quote:Public schooling is not broken. It's doing exactly what intended to do...dumb down the masses to create corporate automatons and mindless consumers.
I'm going to make the bold assertion that my class does not do this. Every project we do (and projects are all we do) has open-ended outcome... They can't be mindless, or they couldn't do it.
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"By the way, tenure is not for the "firing for cause" purpose you're stating."
As I described it is exactly what "tenure" means in massachusetts. Once you hit three years, you get "professional status," which means that you can no longer be fired for no reason, but it must be for cause. This is part of the union contract for my district, and it is the only tenure that exists in massachusetts.
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Ditto what Ev said for Texas... I get one year contracts and I can be terminated without a hearing until I've been in this district for 3 years... then I have to have a hearing, and I get 3 year contracts. That's it.
We also don't even have much of a union.
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Public schooling hasn't been solely about dumbing down the masses to create corporate automatons for quite a long time, if indeed it ever was. To the extent that it is not about doing this, we have teachers to thank.
Public schooling in states with, to paraphrase tom, non-functional governments might have public schooling that creates mindless automatons. i would suggest the simplest way to fix this would be to start putting people who do research in education and learning in charge of designing state standards and curriculums.
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SimplyBio and Ev, the view of the book is NOT to disparage individual teachers, nor does it imply that every student is automatically reduced to mindless automatons.
The point is that the entire system - the environment, curriculum, processes and standards that have been created are all engineered to breed the kind of results that are endemic to the system.
quote:Forced schooling was the medicine to bring the whole continental population into conformity with these plans so that it might be regarded as a "human resource" and managed as a "workforce." No more Ben Franklins or Tom Edisons could be allowed; they set a bad example. One way to manage this was to see to it that individuals were prevented from taking up their working lives until an advanced age when the ardor of youth and its insufferable self-confidence had cooled.
From the beginning, there was purpose behind forced schooling, purpose which had nothing to do with what parents, kids, or communities wanted. Instead, this grand purpose was forged out of what a highly centralized corporate economy and system of finance bent on internationalizing itself was thought to need; that, and what a strong, centralized political state needed, too. School was looked upon from the first decade of the twentieth century as a branch of industry and a tool of governance. For a considerable time, probably provoked by a climate of official anger and contempt directed against immigrants in the greatest displacement of people in history, social managers of schooling were remarkably candid about what they were doing. In a speech he gave before businessmen prior to the First World War, Woodrow Wilson made this unabashed disclosure:
We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
By 1917, the major administrative jobs in American schooling were under the control of a group referred to in the press of that day as "the Education Trust." The first meeting of this trust included representatives of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the National Education Association. The chief end, wrote Benjamin Kidd, the British evolutionist, in 1918, was to "impose on the young the ideal of subordination."
At first, the primary target was the tradition of independent livelihoods in America. Unless Yankee entrepreneurialism could be extinguished, at least among the common population, the immense capital investments that mass production industry required for equipment weren’t conceivably justifiable. Students were to learn to think of themselves as employees competing for the favor of management. Not as Franklin or Edison had once regarded themselves, as self-determined, free agents.
Only by a massive psychological campaign could the menace of overproduction in America be contained. That’s what important men and academics called it. The ability of Americans to think as independent producers had to be curtailed. Certain writings of Alexander Inglis carry a hint of schooling’s role in this ultimately successful project to curb the tendency of little people to compete with big companies. From 1880 to 1930, overproduction became a controlling metaphor among the managerial classes, and this idea would have a profound influence on the development of mass schooling.
I know how difficult it is for most of us who mow our lawns and walk our dogs to comprehend that long-range social engineering even exists, let alone that it began to dominate compulsion schooling nearly a century ago. Yet the 1934 edition of Ellwood P. Cubberley’s Public Education in the United States is explicit about what happened and why. As Cubberley puts it:
It has come to be desirable that children should not engage in productive labor. On the contrary, all recent thinking...[is] opposed to their doing so. Both the interests of organized labor and the interests of the nation have set against child labor.1
The statement occurs in a section of Public Education called "A New Lengthening of the Period of Dependence," in which Cubberley explains that "the coming of the factory system" has made extended childhood necessary by depriving children of the training and education that farm and village life once gave. With the breakdown of home and village industries, the passing of chores, and the extinction of the apprenticeship system by large-scale production with its extreme division of labor (and the "all conquering march of machinery"), an army of workers has arisen, said Cubberley, who know nothing.
Furthermore, modern industry needs such workers. Sentimentality could not be allowed to stand in the way of progress. According to Cubberley, with "much ridicule from the public press" the old book-subject curriculum was set aside, replaced by a change in purpose and "a new psychology of instruction which came to us from abroad." That last mysterious reference to a new psychology is to practices of dumbed-down schooling common to England, Germany, and France, the three major world coal-powers (other than the United States), each of which had already converted its common population into an industrial proletariat.
In other words, teachers such as yourselves can certainly inspire creativity, foster learning and give whatever positive educational experiences you can to whatever students are receptive, capable and able of it in your respective classes - but the overarching structure of the system virtually guarantees that whatever respective achievements in learning and educating individual students are results that occur in spite of the system in place.
quote:Schools at present are the occupation of children; children have become employees, pensioners of the government at an early age. But government jobs are frequently not really jobs at all—that certainly is the case in the matter of being a schoolchild. There is nothing or very little to do in school, but one thing is demanded—that children must attend, condemned to hours of desperation, pretending to do a job that doesn’t exist. At the end of the day, tired, fed up, full of aggression, their families feel the accumulated tedium of their pinched lives. Government jobs for children have broken the spirit of our people. They don’t know their own history, nor would they care to.
In a short time such a system becomes addictive. Even when efforts are made to find real work for children to do, they often drift back to meaningless busywork. Anyone who has ever tried to lead students into generating lines of meaning in their own lives will have felt the resistance, the hostility even, with which broken children fight to be left alone. They prefer the illness they have become accustomed to. As the school day and year enlarge, students may be seen as people forbidden to leave their offices, as people hemmed in by an invisible fence, complaining but timid. Schools thus consume most of the people they incarcerate.
School curricula are like unwholesome economies. They don’t deal in basic industries of mind, but instead try to be "popular," dealing in the light stuff in an effort to hold down rebellion. That’s why we can’t read Paine’s Common Sense anymore, often can’t read at all. Only one person in every sixteen, I’m told, reads more than one book a year after graduation from high school. Kids and teachers live day by day. That’s all you can do when you have a runaway inflation of expectations fueled by false promissory notes on the future issued by teachers and television and other mythmakers in our culture. In the inflationary economy of mass schooling—with its "A’s" and gold stars and handshakes and trophies tied to nothing real—you cease to plan. You’re just happy to make it to the weekend.
Once the inflation of dishonesty is perceived, the curriculum can only be imposed by intimidation, by a dizzapie of bells and horns, by confusion. With inflation of the school variety, a gun is held to your head by the State, demanding you acknowledge that school time is valuable; otherwise everyone would leave except the teachers who are being paid.
quote:KidB wrote: Numbers on a ledger won't tell you jack. You need teachers who you know to be good and capable in the classical sense, and then trust them.
I agree, but why not easily get rid of teachers who are NOT good, NOT capable, and NOT worth trusting to teach our kids? You're argument is against competition, but it doesn't imply any need to keep tenure.
quote:KidB wrote: People talk about teaching as if it's just another job. That's the problem. Go ahead and keep telling everyone it's just another everyday job, and that it's only worth an everyday paycheck, and - go figure! - you'll get a lot of mediocre results.
I absolutely agree. I've had some wonderful teachers who really changed me. They deserved a lot more money and respect than they ever got.
I've also had some pathetic waste-of-human-flesh teachers that should have been fired and replaced on the spot. And I see no way of accomplishing that without some of this "competitive" stuff you're railing against, namely (1) offering far better teacher pay, and (2) getting rid of tenure and union shop agreements.
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Don't judge by what I wrote...read it for yourself. The author doesn't miss it at all - it's just so comprehensive in scope that I really do not do his work justice with what I've posted.
The man goes through a wide variety of sources for the current state of affairs, and he has a quite an extensive catalog of anecdotal experiences that he relates...things for which I'm quite sure you and SB and any other public education teacher can relate to.
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"and (2) getting rid of tenure and union shop agreements."
I just hope you realize that your understanding of how tenure works in public schools is dead wrong in at least two states, and probably most.
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Standardized testing often suffers from the same problem as NCLB. It should affect funding and performance reviews ONLY for those marginal situations where kids aren't learning the basics. It should be the minimum, and shouldn't make a lick of difference to classes whose students waver between "A" and "B" performance.
It took me almost 4 days to read the book in it's entirety...but the following article written by the author is actually a pretty good summation of what the book details:
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 2003 issue.
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. Certainty 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 t~at 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, 1 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 insightsimply 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 11 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 modem 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 re-integrate 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, lib, erty, 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 pre-teen, 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. 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.
Ah. I just noticed this thread. Welcome back, SB. Good to read ya again.
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Daruma, do you believe that? Because it's monstrous if true. I must say it fits my experience with 'school'. And on the Misc thread I just told someone that though I felt like a father I still didn't feel like a grown-up. (And then I read that. Spooky.)
There's just so much thats... not correct about that essay. I don't really have the time or energy tonight, but suffice it to say, one of the major revolutions in education has been over the last 25 years or so where the scientific method has been applied to how children learn... and adopting whats learned into curriculum. I don't think most of what this guy is railing against occurs in schools and districts where the teachers have gone through modern education training.
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LOL - I simply did not expect you to get this at all Ev...but I tried anyways. You are simply too invested in the system.
All I can say is read the book...he goes into far greater detail about the history and such. Aside from that, I believe the guy has certainly raised irrefutable points: namely, he has a laundry list of great Americans that have achieved so much without the benefits (*snicker*) of compulsory public education.
KE - yes, I believe it absolutely. Everything this former teacher writes about are things I can identify with when I look back on my own years wasted in public education.
I learned far more from self-study by reading in grades K-12 than I ever did from any actual class.
I was chronically under-performing from my classes out of sheer boredom. I hated being in school and graduated with the bare minimum GPA...a D+ average.
Yet, only 1 year later, I was hired by my local community college to be a reading and writing tutor for my fellow students, based simply on my essays in my freshman English 101 class. Had they actually looked at my public school track record, they would most assuredly been shocked to find out how poor my grades in English were - and yet they paid me for the next 2 years to help teach others how to read and write better.
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Aside from broadly imposing nefarious, conspiratorial motives on the whole educational system, I actually agree with a lot of the problems the article discusses. But it would carry a lot more weight if he simply discussed the problems, chalked it up to the "law of unintended consequences," and then dealt with possible solutions.
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The thing is, we as a society, have been conditioned to the point that whenever anyone points to "nefarious, conspiratorial motives" it's the knee-jerk default to write it off as ravings of a paranoid lunatic.
Look at your default reaction here, drew. You would actually find it more credible if he were to point out the problems and claim they are the "law of unintended consequences."
But that speaks to the very heart of why Gatto undertook researching and writing the book in the first place.
quote: 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?
Too much coincidence when you look at the big picture he presents in the book to simply write it off as "unintended consequence."
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Okay, but who cares? I don't care about fighting some conspiracy. I care about fairly evaluating underlying problems, them coming up with workable solutions.
Over-dramatizing it with his antagonistic attitude does make it less credible, because credible people are less likely to use fallacies like Straw Man or Ad Hominem. But more importantly, it focuses attention on perceived enemies, rather than keeping the attention on the problems themselves. Do you really want that? Not me. I'm more interested in making things better than in indicting those at fault.
P.S.- Crossfire and Hannity & Colmes never informed anyone or solved anything. They merely allow people to feel self-righteous while ignoring the problems themselves.
How is he over-dramatizing? The fact that the man spent 30 years teaching in the system, and was a three time winner of "State Teacher of the Year" should speak far more to the credibility of his case than the standard you seem to be applying here: namely his tone.
The man looked at the problems from the inside of the system he worked for decades in, and tried to find out the answers as to why things are the way they are.
That involves the history, and motivations behind the architects of the current system of compulsory education.
What does that have to do with Hannity and Colmes, Crossfire, et al?
The article is merely a synopsis of the far more substantive and comprehensive case he presents in the book...and if you actually read it, you will see he does NOT rely on cheap rhetorical devices like Straw Man and Ad Hominem to make his case.
And he DOES offer solutions to the problems he sees are inherent in the system of compulsory public education. His prescription for an alternative to the current system can be found in Chapter 18.
"In other words, teachers such as yourselves can certainly inspire creativity, foster learning and give whatever positive educational experiences you can to whatever students are receptive, capable and able of it in your respective classes - but the overarching structure of the system virtually guarantees that whatever respective achievements in learning and educating individual students are results that occur in spite of the system in place."
Our overarching social structure is based on this. To paraphrase Old Man John Birch: None dare call it fascism.
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"LOL - I simply did not expect you to get this at all Ev...but I tried anyways. You are simply too invested in the system."
And you're too invested in bringing down the system.
Its worth noting he left teaching 1991. 17 years ago. A LOT has changed in public education, in particular how teachers are taught and how we learn about how students learn, since 1991.
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Actually, on a personal level, I'm no longer invested at all in bringing down the system, as I'm outside of it, and have no immediate interests invested in it either. My own introspection on my own experiences in the public education system, from Kindergarten, all the way to graduation from the public University, are what served as my own baseline for ascertaining whether or not what Gatto has written rings true.
Aside from that, what do you mean a lot has changed? How would you know? Have you been teaching since 1991? Are not the problems we have been hearing/reading/watching about in the media with regards to education the same as they were back then?
Why is vouchers such a hot topic than, if so much has changed since he was a teacher?
Why does half this thread consist of two public school teachers bemoaning the problems of the institution and the perception of your profession by society at large? The very things you and SB discuss in this thread as old as the institution of compulsory education in America itself, and the primary features of the system that result in the failures haven't changed at all.
A few superficial things may have changed, but the basic problems of the system have not...because the system was designed to create the very problems they purport to offer the solutions to.
The man labored for 30 years in the system...but you've sought to discount his primary assertions without having read the book, because, as I said, you are too invested in the system. It defines how you see yourself. Your self-image of the noble teacher in a noble profession in a noble system that is vital to the future generations.
In short, you are the "true believer" he talks about in the book.
But if you look at where you are at and what you are dealing with, tell me Ev, do you not see the very problems he speaks of at your own institution?
The bored kids? The petty colleagues? The bloated, do-nothing bureaucracy that hinders rather than helps your struggle to practice your chosen profession? The children who HAVE to be in your class...but you KNOW should be doing something else with their lives, because they simply DO NOT FIT in the academic institutional environment?
Or is everything just fine?
There is contempt for the public teaching profession because the system itself is contemptible!!!
We remember the few teachers that made such huge impacts on us, because in 12 years of forced institutionalization, very few teachers STOOD OUT and made a true impact amongst the overwhelming majority of teachers that were merely going through the motions as cogs in the soul-killing, intellectual-curiousity destroying machine we call "education."
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"Aside from that, what do you mean a lot has changed? How would you know? Have you been teaching since 1991? "
Anecdote is not data. What one person's experience is with a system is largely useless for telling us about that system as a whole. Its quite possible to know about a system as a whole without being inside it.
"Why is vouchers such a hot topic than, if so much has changed since he was a teacher? "
Because perception of education is not the same as the state of education. Also, because there's a certain segment of the population driving the debate that is ideologically committed to removing the dominance of public schools ( a group I include you in, which is why I say you are invested).
"A few superficial things may have changed, but the basic problems of the system have not...because the system was designed to create the very problems they purport to offer the solutions to."
How students are taught in the classroom isn't superficial. Its fundamental. SB is in a inquiry based classroom, and more and more schools are moving that way, as more and more teachers graduate from education programs where they've learned how to teach in an inquiry based classroom... and where they've learned that an inquiry based classroom is one in which the student actually learns best. My own classroom is moving strongly in that direction, with 33% of classes this year hands on, and based on my changes so far, we'll be at 42% next year. The trend towards inquiry based learning is strong nation wide, and addresses many of Gatto's fundamental concerns.
"The man labored for 30 years in the system...but you've sought to discount his primary assertions without having read the book, because, as I said, you are too invested in the system. It defines how you see yourself. Your self-image of the noble teacher in a noble profession in a noble system that is vital to the future generations.
In short, you are the "true believer" he talks about in the book."
And, Daruma, you're willing to take one man at his word because you are a "true believer" in libertarianism.
I went into education because I think its important, but thinking it was important happened before being a teacher was part of my self image.
"But if you look at where you are at and what you are dealing with, tell me Ev, do you not see the very problems he speaks of at your own institution?"
No. I honestly don't. I don't like the beaurocracy we have, but the beaurocracy does not have the problems he talks about. The first two paragraphs of your above post just... they aren't my school, and they aren't the high school I attended. Teachers being bored? Thats not the data at all. Not even close.
"Or is everything just fine?"
No, not everything is just fine. Much is changing, and for the better. And the system is a lot better then a lot of people think. Perception isn't always reality. But not everything is fine. I wish we had more people who study education involved in making policy, as when those people are involved in making policy and curriculum, things work out better then when they don't. But the flaws in the system aren't "We're sending kids to a school everyday."
What our education system is supposed to do, and does fairly well, is give everyone a good liberal arts education. Gatto is right about something, though. The system isn't designed to maximize each child. To maximize each child costs a LOT of money and time, whether you're trying to do it at home, in public school, or in private school.
What american education does do is provide an opportunity for every child to decide for himself what career he wants to pursue, and have the necessary information and critical thinking skills to pursue that career. Not always successfully. People do have talent ranges, and some professions lie outside the talent range of some people, and some people don't have the dedication to learn what they need to learn to be, for example, a doctor. But, by and large, American education provides a range of opportunities for each child.
Is part of that teaching kids to successfully fit into the corporate world? To some extent, yes. But we also teach, or at least try to teach, children to be independent thinkers.
Do we need public schools to produce Washingtons and Franklins? No. We don't. But public schools don't prevent them from emerging, either. What public schooling does do, and this is backed by the data, is produce a LOT more people of the tier behind the Franklins, or to pick an example of someone who did have public schooling, the tier behind the Feynmans. Not everyone is a genius...not everyone can become Franklin or Feynman or Einstein or whomever you choose to pick. But the presence of public schooling brings more people closer... and if we improve the pedagogy, which is happening, and happening comparitively rapidly, we'll bring more people even closer.
quote:In "The Underground History of American Education", John Taylor Gatto wrote: Teachers and principals, “scientifically”certified in teachers college practices , were made unaware of the invisible curriculum they really taught.
quote:Originally posted by Everard: ... but suffice it to say, one of the major revolutions in education has been over the last 25 years or so where the scientific method has been applied to how children learn ... and adopting whats learned into curriculum. ...
It's interesting that in critiquing Gatto you the same terminology he does, a lot of "scientific" stuff going on here ... perhaps Gatto is a *lot* more accurate than we'd like.
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The System is old and deeply entrenched. By that, I don't mean the biases on which it was founded; I mean that education is mandatory in our nation.
It is deeply ingrained into how we function: parents go to work, kids go to school.
The System is now 100 years old. It has changed considerably in that time. Likewise, our culture.
Since the vast majority of our children do and, for some time to come, will receive their primary education from a public school, I applaud anyone (who isn't a predator) that enters that system to attempt the education of today's children.
I also applaud teaching in private schools, and of course, home-schooling.
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Dear, poor, Daruma, you really believe this stuff don't you?
I'm familiar with Gatto's work. I've read in in Harper's and elsewhere.
Let's begin at the beginning. Ben Franklin, Jefferson, etc., were members of an aristocratic elite, which has always been able to provide for it's own education because, traditionally, they do not have to labor. I'm surprised I even have to raise this incredibly obvious point. There are some from more humble origins, like Lincoln, but this is a self-selecting bias. Only those who rose above fray would've been noticed.
Secondly, there are plenty of private schools in the U.S. today for all the would-be Jeffersons and what have you. They've never been banned by edict.
As for the rest of Gatto's endless diatribe, it is a dangerous half-truth. Yes, pubic education was based on economic, even "corporate" interests. But the idea that it was designed to produce stupidity is preposterous (though the perception as such is understandable, without historical context). You are leaving out that most of your allegedly free society of America before age of modern education took it as a given that many people were too stupid to be educated, and that learning and literacy were percieved as sinful endeavors by a significant portion of the population (remember Scopes?). You are also leaving out the extent to which concepts of "subordination" and general conformity were inherent in American communitarianism. The threat of public education and public works in American history is not that it produces conformity, but that it erodes it. Teaching people things makes them question their love for Jesus, and stuff like that.
You really seem to be coming from an absurdly idealized view of 19th century America as some libertarian paradise. You seem completely unaware of how much brutal authoritarianism existed in the age of Big Business and the small farm. It does not occur to you that the authoritarian impulses that existed in public ed were directly inhereted from the culture itself, even though this fact is in plain view for anyone with eyes to see it.
American public came into its modern, accelerated own in the post-war era because the Soviet Union was surpassing the U.S. in the science race and the space race. But our advancements were not won by teaching people to conform and obey, but by teaching kids to think for themselves, not for their families or their churches.
My dad is an accomplished engineer, whose work is presently orbiting the sun and taking pictures of galaxies and nebulae and stuff. His dad ran a tugboat in New York harbor. Without the exemplary, free public education he received K thru grad school, he'd probably be auto mechanic. His family could not afford private schooling.
I'm a product of public ed as well. Do I strike you as a mindless, conformist consumer? Does anyone - any person you actually know?
Our problems in public education now do, indeed, stem from coorporatism on many levels. But this is a problem that has increased in direct proportion to the increased cult of privatization - and its requisite corporate epistemologies - over the past few decades, including behaviorist models in education theory and post-modernism at the university level, as departments and institutions must compete more for funds, and hence rely on saleable and hip trends in theory. Public education was much better when the influence of the business model was kept out of it completely.
You make no distinction betweem "corporate" and "government." You don't even seem to believe the distinction is possible.
quote:Daruma28 wrote: How is he over-dramatizing? The fact that the man spent 30 years teaching in the system, and was a three time winner of "State Teacher of the Year" should speak far more to the credibility of his case than the standard you seem to be applying here: namely his tone.
His "tone" is a lesser issue for me, as is yours. But since we're talking about it, yes, I think his arguments and yours would be taken a lot more seriously with a less antagonistic tone. Politics matters unless you're more interested in blaming than in convincing.
quote:Daruma28 wrote: The man looked at the problems from the inside of the system he worked for decades in, and tried to find out the answers as to why things are the way they are. That involves the history, and motivations behind the architects of the current system of compulsory education. What does that have to do with Hannity and Colmes, Crossfire, et al?
Because he picks and chooses completely fallacious arguments to make the case for nefarious motivations. It's precisely like Sean Hannity, because he's taking only the anecdotes and questionable information that bolsters his preconceived notions, and unfortunately you're not seeing through them.
His best arguments are those that have to do with practical effects, and nothing to do with historical motivations.
quote:Daruma28 wrote: The article is merely a synopsis of the far more substantive and comprehensive case he presents in the book...and if you actually read it, you will see he does NOT rely on cheap rhetorical devices like Straw Man and Ad Hominem to make his case.
Yes, he does, and other logical fallacies as well. And they are so glaringly obvious and that it isn't even worth my time to point them out (though KidB gives a couple of good examples in the prior post). If you can't see them yourself, there's little chance you're open to see them at all.
quote:Daruma28 wrote: And he DOES offer solutions to the problems he sees are inherent in the system of compulsory public education. His prescription for an alternative to the current system can be found in Chapter 18.
I agree with some of his solutions. I especially like his general principle of localizing control, and of reducing the power of bureaucracy and teacher organizations in favor of parental power.
For example, I'm seriously bitter at the NEA for pumping money and fear into Utah to defeat need-based vouchers. That organization's ads were as dishonest and slimy as it gets. Honest people can disagree on vouchers, but the NEA is far from honest in that debate.
Leaving aside the snarky personal attacks so enjoyed by so many, I'd ask this:
quote:Originally posted by KidB: I'm a product of public ed as well. Do I strike you as a mindless, conformist consumer?
Are you really only a high school graduate? No college at all? I get the feeling you went to some kind of post secondary education, correct me if I'm wrong. If you did, you can't simply say you're a product of public education.
quote:Originally posted by KidB: Does anyone - any person you actually know? [strike me as a mindless, conformist consumer]
Yes. I interview people for jobs on a regular basis. Mindless and conformist describes the vast majority of applicants without at least a 2 year degree - and by "vast majority" I mean more than 95%. This year I am working very hard on trying to eliminate accepting any applications from people without at least an associate degree because people with only high school degrees are commonly unable to think clearly or even articulate their confusion adequately enough that we can figure out their problem.
A high school degree is little more than proof you managed to survive the K-12 education system. The ability to read, write and think is highly optional as far as I can tell.
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quote:Originally posted by G2: Yes. I interview people for jobs on a regular basis. Mindless and conformist describes the vast majority of applicants without at least a 2 year degree - and by "vast majority" I mean more than 95%. This year I am working very hard on trying to eliminate accepting any applications from people without at least an associate degree because people with only high school degrees are commonly unable to think clearly or even articulate their confusion adequately enough that we can figure out their problem.
A high school degree is little more than proof you managed to survive the K-12 education system. The ability to read, write and think is highly optional as far as I can tell. [/QB]
Do you think this a product of standards being too low or are schools systematically making people worse?
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quote: Are you really only a high school graduate? No college at all? I get the feeling you went to some kind of post secondary education, correct me if I'm wrong. If you did, you can't simply say you're a product of public education.
We're mostly talking about k-12 here, so that's all I was referring to here. I'm not sure why you think the statement was exclusionary.
I did, indeed, receive a bachelor's from a private university. My Master's, however came from a City school - CCNY, the very same college my Dad got his bachelor's from.
In fact, it's my experience with the private institutions which remains the most negative in my mind. My public education in Massachusetts was, in retrospect, really exemplary, even if I was not always fond of my classmates. Somehow, they taught me how to write and think on a level far beyond a lot of my fellow freshmen in college who were coming from wealthier neighborhoods (I was particularly stuck by how many of them couldn't write). I don't know what was particulary special about my school - it was not a rich neighborhood. But Mass is one of the best in the country overall.
My education at City College far better, more through than most of what was on offer at the Esteem'd Private University of my undergrad years. Perhaps because grad school has inherently higher expectations? But I given enormous reading loads and intellectual independance in grad school, and studied literature with people who could read in six or eight languages. This cost me $750 per class per semester, which I put on my credit card. I could pay for this part-time education while working in customer service. Leaving my dead-boring job at 6pm and going uptown to study Medieval literature with a Princeton-educated instructor (educated there in the 50's - no double standard here) was like manna from heaven for me (It's also, in some ways, quintessentially New York).
What I observe in the Private university system as it exists now, is that greater attention is placed on making college an attractive product for student/consumers than was the case 30 or 40 years ago. College is quite a bit less serious. It's no longer there for the public good. This takes the form of all those insubstantial 101 electives which basically teach you how to pass multi-choice tests, and student-surveys of "do you like so-and-so prof" Is he/she cute? Give you good grades and a pat on the head? Treating school like a product is what's turning it to mush. I was able to bypass this with an elective Great Books class sequence, but only about 5% of the students at Big U opted for than, and only about a 20% of that 5% finished the two-year sequence.
quote:Yes. I interview people for jobs on a regular basis. Mindless and conformist describes the vast majority of applicants without at least a 2 year degree - and by "vast majority" I mean more than 95%. This year I am working very hard on trying to eliminate accepting any applications from people without at least an associate degree because people with only high school degrees are commonly unable to think clearly or even articulate their confusion adequately enough that we can figure out their problem.
Well, to be fair, I agree with you on this, my own retoric aside. But I place the blame on our own public institutions not successfully standing up to the corporate model. It's capitalism/consumerism eroding the notion of the public good which is causing this. These kids are, indeed being taught to be mindless consumers...by the corporations - which by all rightsshould have none of the influence they currently do over our airwaves and public institutions.
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"A high school degree is little more than proof you managed to survive the K-12 education system. The ability to read, write and think is highly optional as far as I can tell."
True. However, the ability to "survive the K-12 education system" is mandatory to survive the largely inane, contradictory, picayune and systematically neurotic culture that is the majority of workplaces.
The smart ones wait tables and tend bar while they get their degrees.
drewmie, kid and Ev, none of you read the book, yet you have already discounted everything Gatto is contending. THAT makes you far more like the Sean Hannity (Pawn Vanity) than anything Mr. Gatto has written. I'd like to see any of you actually read the thing and make substantive counter-points to what Gatto is arguing.
Oh, and kid, the very point Gatto makes that you are trying to say is EXACTLY garbage.
quote:Let's begin at the beginning. Ben Franklin, Jefferson, etc., were members of an aristocratic elite, which has always been able to provide for it's own education because, traditionally, they do not have to labor. I'm surprised I even have to raise this incredibly obvious point.
Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and the other case studies Gatto cites from American history WAS NOT A PART OF AN ARISTOCRATIC ELITE. That is the VERY point he makes. The fact that you would actually discount Gatto's entire argument based on a repeated fallacy only goes to show just how ignorant your own public education of American History has been!
quote:Ben Franklin was born on Milk Street, Boston, on January 17, 1706. His father had seventeen children (four died at birth) by two wives. Ben was the youngest. Josiah, the father, was a candlemaker, not part of the gentry. His tombstone tells us he was "without an estate or any gainful employment" which apparently means his trade didn’t allow wealth to be amassed. But, as the talkative tombstone continues, "By constant labor and industry with God’s blessing they maintained a large family comfortably, and brought up thirteen children and seven grandchildren reputably."
Writing to his own son at the age of sixty-five, Ben Franklin referred to his circumstances as "poverty and obscurity" from which he rose to a state of affluence, and to some degree, reputation. The means he used "so well succeeded" he thought posterity might like to know what they were. Some, he believed, "would find his example suitable to their own situations, and therefore, fit to be imitated."
quote:Washington had no schooling until he was eleven, no classroom confinement, no blackboards. He arrived at school already knowing how to read, write, and calculate about as well as the average college student today. If that sounds outlandish, turn back to Franklin’s curriculum and compare it with the intellectual diet of a modern gifted and talented class. Full literacy wasn’t unusual in the colonies or early republic; many schools wouldn’t admit students who didn’t know reading and counting because few schoolmasters were willing to waste time teaching what was so easy to learn. It was deemed a mark of depraved character if literacy hadn’t been attained by the matriculating student. Even the many charity schools operated by churches, towns, and philanthropic associations for the poor would have been flabbergasted at the great hue and cry raised today about difficulties teaching literacy. American experience proved the contrary.
In New England and the Middle Atlantic Colonies, where reading was especially valued, literacy was universal. The printed word was also valued in the South, where literacy was common, if not universal. In fact, it was general literacy among all classes that spurred the explosive growth of colleges in nineteenth-century America, where even ordinary folks hungered for advanced forms of learning.
The point of the system we have now is NOT to encourage every single student to reach their full potential, but to make the vast majority of the students fall into line and conform to the lowest common denominator - perfectly suited to become cogs in the corporate machine of the industrial age.
The observations Gatto has of the system and it's history and overriding purpose is not discounted one iota by folks like you saying "I had a public education, and I'm just fine!"
Because while you and a minority of public school students can say "look at how smart I am, public education must really be effective" there is a very large majority of students who have most assuredly been dumbed down.
The fact that I could spend three years of high school cutting classes, smoking dope, drinking booze and partying with girls rather than studying...and STILL GRADUATE shows just how corrupt the system is.
I was able to get a 4.0 my senior year of high school by applying only half the effort I expended getting a 1.5 my junior year. My superior literacy skills developed on my own/i when I was a young kid (I read voraciously as a kid, as I was raised in a house without the idiotbox) gave me the tools to [i]easily skate through the system of public education exerting the minimum amount of effort necessary.
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quote: John Taylor Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (Philadelphia: New Society, 1992) and Underground History of American Education (New York: Oxford Village Press, 2003) provide scathing coverage of how this has happened. Although these books are one-sided and hyperbolic, they are not inaccurate.
True. However, the ability to "survive the K-12 education system" is mandatory to survive the largely inane, contradictory, picayune and systematically neurotic culture that is the majority of workplaces.
I was a mostly straight-A Chicago public ed student. I had strong encouragement in my pre-school years from my aunt who was studying a major in public education.
She made me enthusiastic about reading.
I read a lot.
In high school, when I started thinking independently, I got in trouble but that was mostly for not doing my work and cutting classes.
The voices of sane reason at that time came from my better teachers and school counselors. My parents insisted on conformity. (They were Depression era products of school-encouraged conformity, who came of adult age just at the end of WWII, when conformity really paid.)
So I dropped out.
Universally uniform rigid structures like public school systems are naturally flawed, at least in the context of an open democratic society.
Obviously, making education mandatory is at odds with our belief in freedom and right to choose.
However, corporate-controlled urban industrial society DOES need baby-sitting. It might be useful if we distinguished the need to supervise young kids while parents work from the urge to learn.
Well, Gatto, bless his unruly soul, appears to be a revolutionary. Revolutionaries are meddlesome troublemakers and little else unless the culture is in dire need of transformation to the point that the pangs of revolution are far outweighed by the damage caused by existing status quo.
Gatto is, therefore, not attacking education itself: he is attacking the entire culture.
I am not a revolutionary. I am a dissident and a non-conformist, and grant my children the right, and by example empower them, to be the same, but I am not trying to radically change the system. (I'm just naturally disruptive by my very existence )
I read Summerhill when I was 18. It made me feel better, at least.
I also dropped out of the system (unlike you, Daruma, who opted in). I can personally attest how damaging it can be to live outside that system, *especially* if one is naturally a rugged individualist. From what you've described of your biography, Daruma, you watched this happen to your peers and, on your own, educated yourself and availed yourself of college-structured education.
So you are better off than I am. (Although I might be doing pretty swell right now if I didn't have this weirdass infirmity?)
Anyway, this is why I am not a revolutionary nor much incensed that public education reflects the conformist corporate culture in which we live. That culture, for all its insipidity, has let me enjoy good food, nice housing, fantastic mobility of the USA in a Chevrolet, wonderful public libraries and now, the greatest research and communication tool ever known, this here Internet, on which I can casually see images of distant galaxies made possible by a space telescope made possible by that same culture (with significant but not excessive dependence on foreign exchange students ).
Which is to say that for all the stymied intellectual curiosity and frustrated individualism and mindless conformists it has produced, this corporate/fascist/capitalist/communist/democratic hodgepodge of a culture has granted me access to incredible riches of knowledge, and granted the average Joe a fairly stable path toward decent prosperity.
One thing I adore about America is that it is not only a racial/cultural/ethnic melting pot, it is also an incredibly diverse fusion of political ideas. We claim to practice only a small variety of democratic/republican ideologies, but that's just a comforting story we tell ourselves. Truth be told, conformist corporate capitalist America is so constantly radical it has no choice but to deny it.
And fascist. And democratic. And monarchic (well, at least baronial). And socialist. And republican. And authoritarian. And liberal. And libertarian. And technocratic. And plutocratic. Oligarchic. Theocratic.
An example: how groovy that a renegade Mormon alcoholic, Philo T. Farnsworth, designed the main TV designs that let the TV revolution sweep the world. He had to battle massive corporate entities to get half his decent share of his rightful rewards, but he done it.
Or what about that crazy-ass immigrant, Tesla?
we are the wildest mutt this globe has ever seen. Our troubles begin when we start acting pedigreed. Rhymes with petty greed.