It’s no secret that academic outputs in schools across the nation are pretty abysmal. In fact, things have grown so bad that now it seems we’re praising schools that manage to achieve roughly 50% proficiency.
Such allegedly stellar achievement was recently recognized by an article in the Washington Examiner. The article highlighted the schools on America’s military bases–attended by the children of military members–noting that their 8th grade reading proficiency rates were over 10 percentage points higher than those of New Jersey, the state with the highest reading proficiency rate.
While these military base schools deserve a round of applause for coming in so far ahead of other states, it does seem a little strange to be applauding them for only a 55% proficiency rate in reading.
Around the same time I read about these military schools, I also ran across the following soundbite from Dr. Jordan Peterson. He explained how he had been researching the origins of the modern education system and discovered that it had connections to the Prussian military system:
The Prussians produced a universal education system in the late 1800s because they were afraid they were losing military superiority and they wanted to produce a cadre of mindless, obedient soldiers. That was expressly the purpose! And then that model was adopted by corporate types, mostly, who wanted to produce cadres of obedient workers, and that’s why the desks are in rows, and that’s why there’s factory bells, and that’s why it’s top-down leadership. And it’s worse that that because the people who built the schools were consciously aiming at eradicating the will of the students who were part of the system because they wanted them to be obedient.
Could there be some connection here with the military origins of the school system and the success of today’s schools on military bases? Possibly.
The more important thing, however, is the purposeful, soul-crushing nature of our schools–something clearly seen in the fact that even our best schools can only achieve 55% proficiency in reading. Such an environment is nothing short of tyranny, author J. Gresham Machen noted a century ago in his work Christianity and Liberalism:
A public-school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them then to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist.
If we want liberty and freedom to continue in our nation, then we need to start with the schools. And dismantling this bastion of tyranny begins when we give parents the freedom to choose the education that best suits their child, not the type that will make their child a mindless worker in the factory-like nation of yes-men.
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