Thursday, January 19, 2006

School For Statists

Steven Brockerman writes about a progressive education trend in homeschooling called “unschooling.”

Based on the premise that the child knows what, how & when he wants to learn, unschooling is child centered & child led--that is, the focus is on giving the child the "freedom" to control the curriculum & instructional methodology of his education.
What if a child doesn’t feel like learning the alphabet or the multiplication table, but instead wants to finger paint and play dodge ball? I suspect the teacher ends up wasting a lot time accommodating the child’s whims in order to get him to spend a some time on the important subjects.

Mr. Brockerman links to this opinion piece by Glenn Woiceshyn of the Ayn Rand Institute, “‘Socializing’ our Students for Anarchy.”

Progressive education has probably done more to destroy the American character of individualism than any other program or institution. This is not an accident. John Dewey explicitly stated the collectivist goals of progressive education.

The Progressive philosophy maintains that the cause of social strife is the unwillingness of an individual to sacrifice his convictions to the group. Dewey maintained that it is the insistence on distinctions such as "true versus false" and " right versus wrong" that generates social conflict. If only children did not hold strong ideas, disagreement and conflict would evaporate in the sunshine of social harmony. Truth, therefore, is socially fractious--while ignorance is bliss.

Hence, what the Progressives mean by "socialization" is the surrender of one's mind--of one's independent knowledge and judgment--to a "group consensus." According to Dewey, "The mere absorbing of facts and truths is so exclusively individual an affair that it tends very naturally to pass into selfishness. There is no obvious social motive for the acquirement of mere learning, there is no clear social gain in success thereat."

Progressive education is an explicit assault on independent thinking. It trains children not to look at the facts of reality to decide what is true, but to the consensus of the group. There can be no better method to destroy young minds. Instead of teaching children to think, progressive education teaches them to be part of a mob.

Progressive education does not promote social harmony, but plants the seeds for the use of force. As Leonard Peikoff writes in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand,

...there are only two basic methods by which one can deal with a dispute. The methods are reason or force: seeking to persuade others to share one’s ideas voluntarily -- or coercing others into doing what one wishes regardless of their ideas.
To the extent a child’s capacity for reason is destroyed, he will turn to force, either his own or the state’s. Fortunately for “social harmony,” most children learn to think for themselves to a limited degree, despite the efforts of progressive education to turn them into group-thinking shmoo.

Freedom depends on rational individuals committed to dealing with other individuals through persuasion. Statism depends on force. Is it a coincidence that leftists favor a theory of education that destroys independent thought? Independent thinkers do not need to use force and do not need the state to use force on their behalf. The more progressive education kills children’s ability to think, the more statists it will create.

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