…And you thought there was separation between church and state. Think again. Government schooling has been about religious indoctrination ever since Martin Luther called for compulsory state schooling in Germany about 1520. His goal was to inculcate the population with Lutheran principles. (non-believers were often burned to death)
Next came John Calvin, a Swiss, who established state-run schools across Europe to teach Calvinism – characterized by obedience to the state by the masses. Calvin’s personal religious despotism strongly influenced America’s first compulsory schools. Their goals were to promote a theocratic state while suppressing Catholicism.
The American government school system was copied from that of (fascist) Prussia in the early 1800s by Puritans led by Horace Mann, of Boston. Compulsory state-run schooling was established in which “the precepts of morality and religion should be inculcated.” Later, Robert Dale Owen aimed to implant “equality” in the minds, habits, manners and feelings. He believed that the nation would then be ripe for the final step of equalization of property and incomes by means of State coercion. Owen saw American public schooling as training in socialism. He wrote, “It will make but one class out of the many.”
Today’s public schools still carry Owen’s stamp of socialism, hand in hand with the “progressive” notion of teaching the “whole child,” that is, to mold the child’s personality. What we have today is full-fledged “progressivism” that dominates public schooling through its interlocking agencies of conformity and control. Some call it, “One-size-fits-all dumbing down, free to all, paid for by all.” The goal is not to turn out citizens with knowledge and skills, but a mass workforce that will be docile and obedient to state authority.
Thus, the public school system’s religion is Secular Humanism. No, you won’t find churches with that name over their doors, but that is the religion taught in government schools across America. Its closest church is Universalist/Unitarian, as handed down from the Puritans of Boston. It is largely responsible for much of today’s constant war between parents and the schools. Its teaching pervades the entire curriculum. It infuses the courses offered at all teacher colleges. Its goal is to change American society from what our founders envisioned – independent sovereign individuals – into a conformist, semi-educated populace dependent on, and in service to government authority.
The State is the replacement for any traditional sense of God. It seeks to trade loyalty to family for loyalty to the state, and replaces traditional concepts of right and wrong with moral relativism. It teaches children to trust classmates and school employees, but not their parents. Group thinking is the key. This combination of state control and secularism has allowed a marriage between educationists and psychologists. Thanks to the humanist/progressive movement, what has happened is no less than the psychologizing of the public schools. It has undermined patriotism in favor of global government – world socialism. After being indoctrinated at state-run colleges, teachers proselytize their new faith through whatever subject they teach, at all levels of schooling.
Attitude changing is the goal of today’s schooling, while academic learning is secondary. Programs tell kids: sex is just an “activity;” drugs are bad except when school administers them; parents’ values must be “clarified;” the environment is being ruined by greedy corporations; celebrate racial diversity; “world language” bespeaks a global village; etc. These psychological conditioning programs are often anti-intellectual. They deal in children’s feelings instead of their ability to reason and analyze; they ask children to depend on consensus of peers instead of facts, group thinking instead of independent inquiry. The effect is to foster dependence on the group and on the State. “Progressives” believe that the purpose of education is not about what children know, but what they will “be like.”
Here’s Dr. Thomas Sowell: “It may seem strange that people of such marginal intellectual competence as many public school teachers and administrators should take on the God-like role of re-shaping the psyches and values of children. Yet, this is perfectly consistent with the centuries-old observation that fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
Ned Vare is an architectural designer, former private school teacher, rancher, businessman, elected official, and author.
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