March 27, 2011
Preschools Are Using a Marxist's Theories to Manufacture CollectivistsBy Chuck Rogér
The room buzzes with little voices. Little children engage in "mature, dramatic play." An adult helps the children "regulate" and "monitor each other's compliance" with "rules and assigned roles." Each child knows his or her place. Each child does the group's bidding, nothing else.
Orwell's 1984? No, a scene played out in thousands of classrooms across America. The drumbeat of collectivism begins in preschool. And a long-dead Soviet psychologist helped define that drumbeat.
Months ago, an email from a teacher spurred me to investigate the theories of Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934). My research revealed starry-eyed academics enamored of collectivism.
Vygotsky contended that "creative play" could provide relief to children dealing with "tension" caused by unsatisfied desires. The psychologist expounded on Soviet activity theory, an offshoot of "cultural-historical theory." Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist whom I've discussed in previous articles, also drew on cultural-historical theory. Gramsci's "cultural Marxism" called for the intentional erosion of Western society. Since the 1980s, early childhood education has increasingly incorporated Vygotskyian techniques that answer Gramsci's call.
Embracing Vygotsky's cultural-historical approach, University of New Mexico psychology professor Vera John-Steiner and Santa Fe's Little Earth School director Ellen Souberman marvel at the Russian's fixation on "the Marxian concept of a historically-determined human psychology." Progressives drool over such concepts, for instance demanding "social justice" for historically oppressed minorities.
The obsession with social versus equal justice parallels a learning theory called constructivism. A devotee to the theory, Vygotsky viewed knowledge as each person's individual "construct." The notion, contemptuous of reality, led the man to conceive methods that trap children in progressivism's central struggle: the rejection of said reality. Preschools, which use Vygotsky's creative play to relieve the tension between pretend and real worlds, implant fairy-tale realities in children. The progressive K-12 system then supercharges the Pollyannaish programming.
A self-described Marxist thinker, Vygotsky maintained, "[In] play it is as though [a child] were a head taller than himself." The psychologist upended the idea that "play is imagination in action," insisting that imagination constitutes "play without action." Children subjected to methods arising from such thinking believe as adult progressives believe, that anything imaginable must be possible. Progressive preschools embrace Vygotsky's nonsense and breed dreamers who equate wishful thinking to feasible outcomes. Stop global warming. Erase inequality. Establish a new world order, one classroom at a time.
As one researcher notes, Vygotsky theorized that by changing "the tools of thinking available to a child, his mind will have a radically different structure." At Metropolitan State College of Denver, the "Tools of the Mind" organization develops Vygotskyian curricula and trains teachers to wire radically different thinking into the brains of children in 18,000 preschool and kindergarten classrooms throughout America. And the number is growing.
What constitutes "radically different" thinking? To answer, we examine Vygotsky's motivation.
Two prominent psychologists find that Lev Vygotsky's "Marxist orientation" determined "his scientific preoccupations," in other words, his education theories. Revealingly, nine years after Vladimir Lenin violently seized power and fathered the USSR, Vygotsky lauded "the cleansing threat of social revolution." Furthermore, Vygotsky cheered the crumbling of "the very foundations of bourgeois morality," insisted that the achievement mentality "be swept clear out of our schools," and anointed educators with the job of instilling a new morality. To Soviet Vygotsky, the best morality was Soviet collectivism.
Vygotsky intended to "create the new Soviet Man, the kind of being that would be needed in the Soviet society of the future." The psychologist conceived the "Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD), a tool for reconditioning young minds and forming a new society from the old. Vygotsky aimed to deliver young collectivists to ruling class elites intent on "societal reconstruction."
Ignoring Vygotsky's motives, the authors of America's early childhood education curricula train teachers in techniques based on the ZPD. A bit of investigation shows that education students are fed "grand" arguments and kept in the dark concerning "numerous underdeveloped ideas and contradictions." The Tools of the Mind organization even admits that Vygotsky's theories are but "a specific set of beliefs." [Emphasis added.] The TOTM curriculum's effectiveness was tested only by a "quasi-experimental study" plagued with sloppy methods. The truth is that there is simply no trustworthy proof that Vygotskyian techniques develop superior cognitive skills in children. Indoctrinated and misled, America's teachers are unwittingly using tactics conceived by a Marxist to spawn USSR-minded kids in the USA.
Teachers are also not informed that Vygotsky detested "capitalist culture," rejected Western society, and cherished the "tribal village." The psychologist prescribed a "moral education" blended "imperceptibly into all those general modes of behavior that may be established and regulated by the social environment." To accomplish the blending, Vygotskyian-trained teachers rigidly control the classroom environment and allow only authoritatively prescribed behaviors. Individualism is verboten. Gene by gene, the collectivist virus erases children's predisposition for achievement. Neuron by neuron, the bug weakens traditional morality. And teachers aren't even aware of having injected the pathogen.
Indeed, teachers faithfully condition children in Vygotsky's "new ways of interacting with people," unaware that those "ways" conform to totalitarian visions. Vygotsky sought to banish the "'pedagogical singsong' which prevails between teacher and student" and elicit behavior "that originates from...the group, and which is directed likewise to the entire group..." Utopian collectivism, pure and simple. The cunning in Vygotskyian methods lies in the manipulative use of the peer pressure inherent in children's play. The stratagem creates the "regulated" environment of collectivism. In Educational Psychology, Vygotsky wrote,
Play the "game." Stay "in step with the group." Mind "the leash." In one illustration of how these collectivist metaphors are set into action, a Tools of the Mind counting exercise requires children to take turns regulating and inhibiting each other's behavior. In TOTM's "mature, dramatic play," teachers "help children plan, and stay true to their plans in a way that emphasizes inhibitory control..." The Vygotskyian method exploits little minds and turns play into a job performed to communal specifications. Children comply. Acclimation to the centrally planned society begins at three years old.
Vygotsky's presence in America's classrooms has grown over the last thirty years. This presence, an increasingly left-ideological media, and the burgeoning nanny state have disfigured the national psyche. A 2010 Rasmussen poll found 47 percent of Americans -- an appalling 63 percent under age thirty -- supportive of, or open to, socialism. While the poll doesn't prove that Vygotskyian schooling caused Americans to fall for lethal ideas, such distressing numbers do suggest that the Marxist's ghost has helped render millions of children receptive to collectivist falsehoods.
In kindergarten and preschool classrooms all over America, tiny young humans are being taught to regiment each other's behavior. Obedient little collectivists are learning to submit to group wishes in order to be judged "correct" -- politically correct. Resistance is futile.
A writer, physicist, and former high tech executive, Chuck Rogér invites you to visit his website, www.chuckroger.com. Email Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Diamond, Barnett, Thomas, and Munro, "Preschool Program Improves Cognitive Control," Science, Vol. 318, Nov 30, 2007, p. Supplemental Online Material, p. 7.
 Mariane Hedegaard, "A Cultural-historical Approach to Learning in Classrooms," Outlines, No. 1, 2004, pp. 21-34. (Notice to Reader: The "study" referred to in this citation exemplifies the incomprehensible gobbledygook that impersonates education methods research. The paper exudes the sweeping nonsensicality typical of the "cultural-historical" teaching method, the Introduction alone containing multiple false and unproved claims stated as facts.)
 Uwe P. Gielen and Samvel S. Jeshmaridian, "Lev S. Vygotsky: The Man and the Era," International Journal of Group Tensions, Vol. 28, Nos. 3/4, 1999, p. 276.