"I don't mean to be inflammatory, but its as if government schooling has made people dumber, not brighter, made families weaker, not stronger...has ruined formal religion with its hard-sell exclusion of God, has set the class structure in stone by dividing children into classes and setting them against one another, and has been midwife to an alarming concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a fraction of the national community."
Maybe John Taylor Gatto doesn't intend to be inflammatory, but if you care at all about children and education, you'll be livid as you read through his latest book. Gatto takes us on a journey, tracing his own experiences and the development of his thinking about government schooling, including his realization of the tremendous harm done to children by government schools. The above-mentioned damages are only a few of those exposed by Gatto.
Through a series of related essays, Gatto puts together the whole story of schoolingthe hidden agendas, the true believers who crusaded for their educational theories, the increasingly heavy hand of government, the dumbing down of curricula, elitism, racism, and other key factors that contribute to the evil monstrosity that many people view as crucial to the survival of democracy in America.
This is an important book which everyone should read. Unfortunately, it might still be some months before the book is actually available for purchase, so I'll risk giving away the story line, to pass on to you some of Gatto's ideas as best I can. Im borrowing numerous quotes from his book so that you'll know the power of his writing and be anxious to read it yourself.
In Chapter One: A Short, Angry History of Modern Schooling, Gatto begins with an expose of the racist, elitist mindset of those who would conform all people to their own world views and value systems. Many of these elitists were closely tied (or were themselves part of) the industrial revolution overlords. Important to their own personal success was the development of a compliant working class to labor in at their factories.
Gatto describes the birth of The Education Trust, a group of movers and shakers representing such money interests as Rockefeller and Carnegie. He describes their agenda: At first, the primary target was the tradition of independent livelihoods in America. Unless Yankee entrepreneurialism could be put to death, at least among the common population, the immense capital investments mass production industry required for equipment werent justifiable. Students were to learn to think of themselves as employees competing with one another for the favor of management, not as Franklin or Edison had once regarded themselves, as self-determined free agents.
To accomplish this goal, scientists and educational zealots joined forces, with the financial and power backing of the giant foundations, to design an education system that views people as human capital to be psychologically manipulated into desired patterns of behavior. Education became, according to the definition of the Federal Education department, a means to achieve important economic and social goals of a national character.
Those important economic and social goals are reflected in the results of government schooling. Gatto claims, Schools train individuals to respond as a mass. Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete. A successful mass production economy requires such a clientele. A small business, small farm economy like the Amish have requires individual competence, thoughtfulness, compassion, and universal participation; our own requires a managed mass of leveled, spiritless, anxious, family-less, friendless, godless, and obedient people who believe the difference between Cheers and Seinfeld is a subject worth arguing about. Eugenics and forced sterilization also figure in this brutal picture early on, but I'll leave you to discover how by reading this chapter yourself. You'll meet more of the eugenics movement in later chapters as well.
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