Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation – Book Review

Type: Non-fiction

Category: Federal Education Legislation

Author: Pete Hegseth and David Goodwin

Pages: 288

Publisher: Broadside Books

List Price (Hardcover): $17.99

It’s impossible to maintain a constitutional republic like America’s with a citizenry who can’t think for themselves. Thanks to Progressives’ stranglehold on public education, millions of Americans are bereft of critical thinking skills due to decades of indoctrination.

It’s widely believed this insidious indoctrination in public schools dates back to the 1960’s, but as bestselling author and Fox and Friends co-host Pete Hegseth and magazine editor David Goodwin detail in their excellent book, the Progressives’ game plan to control the “supply lines” of future citizens goes back 120 years.

A central thesis of their brilliant book promoting classical Christian education revolves around a Greek word called “paideia.” This little-known word has been a linchpin in Progressive plans to hijack education because it involves the “rearing, molding and education of children.”

American Progressives knew, like the ancient Greeks, that the best way to control culture was by controlling education.

As the authors point out, whereas the ancient Greeks used paideia to promote godly virtues like wisdom, courage, and justice, Progressives removed the religious context and over time adopted pseudo-virtues based on scientism principles like race, gender, and oppressor/oppressed identities.

“Hence the term ‘virtue signaling’ when these are on exhibition. But these ‘virtues’ are based in cultural Marxism, not Christianity,” the authors write in Chapter 8, Reason and Virtue. In other words, Progressivism is not attached to a divine ideal but rather humanism and the pursuit of a godless utopia, or what the authors call the Cultural Marxist Paideia (CMP).

For most of two thousand years Western children were educated in the classical Christian tradition, or Western Christian Paideia (WCP). Children studied history, Latin, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, math, poetry and logic. Students acquired and cultivated wisdom by studying history and the ancient philosophers as students in classical Christian schools do today.

In the 1890’s, Progressives like John Dewey and Horace Mann sought to supplant WCP with a American Progressive Paideia (APP) that would repurpose education as a tool for social manipulation and industrial progress while removing God, Christ and Christianity.

“The Progressives realized that true classical Christian education was more powerful than just teaching virtues – it cultivated a paideia with a foundation in divine Truth. At its very core, it reaches for an ideal higher than human institutions,” the authors write in Chapter 5, The Elitist Roots of Progressivism.

Hegseth and Goodwin note that Progressives of that era knew that dropping classical learning practices without replacing them with an inspiring alternative would be unacceptable to the general public. They cleverly substituted patriotic fervor and nationalism in place of God and Christ, thereby enabling schools to become a pliant tool for social reform with a love for America as the backdrop.

The authors point out it was Progressives like President Woodrow Wilson who introduced the patriotic holiday Flag Day and a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance.

It wasn’t until the Eisenhower administration that the words “under God” were added to Bellamy’s original pledge.

“Once the APP had been universally taught in schools, say between 1925 and 1965, its resulting culture dominated for another generation – until about 2005,” the authors write. “Beginning somewhere between 2000 and 2005, the American Paideia was replaced with the Cultural Marxist Paideia, which obtained its authority from ‘equity’ vested in individual identity.”

The authors note that today, following 20 years of the Cultural Marxist Paideia, people can shoplift without consequence, riots on the Left are dismissed as “mostly peaceful” while protests on the Right are considered “insurrections,” and rapes occurring in public restrooms are condoned because of gender identity.

“Imagine how powerful the Cultural Marxist Paideia will be once it has been taught for a generation – in 2045,” Hegseth writes. “Imagine the world your kids and mine are entering.”

A combat army veteran, Hegseth notes that while the Left now controls the “commanding heights” and is “shooting from concealed and fortified positions,” what’s needed is a “radical reorientation” in how parents approach education. In short, an insurgency to reform education.

The authors note we need to return to our Judeo-Christian roots and promote classical Christian schools that train students in reasoning and persuasion, science and mathematics, history and rhetoric.

“Instead of throwing our kids into the cultural deep end and hoping they find the right answer, classical Christian education builds a foundation of virtue and knowledge – a lens through which students are prepared to explore and engage with our past, present, and future with wisdom.”

Well written and seasoned throughout with indisputable facts and logic, Battle for the American Mind is a vitally important work at a critical time in American education. The authors’ compelling narrative provides a deep dive into the history of American public education: what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to fix it with a return to teaching and learning to love the right things and cultivating our kids’ moral imagination.

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. Welcome to all those who love personal liberty, capitalism, and who believe God has blessed America.

Copyright 2022, Dean A. George© 

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