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  • Writer's pictureMariana Trujillo

The Origins of Public Education

All around the globe, education systems disseminate obedience and conformity for their own gain. The idea of ​​the state manipulating the minds of its future voters from birth, or the idea of ​​the state controlling education, has been around for ages. It started with the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther. In 1524, Luther wrote a letter to his rulers demanding a public education system that, according to him, had the duty to be coercive. The system in place at the time was just fine–Decentralized and adapted to the needs of each child. It wasn’t perfect, but it was slowly getting better. Why change? Protestants aimed to inculcate their religious views in the population. Luther wanted to weaken, and even exterminate, any other religion. The most effective way to carry out his plan was to ally with the state. State power was used without mercy on those who refused to be part of the system and those who are easily manipulated, children, were coercively imposed mass indoctrination. But why did the state ally with the Protestants, thus giving up a fundamental freedom of its people? Conveniently, Luther preached that state authority should never be questioned. As he said in 1530: "It was the duty of a Christian to suffer unjustly, and no violation of an oath or of law could deprive the emperor of his right to the unconditional obedience of his subjects." In other words, the emperor's illegitimate right to obedience was superior to the legitimate rights of life and property of Christians. And that is how the education system was born. Its sole purpose was to indoctrinate from a young age and keep the population under control. Much more than just depriving children of a true education, this system teaches to citizens dogmatic ideas as irrefutable. It is from there that the state authority becomes undeniable. The nature of this system disincentivized the questioning of the status quo. As time went on, this system was implemented on a large scale in Prussia, the pioneer, and in several countries in the 17th and 18th centuries. In fact, the education system as we know it today was born in Prussia. Its effectiveness in keeping the population under control and using it as a maneuver mass was so great that it even inspired freest nations of the time, the United States, to create their own system. Individuality was dying. Slowly but surely. After a while, students were all becoming equal. The unit was pulled out coercively from future citizens without their realizing it. The Bed of Procrustes, a Greek myth, highlights this conformity well. Procrustes was a bandit who lived in the mountains of Eleusis. In his house, he had an iron bed, which was just the right size, to which he invited all travelers to lie down. If the guests were too tall, he amputated the excess length to fit them to the bed, and those who were small were stretched until they were long enough. Nothing is clearer than that. As said by Murray in his book Education: Free And Obligatory: “Since each person is a unique individual, it is clear that the best type of formal instruction is one that is suitable for their own individuality. " This is the most urgent thing to do. In addition to the immorality of forcing all children into the same mold, such a system prevents the complete development of society. As George Harris puts it: “Each step of progress means adding a human factor that is, in some way, different from all other factors. The progress of civilization, then [...] must be an increasing diversification of the individuals that make up society” We need human and intellectual progress through the voluntary cooperation of individuals who seek their own interests– not “standardized” masses. We will only be able to achieve progress when we release our children to be creative in the area and as they want. Our education system was created to impose conformity and suppress individuality. The current education system in America is one of the freest in the world, however, it still has a long way to go. A complete reform is necessary. We need a system that will educate kids to become individuals instead of blind sheeps.

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