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THE FOUR CARDINAL ERRORS THAT ALMOST DESTROYED AMERICA
PART 2

 

 

 

By Professor Steven Yates
September 27, 2009
NewsWithViews.com

Cardinal Error Two. In the 1840s, an educational system whose premises were alien to those of a free republic was brought into this country.

I.

Horace Mann of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts traveled to Prussia and returned to his home state with word of what he considered an amazing school system. The Prussian system, steeped in the philosophy of Georg W.F. Hegel, not John Locke or Thomas Jefferson, operated under the assumption that the individual belongs to the state instead of to himself and to his God. It “educated” Prussian children accordingly.

Mann received a matching grant from Massachusetts to set up this school system. It seemed likely to encourage loyalty and obedience to those in charge. Eventually other states began adopting it. Thus began what became known as “public education”—government schools—in America. Although Americans would run it, obviously, this system was not American. It was Prussian. Our word kindergarten is, in fact, a Prussian word. It means, roughly, child garden—a reference to the growing of children as if they were vegetables in a garden, to be tended, nurtured and directed down the path the owners of the garden want them to follow.

A few pastors/authors, e.g., R.L. Dabney and Archibald Cox, warned of danger. They were ignored. And at first, government-sponsored school systems seemed harmless enough. They seemed benign and even useful, state-sponsorship having spread to higher education with the Morrill Act of 1863, rejected by President James Buchanan as unconstitutional but signed into law by Abraham Lincoln as a wartime measure. The Morrill Act created the land grant system of what were then called Agricultural & Mechanical (A&M) Colleges. These institutions began to train the masses in the rote technical skills and business skills wanted by those developing the incipient but rapidly growing corporate world. This meant setting aside, in public institutions anyway, the classical model of formal learning that makes for an independent minded, thinking citizen. Neither government nor corporations wanted that.

America’s shift from a nation of independent craftsmen and entrepreneurs (farmers, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, teachers, etc.) to a nation of employees and professionals thus began. Employees and professionals could be more easily controlled. Professionalization meant instituting specific educational or other credentials, licenses, etc., to limit entry into occupations. Ostensibly this was to ensure quality control. The practice became known as occupational licensure. It began to transform professions, one after another, into organized guilds, with the establishing of an Establishment including gatekeepers for each profession.

In the late 1800s we had entered the era of the “robber barons” who owed their economic supremacy to infusions of Rothschild fractional money on which they built—and since politicians even then were spineless worms easily bought and paid for in exchange for favors, the “robber barons” were able to destroy competition and dominate the marketplace in their industry. Rockefeller dominance in oil arose within this economic ambience. Other prominent names came to dominate other industries (Carnegie in steel, Vanderbilt in railroads, and so on).

There is, it turns out, a misunderstanding about corporations found among libertarians and other free marketers: the belief that those running dominant corporations really desire free markets. The beneficiaries of Rothschild money were as interested in power as any politician; and again, wealth was power. They did not want free markets, they wanted markets they could control, and they had more than enough resources for this. Social engineering was the key.

II.

Having made his fortune in oil, John D. Rockefeller—and soon his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr.—recognized the tremendous possibilities of control offered by state-sponsored schools. Shortly before the turn of the century they discovered young John Dewey, a then-obscure psychology professor at Rockefeller-bankrolled University of Chicago. Dewey had studied under G. Stanley Hall at Johns Hopkins University. Hall, in turn, had been the first American student of pioneer “experimental psychologist” Wilhelm Wundt of the infamous Leipzig School. The Wundt school held that human beings were not different in kind from other biological organisms. Its members were radical empiricists. What they could observe, is what counted. They believed they observed specific kinds of stimuli yielding specific responses in behavioral patterns. Change the stimuli, they reasoned, and you change the behavior. By repeatedly supplying the right stimuli, they reasoned further, desired behaviors could be artificially induced and then established as habits. Conditioning was therefore possible. Human beings were malleable, like the potter’s clay.

Wundt’s pupils and their pupils applied this idea to children. It was clear that if they could control a child’s environment they could raise up a cohort of readily controllable children. Controllable children would grow up to be controllable adults. Dewey, having been trained by Hall and also having absorbed Hegel, Marx, and Darwin, was perfect for what the Rothschild-Rockefeller axis wanted.

The Rockefellers founded the General Education Board in 1902. Its Occasional Letter No. 1 stated: “In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, editors, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are. So we will organize our children and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops, on the farm.”

The tax-exempt Rockefeller Foundation would later bankroll Dewey at Columbia State Teachers College. Thus would arise so-called Progressive Education. Dewey’s philosophy advanced as the goals of education not the transmission of knowledge, or the integrated study of those disciplines (history, philosophy, theology, etc.) necessary for an understanding of our Republic’s founding, but “adjustment” to a “changing world.” With support from other well-bankrolled professional guilds such as the National Education Association, Progressive Education became the Establishment among teachers and school administrators.


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None of this is to say the elites ignored the teaching of history. The Carnegie money empire was working with other tax-exempt foundations (Rockefeller and Guggenheim, for example) to hijack history at the university level. They sought out graduate students sympathetic to a collectivist view of society, bankrolled their studies, and found them employment at prestigious Ivy League universities. These court historians for the elites became the core of the American Historical Association, soon to become the largest organization of academic historians in the country. Other academic guilds had formed—the American Philosophical Association in my discipline became the largest organization of philosophy professors in the country—or were in the process of forming. Such organizations would serve as gatekeepers of the various academic disciplines and sponsor major journals, ensuring the establishment of orthodoxies that would not challenge the rapidly growing power system in the Western world (they would permit token “challenges” such as the childish Marxism of so-called “tenured radicals” whose articles and books were/are so specialized as to be unintelligible outside the narrow circles of their specialties).

III.

The rest, one might say, is itself history. Never again would government schools at any level be free from collectivism and the goal of the coerced socialization. Eventually Progressive Education gave way to more up-to-date fashions. They went by names such as Mastery Learning and Values Clarification (which saw all values, including moral ones, as exclusively subjective and thus having no epistemic authority). More recently we have seen Outcome-Based Education and School-To-Work. All involve control over process to achieve a controlled population. In the latter, a promise of jobs are the lure for students; promises of docile, cooperative employees and complacent voters are the lure for business and governmental support respectively. Job skills and obedience to authority are what the process is designed to impart. Traditional liberal arts are relegated to the academic equivalent of wall décor.

The problem with the latter, again, is that they encourage independence of thought and, when carried out properly, give the student the skills he or she needs to reason clearly and think effectively about first premises, including where wealth and prosperity actually come from, whether the centralization of society helps or hinders one’s own quest for a prosperous and happy life, and whether government should be large and intrusive or small and confined to a few functions. This had been known for some time. The elites as far back as the last turn of the century did not want common people educated beyond their station, as that Rockefeller General Education Board statement should make clear; or as an NEA document stated later along the same lines, the elites did not want the common plebs taken “away from the pursuits for which they are adapted.” And as A.J. Russell, head of Columbia State Teacher’s College, asked as far back as 1905, “How can we justify our practice in schooling the masses in precisely the same manner as we do those who are to be their leaders?”

After all, those few who had absorbed the panorama of thought presented by Western philosophy, history, theology, economics, and so on, and extracted their lessons, might turn their attention to what was gradually encircling them. They might have questioned directives coming from the top of their professions. Such persons could quickly become a problem, however small—especially if by some chance they organized around a charismatic leader. Today such folks might become dangerous malcontents who visibly question major elite-driven policies such as “free trade” (as embodied in NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.) in light of the loss of our manufacturing base and its replacement by low-paying “service” jobs. They might look at our recent history in the light of their own research about how trade deals paved the way to the European Union and the euro in order to question the cash value of the difference between the phrases North American Community (promoted openly by Professor Robert Pastor of American University) and North American Union (dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”). The point here: thought does not fall into lockstep and bow before authority, intellectual or political. A few iconoclasts can be tolerated. Hence the occasional Lou Dobbs in broadcasting or Ron Paul in politics. Too many, however, growing too influential, and the entire New International Economic Order might be defeated as elected representatives respond to angry constituents.

For the full story of the deliberate destruction of the American intellect I recommend three books which in my view do the most to document how it has worked (and is still working): Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt’s the deliberate dumbing down of america, John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education, and Beverly K. Eakman’s The Cloning of the American Mind. One should also not miss Allan Quist’s books, nor Sheldon Richman’s Separating School and State which contains important history of this problem going back to Horace Mann. Iserbyt’s and Gatto’s works are readily available online. All consider, from various angles, not just the fashions themselves that have destroyed our society’s ability to teach critical, logical thinking and transmit accumulated knowledge to its children but how the effort has come from the upper echelons—bankrolled, as always, by elite-controlled foundations (Ford is also a major villain in this regard) and sponsored organizations.

The most sensible immediate antidote for us as individuals is not to allow our children anywhere near a government school. For a Christian perspective calling for a mass exodus from government schools I recommend Rev. E. Ray Moore’s Let My Children Go! and Bruce Shortt’s The Harsh Truth About Public Schools. Every state in the union now has organizations devoted to accumulating resources for those who would home school their children. Home schooling has become the fastest growing educational movement in the country, with documentation showing that on the average, home schooled children and teenagers are as much as four years ahead of their peers in every academic subject.

The problem, of course, is that educrats have constructed a largely self-contained and self-perpetuating system. Educrats permeate federal and state education agencies and hand down directives which administrators and teachers have a choice between following or giving up their careers. Fashions such as OBE control major accrediting agencies. College and university administrations do as they are told, or risk having their accreditation revoked. The buzzword of the day is “accountability.” The professional guilds and educratic hierarchies have the workaday practitioners by the throat. They would drop the axe on home schooling if they believed they could get away with it.

Government schools, meanwhile, continue to graduate students who have a few job skills but no real learning or thinking ability. Sometimes, of course, they do not even have the job skills, to the extent these require reading and understanding complex sequences of instructions. They have been exposed to little in the way of deep thought. If they have any grasp of politics at all, they are followers of one or the other wings of the Washington D.C. Party. This is encouraged through student organizations, and the mainstream media. And we wonder how a Barack Obama can be elected President of the United States on the basis of very good oratory skills and a contentless promise of “change”? We wonder how Republicans could nominate an opponent with almost no support from the active rank and file (the Republicans I knew supported either Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, or Ron Paul).

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We wonder how so many can overlook the obvious continuities between the Bush II Regime and the Obama Regime: foreign wars, top-down legislation, social engineering through education, and dominance of the country’s money system by globalist banking elites. We wonder how, under Obama, our Congress can do the very same things that transformed the Crash of 1929 into the Great Depression, which didn’t really set in until 1932, and why almost no one (except for Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, and a few others) questions the fundamental economic premise of our time: that governments of the world, working with central banks, can spend us into prosperity with money either borrowed from potentially hostile foreign nations like China or simply created out of thin air. For part three click below.

Click here for part -----> 1, 2, 3,

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Steven Yates has a doctorate in philosophy and has taught the subject at a number of Southeastern colleges and universities. He is the author of two books: Civil Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (1994) and Worldviews: Christian Theism versus Modern Materialism (2005). His articles and reviews have appeared in refereed philosophy journals such as Inquiry, Metaphilosophy, Reason Papers, and Public Affairs Quarterly, as well as on a number of sites on the Web. He also writes regular columns for a conservative weekly, The Times Examiner. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina with two spoiled cats, Bo and Misty

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The tax-exempt Rockefeller Foundation would later bankroll Dewey at Columbia State Teachers College. Thus would arise so-called Progressive Education.