Patriotic Education

I don’t think anybody on this blog needs a reminder because I have talked about this for years but the only reason why comprehensive free state-provided secondary education came into existence was to make the nation-state possible.

“School” as we know it was invented to ensure that all citizens spoke the same language and shared the same understanding of national identity. “Patriotic education” is not a new idea. It’s the only idea that gave us free schooling for everybody and the near-100% literacy that results from it. You can like it or dislike it but this is a fact of objective reality that isn’t in dispute.

Acting like this is something shockingly new is extremely ignorant. The idea is 200 years old and has been successfully implemented everywhere.

The choice isn’t between offering “patriotic education” or not. The choice is whether there’s going to be comprehensive free schooling or not. For years, people scoffed when I said we were on the verge of losing comprehensive free schooling as the nation-state model of governance breaks apart. We are now seeing exactly what I predicted.

“Everybody is an individual and should make up their own mind” – the standard neoliberal blabber – leads, among many other serious consequences, to you paying for private schooling for your kids or quitting your job to homeschool. No matter how we feel about these options as individuals, this is a gigantic change on the level of society. This leads directly to an explosion of illiteracy.

You might be a parent who can pay for private schooling, teach yourself, organize “schooling pods,” whatever. But your children will live in the society filled with people whose parents couldn’t do that and had no capacity to socialize their children in the most basic ways.

The collapse of the free comprehensive state-provided schooling is an absolute disaster for all of us as a society even if as individuals we don’t use it if don’t care about it.

23 thoughts on “Patriotic Education”

  1. Reply to Patriotic Education

    This post contradicts what you posted yesterday. Secretary DeVos Is trying desperately to get rid of public education and divert all resources to private, mostly religious, schools, it violation of the clause in the First Amendment regarding religion.


    1. Betsy DeVos is trying to get Princeton’s president to stop acting like a fool and declaring his school a racist institution. She has done everything possible to try to get public schools to teach this year. Most have refused. This sent many people to private and religious schools. This is hardly her fault.

      I will probably be forced to send my child to a private school next year. I don’t want to but the public schools in my region are refusing to open. What am I supposed to do?

      This is not a rhetorical question. I’m very worried about this. I work and I don’t want to quit my job. What should I do? I’ll have to choose private schooling if public schools don’t reopen.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. My dear friend. With all due respect, this from March. Things have happened since then that have really destroyed public education. It might make more sense to notice them instead of discussing whatever anybody assumed about DeVos before the lockdowns. Since the lockdowns, DeVos has been fighting like nobody else in the country to get kids back in school. These are easily verifiable facts.


  2. I was just reading Ludwig von Mises’ Liberalism, which he wrote in the 1920s. He argues that public education will lead to conflict. First, you have to consider what language you are going to teach in. That means that the majority nationality is going to be able to force their culture on minorities. This incentives minorities to resist. Mises was a product of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Do you believe that Czarist Russia had the right to systematically attempt to destroy Ukrainian culture in the name of national unity? The main tool involved control over schools. From Applebaum’s Red Famine, I get the sense that the Soviet attitude toward Ukrainian culture was more complicated and that at times they were willing to co-opt Ukrainian nationalism.


    1. // He argues that public education will lead to conflict. First, you have to consider what language you are going to teach in. That means that the majority nationality is going to be able to force their culture on minorities.

      It’s not only language – it’s also ideology. That’s why we have 4 public education systems in Israel: one for Arabs (in Arabic) and 3 for Jews (for Haredi, National-Religious and secular Jews).

      Of course, it presents a huge problem with the rising number of Arab and Haredi first graders.

      Btw, it’s still not a Jewish New Year in America since you can leave comments? In Israel, the holiday has already begun.

      From wiki re schooling in Israel (notice that private schools almost don’t exist):


      ” Israeli schools are divided into four different tracks: state-secular , state-religious , independent religious ( Haredi or Ḥinuch Atzmai = Independent Education System), and Arab. There are also private schools which reflect the philosophies of specific groups of parents (Democratic Schools), or that are based on the curriculum of a foreign country (e.g., The American International School in Israel). The majority of Israeli children attend state schools. State-religious schools, catering to youngsters from the Orthodox sector (mainly Religious Zionist/Modern Orthodox), offer intensive Jewish studies programs, and emphasize tradition and observance. The Chinuch Atzmai schools focus almost entirely on Torah study and offer very little in terms of secular subjects. Schools in the Arab sector teach in Arabic, and offer a curriculum that emphasizes Arab history, religion, and culture.

      The proportions of pupils attending schools in the Haredi and Arab sectors are increasing; according to a demographic study published in 2009, Haredim and Arabs together will amount to 60% of Israel’s elementary school population by 2030. Haredim and Arab citizens are underrepresented in both the Israel Defense Forces and the workforce, since both groups are exempt from the otherwise compulsory military service, and in many Haredi sects men choose to focus only on religious studies throughout their life and rely financially on support from co-religionists, the State, etc. “


    2. i would consider this mitigated to a considerable degree prior to extensive Federal intervention (“aid”) in elementary education.
      The school systems were funded locally and held to individual State standards, allowing and even fostering, a more diverse education experience across the Nation.
      In the years i went to school, State history was a subject all its own.
      Today, the Fed can push a singular curriculum across all State boundaries through the strings attached to that Federal aid

      Clarissa makes the point that’s been bugging me as well, though i do not have school age children.
      Those who seek to have their children educated will find a means to do so. But this nation led the world in innovation and productivity specifically because the education systems at least taught a common language and fundamental communication skills (language, math, science).


      1. The numbers of children who aren’t showing up for “online classes” in secondary education schools are gigantic. Among the already at-risk groups, there’s been a collapse of attendance. Anybody who has had any contact with schools in places like Chicago Southside or East St Louis already knows how incredibly hard it is to keep these kids in school. Once there’s no actual school and it’s all online, these kids disappear from the schooling and there’s no way to recover them. It’s an absolute disaster what’s going on. And nobody is talking about it.


        1. A friend is getting ready to send his kids back to school in TX. There will be no in-person teaching. Masks all day. Plexiglas barriers. And they’ll all be doing distance learning on their laptops. Because he has more than one kid, he had to go shopping for a laptop (school isn’t providing them, and it had never occurred to him before that his eight-year-old might need one). Four big-box stores… Walmart, Target, BestBuy, etc…. and in all that, could only find one laptop. Used. The shelves are stripped. He’s deeply conflicted about sending them into such an environment, but he’s a single parent and must get back to work. Since the lockdown started, the kids have been doing online school from home, which has been an unmitigated disaster. While he was still working, that left the younger one in the care of the teenager, and both of them in front of a screen all day. Not much better now that he’s at home with them.


          1. Exactly. What you describe has absolutely nothing to do with education or schooling.

            I call it child abuse by the local school system. Parents don’t have a choice and I’m heartsick for them.

            I’m very fortunate in that I’ll just pay for a Montessori School if public schools continue this farce. $15,000 a year is something I can afford. But the absolute majority of people can’t.

            Blaming this horror on Betsy DeVos, I honestly don’t know what news people are following to think it’s something she encouraged.


          2. // A friend is getting ready to send his kids back to school in TX. There will be no in-person teaching. Masks all day. Plexiglas barriers. And they’ll all be doing distance learning on their laptops.

            I am shocked to hear this option of ‘in school building yet remote’ exists at all.

            In Israel it’s either children physically arriving to school and learning with a teacher OR staying at home near a laptop.

            The entire idea of remote learning is to prevent transmission among kids who, among other things, take public transportation and can receive / transmit the virus there.

            The option you describe means ‘virus transmission as usual PLUS no learning’.

            It makes zero sense without any connection to what one thinks about the virus.


            1. Yeah. It’s apparently because the teachers don’t want to go back to school. But it’s OK for the paraprofessionals to go back? I’m with Clarissa on this one: in a few months or a year, when the school system fires 90% of its teachers because they’re not needed anymore, they won’t know what hit them.

              I’m trying to convince the guy to move to FL. We still have the mask ridiculousness in schools, and it seems like a fifth of the students are home quarantined at any given time, but at least we have teachers in the classrooms and I see kids out on the playground whenever I drive by the nearest school.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. “I’m trying to convince the guy to move to FL”

                What did he ever do to you???????

                I think maybe Florida is a nice place to move to (if you have the resources) but it’s a terrible place to be from if your family didn’t have the resources. It’s extremely dysfunctional without a financial cushion (and sometimes with).


            2. I think it’s become abundantly clear that it’s not about the virus at all. Every time, the method chosen is one that disrupts people’s lives and glues kids to screens the most.


    3. In 1920? The guy was a little slow on the uptake, given that it had all been done in Europe 80 years before.

      The USSR hated Ukrainian nationalism and never allowed any form of it to persist. I don’t read Applebaum because she’s a fool so I have no idea what she wrote.


      1. Mises was commenting on what he saw in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that government schooling in the 19th century, with its fights over language, proved unhelpful. According to Applebaum, there is this brief window in the 1920s where the Soviets made a show of being supportive of Ukrainian culture before turning against it. I am in no position to evaluate the validity of this claim. Reading Applebaum, in general, has been helpful for me in that it has gotten me to take subject peoples within the Soviet sphere seriously as having agency as opposed to simply being hapless victims.


  3. Regarding patriotism, may be some readers will be interested in this (previously unknown to me) story about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the author of ‘The Gulag Archipelago.’ (He “and his family lived as “stateless persons” after the stripping of Solzhenitsyn’s Soviet citizenship and his forcible exile to the West in February 1974.”)

    // The Meaning Of An Oath
    The famed Russian dissident reflects on why he could not become an American citizen, in an excerpt never before published in English.


  4. “your children will live in the society filled with people whose parents couldn’t do that and had no capacity to socialize their children in the most basic ways”

    Why do you think so many… levels of media have been devoted to convincing people to not criticize lumpenized inner city behavior… cause there’s lots more coming.


  5. You can teach national history and heritage WHILE also teaching actual history, historiography, etc. It doesn’t have to be a propagandistic fairy tale. (But you need good teacher education then)


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