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Education: Free & Compulsory Paperback – August 15, 1999


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Education: Free & Compulsory + Anatomy of the State + For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 58 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (August 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945466226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945466222
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Very short book, only 55 pages but well worth it.
John Lee Grogan Jr.
This book clearly demonstrates the error of the concepts some of the "best schools" use known as "Core Knowledge".
Fun Life
This book helps one to start to question the idea of forced public education, and think about better alternatives.
demosthenes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Steve Jackson on June 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Murray Rothbard published this small book in two installments in The Individualist some years ago. In it Rothbard sets forth his theory of education and how education relates to the state.
Not surprisingly, Rothbard starts with a discussion of human nature and the basic fact of human inequality. Since people differ in abilities and interests, there will be no one kind of education that is appropriate for all children. Some children will benefit from an education that prepares them for work relatively early in life, others for a career in the professions. A system of voluntary education, where parents choose what is best for their children, is the most efficient system and also the most consistent with individual freedom.
However, government is the great equalizer and centralizer. Rather than accept human inequality, it is intent on creating a "one size fits all" approach to education. As Rothbard shows through an analysis of educational reforms in the US and the world, governments began to create taxpayer funded, compulsory schools in order to indoctrinate children into the ideology of the state. As the elites became more secularized in the 1800s, government run schools were established to destroy the influence of religion and the church.
I can't agree with everything Rothbard says. There are a few unsupported statements (such as his attacks on Protestantism) and gaps in logic, but as usual Rothbard is provocative.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent overview of the history of the public education system in america, and its roots in other cultures. This book makes the case that public education exists to indoctrinate children to be accepting of the state. Historically, public education has existed to undermine the parents' ability to raise children to be independent.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul B. Dunlap on December 9, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like other reviewers, I expected more of an argument and analysis of compulsory education. What I found was an overview of the history of forced education, focusing on the motives of the orchestrators. In discussing the history, Rothbard points out the lowest common denominator in all compulsory school advocates: indoctrination. From Luther to Calvin, to the communists, right up to the modern day, compulsory schools have existed to indoctrinate the young to a particular way of thinking.

It is also apparent from this discussion that if school attendance is made compulsory, it stamps out individuality and parental control. The title points out the contradiction in "free and compulsory education" quite poignantly. This was a popular line of communists and socialists in the nineteenth century. The irony is that when education is forced, there can be no freedom. Rothbard could have made this point more explicit and discussed how control over the minds of the young is the first step for the state to take control of society.

Historical examples are strong, but general principle and philosophy are lacking, and this is quite disappointing for a Rothbard book. He usually integrates a good mix of principle and example to illustrate a clear and consistent point. If you're interested in the history of compulsory education, read this. If you're looking for a discussion of the problems with state education, there are better choices.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Prof. CJ on March 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
As far as I'm concerned, Murray Rothbard is one of the greatest unsung intellectuals of the twentieth century. He was also one of the most prolific, producing many works on economics, history, and philosophy. Always he took the side of liberty and opposed statism and coercion in all its forms.

So I was very happy to find a little book by him on education. Overall it was a very good, concise sketch of the ideology and history behind compulsory, government-run education in the West, with a bit about what's wrong with it on a philosophical level from the perspective of individualism. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer and even more comprehensive. It ends kind of abruptly with only a very brief overview of progressive education in the United States. I suppose in light of how prolific Rothbard was overall it's excusable that this work was so short -- still, I would have loved to read a 400-page book by Rothbard on this topic.

FYI, if you want to read a book that goes over some of the same ideas and history in much greater detail, check out The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Zork (the) Hun on March 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Few things can make me feel as uncomfortable as the unsavory expression of ideas I basically agree with. I bought this book because I expected a good argument for and information to support the ideas I instinctively believe in and support. Unfortunately this book is more of an affirmation than an argument; more of a manifesto than an essay; propaganda rather than analysis.
The arguments are indisputable, but not particularly well presented.
I've always been a strong opponent of compulsory public education but the way the arguments are presented in this book make me twitch. My support for the ideas of non-compulsory non-public education does not stem from the fact that I do not want my children to mix with the `moronic' and `substandard' ones.
The only information that was news to me was the Lutheran-Calvinist influence in the birth of public education.
I think my misgivings can be understood considering the level of ignorance displayed in some of the passages. Mistaking Sade for Rousseau is absolutely inexcusable. I have not read "Emile" myself, but at least I know about it; I know what it is about and if I was to write about education, I would make an effort to read it. Making a vague reference to the wrong author does not inspire confidence in other references presented by Mr. Rothbard.
Should you read this book? Since it is very short, I would say why not? If you are interested in the subject this will introduce you to the basic libertarian ideas concerning it. Just do not expect high quality arguments.
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