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Progressive Gnostics

Richard Weaver, from his chapter Gnostics of Education in Visions of Order.

I list below some of the chief assumptions and tenets of progressive education….

1. There is no such thing as a body of knowledge which reflects the structure of reality and which everyone therefore needs to learn. Knowledge is viewed as an instrumentality which is true or false according to the way it is applied to concrete situations or the way it serves the needs of the individual. Since these educators have embraced the notion that the essence of the world is change, there is no final knowledge about anything. The truths of yesterday are the falsehoods of today and the truths of today will be the falsehoods of tomorrow.

This is the complete quotation on the first point, which I post for further consideration.

Weaver was optimistic, in the 1960’s, that progressive education was on its way out, having demonstrated its folly already. It turns out he was wrong.

Now, children say, like parrots – though less thoughtful, “that’s true for you,” or “that works for you.”

Truth itself, however, lays no claim on the modern mind. All we can do is see what works and continually experiment. That way we can have practical applications that meet our needs. We ought not be distracted from such useful things by anxiety over an unknowable truth.

I would like to ask why someone who doesn’t believe in truth would both teaching, but I know the answer all too well. It’s because they want to change the world.

Think of it.


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