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Lionni's book (paperback, 89 pp.) fills a gap in the history of the destruction of American education.
By destruction, I mean the takeover by government centralizers, those who believe that they have the answers to life's problems, and plan to impose them on the rest of us. The imposition require the control of peoples' thinking, otherwise people begin to catch on that they are being systematically deceived and betrayed.
Lionni is an excellent writer, and does a clear, crisp job of explaining this bit of history from the Liepzig school of psychology, its importation to America, and the connecting with the Rockefeller fortune which set Wundt's ideas on the road to controlling American education. The new "science" of education. There was some good on-the-ground science in the project, but the secular philosophy by which the science was given meaning and interpretation was a disaster.
William Wundt was professor at the University of Leipzig from about 1875 to 1920 when he died. Germany was prized as the cultural and intellectual capital of the world. So when Wundt redefined psychology from being a philosophical to being a physiological enterprise, the world began to listen. He became known as the father of modern psychology. Persons, he said, had no spirit or soul, they were not self-determined, they were simply the product of impinging forces. He set himself the task of learning how to maximize the results of these impingements upon our "selves".
Education, on his view, was the subjecting the student to the proper "experiences" by which to form his identity and behavior. It eventually led to Pavlov, Stalin, and Chinese Communist brainwashing.
Wundt produced the first generation of Wundtian teachers who founded "modern" departments of psychology all over the Western world, especially in America, aimed at submerging the student into the social organism. It was a perfect fit for the growing collectivist mentality, and the centralizing of government, both in Europe and America.
By 1892, the stage was set for the propagation of Wundt's laboratory psychology into American education. Man is an animal, whose actions are always reactions. He has no freewill or self-determinism. Education therefore is the art of giving and withholding stimuli. The primary categories are not right and wrong, but feeling good and feeling bad. It leads to a society of gratification, not of reason and responsibility. One is to adapt to one's environment, not change the environment ethically for one's own and society's benefit. Students were divided into those few who would receive an academic education, and the many who would go to vocational schools.
#26 Broadway, the home office of Standard Oil run by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., was probably the most famous corporate office address in the world. Standard Oil was the world's largest monopoly, awash in money. Rockefeller hired Frederick Taylor Gates, a Baptist minister, to run his philanthropic enterprises, partly as a PR program to fend off the terrible reputation Rockefeller had as a monopolist, but which soon grew into a mechanism by which to exert enormous control over society. Especially when education became a chief target of his "philanthropy".
Rockefeller had funded the University of Chicago, a Baptist school, winning the favor of Baptists and educators. He looked for other opportunities to spend money in education. But education was not much in need of help, doing a better job than about anywhere else in the world -- except in the South. The South had still not recovered from the Civil War devastation, largely due to the "Reconstruction" program, and turned out to be the plum which gave the entree needed into education.
Gates formed what was called the General Education Board which would siphon Standard Oil surplus funds into education. Even in philanthropy, Rockefeller and Gates wanted a monopoly. They colluded with other philanthropists to join forces in helping (controlling) southern education.
The General Education Board took little time to meet up with the Wundtian educators, and were delighted to fund their new "scientific" views of human nature and education. Money soon began to sluice through the Columbia University Teacher College, turning it with astonishing rapidity into the fourth largest graduate school in America.
The "new curriculum" began to eliminate Latin, Greek, and other "overly intellectual" subjects. Formal grammar was dropped, divesting students of an essential introduction to the logic of language, meaning, and truth. The destruction of American thinking was in progress. And the purpose of "Germanic" education itself, control -- not freedom through truth, came into full play, now fully supported by the earlier takeover by coercive government of almost all of American education.
During World War I, "Germanic" education was in ill favor, but its pseudo-scientific PR program soon overcame the resistance. The combination of Wundtian psychology, Rockefeller money, government control of education, and an intellectually, morally, and spiritually collapsing Christian community led quickly to an unchallenged secular, and very destructive, education system. Rockefeller and other corrupted money was able to buy out politicians as well as educators.
The dismal education received in this new wisdom by some of Rockefeller's own sons did not alert him to the tragedy which he was funding for America.
The new social order which the General Board of Education was consciously constructing was anti-capitalist, an apparent anomaly, given capitalism is what made Rockefeller rich. But the capitalists had discovered that collusion made them richer than competition. At the expense of the free market for the rest of us, of course.
So their efforts were now directed toward control, collusion, and betrayal amounting to high treason against the American people and against the Constitutional covenant between We, the People, and civil government. Government education was becoming their primary means of teaching We, the People, to like our slavery. 1984 was already in progress long before George Orwell's 1949 book.
The so-called "progressive" education movement has had no intellectual credibility for its plan to "socialize" the human race. Truth was never the engine driving their train. It was control, and monumental egos, believing they could grab control of the levers of evolution -- creating a new man. That is a large part of the reason they must gain control of education, so as to keep control of the thinking of persons who otherwise would catch on to their schemes.
I do not believe these people to be ignorant of the inevitable results of their policies -- control, not education. Many of their followers were no doubt "true believers", but the leadership at the top had to know that they were betraying the people and the Constitution. If they did know, they did not care.
Civil government, largely through the power of the government schools, is sluicing homosexuality (just for starters), mind-control, socialism, globalism, and a host of other plagues on the public. They know that in a freemarket education system, such idiocy would not survive. People would vote with their feet. They fear a Judeo-Christian spiritual renewal more than anything else. And rightly so.
Lionni ends his book with the following comments:
This idea (that Man is a stimulus-response animal) and the methods it implies, has played a critical role in transforming The America Dream into a national nightmare. It has turned our homes, schools, offices, stores, and factories into the battlegrounds of World War III; the draftees drift from encounter to encounter, increasing numbers succumbing as neurotic mental and spiritual casualties. The greatest number of victims, however, is in the 5-16 year-old range, as roughly one-quarter of the population is recruited into the compulsory federal behavior clinics cosmetically known as schools.
Those willing to decide on the basis of their own experience and observations whether they (and their children) are animal or not, and who choose not to be, must begin now to openly repudiate psychology's stranglehold on our children's future and awaken their neighbors from the nightmare. P. 89.
As for the battle grounds of WW III, the troops for educational sanity are still few to be seen (although see http://www.schoolandstate.org/home.htm). The general public, though often wringing its hands over education, is still emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually incompetent to do anything serious about it, and most clergy and churches are oblivious. There is, nevertheless, a small and growing minority who are home schooling, or building their own schools. Many of them are getting re-coopted back into the system -- by peace offerings from "The System", but the movement is growing. And so a few survive who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
In the end, they will win because God raises up freedom lovers from a place deeper than the evil world can touch.
Deo gratia! [For further reading on the history of the education disaster, see Education Bibliography.]
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