Recommended reading: Philosophies of Education,  Philip H. Phenix (Ed.), John Wiley & Sons, NY 1961

This is a great little book (132 pages) that was assigned reading in college when I was working on my teacher’s certificate for high school physics and math.

In the context of the debate about Common Core, this book hits you between the eyes with the very first couple pages. It starts with a quote from ARISTOTLE. That’s what? 2500 years ago? Quote:

It is clear that there should be legislation about education and that it should be conducted on a public system. But consideration must be given to the question, what constitutes education and what is the proper way to be educated. At present there are differences of opinion as to the proper tasks to be set; for all people do not agree as to the things that the young ought to learn, either with a view to virtue or with a view to the best life, nor is it clear whether their studies should be regulated more with regard to intellect or with regard to character. And confusing questions arise out of the education that actually prevails, and it is not at all clear whether the pupils should practice pursuits that are practically useful, or morally edifying, or higher accomplishments — for all these views have won support of some judges; and nothing is agreed as regards the exercise conducive to virtue; for, to start with, all men do not honor te same virtue, so that they naturally hold different opinions in regard to training for virtue.

The part not mentioned in this book but is evident in The Internet Classics Archive | Politics by Aristotle is that Aristotle continued the discussion into areas that today we call the curriculum. Practically the entire treatise on “politics” is in fact on education.

The debate about the purposes and methods of education are at least that old.

The link between education and politics is at least that old.

The first chapter of this book is the “experimentalist” view of education — and it is nothing but the usual crap from John Dewey. What is striking here is that you’d think you are reading a description of … COMMON CORE.


The question from page 13, which is answered on the top of page 14, is “Has not progressive education, which is an outgrowth of experimentalism, failed to produced the capable and disciplined citizens that these exacting times require?

See, I told you these guys cannot think of anything new. It’s like that old stand-by of comedians — there are no old jokes, just jokes you haven’t heard yet. Common Core, like progressivism from which it is derived, is just an old joke. Keep the populace ignorant enough, and they’ll think it’s new.

The rest of the book gives you a discussion of
2. A classical realist view of education
3. Education for life adjustment
4. Education for intellectual discipline
5. Education for psychological maturity
6. Education for moral character
7. A Protestant view of education
8. A Roman Catholic view of education
9. A Jewish view of education
10. A conservative view of education
11. A reconstructionist view of education
12. Education for national survival
13. Education for freedom

Of course there are no 13 philosophies of education (or 14, counting Aristotle). Several of these share their goal with the experimentalists, though they might differ on emphasis. Several others are obviously religious, with goals and interests on preserving and propagating religion and religious values. The last two “philosophies” (chapters 12 and 13) are unfocused knee-jerk reactions to Sputnik and the military and ideological threat from Soviet Russia and communist China. Well, guess what? In the 50 years since this book was published, our ruling elite has fully adopted the Soviet ideology, and the military threat from China is growing daily.

The one philosophy of education that stands head and shoulders above this crowd is chapter 9, A Jewish view of education. Here is a scan of a couple of pages from this chapter, so you can see the contrast with the Common Core “philosophy.”



(Click on a picture to see it large enough to read.)

It seems to me that the preface on page 86 by the author of this chapter summarizes most eloquently the philosophy which explicitly or implicitly has guided me and most people I have met or worked with, and also best explains American exceptionalism and America’s unique success since our foundation. From all we know about our Founders, it is obvious  that America was founded not on imperialism as our critics and detractors love to claim, not on blind faith as some others love to claim, but on wisdom that is attainable only from this one specific philosophy of education. We will continue to be unique and exceptional only if we return to this philosophy of education, and shun the nonsense that has been gradually advanced for a century, and now been artfully, forcefully imposed on us by the progressives, experimentalists and the obviously statist / fascist proponents of Common Core.