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

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 & 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
History So It Doesn’t Repeat – The Deliberate Dumbing Down Of America With Charlotte Iserbyt
Classrooms Of The Heart [Documentary] – John Taylor Gatto
Sumerhill School – A New View On Childhood by A.S. Neil
Social Engineering 101
Dialectical Thinking – Zeno, Socrates, Kant, Marx by Tommi Juhani Hanjijarvi Ph.D.
Underground History Of American Education With John Taylor Gatto
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

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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.

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#Book Review: Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil | #SmartReads | #Education

BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
April 19, 2019

Having read three books by the late John Taylor Gatto, who has spoken out at length about the inherent issues within public schooling, while also having met some people through discussing these books, someone was kind enough to recommend this particular book.  To say the least, this book is outside of the box as outside of the box can be when it comes to education.

Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood by A.S. Neil is a book that details the venture of those who took part in the school known as Summerhill, which sought to achieve a new standard of learning and growth.

A.S. Neil was the person mainly responsible for this audacious undertaking, and his actions echo still to this day.

What Neil sought to do was create a place where the idea/value of Freedom is wholly respected, through and through.  For this, this new school required a different way of thinking – a whole new mindset.  This venture required the removal of preconceived notions of childhood schooling, coupled with the open-mindedness that to achieve true education in the school system the child must govern entirely free to govern themselves.  This means that the child would be active in most of what the child chooses for their own development, which may include various aspects learning or playing.  A true unorthodox point of view if there ever were one.

Neil’s democratic style education based around the individual is quite evocative, because when carried out correctly [as myriad examples show in his book] it shows that children can self-govern themselves, and also do so quite well.  This takes place also with little to no interference from the adults, except in some very unique circumstances.  For the most part though, children were left to their own devices, to choose what type of learning they would undertake.

To gauge what Neil strove to achieve, let’s take a gander at his own words:

The goal was to use childhood and adolescence to create emotional wholeness and personal strengthNeil thought that once this wholeness had been achieved children would be self-motivated to learn what they needed academically.  The key to this growth was to give children freedom to play for as long as they felt the need in an atmosphere of approval and love.   The children were given freedom but not license; they could do as they pleased as long as it didn’t bother anyone else.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

Therein lies the beauty, for the child who ends up not playing, ends up not using one of the most important parts of life for learning and growth – imagination.  Furthermore, the children that have unfinished childhoods so to speak, later in life seek to do things that could have already taken place, and which end up slowing down the progress of growth as an adult.  That’s what Neil noticed in his work.

Couple to the above the fact that in the notable magazine, Scientific American, in an article titled “The Serious Need For Play”, it was reported by Melinda Wenner Moyer that one-third of the kids who had gone to play-free schools had been arrested for felonies.[2]

Additionally, there are other topics discussed within the book.  Everything from social structure, emotional problems, particularly with children who are a bit older, meetings, self-government, what are called ‘problem children’, play and self-regulation and much more is discussed at length.

Perhaps, the best way to understand what Summerhill is truly about comes from the following:

“You don’t have Summerhill in order that children should study or learn to become “ists” of any kind.  You let them function in their own play-work fashion, and you postulate no purpose for them at all.”[3]

The genius of the idea is that because their core individual foundation in childhood was so enjoyable and emotionally robust children end up learning vastly quicker when they choose to follow their path than students enter the public school system.

However, if that growth is not allowed when children are forced through compulsory schooling, that then crushes their individuality and imagination.  Those very circumstances turn children into robots, only capable of following orders and never taught to critically think.  Only memorization of facts becomes important, and not arriving at the facts through a strong critical-thinking process within their mental faculties.

For that reason, many of the topics of the book do delve into the idea of playing.  Neil does make it a point about focusing on the benefits of playing quite a bit.  What the notion of play entails is:

“…not thinking in terms of athletic fields and organized games; I am thinking of play in terms of fantasy.  Organized games involve skill, competition, teamwork; but children’s play usually requires no skill, little competition, and hardly any teamwork.”[4][Bold Emphasis Added]

In other words, true play, like a whetstone, hones the development of imagination.  And imagination is integral, because a child whose imagination hasn’t developed has had his childhood stultified, as well as their imagination, and will be a conformist child, and thus, a conformist adult at the drop of a hat.  Disturbingly, this is exactly what we see in society more and more with time.

The book is split up into two parts. First, the book covers all facets regarding Summerhill, which are covered at length from a variety of angles, citing dozens and dozens of examples of how children responded to particular scenarios and whatnot. Everything from classes, theater, music, sex, teachers, and much more is discussed here.  The second part of the book covers many aspects of Neils life, as he takes us through the journey of what brought him to taking part in Summerhill.

All this considered, the book is a fantastic read.  Admittedly, the first half appealed to me a lot more than the second part, but that’s because the interest for me was in the process for the individual and not so much in how the author came to be part of it.  Regardless, the book really is something worth pondering for anybody that thinks the one-size-fits-all public schooling and compulsory conformity system that western schooling has become is good, really needs to take a look at the conformity crisis that’s taking place.  That, however, is a whole different can of worms.  One that John Taylor Gatto discusses at length in all of his books.

If you have read any of John Taylor Gatto’s book, then you will know how indoctrination and conformity are the aim of public schooling, and there’s many public documents showing this.  Because of that, and more, an honest view into a different paradigm such as this one brought about by Neil is needed.  Summerhill has shown that education and personal growth can actually be enjoyable for once.

Summerhill has already broken new ground for a new paradigm.  Now it’s up to individuals to ruminate upon how to learn from it and see where it may take them.

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Footnotes:

[1] A.S. Neil, Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood, p. xviii
[2] Moyer, Melinda Wenner, “The Serious Need For Play.” Scientific American, 2013:  86.  Print.
[3] A.S. Neil, Summerhill School – A New View Of Childhood, p. 217.
[4] Ibid., p. 32.

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Suggested Reading & Watching:

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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.

7 Phenomenal #Books For #Homeschooling Self-Directed Learners & Autodidacts | #Education

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Real books disgust the totalitarian mind because they generate uncontrollable mental growth – and it cannot be monitored.”[Bold Emphasis Added]
– John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind Of Teacher, p. 82.

BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
March 29, 2019

Education is the most vital component of an individual’s repertoire.  Without it, the individual is like a ship without a rudder, drifting aimlessly amidst the seas of life

For that reason it is imperative to make sure individuals continue to educate themselves, no matter what stage of life they are in.  This is why the following list has been composed.

Each of the books reviewed below offer abundant wisdom from which to learn from.  Considering we are in an age where public schooling is about conformity, division, dumbing people down, and more, it would be wise for individuals to take their own education into their hands.

The books below will help individuals cement a firm foundation upon their intellectual faculties and be able to extract the most out of life and their individual journey.  If you wish to read more about the books, click the link on the book titles to heads towards the reviews.

Book #1:  Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D

Out of all of these  7 books, this is hands down the most demanding one.  That said, this book will net the most benefits because it couples into all the other subjects and areas of life, and well as each of your everyday endeavors.   The lessons of this book will be useful every single day.  This is because logic is employed in everyday life in one form or another.

Although requiring considerable effort, the book is a much easier read than Aristotle’s Organnon, while still covering the core dynamics.

Book #2:  The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar, Logic & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.

Historically, the Trivium was taught as part of classical education.  That is no longer the case however.  Because of that it is imperative that books discussing classical education as The Trivium be ruminated upon since the trivium is one of the leading reasons why education decades and centuries ago was vastly superior than it is now.

The Trivium encompasses all aspects of grammar, logic and rhetoric.  This book is a thorough presentation on general grammar (vastly different than what modern schooling teaches), fallacies, syllogisms, a solid logic introduction, enthymemes, poetics, figurative language , all with a hefty dose of examples from which to learn from.

Just as a house cannot be complete without a foundation, an individual’s education, no matter the age, cannot be complete without knowledge of the Trivium.

Book #3:  How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

The title of this book is a misnomer and many people overlook it because they ‘know’ how to ‘read’ a book.  Reading isn’t the main focus as much as information extraction – getting the most out of the book, which is much more different than simple reading.

If there is one book you read, make it this one, that is because you read within every day life, and the more information we are subjected to, the more we will read.  Knowing how to get the most out of everything we read, every article, every study, every book, every story and so on, et al., will only help you get and remain ahead of the curve.

This is definitely a must-read book.  In fact, it would be a mistake not to have it because not following many of these tenets would mean an individual is only attaining fractional understanding of all subjects.  The book really is phenomenal and highly recommended.  It’s been popular for decades, and with good reason.

Book #4:  Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.

If you want an easy-to-follow introduction to philosophy that is accessible to everyone but also stimulating enough to get your brain cells churning, ponder this book.  It’s a very unique way of looking at philosophy and should not be overlooked.  It is also much shorter than the previous three books above.

Book #5: 
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston

This book hones your critical thinking skills in a very incredible manner.  Seeing the failure of modern schooling, one would figure for a public school system that continues to fail, one would figure critical thinking would be at the top of agenda to implement within public schooling.

This book is affordable, has ample exercises, uses a very logical and reasonable approach that builds on itself and is easy to follow.  It’s complex enough, but not overly so.  It’s a book that’s referenced often and highly valuable.

Book #6: 
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi

Now, this piece by Cioffi brings a fascinating and refreshing outside-of-the-box perspective to argumentation to boot.  The author takes a rather unique approach I’ve never seen before, and one I wished was available in public schooling, but of course isn’t.  The book covers everything from essays, thesis, creative writing, paragraph design, audience considerations, writing prompts, fallacies and more.  If you’re a regular writer of any type, even if it’s not argumentation per se, I would still say this is a must read.  Or at least consider it.  As part of a homeschooling and self-directed course, this is definitely a must have though.

Book #7: Sherlock Holmes – The Complete Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

And here comes the curveball: learning Logic through fiction!

This one’s an outside-of-the-box suggestion, but with good reason.  Sherlock Holmes hands down is the best book from which to learn critical thinking in fiction form.  If you have any suggestions to add, or better, I would really like to hear them because I am always open-minded and would like to read similar books in fictional form since it allows a reader to enjoy leisure time, while also honing the mind simultaneously.

Holmes uses his usual analytical approach that’s incisive in logic and precise in detail to solve every single case.  Some cases offer more for learning than others, but the book as a whole is something every person should read and is part of an individual’s robust cultural literacy as well.

What we as individuals accomplish in life, especially if you want to live life to the fullest, is directly proportional to what we know and are capable of.  Without robust capabilities an individual is like a leaf in the wind, merely flowing aimlessly in the wind without chosen direction.

This is why it’s crucial to make sure your education stands on firm ground.  Without it, we’re only merely ghosts of ourselves, carrying out only a fraction of what would be possible within our lives.

It’s never too late to proactively continue one’s education.

Seek to better yourself, every single day; every single step, every single breath.

Seek to learn every day, from every person, in every instance.

Not only will that help solidify your intellectual faculties in an ironclad manner, but it will also imbue your life with more meaning than you could ever imagine.

After all, if we don’t continue our education, we surrender ourselves to self-chosen ignorance.

And who wants to do that?

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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
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: Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy | #SmartReads

BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
March 28, 2019

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
– Nelson Mandela

“A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
– James Allen

Given the penchant of self-help books guaranteeing everything under the sun, “Never judge a book by its cover” was the first thing that came to mind upon seeing the cover of this book.  Thankfully though, this book was not merely a ghost in a shell.

Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy is a rather unique approach to create a road to success.

Drawing from a wide-array of fields such as philosophy, psychology, history, metaphysics, and more, Tracy fuses the insights learned through experience and research into this treasure trove of information.  All of this is aimed for individuals to become active in their own self-mastery.

The insights are varied, but critical, for they cover subjects such as an individual’s relationships, mindset, critical decision making, and even interactions with children.  The book features a lot more than that too.

In fact, some of the tips suggested in this book remind me of Neurolinguistic Programming [NLP] books, given the nature of the topic, which is focusing your thoughts into creating new habits in order to bring about profound individual change.  The loose comparison is mentioned to serve as a reference for those that might have read books on NLP or are interested in them.

The one thing that the author homes in on, and does so aptly, is the importance of having a sound mindset.  As the author alludes to often, with proper mindset anything can be achieved.

In fact, in a sentiment that calls to mind the timeless quote by Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try,” the author states:

“A major turning point in your thinking comes when you change your language from “whether” to “how.”  When you start thinking about how you are going to accomplish something you want, and you simultaneously refuse to consider whether it’s possible or not, your entire mentality begins to change.”[1][Bold Emphasis Added]

Is it really that simple?  Henry Ford seemed to think so when he intimated, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

A strong mindset is crucial.  In fact, maintaining a keen mindset is everything.  Maintaining a proper mindset should be a key focus of individuals, since creating negative habits can happen a lot quicker than one realizes.  Tracy soberingly notes:

The most dangerous habits you can form…are mental habits.  Because of the fact that whatever you think about continually you create in your life, your negative or self-limiting thoughts hurt you more than anything else you can engage in.”[2][Bold Emphasis Added]

This is something attentive individuals will notice when being mindful of their surroundings and thoughts.  Not only has this happened to me, but I have witnessed it often in family, friends and acquaintances.   Such is the power of the human mind, and as such it should be carefully and thoughtfully employed.

Whether we become our own worst enemies, or we become our best friends is up to us.  The great thing is that we hold the key to the doorway of change.

Maximum Achievement is a terrific read in its totality, made all the more relevant by how high-speed our lives have become, as well as how easy it is for people to get distracted and create poor habits.  Complement this book with Getting Things Done by David Allen, and you will undoubtedly have a great foundation from which to proceed into a better and more rewarding future.  Stay focused, stay productive, and do not be dissuaded by any obstacles that might arise.

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Footnotes:

[1] Brian Tracy, Maximum Achievement, p. 88.
[2] Ibid., p. 91

________________________________________________________________________

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
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.
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: Sherlock Holmes – The Complete Novels & Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle | #SmartReads

“A mind needs a book as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”
– George R.R. Martin

BreakawayIndividual.com
Zy Marquiez
March 26, 2019

Ironically, it was through the most serendipitous of circumstances that this novel was suggested to me.  Following a lengthy discourse with my economics professor a long time ago in which I asked what he thought was the best way to learn logic, he, in his classic fashion, suggests not a textbook, but Sherlock Holmes!  At the time, thought it was a joke myself.  Interestingly enough, he wasn’t joking.

Here, now, many years later, the adventures of Sherlock Holmes were the way that yours truly was introduced to logic through great fiction to boot.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s magnum opus, Sherlock Holmes, features characters that are rather unique but very believable; the setting is always top-tier and authentic, the mysteries abound, and there’s puzzles wrapped in enigmas all woven into phenomenal fiction as well.  This is one of the great reasons rereading this series is so easy and serves as a fictional fall back for reading, especially when a lot of modern fiction is quite lacking.

In more modern times, there have been great mystery writers, and many imitators in countless ways, but none has truly come close to creating a fun, readable, witty, critically  thinking, logical, and intriguing series in the way that Arthur Conan Doyle did when the Sherlock Holmes series.  Those who attempt to follow in the author’s footsteps fall quite short, even when the authors have a template of what worked in the past.  This is why, after my third reading of this series, it’s still a great as ever, and nothing really compares.  And what’s more, there’s always something to learn from it, too.

Let’s boil it down.  Great fiction is great because it allows wonder and imagination to take flight, and sparks creativity like nothing else.  Sherlock Holmes definitely creates auspicious and believable adventures upon which any curious mind would love to venture.

This fictional series does way more than that though.  If it had only sparked imagination, it would have been a really good, or even a great series.  But even so, it offers so much more.  Sherlock Holmes is a veritable crashcourse into how to critically think and employ logic, wrapped up in a fantastic fictional package that is as timeless as it is robust.

For me, this book falls within what Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren referred to as the top tier of books.  As the authors note in their landmark How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading:

“Of the few thousand such books there is a much smaller number – here the number is probably less than a hundred – that cannot be exhausted by even the very best reading you can manage.  How do you recognize this?  Again it is rather mysterious, but when you have closed the book after reading analytically to the best of your ability, and place it back on the shelf, you have a sneaking suspicion that there is more there than you got….In fact, you cannot put your finger on it, but you know it is there.  You find that you cannot forget the book, that you keep thinking about it and your reaction to it.  Finally, you return to it.  And remarkable things happen.”[1][Bold & Underline Emphasis Added]

Moreover:

“…if the book belongs to the highest class – the very small number of inexhaustible books – you discover on returning that the book seems to have grown with you.  You see new things in it – whole new sets of new things – that you did not see before.  Your previous understanding of the book is not invalidated; it is just as true as it ever was, and in the same ways that it was true before.  But now it is true in still other ways, too.”[2] [Bold Emphasis Added]

For me, this book – all of its fictional stories – accomplishes all of the above and more.

Sure, there are many other books that offer many life lessons, and the classics are riddled with them. However, none teach the individual the foundation for critical thinking and logic like Sherlock Holmes does.  This is why this stands above and beyond countless other books when it comes to those two crucial points for me personally.

If you homeschool, if you’re an autodidact, a self-directed learner, or simply someone that wants to read a great book, then read this.  You will not regret it.

___________________________________________________________
Footnotes:

[1] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading, p. 333.
[2] Ibid., p. 333.

___________________________________________________________
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.