Posted in Homeschooling & Education

A Slavery In The Sphere Of The Mind



Wise words from J. Gresham Machen in his Testimony before the House & Senate Committees on the Proposed Department of Education (1926):

“I think we can lay it down as a general rule…that money given for education, no matter what people say, always has a string tied to it.”

“it…represents a tendency which…seems to be opposed to the whole principle of liberty for which our country stands. It is the notion that education is an affair essentially of the State; that the children of the State must be educated for the benefit of the State; that idiosyncrasies should be avoided, and the State should devise that method of education which will best promote the welfare of the State.”

“To that idea our notion has been diametrically opposed…[ie.] that parents have a right to educate children as they please; that idiosyncrasies should not be avoided; that the State should prevent one group from tyrannizing over another, and that education is essentially not a matter of the State at all.”

“a false philosophy, a false view of what life is, is made operative in the world today in the sphere of education through great hosts of teachers who have not the slightest notion of what the ultimate meaning is of the methods that they are putting into effect all the time.”

“The aim in the making of Ford cars is to make every one just as much like every other one as possible; but the aim in education is to make human beings just as much unlike one another as possible.”

“I do not believe that the personal, free, individual character of education can be preserved when you have a Federal department laying down standards of education which become more or less mandatory to the whole country.”

“I believe that in the sphere of the mind we should have absolutely unlimited competition…it seems to me that we ought to have this state of affairs: That every State should be faced by the unlimited competition in this sphere of other States; that each one should try to provide the best for its children that it possibly can; and, above all, that all public education should be kept healthy at every moment by the absolutely free competition of private schools and church schools.

A public education that is faced by such competition is a beneficent result of modem life; but a public education that is not faced by such competition of private schools is one of the deadliest enemies to liberty that has ever been devised.”

“I am unable to admire efficiency when it is directed to an end which works harm to me; and the end of the efficiency of a Federal department of education would be the worst kind of slavery that could possibly be devised — a slavery in the sphere of the mind.”

“People are ready to admit to some extent that there is a sort of moral decline, but what is not always observed is that there is a terrible intellectual decline, and that intellectual decline comes through the development of this principle of unification and standardization to which I object; for I think that in the sphere of education uniformity always means not something uniformly high but something uniformly low.”

“I am unlike a great many of my fellow citizens — tolerance to me means not only tolerance for that with which I am agreed, but it means also tolerance for that to which I am most violently opposed.”

“But to proclaim in our public schools that morality is only the result of human experimentation — “this is the conduct which Uncle Sam has found in the course of American history to be right” — that, I think, is subversive of morality; and I do not believe that anyone can encourage moral conduct in others unless he has first in his own mind the notion of an absolute distinction and not a merely relative distinction between right and wrong.”

SENATOR FERRIS: if religion is the basic element in all morality, then can we have a morality that is not founded on a religious idea?

MACHEN: I myself do not believe that you can have such a morality permanently, and that is exactly what I am interested in trying to get other people to believe; but I am not at all interested in trying to proclaim that view of mine by any measures that involve compulsion, and I am not interested in making the public school an agency for the proclamation of such a view; but I am interested in diminishing rather than increasing the function of the public school, in order to leave room for the opportunity of a propagation of the view that I hold in free conflict with all other views which may be held, in order that in that way the truth finally may prevail.

Read the whole Testimony:


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