Progressive education was developed for the express purpose of eliminating the influence of the Christian church on children, according to Rev. Dr. Thomas Korcok’s presentation at the Lutheran Laymen’s League (LLL) Rally in Grimsby, Ontario today. In other words, the public education system we have today is based on an overtly anti-Christian agenda.
In support of this thesis, Korcok named three historical figures who were influential in shaping the education system we have today. The first was Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827), a Swiss educational reformer. Like many German intellectuals at the time, he rejected objective truth and the revealed God of the Scriptures. The educational reforms he proposed sought to remove the Christian God from the classroom. In Lutheran Education: From Wittenberg to the Future, Korcok writes:
The German educational reformers not only rejected the historic Lutheran position on the nature of God, but believed that such dogmatic definitions were inappropriate in an educational setting: it was more important to allow a child to arrive at his or her own understanding of the nature of God through self-discovery. Pestalozzi asserted, “God is of men, for men, and by men. Man knows God only as he knows mankind, that is to say himself.” [Emphasis mine]
The second influential figure in education was Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852), who is credited with the invention of Kindergarten. He believed that a divine essence quite independent from the Scriptures could reveal truth and wisdom to the individual. Education, according to Fröbel, “must make him [the student] consciously accept and freely realize the divine power which activates him. It should lead him to perceive and know the divine as it is manifested in his natural surroundings.” Therefore, he considered the early teaching of Christian doctrines by parents to be harmful to a child’s development. While today Fröbel’s contribution to pedagogy is often described in terms of his introduction of toys and play to the child’s experience, his Kindergarten was in fact intended to remove children from their parents’ influence earlier so that they would not develop an “unhealthy” Biblical understanding about God.
The third influential figure in modern education (esp. in North America), according to Korcok, was John Dewey (1859-1952). He founded the public education system to be a separate entity from the church-led school system which had predominated until that time. The public education system would be the new vehicle for the ideas espoused by Pestalozzi, Fröbel, and others. Like other Rationalists, Dewey viewed religion as myth. To advance their views, these men and others put forward the educational model known today as progressive education. Progressive education has the following features, according to Korcok:
- A child is inherently wise and disciplined
- Truth is subjective
- Morality is up to each individual to decide
- Academic content is minimized
- Curricular outcomes are focused on self-awareness and classroom community
- Authority of the self
It is instantly apparent that this foundation is completely opposed to historical Christian and Lutheran thought. This is by design. Through progressive education, young minds are formed from an early age to resist and oppose any notion of truth. As any pastor can confirm, already by the time they reach confirmation age, children are embracing a skeptical, yet grossly uninformed, worldview. With this type of preparation at school, it is little wonder that young people are falling away from the church in droves.
Korcok maintains that we need to “unlock the Christian mind.” He said that the Lutheran church has a unique perspective that gives us an opportunity to respond, for two reasons:
- Lutherans possess a confessional clarity rarely seen today
- Lutherans have a rich educational heritage ready to be rediscovered
Korcok named three pillars of Lutheran education:
- Baptism: Children are nobility by virtue of their Baptism; therefore they should receive the best possible education as befitting royalty
- Vocation: Children should be prepared through their education to be the wise leaders of tomorrow
- Catechesis: Children should be formed in the Christian faith
Finally, Korcok concluded by stating that the best time to embrace Lutheran education is now. He said that modernity, with its progressive, optimistic views, is dying, because it is becoming apparent that it does not reflect reality. Also, the progressive ways of educating are being questioned by more and more people (as we have also noted; for example, see this previous post).
Here at St. Augustine’s, we are taking on the challenge and responding, and we welcome others to join us!