The structure of our bad schools pretending to be education comes to us, as you know, from Germany and from the hands of some world-famous philosophers responding to demands of politicians for a way to make the subject-citizenry reliably obedient.
The solution adopted was to force the children of oncoming generations into isolated confinement with loyal political employees, loyal to the political leader, to be taught collective habits and to lose the ability to criticize and rebel—to be schooled like fish, instead of educated to think independently.
Germany at the time, in the first quarter of the 19th century, was tending toward a system of governance known as socialism, (or under influence of another German thinker, Karl Marx, communism), a scheme to invent an entirely new system of governance, based on ideas from the culture of finance, which pitted social classes against one another and led, ultimately, to dominance of the laboring classes. Communist theory, as taught in Marx’s magnum opus, Das Kapital, led to a ringing rhetorical call to revolt, “The Communist Manifesto,” which became the banner of many violent insurrections against authority which rocked Europe in the year, 1848, signaling an enormous revolution in Russia at century’s end ultimately establishing a communist dictatorship, the Soviet Union. This alarmed traditional governors worldwide, fearful of a similar transformation of their own citizenries. Marx’s ideas had enormous influence on public thinking everywhere. This type of thinking eventually transformed schooling in
America quite radically, leading to a collapse in what economist, Adam Smith, called “educational schooling,” in his capitalist classic, Wealth of Nations. Their strategies hurt personalized learning as collective institutions (“schools”) attempted to deliver individual intellectual training of a caliber equivalent to that expected by private academies for the children of the prosperous classes.
The great movement to dumb-down the fare of common schools originated with a bizarre group of very radical German intellectuals in the city of Frankfurt, home of the world’s original fast food, “the frankfurter” or hot dog (so called because through the 1920s it was often made with dog meat).
This group of college professors was dedicated to discovering ways to cause social change of a profound sort—revolution. Whether against governments of left or right was a matter of indifference to them. The efficient engineering of change was all that mattered to them.
Among the first principles they developed was that two institutions – the church and the family– stood in the way of social change and would have to be destroyed, or weakened. This alone was enough to make the Frankfurt School unpopular and unwelcome among traditional governors.
Part 3 To Be Continued tomorrow – John Taylor Gatto Archives
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