Sunday, March 12, 2006

American Public Education and the Prussian School System

I saw another article on disinfo referencing America's Prussian school history. While this article doesn't specify the Prussian link, this other article does. Note this quote:

The King, however, didn’t want his own children to be subject to such a treatment. They, after all, would one day become the rules of the country. They’d be the leaders, and instead of follower-skills would have to have the skills of leadership, creativity, and independence. The King also realized that the sons of the leading merchants and government officials would need similar skills, and would be less effective at running business and government if they’d been processed by the public school system he’d created.

So he ordered the creation of a second, parallel public school system. While the first system was called "the People’s School" (Volkshochschule), the second was to be the place where true education would take place. Recognizing this, it was called simply "the Real School" (Realschule). Ninety three percent of students would attend the People’s School, and the seven percent who represented the elite of the nation and would be its future business and governmental leaders would attend the Real School.

Having gone through public education, I'd say the conclusion that public education is mostly doing what it was intended to is a great big "duh!". Questioning authority in all its forms and learning to think for oneself were not part of the curriculum. There were places where some of that "subversion" slipped in through the cracks, but rote learning the "facts", pledging allegiance to the flag (symbol manipulation at its best), tardy slips, hall passes, regimented eating schedules, not leaving the premises, very small windows, etc. were the order of the day.

I thank my lucky stars I wasn't a tyke when it was fashionable to "medicate" the hyperactive and/or inquisitive kids.

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