High school students (stock image)
High school students (stock image) iStock

From Plato to the present, it has been the dream of certain philosophers and social planners to...inject a controversial ideology directly into the plastic, unformed minds of children.by means of seizing a country’s educational system and turning it into a vehicle for indoctrination. In this way one may capture an entire generation and, thus, shortly a country without intellectual resistance, in a single coup d’école. - Dr. Leonard Peikoff,,The Ayn Rand letter, May 20, 1974

The average student reminds us daily of the failures of the educational system. Many of them, because of academic neglect, become functional illiterates, dropouts, and even angry young men and women who have learned nothing of value during their school years.

Those in doubt should wander into the “better” schools where our privileged youth escape academic boredom with drugs; converse with high school and college students on important subjects and listen to them utter nonsense which they are incapable of defending rationally; observe their activities and how they are being conditioned to measure their self-worth with destructive acts to gain peer acceptance; familiarize yourself with what they enjoy and whom they idolize; and finally, study the syllabi and then ask educators how they justify the nonsensical content.

When you have done that, and you remind yourself that everyone in the country has been shaped by our schools for twelve, sixteen, eighteen and even twenty years (some say even more), you will understand how significantly the educational establishment has failed.

Each new U.S. President, knowingly or innocently, contributes to the failure of education. They come to Washington with a plan to leave a positive imprint, but they fail because the educational programs and the ideas that they endorse only compound the problems.

The entire education establishment (teacher’s union, the Department of Education, the publishing industry, and all the other profiting groups associated with education) make certain by carefully concealing their scheme to dumb down Americans. They achieve this by disguising their intent with innocent and misleading programs, which, when examined closely, are often like all the other programs in the past, inherently designed to erode sound teaching!

While the schools fail, the system and its supporters prosper (as exemplified by the critical race theory and the movement to redefine the sexes) at the expense of the three Rs.

In my search some years ago for solutions to this criminality, I made a temporary deviation from my plan to become a journalist, and I accepted a job teaching in the public schools. What I learned in the late 1960s and 70s shocked me. It was mass-produced chaos created by educators hellbent on stunting the minds of students. It was worse than a blackboard jungle; it was instead an aggressive war to achieve some unspoken political end. As I defined it, in my first book, The Fire Within, the programs were all conceived to crush rational thinking with propaganda and anarchy (by encouraging mass assault using divide-and-conquer warfare techniques).

This plot (conceived by some of America’s “finest” educators) was first tested to my knowledge in inner-city schools before being launched full-scale in public and private schools around the country. It wasn’t until I read Ayn Rand’s masterpiece article “Comprachicos” that I understood the sinister reason for this betrayal of our youth. As I familiarized myself with the problem and the methodology used to implement change, I saw a political movement taking shape in America that was contrary to everything that the country supported.

After the publication of my book, The Fire Within, in 1981, I traveled the country as a talking head on radio and television, and I horrified listeners and viewers with what I was learning. At the time, I strongly recommended that parents yank their children from the public schools and place them in an alternative education program, using tax credits to finance it.

The search for suggestions to guide parents in the type of education to seek, led me to discover the writings of Dr. Maria Montessori. To my delight, I found her books to be filled with sensible and fresh ideas. Her teaching program, as she revealed it in her books, demonstrated a healthy respect for the child’s intellectual growth. In The Absorbent Mind, she explains her education philosophy, and she uses this philosophy to establish the groundwork to be used by parents interested in minimizing the damage that government and progressive schools were causing. (In my article, published on the web at www.bfat.com, I offer “10 Recommendations for Parents” on how to monitor a child’s education for negative teaching practices and what to do about it.)

Another book, I felt, that had value was Joan Beck’s How to Raise a Brighter Child. Like Dr. Montessori’s many books, it includes a mix of ideas for parents who want to enrich learning for infants and preschoolers. In this book, the author sensibly dismisses the idea that children aren’t ready to learn until six. In defense of her view, she provides some common-sense recommendations and activities to give parents ideas on how to hasten learning and prepare their children for a bright future.

One point she makes in her book that deserves to be emphasized is, “The common ground for the highly diverse types of family which produce outstanding sons and daughters, as well as many other highly competent and successful children not quite so famous, is a driving need to be going, doing, learning, striving, (and to be) involved in activities, or concerned about ideas.”

Parents must contribute to this by providing positive opportunities for their child by exposing him to sound enrichment programs that encourage excellence.

For years, educators maintained a united front on how to teach reading until it became public that the popular method was leading to a high rate of illiteracy among school children. Some noteworthy thinkers came to the rescue with a solution. Among them was Dr. Montessori. She did it by removing the sting from learning to read with her well-structured program which taught reading painlessly step-by-step using didactic materials sensibly arranged.

One writer, Rudolf Flesch (Why Johnny Can’t Read and what you can do about it.) was a rage when he reintroduced the phonic method to replace the failing look-say-guess method (common in many public schools). This shift to phonics was an immediate hit among enlightened parents because it made complete sense to them. Teaching children a few basic sounds proved to be wiser than having them memorize all the words in language (look-say-guess method).

“Start a child with letters and sounds, make him understand the basic principle underlying all alphabetic writing and reading, and soon he will be on his way to discovering that reading can be fun. Student achievement in all subjects will be on the average one grade higher than the national norm. ... You will have no cases of ‘non-readers’. You will produce students with a habit of wide reading.”

Anyone who desires an introduction to phonics should acquaint themselves with the writings of Dr. Maria Montessori and Dr. Rudolf Flesch on the subject.

Why is reading (and writing) so important?

Because it exposes students to great ideas, as capsulated in books by some of the world’s finest thinkers. Reading these books accelerates learning, and it introduces readers to a wealth of knowledge (hopefully uncensored) and hastens their ability to think rationally. Also as important, reading demonstrates how to express oneself clearly.

Once a student masters the essential three Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic – he is ready for the next step of learning. This is the developmental stage in which cognitive skills are sharpened and given full attention with high-quality studies.
Once a student masters the essential three Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic – he is ready for the next step of learning. This is the developmental stage in which cognitive skills are sharpened and given full attention with high-quality studies.

I agree with the late Admiral H.G. Rickover who is best identified as “The Father of the Nuclear Navy.” He believed in a vigorous classic liberal arts education, based on Western thought and values. According to the Admiral, the high schools should become like the best prep schools in the country. To be successful, the teachers responsible for teaching there must be required to have in-depth knowledge of their disciplines and the great thinkers in their field (such as Aristotle, Victor Hugo, Thomas Jefferson, and others of that caliber).

In short, the best of the best ideas must be taught. This background, the Admiral believed, will provide a foundation for what should follow – a highly refined education at universities in science, technology, etc. superimposed over the vigorous liberal arts program taught in high schools. Students so trained will bring to their specialized university training an insight and a mental dexterity that will assist them in wrestling with new ideas, governed hopefully by humanistic values.

Paradigmic schools and educators

For a brief time, an exceptional school worth noting existed in White Plains, New York. It was called the Renaissance School. The master planners for that school had the right idea. In my novel, The Fire Within, I introduced what I thought once was a relatively “new” idea of teaching.

Each lesson that the teacher taught was linked logically to other lessons so that all lessons flowed together as one. It didn’t matter which lesson was selected. All of them (whether on animals or plants or any other subject) connected like parts to a puzzle to complete an overview of science.

Since the teacher liked the workability of his teaching plan, he thought of ways of expanding it to include other high school subjects as well. He hoped by interesting teachers to integrate their subjects with his, as he integrated his individual lessons to other science lessons that together they would present students with a cohesive and honest picture of man and his world.

At the time of writing that section I didn’t know of any school that approached learning in that way. At the American Renaissance School, I discovered differently. According to their publication, “The Intellectual Internship,” the academic curriculum was designed as a single whole with a focus on primary subjects (like history, literature, science, English, and math). Each subject was taught in an orderly and logical manner with attention to principles that strengthened the value of the content. At the base of the curricula was a course in philosophy, which gave purpose to everything taught. Its purpose was to introduce students to a fundamental understanding of how great men and women think and work.

With an educational approach like that in which everything is neatly and honestly presented, it is difficult to fail. There is no room for false teaching (with biased, diluted and deliberately enflaming ideas).

Like many important achievers, Admiral Rickover was an aggressive proponent of sound teaching practices. To create the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, he had to teach his engineers to step out of their comfort zone and stretch their minds to their limits. His goal as commanding officer was to sharpen their concentration and their understanding of the guiding principles in engineering and apply this understanding to building the first nuclear submarine for the Navy.

One business school where I briefly worked had the right idea. It accelerated teaching faster than the students could comfortably tolerate. The program was individualized and paced to push the students to their limits. To keep up with the pace, it required them to focus totally on the task at hand. Although none of the students successfully caught up with their lessons, they all reached a skill level faster and more advanced than they would have achieved at their own speed.

Where to send your child

I am certain there are still some fine schools and educators in America, locating them, though, may be difficult in today’s environment. But if you know exactly what you are looking for, it will make them easier to find.

I recommend, before engaging a school, parents and students should visit the school and acquaint themselves with the school’s philosophy of education. If it makes sense, you should consider it. If it doesn’t and it is loaded with hocus-pocus, don’t allow your child near that institution.

And if you don't find one, look for parents willing to begin a fight to create one and vote for law makers who feel the same way.

Two articles written in the 90s that identify how I think two important subjects should be taught. It will give you an idea of how to evaluate a teacher. (“Teaching World Literature” and “History as a link”) They can be found on my www.bfat.com website. If you want to know what I think of the modern teacher, read my satirical novel, Teacher of the Year. It is a spoof that will spotlight the madness in modern-day education. I didn’t hold back. As my critics have said in many different ways, the novel is hilarious.

One of a U.S. Presidents’ most stunning “mistakes” (dismissing, of course, any of those Joe Biden makes regularly) was made by “human rights” Jimmy Carter when he gave America the Department of Education. It is this department, with all its add-ons since its inception, that has created the nightmare that today exists in education.

Isabel Patterson, The God of the Machine, summed up the matter succinctly. “There can be no greater stretch of arbitrary power than is required to seize children from their parents, teach them whatever the authorities decree they shall be taught, and expropriate from the parents the funds to pay for the procedure.”

In conclusion, I want to leave you with one important thought. Cling to it. It sums up human motivation exactly. Aristotle identified it in Metaphysics:

“All men by nature have a desire to know.” My belief is that crushing this desire, instead of developing it, is the most evil act conceived by man against man.

Joe Davidis the author of many articles and six books, two on education, The Fire Within and Teacher of the Year. For more information about him and his writings, visit: www.bfat.com