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The Theory of Education in the United States Paperback – January 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001D0JBKG
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,955,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Although the idea might be appealing, Nock fails to explain how it would be actually implemented.
Erez Davidi
Gatto found little difference in kids capacity to learn no matter their circumstances as long as the teaching was approached in the proper manner.
Jedediah Smith
As a companion to this book, I recommend Nock's great essays "The disadvantages of being educated" and "The value of useless knowledge".
Ragnarok Books

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ragnarok Books on November 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
In this book, Nock discusses in full length his theory of education in general, and the state of education in the United States in particular. Nock's main objectives are to delineate the differences between education and training and to describe what constitutes true education in his view.

The best review of the book can be found in the introduction, written by his son Francis.

To summarize, Nock's main flaws are his lack of scientific education (he would refer to it as scientific training), and more important, his lack of understanding of the importance of science in societal evolution and progress. It is sad to read a true man of letters like Nock regarding science and technology as unrelated to education.

Nonetheless, Nock's main observation is correct: being a great scientist, physician, or inventor does not preclude one from being an uneducated brute when it comes to the philosophical aspects of life. If you are a member of academia, just look around you and see the veracity of Nock's claims: how many ingenious professors, scientists, researchers, doctors and engineers do you know who are ignoramus nincompoops when it comes to history, philosophy, economics, and political theory?

Despite its flaws, this book is a must read for every person wishing to become truly educated.

As a companion to this book, I recommend Nock's great essays "The disadvantages of being educated" and "The value of useless knowledge".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By anarchteacher on April 19, 2008
Format: Unknown Binding
Albert Jay Nock was a profound champion of the classical Liberal Arts education which served Western Christendom for centuries. Such "education," as distinct from "training," is for a very small select elite, and runs counter to conventional educational dogma, from John Dewey to No Child Left Behind, where egalitarian ideology masks as pedagogy.

Highly recommended!
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By John on November 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Albert Jay Nock observed that most people are not educable and this is a fact of nature. He was confident that public policy of attempting to educate everyone was completely wrong and would lead to trouble. Guess what? He was correct!

Nock defined intelligence using Plato's concept of a person who can think without being directed by convention. These rare people are the ones who should be sent to liberal arts universities. The rest of the people in America's herd-mentality society should go to trade school.

Besides "Theory of Education," Nock's main literary achievement was a biography of Thomas Jefferson. Appropriately, Nock starts off "Theory of Education" by clarifying that Jefferson, the great champion of equality, never thought that everyone was equally intelligent.

The quality of Nock's writing is excellent. His brilliance is apparent in his highly refined style.

John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Erez Davidi on February 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying that this book is not an easy book to digest, mainly because it attacks the common assumption that everyone is capable of obtaining higher education.

Nock argues that "based upon the assumption, popularly regarded as implicit in the doctrine of equality, that everybody is educable. This has been taken without question from the start." (p.30) As a matter of fact, Nock thinks that only a minority can be truly educated. However, he does think that the majority of people can be trained (just to make things clear, in Nock's view, a lawyer is not necessarily educated, but rather trained in law). Nock goes on to say that by putting educable students in the same class with ineducable students, the standards of the class have to be lowered to the level of the ineducable students and, as a result, hurt the progress of the educable students.

Nock believed that educable kids should be nurtured from a young age and be educated with a classical education (mostly studies of Latin, Greek, mathematics, literature, and history). Only by following classic education will the students be able to achieve their true potential.

There are three main flaws with Nock's book. First is the notion that most people cannot be educated. Nock doesn't provide any evidence to back this statement . Furthermore, even if this notion were correct, it must be taken into account that it may be because our current education system is flawed and not because most people are ineducable.

Secondly, Nock fails to explain how this education system was to be financed (Nock opposed any government support whatsoever, therefore, the option that this education system will be financed through taxes can be ruled out).
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jedediah Smith on January 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In my opinion, the major mistake that Nock made in this work was to misunderstand the reason that U.S. education had declined over the 30 year period before he wrote this book in the 1930s. This decline can be traced to the introduction of the Prussian mandatory education system in America in place of the previous locally controlled, one room schools which had worked so well to educate Americans in the past. Under the Prussian system only a small group of chosen ones would be truly educated to reason for themselves and think in terms of the big picture. This is the way the moneyed 'elites' have their children educated today. Everyone else would be trained to be workers or soldiers or specialists in this system, - trained to do what they were told in a very limited sphere. America had been a nation of farmers and small independent businessmen with an entrepreneurial spirit that helped advance the country rapidly. Such an independent people didnt fit into the corporate or imperial ambitions of certain wealthy and powerful interests who sponsored the new system of education in the country that would cement their dominant position. - - Nock's error was that he thought that Americans were stubbornly & mistakenly resisting the 'scientific' Prussian education system and trying to teach 'the dummies' who could never be educated. The poor results for most of the people were a designed intent of the new education system. It kept them 'in their place' so that they would never present a threat. There is no room here to go into this subject in depth, but I would suggest that anyone interested in this read the books and listen/watch interviews of JOHN TAYLOR GATTO to start. He is former NY city and NY state teacher of the year and explores these topics deeply.Read more ›
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