Secondary education was established to create “unity of thought”: Harvard, 1918

Principals of Secondary Education (1918)

Inglis’ book reveals the true purpose of secondary education. Photo:

Secondary school has become increasingly important in the modern world, and is viewed collectively today as a minimum requirement for success in terms of employment, life progression and development in society.

When did this thinking start? Who came up with this system and what was the purpose?

In the following video, we explore how secondary education was established to create fixed habits of reaction to authority, to determine ‘correct social roles’ and ‘collective purpose’, and to create a “unity of thought” amongst children.


The Inglis Lectureship in Secondary Education was established by the Harvard Graduate School of Education in honor of the late Professor Alexander James Inglis, Assistant Professor of Education at Harvard University, who by the mid-1920s had become a leading scholar and writer in the field of secondary education.

This acclaim all began when Inglis, a man who had transformed from an academic traditionalist devoted to Latin pedagogy to an influential progressive-experimentalist and advocate of the comprehensive ‘ high school’, published a book in 1918 titled ‘Principals of Secondary Education’.

The book, which was released in Boston, New York and Chicago, would soon become a benchmark in the field of secondary education.

According to Inglis’ book, the primary purposes of secondary education are as follows:

‘Social-Civic Aim’ – “The preparation of the individual as a prospective citizen and cooperating member of society.”

‘Economic-Vocational Aim’ – “The preparation of the individual as a prospective worker and producer.”

‘Individualistic-Avocational Aim’ – “The preparation of the individual for those activities … primarily involving individual action, the utilization of leisure, and the development of personality.”

The book also heavily discusses the “integrating function” of secondary education, which describes the development of “like-mindedness” and “social solidarity”, further emphasising the true nature of modern education.

Such a system leads to the subsequent implication that social worth is determined in a collective environment, causing children to be dependent on teachers/experts rather than on themselves. It also praises total conformity and condemns individuality as a threat to the system, and teaches that schedule, not interesting work, is what has value.


In the following video, our friend John le Bon explores Inglis’ book in detail, asking questions as to why people experience cognitive dissonance and denial to new information, as well as the purpose behind the schooling system.

Subscribe to John’s website for more hard-hitting information:


Principals of secondary Education by Alexander James Inglis (1918):

Inglis’ lectures in secondary education series:

The Six Principals of Schooling by John Taylor Gatto:

Thinking about our thinking:

The Inglis Lectureship in Secondary Education: harvardcrimson

6 Principles of Secondary Education: theinnovativeeducator


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