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09-03-2012, 08:34 PM
Dreaming Up a New America: Progressive Education and the Perversion of American Democracy
By L.E. Ikenga

As opposed to the 2008 election, which had many frustrated and emotionally charged voters dreaming up a new America with a historic presidential candidate leading the charge, the 2010 midterms had people doing the exact opposite. In 2010, a majority of Americans stopped dreaming and started to face reality. America was accelerating toward an irreversible and all-encompassing decline. The path envisioned by the president and his supporters for a radically changed United States was starting to look like a dead end. America was breaking down.

The year 2010 was also when essayist Walter Russell Mead began to ascribe many aspects of this breakdown to the failures within what he called the Blue Social Model. His prognostications were based on what he saw as the disintegration of core American institutions and ideas, which developed and flourished under the post-Second World War industrial system. According to Mr. Mead, the model had reached its expiration date; and among other things, what has followed is a stagnant and deeply indebted economy, crumbling social institutions, and controlled yet massive citizen dissent. Our bona fides as an advanced industrial democracy were therefore being challenged both domestically and internationally. He might have been right.

If he was right, then Mr. Mead's argument should have immediately raised some major concerns. If for the past sixty years our core institutions and ideas have, as Mr. Mead had put it, "rested on the commanding heights of a few monopolistic and oligopolistic American firms and a government with runaway entitlement programs," then we should have been asking ourselves more essential questions about the nature of our history and society. One of those questions should have been: when did America stop being a serious democracy?

But if Mr. Mead's conclusion should not have warranted such a question, and though by increasingly unqualified means we can still call ourselves a serious democracy, then we obviously have another more fundamental problem on our hands.

Bootleg Blackberries, Fake iPads, and a Fabricated Democracy

The Blue Social Model theory was articulate and intelligent, but it did not identify the central problem facing American society. It did, however, do a good job of camouflaging it.

That problem has now become an epidemic, and it is this: a citizenry, both young and old, whose members have become increasingly ignorant and apathetic towards the basic pillars of history and civic culture upon which their democracy has been built. This is why Mr. Mead was able to draw attention to a false target, which marked the real crisis as the "accelerating collapse of blue government," and get away with it.

Essentially, the American masses -- now not unlike the masses in various parts of the democratic underdeveloped world -- have little to no understanding of how genuine democracies are supposed to work, and they don't care.

Instead, they identify their democracy not in terms of the revolutionary political ideas and events of Western civilization, but in terms of the following new norms: government-backed credit systems that motivate compulsive consumerism by encouraging people to live well beyond their means; unempirical race theories that promote thoughtless, face-value diversity and multicultural relativism within the body politic; and a mainstreamed, age-inclusive addiction towards insipid web 2.0 entertainments that some have said is pushing our society towards an era of digital serfdom.

In other words, democracy in America now means being able to purchase a million-dollar house when you cannot afford it and having the power to open a Facebook account when you are eight years old.

In that the roots of this kind of perverted democracy are not grounded in watershed documents such as the Twelve Tables of Roman Law or The English Bill of Rights of 1689, it should come as no surprise that today, a petty electronics trader hustling fake iPads and bootleg BlackBerries on a chaotic street steaming with fresh sewer in Port Harcourt, Nigeria should feel comfortable in equating his democracy with ours. Based on what the trader understands, his fifty-year-old, post-imperial democracy is supposed to be based on the promise of the Blue Social Model. But what he does not understand is that our two-hundred-plus-year-old anti-imperial democracy is not supposed to be.

And so, although it is our democracy that has produced an environment for all types of industry and real innovation to flourish, and although his democracy has produced the exact opposite -- one so corrupt and replete with ironies too incredible to believe (including the lack of internet for the fraudulent gadgets that he sells) -- both of our democracies are becoming the same.

Until Americans begin to set themselves apart, once again, as the gatekeepers for the democratic civic standards of Western civilization, our political outcomes will continue to be no more respectable than those of the third-world electronics trader. Just as he commands a market that is eager for his fake gadgets, our government now governs a citizenry that is eager for a fabricated democracy -- one that discourages genuine civic responsibility and comprehension.

Some people have balked and jeered when they have been shown images of the American president who bows to foreign dictators. They have said that the leader of the free world has no business bending over for autocrats who do not represent freedom and the rule of law. But it is not the president who is doing the bowing. We are doing the bowing. The American president is simply reflecting the will of a good portion of the people whom he governs.

Rousseau, Dewey, et al.: How the "Me, Myself, and I" Generation Became an Unintelligent Mob

It is America's decades-long experiment with progressive and postmodern progressive education that has produced almost two generations of low-information citizens who have become easier to dupe for the benefit of our increasingly intrusive and imperial government.

The progressive education model began to receive widespread attention during the first decades of the twentieth century. The ideas and scholarly works of American philosopher and education theorist John Dewey were used to develop teaching models, which began to captivate groups of exclusive and superbly credentialed left-leaning educators, who lauded the models and who sought to actualize Dewey's vision in their own schools. Dewey and his disciples decried the status-quo paradigms of the American school system -- especially those that they saw were intent on bringing up dutiful but uncritical citizens, or those that they felt motivated academic discrimination, particularly by means of standardized testing. Their progressive education models were therefore aimed at making American schools more reflective of genuine democracies.

For them, dreaming up a new America meant gleaning many ideas about education from prominent European social philosophers of the eighteenth century. One such philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, via and his tract on education, Emile, became invaluable for providing examples for the progressive education model.

Emile outlines the assumptions under which young boys, especially, should be educated. Rousseau's philosophy on education stressed the natural goodness of man and a condemnation of social conventions, most of which he believed were culpable for man's corruptive behavior. To rehabilitate mankind, Emile emphasizes the following for the various stages of a person's initial education:

The purpose of education is to develop a child's natural capacities. Natural education should be as far-removed from society as possible.
The aim of education should always be child-centered and individualized. Children learn by utilizing their senses; they are guided by natural curiosity.
A good teacher is unobtrusive; teachers are not there to enforce doctrine or rigid instruction.
Children must never be pushed to acquire information. If they are moved on their own to learn about something, they will.
Children will develop a sense of morality through their trials and errors. They do not acquire morals by being punished for bad behavior. Teachers are never to discipline children for perceived wrongdoing.

From such ideas, many American educators were able to promote and systematize a progressive agenda in education that placed a premium on child-centered (as opposed to knowledge-centered) instinctual "learning activities." As progressive teaching models came to have more influence, authoritative, well-informed teachers and traditional textbooks began to be viewed as antediluvian and unnecessary.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/09/dreaming_up_a_new_america_progressive_education_an d_the_perversion_of_american_democracy.html#ixzz25 S8HMxHK