While it’s true that Fichte, von Humboldt, Mann and that crowd did see obedient workers (and soldiers. And bureaucrats) as one goal of compulsory state schooling, it is misleading to call such education ‘factory schooling’. The primary goal was not simply to produce willing workers, but to produce them as a corollary to producing a compliant population. Properly schooled people are easily managed, and will agree on all important political and social issues, as directed by their betters.
The bitterly amusing thing to see is how what our betters want changes over time: Luther wanted state-run schools to produce good little Lutherans; Fichte to produce good, patriotic, Germans confident in their superiority to all other races; Mann wanted good little Protestants who weren’t too uppity. Modern ‘educators’ want social justice warriors – as Freire says, the only thing that matters is that schools radicalize the students.
All these changes are relatively superficial. The constant is control. Harvard may have wanted Calvinists initially, then switched to Unitarians, then switched to Progressives and on to Communists today – but never once questioned who should be in charge. The Harvard crowd, of course!
Had a nice young couple over for dinner the other day. He was an American, she a Ukrainian who grew up in Russia. She told the story of how the Soviet Union fell when she was 14, and how, for a year, she attended a history class where nothing was taught. The old books had been thrown out, but the teachers, having been well educated themselves, were waiting for the next textbooks to appear. Failing that, they had nothing to teach.
(She also told how she got a passport that same year, and was asked by the official if she wanted a Russian or a Ukrainian passport. As she lived and was going to school in Russia at the time, she, all of 14 years old, said ‘Russian’ – and has been Russian ever since, for all travel purposes. The official was trying to do his job within a power vacuum, and, being well schooled, needed to guess what to do.)
Calling such ‘education’ factory schooling deflects attention from the reality that the schools we have now and have had for the last 200 years are 100% a progressive project. The heroes of state schooling are the heroes of the Left with few exceptions: Mann, Dewey, Woodrow Wilson, and so on.
Thus, I observe a local irony: the local subset of the alternative education crowd I hang with seem to think Bernie is their guy, not recognizing that Bernie is 100% the guy of the existing schools. Not only is he not going to support little independent schools that reject the graded classroom model, if the issue were to ever rise to the level of thought, he’d favor crushing them, under the guise of state funding of education. Pay piper, call tune.
If such were ever to come to pass, the next step would be awaiting our new history books.