John Dewey (1859-1952)
 Father of Modern Education

By Brannon S. Howse

One would hope that the person dubbed “the father of modern American education” would craft a system to preserve the high ideals of Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and other Founding Fathers in the hearts and minds of American children for generations to come. One would hope that. But one would be grievously disappointed. 


The most influential education guru in American history was a Fabian Socialist, signer of the Humanist Manifesto I, founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and president of the League for Industrial Democracy—the American counterpart of the British Fabian Society. As all of the above, John Dewey has wounded America to a degree that few other people have.


Dewey worked hard to refine his socialist pedigree. In 1928, he traveled to Russia to help implement the Karl Marx system of education and then returned to teach at Columbia University as the head of that university’s department of education. Dewey supported the upstart Socialist Society in America while also being an honorary president of the National Education Association. He promoted Secular Humanism in his book, A Common Faith, and was the leading force behind bringing a group of German intellectuals-from the “Frankfurt School”—to America. 


The Frankfurt School (Chapter 21) promulgated the worldview of Friedrich Nietzsche, and with the arrival of the school’s “Pilgrims” in 1933, they set about to implement cultural Marxism in every area of American life under the disguise of political correctness. (I use the term “Pilgrims” to reflect the irony that our original Thanksgiving Pilgrims attempted a form of socialism that resulted in the deaths of so many of their community that they abandoned the idea in deference to pure capitalism after their first year in the New World.) The Frankfurt goal was the destruction of Christianity, the creation of chaos, and then the transition from cultural Marxism to traditional Marxism, i.e., socialism.


One of Dewey's most famous quotations sums up his philosophy, now prevalent in America's educational system and curriculum: 

"There is no God and no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable (unchangeable) truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law, or permanent moral absolutes."

Can you say, “Postmodernism”? The cross-pollination of ideas shared by the influencers in this book is obvious. 


John Dewey, Karl Marx, Aldous Huxley, B. F. Skinner, and Benjamin Bloom were interested in a student’s academic achievement only if it would in some way benefit the State. Before a student's cognitive knowledge could be used to its full potential, however, the student's attitudes, values, feelings, and beliefs must conform to that of the State. In his book, My Pedagogic Creed, John Dewey explains: 

"I believe the true center of correlation on the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child's social activities. . . . I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. . . . The teacher's business is simply to determine, on the basis of the larger experience and riper wisdom, how the discipline of life shall come to the child. . . . All these questions of the grading of the child and his promotion should be determined by reference to the same standard. Examinations are of use only so far as they test the child's fitness for social life." 


John Dewey and company were interested only in knowing where to place students in the social and economic hierarchy. Tests were to determine a child's area of worldview weakness. Once the weakness is determined, the child’s attitudes, values, feelings, and emotions that don’t fit the State’s worldview are changed via the curriculum—as Bloom said, to change the student's fixed beliefs. Those who do not conform are punished by being channeled into dead-end, low-income jobs. 


What the Deweyites (i.e., liberals) wanted, they have successfully accomplished with the help of legislators and liberal judges. As Dr. David Noebel explains in Clergy in the Classroom, humanists have ushered Christianity out the front door and the humanism of John Dewey in through the back door. So if you like where America’s education system is headed, you can thank John Dewey. 

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