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To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gatto: The True History of Public Education


Via Progressive Review. Quotes taken from The Underground History of American Education.

MEMORY HOLE - John Taylor Gatto was voted the New York City Teacher of the Year three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. But he became disillusioned with schools - the way they enforce conformity, the way they kill the natural creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning that every little child has at the beginning. So he began to dig into terra incognita, the roots of America's educational system.

In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee's report stated, "We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes." By the turn of the century, America's new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn't to teach). The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897:

"Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth."

In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberly - the future Dean of Education at Stanford - wrote that schools should be factories "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products. . . manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry."

The next year, the Rockefeller Education Board - which funded the creation of numerous public schools-issued a statement which read in part:

"In our dreams. . . people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our 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 learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple. . . we will organize children. . . and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way."

At the same time, William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906, wrote:

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

In that same book, The Philosophy of Education, Harris also revealed:

"The great purpose of school 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."

Several years later, President Woodrow Wilson would echo these sentiments in a speech to businessmen:

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

Writes Gatto: "Another major architect of standardized testing, H.H. Goddard, said in his book Human Efficiency (1920) that government schooling was about 'the perfect organization of the hive.'"

While President of Harvard from 1933 to 1953, James Bryant Conant wrote that the change to a forced, rigid, potential-destroying educational system had been demanded by "certain industrialists and the innovative who were altering the nature of the industrial process."

In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones, with a razor-thin slice of the population-mainly the children of the captains of industry and government-to rise to the level where they could continue running things.

Or as Hitler envisioned "education" for the Slavic Untermenschen in the occupied Eastern territories of his greater German reich, teach them to count to a hundred and read road signs. Rather than liberal education, we have servile education.

This was the openly admitted blueprint for the public schooling system, a blueprint which remains unchanged to this day. Although the true reasons behind it aren't often publicly expressed, they're apparently still known within education circles. Clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine wrote in 2001:

"I once consulted with a teacher of an extremely bright eight-year-old boy labeled with oppositional defiant disorder. I suggested that perhaps the boy didn't have a disease, but was just bored. His teacher, a pleasant woman, agreed with me. However, she added, "They told us at the state conference that our job is to get them ready for the work world. . . that the children have to get used to not being stimulated all the time or they will lose their jobs in the real world.'"

Or, if the state wasn't there to mass produce docile "human resources," employers might be forced to compete for labor by accommodating working conditions to the kinds of real people who were available for employment.

4 Comments:

Blogger Bbo Wallace said...

I knew there was something wrong with public school when I was six years old. I tried to teach myself to read when I was four, yet when school started to teach us to read at six, "Dick and Jane" was used. "See Spot. See Spot Run. Run Spot Run." I remember reading disappointed and bored. At six!

February 16, 2006 4:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I'm really enjoying all these education related posts of late. My girlfriend is taking the last few courses to secure her teaching degree, and her math course is making us question the way we were taught a lot of things. Especially math, which she thought she wasn't any good at. She's finding out that it is both easy and fun, now that it's not being shoved down her throat.

February 16, 2006 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Tom Ender said...

This links to perhaps a "better" version of "Dick and Jane". Though still not much help in learning to read, this might generate a few laughs.

I have enjoyed Gatto's Underground History book for a long time. It covers a tremendous amount of material.

February 19, 2006 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When capitalism is the primary value superceding all others, driving choices, interactions and lifestyles, it becomes necessary to create a cheap labor force to live up to its' goals of highest profit for least cost. The labor force struggles to gain independant critical thinking skills from the bare bones minimum education offered in public institutions geared at, you guessed it, weeding out the disadvantaged. College provides crtical thinking skills education, but most will not be able to attend/complete if struggling to survive. A "poor" class is needed, and as any successful escapee from the poor class knows, it takes a complete callousness toward others to make that climb out of the pool. "Obstacles to overcome" is a bogus public statement masking the truth - that "too many chiefs/not enough indians" can kill profit and economic growth-so prevent it at all costs...an old (and brutal) saying with startling relevance today. How to weed out who gets to be chief and who gets to be indian?

Long ago it was determined by tragic historical policy-makers whoever has the most money gets to stay chief, and their descendants along with them. Get the money, at all costs then. How to do that with pesky laws preventing slavery/exploitation? Countries prospered on slave labor, from actual slavery to exploitation of the poor and maginalized. Whatever group happens to have the least resources or numbers. Nothing has changed. It's packaged nicely as "freedom" if you fall, it's your own fault. Blame the victim. Easy and crimeless, if you have a good lawyer. Lawyers are the new doctors, whose services are now more critical and valued than life-saving (in a way, they are life saving, MONEY saving, in a country who's capitalistic goals are primary, money=life, whoever can save the money saves lives)

Here is where the empire crumbles though. Balance is absent. Without balance, instability ensues. The markets are showing this now. They will again. Without peace, without caring, without xenocentrism and cooperation, without sharing, without sacrificing some of ones own financial over-prospperity to ease the widening divide of resources to support peace and calm, without balance, capitalism leads to a "trickling down" calamity, when the indians are demoralized, marginalized and suffer, the "trickle up" will begin. All that money haorded will not keep the elite healthy, safe, and happy. Life becomes a serious of brutal exhanges with one another to protect/own what's left. The environment, the climate, humanity in general stops working together and starts warring. Money smarts and callousness do not result in happiness. The greater good is not served by this. The greater good is served by peace, and fairness. We as a nation have succeeded in bringing back the Cold War by failing to address these critical issues.

We allowed a moron into the Executive Office, twice. We let our goals of diplomacy and peace be destroyed by fiscally-motivated players on the World Stage, claiming to represent the majority of our nation, they don't. They represent the minority of shareholders of our national resources. We're stripping the Constitution to a meaningless relic held in a museum, and ignoring this dangerous progression because we're too tired, over-worked and afraid of government repercussions to demand change. Freedom, used to be something other nations respected us for. As we become mired in our own mess with little energy and motivation to demand change for peace we're no longer respected, we are villified. But as long as pofits do not suffer, no one seems to care,

All of this knowledge, and no wisdom.

Reagan may have left us a fiscal mess, but he left us something much more important, peace and cooperation of previously warring nations. Good will and support. Xenocentrism at its finest.

I ask, in a nation with so much, why are there so many without? Why is the CEO of my company lounging on a beach in Spain, watching his assets grow while I continue to work 12-18 hours a day, reporting to him as little as possible, he doesn't like to be disturbed, just to pay my rent (and mind you, barely paying it)? Why has my worth been valued so little? Why is the corporation my lord and ruler? Why haven't I done it? (Because I care about others, I run this company, I can run my own and do the same as him, I find myself unable to exploit peoples worth to do that. I share my profit and I wouldn't steal from the company, claiming my beach trip was a business expense. i don't want to be so wealthy, that I don't know, or care, where my money comes from and who is affected by my acquisition of it)

Corporations are the epitome of legal exploitation and slave labor. They assign an elite, through skill or nepotism, and the profits are guarded carefully, and legally. For every 20 executives, there are hundreds of disenfranchised "indians" and when it all collapses, it's going to be ugly. Without the good will of others, particularly other nations, we won't stand a chance. I'd say, the majority of us do NOT want to profit at the expense of other people and nations. If it means one less DVD I can buy this month, fine by me. But my current leaders, and several previous to that, seem to think they know whats best for me, and my majority.

A recent environmental report declared poor third world countries are most likely to suffer the consequences of global warming, yet the developed nations will escape relatively unscathed, even though they produce a large percentage of the pollution causing it. Another "chief" screweing the indian? The thing is, this report is bogus. No one can predict with certainty how the climate will respond. The "chiefs" are ignoring a simple fact of nature, too much of it is unknown to predict with 100% certainty what the consequences will be. We experienced not one, not two, but 12 documented mini-tornados in Brooklyn NY a few weeks ago. When Wall Street is flooded out of existence the way New Orleans was, want to verify the data and shake your heads as you blame the underling "weather scientists" failures, and sit back at the vacation ranch to ride it out?

Is this what our soldiers are dying for? Is this what I toil every day for? Is this why I hang my flag at my front door for every day?

I happen to think our media have also lost the ability to report and have access too, the REAL stories. Their careers are too important (the money) cannot dry up, surely we understand that don't we? Free Speech - another great get-around, if you don't know, you can't speak it. Lock up the journalists who dare to report. Better yet, discredit them, or even better, don't publish them, because, well, a big corporation owns the publications. A little pressure on the right executive will get rid of that nonsense. "I'll give you a big story on some missing weapons in Iraq, if you squash the story on my profit gains this year with the mortgage foreclosures in New Orleans." Or, "I'll get the IRS off your back, if you don't publish so-and-so's story"

Free press is no longer so free anymore is it? Journalistic protection is at an all time low. Too many chiefs getting nervous.

August 18, 2007 2:18 PM  

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