By Bradley Harrington
“The new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will … If you want to influence him [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than you wish him to will.” — Johann Gottlieb Fichte, “Second Address to the German Nation,” 1807 —
Last week we examined the manner in which the “public” schools, owned and manipulated by government, have become hotbeds of collectivist indoctrination (“Self-realization takes a back seat to school indoctrination,” WTE, March 18), and we examined just a few of those “ideas” and how they’ve been smuggled into our so-called “educational” process.
This week, let’s ask ourselves: How did all of this come to be?
While “public” schools have existed in the United States since long before the Revolutionary War, our educational system, in the modern sense of the term, is generally credited to the work of Horace Mann.
Mann, an educational reformer out of Massachusetts in the early 19th century, argued that “universal public education was the best way to turn the nation’s unruly children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens” (“Horace Mann,” www.wikipedia.org), and he sought to transform the educational system of Massachusetts into such a model.
With that goal in mind Mr. Mann, in 1843, toured all of Western Europe in his search for such an “educational” system, and concluded that the Prussian model of education was the one to establish here in the United States. He founded such a system in Massachusetts shortly thereafter (1952), and it didn’t take long for it to spread throughout the entire country.
What, in turn, were the principles of this Prussian model? “The purpose of the system was to instill loyalty to the Crown and to train young men for the military and bureaucracy,” according to that same article — and the quote at the top of this column comes from the philosopher most responsible for the establishment of that system in Prussia shortly thereafter.
The Prussian model of education, in other words, was developed to inculcate obedience and servitude, pure and simple, and it was for precisely these reasons that Mr. Mann established such a system here.
Nor was Mann the only “educator” to have that kind of impact on the foundations of our “modern” system — nor even the one that had the most. That “honor,” in the beginnings of the 20th century, is reserved for the efforts and viewpoints of another highly-influential “educator,” John Dewey himself.
And Dewey’s thoughts? “School,” said Dewey, “is primarily a social institution … I believe, therefore, that the true center of correlation of the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities.” (“My Pedagogic Creed,” 1897.)
It is Dewey, philosophical “pragmatist” and the leading proponent of the “progressive” theory of education, who was the intellectual father of our educational system as it exists today. It was with thanks to Dewey that our schools began the shift away from “abstract” knowledge to “relevant” knowledge instead — and it was Dewey who, in synch with Mann’s original footsteps, also preached that the task of the schools was not to merely transmit information but to “socially adjust” students as well.
To “adjust” students to WHAT? To their existence as part of a greater collective. What kind of a collective? Well, this is what Dewey had to say about the Soviet collective back in 1929: “… The marvelous development of progressive educational ideas and practices under the fostering care of the Bolshevist government …” (“Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World,” 1929.)
And, in that same book, try this on for size, as Dewey gushes that “you can’t make socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.”
THIS from the main intellectual founder of our “public” schools. Remember, also, that the Russian Bolsheviks of the “Soviet Revolutionary World” were radical Marxist communists.
So, Dear Readers, having now taken a short survey of the principles underlying our “public” schools, we are now in a position to answer the question of, “How did our schools become hotbeds of collectivist indoctrination”?
They were established that way right out of the gate, with exactly those purposes in mind, as stated clearly and succinctly by all the “thinkers” involved. From the acorns grow the trees — and this forest merits nothing more than to be chopped right down to the ground, roots, branches, acorns and all.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 25, 2018.