While going about everyday life, you’re bombarded with information. The TV, your phone, your laptop—all of them are dripping with news. You’re no stranger to what’s going on in the world. 

Political parties are pushing agendas into our courtrooms and classrooms. Laws are changing in favor of immoral ideas, and our kids are subjected to the consequences every day. Hyperactive media repetitively spreads lies and uncertainty. Global issues are pressing down on us.

Maybe by now, you’re feeling pretty cynical. When the next big story drops, you just roll your eyes and say, “Well I’m not surprised.” 

Or maybe you’re constantly filled with dread, anxiety, and uncertainty. “What is going on? This is crazy! How can this be happening? Will there even be an America left for my kids to enjoy?”

Whether those reactions describe you, or you’re somewhere in between, you have probably asked yourself how did we get here as a society? 

And second, you know that you need to do something about it.

Your American heart knows that you have a part to play, a role to fill. Today, we’ll begin unraveling the question “How did we get here?” and offer you some encouraging steps to take toward making a difference for good. 

Exploring Reform and Revolution

A society is a geographically defined area in which people rely upon one another for survival. Cultures are formed when people groups share beliefs, ideas, practices, customs, and so on. America is a magnificent collection of cultures that all share the same society. 

However, some predominant cultural movements are seeping through the cracks into the bedrock of our society, causing our foundational pillars to quake and begin crumbling. 

This pervasion of culture doesn’t happen overnight. Let’s step back a few centuries and look at the ideologies that first helped to form America’s soul, then at other ideologies that began challenging her core. 

Challenging the Religious Status Quo

In the 1500s, Martin Luther challenged the behavior of the Church because he saw that it was practicing tyranny in the name of faith—abusing citizens and making them suffer. Luther confronted the Catholic Church and eventually set in motion the Protestant Reformation.

This reformation became the vehicle that helped mobilize Christianity across nations throughout the next several hundred years. Other noted reformers like John Calvin and John Knox were the fathers of doctrines that still exist today in certain American churches (like Baptist and Presbyterian).

Following in the footsteps of these two famous Johns came another fellow named John Wesley. Wesley, accompanied by his friend George Whitfield, was responsible for beginning a revivalist movement in America (a movement that led to the “Great Awakening”). These men took the gospel across the colonies in the 1730s and helped plant congregations wherever they went. 

Faith became central to much of American society, and churches became the meeting places in most communities. Our own famous Benjamin Franklin had this to say about the nation-wide revival: “From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seem’d as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.” 

This was the religious climate of America during the Revolutionary War and subsequent founding years as a sovereign nation. Americans understood their calling and purpose. They worked hard to help build our young country and create a legacy of patriotism and faithful service to their God and their nation. 

A Century Later: New Threads

However, ideas and traditions can’t go unchallenged for long. After a long period of religious thriving in America, Charles Darwin came on the scene. In the mid-19th century, he introduced ideas that formed his famous Theory of Evolution—ultimately leading people to question long-held beliefs about human origin and our purpose here on earth. 

A few other famous names of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were also leaving their marks on history through new political theories. Influenced by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin succeeded in establishing Communism as the form of government in Russia through the Bolshevik Revolution

The Center for European Studies defines communism this way: “Communism is a political ideology and type of government in which the state owns the major resources in society, including property, production, education, agriculture, and transportation. It proposes a society where everyone shares the benefits of labor equally and eliminates the class system through the redistribution of wealth.” 

Whereas that may sound like a good thing, history shows that such a system only leads to suffering. One powerful leader, or a small group of powerful leaders, takes away individual freedom and oppresses citizens so that society becomes perpetually poor and stagnant. 

How We Got Here 

So, going back to your question, how did we get here as a society? 

Consider what we have explored: America’s history as a nation built with moral purpose, in conjunction with the rise of a few powerful theories that spread across the globe. Now we get to the part where these historical threads come together to form the ideas of a man named John Dewey. 

According to Britannica, John Dewey was an “American philosopher and educator who was a co-founder of the philosophical movement known as pragmatism, a pioneer in functional psychology, an innovative theorist of democracy, and a leader of the progressive movement in education in the United States.” 

That’s a mouthful. But in addition to that description, Dewey was also a student of the two major theories we’ve already discussed: Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory and Marxist/Leninist political theory. Influenced by these ideas, Dewey believed that the primary meaning of life was not morality, but mortality and survival—whatever the cost. Because of his belief that we are nothing more than physical matter, no personal or future consequence needs to be considered.

These beliefs of his would drastically influence modern progressivism and education. According to the Newman Society, “Dewey promoted what has since been labeled the ‘child-centered’ approach to education…[this] led to traditional virtue and notions of sin or evil being replaced in America’s educational system by the [student’s] right to be ‘himself,’ a shift which encouraged an egocentric, i.e. selfish or prideful, approach to knowledge. The results of such a shift are all too evident in our current situation.”

In a time when anything can be labeled as “truth” if you feel it strongly enough, the “current situation” spoken of by the Newman Society has started to spiral out of control.

The theories of Darwin, Lenin, and Dewey have marinated and dug deep roots into our education system. They are the basis for what we call Critical Theory today— a theory that challenges concepts of family, marriage, gender, race, and more. 

One idea leads to another consequence. And modern progressive schools have trailed away from instruction that is focused on teaching kids how to read, write, do arithmetic, and be patriotic members of society.

Instead, schools are focused on creating division and confusion among children by encouraging political correctness and training young minds in socio-political theories and ideologies. This picture doesn’t lead to a healthy future for our country. 

But the good news is, the course of history can be changed. And you get to be a part of it. 

Lead the way!  

The most poignant way you can influence education today is to serve on your local or state school board. This is so effective because school leadership originates with the school board. With people on the board who are driven by values and a desire to fight for truth and our kids, education can and will get better! 

But, we know that just saying “Get on the school board” is a bit daunting! 

That’s why NWEF has teamed up with the Leadership Institute to provide you with training that will

  • Equip you with the tools you need to get started. 
  • Help you run a successful campaign. 
  • Give you what it takes to win! 
  • And teach you how to make a difference as you serve.

Enroll in our online course Introduction to School Boards (free for a limited time) to learn more about core principles and best practices in education and take the next step toward helping the next generation of students get a quality education based upon clear, life-giving objectives.



Make a difference.

Run for school board.

Free course. Enroll today.

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  1. […] say, endlessly distracted by) societal issues and trends. Where did all this come from? Apart from some key philosophical influences of the last century, there are a few practices in place that have led to the hot political climate […]

  2. […] no doubt about it: the 19th century nurtured many new philosophies, ideas, and practices that heavily influenced education, many that […]

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