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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Religiosity of State Education

Progressive education has two parents, Prussia and John Dewey.  The kindergarten was transplanted into the United States from Prussia in the nineteenth century because American reformers were so enamored of the order and patriotic indoctrination young children received outside the home (the better to weed out the un-American traits of immigrants).  One of the core tenets of the early kindergartens was the dogma that "the government is the true parent of the children, the state is sovereign over the family."  The progressive followers of John Dewey expanded this program to make public schools incubators of a national religion.  They discarded the militaristic rigidity of the Prussian model, but retained the aim of indoctrinating children.  The methods were informal, couched in the sincere desire to make learning "fun," "relevant," and "empowering."  The self-esteem obsession that saturates our schools today harks back to the Deweyan reforms from before World War II.  But beneath the individualist rhetoric lies a mission for democratic social justice, a mission Dewey himself defined as a religion.  For other progressives, capturing children in schools was part of the larger effort to break the backbone of the nuclear family, the institution most resistant to political indoctrination. -- Jonah Goldberg, "Liberal Fascism", pp. 326-327

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