The structure of American schooling, 20th century style, began in 1806 when Napoleon’s amateur soldiers beat the profession soldiers of Prussia at the battle of Jena. When your business is selling soldiers, losing a battle like that is serious. Almost immediately afterwards, a German philosopher named Fichte delivered his famous “Address to the German Nation” which became one of the most influential documents in modern history. In effect he told the Prussian people that the party was over, that the nation would have to shape up through a new utopian institution of forced schooling in which everyone would learn to take orders.
So the world got compulsion schooling at the end of a state bayonet for the first time in human history; modern forced schooling started in Prussia in 1819 with a clear vision of what centralized schools could deliver:
1) obedient soldiers to the army;
2) obedient workers to the mines;
3) well subordinated civil servants to government;
4) well subordinated clerks to industry;
5) citizens who thought alike about major issues.
Trust the people, give them choices, and the school nightmare will vanish in a generation.
In “The Public School Nightmare: Why Fix a System Designed to Destroy Individual Thought?”, John Taylor Gatto