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The Messianic Character of American Education

R.J. Rushdoony

Rushdoony’s study tells us an important part of American history: exactly what has public education been trying to accomplish? Before the 1830s and Horace Mann, no schools in the U.S. were state supported or state controlled. They were local, parent-teacher enterprises, supported without taxes, and taking care of all children. They were remarkably high in standard and were Christian. From Mann to the present, the state has used education to socialize the child. The school’s basic purpose, according to its own philosophers, is not education in the traditional sense of the 3 R’s. Instead, it is to promote “democracy” and “equality,” not in their legal or civic sense, but in terms of the engineering of a socialized citizenry. Public education became the means of creating a social order of the educators design. Such men saw themselves and the school in messianic terms. This book was instrumental in launching the Christian school and homeschool movements.



Introduction: By Ivan R. Bierly

1. Liberal Education

2. The “Divine Rights” of Education

3. Horace Mann and the Messianic Character of American Education

4. James G. Carter: An Engine to Sway the People

5. Edward A. Sheldon: Oswego and the Secular School

6. Henry Barnard: The Wheeling of the Spheres

7. William Torrey Harris: The State and the True Self of Man

8. John Swett: The Self-Preservation of the State

9. Charles De Garmo: Morality as Social Adjustment

10. Col. Francis Wayland Parker: The Divine Child in the Divine State

11. William James: Education and Conditioning

12. Nicholas Murray Butler: Education for the State

13. G. Stanley Hall: The Child-Centered Society

14. Herman Harrell Horne: Man and the Universe

15. John Dewey’s New Jerusalem: “The Great Community”

16. J. B. Watson: Science and Utopia

17. Carleton Washburne: Education to Save Democracy

18. Edward Lee Thorndike: Education as a Science

19. Boyd H. Bode: “Is Progressivism a New Absolutism?”

20. Willam Heard Kilpatrick: The Repeal of the Past

21. Harold O. Rugg: Democracy as a Messianic Religion

22. George S. Counts: Who Shall Control Education?

23. Theodore Brameld: Democracy and Consensus

24. The Kindergarten: Model for a New Eden

25. Is the University Beyond the Laws?

26.The Freedom of Higher Education

27. “Education as a Religion”

28. the Lowest Common Denominator