Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed American Classical Education Principal Philip Schwenk in studio to discuss how a classical education will help children develop the important sense of purpose through virtue.
Leahy: There’s a topic Phil that you talk about all the time, and the more you talk about it, the more I think it’s critically important. This is not a topic that usually is heard on morning radio talk shows, but I wanna talk about it right now. Virtue. You talk about that all the time…
Leahy: As one of the purposes of schools. Why do you focus on virtue?
Schwenk: That’s why we call ourselves classical schools, it’s always been central to education, period. If you go back thousands of years, there’s always been a discussion around not just being learned for the sake of being able to read or write or to speak, but you’re seeking what is true and what is good.
And that happiness is at that cross-section of goodness, truth, and beauty. In order to be part of what we call the great conversation you need to be able to talk about virtues, so kids need to be part of a conversation where they’re discussing what it means to be prudent or moderate or courageous or wise. And it’s not a new conversation. We’ve been talking about this for thousands of years.
Carmichael: Do you think in the absence of being taught, the importance of being virtuous, do you think in the absence of that people grow up to be not virtuous?
Schwenk: Oh, absolutely. And I think that most people historically would agree with that, and it’s inconsistent with what we value as a country. If you actually read a lot of the documents of the original Founding Fathers to have a truly democratic republic, it should be run by good people. And if you’re not teaching people how to be good and virtuous, you’re gonna struggle with the entire balance of all those things.
Carmichael: If you’re not teaching someone the importance of being virtuous, then as voters, it’d be very hard for them to identify and vote for the person who’s virtuous because it’s a lot easier to vote for the person who says, vote for me and I’ll give you something.
Schwenk: Oh, sure. And even beyond the person, just the idea that there is something in good or true to orient towards. If you don’t have anything to orient towards, it doesn’t orient your voting or how you’re gonna make choices. And the advantage we have in classical schools is this isn’t something that we’re deciding right now as a thing. We can give them thousands of documents of writers and thinkers over the years.
Leahy: You go back to Socrates and Plato—even Thales before that.
Schwenk: Absolutely. And most modern Americans have no idea what you were just talking about. And so the discussion is something that when you get kids to talk about that starting early, the idea of virtue is you start in kindergarten. It’s not that you don’t just talk to a, 15-year-old about virtue. You can start teaching children about what it means to be courageous or friendly or moderate.
Leahy: I guess this would be politically incorrect because you wanna talk about virtue and not gender fluidity. (Laughter) I kid.
Schwenk: Socrates wasn’t talking about that. I think most of us, even if we’re not taught about it, have an idea that there is something good. But I think we’ve lost sight of that. Good is something that’s been around for thousands of years. It’s not just, I get to define what is good, and I think one of the areas that classical schools talk about is really the evidence of thousands of years of some of the big questions that human beings still have.
But we’re not necessarily trying to understand what the answers to those questions are. Human beings always want to know about purpose. Why am I here? Why does that exist or what does it mean to love or to be courageous? In our day today, I think it’s very difficult to be courageous and I think most people don’t even really understand what courage is because we’re not talking about it in our schools.
Carmichael: Do you think somebody who is asking the question, why am I here believes in God?
Schwenk: I think obviously the original intention of that discussion that came to conclusions that obviously there was a, you had to talk about God, I think most Americans struggle with that now cause we’re not supposed to be talking about things like that. I think most people lead to, there must be something bigger, that orients how we do things. And that’s always been part of, it’s not a new discussion again.
Leahy: There have been an awful lot of reports that young children and teenagers struggle with depression, and anxiety. And it’s been heightened by social media, but it’s also been heightened in my view by the lack of purpose in the lives of many children and many teenagers. Do you see that the discussion and teaching of virtue will improve that situation?
Schwenk: 100 percent. It’s a population I’ve been around for, going on 30 years. I watched teenagers most of my life, and one of the growing issues that I see with teenagers that I think is linked to the anxiety and depression you are talking about. They don’t know what their purpose is. They don’t even know why they’re here. And nobody’s talking about the orientation towards something good. They’re floating lost, and it’s hard to watch.
When you start getting them into a discussion about these questions that have been going on, and they can read literature and histories on these things, they can start putting themselves in those spaces and connecting to a character, a historical issue, and start recognizing purpose in those things. But yes, I think we have a whole generation of kids that basically feel purposeless and they’re aimless.
Leahy: I see that all the time. And when they’re purposeless and aimless, they watch cat videos on TikTok, for instance.
Schwenk: Hour upon hour, upon hour. Yes.
Leahy: Personally, I’d like to have a big overarching goal.
Carmichael: By the way, you described it is that somebody who is purposeless by definition has no goals. And if you don’t have any goals and you get up in the morning, you start the day. What’s the point? And that’s not a good place. That’s not a good way to start the day.
Leahy: What’s the point of this day? Let me just go back to bed.
Carmichael: That’s not good. I like the way you express that because teaching purpose and teaching virtue is absolutely central to helping people grow up to become fulfilled and happy.
Schwenk: I agree.
Leahy: So how do you teach that to kids in today’s culture? Let’s say you’ve got you we’ve got a K 5 American Classical Education school using that classical model and part of the charter school initiative operating next fall. How do you teach virtue in your curriculum?
Schwenk: I think there are some basics there. One, you have to define terms and then you have to model it. So much of my work as an administrator is making sure that you put adults in front of students that can model these behaviors or they’re doing their best to model these behaviors.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles and Grant Henry of Americans for Prosperity in the studio to discuss the increasing indoctrination of young children, the desperation of generations to have a purpose, and the waking of the silent majority.
Cunnigham: It’s great to rant and rave in front of the big Michael Patrick Leahy microphone for a day. And I appreciate Michael letting me come in and sit in for him. He’s out expanding his huge media empire, going to state after state. I’m telling you, the guy is just unstoppable.
And thank goodness, because the media has been taken over by the liberals, just like most of our other institutes. And we’ve got to fight back. Andy Ogles, Maury County mayor, is with us in-studio this morning, and Grant Henry with Americans of Prosperity, also sitting in.
A triumvirate of hosts this morning to fill in the big shoes of Michael Patrick Leahy. All right, guys, I got a culture update for you this morning. It turns out that in the Baby Muppets TV series, and frankly, I don’t even know where the Baby Muppets are shown. But this last episode, apparently, Baby Gonzo decides he wants to go to a ball, a dance, a royal ball as a Princess and as a female.
And so the transgendered agenda is being pushed even to our children. This show is aimed at kids four to seven years old. And this is from a Fox News article. It says a fairy rat father grants Gonzo his wish to become a princess. And later in the show, the piggy character tells Gonzo we met the most amazing princess.
And this gushing kind of affirmation of transgender to our kids. If there’s any tendency of some poor kid out there to be confused, who has gone through some kind of emotional wounds, this will give them an avenue to go into the transgender role just as easily.
And we see this so much with young kids these days. You guys have probably seen this Libs of TikTok. There’s a Twitter account called Libs of TikTok, and the guy goes on TikTok and takes the most outrageous videos on TikTok.
And it is just amazing how far into this delusional world the young kids have gotten. And the left is pushing this transgender and basically saying to anybody who comes out against it and who doubts it that you are a bigot. You’re a hater. And that really is where we’re going.
Ogles: Well, I’ll come out against it. It’s a bunch of crap. I’ve got a six-year-old son.
Cunningham: I like that.
Ogles: And I’m offended by this. This transgender, which is a mental disorder. We’re pandering to less than one percent of the population. When you have a six-year-old boy or six-year-old girl, but they don’t understand the world, they don’t understand their boundaries.
And so they’re gonna ask questions like, you might have a boy say, hey Dad, can I have my nails painted? And the answer is no, because that’s what girls do, right? Or a girl may want to do something that is overtly masculine. And there’s nothing wrong with boys being boys and girls being girls.
And we’ve got to stop pandering to these lunatics on the left. There was a time and day that a kid could turn on Saturday morning cartoons and the parents didn’t have to be worried about what’s going to be forced down your children’s throat.
And now you’ve got a screen, everything, even the content for your four or four, five, six-year-old child. And I’m offended by that. And it’s time that we take this country back, which is why we’re doing this freedom tour. We are a conservative state and it’s time we start acting like it.
Henry: So speaking purely as myself here, not on behalf of AFP or any other organization, just Grant Henry. You said it before, Ben. This is a program that’s targeted primarily towards the ages of three to eight. Pregnant pause for effect.
I think that’s kind of the answer. Can kids just not be kids today? Is there not an availability anywhere in the nation anymore to just allow the innocence of a child to remain? And part of it speaks to me in this, Ben. I’m reading through Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning right now.
Cunningham: Great book.
Henry: Here’s a quote: Man searches for meaning is the primary motivation of his life and not a secondary rationalization of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific, and that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone. Only then does it achieve a significance, which will satisfy his own will to meaning.
That to me, screams that humanity itself is yearning for purpose. Meaning. There is motivation behind that like there is nothing else in our lives. A little bit of what this is right now is this desperate search to find meaning in something.
And I’m telling you, all right, now it is incumbent upon conservatives and primarily Christians, to start presenting a better alternative to some of the stuff that we’re seeing out there.
Cunningham: Absolutely. And we’ve seen this in other totalitarian states. The children are the first thing they go after. And it happened in the Soviet Union. It certainly happened in China. It happened in Cambodia, with Pol Pot.
In Cuba. The first thing they will do is to change the education system and the culture so that these kids are targeted with big government and authoritarian orthodoxy.
And that’s exactly what this is part of. And they’re basically saying to us, if you disagree with this, you’re a bigot and you not only will be silenced, you should be silenced. That’s the scary part. This is a quote from Victor Davis Hanson, who I love, and his analysis. He was writing an article about this process, and he says now, with the money and institutions in its hip pocket and cool popular culture on its side, the left would not just damn American institutions but infect them.
Alter their DNA and reengineer them into revolutionary agencies. And that is precisely what has happened. They’ve infected them with their far-left DNA and they’ve re-engineered them. Another guy that I love, Leonidas Johnson, who is one of the great black conservatives on Twitter.
He says, we’re now faced with a situation where cowardice is called courage. Failure is called success. Men are called women, abortion is called health care. Racism is called antiracism. Fascism is called antifascism. Opinions are called facts. Facts are called hate, and regressive is called progressive. And we have these poor kids that you see on TikTok that are just so deep into this delusion.
I don’t know if in our lifetime, certainly not in my lifetime, whether or not they’re salvageable and whether the culture is salvageable. We just got to take our own little Baileywick, our own little sphere of influence, and try to do what we can.
Henry: I do find hope, though, in some of these statistics that I look at with Generation Z, which I believe is the most recent generation, is the most conservative portions of it. Portions of Generation Z are the most conservative generation to have existed in American history. At least in the last 800 to 150 years. Now someone’s going to have to fact-check me in that. But the point I’m making here, Ben, is that I think that pendulum swings in both directions.
As widely as it swings left, it’s swinging that far to the right as well. There will be a point where it settles back down. We’re in this time of over 10 windows shift this time where what settles back down to a state of normalcy and what we accept as commonly accepted principles. That’s the real fight. That’s what’s so fun about being alive right now. Now is the time to actually have principles, stand on principles, and make your virtue known.
They matter now more than ever in American life. And I’m telling you one more time, free-market being what it is, let’s start responding with choice here. Let’s start responding with, hey, if you don’t like this show, turn to a different show, man.
Ogles: That’s right. If you don’t like it, move along as people get upset about some of my posts on social media. And it’s like, then why are you reading it? But to your point, Grant, it’s like again, anecdotally – Kingsport 400 people. Tellico Village, which is just outside of Knoxville, 400 people showed up.
Tonight I’m expecting, say, 500 people. And it’s this undercurrent of frustration. And people want their voices heard. This ‘silent majority.’ And I looked at this story on Breitbart we’re just talking about. The Internet Celebrates the Collapse of a Left Woke Olympic Icon. So you have people who love America. I love the Olympics.
Henry: Me too.
Ogles: You anticipate watching these. We’ve got three children, and you’re going to watch these things with your kids, and you’re going to pass along these traditions. And there’s more leftism and transgender in it. The dude weightlifter pretending to be a woman who competes in the weight lifting, and then he totally chokes. But I’m glad. Because that’s not what the Olympics is about.
Cunningham: Absolutely. There is one thing we’ve learned and that’s culture is just as important as politics. And exerting a cultural agenda. Like you say, Grant, is that is: a counter to this leftist orthodoxy is just as important as asserting an alternate political agenda.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Ben Cunningham contemplates the results of the Marxist ideology and the effect upon young generations who don’t understand the consequences in the pursuit of their natural need of purpose.
Cunningham: I’m with the Nashville Tea Party. You can find us at nashvilleteaparty.com. And at Facebook. We hope we are still on Facebook. They take us off from time to time when we do naughty things. They did throw us off LinkedIn completely. We’ve just got back on LinkedIn, so hopefully, we’ll stay in their good graces for a little bit.
Henry: Who did you have to pay to get back on that one?
Cunningham: Yeah, (Chuckles) we may have to at some point. Free speech may have a monetary price. Grant, Henry, in this morning, we are co-hosting and trying to fill the big shoes of Michael Patrick Leahy, who’s away on vacation. But my goodness, the threats to the American experiment and what we think of are all these foundational documents, foundational ideals are. I know we say this a lot. This time in this place, we have more threats to the American experiment than we’ve had in a long time.
Henry: It’s paradigm-shifting time.
Cunningham: It is.
Henry: It really is.
Cunnigham: We have this critical mass of people in academia who believe in some form of Marxism, and that’s what we were talking about earlier. And it’s just depressing and pathetic that this great country where people can come and be anything they want to be.
And you pull a ship up to any port across the world and say, we’re going to take you to America. You fill up that ship in 10 minutes. And it is a beacon of hope. And yet we’ve got this toxic, toxic Marxism and all its varieties.
Henry: My wife’s family rather fled communism from Armenia.
Cunningham: Oh, really?
Henry: So they will tell you endless stories about not just what it’s like to flee. That not just what it’s like to live under that, but the selective history that we choose to remember here in America. It baffles them and blows their mind that we just can’t remember anything past about 40 or 15 years ago.
Cunningham: And in so many ways they don’t teach that in the schools. And that’s what’s depressing. And then we have this Critical Race Theory coming along now is in fact just very thinly veiled Marxism trying to divide us up into virtuous victims and evil oppressors.
Deroy Murdock, one of the great Black conservatives wrote a great article in The Daily Signal. And I just want to quote this because it just encapsulates it so beautifully. Critical Race Theory may be the Democrat left’s filthiest ugliest big lie.
It defines America as inherently and irredeemably bigoted denounces all whites as racial oppressors and diminishes all Blacks as racially oppressed victims. Lies, lies, lies. The third lie is the worst.
Black Lives Matter, the diversity, police, and other systemic racism mongers relentlessly claim that white privilege and white supremacy blockade Black success. Blacks think, yes, we can.
The Democrat left replies, no, you can’t. And that really is the essence of Critical Race Theory again dividing us up instead of what Marx said, the proletariat and the bourgeois. This divides up by race and says, if you’re white you’re an evil oppressor.
And if you’re Black, you are a victim. And it just is absolutely antithetical to everything, and it will ruin this country if we allow it to. And you were talking earlier about all of these utopian visions couched in good intentions and that so many young people love that they love being identified, and it gives their lives some meaningful purpose.
Cunningham: Marxism is an awful way of governing, but it’s a hell of a way of selling an ideology. I mean, Marx, he personally was just a wreck of a human being. He didn’t even attend his own wife’s funeral.
And he was just an awful person. He basically was a kept person. He had other people that supplied his income. Probably the reason he came up with this idea that the state can provide for you.
And it’s just awful every time it’s been tried. And one of the great quotes, I just wanted to get this in real quick. One of the great quotes that always impresses me is from Pol Pot. Pol Pot was one of the Marxist dictators in Cambodia. One of the many Marxist dictators.
He actually traveled. Not us dung he thought owned the moon. And he traveled to China before he came into power with the Khmer Rouge. And they were just in power for four years and killed 2 million people.
A quarter of the population of Cambodia destroyed them. And some journalists found him out in his jungle hideaway after he had been run out of town, basically. And they asked him, they said, your government has killed a bunch of people.
What do you have to say to this? Pol Pot still said this. He said he was asked by journalists to comment on reports of mass killings during his period of power. Pol Pot replied, “Our policy was to provide an affluent life for the people.”
Cunningham: His motivation in terms of his good intentions after he killed 2 million people. And it’s just mind-boggling. And it is so instructive with all this utopian thinking by these young folks.
They never think about what the results are. They think about the moment and identifying with something that’s noble and worthy. It is one of the most treacherous and murderous ideologies ever to come along.
Henry: The ideology to itself become so pervasive as you’re seeing now, whether it be through Critical Race Theory infecting all the way through primary education, or whether it be something at the university level or even with our careers right now.
I think if you’re still asking yourself, what is the allure? How are so many people drawn to this? Look at what Victor Frankel said. So we’re talking about motivating human beings. Adler said You motivate a human being through their desire for power. Maybe.
Jung said you motivate a human being through their desire for pleasure. Well, that’s just Hedonism. And we’ve tried that before. Victor Frankel was a philosopher who was a member as a Jewish individual in the Holocaust.
He didn’t have an opportunity to do either power or pleasure, clearly. So he distilled his worldview down to you really motivate a human being through their desire for purpose.
That’s why they feel like they have a purpose in this fight. But I’m telling you one more time then and right now, I truly believe conservatism has that real motivating purpose behind it. That’s what we need to get back to.
Cunningham: Absolutely. And we need to be unapologetic and courageous in stating it.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.