The definition of integrity is unambiguous: it is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
Integrity is widely accepted as a virtuous attribute and considered to be the basis of almost all human achievements considered to be valid. All major religions point to it as a divine trait, and even atheists point to it as the humanistic characteristic that can be refined to a caliber that renders belief in a higher power irrelevant.
Integrity shapes everything. His presence enhances all things, his absence spoils all things. It is superior to deterrence in the fight against crime and superior to company policies in ensuring employee productivity.
Among those who founded and designed our form of free government, integrity was seen as essential to our continued success and prosperity as a country. Part of the rebellion against England included an aggressive and affirmative repudiation of corrupt and amoral European aristocracies.
In the early years of the republic, mentions of integrity were made in the form of absolutes. George Washington called religion and morality “indispensable” and “necessary spring” of popular government. John Adams declared that public virtue was “the only foundation” of republics.
Universally, education was seen as the instrument to ensure the development of integrity and private morality capable of propagating public virtue. In fact, an education that failed to ensure integrity was considered no education at all – or worse. Knowledge without integrity, said Samuel Johnson, “is dangerous and appalling.”
Given its undoubted importance, who teaches children today what integrity is, why is it of crucial importance and how to develop it?
The traditional sources were the church, the family and the school. But the percentage of adults who are not affiliated with a religion (called “nones” because that’s the answer given when asked about church affiliation) has nearly tripled in the past 20 years. years. Only one in three millennials belongs to a church; their children are unlikely to attend Sunday school regularly.
Drugs and crime have helped decimate millions of families, and of the more than 5 million children whose parents are in jail or in prison, two in three will end up in conflict with the law themselves.
And public schools made a total of 180 over integrity-building lessons from McGuffey Readers’ best-selling textbooks for a century.
Formal education is a true zero-sum business: there are only a limited number of teaching hours and class periods in a day, and a limited number of days in a school year. Program selection is therefore often either / or, which rightly invites careful consideration.
This is one of the main reasons 34 states have banned or are in the process of banning Critical Race Theory (CRT) precepts in classrooms.
Proponents of CRT have tried to bolster credibility by claiming that it has been around for 30 years, which is true as it is a marginal theory conceived around 1989. Among its many problematic assumptions are the idea that race is a “social construct”.
The average person would have a hard time explaining this sentence; Social constructionism is precisely the kind of psychobabillage that can be useful occasionally for abstract contexts, but quickly gets lost in practical applications. By its own definition, almost everything is a social construct: colors, money, family, disease, religion and even time.
His intellectual weakness was ironically highlighted in 1996, when physics professor Alan Sokal submitted an incomprehensible, “salted with nonsense” (but jargon-filled) article to Social Text, just to see if the academic journal would publish it – what he did.
When I Google searched the phrase “critical integrity theory,” the gargantuan search engine returned one rarity: no results. It’s an opportunity.
What our schools and our children need is a move from CRT to CIT.
Critical race theory is inherently divisive and attempts to win arguments through a mishmash of illogical statistical manipulations. Ignoring all other factors and only comparing results by skin color requires constantly measuring everything only by skin color, which can only lead to perpetual division of all things by skin color.
The theory of critical integrity would serve to actually improve all aspects of society and citizenship. The more emphasis and value placed on integrity, the more it will remedy crippling social diseases such as crime, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and child abuse. Even when it comes to racism, greater individual integrity is a more powerful corrective force than public policy.
Every minute spent discussing CRT, and every classroom breath wasted on it, is one that could be spent in promoting integrity.
In practical terms, integrity is the opposite of politicized narratives like CRT. It is a source of empowerment and enlightenment that emphasizes responsibilities for life and freedom, rather than assigning victim mentalities to entire classes of people.
Properly taught and understood, integrity is more valuable than victory and more critical than material measures. It is bigger than small circumstances and shines the most in smallest acts.
If you are a good person when no one is looking at you, you make the country bigger.
This is the heart of the theory of critical integrity. Putting integrity back as a priority in education will improve study and learning as well as character.
As Dwight Eisenhower said, without it, no real success is possible.
Dana D. Kelley is a freelance writer for Jonesboro.