Saffron Splain




             All humans have been educated in one form or another to take up the mantle of being a contributing member of the culture in which they live. However, the forms and institutions in which education has occurred have varied widely. This thesis examines models of education throughout western culture, from ancient Hebrew, Classical, Renaissance, American colonial and into the Modern American model of schooling. By reviewing the history, models, and results of these models, it is evident that our current system of schooling in the United States was never designed for the complete education of the individual. It was designed in fearful reaction to mass immigration, for the processing of the individual by separating him or her from the institute of the family, and by molding him or her in an institutional environment. The goal was to socialize individuals into an infantilized class of Americans useful for factory labor. The institute was designed to fail the individual.

            Three reasons in this thesis support the premise that the modern American industrialized school system was designed to formulate a working-class rather than educate the individual. The first reason is the emergence of adolescence as a novel stage of human development which correlates with the emergence of the modern school system and the delay in achieving adulthood in contemporary youth. The second reason is that students who proceed through the modern school system are not equipped, practically or emotionally, to be contributing members of their families or society. The third reason is that the modern school system’s focus on student skills over content-rich learning results in graduates who lack both skills of learning and knowledge.

             Supporters of the modern American school system say that poor results are from a myriad of reasons other than the flawed model of schooling. They say that the model is necessary

because it is student-centric with a goal of all learning being meaningful to the individual. Yet, they fail to observe the disconnect between that ideal and the school system in practice. They say that poor and underprivileged children would have no way to advance socially or economically without it. They deny that the system was never designed to provide upward mobility. They say that skills-based education is necessary but fail to see that rich content is required to form skills.

              The Modern school system fails the individual. Any discussion of real education must consider other options. The ideal of personal liberty and trust in the free marketplace of ideas and education models has been proven effective throughout history. Education that is effective for the individual is necessary not only for our children but also for our country's survival.

Thesis File