The Gospel According to John Dewey (Part I)

The Gospel According to John Dewey Part IBy David A. Noebel
"In building naturalistic alternatives to religion, we need to focus on exemplary models in history:  [secular] humanist heroes and heroines…among these are [John] Dewey and [Bertrand] Russell."  Paul Kurtz, Free Inquiry, August/September 2006.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
1.     "American education has deteriorated since the beginning of the twentieth century, a decline especially pronounced since the 1950s…In April 1983, the Department of Education issued A Nation at Risk, the report that made explicit what many already knew anecdotally or intuitively:  American public education had degenerated badly; the current system fares poorly when compared to the American past and when compared to the educational system of other industrialized nations."  Henry T. Edmondson <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />III, John Dewey and the Decline of American Education:  How the patron saint of schools has corrupted teaching and learning (Wilmington, DE:  ISI Books, 2006), xi.
2.     "The beginning of such an inquiry must be recognition of the extent of Dewey's influence today.  Indeed, in this period of crisis in American schools, a sound understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of American education is impossible without a firm grasp of John Dewey's contribution.  Although the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and others of the founding generation still enjoy moderate influence here and there in American schools and universities, the prestige of Dewey's thought has long superseded that of the founders.  He [Dewey] remains 'a towering figure.'" Ibid. 2.
3.     "There have appeared a few volumes tying Dewey to American educational decline.  For example, educational theorist Kieran Egan's Getting It Wrong from the Beginning explores the contemporary dominance of progressive [socialistic] education and its deteriorating effect on U.S. schools.  In Left Back:  A Century of Battles over School Reform, respected educational historian Dianne Ravitch notes John Dewey's influence in generating at least two of the misconceptions that now cripple American education:  the use of schools to solve social and political problems and the depreciation of academics in favor or assorted 'activities.'  In Class Warfare:  Besieged Schools, Bewildered Parents, Betrayed Kids, and the Attack on Excellence, political scientist J. Martin Rochester points to Dewey as the source of most contemporary abuses in education policy; and Charles J. Sykes's Dumbing Down Our Kids is an expose of the problems of contemporary education and their source in the progressive [socialistic] education movement." Ibid. 4.
4.     "As a political and social philosopher, Dewey is famous for his advocacy of contemporary liberalism, if not socialism. [Dewey was president of the League for Industrial Democracy-the American counterpart to the British Fabian Society-a socialist organization.], Ibid. 5.
5.     "Shunning wide publicity but steadily boring within the nation's educational system and means of communication, the L.I.D. has been the American equivalent of the British Fabian Society.  Like the British Fabian Society socialist clique, the L.I.D. has operated on the basis of infiltrating key control centers in the United States, including both major political parties.  It formerly had a twin association organization called The Rand School for Social Science.  The Rand School educated the new recruits in socialism and the League for Industrial Democracy then gave them operational assignments throughout our whole social structure." Zygmund Dobbs, ed., The Great Deceit:  Social Pseudo-Sciences (West Sayville, New York, 1964), 24.
6.     "[John] Dewey argued for greater government involvement in society at large because our enjoyment of equality depends upon such intervention.  In Human Nature and Conduct (1922), he contends that freedom is meaningless if government does not actively intervene in the private sector to enable its citizens to enjoy that freedom.  Freedom 'from oppressive legal and political measures' is not sufficient for the enjoyment of liberty, writes Dewey.  What men need is a social 'environment' that will help them obtain their 'wants' as well as their needs (HNC, 305-6)."  Edmondson III, 5.
7.     "Education was Dewey's passion, the field in which his political aspirations [socialism], moral philosophy [atheistic relativist], and psychological innovations [soul-less] found their purpose." Ibid. 5.
8.     "Dewey is often described as a philosophical pragmatist…He acknowledges in the closing pages of Democracy and Education that 'the theory of the method of knowing which is advanced in these pages may be termed pragmatic' (DE, 344).  Dewey argues that education-even more than politics-should promote the practical over the abstract.  To pursue change through politics can be frustratingly slow; using education to change the world is far more efficient.  The ultimate result of such change is political and social transformation." Ibid. 6.
9.     "The more one reads Dewey, the more one is forced to conclude that his self-styled pragmatism is not so much a 'practical' choice as it is a convenient cover for his politics [socialism]." Ibid. 6.
10.  "Dewey's thought is characterized by hostility, not only to traditional religion, but to all abstract or metaphysical ideas, even though his own writing is at times irremediably abstract.  He argues, for example, that belief in objective truth and authoritative notions of good and evil are harmful to students." Ibid. 7.
Prepared by David A. Noebel, Summit Ministries, Manitou Springs, Colorado.  Sources:  Henry T. Edmondson, John Dewey & The Decline Of American Education; Zygmund Dobbs, ed., The Great Deceit and Paul Johnson, Intellectuals.  All highly recommended reading for Christian high school and college students.

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