The idea of universal education for all was a revolutionary idea conceived during the age of enlightenment but implemented during the industrial revolution.
The modern education system that exists today was devised for a different age but is still being used as the standard for educating our future generations. In Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World, he envisions a dystopian society that uses education as a method of brainwashing and inspiring conformity. Huxley creates a world that places emphasis on the needs of the World State over the needs of the individual and makes it heresy to want to be unique. Individuality is feared by the World State because of the damage it can do to totalitarian society like the World State and in order to maintain stability they must separate the free thinking individuals from the rest of the world. With the way our children are being raised, there are countless parallels between our society and the controlling characteristics of the World State.
Our modern day form of education systematically crushes the individuality and creativity out of our children that was once inherent in us all, forcing only conformity and simple minded thought just as Huxley feared and predicted in Brave New World. The current education system was based on a factory model of education created during the age of urban industrialization. Arne Duncan (2010), secretary of the Department of Education, states that “Our K-12 system largely still adheres to the century-old, industrial-age factory model of education.” She argues that the old system of education needs to be reformed in order to adapt to our changing technological society. We place great emphasis on a “no child left behind” policy and teach every student with the same methods, same pace and same information to millions of children with very distinct and unique characteristics, similar to an assembly line. We are forcing kids to wake up at the crack of dawn, to go to school 8 hours a day and 5 days a week, to enlist a bell schedule that releases them, to sit in desks for hours, to have a cookie cutter method of teaching for every student, and to follow instruction for most of the childs youth.
Our end goal is, according to Jack Schneider (2015) from the Washington Post, “producing a fairly uniform product,” and that “Our schools lean heavily, for instance, on assessment tools, particularly standardized tests, that reward only one particular manifestation of human intelligence.” We as a society force our children to go through a school system that aims to create a uniform product for most of their youth and then question why it is so difficult for students to be able to think on their own after years of instruction. In a way our school system has the same result of the Bokanovsky process, “One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before.
Progress” (Huxley, 1932, p.6). The process aims to create 96 individuals with identical genes and identical conditioning that makes it impossible to differentiate one from another.
Although our system isn’t exactly identical , we are legally forcing children to go through a conditioning process that results in generations filled with individuals with no unique characteristics or way of thinking as well. We have a production line mentality with our school system that resonates with the Brave New World’s standardized system of production and it makes us question, how much does it really differ from the social conditioning seen in the World State? Our method of teaching is not even promoting the growth of intelligence but is, according to Herbert W. Armstrong (2000) from TheTrumpet, “a system of memory training. It was “spoon-fed,” literally funneled into immature and growing minds.
Children were taught to accept without question, assume without proof, believe and memorize whatever was taught…. Children are not taught to think—but to take orders—be followers, not leaders. Few know why they believe the things they do.
” We are conditioning our students to be just like the ideal citizens of the World State, students that do not think for themselves but simply accept information as truth and follow orders. In schools, we place much of our focus on memorizing information and regurgitating it on a test to then later forget all of it but never learning how to truly think for ourselves. With our science classes we are simply reproducing old experiments and learning of the past but we never place enough effort into the future and how to think like a scientist so we can make our own discoveries. Helmholtz thinks he is well educated in science but is never truly aware of the problems with his knowledge until he confronts Mustapha Mond, “Yes; but what sort of science?” asked Mustapha Mond sarcastically. “You’ve had no scientific training, so you can’t judge… good enough to realize that all our science is just a cookery book, with an orthodox theory of cooking that nobody’s allowed to question, and a list of recipes that mustn’t be added to except by special permission from the head cook” (Huxley, 1932, p.225). The World State controls science because true scientific thinking is dangerous and the people are only allowed what the World Controllers give them.
They are being fooled into believing that they understand science when all they are doing is following a “cookbook” that no one is allowed to question. Similarly, our school systems are teaching science class like it is a history lesson, only allowing students to discover what has already been discovered. Society has devalued the importance of creative thought and have emphasized following directions as opposed to innovation. Our modern system of education have a variety of oppressive qualities that force conformity onto our students similar to qualities of the World State created by Aldous Huxley. With the assembly line like school system we have, it is irritably similar to the decanting and conditioning that the World State preforms in order to create a population full of sheeps with no chance of rebellion.
In the Brave New World, anyone who thinks differently or is shown to be unorthodox is punished by the government and ostrichsized socially, just as our school system punishes those who achieves the right answer using a different method. In schools, we seem to punish anyone who is diverges from the standard when we should be encouraging the differences as it leads to innovation and growth of our society. We need to establish a stronger education system that promotes individuality and doesn’t measure us based on our test scores but focuses on our strengths. If we are not careful, the school system could lead to an, even more, conformed population with the inability to think for themselves which can leave an opening for a World State of our own.