We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Common Schools and the Nationalistic Aims of Public Education in the U.S.

Click here to access article by Tim Scott from Dissident Voice

This knowledgeable author regarding the US history of education illustrates how a ruling class, based on a system that delivers them power, has exercised overwhelming influence over our education. This is a corollary of a general rule that states that a ruling class will exercise control over every institution of their societies in order to insure their rule and the virtues of the system that delivers them power. He carefully explains the development of education in the USA which reflected the influence of the growing power of the US capitalist class.
In the U.S., a state supported mass educational system was constructed as a means to transform white settler-colonists into citizens (yet restricting suffrage rights of white women) based on the ideological and legal dictates of white supremacy, capitalism, heteropatriarchy and Christian doctrine. To safeguard these undemocratic structures, citizenship in the U.S. was attached to a mythical belief that all citizens are endowed with a legal right of parity of participation in most aspects of political, economic and civic life. Foundationally, this duplicitous project required the construction of a uniform and standardized system of schooling in order to produce a common fidelity to the nationalistic aims of the opulent white elite.
Yet our masters realized that real education could also threaten their rule. To prevent this from happening they loaded their curricula with the "nationalistic aim of shaping future workers, whether 'native or foreign born, rural or urban' into a God fearing, capable and loyal industrial citizenry". In other words, they loaded the curricula of US education with self-serving propaganda. The author explains:
Intent on creating a common culture within the republic, many members of this elite class advocated for common schools as an efficient means to provide a “moral education” for future generations of the labor force in order to instill “character, discipline, virtue, and good habits.” Basic literacy skills fit into this plan, yet “analytical ability” and “knowledge of the world” did not. This righteous calling required an autocratic apparatus, one that could pacify and instill loyalty in its subjects while disciplining their minds and controlling their bodies. It also had to be vested in, and capable of, executing social and cultural reproduction. Common schools were set up to become that instrument: a compulsory mass education system with the nationalistic aim of shaping future workers, whether “native or foreign born, rural or urban” into a God fearing, capable and loyal industrial citizenry.  [my emphasis]