#10: Public Schools Are Factories
In the mid-1800’s, a massive change began sweeping North America and Europe, one in which industry began replacing farming as the main source of work for countries capable of building factories to satisfy the growing demand for cheap, mass-produced goods.
Demand for more and more cheap goods led to the demand for more and more workers to produce those goods. The reality that a factory worker was a different kind of worker than the kind of worker our nation had always raised—one who lived by what his land produced or by his craft—was a concept not lost on those who viewed the future through a lens of education, of how the nation’s future workers should be prepared to fit into this New World.
America had already been rising in prominence among the world’s nations and, in order to maintain her ascendancy in this fast-approaching Industrial Age, America’s educational Prophets determined that a new kind of educational system must be created to prepare a new generation of employable young people. They looked for a model that would produce this new kind of worker. They found it in, of all places, Prussia.
Historians call it the Prussian Experiment (Google this, if interested). The Prussian goal was to create an educational system that would wean its youth from the influences of home and church which had, for generations, fostered a spirit of independent thinking. American educators saw that the Prussians, through their system of requiring children to leave home and attend “gymnasia” (government run schools) for 12 years, by grouping children in rooms by age, by using rote methods to learn only the government’s “common” curricula, succeeded in creating, in only one generation, a populace capable of following whatever directions their superiors required. America’s educators flocked to Prussia to learn this system.
Back in America, it was not easy to get laws passed requiring everyone’s children to leave their homes to attend government schools. America was already the most literate nation in the world because Americans prized education and, having just gone through a war of independence, parents raised their children on the belief that family, church, and independence were an individual’s highest values. But, it was these very values which forward-thinking educators saw as hindrances to the future of the nation’s ongoing industrial development and they relentlessly evangelized their state legislators until, one by one, these legislators “saw the light” and passed their state’s Compulsory Attendance Laws. Children were now required, by law, to spend most of their days somewhere other than at home. At that moment, America’s education began a steady decline. [Note: These Compulsory Attendance Laws caused homeschooling, in its inception, to be regarded as illegal because it was illegal to not send one’s children to a government-approved school. This is still the case as most states have tucked homeschooling under its umbrella along with private school, Christian school, and certain religious schools, which still must, in various ways, be approved by the State, a State which will never relinquish its oversight of the education of children].
America’s public schools are the great-great grandchildren of the Prussian Experiment. In contemporary America, schools turn out Employees and the only independence allowed a student is to decide which factory (occupation) he or she wants to be prepared to work for.
Why is it that wealthy families and many politicians do not send their children to public school? It is because thinking adults understand what public schools, with their rote instruction of common curricula, do not educate students into being capable of independent or entrepreneurial thinking. These parents turn their backs on “common schools” because they want their children to at least have the opportunity to become something other than factory workers.
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My oldest son, Seth, freed from a desk, reading on his favorite pony.