This is pretty interesting. I'm reading John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education and one part is just far too amazing to not blog. Apparently, the core inspiration for American public education int the 19th century was the Hindu system. Gatto explains how a clergyman, Andrew Bell, saw some real potential in their use of free schooling as a reinforcement of the caste system:
Bell noticed that in some places Hinduism had created a mass schooling institution for children of the ordinary, one inculcating a curriculum of self-abnegation and willing servility. In these places hundreds of children were gathered in a single gigantic room, divided into phalanxes of ten under the direction of student leaders with the whole ensemble directed by a Brahmin. In the Roman manner, paid pedagogues drilled underlings in the memorization and imitation of desired attitudes and these underlings drilled the rest. Here was a social technology made in heaven for the factories and mines of Britain, still uncomfortably saturated in older yeoman legends of liberty and dignity, one not yet possessing the perfect proletarian attitudes mass production must have for maximum efficiency. Nobody in the early years of British rule had made a connection between this Hindu practice and the pressing requirements of an industrial future. Nobody, that is, until a thirty-four-year-old Scotsman arrived in India as military chaplain.
Bell brought this system back to Britain and eventually it found its way to America.
The book is fascinating; I highly recommend it, and you can read it for free!Read this article