Our Prussian "Public" Schools

In my article, "Education and Children," I wrote: "Unfortunately, to some extent, almost everyone has bought the ideas of the Prussian model of education, and even homeschoolers frequently implement many of those same wrong principles in their efforts to educate their children."

In this article I want to show where those very bad educational ideas came from, what the intention of those ideas is, and why they need to be exposed.

To Illustrate

To show just how completely most people have simply accepted the principles of the Prussian educational model, I will use a response on a certain forum where there was a discussion about an article concerning a "student suspended over a hair design." The offending hair design can be seen to the right.

I have no interest in the issue itself, which I regard as mostly modern day PC silliness, but found this response to the discussion typical of what so many people think education is supposed to be:

"What message does this send to the other students? What message is sent to the parents?

"IMHO, a school is the first real JOB that everyone gets. The school's task in life is to prepare the children with the fundamentals the kids will need to learn in life, things like Reading, Writing and Arithmatec (sic) - but also how to stand in line and patiently wait your turn, to stand and show respect to the flag (although, this is being discouraged in all but the most conservative schools), the kids are taught to share, to play with people different than yourself, they are taught to work as a team, they are taught what is good behavior in public, and what the consequences are for not following the rules."

If you are not familiar with the techniques of propaganda utilized the cultural Marxist/postmodernist program, what is wrong with this response may not be immediately apparent, but I assure you it repeats the very ideas meant to be put over by them. They are concepts one hears and reads all the time, which are simply accepted without question.

"What message does this send ..." is meant to imply that what people learn and believe is based on watching what others do, like monkeys. Human learning is not by means of "messages" sent by the behavior of others, but by thinking, and using ones ability to reason to distinguish truth from falsehood. To people capable of reasoning for themselves, no "message" is sent to them by other people's actions. The assumption behind this, "message," idea is that people will not think and that their ideas are simply absorbed from the behavior of those around them. It is a totally anti-intellectual collectivist idea.

The rest is right out of the Prussian model/cultural Marxist handbook. School is one's "first job," because the whole purpose of school is to produce good compliant workers for the state. Such a school teaches children to, "stand in line," like good little soldiers, obedient and subservient and when they are grown they will be used to standing in line for their government hand-outs. It does not matter what the symbol is, a flag, a swastika, a picture of the dictator, unquestioned "respect" is all that is required. Teach the children to "share," and when they are grown they will be ready for socialism and redistribution of wealth. There is no need of property rights when everything is "shared." Teach them to play with people who are different, no matter what the difference is, and they will never have any way to judge the lying, cheating and bullying from the honest, decent and self-sufficient. This is nothing but leftist inclusivist multiculturalism.

Teach them what, "good behavior in public," is and, "what the consequences are for not following the rules," and you will produce good law-abiding citizens who will obey any law the state chooses to make, because they will know what the state will do to them if they don't. If they are required to report others speaking against the government, for example, they will.

Of all the collectivist concepts in that response, this is the most common, the most subtle, and the most corrupting. "They are taught to work as a team." Is there anyone who does not believe this idea and does not repeat it themselves? It sounds so good. If we all just work as a team, well then, everything will be just fine.

The "teamwork" concept is meant to replace the legitimate concept of cooperation. People frequently cooperate in various enterprises, because it is in each cooperating individual's interest to do so, and each sees the advantage they gain by participating in that cooperation. No rational person would "cooperate" in an activity that caused him to lose (time, money, or anything else), without any gain or advantage. An individual only joins in cooperation with others when they have some purpose of their own that cooperation fulfills.

In the team concept, the purpose is the team's, not that of the individual's who are members of that team. It is frequently put over as something benefiting all the members of the team with such slogans as, "we all win when the team wins," or other meaningless bromides. In fact however, it is assumed that every individual's purposes must be subordinated to the team's purposes, and the word "sacrifice" is frequently used in other slogans, such as, "we all have to make sacrifices for the sake of the team."

The team concept is nothing but a euphemism for collectivism. Replace the word "team" in the slogan "we all have to make sacrifices for the sake of the team," with "tribe" or "city" or "clan" or "state," or worse, "the company," because, unfortunately many of these collectivist ideas now infect business and industry.

Where Did Such Ideas Come From

You may, perhaps, think I've exaggerated the meaning of the details in the forum response above. I'm am quite certain the writer of the response did not intend the meanings I've subscribed to them, because they are commonly accepted ideas, and most people do not understand what their real meaningful is. If anything, however, the real meaning and intention of those ideas is worse then I have suggested.

Where did those ideas come from? They came from Prussia.

In her article, "Are we teaching American Citizens or training Prussian Serfs?" Diane Alden, adapting a speech by Senator Ann O'Connell, writes:

"In the early 1800s, what is commonly known as the Ph.D. did not exist in the United States. Then a well connected American named Edward Everett went to Germany to take courses and returned to this country as the first American to receive a Ph.D. degree. Eventually, 10,000 of America's wealthiest families would send their sons to obtain the Ph.D. in Prussian universities. Ultimately, this development would affect the educational and intellectual make up of the entire education system from kindergarten through college. These German trained Ph.D.s took over the educational establishment in the United States and anchored themselves in positions of political and economic power and influence. The substance of the course work in Prussian universities in tandem with the educational philosophy tended to be socialist and collectivist in nature. Consequently, the knowledge and mind set of the Prussian system were passed on to several generations of American intellectuals.

"Implementation of the Prussian system was to become the goal of Edward Everett, America's first Ph.D. As Governor of Massachusetts, Everett had to deal with the problem of the influx of poor Irish Catholics into his state. In 1852, with the support of Horace Mann, another strong advocate of the Prussian model, Everett made the decision to adopt the Prussian system of education in Massachusetts. Unfortunately for the children and poor Irish Catholics of Massachusetts and elsewhere, the system produced a willing, cheap labor force with minimal reading and numbers skills. The Everetts of the world understood that people who could read and understand are dangerous because they are intellectually equipped to find out things for themselves, thus becoming a threat to already established power elites.

"Shortly after Everett and Mann collaborated to adopt the Prussian system, the Governor of New York set up the same method in 12 different New York schools on a trial basis. Incredibly, within two weeks he declared the system a total success and took control of the entire education system in the State of New York. In a "blitzkreig" action with no debate, public hearing, or citizen involvement, government forced schooling was on its way in America."

That is how the ideas of the Prussian method were brought to America (by academics, of course) and were foisted on the American public, but this does not explain what those ideas are, or what their purpose is.

Three Variations on a Theme

There are two views concerning the purpose of government: 1. that the purpose of government is to protect the individual liberty of the citizens of the country; or, 2. that the purpose of government is to maintained an ordered society.

These two views are almost never made explicit, are frequently confused, and today, intentionally obfuscated. If you examine any program or policy of any government in the world today, it is always the second view of government that is the basis for those measures.

The first view of government is generally the view of government held by the founders of this country, the U.S.A. Under the first view, whether a society is "ordered," or prosperous, or the people are happy, or anyone is successful or not, is totally irrelevant. History demonstrates that in a society where every individual is free to pursue their own happiness, free to work as they choose, free to trade with each other, or not, and free to keep whatever they produce or gain in their trades as their property, safe from threat by any other individual or individuals, especially the government, the people are generally prosperous, happy, and success is possible to anyone who chooses to pursue it; but these are not the purpose of the government under the first view. Even if a society of free individuals was totally chaotic and impoverished, it would not justify violating any individual's liberty.

Today, it is the second view of government that dominates all nations. In those countries of the West in which the first view of government at one time prevailed (though it was never held in a purely unmixed way, even in the US), as the second view of government has come to dominate, what little freedom individual's retain is begrudgingly allowed by governments as a kind of verbal assent to the language of those laws (such as the Bill of Rights) which they have not yet found a way to totally abrogate.

It is this second view of government which is the theme of the three influences that have produced the so-called "system of education," that dominates the West today. Those three influences are the Prussian model of education, Cultural Marxism, and postmodernism.

The history of the development of these three streams of influence on education is important, and to some extent already addressed in my Marxist Revolution of the West. I'll only briefly describe those origins here, emphasizing the ideas they have injected, not only into education, but every sphere of modern culture and society.

Origin of the Prussian Model

To describe the source of the Prussian model of education, I can do not better than this quote from John Taylor Gatto's "must read" article, "The Public School Nightmare: Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?"

"The structure of American schooling, 20th century style, began in 1806 when Napoleon's amateur soldiers beat the professional soldiers of Prussia at the battle of Jena. When your business is selling soldiers, losing a battle like that is serious. Almost immediately afterwards a German philosopher named Fichte delivered his famous "Address to the German Nation" which became one of the most influential documents in modern history. In effect he told the Prussian people that the party was over, that the nation would have to shape up through a new Utopian institution of forced schooling in which everyone would learn to take orders.

"So the world got compulsion schooling at the end of a state bayonet for the first time in human history; modern forced schooling started in Prussia in 1819 with a clear vision of what centralized schools could deliver:

"Obedient soldiers to the army; Obedient workers to the mines; Well subordinated civil servants to government; Well subordinated clerks to industry; Citizens who thought alike about major issues."

[Emphasis mine.]

The correct term for the Prussian model of education is, "social engineering." The whole intent and purpose is the creation of a society comprised entirely of individuals the state has "educated," to be the performers of the government planners vision of what that society ought to be.

Almost everything about the structure and mechanics of education came from the Prussian model. Separating students by age, classes in separate rooms, all nicely lined up on stools or at miniature desks, all using the same books, all doing the same exercises, all starting and stopping at specified intervals, arriving, leaving, starting, stopping, standing, sitting, to a regimen of bells, like a factory or machine.

The Prussian model provided the method by which this social engineering would be carried out. It is Cultural Marxism and Postmodernism that will provide the "content" and "details" of this mind-molding enterprise.

Origin and Principles of Cultural Marxism

The concepts we call Political Correctness, Multiculturalism, and Zero Tolerance are all derived from Cultural Marxism. It is called "Cultural" Marxism, because its purpose was to save the world-view of Marxism and it's ultimate intention to establish a world-wide totalitarian state. Cultural Marxism drops the "economic" aspects of Marxism, which had failed to produce the revolution it promised, and instead, attempts to bring that revolution about by a complete transformation of the cultural forces that dominate societies.

These Ideas were the creation of Antonio Gramsci.

Antonio Gramsci provided the explanation in the form of a new concept, cultural hegemony. Capitalism maintained control, he explained, not through violence or coercion, but by dominating a society's culture, causing the culture's bourgeois values too become the "common sense" and accepted values of all. So long as the workers identified their own good with the good of the bourgeoisie, they would support the status quo, not the revolution.

In Gramsci's view, Marx had correctly identified the unjust inequalities of capitalism that justified the revolution, but failed to identify the cultural hegemony that prevented the workers from revolting. What was needed, Gramsci realized, was a cultural revolution, one that would smash the cultural hegemony of the bourgeoisie, and usher in a culture of the working class.

Gramsci identified the ideological "apparatuses" by which that cultural revolution would be implemented as education and the media. He also identified the character of the hegemony that prevented the working class from identifying what was truly in their interest; bourgeoisie culture is Western culture (or all that we identify with Western civilization and values), which, he said, is intimately tied to Christianity. It is all that is associated with that culture the revolution would smash.

The article, "Outcome-based Education: The Highjacking of America's Children," is an excellent overview of the entire corrupt education system. The section, "Toward A Socialist Transformation Of The West" describes the influence of Gamsci's ideas on education. (You and I will not agree with the authors views of the purpose of education, however.)

Contemporaneously with Gramsci's development of his views, another Marxist, Georg Lukacs of Hungary was developing similar ideas, and even put them into practice as Deputy Commissar for Culture during the Bela Kun regime in Hungary, with predictable disastrous results.

Lukacs, with other Marxist "scholars," founded the Marxist think-tank today called the Frankfurt School, which had as it purpose the promotion of cultural Marxism. During the 1930s, and the rise of Nazi persecution, many members of the Frankfurt School, who were all Jewish, including Georg Lukacs, Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer, emigrated to the United States, (all except Lukacs, who went to Russia).

How did these men come to have such a great influence over the society and culture of the United States?

Erich Fromm became a professor at Columbia University in New York in 1934. In 1943 Fromm left Columbia and helped form the New York branch of the Washington School of Psychiatry. In 1946, he co-founded the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology. He was on the faculty of Bennington College from 1941-1950. He moved to Mexico City in 1950 to become a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico where he established a psychoanalytic section at the medical school where he taught until 1965. He was also a professor of psychology at Michigan State University from 1957 to 1961 and an adjunct professor of psychology at the graduate division of Arts and Sciences at New York University from 1962 to 1974.

Wilhelm Reich began teaching at Columbia Medical School in 1939. His influence on psychology was very wide. As an example, this article, "Baring the Soul: Paul Bindrim, Abraham Maslow and 'Nude Psychotherapy'" discusses one of the very bad influences Reich had on the very influential "humanist" psychologist, Abraham Maslow.

Herbert Marcuse begin teaching "political theory" at Columbia University in 1952, then briefly at Harvard, then at Brandeis University from 1958 to 1965, teaching political philosophy, and finally at the University of California, San Diego, where he collaborated with political sociologist Barrington Moore, Jr., political philosopher Robert Paul Wolff of Columbia University, and sociology professor C. Wright Mills, one of the founders of the New Left movement.

Theodor Adorno set up his Institute for Social Research at Columbia University in 1937. In 1941 he and Max Horkheimer began teaching at the University of California where they collaborated on works eventually published in 1947 as Dialectic of Enlightenment which identified a "dynamic" in civilization, originating with the Enlightenment which is the primary cause of Fascism and other totalitarian regimes. You will never guess what that destructive "dynamic" is--it is reason.

Max Horkheimer joined Columbia University in 1934, but moved to California, where he taught at the University of California and collaborated with Theodor Adorno. He returned to Frankfurt in 1949, then returned to America to lecture at the University of Chicago between 1954 and 1959. Horkheimer's work was an attempt to reform society through radical criticism of social and cultural issues such as authoritarianism, militarism, economic disruption, environmental crisis and cultural poverty. His ideas today are called, critical theory.

These men were hugely influential, and their ideas came to dominate the most important departments of every major University in the country, including departments of psychology, sociology, journalism, political science, law, and of course, education. Since most of today's journalists, psychologists, sociologists, politicians, lawyers, and teachers have been thoroughly indoctrinated in all of cultural Marxist theory, it has come to dominate every influential sphere of our culture, especially the media, entertainment, and of course, government schools.

Origin and Principles of Postmodernism

Since Gramsci was not a member of the Frankfurt School, you might wonder how his ideas came to prominence in this country. There is an excellent resource page on the WEB, called "Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought," which begins with a long list of philosophers and writers appropriate to what is called "contemporary philosophy." In that list we find the expected Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Georg Lukács, and Max Horkheimer, but surprisingly we also find Antonio Gramsci.

Almost immediately after the cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School invaded America's universities, initiating the cultural Marxist revolution in academia, Gramsci became an immediate subject of study, and his ideas were soon incorporated in the whole of the cultural Marxist view. But notice, the only term from cultural Marxism that is prominent today is "critical theory." The dominant theme today is "postmodernism."

Postmodernism has a completely different source from cultural Marxism, and as far as I know, no one has identified how they came to be amalgamated. In fact, cultural Marxism might never have been able to gain a foothold on American culture and education if Academia was not further corrupted by postmodernism.

Cultural Marxism is a political method, not a philosophy and it is not philosophically tenable, and if presented at face value would not be accepted by anyone who could think clearly for five minutes. Who in their right mind would accept the proposition that the way to improve a society is to wipe out all its values, to teach people to live in any irresponsible why they choose, and that feelings are more important than truth? What makes it possible to put cultural Marxism over is postmodernism.

The actual history of postmodernism is very long and very complex and not within the scope of my present purpose. It is the ideas of postmodernism, and how they fertilized the intellectual ground in which cultural-Marxism has taken root that I want to emphasize.

Postmodernism is put over as philosophy. It has its roots in philosophy, a philosophy which itself, though more subtle, was very bad. It began with the logical positivists who put over the idea that all we know are the concretes of perception (which they mistakenly called empiricism), essentially denying universal principles, all except what they called "logic." The positivists actually destroyed logic, which they regarded as nothing more than the manipulation of symbols, the rules of which, like mathematics, were based on arbitrary assumptions they call axioms. Having created this artificial system, they proceeded to prove that no such logical system could ever be completely proven. The conclusion is, there is never any certain truth.

Out of positivism grew another philosophical perversion, which included philosophers of the Vienna Circle, called Linguistic Analysis, which essentially says that all knowledge consists of symbols, words, and all reasoning is the manipulation of symbols, ala logical positivism. The almost mystical magic by which this whole school was put over is quite incredible, but can be observed in one of today's best examples, Noam Chomsky.

Postmodernism is an indirect result of these philosophical assaults on reason, which opened the door to such ideas as, what we believe and think is caused by our language, that is, our views are formed by our culture.

Please see my article, Postmodernism, A Psychosis, for an analysis of what postmodernism is today. The following are some of the essential things postmodernism asserts:

  • There is no truth in any absolute or universal sense.
  • The world we perceive is not the "real" world.
  • There is a "more real" or "ideal" world we can never know, or only know approximately.
  • The purpose of all things is the improvement of society. (Science, technology, politics, education, etc.)
  • There are no absolute values, only social/cultural conventions.
  • People's beliefs and values are determined by the culture and society in which they live.
  • You can change people by changing cultural and social influences. (Those who institute such changes are called "change agents.")
  • "Critical thinking," must take people's feelings, backgrounds, and diverse cultures into account.
  • Critical thinking questions all traditional values and beliefs.
  • Critical thinking considers alternatives and changes to all methods and conclusions.
  • Traditional views must be replaced with a new paradigm.
  • Traditional (Western) religions are bad. Global or earth-centered spirituality is good.
  • Individualism is divisive and must be replaced with a holistic view: "We are all related."
  • Good and evil are relative, combining them brings "wholeness."

As an example of how postmodernism is able to put over cultural Marxism, notice the similarity between Gramsci's "social hegemony" and postmodernism's view that one's beliefs and values are determined by their society and culture. It is unlikely that, "we have to infiltrate the churches and schools and corrupt their moral values," could be put over, but it is obvious, "we can use change agents to provide children with a new world view," has been put over and dominates today's schools.

References and Conclusion

"The techniques of brainwashing developed in totalitarian countries are routinely used in psychological conditioning programs imposed on American school children. These include emotional shock and desensitization, psychological isolation from sources of support, stripping away defenses, manipulative cross-examination of the individual's underlying moral values, and inducing acceptance of alternative values by psychological rather than rational means." [Thomas Sowell, Ph.D., "Indoctrinating the Children," Forbes, February 1, 1993), 65.]

This is what government schools are, and what they have been designed to be from the beginning. Their whole purpose and intent is the destruction of children's minds. If you have never read Ayn Rand's article, "The Comprachicos," I highly recommend you get the book, The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, containing the article in which she dissects the process by which the mind-destroying methods are implemented, beginning in nursery schools. [The whole book is a prescient preview of everything that is destroying Western society and culture, published in September, 1971.]

I also highly recommend John Taylor Gatto's, Underground History of American Education, which can be read online, but the book is much easier to read.

Finally, with some hesitation, because she is a Christian writer, and her religion permeates her writing and may not be appreciated by everyone, I recommend Berit Kjos' book, "Brave New Schools, which is a thoroughly researched, documented and detailed account of exactly what is going on in America's government schools. The entire book can be read online, but at least read the chapter, "A New Way of thinking," which provides a shocking and eye-opening view of the methods by which children's minds, and whole personalities, are being assaulted by today's teacher/change agents.

Should you homeschool your children? If you can, and you care at all about your children's welfare and future, you must. There are other ways, such as private schools, cooperatives, and tutors. But even if you cannot do any of these things, and I says this with the utmost seriousness, your children will be better off taken out of government school, even if they are not taught a thing. To leave children in the hands of those who intend to destroy their minds is incredibly evil.