Uncommon Sense

March 25, 2021

The Esteem of Teachers

Filed under: Education,History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:12 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have been reading Milton Mayer’s book “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945” and I ran across this:

In the years of the rise the movement little by little brought the communities attitude toward the teacher around from respect and envy to resentment, from trust and fear to suspicion. The development seems to have been inherent; it needed no planning and had none. As the Nazi emphasis on nonintellectual virtues (patriotism, loyalty, purity, labor, simplicity, “blood,” “folkishness”) seeped through Germany, elevating the self-esteem of the “little man,” the academic profession was pushed from the very center to the periphery of society. Germany was preparing to cut its own head off. By 1933 at least five of my ten friends (and I think six or seven) looked upon “intellectuals” as unreliable, and among these unreliables, upon the academics as the most insidiously situated.” (p. 112)

I am quite aware of Godwin’s law (Invoke the Nazis and you’ve lost the argument.) but I plow on fearlessly. The Nazi’s were a totalitarian authoritarian bunch. And if you are just going to rule by giving orders, you do not want a bunch of credible naysayers arguing the other way. Fascists just don’t like opposition, so they either eliminate it or marginalize it.

Fast forward to today and we see some startling parallels. When I was young, teachers were held in high esteem, but over the past twenty or so years, teachers have been criticized as being pigs at the public trough, earning way too much money. They have been criticized as being the reason for failing schools. They have had collective bargaining rights stripped from them. Their unions have been demonized. Their role in the classroom undermined by “systems” that insist on approved classroom scripts being read instead of anything the teacher might have thought would be helpful. And when testing results of their pupils do not show progress, they are blamed as the sole cause.

I must also point out that during the social unrests of the 1960’s and 1970’s college students and teachers were much to the forefront. The revision of the bankruptcy laws disallowing student loans from being discharged (with no evidence for the claim such loans were being abused) has effectively chained students with a ball of debt they drag around with them through much of their working lives. Such people do not jeopardize their careers by falling behind on their debt payments, so they keep their heads down and just keep doing what they are told.

So, now that teachers and students have been defanged, we see a veritable war on science and the pointy-headed intellectuals behind it. We have become suspicious of experts, you know the people who kind of know what they are talking about. Gosh, would any American political party find this acceptable? Apparently both do to some extent. Joe Biden was a major force behind the student loan bankruptcy legislation. And the Republicans have been full bore on a “Let’s Get Ready for Fascism” campaign.


  1. I think you have some excellent points there. The far right has taken a page out of the totalitarian dictator handbook. There are three things they always go after, first the education system by either taking it over entirely so they control the curriculum or so thoroughly undermining it that it becomes worthless, second the media, again either taking it over and/or undermining the legitimate media. And thirdly they go after the legal system, either by corrupting it entirely by inserting their own creatures into the system, or by undermining people’s faith in the system.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — March 25, 2021 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

    • But in the end their purpose is for people to accept their authoritarian rule, no? Why else would they do these things? In order to serve the interests of their paymasters they are trying to create an America which is one step away from a fascist dictatorship.

      On Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 10:25 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 26, 2021 @ 10:32 am | Reply

      • exactly right. They want complete control and the only way they can get it is if they control the educational system, the media and the legal system. Which is exactly what they’ve been trying to accomplish. Look at what happened during the trump administration – Devoss was working to undermine the public school system, Moscow Mitch was helping trump to try to load the court system with extremists, and the media, well we all know what a fiasco that turned into, and then add in utter disaster social media made itself into

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by grouchyfarmer — March 26, 2021 @ 10:23 pm | Reply

        • As usual, we are in agreement! Are we just preaching to the choir, as they say?

          On Fri, Mar 26, 2021 at 10:24 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — March 27, 2021 @ 8:12 am | Reply

  2. For what it’s worth, the teachers and the scientists were held in high esteem in the Soviet Union, at least for most of its history. Maybe it had to do with the USSR being sufficiently ideologically established by the early 1930s so that the teachers no longer needed to spend so much effort on maintaining the ideological purity (it was still required, but the revolution, the civil war, the exile of opposition and the ongoing purges were probably a lot more responsible for that).
    And maybe the USSR leaders knew that to achieve military superiority or even parity it needed to achieve technological superiority or parity, and that required a lot of scientists.
    Or maybe it was the roots of the Russian revolution were planted by the middle class intelligentsia, college students, teachers, writers – even though many of whom eventually ended up as its victims – but it nevertheless was born not out enmity towards the learned elites, but from an alliance with them.


    Comment by List of X — March 26, 2021 @ 9:22 am | Reply

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