4. Relationship of the Look-Say Teaching to Idolatry

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 19 2024

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  • Series: Christian Education: Christian Schools
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[Rushdoony] This evening I have with me one of our Chalcedon staff members, Samuel L. Blumenfeld, author of a number of very important books. Most recently he has published two books on education, Is Public Education Necessary?, and NEA Trojan Horse in American Education and then reprinted. During the past year and a half Sam has been talking all over the internet and states and in fact, as far as afield as Alaska where he was with Tom Lofton and last year, May or June…October, yes, but the meeting was set up in May where they had an excellent reception. Sam, it’s good to have you with us for this Easy Chair and I’d like to have you discuss the subject that when we were together in Chicago recently you dealt with. Something I feel is very important, the relationship of our education today, the ‘look-say’ method, John Dewey and the progressive education tradition, to idolatry.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes. Well first let me simply say that, John Dewey, it was John Dewey’s job to create a new curriculum for the public schools which would educate children to become little socialists instead of little individualists and believe in God. And they had to devise a way of not only changing American public education so that they could create a social society in the United States, but they also wanted to lower literacy in America, ‘dumb-down’ the American people so to speak, because in a socialist society you have a class of elites at the top that does all the thinking for everybody else. And high literacy produces individuals with sufficient intelligence so that they could stand on their own two feet and think of themselves and Dewey considered high literacy to be an obstacle to socialism. And so these men, these progressives decided that they would have to do something to lower literacy in the United States and now they had to give the American people the impression that they were educating the children while at the same time dumbing them down.

Well, they took their minds to the problem. These men were the most top psychologists, and they decided that teaching children to read English as if it were Chinese, reverting it to a hieroglyphic or an ideographic writing system and of course this fit in very well with John Dewey’s basic ideas about education. For example, he said in his My Pedagogic Creed that our belief in the image as the greatest instrument of instruction and the image is as you know associated with idolatry, with the pre-biblical writing.

When I talk with audiences I point out to them that the invention of the alphabet was very crucial to men’s spiritual development, because as soon as the alphabet was invented the Scripture began to appear. Now why did that happen? Well, because man had to wait until the alphabet was invented before the Word of God could be put on paper. God communicates with the human race through the word and not through the image. God did not give Moses a comic book. Moses wrote down the Ten Commandments in alphabetic writing.

Now the alphabet was invented about two thousand years before Christ and prior to that the forms of writing that existed, the earliest form is that of pictography, which is simple, which looks like the things they represent, as in the cavemen drawings. You didn’t have to go to school to learn how to read that sort of writing. But then as the civilization became more complex, the scribes had to invent little pictures to represent ideas and things that were very difficult to depict. So how did you draw a picture of something that cannot be depicted, for example, take a concept like the word ‘except,’ ‘accept,’ or ‘demand?’ How do you draw a picture of those things? You can’t! And so they drew little pictures of things that did not look like anything they represented and they became known as ideographs or pictographic hieroglyphics.

And as you know it took centuries before scholars were able to decipher or decode Egyptian hieroglyphics. They were only able to do that when they discovered the Rosetta Stone and then you have Egyptian hieroglyphics on one side and then Greek writing on the other and they were finally able to find out what the ideographs stood for. The important thing about ideographic writing is that these symbols stand for ideas. But the spoken word is not used to interpret the symbol. Now we use them in modern language, for example the very familiar one of the circle with the cigarette in it and the slash through it, which could be interpreted as meaning no smoking, thou shalt not smoke, ‘defense de fumer,’ ‘nicht rauchen,’ ‘no fumar,’ in other words the language is used to interpret the symbol, so the symbol is not a precise accurate means of communication.

But the alphabet, the invention of the alphabet was based on a very remarkable discovery and that is that all of human language is composed of a small number of irreducible speech sounds. And the man who made that discovery, I suppose, decided that why not replace all of these thousands and thousands of little pictures and symbols with a very small number of letters, standing for the irreducible speech sounds of the language, and then we have a means of transcribing the spoken word into the written form and then the means of translating it back into spoken form. The most important thing about alphabetic writing is that it is a precise, accurate means of transcribing the spoken word. And thus, man has, for the first time, a means of putting God’s Word on paper in a form that could be reproduced and handed down through the ages, so that you have an incredible degree of accuracy. For example, in the Bible since the very first manuscript was put down they have found very little variation as far as back as the oldest text that they can find.

Another interesting fact is that man is the only species that uses language. Now why is that? Of course, the behavioral psychologists would say that man’s language is simply verbal behavior that is a further development of animal communication. Iit is a further development of the bark, and the meow, and the chirp, and the growl. But I believe that the reason why man speaks is because God wanted to communicate with His creation. And as you know, Rush, God had conversations with Adam in the Garden of Eden. So God gave man the ability to speak because He wanted a means of communicating with him.

And of course after the Fall there was that long period in which man was swept away in sin, but then God began his reconciliation with man, first with Noah and after the flood of course there was the covenant He made with Noah and then after that, the covenant made with Abraham, which shows us further the desire on God's part for reconciliation with man, and then finally of course, sending His Son to this earth to provide salvation for all of mankind. Which is, you might say, the final stage of reconciliation that we have. But the Bible, the invention of the Bible and the use of the alphabet, the invention of the alphabet, was very crucial in that whole reconciliation.

[Rushdoony]: How many basic sounds are there in human speech, and how many pictographics, for example, are there in Chinese?

[Blumenfeld]: Well there are about fifty thousand pictographics in Chinese, as you know, and as a matter of fact you have to learn about five thousand of them to read a Chinese newspaper. Recently, when the United Nations was celebrating its fortieth anniversary they had a TV crew go behind the scenes to take pictures of the translators and one of them stopped in front of the Chinese translator who was stationed in front of the Chinese typewriter and Rush, how many keys do you think a Chinese typewriter had?

[Rushdoony]: I don’t know but more than I could master.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, one thousand keys, and it is a very cumbersome, difficult, system to master.

[Rushdoony]: No portable Chinese typewriters.

[Blumenfeld]: No, not at the moment. I imagine the Japanese will invent a portable Chinese typewriter. But in any case, I would say there are probably about a hundred sounds in human speech if you include all languages. In English, we only have about forty four sounds. And I would assume that there are some sounds that are simply not used in English that are used in other languages around the world. Probably not more than a hundred sounds in all of human speech, and so it didn’t take very many symbols to designate those sounds.

[Rushdoony]: And since not every language has all those sounds it means that a limited number of letters can convey a language very clearly. There is a little bit of duplication in some alphabets, as in English.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, we have the twenty-six letter alphabet to stand for the forty-four sounds. Incidentally, Rush, I always ask the question to every audience. I always ask them if they know how many sounds there are in English, how many irreducible speech sounds. I very seldom get a correct answer. And that’s because Americans in general have been poorly educated in the very basics of their reading system, you know they don’t even know how many sounds there are in English. They all know there are twenty-six letters.

Now the reason we have a twenty six letter alphabet of course is because when the Romans conquered the British Isles they imposed a Latin alphabet on the Anglo-Saxon speaking peoples. This has created some problems for further English speaking people but they are not insurmountable problems. In other words, some of them stand for more than one sound. However there are alphabets which have a perfect, a letter and a sound correlation. I believe you told me, Rush, Armenian does, it was very purposefully created to do exactly that, you see. There have been a chances to create a new English alphabet, but they never succeeded because by creating a new alphabet and a new writing system for English, we would produce readers incapable of reading the hundreds and hundreds of years of literature that has been written in the old orthography, in the traditional orthography.

[Rushdoony]: Boy, it is interesting how the alphabet is less and less known in schools. Less than a week ago, Dorothy and I were in the home of some very dear friends, very strong supporters of Chalcedon. The man of the house, a young man, was an outstanding student of the university, and on the Dean’s list. But he said it wasn’t until he left the university that he learned how to use a dictionary, because he never knew the alphabet. Mastering a card file was a major problem for him. And of course I encountered this when I was a graduate student at Berkeley because the newer, younger students coming in did not know how to use a card file, because they had never learned the alphabet.

Now, I think it is very significant and of course I’m only stating what I’ve heard you say, that the Bible calls Christ the ‘Word of God.’ He expresses God. And we are given the Word of God, the Bible as against images of God. We are forbidden in the Ten Commandments to try and represent God in images. But, as Dewey said in the quote you read, he says…

[Blumenfeld]: “I believe that the image is the great instrument of instruction.”

[Rushdoony]: Yes, I think it was you that cited this but I heard many of such illustrations that for these, let’s say; ‘progressive’ educators. A child reading a word ‘p-o-n-y,’ he doesn’t read it ‘p-o-n-y,’ he’s told well: “that’s a pony.” If he reads it as ‘horse,’ it is correct in the eyes of the teacher.

[Blumenfeld]: He’s seeing the picture. It is interesting that Dewey and his fellow-psychologists, behavioral psychologists, should even believe that. I don’t really believe that Dewey believed that the images were the great instrument of instruction. We know that this is the word, man learns by the word, through language and not the image. The image is a very poor imitation. But you know it’s interesting that in St. John, where it says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” you have the equation of God and the Word. And I interpret this as meaning, and you correct me if I’m wrong Rush, as meaning that the Word is very important to God, and that is the means of His Creation, because how did God create the universe? He did not hire a contractor and He didn’t draw up a set of blueprints, He simply said: “let there be light,” and in those words was creation. And because man’s use of language has a similar power in prayer, because prayer is man’s means of reaching God. And man does not draw pictures, he speaks to God directly through the voice, through the word, and the word reaches God just as radio signals reach human beings. It’s interesting when you see a radio on the table and it’s shut off, it won’t receive any words, you have got to turn it on and then you receive the word.

[Rushdoony]: To me one of the most interesting things in the history of this century is the fact that because we have given the image priority over the word, it is the avant-garde modern artist who sees himself as the true prophet of the modern age. It was one such painter (whose famous painting, Nude Descending the Staircase, an abstract) Marcel Duchamp, finally felt that there was only one way to eliminate God and meaning from the world. And that was to create a language in which there was no propositional truths, because our words are propositional, they denote a particular meaning. And he said all current languages, because they have propositional truth in every word, point to God, and we have got to have a nontheistic language. But that would mean a language in which no word meant anything. He kept trying for years and years; spent the latter part of his life trying to find out how he could have a substitute for language which pointed to God and he finally had to confess failure and spent the rest of his life playing chess, he had the means to live. So, I think that was an elegant witness to the centrality of God to language because Duchamp saw the fact that words point to meaning, they tell us the world is the world of meaning, that it is God-created, that God has written propositional truth into all creation.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, now the interesting thing about the look-say method is also that they use the techniques of the Pavlovian conditioning to teach children to read the Dick and Jane books. The constant repetition and the use of these rather silly sentences like: “see Spot run” and: “see see” and: “look look,” and that sort of thing. And of course, when you are teaching children to read as if they are dogs, you are going to get some very strange results, because of course, children are not dogs.

See Rush, when the dog enters the first grade all the dog can say is: “arf arf.” And let us assume that the dog is then socially promoted in a progressive school, and comes to the end of his career at the end of the twelfth grade. And holds out his paw for a diploma, well, what can he say when he looks up into the principal's eyes, but: “arf arf.” But a human child comes to school in the first grade with a speaking vocabulary between five thousand and thirty-five thousand words. Children begin teaching themselves to speak their own language virtually at birth. I mean, very soon after they’re born they have this innate capacity to use sounds symbols, to integrate sound symbols. And you find very young children can understand about God and religion. In the earliest time of life they can grasp these concepts.

As a matter of fact, in the earliest primers that we use in this country, when they are teaching the alphabet, the first letter ‘A’ was taught; ‘In Adam's fall, we sinned all.’ Which is much more eloquent and full of meaning than: “see Spot run.” But you see, what they’ve done in the teaching of reading, is that they’ve removed all of that, and it’s to the credit of the Puritans that they knew that they could teach these things to a four year old or a five year old.

[Rushdoony]: As a matter of fact, Sam, the mother would very commonly teach the child the alphabet at about two or three by tracing the letters in the hearth in the ashes. And as late as about 1850, some years ago, at the Stanford Education Library, I found manuals recommending that a mother teach her child to read before the child started school.

[Blumenfeld]: Well Rush, you know that it was common that the child needed to know how to read before he went to school. It was expected that the child would know how to read and write before entering school. And it was only when the Unitarians took over that they demanded that the schools also embraced the primary subjects. That was considered something for the home to take care of, and that came later with the public school movement, this extension of the public school into the primary grades.

[Rushdoony]: One of the things that interests me, and a professor of philology when I was a student told me this was not uncommon, something that I had heard in my own family. Two of my cousins; Richard and Paul, are identical twins. And from before the time they learned to speak, at somewhere around the age of two, they had developed their own language and communicated one to the other. And they continued that language for purely private communication until they were well along in school. It was their personal language, and I understand that is not uncommon with twins that are very close, which indicates how at an age we don’t realize (because we are created in the image of God) we have the capacity for speaking, for verbalizing our thoughts.

[Blumenfeld]: It makes a big difference, but the other important thing about the ‘look-say’ method is that not only does it promote idolatry, and an idolatrous view of the world, but also it promotes functional illiteracy. It destroys the youngsters ability to use his mind, because that method was created to destroy a child’s ability to develop language, not only reading. And I’m sure that you’re aware that many of these youngsters who have these reading problems have a very poor vocabulary, they can barely, you know, express themselves. And that’s because this method of teaching reading produces learning blockage that deliberately retard, not only the child’s growth, but sometimes the child will go backwards to an earlier period in his life, and so they are thwarted. I would say they are mentally destroyed, they are crippled for life, they are crippled by this technique. And I have encountered adults after I’ve lectured who have come up to me and tell me that they are victims of this, and that they want to change, and the thing that you find about them is that they’ve suffered all their lives with this horrible handicap; not having been taught to read correctly. And yet our schools keep doing even today! And for example, here in California, in 1981 the school book, the textbook adoption committee adopted all look-say textbooks for all the elementary schools of California, guaranteeing that millions of children would become learning-disabled well into the twenty-first-century.

[Rushdoony]: The only hope of course is the Christian school and the home school movement against this. I think one of the problems it is creating among many, is that since we are created in the image of God, and we are created to speak, to talk with God and to communicate with Him, it limits our ability to function as human beings one with another, and also with God. It means that today, verbal crutches: “you know,” “you see,” are increasingly common as people try to substitute something for verbalization, because they cannot verbalize.

I think one of the disasters here too, that I’ve seen in my lifetime, when I was in school first, one of the most marvelous things was that our generation (Dorothy’s and mine) grew up with a feel for the richness, the variety, and the music of language, so that we knew poetry, we loved it. Within five or six years, that was gone in the schools. And now poetry, to all practical intent, is dead. Dorothy to this day can recite a great deal of poetry, remember entire sections of Lowell’s The Vision of Sir Launfal which was still taught when we were in school, because we were in more rural settings, at least I was, and this sort of thing still more or less governed our education. Books like Mill on the Floss and all were read in grade schools, as was Dickens. And that older literature which was sometimes very slow going, because the authors were never in a hurry, respected the cadence of language.

[Blumenfeld]: The beauty of language was very important.

[Rushdoony]: We continue, Sam, with the subject of the loss of beauty, of cadence, of appeal in language, language is itself a gift. One of the things I find most interesting is this: when I was a boy in school in the early years, one of the problems that the teachers faced and one that was a problem with being at home was when I got a new textbook it was so interesting that I went home and I spent the rest of the evening, into the night, reading it. And at first the kerosene lamp was blown and taken out of the room so I couldn’t read, and later on the light bulb was taken out, and I was not alone in this, this was commonplace when I went to school because the textbook was so interesting.

[Blumenfeld]: Oh yes, yes. As a matter of fact I remember as a youngster in New York City in the early thirties, I fell in love with Paradise Lost, with Milton, with all the great English poets, and of course, the Bible, you know, the King James version. I don’t know any work in the English language that is quite as beautiful, and as full of incredible content, great spiritual content as the Bible. And isn’t it interesting that in the public schools today, not only is the Bible not read, or forbidden to be read, but the kind of books that children are given to read today are so inane, so poorly written. They are written by professors of education who have to have a certain number of social qualities to them, to the book, to their text. No real learning taking place, Rush, in any of these books any longer, there’s nothing of any use in the content.

[Rushdoony]: Even then they feel the material is too advanced for the children, and they are continually simplifying it. And yet, when I started school, there was no one in my class that I can recall, except possibly one boy, whose language at home was English. They were predominantly Scandinavian, and a scattering of others. We all had a home language that was not English. In my cousin’s school because he lived a mile further out, we walked into town to school, there were no school buses till much later, he walked two miles to a two teacher, two-room school, grades of one through eight. And in that school again, no one whose mother tongue was English, they studied Milton before they had finished the eighth grade, they read Mill on the Floss and Adam Bede and they were introduced to Shakespeare. All that in grade school!

[Blumenfeld]: Yes. Now that was the same in New York City, Rush, because all of my friends at school came from the same kind of background, from the homes of Jewish immigrants, where the language at home was Yiddish. And yet all of us took to English like ducks to water. I mean we loved the language! We loved the poetry, and it became our language, and we loved developing vocabulary. As a matter of fact we strove to develop the best vocabularies possible. But today young people as writers are told to simplify their writing. I have been interviewed by young journalists who have told me that they are required by their newspapers to write simple sentence and to simplify their use of vocabulary, they are told well, make it interesting for college graduates but a level which anyone can read, that a dropout can understand. And what this has done to written English in American magazines and newspapers that now we have this kind of generic English that has no style whatever. Time, Newsweek, US News, they all sound like they have been written by the same person. We have lost a tremendous amount when it comes to the beauty of the language in America.

[Rushdoony]: Well, and a lot of meaning too. I very often read a paragraph in some newspaper story to Dorothy and tell her: “what does this mean? What is the reporter trying to say?” it will be so garbled.

[Blumenfeld]: Well that’s usually because they have such a poor grasp of the language themselves and they have no sense of absolutes, you see, they have no sense of truth. They’re sort of in the world of relativity, you know, everything is relative.

One of the things I found out about look-say readers, Rush, in tutoring them and trying to repair the damage, is that a look-say reader will leave out words that are there, will put in words that are not there, will guess at words that he has never seen before, and will misread constantly, constantly misread words that he thinks he knows the meaning of. And so you get highly inaccurate readers. You get people who really have a very inaccurate view of what the written language is like, they think it’s something that you can edit as you go along, that you can write yourself. As a matter of fact, one of the earliest writers on this subject, Edmund Bert Huey, who wrote the book The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading, 1908 in which he tried to show the superiority of the look-say method, admitted that children would become inaccurate readers, but he said that was alright. He said that part of the reading process was to interpret what was on the page. In other words it wasn’t important what the writer had to say, but what the reader thought the writer had to say. And in fact, Professor Kenneth Goodman, the president of the International Reading Association defined reading as a: “psycholinguistic guessing=game.” So you see they are destroying meaning, that’s the purpose of all of this, Rush, it is to destroy meaning.

[Rushdoony]: And we shouldn’t be surprised by this because they deny there is a meaning in the universe. I recall that one of the most intense explosions I ever saw on any platform I was ever a part of was at one particular conference, where I was one of several speakers and we were on a panel. And in the course of the discussion, and I don’t remember the subject, this was apart from our speeches, I made the statement that we had to view the universe as a universe, with everything having a common strand of meaning because it was created by God, and therefore even though not necessarily intelligible to us at all points, totally rational, because it came from the mind of God and had a coherence. And this one prominent professor at a graduate university, nationally known, came boiling out of his chair in anger. This was totally unacceptable to assert the rationality of the universe. There was only a thin edge of rationality and meaning in all the universe, and it was only in the mind of man. Everything apart was totally irrational. Now, naturally they are going to convert even men into irrationality, in reading into irrationality, in meaninglessness.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, what Dewey said that the purpose of speech, of language, is simple. Simply social, that the function of speech was social, that it had nothing to do with the relationship with God, simply the relationship of man to man. And since I suppose man is so completely undependable, you know, and so fickle, anything that man says to man does not have the same power as what God says to man.

I think that the important part is that when God speaks, you have to be precise and you have to be accurate in understanding what God means and what God says. While, to the humanists, if you are going to destroy God, the best way to do it is by destroying language, because then you destroy man’s means of communication with God. And I know that Dewey and his colleagues were determined to destroy Christianity. They were indifferent to God, they were atheists but they were not indifferent atheists, they had set out on a messianic mission to not only destroy Christianity and substitute a new religion, a new humanistic religion, a man-centered religion, but also they were going to destroy capitalism, individualism and the entire structure of our society, and substitute in its place socialism, collectivism and atheism.

So they had a very very far-reaching program, and the use and the destruction of language was a very important part of it. And also they proceeded to do the same thing to mathematics, as you know, in their creation of the ‘new math’ and destroying the ability of the youngster to deal with numbers and quantities, because there also you are dealing in absolutes. You are not dealing with relativity even though when you are getting into number theory or set theory, then you get into all kinds of problems and set theory was invented by a German mathematician who died at an insane asylum, but of course set theory was what was supposed to replace the teaching of arithmetic.

[Rushdoony]: Yes, one of the founders, of one aspect of the new math used to advocate it, and I have a series of quotations from the man in my Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum. But he would tell teachers, this was in Belgium, that the beauty of the new mathematics was that it enabled everyone to be their own creator and to play God.

I recall vividly when our daughter Martha was exposed to the new math, unfortunately in a Christian school where she was for a year or so. And the exposure took place when she came home and asked her mother Dorothy, to explain the problem to her and help her solve it, and it began: “If five is greater than eight…” and Dorothy said: “stop right there! five is never greater than eight and don’t you ever let them teach you that!” But you see, it’s destroying meaning, it says everything can be reversed, you play God, you can alter meaning, and therefore ultimately everything becomes meaningless.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, yes, and of course man relies on symbols, I mean the fact that we use sounds-symbols that we developed is such an innate part of our being, to develop these sound-symbols and every child develops them at such an early age means that we not only seek meaning, we are a meaning-seeking creation. We seek meaning, that’s what makes us different from the cats and the birds; they are not asking what is the meaning of life. But man does, man starts asking questions and seeking meaning and figuring out meaning on his own, from the age of practically at birth.

[Rushdoony]: That is a very good point, animals have more intelligence than people often recognize, but the intelligence is directed only in one way; serving their wants and needs. We had a German shepherd, and when I say: “we,” Dorothy did. It was Dorothy’s dog emphatically. And the dog was a problem, because Dorothy would talk to it all the time. When I was gone, she was alone, the dog was good company. ‘Juno’ was her name, and it got so when we were going to go out to the pool and swim, Juno knew immediately what we were talking about. And we had to resort to spelling, because if we mentioned swimming, or pool, or any word connected to it, she’d be nagging us to go for sure! So we resorted to spelling, but soon she figured that out, too! And it was the same with taking a walk, she would be at the door and whining and trying to drag us to the door to take her for a walk. But that was the sole limit. The intelligence is totally directed in terms of wants, needs. An incapacity, of course, in animals, to ascend above that level; their physical requirements and wants.

[Blumenfeld]: But of course that shows that the behavioral psychologists want to reduce man to animals, that’s Skinner and the others, that’s why they conducted all of their experiments on animals

[Rushdoony]: Pavlov as well

[Blumenfeld]: Thorndike did his experiment with chickens, Pavlov with dogs, Skinner with rats. And of course BF Skinner considered a human being and rats to not be too different, and that’s their emphasis; that human beings are animals.

[Rushdoony]: Yes, but a dog can be very happy if its basic physical needs are supplied but a man can’t be, a man who has everything physically and materially, regularly commits suicide, because meaning is gone in their lives.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, that’s the point. And they are not only destroying meaning just in the use of symbols, but meaning in everything, they have destroyed history for the American youngster through social studies. They have broken up history in such a form that no youngster, very few youngsters in America could even recite the wars, the American wars in chronological order. They have destroyed chronology. They teach the child about the Eskimos and the Indians and then Chinese and then Columbus and then the Civil War and then they’ll go back two centuries. They go ahead three centuries. They jump from culture to culture, and the youngster is so confused, he has no idea what happened when. This is all part of the same conspiracy to destroy intelligence, to destroy meaning, so that today’s youngsters is on the level of the animals, all they are doing now is simply satisfying their basic needs, you know, for a hamburger, for pizza, for that sort of thing, but today’s youngsters don’t think, they don’t argue. Have you ever heard them have philosophical conversations? They don’t anymore. They have been reduced to the animal level by the education system. And it is all done quite deliberately because the men who have concocted all that are the world’s leading psychologists. These are men who have abused animal-training techniques, extrapolated those techniques and applied them to the training of human beings and they even use it in the textbooks, they use stimulus response and if you read any curriculum put out by the state department of education they talk about stimuli.

[Rushdoony]: And people wonder why our city streets have been turned into jungles and our youth into wild animals.

[Blumenfeld]: And that’s right because they are, they’ve been told they are animals. You see when you tell a child that there is no God, that he’s a product of evolution, and that there is no meaning to life, except the satisfaction of animal appetites, then you create an animal!

[Rushdoony]: I think somewhere in the past five, a state educator in New Jersey said that one of the problems in contemporary education was that public education had deprived youth of the right kind of role models. And he said our modern culture says that we are apes, advanced apes. So he said since we refer to man in a book that has been widely used in our schools is; The Naked Ape, he said we should not be surprised that they grow up and act like wild apes.

[Blumenfeld]: Well you’re right. As a matter of fact, Thorndike, who said that we are domesticated animals, and he has a very interest in Animal Intelligence, as a matter of fact it’s the final paragraph in his book written in 1911. He says:

“Nowhere more truly than in his mental capacities is man a part of nature. His instincts, that is, his inborn tendencies to feel and act in certain ways, show throughout marks of kinship with the lower animals, especially with our nearest relatives physically, the monkeys. His sense-powers show no new creation. His intellect we have seen to be a simple though extended variation from the general animal sort. This again is presaged by the similar variation in the case of the monkeys. Amongst the minds of animals that of man leads, not as a demigod from another planet, but as a king from the same race.”

So in other words, we are simply the king of the animals, according to Thorndike.

[Rushdoony]: And some of them would have been ready to say we are a very poor king, and should give up our throne.

[Blumenfeld]: Well I think that we’re the only animal that practices abortion, kills their own young at such horrendous numbers. And usually when we equate human beings with animals, for example, we would say that: “Hitler was an animal,” or “Stalin was an animal.” The point of it is that they were not animals, they were human beings, who fell from grace and were completely living a life of sin, who have discarded God and are letting their own sinful human natures express themselves to the fullest extent possible. You see, that’s what happened, I believe, Rush, perhaps that’s the greatest proof that God exists is the fact that when man discards God, he becomes so satanic. The animals do not become satanic in any way, shape or form, do they? They just behave in their ordinary ways that whatever they do is a matter of instinct. But when man gives up God, he becomes something entirely different, he becomes that personification of Satan.

[Rushdoony]: Our time is beginning to run out, Sam, but before ending I’d like to call attention to these two books of yours that have just been reprinted, in fact, the one: Is Public Education is Necessary? which even Fortune magazine calls: “brilliant revisionist history.” It got you on The Today Show last week, here in Sacramento, or nearby, with the former secretary of education, Bell.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, that was a lot of fun. Apparently what happened was that the members of the Reagan association had shoved this book in front of them and wanted him to read it, thinking that he might become a conservative as a result. He simply considered the whole thing off the wall, and told the press that he considered the writer to be a member of the lunatic fringe. But you know, the reason why they designate us as members of the lunatic fringe or radical nuts, is because they want to put us out of the pale of discussion, in other words, you don’t argue with a lunatic. You don’t take anything a lunatic says seriously, and so if they call you part of the lunatic fringe they don’t have to discuss our ideas or our books.

[Rushdoony]: Well, after the program was over I think perhaps he looked a little closer to the fringe.

[Blumenfeld]: Yes, I think that I got the better of him. He was very weak and offered really nothing of any substance to the American public, and certainly the parents who want to know what to do when it comes to education, got very little advice from him, the only thing he could tell them to do was to you know, patronize the public schools and help out, which is what parents have been trying to do for the last thirty years, without much success.

[Rushdoony]: The two books are his Is Public Education Necessary? And NEA Trojan Horse in American Education¸ but there are two others that I think they’d be interested in, but would you tell us about the other two that are available.

[Blumenfeld]:Yes, How To Tutor, I wrote that book back in the seventies because I wanted parents to have the means to teach their children the ‘three R’s’ at home, and a lot of homeschooling parents are now using that book. The How To Tutor book is available for $7.95 and Alpha Phonics, a primer for beginning readers, is a book I wrote to permit anyone to teach anybody to read, that is a child or an adult. There are so many functioning illiterate adults who need to learn, and I wrote that book to permit anybody, anyone to have the means to teach anyone to read, and that book is available for $19.95, and is to be used directly with the student.

[Rushdoony]: Well, Sam, it’s been a delight to discuss these matters with you, and I think it’s been very important because your point that modern education is a form of idolatry needs to be recognized. That it is a sin to subject your child to a schooling which is alien to everything that we as Christians believe. It is the image, the idol, not the Word which is central. Is there any final comment which you’d like to make, Sam?

[Blumenfeld]: Well, I suppose, the encouraging thing, Rush, is that there are so many Christian schools that are being created now, that are teaching reading well, phonetically, and of course homeschooling, and parents can do something about this; they can remove their children from the public schools.

[Rushdoony]: Well thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure to discuss these things, and God bless you all as you think these things over and apply them in your lives.

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