Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reformers in education: Your children are hostages to our cause

In a book titled "Lectures and annual reports on education" by Horace Mann (several are written, this is the 1867 edition) here is what he writes:(page 210)

So much, then, my friends, is done, in the common and established course of nature, for the welfare of our children. Nature supplies a perennial force, unexhausted, inexhaustible, re-appearing whenever and wherever the parental relation exists. We, then, who are engaged in the sacred cause of education, are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause; and, just as soon as we can make them see the true relation in which they and their children stand to this cause, they will become advocates for its advancement, more ardent and devoted than ourselves. We hold every parent by a bond more strong and faithful than promises or oaths, - by a Heaven-established relationship, which no power on earth can dissolve. Would parents furnish us with a record of their secret consciousness, how large a portion of those solemn thoughts and emotions, which throng the mind in the solitude of the night-watches, and fill up their hours of anxious contemplation, would be found to relate to the welfare of their offspring!

Seeing what Mann wrote above, it's not hard to understand why John Dewey called Mann "the patron saint of progressive education".(due to the nature of copyright, I am unable to give you a link to where this is written, but I can show you how to find it. An essay titled "the challenge of democracy to education" is very easy to find on google books. Add "patron saint" to your search)

Dewey wrote about Mann here and also here:(Page 20)

And in the self-direction thus given, nothing counts as much as the school, for, as Horace Mann said, "Where anything is growing, one former is worth
a thousand re-formers."

Mann also wrote this:(Page 83)

Having found the present generation composed of materials almost unmalleable, I am about transferring my efforts to the next. Men are cast-iron; but children are wax. Strength expended upon the latter may be effectual, which would make no impression upon the former.

Now that's nice. Mann says your children are hostages to the cause, and are like wax, and Dewey points out(quoting Mann) that one former is worth a thousand reformers. Have you taken your children out of the government school system yet? You better hurry. Between these two men, perhaps more than any others, this is the foundation of modern american education.

Before the progressives called themselves progressives, they went by another name: Reformers. Not all reformers became progressives, and not all progressives were like reformers of the earlier era. But some things remain the same, like those 'germanic' ideas, 'prussianism', particularly in education. And so it goes for Horace Mann, who traveled to Germany to learn about germanic educational practices:

Philosopher Fichte introduced Pestalozzi's progressive education to Germany, and there Horace Mann and Calvin Stowe picked it up, to bring to the U.S.

According to Friedrich Hayek, Fichte(along with Rodbertus and Lassalle) are acknowledged fathers of socialism. Isaiah Berlin lists 6 modern architects of the authoritarian state: Rousseau, Helvetius, Fichte, Saint-Simon, Maistre, and Hegel.

Horace Mann died in 1859. One of the works I quote is from his wife, Mary Tyler Peabody Mann.

No comments:

Post a Comment