John Dewey Slew the Little Red School House

Image from The Center for Dewey Studies

Says Teachers ‘Pale Pink.’

American school teachers, often denominated as politically “red,” average up “pale pink,” according to preliminary conclusion reached in connection with a national poll made by the John Dewey Society for the Study of Education.

The poll, extending to 3,000 teachers in the 48 states, is in charge of Dr. George W. Hartman of Pennsylvania State college. He reports that the average teacher tends to support a number of “incompatible policies” and that the “radical” group of teachers is better informed on social issues and public problems of the day than the conservatives. This latter observation probably is true of citizens generally, since the conservatives is often disposed to take the status quo for granted while the “advanced thinker” has reasons, real or imaginary, on which he justifies his position.

An outstanding contradiction was reported to be the prominence of Socialist convictions and sentiments and the relatively small number intending to vote for Norman Thomas for president. Dr. Hartman found that the “typical teacher approves of many far-reaching reforms but his dissent from the status quo is that of a gradualist rather than that of a revolutionist.” Of those polled, 59 per cent expressed the view that an annual family income of approximately $4,000 could be obtained if the productive equipment of the nation were operated at full capacity.

Under the capitalistic system, with the progressives and radicals acting as a spur in the flanks of the large conservative element, income over the years has shown a pretty consistent increase. While some might consider $4,000 a year a high average goal, it is gratifying to find that the teachers favor working toward it under the doctrine of abundance rather than that of scarcity.

Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) Jul 23, 1936

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“What school teachers think about public questions is important, because their thinking affects their work and tends to mold the minds of the rising generation,” says an exchange, citing 3,000 replies to a questionnaire sent out by the John Dewey Society for the Study of Education….

More than half believe that several millions of our unemployed will “never again find steady work at good wages in a capitalist society.

Only 15 per cent think teachers have a moral obligation to remain entirely neutral on debatable issues, in class and elsewhere.

Ninety-eight per cent reject the idea that the school “has no business trying to improve society.”

Three-fourths favor a federal department of education.

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Aug 12, 1936

Commission Finds Trotsky Innocent

New York, Dec. 13. — Leon Trotsky was informed Monday that an international commission of inquiry had found him innocent of counter-revolutionary activities and had declared the trial of 17 of his sympathizers a “frame-up.”

Dr. John Dewey, philosopher and author, was introduced to a mass meeting Sunday night as “the Zola of our age,” read the commission’s review of the evidence and concluded:

“We therefore find the Moscow trials to be a frame-up. We therefore find Trotsky and Leon Sedoff (his son) not guilty.”

Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) Dec 14, 1937

Image from English Russia – Only in Russia!

DR. DEWEY FLAYS STALIN REGIME.

Dr. John Dewey, professor of philosophy at Columbia university and chairman of the committee that “retried” Leon Trotsky on the charge of treason to Soviet Russia, is utterly disgusted with the Soviet as it is now being operated. This noted American philosopher spent a long, long time peering under the surface of the Trotsky case and what he finds is that the effort to make the proletariat supreme has resulted in the most ruthless and dictatorial political regime that is in operation anywhere today.

Not that he cares anything as between the two personalities Stalin and Trotsky, Dr. Dewey says, but he had hoped for much from the Russian experiment. He finds that experiment now deteriorated into a mass of misrepresentation, lies, propaganda and violence. The people of Russia are kept in ignorance of what is going on in the world and even in their own country. His views are published in the Washington Post.

To those who say that the end justifies the means, Dr. Dewey replies with a bit of philosophy, so startlingly true that its significance comes as a shock to the minds of many. That philosophy, the end justifies the means, is so deeply ingrained in the minds of many Communists that the radicals in this country resort to it in their defense of the Stalin regime by justifying the present assassinations in Russia.

But Dr. Dewey says that the means that are employed decide the ends or the consequences which are ultimately attained. Thus, when violence is used to bring about so-called political and economic reforms violence must be employed to keep the new government in power and violence becomes its principal weapon, not only upon those who are opposed but even within the party itself. Thus all idea of democracy is lost. The means have dominated the ends that were sought to be attained.

The venerable American philosopher, who because he expressed the belief that the world could learn much from the Russian experiment, was himself sometimes called a Communist, has given up all his cherished hopes for Russia. He believes that Communist Russia and Nazi Germany are growing very much alike. There is simply the employment of force to maintain a regime, the holding of the people in ignorance through vicious propaganda, misinformation and fear.

Declaring that he cares little more for Trotksy’s ideas than he does for the scheme of things that is carried on by Stalin, Dr. Dewey insists that the Trotsky trials were a “frame-up” of crooked testimony and evidence; that the Russian prosecutor did not follow the legal rules of evidence under Russian law. All of this Dr. Dewey proposes to prove not only to the satisfaction of Americans but to the confusion of the Russians themselves.

Finally he bids American radicals to see the truth. There is a growing tendency among these radicals to conceal the truth regarding Russian affairs in this country. “They can accomplish nothing by hiding the truth,” he said. “Truth, instead of being a bourgeois virtue, is the mainspring of all human progress.”

Montana Standard (Butte, Montana) Jan 2, 1938

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Groups Are Criticized For School Meddling
(Associated Press)

New York, Feb. 24. — Curtailment of Academic freedom by pressure groups which seek to impose their doctrines on the nation’s school children was held by John Dewey society today to be “definitely on the increase.”

Describing it as one of the “most vital issues of the day” the society said in announcing the 1938 year book, teachers have been reprimanded and even dismissed from jobs for teaching accepted facts about history, science and civics which, for one reason or another, were disagreeable to certain groups in their communities.

Progressive as well as conservative organizations which seek to hamstring school teachers with rules and regulations were denounced in the year book as enemies of democracy.

Among them were listed the “ancestor worshipers” with D.A.R., Sons of American Revolution and United Daughters of Confederacy included in the category — military organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and patriotic organizations like the National Civic Federation, the Paul Reveres and Key Men.

Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado) Feb 25, 1938

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Mar 5, 1938

LET’S NOT DODGE ISSUE

Dear Editor:

Public schools may not teach “religion,” at least A religion, that is settled; but the general rule in courts of law in this country is that for a witness to qualify as such and testify under oath “he must possess a conscience alive to the accountability to a higher power than human law in case of falsehood.” (American Jurisprudence, 1948 ed. page 96, vol. 58.) This rule is entirely in harmony with the federal constitution, as it was the established common law at the time of the adoption of that constitution and still obtains in states that have not changed it by their own local law.

In Soviet Russia school children are taught that there is no “accountability to a higher power” than the law of Stalin. The prevailing doctrine is found in the teaching of Karl Marx that: “Religion is the sighing of a creature oppressed by misfortune; it is the ‘soul’ of the world that has no heart, as it is the intelligence of an unintelligent epoch. It is the opium for the people.”

Such doctrine is closely akin to that of John Dewey, “who identifies religion with superstition when he says that religion originated in man’s fear and his effort to safeguard himself in every way possible against unknown and uncontrollable forces and changes.” So writes an anti-Communist Russian authority. (Demiashkevich, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, p. 113.) The same writer quotes Dewey as saying that “As a drowning man is said to grasp at a straw” so men who lacked the modern implements and skills snatched at religion as “a source of help in time of trouble.” So, the disciples of John Dewey (whether teachers or others) are naturally against teaching “accountability to a “higher power than human law,” whether you call it “religion,” “ethics,” or merely “good citizenship.”

Accordingly, they now propose to teach ABOUT religions — probably in the same manner that that topic would be treated in the World Almanac or the Book of Facts. Since there is no more mature subject than that of Comparative Religion, which embraces all the sects and philosophies, we may see at once what a synthetic plate of “bolonie” would be served out to the youngsters whose parents are still trying to teach some good old-fashioned ideas of “right” and “wrong.” Such negativistic mush would be a fraud and a fake — certainly a poor antidote against the atheism of the USSR.

If our boys are dying in Korea to save the world from communism and atheism then the public schools ought to find a way to teach these facts; but if, on the other hand, they are bleeding to preserve an adoration of John Dewey’s world of “instruments and skills,” materialistic comfort, and scientific gadgets, let’s not be hypocritical enough to dodge the issue and teach ABOUT religions. Call it “morals,” “citizenship,” or “social science,” but teach that communism, atheism and slavery go hand in hand; that the American tradition requires an “accountability to a higher power than human law.”

ROBERT B. RALLS
186 North Meyer street

Tucson Daily Citizen (Tucson, Arizona) Apr 16, 1951

Image from Fans in a Flashbulb

These Days . . .

By GEORGE E. SOKOLSKY

Do you know the teachers of your children? They speak of tenure, of academic freedom, of their rights to their jobs. But what have you to say about your children? After all, they are your children and you are responsible for them, for their minds, their bodies, their spirits.

What do the teachers of your children know? What have they been taught? Have they had a broad, humanistic training or are they specialists in methods of pedagogy?
…..

Does your child come home an say, “All fathers are alike,” when your child has repeated to the teacher some criticism you have made of the teacher or textbooks?

For instance, the other day, I heard a child talk about starvation in India. Nothing had been said about sacred cows and sacred monkeys and wild dogs who eat the food of the people and who may not be killed. Could we rescue the people of India if we sent them all our surplus wheat? The fact is that the teacher wants to make the child like the united nations and point four and all that, but the teacher did not say that the peoples of India starve because they do not grow enough food per acre and that a religion which sacrifices living human beings to living animals is partially responsible. The teacher told a half-truth for political purposes.

You need to know what a teacher believes. The teacher says that it is none of your business. The teacher says that the Constitution, under the fifth amendment, protects a citizen in his beliefs. That is absolutely true. A citizen can believe anything he likes: That the moon is made of green cheese, that Karl Marx is as great an historic figure as Moses, Jesus, Aristotle and Plato; that John Dewey was the greatest philosopher of all time. That is a teacher’s private business.

But your child is your business. It is correct that a teacher may be a Republican, a Democrat, a communist, a Catholic, Protestant, Jew or Christian Scientist. He may believe that vitamins will save the world or that vaccination will ruin the world.

But none of that solves the problem of your own responsibility for your own children. No child need be sent to a school whose teachers offend a parent’s beliefs. The child must have a certain amount of “education,” according to the law. That may require the parents to pay for the upkeep of two schools. Many do.

The various organizations of teachers object to this attitude. They wish to make a fetish of the public school system and put it above and beyond criticism. In a country like ours, nothing, but absolutely nothing, should be above and beyond criticism.

(Copyright, 1951, King Features Syndicate, Inc.)

Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) Dec 18, 1951

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Haney Conducts Question And Answer Column Today

BY LEWIS HANEY

Professor of Economics, New York University

Highland Park, Ill., asks: “I was surprised to learn that Mr. Goslin is on the advisory staff of the National Citizens Commission for the Public Schools. What do you know of this organization? What do you think of a man in the U.S. Office of Education rebuking an Indianapolis school teacher for criticizing  British socialism?

Answer: The two facts you mention tie together. The U.S. Office of Education is in harmony with the ideas of the Nat’l Citizens Commission. Goslin is an advisor. All three agree. A,D. Morse in a magazine article on the schools links them. The fact that a representative of the U.S. Office doesn’t want socialism criticized is typical of the whole set-up. The list of members of the commission shows that it is closely interlocked with the so-called Public Education Ass’n, the CIO, and the Committee of Econ. Develoop. The Pubic Ed. Ass’n is an outfit which joins the Nat’l Education Ass’n trust in propaganda for molding “the whole child” and viciously attacking those who criticize progressive education.

I would say that they are all tarred with the same stick — progressive education slanted toward collectivism. I can find among their leaders no critics of socialism or progressive education. The Nat’l Citizens Committee (with its typical “workshop” conferences) may well have been set up in 1949 as a cover for N.E.A. propaganda, particularly designed to bring in public relations talent and newspaper and magazine publicity.

Peekskill, N.Y., writes: “Please tell me in language that a non-legal mind can understand the exact difference between a Republic and a Democracy.”

Answer: The only difficulty is with the word, democracy, which has been so abused by politicians and Communists that you can’t tell what it means, any more than you can tell what it means to be a Democrat. A republic is a state that has representative government. It is governed by representatives elected by, and responsible to, the people who have voting power. This country has always been a republic.

Originally the meaning of “a democracy” was plain: It meant direct government by all the people. In a pure and complete democracy, all the people would vote directly on all government issues. This country has never been a democracy.

But now the term, democracy, is widely used in two other ways:

(1) Some use it to mean socialism. For example, in a yearbook of the John Dewey Society (which is closely tied in with the Nat’l Education Ass’n) the following statement appears: democracy is “above all a society of and by the common working people.” According to this notion a democracy would be a socialistic society run by the labor class.

(2) Some, however, use the word, democracy, loosely to mean any society in which people are free to discuss affairs and have a vote. This definition, of course, would include republics such as ours; as it would consider a republic as a kind of indirect democracy in which control of government might be through representatives.

In view of the confusion and propaganda surrounding “democracy” you should avoid using the term, and require those who do use it to tell exactly what they mean….

News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) Feb 19, 1952

Bob Ruark’s Roundup

NEW YORK — The old man, I guess you would call him the grandest old man, quit trying and died the other day, 92. This was John Dewey, one of the few great thinkers of the long time we call past and present, and you might say he sowed more whirlwinds than anybody else.

Dr. Dewey made one mistake. He presumed in innocent arrogance that the majority of his fellow citizens were partially as intelligent as he, and there he made his mistake. They weren’t. And aren’t. And doubtless won’t be.

John Dewey was the father of what is loosely termed “progressive education.” This is to say that he slew the little red school-house, assassinated Santa Claus, and placed an added burden of maladjustment on a civilization that had been reasonably happy with the three R’s, the little red hen, and McGuffey’s Reader. He introduced unfettered thought into the public domain, and he gods, how it got mishandled!

The old man was a fine old man, and a brilliant thinker he was, too, and a find philosopher, and a good practical psychologist, and a great educator, and, withal, he made more trouble for us than Karl Marx. Because, principally, John Dewey made a vogue of early self-determinism, and the lip readers seized on his doctrines with glad, incoherent cries.

His idea was basically, if an idea is ever basic, that the young mind should be freed to develop the richness of the moment, rather than to equip the fledgling with the standard spare parts of education for a problematical future. He was of middle age  when he first propounded the idea that modern education should be fitted to individual needs and capacities instead of being assembly-lined along the simple precepts of his fathers.

In very short, he pierced the first large loophole for mass irresponsibility and laziness of educational discipline by the adult of the immature. It is not to lessen the majesty of the man, Dewey, to say that his breadth of thought has contributed as highly to divorce rates, to suicide rates, to psychopathic incidence — and always innocently — as if he had plotted viciously against the welfare of his fellows.

Because his teachings, being fairly intricate and dependent on responsibilities, naturally got abused and soiled from handling by the inept. The story is ancient about his abrupt meeting with a nursery school brawl involving his young son and another moppet. Professort Dewey was shocked at the infantile mayhem, and was informed that this was “progressive education.” Unbridled freeing of the coarser impulses was not what he had in mind.

It is my purely private idea that the dean regarded mankind as essentially noble and simultaneously susceptible to nobility of handling at a very early age. I do not think that in his academic purity he considered a high incidence of lazy parents, spoiled brats, and incompetent candidates for self-determination.

Be all as it may, we have shown small progress in the half-century of popularity for John Dewey’s credo of education. His advanced (then) theories of literally making the child his own master do not seem to have tamed the dreary statistics of delinquency, of adult aberration, of social maladjustment, or rape, murder, dope addition, irresponsibility and general unhappiness.

Tucson Daily Citizen (Tuscon, Arizona) Jun 9, 1952

Image from Genconnection – John Dewey

From John Dewey’s book, My Pedagogic Creed, linked below:

I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends.

….

ARTICLE V. THE SCHOOL AND SOCIAL PROGRESS.

I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform.

I believe that all reforms which rest simply upon the enactment of law, or the threatening of certain penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward arrangements, are transitory and futile.

I believe that education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction.

I believe that this conception has due regard for both the individualistic and socialistic ideals. It is duly individual because it recognizes the formation of a certain character as the only genuine basis of right living. It is socialistic because it recognizes that this right character is not to be formed by merely individual precept, example, or exhortation, but rather by the influence of a certain form of institutional or community life upon the individual, and that the social organism through the school, as its organ, may determine ethical results.

Title: My Pedagogic Creed
Author: John Dewey
Published: 1897
page 7 and pages 16-17

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