U.S. Schools Have Abandoned Knowledge for Emotionalism

by | Jan 8, 2000

Bernstein blames John Dewey and his philosophy of Progressive Education for the decline in educational standards.

“Vampires: The Undead,” “The Biology of ER,” juggling, witchcraft, UFOs — all are courses taught in our increasingly anti-intellectual university system. However, the roots of anti-intellectualism are found not in the ivy halls but in kindergarten, said a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute..

“For a change in education to occur, the process must begin at the elementary level,” said Andrew Bernstein. “We are a country whose high school graduates often cannot read or write or make change. If freshmen lack even such basic mental skills, then it is inevitable that the colleges will lower their standards and offer trashy, mindless courses. The sad fact is that too many college students are incapable of intellectually demanding work.”

Bernstein said that the fundamental problem is that grade schools are de-emphasizing “subject-centered” learning, concentrating instead on the student’s emotional capacity and social activities. Grades are frequently dismissed or trivialized and the classroom is “leveled” by placing the slowest and brightest students together — holding back the gifted and burdening teachers with a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

Bernstein blames John Dewey and his philosophy of Progressive Education for the decline in educational standards. Dewey believed that schools function not to teach students knowledge but to “socialize” the child, to maintain, as one Progressive school puts it, “a balance between spontaneous behavior and conformity to society’s standards.”

“Since many educators believe that their goal is not to teach the young how to think, they see no need to teach intellectually rigorous subjects,” said Bernstein. “Rather, their goal is to guide students toward some happy medium between.

Copyright Ayn Rand Institute. All rights reserved. That the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) has granted permission to Capitalism Magazine to republish this article, does not mean ARI necessarily endorses or agrees with the other content on this website.

The author is a contributing writer to Capitalism Magazine.

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