Sunday, May 16, 2010
Enter Horace Mann
Education (part 12)
If any single person can be credited for changing America's socially, academic and ultimately political direction it would have to be Horace Mann. It was Mann who was able to overcome the considerable opposition to state-ism while others couldn't. Mann proclaimed the State must assert itself as primary parent of children. Crime and vice were certain to explode unless children could be pried away from their degraded custodians and civilized according to formulas laid down by the best minds.
It was thought that without compulsory universal schooling the idiosyncratic family would never surrender its central hold on society to allow utopia to become a reality. Family had to be discouraged from its function as a sentimental haven, and rather pressed into the service of loftier ideals—those of the perfected state. Mann's success was due to a strong sense of mission, combined with his practical political experience as a legislator and the strong financial, cultural and social backing of the Harvard Unitarian elite.
Mann hated Calvinism with a passion, which delighted most of his Unitarian supporters. As H. G. Wells would later write (1905): "The leading principle of Utopian religion is the repudiation of Original Sin." He succeeded mainly because he knew how to divide his opposition. The backbone of the opposition to educational state-ism came primarily from orthodox Calvinism; Christians who feared the long-range anti-Christian effects of public education.