Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The problem of public education

I have long wanted to post about this issue.  In other posts on this site I note the history of public education in America - how it came from the Northwest Ordinance.
Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
I think few Americans appreciate the down-side of public education, especially if it should lose local control.
It's not so much that the government has a conspiracy to dumb down the kids and turn them into slaves, but one should recall that the whole original structure of public education was invented by social engineers.
Pedagogy – this tradition of social pedagogy has its roots in the work of educational thinkers and philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and John Dewey. More recently Paulo Freire has been especially influential in terms of helping people to frame their thinking.
When one considers the history of England resisting the dual threats of the Catholic Church's Canon Law and that of the divine right of kings deriving from civil law, one sees that the high standing of scripture derived from the Anglo-Saxon heritage of common law acted as a check against total centralized power in either the King or the Church.
The belief systems of the people is probably one of the key factors in molding culture and government.
Centralized and childhood full-life education becomes a major way to first unite and then direct the next generation's social norms.

Unity of social thought:
I find this a major problem in itself.  When a society is increasingly presented with the same historical framework, the same ideological framework, the same cultural framework, they tend to all think alike.  Discovery, I feel, is best found by people of different frameworks and points of view.  As long as society holds truth in the highest value, diverse viewpoints should not harm society in the least.
However once unity is achieved, it becomes a powerful tool for the demagogue or salesman.  Knowing your audience is a key factor in rhetoric and enables a single line of reasoning to win a majority of minds.
I submit that the very Huxleyan dialectic we find ourselves in is a product partly of unification by the school system.

The introduction of humanism by education:
We got where we are first by the injection of a competing religion to that to Christianity.  The Scopes Trial marked that injection of evolution as a plausible creation explanation. Then, in about a generation of time, the bible was ejected from public education - the very reason for the creation of public education by the Northwest Ordinance.

The fruit of humanism:
Once a society can be converted to a humanistic view of the world, the good old might-makes-right becomes a plausible way of life and the stronger and smarter begin to amass power regardless of righteousness.  The checks of social morality fall away and we find ourselves in a lawless state where the innocent are trampled underfoot for a dollar.

The solution:
The only solution I can see is the abandonment of public education.  Home schooling reintroduces dispersed viewpoints and moral character and reduces the influence of the mob on the individual.  A return to sanity can happen only this way I fear.