Education v. Conditioning: Wundt, Rockefeller And The Teachers College


(SNN) Since reading “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America by Charlotte Iserbyt, I’ve been trying to find other people out there who have also noticed the ruining of education in the United States. To be honest, it’s hard to find information on this subject out there; few others have followed in Iserbyt’s footsteps. However, there’s one other book that I recently read that I place in the “must-read” category. That book is “The Leipzig Connection (Basics in Education)by Paolo Lionni.

As a basis for this article and the foundation upon which your future beliefs on this topic should grow, please know this: there is a world of difference between education and conditioning. Helping to bring out each individual’s innate abilities and intellect (educating them) versus crafting a desired response to external stimuli (conditioning them) is, more specifically, what I mean.

In Germany during the mid-to-late 1800s, Wilhelm Wundt — the founder of Experimental Psychology — started a revolution; a revolution very few people have ever heard of. In “The Leipzig Connection,” Lionni states that “To Wundt, a thing made sense and was worth pursuing if it could be measured, quantified, and scientifically demonstrated. Seeing no way of doing this with the human soul, he proposed that psychology concern itself solely with experience …. From Wundt’s work, it was only a short step to the later redefinition of education. Originally, education meant drawing out a person’s innate talents and abilities by imparting the knowledge of languages, scientific reasoning, history, literature, rhetoric, etc. — the channels through which those abilities would flourish and serve. To the experimental psychologist, however, education became the process of exposing the student to “meaningful” experiences so as to ensure desired reactions.”

Wundt’s students took his teachings and expanded upon them in America. Within twenty or thirty years, a Wundtian-derived version of education had taken root in America. How? John D. Rockefeller, Sr., founder of Standard Oil and, at that time, the wealthiest and most powerful human being on the planet. More on that in a moment. As an aside, after Standard Oil was forced to break apart in 1911 due to the government’s imposition of anti-trust laws, the company split into 34 different companies. Some of those 34 companies became what we today call ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ARCO, and Sunoco. Pretty staggering, huh!? That’s how big Standard Oil was! In 1904, they controlled 91% of production and 85% of final sales of oil in the United States! So Big John D. Rockefeller, Sr. wielded massive power.

In “The Leipzig Connection,” Lionni discusses how with that huge amount of power and wealth came a fair share of problems. For starters, most of America hated Rockefeller. Before long, he realized he’d better invest large amounts of his wealth in philanthropic endeavors if he ever hoped to gain the respect and admiration of the people. So in the late-1800s, Rockefeller — a Baptist — donated large sums of money to the University of Chicago, a Baptist school, so that it could be rebuilt. It was at this time that he met Frederick Taylor Gates, a Baptist minister at the University.

Rockefeller was impressed by Gates’ directness and by the manner in which he handled financial affairs. Constantly besieged by requests for money, Rockefeller asked Gates to work for him and take the burden of philanthropic decisions off his shoulders. Gates was soon handling all requests for Rockefeller money, and doing what he could to polish up the Rockefeller image.”

Since fixing-up the University of Chicago worked wonders for Rockefeller’s image in the eyes of Chicago Baptists, he and Gates reasoned educational philanthropy might be the way to go. However, at the time, the nation’s public school system was in good shape. That is, except in the south which was still in shambles after the Civil War. Rockefeller’s son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. hopped on board when he saw the potential of this plan for educating the south. With the help of Gates and the financial backing of his father, Rockefeller, Jr. championed the creation of the General Education Board (GEB). Gates did a fine job stating the Board’s goals in the south:

We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or men of science …. The task we set before ourselves is very simple, as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are. So we will organize our children and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops, and on the farm.”

So what started out sounding philanthropic became quite the opposite. This is out-and-out control over people; keeping them down instead of truly empowering them. Much of this poor population of which Rockefeller speaks was the southern black community. With the then-recent abolition of slavery, one can imagine it was a difficult time for the black population in the south. True help was nowhere to be found, only opportunistic “philanthropy” such as this was offered.

The most powerful paragraph about Rockefeller, Sr., Rockefeller, Jr., and Gates in Lionni’s “The Leipzig Connection” states that, “Rockefeller [Sr]‘s greatest desire at this time was to buffer himself against his enemies and against public opinion by pouring millions into whatever medical or educational charities Gates could find. He had enthroned Gates as his financial overseer, and had increasingly turned over the job of laundering his wealth to his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who over the years would seek out larger and more effective ways of investing the Rockefeller fortune toward, in [Raymond B.] Fosdick’s words, “this goal of social control.

As another interesting aside, Raymond B. Fosdick founded — on John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s behalf — “the eugenics-promoting Bureau of Social Hygiene …. the government-restructuring Institute for Government Research (now part of the Brookings Institution), and …. in 1923 [oversaw] the formation of Interpol (which was soon to be turned over to the Nazis and was, as late as 1972, directed by former SS officer Paul Dickopf).”

Lionni takes it a step further, concluding that, “These men, it can safely be said, conspired to control American education while buttressing the Rockefeller fortune against all attacks, ensuring that their autocratic views would prevail. With the General Education Board, Rockefeller’s “education trust,” a virtually unlimited source of funds, was made available to the Wundtian psychologists’ ambitious design on American education.”

Within a very short amount of time, Rockefeller dollars began pouring into Columbia University’s Teachers College; a college full of Wundtian disciples. The unholy alliance had been born. By the beginning of WWI, a new form of education had begun to branch out; a system based on operant conditioning instead of true education. On January 21, 1917, the New York Times even had this to say about Rockefeller’s General Education Board and its crusade:

Unblushing materialism finds its crowning triumph in the theory of the modern school. In the whole plan, there is not a spiritual thought, not an idea that rises above the need of finding money for the pocket and food for the belly …. It is a matter of instant inquiry, for very sober consideration, whether the General Education Board, indeed, may not with the immense funds at its disposal be able to shape to its will practically all the institutions in which the youth of the country are trained. If this experiment bears the expected fruit we shall see imposed upon the country a system of education born of the theories of one or two men, and replacing a system which has been the natural outgrowth of the American character and the needs of the American people …. The plans of the General Education Board call for careful examination.”

So it becomes quite clear that the Teachers College at Columbia, filled to the brim with Wundtians, influenced an entire generation of teachers, who then carried on with that agenda. Why do I use the word “agenda”?

“…through the schools of the world we shall disseminate a new conception of government – one that will embrace all of the collective activities of men; one that will postulate the need for scientific control and operation of economic activities in the interests of all people.”

– Harold Rugg, Wundtian, Teachers College

Rugg proposed that this could be accomplished in three ways:

First and foremost, the development of a new philosophy of life and education which will be fully appropriate in the new social order; Second, the building of an adequate plan for the production of a new race of educational workers; Third, the making of new activities and materials for the curriculum.

George S. Counts, a colleague of Rugg’s at Teachers College, went further, proposing that the schools themselves build that new social order:

“Historic Capitalism, with its deification of the principle of selfishness, its reliance upon the forces of competition, its placing of property above human rights, and its exaltation of the profit motive, will either have to be displaced altogether, or so radically changed in form and spirit that its identity will be completely lost …. That the teachers should deliberately reach for power and then make the most of their conquest is my firm conviction. To the extent that they are permitted to fashion the curriculum and procedures of the school they will definitely and positively influence the social attitudes, ideals and behavior of the coming generation.”

Does that not sound completely indicative of where we are today? It likely goes without saying — though I feel I must — that two of Wundt’s biggest inspirations were Karl Marx (father of Communism) and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Hegelian Dialectic). I don’t know about you, but I feel that anything derived of those two men cannot be good. And by 1953, the brand of communistic, operant conditioning “education” hatched by Wundt’s disciples was being taught in every institution, public or private, across the United States.

“The single most powerful educational force in the world is at 120th Street and Broadway in New York City. Your children’s teachers go there for advanced training …. With 100,000 alumni, Teachers College has managed to seat about one-third of the Presidents and Deans now [1953] in office at accredited US teacher training schools. Its graduates make up about twenty percent of all our public school teachers. Over a fourth of the superintendents of schools in the 168 US cities with at least 50,000 population are Teachers College-trained.”

The statistics are undeniable. The facts are undeniable. Our education system was hijacked by Wundtian behavioral psychologists and the wealth of people like John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and J.P. Morgan. Should we be surprised then, that like all things communistic, our education system is crumbling, all the while enriching the elite who control the rest of us?

Recommended books:

The Leipzig Connection (Basics in Education) 

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, Revised and Abridged Edition

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling

Please Share This Story!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments