Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Underground History of American Education, Part V

I know these are super long posts - this one and all of the Underground History posts - but I could not cut out anymore because the message is so essential to all of us.  If you want to understand our history, our influences, our culture and civilizations, the direction we are headed as a nation, and what we can do to change it, you have got to read this book.  

For previous posts:
Part I
Part II
Part III & IV

Here is only a short synopsis of the final part:

Nothing good can come from inviting global corporations to design our schools, any more than leaving a hungry dog to guard ham sandwiches is a good way to protect lunch.

John Taylor Gatto
Modern schooling is a battle between the needs of social machinery and the needs of the human spirtIn other words, government schooling has basically forfeited a young person's natural desire and ability to create, problem solve, build, learn, discover, and thrive for something else: the corporatesocial agenda and the "better good" of the State.

A price had to be paid: the trade off was "the destruction of small-town, small-government Americastrong families, individual liberty, and a lot of other things people weren't aware they were trading for a regular corporate paycheck."

It was never a conspiracy. 

In fact, it was a reasoned undertaking engineered by very respectable men, but with help from ordinary citizens who bought into it, and who forgot how to be leaders, choosing rather to be consumers instead of producers.

This may sound unbelievable, but those in power tend to fear the education of the common man. Americans were once well-read, but schools had a new interest to train up children for "their role in the new overarching social system."  That included the end of reading as we once knew it.

"There are many ways to burn books without a match":

1. Substitute childish books for serious ones
2. Simplify language, so that it becomes demeaning
3. Fill books with pictures to replace imagination

(Have you examined a school's reading "program," lately?)

Gatto believes in people, especially children:
...people love to invent solutions, to be resourcefulto make do with what they have, but resourcefulness and frugality are criminal behaviors to a mass production economy...
Worst of all are those who yearn for productiveindependent livelihoods like...nearly all free Americans once had If that vision spreads, a consumer economy is sunk.  
...the form of schooling we get is largely a kind of consumer and employee training.  
How to break out of the trap:

1. debate the purpose of public education;
2. challenge elites who set the agenda;
3. withhold allegiance from political and economic leadership;
4. trust ourselves and our children to remake the future locally;
5. demand  intellectual and character development as the mission in schools; and
6. smash the government monopoly of funds.

Here is a dilemma: 
Modern schooling has no lasting value to exchange for the spectacular chunk of living time it wastes or the possibilities it destroys.
Universal prescriptions are the problem of modern schooling, academic research which pursues the will-o-the-wisp of average children and average stages of development makes for destructive social policy, it is a sea anchor dragging against advancement, creating the problem it begs for money to solve.

How to change the schools we have:

1. take profit out of reading and math specialists, including publishers and materials suppliers;
2. do not exceed a few hundred students per school;
3. measure performance with individualized instruments;
4. end the district school boards;
5. install permanent parent facilities in every school;
6. give children private time and space;
7. understand there is no one right way to grow up successfully;
8. teach children to think dialecticallyand
9. arrange schooling around complex themes instead of subjects.

An important truth about school vs. education:
Schools can never deal with really important things.  Only education can teach us that quests don't always workthat even worthy lives most often end in tragedy, that money can't prevent this; that failure is a regular part of the human condition; that you will never understand evil; that serious pursuits are almost always lonely; that you can't negotiate love; the money can't buy much that mattersthat happiness is free.


Cleo said...

Gatto has so many excellent ideas. I'd love to be able to sit down with him over a long cup of tea and a lively discussion. You have officially made me want to read this again. I used to try to read it every couple of years but have fallen off lately. I must get back on track!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Cleo! This book is too long to reread any time soon; but I feel like I took thorough notes that when I want to revisit it, I will check my notes first.