Underground History Of American Education With John Taylor Gatto [Documentary] | #History | #Education | #Public Schooling | #Gatto

BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
April 19, 2019

In the following ‘must-watch’ documentary of the week, the late John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down, Weapons Of Mass Instruction and A Different Kind Of Teacher, is interviewed by researcher and filmaker Richard Groves, from TragedyAndHope.com.

The interview is incredibly vast in scope, as it takes several hours, but these both gentlemen delve within the very bowels of the public schooling system and the surreptitious history that is held back from the public at large.

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Suggested Reading & Watching:

What Is The Difference Between Education & Public Schooling?
Logical Fallacies Employed In Every Day Life
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
How A Generation Lost Its Culture – by Professor Patrick Deneen
A Different Kind Of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
Philosophy 101 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
Brave New World & Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
What Is Education?  The Elite Curriculum – John Taylor Gatto
Breakaway Guide To Censorship, Disinformation, Logical Fallacies & More
How To Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
Classrooms Of The Heart [Documentary] – John Taylor Gatto
Sumerhill School – A New View On Childhood by A.S. Neil
Social Engineering 101
The True Purpose Of Modern Schooling
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Open-Source Method: Genius Education – Examples | John Taylor Gatto
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
Cultural Literacy – What Every American Needs To Know
by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston
A Workbook For Arguments by David R. Morrow & Anthony Wesson
Drilling Through The Core – Why Common Core Is Bad For American Education by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

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If you find value in this information, please share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and  BreakawayIndividual.com

___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who aims at empowering individuals while also studying and regularly mirroring subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

#Book Review: Cultural Literacy – What Every American Needs To Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr | #SmartReads | #Culture | #Education


BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
April 17, 2019

Cultural Literacy by E.D. Hirsch is a sobering look into some of the reasons why public schooling in America has been spiraling downwards for the last few decades.  At the vanguard of these issues, Hirsch narrows down this intellectual death spiral to the loss of cultural literacy among the masses.  This loss of cultural literacy has exacerbated the significant decline in public schooling in America.

Moreover, Hirsch makes it a point to show that cultural literacy is not just knowing about significant facts, or information as some would undoubtedly think.  Certainly, these are at times important, but more precisely, the author homes-in on the fact that cultural literacy is information shared by individuals within a particular social strata that makes their communications more efficient and enjoyable, thus allowing for a more cohesive social strata – creating a stronger culture.

With a critical eye, Hirsch notes:

“….literacy requires the early and continued transmission of specific information…Only by accumulating shared symbols, and the shared information that the symbols represent, can we learn to communicate effectively with one another in our national community.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added].

Employing copious amounts of research, Hirsch shows there should be a significant cause for concern about the poor quality of education, as well as other salient problems.

With deep concern, Hirsch soberingly warns:

“If we not achieve a literate society, the technicians, with their arcane specialties, will not be able to communicate with us nor we with them.  That would contradict the basic principles of democracy and must not be allowed to happen.”[2][Bold Emphasis Added].

Such an instance would fracture the populace, something that would only feed the divide and conquer left-right paradigm.

A sound and versatile education is impossible without a robust and culturally literate repertoire.  This deliberate shattering of an individual’s foundational education principles is causing the current catastrophic decline in education .  This is why the information touched upon by Hirsch is so pivotal and should be ruminated upon.

To home in on the point of deteriorating education, let’s take a gander at what two-time award winning teacher, researcher and writer, John Taylor Gatto stated in A Different Kind Of Teacher:

““Schools were designed by Horace Mann, E.L. Thorndike, and others to be instruments of scientific management of a mass population.  Schools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.  To a very great extent, schools succeed in doing this.”[3][Bold Emphasis Added]

Lowering cultural literacy, among other things, would undoubtedly be part of this process.  This is because culturally literate individuals will be familiar with the scaffolding of history and many of its nuances; such individuals are magnitudes harder to control, which is why public schooling through the Common Core system seeks to conform everyone through standardized testing and more.

We are at a turning point in history, and we either stop the descent into cultural nescience, individually, and as a nation, or we continue into the swamp of ignorance.

Irrespective of the circumstances, one thing is certain: there is still time to make significant changes if individuals choose to.  It is really up to individuals and their families to educate themselves, because the way the system is constructed, a well-rounded and complete education cannot take place within the system.  This is one of many reasons why self-directed learning is growing at an immense rate, and will continue to do so.  Don’t allow yourself, or those you know to fall by the wayside merely because the system is corrupt and cares not for true education but rather to instead create cogs for the machine.

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Sources:

[1] E.D. Hirsch, Jr., What Every American Needs To Know, p. xvii.
[2] Ibid., p. 2.
[3] John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 16.

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Suggested Reading & Watching:

What Is The Difference Between Education & Public Schooling?
Logical Fallacies Employed In Every Day Life
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
How A Generation Lost Its Culture – by Professor Patrick Deneen
A Different Kind Of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
Philosophy 101 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
What Is Education?  The Elite Curriculum – John Taylor Gatto
Breakaway Guide To Censorship, Disinformation, Logical Fallacies & More
How To Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
Classrooms Of The Heart [Documentary] – John Taylor Gatto
Social Engineering 101
The True Purpose Of Modern Schooling
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Open-Source Method: Genius Education – Examples | John Taylor Gatto
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston
A Workbook For Arguments by David R. Morrow & Anthony Wesson
Drilling Through The Core – Why Common Core Is Bad For American Education by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

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If you find value in this information, please share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and  BreakawayIndividual.com

___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who aims at empowering individuals while also studying and regularly mirroring subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

Mini-Documentary – “Classrooms of the Heart” – MUST SEE! – John Taylor Gatto

Source: JohnTaylorGattoTV
April 16, 2019

Gatto emphasizes non-traditional methods, such as independent study, volunteer service, and self-directed learning. You will see why he was awarded New York City Teacher of the Year, 3 years in a row, and the mentioned State Award, as well.

___________________________________________________________

Suggested Reading & Watching:

What Is The Difference Between Education & Public Schooling?
Logical Fallacies Employed In Every Day Life
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
How A Generation Lost Its Culture – by Professor Patrick Deneen
A Different Kind Of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
Philosophy 101 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
What Is Education?  The Elite Curriculum – John Taylor Gatto
Breakaway Guide To Censorship, Disinformation, Logical Fallacies & More
How To Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
Social Engineering 101
The True Purpose Of Modern Schooling
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Open-Source Method: Genius Education – Examples | John Taylor Gatto
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston
A Workbook For Arguments by David R. Morrow & Anthony Wesson
Drilling Through The Core – Why Common Core Is Bad For American Education by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

___________________________________________________________
If you find value in this information, please share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and  BreakawayIndividual.com

___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who aims at empowering individuals while also studying and regularly mirroring subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

#Quote Of The Day – #Education | #PublicSchooling | #Edu | #Schooling | #Politics | Government

“Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking.  That is against their interests.  They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the work.  And just dumb enough to passively accept it.”
– George Carlin

Note: if you wish to know the difference between public schooling and education, please read: What Is The Difference Between Education & Public Schooling

What Is The Difference Between Education & Public Schooling?


BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
April 13, 2019

Throughout many reviews in this blog, along with some articles discussing some of the reasons public schooling is to be seen in an askance manner, I have made it a point to write ‘public schooling’ when I mean ‘public schooling’, and education when I mean education.  While these both might seem at first blush to be mutually exclusive, they are not.  Not by a long shot.

To better understand the range of circumstances that shows the disparity between schooling and education, there’s no better author that homes in on this incisive issue than the late John Taylor Gatto.  The award winning Gatto spent over 3 decades within the public schooling system, up until the point that he chose to leave after continuously seeing the damage public schooling was doing to the children.  To that end, Gatto has spoken out at length about how the system is dumbing us down with no end in sight.

This dumbing down has been brought about by the belief that public schooling and education are the same thing, but unfortunately, they are not.  In Weapons Of Mass Instruction, Gatto expounds upon the significant difference between what public schooling and education truly are.  Gatto incisively states:

“In hunting for the difference between school and education, consider these layers: Schooling is organized by command and control from without; education is self-organized from within; school disconnects its clientele from other primary sources of learning.  It must do that to achieve administrative efficiency; education sets out to provide a set of bountiful connection which are random, willful, promiscuous, even disharmonious with one  another – understanding that the learning of resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention will inevitably involve surprising blends of things, things impossible to predict or anticipate in advance.

In education the student is awakened to the critical role natural feedback loops play in becoming independentFeedback loops attended to closely – not circumscribed by rules – create customized circuits of self-correction rather than a slavish need to follow the generalized direction of others.  But schooling is bound on the other hand to emphasize rules made by othersIt’s impossible even to imagine a school that could allow free will deviation from its programmers, except to the most trivial degree.

Education is never committed to subject knowledge, it always tends to regard life in the rich contexts.”[1][Bold & Underline Emphasis Added].

In life, everything is context.  Learning one subject matter without coupling it to all others is tantamount to a cook only having one ingredient and believing they can do a full course meal without learning how to use all the ingredients.  Just because someone can put one ingredient in a pot doesn’t mean they can make a meal any more than learning one subject without learning how to integrate it to all others makes one educated. This deliberately duplicitous dichotomy of education chopped up minute pieces by subject matter makes the subjects of life into ghosts of itself, facsimiles at best.

Moreover:

“Subject-learning is what schools because their intention is to create clerks, and specialists, who themselves are merely a fancy form of clerk.  But over and over again in the sciences and elsewhere we’ve come to understand that cross-fertilization, mixing the academic disciplines (and more) is the powerful driver of scientific advanceJohn Kanzius, a name referred to in an earlier chapter, was able to invent a new tool against cancer tumours precisely because he wasn’t a specialist in cancer research or even a college graduate.”[2][Bold & Underline Emphasis Added]

The above salient example is merely one of the myriad possibilities that can take place by not operating within such a restrictive paradigm as public schooling offers.

Gatto continues mincing no words:

The components of education are so diverse they establish a permanent internal state of dialectical argumentCertainty is never achieved in the educated mind…it works constantly to create replacements for what “everyone knows to be true.

On the other hand, memorynot synthesis or argumentis the dominant element in schooling.  Because of that impediment, “A” students are robbed test by test of their ability to think for themselves and to listen to the cues of their feedback circuits.”[3]

It doesn’t get any more cut and dry.

Now homing in on other additional destructive effects of schooling, Gatto states:

“Year after year, the International Happiness Survey reports only three condition necessary to judge your own life a happy one: (1) good relationships (2) good health (3) satisfying work.  But school, as I showed you earlier, sets up conditions in which bad health is difficult to escape, relationships are given no time or space to grow in and segregation of similar backgrounds in so-called “tracking schemes makes it nearly certain that class prejudice will flourish (putting the possibility of relationships with those different from oneself out of reach for students so tracked).  And the work imposed in schooling virtually never is directed to answering the compelling questions of youth.”[4]

According to Gatto, public schooling, as its currently being taught, is done in such a manner to be antithetical to health, happiness and relationships .  Is it any wonder that the current state of society echoes the effects of these very circumstances to a tee?

That is why true education is paramount, for not only does it leads to an individual to be able to learn and integrate everything that comes their way as the need arises, but do so in seamless fashion, not remaining static ever, but remaining fluid, mirroring the very fluidity of life; mirroring the ebb and flow of obstacle and lesson that live provides day in and day out.

Life lessons that make all the difference in the world.

Life lessons that lead to more education.

Life lessons that lead to growth.

And growth that leads to more life lessons.

All seamlessly interconnected, just like life is; just like every step an individual takes.

Steps that pave the foundation in schooling, or steps that pave the way in education.  Each of with starts with you – the individual.

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Footnotes:

[1] John Taylor Gatto, Weapons Of Mass Instruction, p. 177.
[2] Ibid., p. 177.
[3] Ibid., p. 178.
[4] Ibid., p. 178.

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Suggested Reading & Watching:

Logical Fallacies Employed In Every Day Life
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
How A Generation Lost Its Culture – by Professor Patrick Deneen
A Different Kind Of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
Philosophy 101 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
What Is Education?  The Elite Curriculum – John Taylor Gatto
Breakaway Guide To Censorship, Disinformation, Logical Fallacies & More
How To Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
Social Engineering 101
The True Purpose Of Modern Schooling
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Open-Source Method: Genius Education – Examples | John Taylor Gatto
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston
A Workbook For Arguments by David R. Morrow & Anthony Wesson
Drilling Through The Core – Why Common Core Is Bad For American Education by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

___________________________________________________________
If you find value in this information, please share it.  This article is free and open source.  All individuals have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and  BreakawayIndividual.com

___________________________________________________________
About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who aims at empowering individuals while also studying and regularly mirroring subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

#Book Review: Weapons Of Mass Instruction By John Taylor Gatto | #SmartReads


BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
April 4, 2019

For quite some time there has been a growing undercurrent of displeasure and outright disdain for the current public schooling system and its repeated failures throughout the years.  Predictably, driving reason for these displeasures are the consistent failures of students within a public schooling.

No matter how many new additional methods are added and no matter how much more money – usually in the hundreds of millions – is employed, the dumbing down of society continues, like clockwork.  And yet, the same suggestions by government and school officials keep getting mentioned, even though the results are abysmal at best, and exactly what some want, at worse.  Didn’t a wise man once say that doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is text book lunacy?

A voice of reason that came out swinging in this battle against pedagogical propaganda and this creature of conformity is John Taylor Gatto.

Not only was the late John Taylor Gatto the former NY City and NY State Teacher of the year [1991], but he made numerous efforts in detailing not only the pervading dumbing down of the public school system which has been in play for many decades now.  Gatto touched upon this in his timeless book, Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Public Schooling; moreover, Gatto often touched upon the conformity crisis that’s taking place with children via the deliberate social engineering of youth from the bottom up.

For instance, as is detailed in the Weapons Of Mass Instruction, and has been mentioned in documentaries and other books:

“In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions of intellectual and character education fade from their minds, and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk.

We shall not try to make these people, or any of their children, into philosophers, or men of science. We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen — of whom we have an ample supply.  The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

There is no ‘beating around the bush’ here.  The above quote is the agenda, and has always been.  Countless sources from this book and Gatto’s other books speak at length of this very issue.

Gatto also takes one step further and analyzes many of the components that set out to eviscerate imagination and critical thought in myriad ways.

Not to be outdone, Gatto not only shows why the public school system doesn’t work in its current form, but shows how particular individuals throughout history have performed downright amazing feats of human ingenuity without what the ‘experts’ would call ‘public schooling’.  Examples of these people are John Kanzius, who found a way to kill cancer that ‘experts’ hadn’t considered, and had no background in the field; Charles Webb, who wrote the film The Graduate; Ingvar Kamprad, who created IKEA; Frances Collins and Craig Venter, who had nigh no schooling, and wound up creating the human genome map for the Human Genome Project, and countless others.

Each of the above individuals did things, profound things, that was an antithesis to how the system works, and showed that not only can you – the individual – imagine it, make it, but you can make it BIG as an individual.  And that’s also why Gatto’s words resonate with many.  Education is distinct to each individual, while public schooling is about homogenizing people and creating clones who are predictable, conform at the drop of the hat, and do not question anything, at all, whatsoever.

Don’t believe me?  Great, you’re skeptical, and even question, and that’s outstanding.  Now listen to what comes from one of the very people who pushed this indoctrination system on the masses.

To fully realize what’s taking place, let’s take a gander at what William Torrey Harris [the ‘premier Hegelian philosophers in America’], was thinking and mentioned about public schooling over a century ago:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed customThis is not an accident but the result of substantial education which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual

The great purpose of school [self-alienation] can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places…It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature.  School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.”[2][Emphasis Added Throughout.

It doesn’t get any more cut and dry than that.  That is right in the open, in the public schooling literature.

There are many more sourced quotes speaking of the intentional dumbing down of society, with verifiable sources, just like that, if not worse.  For additional information on this troublesome subject, please read Dumbing Us Down & A Different Kind Of Teacher, also by John Taylor Gatto.

In summation, if one could ever do a synopsis of such an issue that filters into the very strata of society, then what Gatto has been doing is nothing less than yeomen’s work in the field of Education – true education.  Not only has Gatto been active in fanning the fires of dissent within the corrupt public schooling system, but he’s also made it a point to show what it takes to breakaway from the current corrupt system and also what it takes for individuals to shine in order to blare away the darkness.

If we as individuals and a society are ever going to regain the classical and robust education that we once had, at this moment in time we must do it ourselves – each and every one of us.  Furthermore, while becoming autodidacts and following paths of self-directed learning we need to show others the above truths.  And if need be, take others them under our wings and help them see the light of day.  We need to show them what’s possible because many individuals breakaway from the system and have rousing successes, as Gatto shows in his book.
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Sources & References

[1] John Taylor Gatto, quoting Rev. Frederick T. Gates, Business Advisor to John D. Rockefeller Sr., 1913, Occasional Letter Number One, General Education Board, Weapons Of Mass Destruction, p. 8
[2] John Taylor Gatto, quoting The Philosophy Of Education, 1908, Weapons Of Mass Instruction, p. 13

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Suggested Reading & Viewing:

The Catastrophic Decline Of Public Schooling: 21 Facts About Why Public Schooling Performs So Poorly
Piercing Perspectives #3: The Divide & Conquer Left Right Paradigm
Logical Fallacies Employed In Every Day Life
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
How A Generation Lost Its Culture – by Professor Patrick Deneen
How Our Public Schooling Cripples Our Kids By John Taylor Gatto
The Seven Lesson School Teacher
A Different Kind Of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
Philosophy 101 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
What Is Education?  The Elite Curriculum – John Taylor Gatto
How To Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
Social Engineering 101
The True Purpose Of Modern Schooling
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Open-Source Method: Genius Education – Examples | John Taylor Gatto
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston
A Workbook For Arguments by David R. Morrow & Anthony Wesson
7 Phenomenal Books For Homeschooling, Self-Directed Learners & Autodidacts
Drilling Through The Core – Why Common Core Is Bad For American Education by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors
Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell & Gary Lawrence
The Secret History Of Western Education – Charlotte Iserbyt [Documentary]
The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse

 

Against School – How Public Education Cripples Our Kids & Why by The Late John Taylor Gatto

MythReality

Source: WesJones.com | Published by Harper’s Magazine
John Taylor Gatto
September, 2009

How Public Education Cripples Our Kids & Why

I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.

Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers’ lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there. When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. Who wouldn’t get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? If even that. Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children. Who, then, is to blame?

We all are. My grandfather taught me that. One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else’s. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn’t know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. Certainly not to be trusted. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student. For the most part, however, I found it futile to challenge the official notion that boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the classroom. Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to help kids break out of this trap.

The empire struck back, of course; childish adults regularly conflate opposition with disloyalty. I once returned from a medical leave to discover that all evidence of my having been granted the leave had been purposely destroyed, that my job had been terminated, and that I no longer possessed even a teaching license. After nine months of tormented effort I was able to retrieve the license when a school secretary testified to witnessing the plot unfold. In the meantime my family suffered more than I care to remember. By the time I finally retired in 1991, I had more than enough reason to think of our schools – with their long-term, cell-block-style, forced confinement of both students and teachers – as virtual factories of childishness. Yet I honestly could not see why they had to be that way. My own experience had revealed to me what many other teachers must learn along the way, too, yet keep to themselves for fear of reprisal: if we wanted to we could easily and inexpensively jettison the old, stupid structures and help kids take an education rather than merely receive a schooling. We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight – simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids to truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then.

But we don’t do that. And the more I asked why not, and persisted in thinking about the “problem” of schooling as an engineer might, the more I missed the point: What if there is no “problem” with our schools? What if they are the way they are, so expensively flying in the face of common sense and long experience in how children learn things, not because they are doing something wrong but because they are doing something right? Is it possible that George W. Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would “leave no child behind”? Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up?

Do we really need school? I don’t mean education, just forced schooling: six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years. Is this deadly routine really necessary? And if so, for what? Don’t hide behind reading, writing, and arithmetic as a rationale, because 2 million happy homeschoolers have surely put that banal justification to rest. Even if they hadn’t, a considerable number of well-known Americans never went through the twelve-year wringer our kids currently go through, and they turned out all right. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln? Someone taught them, to be sure, but they were not products of a school system, and not one of them was ever “graduated” from a secondary school. Throughout most of American history, kids generally didn’t go to high school, yet the unschooled rose to be admirals, like Farragut; inventors, like Edison; captains of industry, like Carnegie and Rockefeller; writers, like Melville and Twain and Conrad; and even scholars, like Margaret Mead. In fact, until pretty recently people who reached the age of thirteen weren’t looked upon as children at all. Ariel Durant, who co-wrote an enormous, and very good, multivolume history of the world with her husband, Will, was happily married at fifteen, and who could reasonably claim that Ariel Durant was an uneducated person? Unschooled, perhaps, but not uneducated.

We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of “success” as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, “schooling,” but historically that isn’t true in either an intellectual or a financial sense. And plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons. Why, then, do Americans confuse education with just such a system? What exactly is the purpose of our public schools?

Mass schooling of a compulsory nature really got its teeth into the United States between 1905 and 1915, though it was conceived of much earlier and pushed for throughout most of the nineteenth century. The reason given for this enormous upheaval of family life and cultural traditions was, roughly speaking, threefold:

1) To make good people.
2) To make good citizens.
3) To make each person his or her personal best.

These goals are still trotted out today on a regular basis, and most of us accept them in one form or another as a decent definition of public education’s mission, however short schools actually fall in achieving them. But we are dead wrong. Compounding our error is the fact that the national literature holds numerous and surprisingly consistent statements of compulsory schooling’s true purpose. We have, for example, the great H. L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. . . . Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim.. . is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States . . . and that is its aim everywhere else.

Because of Mencken’s reputation as a satirist, we might be tempted to dismiss this passage as a bit of hyperbolic sarcasm. His article, however, goes on to trace the template for our own educational system back to the now vanished, though never to be forgotten, military state of Prussia. And although he was certainly aware of the irony that we had recently been at war with Germany, the heir to Prussian thought and culture, Mencken was being perfectly serious here. Our educational system really is Prussian in origin, and that really is cause for concern.

The odd fact of a Prussian provenance for our schools pops up again and again once you know to look for it. William James alluded to it many times at the turn of the century. Orestes Brownson, the hero of Christopher Lasch’s 1991 book, The True and Only Heaven, was publicly denouncing the Prussianization of American schools back in the 1840s. Horace Mann’s “Seventh Annual Report” to the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here. That Prussian culture loomed large in America is hardly surprising, given our early association with that utopian state. A Prussian served as Washington’s aide during the Revolutionary War, and so many German- speaking people had settled here by 1795 that Congress considered publishing a German-language edition of the federal laws. But what shocks is that we should so eagerly have adopted one of the very worst aspects of Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens – all in order to render the populace “manageable.”

It was from James Bryant Conant – president of Harvard for twenty years, WWI poison-gas specialist, WWII executive on the atomic-bomb project, high commissioner of the American zone in Germany after WWII, and truly one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century – that I first got wind of the real purposes of American schooling. Without Conant, we would probably not have the same style and degree of standardized testing that we enjoy today, nor would we be blessed with gargantuan high schools that warehouse 2,000 to 4,000 students at a time, like the famous Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado. Shortly after I retired from teaching I picked up Conant’s 1959 book-length essay, The Child the Parent and the State, and was more than a little intrigued to see him mention in passing that the modern schools we attend were the result of a “revolution” engineered between 1905 and 1930. A revolution? He declines to elaborate, but he does direct the curious and the uninformed to Alexander Inglis’s 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, in which “one saw this revolution through the eyes of a revolutionary.”

Inglis, for whom a lecture in education at Harvard is named, makes it perfectly clear that compulsory schooling on this continent was intended to be just what it had been for Prussia in the 1820s: a fifth column into the burgeoning democratic movement that threatened to give the peasants and the proletarians a voice at the bargaining table. Modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses. Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever reintegrate into a dangerous whole.

Inglis breaks down the purpose – the actual purpose – of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:

1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can’t test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.

2) The integrating function. This might well be called “the conformity function,” because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.

3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student’s proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in “your permanent record.” Yes, you do have one.

4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been “diagnosed,” children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits – and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.

5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin’s theory of natural selection as applied to what he called “the favored races.” In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit – with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments – clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That’s what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.

6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

That, unfortunately, is the purpose of mandatory public education in this country. And lest you take Inglis for an isolated crank with a rather too cynical take on the educational enterprise, you should know that he was hardly alone in championing these ideas. Conant himself, building on the ideas of Horace Mann and others, campaigned tirelessly for an American school system designed along the same lines. Men like George Peabody, who funded the cause of mandatory schooling throughout the South, surely understood that the Prussian system was useful in creating not only a harmless electorate and a servile labor force but also a virtual herd of mindless consumers. In time a great number of industrial titans came to recognize the enormous profits to be had by cultivating and tending just such a herd via public education, among them Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.

There you have it. Now you know. We don’t need Karl Marx’s conception of a grand warfare between the classes to see that it is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don’t conform. Class may frame the proposition, as when Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, said the following to the New York City School Teachers Association in 1909: “We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.” But the motives behind the disgusting decisions that bring about these ends need not be class-based at all. They can stem purely from fear, or from the by now familiar belief that “efficiency” is the paramount virtue, rather than love, liberty, laughter, or hope. Above all, they can stem from simple greed.

There were vast fortunes to be made, after all, in an economy based on mass production and organized to favor the large corporation rather than the small business or the family farm. But mass production required mass consumption, and at the turn of the twentieth century most Americans considered it both unnatural and unwise to buy things they didn’t actually need. Mandatory schooling was a godsend on that count. School didn’t have to train kids in any direct sense to think they should consume nonstop, because it did something even better: it encouraged them not to think at all. And that left them sitting ducks for another great invention of the modem era – marketing.

Now, you needn’t have studied marketing to know that there are two groups of people who can always be convinced to consume more than they need to: addicts and children. School has done a pretty good job of turning our children into addicts, but it has done a spectacular job of turning our children into children. Again, this is no accident. Theorists from Plato to Rousseau to our own Dr. Inglis knew that if children could be cloistered with other children, stripped of responsibility and independence, encouraged to develop only the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy, and fear, they would grow older but never truly grow up. In the 1934 edition of his once well-known book Public Education in the United States, Ellwood P. Cubberley detailed and praised the way the strategy of successive school enlargements had extended childhood by two to six years, and forced schooling was at that point still quite new. This same Cubberley – who was dean of Stanford’s School of Education, a textbook editor at Houghton Mifflin, and Conant’s friend and correspondent at Harvard – had written the following in the 1922 edition of his book Public School Administration: “Our schools are . . . factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned.. . . And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down.”

It’s perfectly obvious from our society today what those specifications were. Maturity has by now been banished from nearly every aspect of our lives. Easy divorce laws have removed the need to work at relationships; easy credit has removed the need for fiscal self-control; easy entertainment has removed the need to learn to entertain oneself; easy answers have removed the need to ask questions. We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer. We buy $150 sneakers whether we need them or not, and when they fall apart too soon we buy another pair. We drive SUVs and believe the lie that they constitute a kind of life insurance, even when we’re upside-down in them. And, worst of all, we don’t bat an eye when Ari Fleischer tells us to “be careful what you say,” even if we remember having been told somewhere back in school that America is the land of the free. We simply buy that one too. Our schooling, as intended, has seen to it.

Now for the good news. Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they’ll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology – all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.

First, though, we must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants. Don’t let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a preteen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there’s no telling what your own kids could do [especially with the amount of resources at bay in modern times]. After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

Read More At: WesJones.com
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**  09/2003 Harper’s Magazine.

* John Taylor Gatto is a former New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year and the author, most recently, of The Underground History of American Education. He was a participant in the Harper’s Magazine forum “School on a Hill,” which appeared in the September 2001 issue. You can find his web site here.

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Suggested Reading & Viewing:

The Catastrophic Decline Of Public Schooling: 21 Facts About Why Public Schooling Performs So Poorly
Piercing Perspectives #3: The Divide & Conquer Left Right Paradigm
Logical Fallacies Employed In Every Day Life
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
How A Generation Lost Its Culture – by Professor Patrick Deneen
The Seven Lesson School Teacher
A Different Kind Of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto
Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
Philosophy 101 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
What Is Education?  The Elite Curriculum – John Taylor Gatto
How To Read A Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
Social Engineering 101
The True Purpose Of Modern Schooling
Getting Things Done by David Allen
Open-Source Method: Genius Education – Examples | John Taylor Gatto
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston
A Workbook For Arguments by David R. Morrow & Anthony Wesson
7 Phenomenal Books For Homeschooling, Self-Directed Learners & Autodidacts
Drilling Through The Core – Why Common Core Is Bad For American Education by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors
Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell & Gary Lawrence
The Secret History Of Western Education – Charlotte Iserbyt [Documentary]
The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
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