The Right Opinion

The Role of 'Educators'

By Thomas Sowell · Jan. 8, 2013

Many years ago, as a young man, I read a very interesting book about the rise of the Communists to power in China. In the last chapter, the author tried to explain why and how this had happened.

Among the factors he cited were the country’s educators. That struck me as odd, and not very plausible, at the time. But the passing years have made that seem less and less odd, and more and more plausible. Today, I see our own educators playing a similar role in creating a mindset that undermines American society.

Schools were once thought of as places where a society’s knowledge and experience were passed on to the younger generation. But, about a hundred years ago, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University came up with a very different conception of education – one that has spread through American schools of education, and even influenced education in countries overseas.

John Dewey saw the role of the teacher, not as a transmitter of a society’s culture to the young, but as an agent of change – someone strategically placed, with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.

A century later, we are seeing schools across America indoctrinating students to believe in all sorts of politically correct notions. The history that is taught in too many of our schools is a history that emphasizes everything that has gone bad, or can be made to look bad, in America – and that gives little, if any, attention to the great achievements of this country.

If you think that is an exaggeration, get a copy of “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn and read it. As someone who used to read translations of official Communist newspapers in the days of the Soviet Union, I know that those papers' attempts to degrade the United States did not sink quite as low as Howard Zinn’s book.

That book has sold millions of copies, poisoning the minds of millions of students in schools and colleges against their own country. But this book is one of many things that enable teachers to think of themselves as “agents of change,” without having the slightest accountability for whether that change turns out to be for the better or for the worse – or, indeed, utterly catastrophic.

This misuse of schools to undermine one’s own society is not something confined to the United States or even to our own time. It is common in Western countries for educators, the media and the intelligentsia in general, to single out Western civilization for special condemnation for sins that have been common to the human race, in all parts of the world, for thousands of years.

Meanwhile, all sorts of fictitious virtues are attributed to non-Western societies, and their worst crimes are often passed over in silence, or at least shrugged off by saying some such thing as “Who are we to judge?”

Even in the face of mortal dangers, political correctness forbids us to use words like “terrorist” when the approved euphemism is “militant.” Milder terms such as “illegal alien” likewise cannot pass the political correctness test, so it must be replaced by another euphemism, “undocumented worker.”

Some think that we must tiptoe around in our own country, lest some foreigners living here or visiting here be offended by the sight of an American flag or a Christmas tree in some institutions.

In France between the two World Wars, the teachers' union decided that schools should replace patriotism with internationalism and pacifism. Books that told the story of the heroic defense of French soldiers against the German invaders at Verdun in 1916, despite suffering massive casualties, were replaced by books that spoke impartially about the suffering of all soldiers – both French and German – at Verdun.

Germany invaded France again in 1940, and this time the world was shocked when the French surrendered after just 6 weeks of fighting – especially since military experts expected France to win. But two decades of undermining French patriotism and morale had done their work.

American schools today are similarly undermining American society as one unworthy of defending, either domestically or internationally. If there were nuclear attacks on American cities, how long would it take for us to surrender, even if we had nuclear superiority – but were not as willing to die as our enemies were?



Howard Last in Wyoming said:

If the present day educators were around in 1775 we would have a queen instead of a king (oops dictator, oops President).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:02 AM

Old Dragoon in Dallas replied:

Just wait, Howard. We'll have a Queen in the White House shortly.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:40 PM

sfj in Alabama replied:

The one in there now is a queen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Progressives accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive. Liberals are backwards-Their noses run, and their feet smell! Speaking of French---They gave us the statue of Liberty, as a free gift in 1886 (Bartoldi). Late in 1944, American Soldiers and Sailors, LIBERATED the French, from Nazi Occupation and Oppression, thus returning LIBERTY, 58 years later!Thanks Dad-4th Armored Division under Baird, Devers, and Wood.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

Don't try and tell a liberal how great the United States has been over the years. Now the country is being blamed for all the ills of the last century and the start of this one. Our rescuing Europe from the Germans in two World Wars are being used to call us warmongers. Our honoring a treaty we signed in Southeast Asia after WWII (SEATO) by coming to the aid of South Vietnam earned the military the hatred of its own citizens. This is the type of hogwash being taught in our high schools and universities. There is no teaching our young to be proud to be an American and the good things our nation has done throughout the world.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:05 PM

India in GA said:

"Germany invaded France again in 1940, and this time the world was shocked when the French surrendered after just 6 weeks of fighting -- especially since military experts expected France to win. But two decades of undermining French patriotism and morale had done their work."

Pretty scary stuff, if you ask me. And still, we think, "Nah, that could never happen here"...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Richard J. Abbate of CT in Cheshire, CT said:

I have had the good fortune to have had some fine teachers/educators in my life. Granted much of that life experience was over forty years ago, but good fortune nonetheless!
I know of some fine teachers/educators even today, some in my own family, but the pressures they are under to 'toe the party line' are very great, so they tell me.
The pressure to conform, to "go along to get along", has always been a part of the human condition. In this day and age it is no different, but we must recognize that our nation has been under "politically correct' assault for the past fifty years. As a young student teacher in the early 1960's I was already aware of, but not knowledgeable about, this developing agenda. I knew I didn't agree with it, but didn't entirely understand it or comprehend what it was. Fortunately for me, and the potential students I might have influenced, I turned away from professional education as a career.
Perhaps, given the way my political philosophy has matured and developed, that was not such a good thing after all. RJA

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Ancient Warrior in The Great American West said:

Couldn't happen here? We (the GIs) won in Nam. We had them whipped. NVA officers now admit that. But Uncle Walter conceded Tet. And Congress pissed it away.

Now we have Obama & Co. kissing up to Islamists who will enslave us if they can.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Murricun, I am glad to see I'm not the only one who knows we won the war and the poiticians and our own citizens lost it. All anyone who cares to know the truth has to is read Gen Giap's memiors. After TET he went to the Politburo and flat stated his army had been bled dry and he could no longer sustain major battles. He was told to do what he could because the media and the public was turning against the war and all they had to do was hold on and they would get what they wanted at the peace table. In my opinion, every name on that wall in Washington after TET was put there by the politicians and the citizens of this country.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Tapdaddy in Indiana said:

As told by an Educator who finally got it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Janice Waddell in Camas said:

We only have to wait to see how the gun control laws affect the country.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Hamicarion in Portland Oregon said:

After reading comments from "liberals"(I think that it is high time we take the word back, since the word liberal is supposed to stand for freedom and the needs of the individual above government or the collective) and the general anger and hatred they express, I think it is time for another revolution to cleanse our nation of communists and socialists. We need to understand that they are full of hate, and having a conversation at this point is fruitless.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 9:09 PM

willism in Edmonds, WA said:

We have reached a crossroads in America where we will need to determine in which direction to proceed. I would urge the Governors of the several states that have shown a preference for the original meaning of the Constitution to meet to discuss splitting off and retaining the founders original ideas. Let the enlightened Progressives in the other states form a new socialist democracy with their ideas of wealth re-distribution, command and control economy, and goverment issued 'rights'. Let them travel the road to ruin.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 10:37 PM