Russell and Duenes

No Unifying Principle, No Definite Aim

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homeschoolCharlotte Mason said of modern education: “[W]e have no unifying principle, no definite aim; in fact, no philosophy of education. As a stream can rise no higher than its source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise above the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth; and perhaps this is the reason of all the fallings from us, vanishings, failures, and disappointments which mark our educational records.”

The public/ government school project in America – having jettison the One, True biblical God from the very start back in the 1800s – by necessity also jettisoned any “unifying principle,” for non-biblical civil religion, leading ultimately to secularism, has no such principle. It is based on nothing objective, permanent and transcendent.

However, I do believe that when one considers the history and trajectory of our public schools, one finds they have a “definite aim” and “philosophy.” That aim is not to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ. Rather, it has always been, even if most public school teachers don’t know this consciously, to wrest Jesus from His place as Lord, and supplant Him with the almighty State. Public school advocates have also sought to supplant the authority of parents and the home with the authority of teachers and “educators,” but ultimately, again, the State. This is why an increasing number of parents may no longer “opt out” of pro-homosexual teaching and sex education/ condom training.

In the public school vision of America, there can be no free, autonomous space between the State and the individual, namely, a space occupied by the pre-political, sovereign family. The political must invade that space and rule it. This has always been the goal, because the sovereign father and mother are all too likely to retain traditional beliefs and practices, centered around Christianity and a very limited government, a la, that of the Founders.

Again, it matters not if my friends who teach in public schools disavow this purpose. They have no choice in the matter. The aim and purpose for public schools was chosen and institutionally set in place long before they ever entered the classroom as teachers; and this purpose cannot be undone by whatever individual motives they might have in their minds. If I work in a factory that aims to make, and does in fact make, car doors, it does me no good to say that this is not what I am aiming at when I work there.

Jesus and limited central government must be diminished and ultimately replaced by technocratic, administrative, elite “experts,” who “know better” than the unwashed parents. These bureaucrats are the only ones who can be trusted to properly socialize children into good, American citizens, making them the “new” men and women of the “knows best for you” State. Protestations not withstanding, this is the “big prize” which undergirds the Common Core. Enforcing a national, centralized curriculum is not a benign proposition, enacted merely to have everyone “on the same page” and increase educational efficiency. Preparing students to “get jobs” is also a rather secondary aim. One must certainly ask what kinds of jobs our public schools aim to prepare students for in a society run from the top down by the administrative State.

Doubtless, public schools in the 1800s also aimed to counter what its practitioners took to be the onrushing Catholic juggernaut, but this has long since ceased to be a motivating factor.

So Charlotte Mason is right, public education lacks any unifying principle, because it lacks Jesus as its center and sum. Yet it cannot plausibly be denied that there is an aim and philosophy to government schools. They are not neutral, and they are not morally relative. Rather, they promulgate an alternate morality, one which has no place for Jesus, indeed is opposed to Jesus, and they seek to impose it for the so-called “common good,” as defined in secular terms. The public schools cannot be redeemed; they must be exited and replaced.



Written by Michael Duenes

October 17, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Duenes, Education

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