1 year ago


A successful tradition

A successful tradition of self-reliance requires an optimistic theory of human nature to bolster it. Revolutionary America had a belief in common people never seen anywhere in the past. Before such an independent economy could be broken apart and scavenged for its labor units, people had to be brought to believe in a different, more pessimistic appraisal of human possibility. Abe Lincoln once called this contempt for ordinary people "mudsill theory," an attitude that the education of working men and women was useless and dangerous. It was the same argument, not incidentally, that the British state and church made and enforced for centuries, German principalities and their official church, too. Lincoln said in a speech to the Wisconsin Agricultural Society in September 1859 that the goal of government planning should be independent livelihoods. He thought everyone capable of reaching that goal, as it is reached in Amish households today. Lincoln characterized mudsill theory as a distortion of human nature, cynical and self-serving in its central contention that: Nobody labors, unless someone else, owning capital, by the use of that capital, induces him to it. Having assumed this, they proceed to consider whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent; or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, they naturally conclude that all laborers are necessarily either hired laborers, or slaves. They further assume that whoever is once a hired laborer is fatally fixed in the condition for life, and thence again that his condition is as bad as or worse than that of a slave. This is the mudsill theory. (emphasis added) This notion was contradicted, said Lincoln, by an inconvenient fact: a large majority in the free states were "neither hirers nor hired," and wage labor served only as a temporary condition leading to small proprietorship. This was Abraham Lincoln’s perception of the matter. Even more important, it was his affirmation. He testified to the rightness of this policy as a national mission, and the evidence that he thought himself onto something important was that he repeated this mudsill analysis in his first State of the Union speech to Congress in December 1861. Here in the twenty-first century it hardly seems possible, this conceit of Lincoln’s. Yet there is the baffling example of the Amish experiment, its families holding nearly universal proprietorship in farms or small enterprises, a fact which looms larger and larger in my own thinking about schools, school curricula, and the national mission of pedagogy as I grow old. That Amish prosperity wasn’t handed to them but achieved in the face of daunting odds, against active enmity from the states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere, and hordes of government agencies seeking to de-Amish them. That the Amish have survived and prevailed against high odds puts a base of realistic possibility under Lincoln and Brownson’s small-market perspective as the proper goal for schooling. An anti-mudsill curriculum once again, one worthy of another civil war if need be. It takes no great intellect to see that such a curriculum taught in today’s economic environment would directly attack the dominant economy. Not intentionally, but lack of malice would be poor Table of Contents Page 414

compensation for those whose businesses would inevitably wither and die as the idea spread. How many microbreweries would it take to ruin Budweiser? How many solar cells and methane-gas home generators to bring Exxon to its knees? This is one reason, I think, that many alternative school ideas which work, and are cheap and easy to administer, fizzle rather than that catch fire in the public imagination. The incentive to support projects wholeheartedly when they would incidentally eliminate your livelihood, or indeed eliminate the familiar society and relationships you hold dear, just isn’t there. Nor is it easy to see how it could ever be. Why would anyone who makes a living selling goods or services be enthusiastic about schools that teach "less is more"? Or teach that television, even PBS, alters the mind for the worse? When I see the dense concentration of big business names associated with school reform I get a little crazy, not because they are bad people—most are no worse than you are or I—but because humanity’s best interests and corporate interests cannot really ever be a good fit except by accident. The souls of free and independent men and women are mutilated by the necessary soullessness of corporate organization and decision-making. Think of cigarettes as a classic case in point. The truth is that even if all corporate production were pure and faultless, it is still an excess of organization—where the few make decisions for the many—that is choking us to death. Strength, joy, wisdom are only available to those who produce their own lives; never to those who merely consume the production of others. Nothing good can come from inviting global corporations to design our schools, any more than leaving a hungry dog to guard ham sandwiches is a good way to protect lunch. All training except the most basic either secures or disestablishes things as they are. The familiar government school curriculum represents enshrined mudsill theory telling us people would do nothing if they weren’t tricked, bribed, or intimidated, proving scientifically that workers are for the most part biologically incompetent, strung out along a bell curve. Mudsill theory has become institutionalized with buzzers, routines, standardized assessments, and terminal rankings interleaved with an interminable presentation of carrots and sticks, the positive and negative reinforcement schedules of behavioral psychology, screening children for a corporate order. Mudsillism is deeply ingrained in the whole work/school/media constellation. Getting rid of it will be a devilish task with no painless transition formula. This is going to hurt when it happens. And it will happen. The current order is too far off the track of human nature, too dis-spirited, to survive. Any economy in which the most common tasks are the shuffling of paper, the punching of buttons, and the running of mouths isn’t an order into which we should be pushing kids as if such jobs there were the avenue to a good life. At the heart of any school reforms that aren’t simply tuning the mudsill mechanism lie two beliefs: 1) That talent, intelligence, grace, and high accomplishment are within the reach of every kid, and 2) That we are better off working for ourselves than for a boss. 3 But how on earth can you believe these things in the face of a century of institution-shaping/economy-shaping monopoly schooling which claims something different? Or in the face of a constant stream of media menace that jobs Table of Contents Page 415

  • Page 1 and 2:

    An Underground History of American

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    Change Agents Infiltrate ..........

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    The Ford System And The Kronstadt C

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    Pathology As A Natural Byproduct ..

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    Bianca, You Animal, Shut Up! Prolog

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    combines, is there anything public

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    As I traveled, I discovered a unive

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    He drew... the things inside that n

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    questions or on their implication;

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    and I, in a dark time when all offi

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    history, embedded in a personal ess

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    Then, too, many Americans came out

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    difference between Americans and ev

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    war. [House was nine at the time.]

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    fine-tuned judgments every day they

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    2nd Rule—Unceasing kindness in to

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    the philosophical split which infor

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    scientific form became the main ecc

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    inventors and technicians without p

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    How Hindu Schooling Came To America

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    way to awaken intellect in the lowe

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    Custer’s Last Stand in Montana ha

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    liberty. Farragut When I was a scho

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    Ben Franklin Ben Franklin was born

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    prudential matters, both private an

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    discovered some of my faults, and c

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    friend, described Washington as a y

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    school and was well on his way to i

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    teaching "why it was unworthy of hi

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    more Ben Franklins or Tom Edisons c

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    1 This is the same Ellwood P. Cubbe

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    mimic the "due process" practice of

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    An Enclosure Movement For Children

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    superintendents were wise to the fa

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    state, but that was a radical contr

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    oth parents from home and deposited

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    and file of homeschoolers actually

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    mental reflection in a way schoolbo

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    Department, 80 percent of the incar

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    scores then creates the illusion th

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    spiritual longings of ordinary peop

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    molecular biology. There you have i

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    The Ideology Of The Text Looking ba

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    to represent sounds of their langua

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    arose to satisfy demand for a popul

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    point of a sharpened pencil into th

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    learning to read it was not necessa

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    The Pedagogy Of Literacy Between Ma

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    some bit of data. The sheer luxury

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    the total victory of whole-word rea

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    My own motive in being there was a

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    Such behavior provides the best exc

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    inventor of a reading system based

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    Hector Of The Feeble-Mind See thirt

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    Hector Isn't The Problem The countr

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    "The only way you can squeak throug

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    documents were destroyed at the dis

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    Think of this thing for the moment

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    My own school fell victim to a poli

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    Chapter 5 True Believers and The Un

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    Because of the predictable greed em

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    neighbor to the community for the f

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    and counting sticks (much as the Ar

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    last quarter of the nineteenth cent

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    too seriously. From it poured an ab

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    attitude.... Much new educational l

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    Carnegie’s "Gospel of Wealth" ide

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    Books give children "false ideals o

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    other of novelist Henry James. Jame

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    Tent-Chautauqua did a great deal to

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    church sociables and teachers’ co

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    Chapter 6 The Lure Of Utopia Every

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    flagrant opposition to the dominant

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    Producing Artificial Wants Beginnin

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    compulsion law intended to put chil

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    extraordinary vision of the learned

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    Between 1840 and 1860, male schoolt

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    Evil, only bad attitudes, and those

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    Rainey Harper, president of the Uni

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    teacher can just put stuff in the s

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    Chapter 7 The Prussian Connection P

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    Germany, after a thousand years as

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    Revolution, its social controls bei

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    Under Frederick William II, Frederi

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    lectures given by Robert Owen’s s

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    where teaching and learning were al

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    to create that abundance it became

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    portraits, tapestries, giant gold-f

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    of argument, now the Prussian conne

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    slits in the grate like an armored

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    would recognize the new opportunity

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    This contradiction is not unknown a

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    independence, knowledge, ability, c

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    utilization—is more than offset b

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    dangerous sciences was mostly limit

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    The abundance of wood in the United

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    industrialization and the demands o

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    fort in 1832, was by 1838 a flouris

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    chemical processes—is collected.

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    The confinement of American childre

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    Yet America had to be massified, an

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    students with serious literature, p

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    4. A fixation on maximum output. 5.

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    usiness-industrial groups, but of t

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    followed: by 1917 a bibliography of

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    The National Press Attack On Academ

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    himself is the prototypical social

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    This dinner and its implications se

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    monopolization of first the nation

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    An Everlasting Faith Fabianism was

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    These "educational missionaries" sp

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    Bobbit said Gary schools were the w

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    campaign can colonize your mind. Ev

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    contracts for materials and service

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    ole models. Old-fashioned teachers

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    Chapter 10 My Green River Each pers

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    was three. The carolers stood on a

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    An incredible vision, these things,

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    the physical presence of my town ne

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    Monongahela, but there was not a si

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    has also ruined its share of victim

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    they were arguing over an abortion

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    The spirit that came over Mother wh

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    "And could you now face the back of

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    every single day for an entire scho

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    who commissioned stone sculptures f

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    the steps into his subterranean wor

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    Chapter 11 The Church The thesis I

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    inferiors is a veritable manufactor

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    It was nothing short of marvelous t

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    Into the center of this racial exci

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    altered the path of sexual selectio

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    were seen to be clay, radical socia

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    people. It was a genuine secret soc

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    Her first muckraking book, Out of W

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    actively seek assistance from busin

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    Chapter 12 Daughters of the Barons

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    The episcopal rule of British Ameri

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    Peter Cookson and Caroline Persell

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    The Order of the Three Crusades, 10

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    monarchs of great Aryan houses. Abe

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    followed were to call it: The right

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    Unpopular Government Maine built a

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    them to be bankers, financiers, par

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    Francisco, the Pacific Union; in Wa

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    eyond its immediate circle of assoc

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    gigantic aggregate of capital and i

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    creation of Fabian socialism and th

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    consultancies were beginning to be

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    Like much that passes for wisdom on

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    ecome any type of specialist I migh

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    This had immense influence on the s

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    4 For instance, the serious problem

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    of respect for the pedagogical ente

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    Thus is the student victim led to t

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    going on, selected tendrils from th

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    Children were to be "loved into sub

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    "New Thought Tide." Because many fe

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    Margaret Sanger wrote, "the most me

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    Napoleon Of Mind Science William Ja

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    disciplines from child development

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    Bending The Student To Reality Twic

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    efore as the marching orders of the

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    qualified to give expert opinion on

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    people’s lives, became the most i

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    coming out of the Decalogue, of Jud

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    day-to-day meaning to compete again

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    Everson v. Board Of Education (1947

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    Judaism Religion is a school of its

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    The neglected genius of American Ch

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    Religion And Rationality The Suprem

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    mathematical value so that citizens

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    physical beauty or your wealth, you

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    Chapter 15 The Psychopathology Of E

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    guilty, once explained at a public

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    from the assault on common sense. S

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    What Really Goes On School wreaks h

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    Ford. The role of grades, report ca

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    cause to congratulate ourselves. (e

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    ehavior. Now she laughs again. I ha

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    Chapter 16 The Conspiracy Against O

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  • Page 375 and 376: The Release From Tutelage What kind
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  • Page 385 and 386: to divide school politics into a ma
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  • Page 389 and 390: A Quality Education The mantra of "
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  • Page 403 and 404: Magic At Work Magic in one form or
  • Page 405 and 406: There is perhaps no more naked stat
  • Page 407 and 408: What fascinates me most is the cold
  • Page 409 and 410: change. I learned that from Adam Sm
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  • Page 413: Later we chatted with the lady in a
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  • Page 427 and 428: General Braddock and British tradit
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  • Page 431 and 432: Nothing in human history gives us a
  • Page 433 and 434: Don’t let a world of funny animal
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  • Page 437 and 438: anything. Anyway, whatever is chose
  • Page 439 and 440: Epilogue Only one nation refused to
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Guidelines for Co-Teaching in Texas - Region 17
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Keystone - Home Education Foundation
Improving High School Computer Science Education
full text - Unesco
Contents of this book - WSEAS