The Miseducation of America
A New Documentary from FOX News Features Classical Christian Education
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Summary & Testimonials
The Miseducation of America follows the spread of progressive education as it slowly removed Christianity from schools over the past 100 years. Why? Because Christianity perpetuated the Western Christian Paideia. The early Progressives saw this paideia as the ultimate roadblock against their socialist utopia. They needed to remove it, so they did. Through radical schemes and elaborate theories, the Progressives successfully removed our valuable pipeline to the past, and removed God, while most Americans barely noticed. So what replaced bedrock American principles and virtues? Well, socialism and marxism, of course. Today, our schools are far from the engine of freedom that classical Christian education once was. In fact, they’re dangerous. It’s time to return to education based on the timeless Western Christian Paideia.
~ Viewers of The Miseducation of America
Almost two years ago, FOX reached out to The Classical Difference to contribute to a documentary on education. Our story helped form the narrative of the series. As you might imagine, the tone is consistent with many investigative pieces—with an “expose” feel to it. The scholarship on which the documentary is based is from Lawrence Cremin, a Columbia professor who won a Pulitzer Prize for the work that inspired the story. Across the episodes, the narrative will be woven together by the host, Pete Hegseth, along with Victor Davis Hanson, Dr. Miriam Grossman, Bill Bennett, Robert George, Carol Swain, Mary Grabar, Mary Poplin, Rebecca Friedrichs, Newt Gingrich, Michael Knowles, Dennis Prager, Katherine Kersten, David Goodwin, Louis Markos, and others.
Our interest at The Classical Difference is to invite everyone to join us at the table of a movement that thousands of parents have come to love and support. We hope more journalists will take up the call to promote classical Christian education. We are thankful that FOX was willing to tell the story and broaden our audience.
Between 1905 and 1925, Progressives transformed America’s schools and abandoned an ancient concept called “Paideia,” a Greek word which has to do with education and culture. An essential form of paideia— the Western Christian Paideia (WCP)— resulted in free-thinking citizens who were resistant to political tyranny, in ancient Athens and beyond. The 7 liberal arts have been the source of the Western Christian Paideia in the West since the time of Christ, and in America since the arrival of the pilgrims.
What I discovered was a far more disturbing truth… that the hearts and minds of America’s children were being targeted over 100 years ago by the original Progressives. To achieve their ambitious plan, these radicals removed the one ingredient that has enabled us to stay free, [the Western Christian Paideia]… . Within the ancient world of education, the gospel of Jesus became the greatest teacher of them all. Inspired by the Son of God, Christian scholars and priests continuously exposed generations of students to the seven liberal arts and a Western Christain Paideia inside medieval universities across Europe.
The Cauldron of Cultural Marxism
The Progressives of the early 20th century discovered the most powerful political tool in history: control of paideia. They launched a plan to replace the WCP with a non-religious “American Paideia”. Their plan involved replacing Christian creeds with things like the Bellamy salute, a precursor to the Pledge of Allegiance. They tested their school-control theory with prohibition, and they replaced the liberal arts with “social studies.” But most of their effort refocused American schools on servile work rather than cultivating free-thinking citizens. This set the stage for a future progressive takeover of America.
The Western Christian Paideia is an approach to education that does not incentivize its students to acquire practical skills with the hopes of obtaining a prosperous career in their futures. Instead, it challenges children to immerse themselves within the greatest works of civilization … to ponder the deepest questions of mankind … and to strive to become virtuous citizens, aligned with a divine ideal.
Captive Classrooms, Captive Minds
From its prototype in Gary, Indiana to the transformation of school into work preparation, Progressives seized control of the American Paideia and America’s schools. Their goal was to transform America to utopian ends by becoming a servile people rather than a liberated, free-thinking people with virtue. Between 1925 and 1960, Progressives ended the tradition of classical Christian education, and the courts put the last nail in the coffin with decisions that finally removed all vestiges of Christianity in school. The stage was set for a new Progressive ideology.
When one compares these [older progressive] ideologies to philosophies of the modern progressive educators, it is clear that leftists have always been obsessed with reducing standards in the name of equity, and having children wrestle with their identities over their eternal purpose.
In nearly all of these progressive institutions, pedagogy — the scientific method and practice of teaching — replaced the wisdom of the Greeks and subsequent civilizations, as well as Christian principles, with the gospel of the radical left… thus removing our children’s access to the Western Christian Paideia.
Beginning in the mid 1960’s, the fringe movements centered in Critical Theory and revisionist, Marxist history were mainstreamed in America’s colleges. By the 1990’s, as teachers were trained in these colleges, Marxism rose to prominence in America’s public schools. The best selling history text of all time roared into popularity— written by leftist Howard Zinn. Herbert Marcus and the Frankfurt School embedded Critical Theory with its variants on race, gender, feminism, and economics. While the colleges were absorbing the theories, their proteges, captivated by teacher unions, were in America’s classrooms forming a Cultural Marxist Paideia in the vast majority of Americans.
Now, a new ruling class wishes to preside over our liberties, and through a deliberate one-hundred-year project, we are now at the point where the philosophy of Howard Zinn and the critical race theorists have completely captured our children’s classrooms. The only question that remains is … do we have the courage to take it all back?
America’s rising youth are now indoctrinated in the Cultural Marxist Paideia. In direct and indirect ways, Progressive education undermines training in reasoning, virtue, and Christianity and replaces it with Marxist assumptions. The future of our freedom is at risk. Not just because of slow, steady indoctrination in school, but because they successfully removed the Western Christian Paideia by removing classical Christian education. But there is hope. Over 30 years ago, a movement formed to restore the 7 Christian Liberal Arts in k-12 education, and with them a vision of virtuous, skilled, and reasonable citizens. This movement began to reconstitute the Western Christian Paideia. Whatever Americans do, the guests on the show have universal consensus on one point: Remove your kids from public schools before it’s too late. If you don’t, they will be returned to you as strangers.
How we teach our children is vital, but if we truly wish to reintroduce the Western Christian Paideia as the foundation of our culture, we need to become the counter-revolutionaries.
Pete Hegseth and David Goodwin talk about filmingThe Miseducation of America. Hear what they learned, what surprised them, and what changed them.
Q — David Goodwin: “How do you think the American experiment depends on classical education at this point?”
A — Pete Hegseth: “I think it was built on it. It was founded on it. It was the combination of Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem that formed Western Civilization. … I think we’ve always understood our lineage to be that. The great books come from that tradition. You walk into a public school classroom in America today and there’s almost none of that, none of the baseline that our founders relied upon. And if you look at the original statements of not just one — not just Washington or John Adams — but a multitude of our founders, there was a recognition that without faith you can’t keep a republic. … What I love about the 5th episode in particular is talking about what parents and [other] people can actually do.”