Thomas More coined the word Utopia for the imaginary socialist workers’ island paradise he described in his book of the same name. He neatly allocated everyone’s role, responsibilities, and relationships and moved them like pawns to make his system workable, tidying up all the loose ends without consideration for reality. It has an artificial Stepford Wives flavor, as do all Utopias, because people just don’t work that way without being torn asunder.
The children of Utopia are removed from families who have too many and placed with couples who have none. Children who have no aptitude for their father’s trade are placed with another family. Only those children and adults who display “extraordinary capacity and disposition for letters” are allowed to “give themselves entirely up to their studies,” yet the Utopians “esteem those [pleasures] to be most valuable that lie in the mind,” and “They are unwearied pursuers of knowledge.” More treats education as a completely pure institution teaching only wisdom and to which all Utopians are devoted as it trains them in the greatness of their way of life.
Utopia is ever and anon the paradise presented by all statists and totalitarians. Whether they do so for power or out of real belief of attainable perfection, they hold up an ideal state as the answer to all of mankind’s ills and problems. Systems may differ, but all utopians think that if the correct system is in place, then all will be well and all will be happy. Not only do they present an ideal system as the answer, but they sell the idea that it is achievable, if all will conform to their ideas and goals.
Education is not only a necessary tool of utopians, but a very powerful one. There will always be adults to rebel against and refute their goals as harmful and wrong, but if they can ensure that children and young adults have learned to think according to their lights, then they are spared unnecessary exertion in conflict and rewarded with easy control. Adults are susceptible to propaganda, much less children who don’t have experience, criteria or wisdom by which to rationally judge the truth of what they are being taught. Education as propaganda is indoctrination.
“Education enables people to know or to discover the truth and then to decide in the light of this truth what action is to be taken.” Propaganda, on the other hand, is usually employed to provoke action regardless of, or even despite, truth or the best interests of the manipulated.[…Using one’s position of trust, as a teacher, to indoctrinate students instead of educating them was once considered unprofessional, unethical, and intolerable. Unfortunately, it has become prevalent. This has rendered many more people vulnerable to the manipulations of propaganda instead of arming them against it. This type of indoctrination is not used to produce citizens of a free and democratic nation.]W. H. WerkmeisterAn Introduction To Critical Thinking: A Beginner’s Text in Logicannotated by S. Martin.–Propaganda is most frequently associated with conflicts of some kind, with situations,that is, in which interested groups stand opposed to one another and in which each group tries to get the most for itself. Propaganda is therefore especially important in fields where social, political, or economic advantages are at stake and where public opinion is to be molded on a large scale and often to the detriment of the majority of the people. It is encountered in international as well as in domestic affairs, and in democracies no less than under totalitarian forms of government.Parlene Pardede, “Detecting Propaganda”
If you go back and look at the purpose and functions of modern schooling that John Taylor Gatto listed in “Against School”, you’ll realize how they are designed to conform children to a specific utopian worldview. I hadn’t intended to go into so much of the history and philosophy of education this week, but the more I’ve read about Common Core, the more it appears that it is intended to be the progressives’ checkmate in education. John Dewey was one of the most powerful pieces on the board, and I’ll be discussing him next.