Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Underground History of American Education, Part II

Part I

The Foundations of Schooling

Part II is five chapters long, and Gatto delves deeply into the historical setting for forced schooling.

Here are some highlights:  

Modern schooling..."set out to build a new social order at the beginning of the twentieth century (and by 1970 had succeeded beyond all expectations), but in the process it crippled the democratic experiment of America, disenfranchising ordinary people, dividing families, creating wholesale dependencies, grotesquely extending childhoods.  It emptied people of full humanity in order to convert them to human resources."
"...correctly managed mass schooling would result in a population so dependent on leaders that schism and revolution would be things of the past.  The trick was to alienate children from themselves so they couldn't turn inside for strength, to alienate them from their families, religions, cultures, etc., so that no countervailing force could intervene."
Keep in mind that these ideas were concocted in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but you can plainly see how they have since come to fruition.

The author makes the case that great thinkers of the past influenced those who were now working to create the utopia I spoke of in Part I.  The family must be destroyed, individuals must learn to depend on others (the State), and they must have burden-free lives.  Meanwhile, the idea of artificial wants was being created to make way for overproduction and commercial mass entertainment.

Chapter 8 is dedicated to the history of the coal industry in America and its role in changing our culture and funding mass schooling.  For what purpose does the coal industry have in schools?  Gatto goes into great depth to explain why and how it happened.  He says,
"...American government and big business (coal) had been fully creating and maintaining mass society."
The author calls it "a coal-fired mass mind."

Here are some of the changes made slowly into national schooling:

1. Removal of literacies of writing and speaking which enable individuals to link up and persuade others.
2. Destruction of the narrative of American history...defining what makes Americans different from others.
3. Substitution of historical "social studies" catalogue of facts in place of historical narrative.
4. Radical dilution of academic content of formal curriculum which familiarized students with serious literature, philosophy, theology, etc.
5. Replacement of academics with a balanced-diet concept of humanities as substance of the school day.
6. Enlargement of school day and year to blot up outside opportunities to acquire useful knowledge leading to independent livelihoods; ie. shop classes.
7. Shifting oversight from those who have greatest interest in student development - parents, community, students - to strangers.
8. Relentless low-level hostility toward religious interpretations of meaning.

And this quote I found interesting from Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book Between Two Ages, published in 1970:
"It will soon be possible to assert almost continuous control over every citizen and to maintain up-to-date files containing even the most personal details about health and personal behavior of every citizen, in addition to the more customary data.  These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.  Power will gravitate into the hands of those who control information."
(Obamacare comes to mind.  Obamacare was never about healthcare anyway, just like schooling was never about education).

One last quote from the John Taylor Gatto is this
"Here is the crux of the difference between education and schooling - the former turns on independence, knowledge, ability, comprehension, and integrity; the latter upon obedience."
I will return later with Part III, or you can read the entire text for yourself at  The Underground History of American Education online for free.

Go to Parts III and Part IV.


Cleo said...

I'm not sure if it was in this part, but he gave information about literacy, saying that if we judged by the literacy standards of, say, 100 years ago, we would have quite a large number of "illiterate" people. Nowadays to be literate, one only has to read at a 14 year old reading level, whereas a century ago, you would have farmers who would read The Iliad regularly. At least I think he mentioned it in this book. I've read so much Gatto they sometimes blend together .....

Ruth said...

I cannot remember if this is the chapter, but I have read similar ideas in other works, too. In fact, that is why I first had interest in the classics, and I didn't want my kids to grow up without them. I think I read Thomas Jefferson Education, and I knew in 2000 that I could not say I could read the same works as those of the 1800s. Young children were devouring The Last of the Mohicans! That was their entertainment. I'm afraid we've lost that zeal for reading.

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