Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Source and Causes of America’s Educational Downfall

Back in the 1840’s Bismarck of Germany socialized his country. He regulated, regimented, and disciplined the Germans. Bismarck’s government established compulsory workmen’s compensation; compulsory workmen’s insurance (taken from wages) for old age and for unemployment; compulsory labor-union membership; compulsory socialization of farmers; old age pensions, AND COMPULSORY STATE EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN. The basis of all these is belief that Authority can control individuals for their own good, in a better social order than individuals can create for themselves.

Beginning in the early 20th century, Americans forgot who they were and how they achieved the greatest that was this country; or should I say they were “re-educated” into this belief. America started to adopt these same philosophies that Bismarck had imposed upon the Germans, i.e. socialism. But, Germans had no contact with the notion that people are free. They were always under the mistaken impression that Authority controls the individual. Not so with the American people. We were founded on the notion of freedom of the individual.

Individuals control human energy; they make all forms of human association, according to their individual beliefs. No law and no force that exists in Government has ever stood, or ever can stand, against the belief or the knowledge that is in individual minds.

For this reason, the dangerous change that the German socialism movement brought to this country is the SUBSTITUTION OF COMPULSORY STATE EDUCATION FOR THE FORMER AMERICAN FREE EDUCATION.

Before this faulty un-American thought process entered our education system, American children went to school because they WANTED TO GO, or because their parents sent them. Children knew the fact that schooling is a great opportunity which the American Revolution had opened here to all American children alike. They made every effort to go to school; they walked miles through deep snow on winter mornings to reach school. They studied eagerly, to learn. They controlled their behavior in school, for improper behavior might be punished by their being sent home from school; deprived of half-a-day’s schooling. The worst of all possible punishments was being expelled from school. That punishment, far worse than whipping, was held in reserve for rare instances of some pupil’s utter lack of self-discipline.

The only schools supported by (compulsory) taxes were grammar schools. (Elementary Schools/Middle Schools) The belief was that a community should offer every young child an opportunity to learn. After grammar school age, a boy or girl was able to get his/her own education IF they wanted one. Everyone did want one, who was capable of learning at all, for the years in grammar school only whetted an appetite for learning.

All over this country were Academies, private schools, privately owned and managed. They offered the equivalent of the present High School curriculum; they offered it at various costs, suited to every circumstance. Any student could work his/her way through the Academies and then on to the college level. Unfortunately, this method of American education was stopped by eager German reformers, who believed that the State can spend an American’s money for his children’s education much more wisely than he can. American schooling is now compulsory, enforced by the police and controlled by the State (that is, by politicians in office – who can be removed and replaced by those who see the folly of continuing this broken system), and paid for by compulsory taxes.

The inevitable result is to postpone a child’s growing up. He passes from the authority of his parents to the authority of the police. He has no control of his time and no opportunity for its use until he is sixteen/seventeen years old. His actual situation does not REQUIRE him to develop SELF-RELIANCE, SELF-DISCIPLINE and RESPONSIBILITY; that is, he has no actual experience of freedom in his youth.

This is ideal education for the German State, whose subjects were (in those days) not expected ever to know freedom. The discipline in German schools is strict; it tends to train the young into obedient submission that men in German Government demand from their subjects. Is this the model we should be using for our children? NOW?

But it does not work that way in this country, because American Educators naturally try to compensate for the counter-revolutionary compulsion in this school system. They do not subject American children to rigid German discipline. On the contrary, they try to make schools so enjoyable that the children will not REALIZE THAT THE POLICE COMPEL THEM TO BE THERE. (But the children know it.) The teachers try to make learning EASY, a game. BUT REAL LEARNING IS NOT EASY; IT REQUIRES SELF-DISCIPLINE AND HARD WORK. The attempt to make learning EFFORTLESS actually keeps a child from discovering the pleasure of self-discipline and of the mental effort that overcomes difficulties.

This is cruel treatment of the new generations of Americans who must come out of this compulsory and yet too softly pampering schooling to face the realities of a world in which human beings are free and LIVING IS NOT EASY. And it is NOT the best preparation for inheriting the leadership of the world revolution for freedom.

Compiled by Dennis L. Lacy
Source material – “The Discovery of Freedom” by Rose Wilder Lane


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