fund a copy of The Fountainhead for each Hilltop family on the condition they read it to their children. Howard Roark would have known what to do with the LEGOs.

And now a word from a Hilltop sponsor.

History shows that the formation of a new culture which centers around a ruling class demands considerable time and reaches completion only at the period preceding the political decadence of that class…

The problem of a proletariat which has conquered power consists, first of all, in taking into its own hands the apparatus of culture – the industries, schools, publications, press, theatres, etc. – which did not serve it before, and thus to open up the path of culture for itself…

The proletariat cannot postpone socialist reconstruction until the time when its new scientists, many of whom are still running about in short trousers, will test and clean all the instruments and all the channels of knowledge

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