Capturing The Children


Since were on the subject, I thought this passage from the book might be of interest to some folks: 

Since Plato’s Republic, politicians, intellectuals, and priests have
been fascinated with the idea of “capturing” children for social-
engineering purposes. This is why Robespierre advocated that chil-
dren be raised by the state. Hitler—who understood as well as any
the importance of winning the hearts and minds of youth—once re-
marked, “When an opponent says ‘I will not come over to your side,’
I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already…You will pass on.
Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short
time they will know nothing but this new community.’” Woodrow
Wilson candidly observed that the primary mission of the educator
was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Charlotte
Perkins Gilman stated it more starkly. “There is no more brilliant
hope on earth to-day,” the feminist icon proclaimed, “than this new
thought about the child…the recognition of ‘the child,’ children as
a class, children as citizens with rights to be guaranteed only by the
state; instead of our previous attitude toward them of absolute per-
sonal [that is, parental] ownership—the unchecked tyranny…of
the private home.”

Progressive education has two parents, Prussia and John Dewey.
The kindergarten was transplanted into the United States from
Prussia in the nineteenth century because American reformers were
so enamored of the order and patriotic indoctrination young children
received outside the home (the better to weed out the un-American
traits of immigrants).21 One of the core tenets of the early kinder-
gartens was the dogma that “the government is the true parent of the
children, the state is sovereign over the family.” The Progressive fol-
lowers of John Dewey expanded this program to make public
schools incubators of a national religion. They discarded the mili-
taristic rigidity of the Prussian model, but retained the aim of indoc-
trinating children. The methods were informal, couched in the
sincere desire to make learning “fun,” “relevant,” and “empowering.”
The self-esteem obsession that saturates our schools today harks
back to the Deweyan reforms from before World War II. But beneath
the individualist rhetoric is a mission for democratic social justice, a
mission Dewey himself defined as a religion. For other Progressives,
capturing children in schools was part of the larger effort to break thebackbone of the nuclear family, the institution most resistant to po-
litical indoctrination.
    National Socialist educators had a similar mission in mind. And
as odd as it might seem, they also discarded the Prussian discipline
of the past and embraced self-esteem and empowerment in the name
of social justice. In the early days of the Third Reich, grade-
schoolers burned their multicolored caps in a protest against class
distinctions. Parents complained, “We no longer have rights over our
children.” According to the historian Michael Burleigh, “Their chil-
dren became strangers, contemptuous of monarchy or religion, and
perpetually barking and shouting like pint-sized Prussian sergeant-
majors… Denunciation of parents by children was encouraged, not
least by schoolteachers who set essays entitled ‘What does your fam-
ily talk about at home?’”


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