The fourth man who rules the world from his grave is a gentleman who has influenced your life beyond what you may imagine. His name is John Dewey. John Dewey held the chair of educational philosophy at New York University beginning in 1904. He controlled education in America, and therefore virtually and Western civilization, for about fifty years. John Dewey gave us a whole new system, called “education,” but it was entirely different from our previous concept of education. In the past, education was built on the premise that “these things are true.” Therefore, as a teacher, I must take these true things and impart them to students who listen, because the purpose of education is the imparting, and the development, and the practice of truth in the minds of listeners. In other words, we believed that in education there was an objective value called truth, and truth must be imparted in any field. Also, up until about the turn of the century, education was built on a concept of God being the ultimate repository of truth. Almost all education in the United States, until 1850, was entirely Christian. Practically all the educators, or teachers, were Christians, even in the public schools. Therefore we learned, “A is for Adam, and B is for Beelzebub,” etc. If you went to a public elementary school, you knew the Bible, because Christians ran it.
But when we entered this century, John Dewey came along, and he gave us a whole new idea. He's what we call a radical empiricist, or if you please, an instrumentalist. He believed that the purpose of education was to produce a result. It was no longer based on objective value, but it was based on the necessity to produce a dependable product. In other words, he believed more in the object of education than in the subject. John Dewey was an existentialist before we ever began to use the word. He believed that the deed was almost insignificant; the result, the product, was the thing that was important. He gave us what we call “progressive education.” Produce a result that can be called ”happy,” that can be called “successful,” that can be called ”integrated in society” on the part of the student, and you have succeeded in fulfilling the real purpose of education.
Things began to gravitate, and we finally reached the place where we said, “Don't discipline these kids. Don't give them a lot of homework. Don't press them too far, because the process will make them unhappy. Give them the chance to express themselves. There is a life in every young person. Have dialogue with them. Especially, don't give them heavy subjects like Latin and English and mathematics—let's concentrate on social studies. What a useful phrase—social studies. Produce a pragmatic result whereby they will be dependable little non-provocative conceders to the trend of society. That is the purpose of education.”
What is the result? Modern education is so bad as to be almost unspeakable. Three Christian schools are being formed every day in the United States. Why? Because even secular people are so disillusioned with the morals on our campuses, and with the lack of education in our public schools that they are willing to be taxed double—once to support the system, once to educate their children. Christian schools are expanding and tremendous fashion. Modern education has become a shame to the name the bears it.
Recently, test were conducted in Florida. Young people were given a quiz on simple mathematics and simple English—one hundred forty thousand failed it! Now, a little bit of sanity is touching our educational leaders—“Look, if they can't spell and they can't write and if they don't know their own name, let's not let them out of high school.” I think this is a marvelous development. Education has not become the answer to our problems, but the source of our problems.
Where have the riots originated; where is most of the indignation coming from? It has come from the educational centers in the United States, especially the humanities. The humanities have been rewritten—sociology, philosophy, psychology, history. Modern education has become an instrument to produce social progress, rather than to impart objective truth, which has long been lost in the process of education—thanks to the modern views of John Dewey.