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The Reading Wars 2

by Charles J. Sykes

It is vital to understand the degree to which modern education is conceived as "socialization of the child". John Dewey, educational psychologist, formulated the theory that all life and experience is organic, part of a larger unified whole, and it is vital for each member of society to understand the nature of this larger whole (society), and how any individual (i.e. themselves) is part of this larger whole. Dewey was also a rabid behaviorist believing that ALL thinking, feeling, imagination, morality, decision-making and even personal responsibility are only responses to forces in one's environment. He allowed no place at all for inherent uniqueness, will, cause or creativity. He conceived personal experience to be the prime factor in determining value, usefulness and validity of anything for anyone. Basically, this idea meant that we each should feel good about conforming to the dictates of the larger, and more important "social organism", the group, class, business or society. Dewey promotes the "social entity" ad naseum in all is writings. Education, through Dewey's interpretation, and this is largely what modern education is based on, involves the student's training in conceiving himself as part of some larger group, how he fits in, being aware and concerned for the feelings of others (i.e. democracy as he defines it), solving problems so the "group" attains the highest state of "happiness" or "valued mutual experiences", and developing habits (through stimulus-response factors) which result in "worthwhile experiences" and the greatest mutual valued experience for the group.

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It's really a strange philosophy, mixing the "me-me-me" attitude of personal "experiences" with the group consciousness of the all-inclusive "social entity", but a strange philosophy that is wholly endorsed and promoted extensively by all educational "authorities". Their is no individual, per se; the individual, the environment, and whatever current situation exists are all viewed together as a unified, dynamic, integrated sub-system of Nature. Education is designed to get every student to understand this, conceive of themselves as this, and to approach and deal with life from this viewpoint. The student is taught to make decisions and choices, which are still only responses to Dewey, so as to maximize his life experience while also forwarding the mutual positive experience of the larger whole.

Modern education has taken an off-the-wall philosophy of near-Nature worship, mixed with extreme Darwinian genetic evolutionary notions, and is enforcing this on all the school children as a grand experiment in social "growth and evolution". Dewey also talks incessantly about "growth" - which to him is a natural evolutionary process of "life", stimuls-response factors, and genetic mutation, but again, he views this primarily from the viewpoint of the society or the group organism. Get that he truly conceives the social entity to be almost "living", and admires it in the same way a pagan might worship Mother Earth or a Gnostic might contemplate the underlying unity and dynamic integrative process of the Universe. Personally, people can think and believe whatever they choose -I even find some of the ideas in gnostic literature interesting, but, and this is a big but, NO PHILOSOPHY or IDEOLOGY should be enforced on the public, especially the children. Laws have been passed, and huge amounts of government money support these educational ideas, which are, in fact, a complex ideology and orthodoxy about the nature of Man, the Universe and the relation of the two. See more on how modern materialistic ideologies are actually complex philosophies possessing many aspects of "religion", and why government shouldn't support them (i.e. separation of Church and State).

The basic intent of this "new education" is not to make highly intelligent, attentive, personally-motivated individuals, but to create feel-good, functional cogs for the future social machinery. Individuals and thinking minds are not important - groups and feelings are.

That fact is not always recognized in the schools of the 1990s - where, Mitchell says, "the inane and unformed regurgitations of the ninth grade rap session on solar energy as a viable alternative to nuclear power are positive, creative, self-esteem-enhancing student behavioral outcomes; the child who sits alone at the turning of the staircase, reading, is a weirdo." In one of his most searing passages, Mitchell goes even further: "Educationists just don't feel right ... about books. A book is the work of a mind, doing its work in the way that a mind deems best. That's dangerous. is the work of some mere individual mind likely to serve the aims of collectively accepted compromises, which are known in the schools as 'standards'?

"Any mind that would audaciously put itself forth to work all alone is surely a bad example for the students, and probably, if not downright anti-social, at least a little off-center, self-indulgent, elitist."

Much of modern educational theories and practices frown upon individualism, personal choices, goals, and activities, because these are considered traits of selfishness and self-centeredness which ignore the greater interest of the group. Understand this for what it is - socialism - enforced social consciousness.