Chapter 1: Big Education
Public schooling is a ritual that most children endure during the most impressionable years of their lives. While the assumed goal of public education is to educate the children so that they may become the doctors, teachers, artists, and leaders of the future, some suspect a more sinister agenda is at play. Some believe that mandatory public education has become the tool for the governments of the world – and the education organizations which advise governments – to influence and manipulate the opinions of the youth.
So how accurate are these claims? Is government involvement in education a flawed attempt at achieving a worthy goal? And what role does government education play in influencing the minds of youth?
To answer these questions we have to go back to the origins of education. Plato’s The Republic is well known for popularizing the concept of mandatory education, but other resources note that Jewish leaders have been requiring parents to provide some form of education for their children since ancient Judea.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Aztec Triple Alliance made education mandatory for boys and girls beginning at age 15. There were at least 2 known types of schools for the Aztec children, a practical and military based education, and learning writing, astronomy, theology, and other ideas.
In 1496, Scotland established education for all children of privileged, elite families. With the enacting of the School Establishment Act of 1616 all children were required to attend school. However, the compulsory school model that gradually spread all over the world was largely based on the Prussian model of education, which was established in 1763.
Although Prussian King Frederick William I promoted the concept of compulsory schooling as far back as 1716, education did not become mandatory until 1763, when his son King Frederick the Great ruled that children must attend a state-sponsored school. Under the new ruling, children were required to attend school from their fifth to their 13th or 14th year, with fines imposed for not attending.
Much has been written about the Prussian model of education. For years, it has been popular to refer to the Prussian model as the Industrial or Factory model. In more recent years, some educators and historians have pushed back on the idea that the Prussian model was designed to produce obedient workers. So what’s the truth?
First, it is important to note that the Prussia education model was funded via taxation of the population. Some researchers describe early schools as “free” public goods, but the reality is that every subject of the Prussian Kingdom funded the mandatory schools through taxes.
The idea that the Prussian school system was about maintaining state control over education, and thus the people, was affirmed when King Frederick issued another ruling in 1794. This ruling declared:
– “schools and universities are state institutions charged with the instruction of the youth”
– “may be founded only with knowledge and consent of the state”
– “it is the duty of the school inspectors… to see that all children of compulsory school age are kept in school, if necessary by force and by punishment of negligent parents.”
Horace Mann, sometimes known as the father of American public schooling, was a strong lobbyist for the Prussian schooling design, while still acknowledging that the system had its critics. As he wrote in 1843:
“Numerous tracts were issued from the English press . . . strongly denouncing the whole plan of education in Prussia, as being not only designed to produce, but as actually producing, a spirit of blind acquiescence to arbitrary power, in things spiritual as well as temporal – as being in fine, a system of education adapted to enslave, and not to enfranchise, the human mind.”
As the Prussian model solidified, so did international interest in the system. Educational philosophers were intrigued and started lobbying for a similar system across Europe and in the United States. Massachusetts was the first state to institute a mandatory education policy in the U.S. in 1852. By 1918, every other state had passed similar legislation. It was during this time that seeds were planted which would later grow to become the modern centers known as public schools.
In the late 19th century, John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was one of the wealthiest and most hated men alive. He was the owner of the Standard Oil Company, a monopoly involved in everything associated with the oil industry from drilling to transportation. It allowed him to accumulate enough wealth to influence many institutions including America’s education system.
In 1902, Rockefeller Sr. founded the General Education Board with an initial donation of $1 million dollars. Rockefeller founded the Board with help from Frederick T. Gates with the stated objective to support higher education and medical schools in the United States. The General Education Board was also interested in the promotion of farming in the southern states and schools for African-Americans.
By January 1903, the U.S Congress officially incorporated the General Education Board with their mission being “the promotion of education throughout the United States, without distinction as to race, sex or creed”. The General Education Board charter was supported by a bill from Senator Nelson W. Aldrich from Rhode Island. Coincidentally, Senator Aldrich’s daughter, Abbey Aldrich, was married to John D. Rockefeller Jr. Senator Aldrich would also prove instrumental in the creation of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
The Rockefeller family would ultimately give over $180 million to fund the Board.
The Board’s founding was preceded by several early educational organizations and private meetings between John D. Rockefeller Jr. and other influential people of the time. One of the men in attendance was Daniel Coit Gilman. Gilman would become a member of the General Education Board, and was also the co-founder of the Russel Trust Association, which is the business name for the New Haven, Connecticut-based Skull and Bones secret society which operates a student secret society at Yale University. As we work through this series and explore the Pyramid of Power, you will notice that certain names and institutions make several appearances. It’s important to note how these people and organizations are interwoven. Keep that in mind as we work through this series.
After half a decade in existence, the General Education Board ceased operating under that name and was absorbed into the Rockefeller foundation.
The Rockefeller family were not the only wealthy tycoons interested in bankrolling educational ventures. In 1905, the infamous steel magnate Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Carnegie and Rockefeller were both eager to transform their images from that of rich, out-of-touch robber barons to kind, elderly gentlemen who cared about the poor. To achieve this goal they created various foundations and philanthropic organizations to spread their vast wealth and influence. The Prussian model of education promoted by the men’s organizations was the perfect tool to inculcate the masses with their message of choice, embedding within the structure of public education itself their private ideologies on the appropriate learning material and structure for the nation’s youth.
American support and critique of the system grew in the first two decades of the 20th century. In 1918, Thomas Alexander, Professor of Elementary Education at the George Peabody College for Teachers released the book, The Prussian Elementary Schools. Alexander researched the nature of the Prussian model and came to the following conclusion:
“We believe however that a careful study of the Prussian school system will convince any unbiased reader that the Prussian citizen cannot be free to do and act for himself; that the Prussian is to a large measure enslaved through the medium of his school that his learning instead of making him his own master forges the chain by which he is held in servitude; that the whole scheme of Prussian elementary education is shaped with the express purpose of making ninety-five out of every hundred citizens subservient to the ruling house and to the state.”
Even more unnerving are the words of Reverend Frederick T. Gates, the business advisor to John D. Rockefeller Sr. who helped him found the General Education Board. In his book, The Country School of To-morrow Gates explains the vision of the board he co-created:
“In our dream we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.
For the task we set before ourselves is very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are.”
The concerns about the Prussian model of education, and compulsory education in general, continue today. Charlotte Iserbyt is a freelance writer and former Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Department of Education. (on screen: In her book, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America) She alleges that changes gradually brought into the American public education system work to eliminate the influences of a child’s parents, and mold the child into an obedient follower of the state. She believes these changes originated from plans formulated primarily by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education and Rockefeller General Education Board.
(Insert Griffin: Researcher G. Edward Griffin has been investigating the school system for more than 50 years: insert quote)
Another critic of the U.S. public school system is John Taylor Gatto, former award winning New York City school teacher and author of Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, and The Underground History of American Education, Gatto was a vocal opponent to mandatory schooling following his career as a teacher until the time of his death in 2018.
Gatto’s main thesis is that the school system confuses the students. He says the modern school system presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school rather than teaching critical thinking. Gatto also claimed public schools make children emotionally and intellectually dependent.
In Underground History he says, “what I’m trying to describe [is] that what has happened to our schools was inherent in the original design for a planned economy and a planned society laid down so proudly at the end of the nineteenth century.“
Gatto also says the design of the public school system makes it clear to students that they cannot hide because they are always supervised. In the age of school drills in preparation for mass shootings, students are increasingly under supervision and inside a prison-like environment.
Unfortunately, the dangers of the public school system go beyond attempting to mold the minds of the youth. The public school institutions in America and abroad have been infiltrated by intelligence agencies desperate to recruit the brightest minds of the future. In the book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities, investigative journalist Daniel Golden details the exploitative relationship between higher education and intelligence services, both foreign and domestic. Golden examines various case studies illustrating how the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation use higher education to their advantage.
When you understand all the data we have just uncovered it becomes clear that the compulsory public education system is a great tool for influencing, manipulating, and recruiting the minds of the youth. Even if we ignore the obvious influence of the militaristic Prussian model, it is plain to see that the foundations and institutions which fund public education are aware of the opportunity to inject their agendas and values into higher learning. (insert Griffin) Not only are children sent away from their parents and family for 8 hours a day for 12 or more years of their lives, but it happens at a time in their lives when they are often the most impressionable and trusting of the adults around them.
While it is true that occasionally a student will encounter a great teacher who encourages individuality and critical thinking, the average teacher is simply parroting the curriculum which the state has approved. If the ambitious teacher dares stray from the pre-approved content they may find themselves punished or out of a job altogether.
Finally, it’s important to note that when children and young adults are subjected to the state’s version of history, health, politics, and philosophy, limitations are often subconsciously and covertly placed on their minds. The youth is taught the State’s version of history which typically paints the current powers as the “good guys” in conflict, establishes the approved version of history, healthcare, and create parameters for acceptable political and philosophical dialogue.
So what can we do about it?
The answer is to break free from this centralized, state-mandated model of education. The beauty of the digital age has broadened the opportunities for learning. Not only is the internet itself available as a resource for the intrepid and determined student, but dozens of online education websites have launched in recent years.
Rather than depending on the government for education or putting yourself in thousands of dollars of debt to obtain a piece of paper, the youth of today has abundant resources for education. There are free and paid websites for grade school education, both religious and secular, and there are free and paid websites offering college courses. There are literally thousands of online schools which offer courses in continued learning.
While it’s not always feasible or affordable for parents to take their young children out of school, there is a growing movement of parents who are homeschooling or even “unschooling” their children. These movements differ and overlap, but the point is that some parents have had enough with the mainstream education options and are removing their children altogether. These parents seek to provide an education for their children while not subjecting them to state-propaganda. Some parents are even partnering with each other to form education “pods” where parents can network and share information on alternative education.
These pods are similar to one of the solutions we will be promoting throughout this series, known as Freedom Cells. Freedom Cells are a decentralized manner of organizing in groups of 8 people to promote skills, knowledge, and resources. The concept can easily be applied to groups of parents or even students who are looking to empower themselves individually and as a group. Imagine a freedom cell or pod focused on educating their children outside of the state run education system. This independence and decentralization could help free the youth from education systems designed to limit their potential.
The minds of the youth are one of the most valuable resources available on this planet. The heads of state and philanthropists have recognized this for centuries. Protecting and compassionately guiding these minds is of utmost importance. If parents and mentors do not take an active role in contributing towards the education of the youth, it is only a matter of time before other influences joyfully take the opportunity.
“Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.”
– William Torrey Harris, educator and former U.S. Commissioner of Education, “The Philosophy of Education”, 1889.
To learn more about the Prussian model of education and the history of education, we encourage you to read the following books:
The Prussian Elementary Schools, Thomas Alexander ;
Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, and The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher’s Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, John Taylor Gatto;
The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, Charlotte Iserbyt;
Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities, Daniel Golden;
We also encourage you to watch the Tragedy and Hope interview series with John Taylor Gatto.