But we all seem to be aware that there is an ugly side to progress. We don’t like to think about it, but we know it’s there. We know, for example that the marvel of the television regularly spews mental and moral sewage. We also know that our enlightened education system is fraught with excesses and lack of intrinsic substance.
So, in our worship of progress, perhaps we should occasionally question whether all progress is good. Steve Farrell’s insights here provide and opportunity for just such introspection.
Farrell shows how our “progress” over the last 7½ decades has fulfilled many of the aims outlined by founders of communism. He cites the following passage from the 1930 book Toward Soviet America:
“[S]tudies will be revolutionized, being cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of the bourgeois ideology. The students will be taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism and the general ethics of the new Socialist society. Present obsolete methods of teaching will be superseded by a scientific pedagogy.”Farrell then shows how each of these goals has been achieved, specifically through our education system. He notes that one of Marx’s main aims was to destroy the family, “Because the traditional family was the transmission belt of Christian and Capitalist values.” But how do you do this? Offer free education – sponsored by the government. No longer would families and neighborhoods set curriculum and manage the teachers. This would all be centralized so that parents would be left out of the loop. Teachers cry for parental involvement, but our system is actually designed to prevent it. The result?
“That’s where we are today. ‘Christians and Jews shut up! — All you atheists, agnostics, communists, humanists, adulterers, and abortionists — your speech is protected! Your take on religion and morality will be in the textbooks, and shouted from the house tops. Criticism of your perspective will be prosecuted as hate speech!’”I can already sense some clamoring about the need to standardize education so that our kids can obtain the skills they need to operate in today’s competitive world. But, if our standardization is so good, why did kids 40 years ago perform better in most areas than kids do today, and at only a fraction of the real dollar cost?
Farrell points out that the NEA and Department of Education are major players in the centralization theme. He includes some interesting quotes from the NEA that illustrate the problems of the system. He contrasts this with Horace Mann’s 1941 speech to the NEA, where he said we needed “an order of teachers, wise, benevolent, [and] filled with Christian enthusiasm.”