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The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile

This was openly admitted by the men who created and implemented America's mandatory public schooling system.
aim higher!
aim higher!
It's no secret that the US educational system doesn't do a very good job. Like clockwork, studies show that America's schoolkids lag behind their peers in pretty much every industrialized nation. We hear shocking statistics about the percentage of high-school seniors who can't find the US on an unmarked map of the world or who don't know who Abraham Lincoln was.

Fingers are pointed at various aspects of the schooling system—overcrowded classrooms, lack of funding, teachers who can't pass competency exams in their fields, etc. But these are just secondary problems. Even if they were cleared up, schools would still suck. Why? Because they were designed to.

How can I make such a bold statement? How do I know why America's public school system was designed the way it was (age-segregated, six to eight 50-minute classes in a row announced by Pavlovian bells, emphasis on rote memorization, lorded over by unquestionable authority figures, etc.)? Because the men who designed, funded, and implemented America's formal educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote about what they were doing.

Almost all of these books, articles, and reports are out of print and hard to obtain. Luckily for us, John Taylor Gatto tracked them down. Gatto was voted the New York City Teacher of the Year three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. But he became disillusioned with schools—the way they enforce conformity, the way they kill the natural creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning that every little child has at the beginning. So he began to dig into terra incognita, the roots of America's educational system.

In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee's report stated, "We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes."

By the turn of the century, America's new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn't to teach). The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897:

"Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth."

In his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberly—the future Dean of Education at Stanford—wrote that schools should be factories "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products...manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry."

The next year, the Rockefeller Education Board—which funded the creation of numerous public schools—issued a statement which read in part:

"In our dreams... people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way."

At the same time, William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906, wrote:

"Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual."

In that same book, The Philosophy of Education, Harris also revealed:

"The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world."

Several years later, President Woodrow Wilson would echo these sentiments in a speech to businessmen:

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

Writes Gatto: "Another major architect of standardized testing, H.H. Goddard, said in his book Human Efficiency (1920) that government schooling was about 'the perfect organization of the hive.'"

While President of Harvard from 1933 to 1953, James Bryant Conant wrote that the change to a forced, rigid, potential-destroying educational system had been demanded by "certain industrialists and the innovative who were altering the nature of the industrial process."

In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones, with a razor-thin slice of the population—mainly the children of the captains of industry and government—to rise to the level where they could continue running things.

This was the openly admitted blueprint for the public schooling system, a blueprint which remains unchanged to this day. Although the true reasons behind it aren't often publicly expressed, they're apparently still known within education circles. Clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine wrote in 2001:


I once consulted with a teacher of an extremely bright eight-year-old boy labeled with oppositional defiant disorder. I suggested that perhaps the boy didn't have a disease, but was just bored. His teacher, a pleasant woman, agreed with me. However, she added, "They told us at the state conference that our job is to get them ready for the work world... that the children have to get used to not being stimulated all the time or they will lose their jobs in the real world."


John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation into the Problem of Modern Schooling (New York: Oxford Village Press, 2001), is the source for all of the above historical quotes. It is a profoundly important, unnerving book, which I recommend most highly. You can order it from Gatto's Website, which also contains the first half of the book online for free;

 http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/historytour/history1.htm

The final quote above is from page 74 of Bruce E. Levine's excellent book Commonsense Rebellion: Debunking Psychiatry, Confronting Society (New York: Continuum Publishing Group, 2001).


 http://www.thememoryhole.org/edu/school-mission.htm
Sort of 19.Jul.2003 03:45

James

The education system in the United States is a travesty, on that much we can agree. I think it has much more to do with the "One Nation" ideal -- assimilating various cultures, imported from around the globe, into one amorphous American culture.

Education in this country is used to engrain nationalism in the population. From our very first days in public school, we learn only of the great accomplishments of the U.S. -- and some outright lies and distortions -- while all the negative history of our country is completely neglected. It took me years to unlearn many of the untruths taught me in public schools. I probably have many more to unlearn. Even slavery and racism has been whitewashed. It was something, at least, I guess, that I was taught about the middle passage and learned the lyrics to Amazing Grace. But Lincoln was wrongly idolized in my textbooks as the great savior of Black Americans, I learned nothing of the roots of racism and slavery, etc.

But the idea that public schools are molding the proles for specific, mundane tasks, or placating them (us), I find a bit sketchy. First, I didn't experience that in school. I was taught a little bit of a whole lot. And noone plotted my course for me. In higher education -- which something like 80% of graduating high school seniors now attend -- the choices are even freer.

Also, when I was in high school, I encountered 4 groups of people: really stupid people, stupid people, conscious people and smart people. The former two groups needed no government help in preparing themselves for mundane tasks, or being pacified. The "conscious" students are now most-probably marching on their way through corporate America and the establishment, emerging from the cubicles and basement libraries, moving into their new windowed offices, coming home to dinner parties amongst their Polite Society friends. The smart students have by this point very likely killed themselves, in overly dramatic and staged presentations.

The obvious solution to America's tragic education complex is to completely remove it from the hands of the state. Give parents cash vouchers for school, and let them use that money to either support their family as they school their children, or send them to private schools. The Portland School District spends $11,000/student/year, according to the Cascade Policy Institute. (Though I admit, I'm a bit befuddled as to how they came to that conclusion. But I'll take their word for it). Surely others can do better than the state has. And if you're right, and public education is designed to fail, there can be no other solution.

A difficult period of Reconstruction 19.Jul.2003 08:27

PDXTeach

This was a very interesting post. As a teacher in the Portland Public School system, I can readily identify and agree with a number of the points culled from Gatto's work. Yes, the system itself is a rather rigid, highly deliniated structure that depends on tight schedules and an increasing level of adherence to standardized formulas for success. Our students do often become marginalized through a process of 'sorting' by 'ability' that is reliant on classist presumptions. However, that being said, there is some good news to report.

Nationally, there has been a remarkable growth in the number of educators who have begun to deconstruct their classrooms by focusing on larger, social issues. Admirable figures in this movement who serve as beacons of hope are bell hooks, Jon Kozol, Deborah Meier. Locally, we are fortunate to have nationally reknowned visionaries like Bill Bigelow and Linda Christensen who spearhead social-justice oriented curriculum that both challenges and opens the eyes of our students. Bigelow' book, "Rethinking Columbus", for instance, is one of the most remarkabe innovations in classroom pedagogy over the last twenty years. We have a local group chapter of Rethinking Schools here that focuses on promoting equity of race, gender, sexual orientation, and world view.

I won't deny the inherent problems that must be overcome in our 'diploma factories'. I won't deny that there are educators who perhaps reenforce the elitist social order by inculcating a sense of priority for privileged students. But I suppose what I'm driving at is that hope exists. People within the system ARE fighting to make it a better place. Maybe it does have to be dismantled to really accomplish that goal...I don't know. But for now, there are many of us who are striving to ensure that all our students learn to develop their abilities to improve themselves and work for social justice. We'll keep trying till we drop.

great article! 19.Jul.2003 08:29

Annabelle Stonewall

Last summer I hitched a ride from the Canadian border with some rural folks in a Suburban. When I saw the first American flag that I'd seen in awhile, I brought up the topic. This led to a conversation between the four of them which helped me to understand how someone can be a proud flag-waver.

It started with one of them saying that she didn't understand why an aquaintance of theirs didn't fly his flag on the fourth of July. Turns out he had gone to college and done well academically. Apparently he had "too much knowledge", and he "ain't got the love."

This was the first time I'd heard the lack of knowledge being slammed in Western culture. Now, in your article on education in the late 1800's, it's the second time. Considering the local political scene on the street, I guess this goes to show that we must be careful with whom we speak too intelligently.

Sure schools indoctrinate, but .... 19.Jul.2003 19:05

xyzzy

It's transparently obvious that the education system is completely geared around indoctrination to a society based on hierarchy and submission to it. That goes for "higher education" as much as it does the K-12 public school system.

However, a quick look at Gatto's page seems to indicate he's part of the right-wing crowd that wants to defund public schools in favor of vouchers. (Which, of course, will initially cover less than 100% of tuition at any decent school, continuing the legacy of shunting the children of the poor into the crappiest schools. Then as time goes on, of course they'll cut back the vouchers even more, creating more and more of an aristrocracy in which a child's opportunity becomes ever more closely linked to the social status of its parents.)

In fact, there doesn't seem to be any more a proposal for reform on that site other than "We intend to work toward legislative reforms that return school tax money to citizens' hands, where it can be spent to restore meaning to school choice by enlarging the range of available alternatives. We do not ask for an end to government schools, only that they be forced to compete. Free market choice will improve government schools, too."

In other words, sprinkle free-market fairy dust on the problem and it will be magically solved.

Which of course is a load of crap. The demands of the "free market" for docile, indoctrinated workers, professionals, and middle managers are the PROBLEM, not the solution! Marketizing the schools will only create competition as to who does a better job of "shaping" children for "success" in the capitalist system.

Bleagh. Not for me.

Portland

TV 19.Jul.2003 21:05

Bill

tv

Not a left-right issue 19.Jul.2003 22:16

James

School choice is not a left-right issue. Nor is school choice necessarily a choice between for-profit and not-for-profit. It's a question of free/not free. Your "free market fairy dust" comment just shows your engrained biases. You equate "free market" with "corporate America". However, and much to the contrary, most private educational institutions are indeed not-for-profit. I'm continually amazed at the resistance some show towards school vouchers.

One very important difference between public schools and private schools is that private schools do not have to teach to any bureaucrat or politican's campaign platform. Things like public schools in Kansas teaching creationism over evolution are just one such example. With school vouchers, if parents want their children to be taught Creationism, they're free to send them to catholic school. (Or should be at least). If parents want their children to be taught evolution, they're free to send them to a sane school.

With school vouchers, if a parent wants to pay $5,000 more so their child can receive a better education, they're free to do so. (Whereas without school vouchers, they would have to spend $15,000 more).

In education, one size does not fit all. It seems Colorado voters have realized that. Hopefully the rest of the country soon will too.

It's true that the libertarian right champions school vouchers more often than the left -- but please examine the issue once more with an open mind.

For the libertarian-right's arguments in favor of school choice, visit the Cato Institute ( http://www.cato.org/current/school-choice/index.html).

why not infiltrate the system? 19.Jul.2003 23:18

college kid

seriously lets change this , become a teacher and right the wrongs, thats my plan anyway

Re: Not a left-right issue 19.Jul.2003 23:41

xyzzy

<blockquote>
School choice is not a left-right issue. Nor is school choice
necessarily a choice between for-profit and not-for-profit. It's a
question of free/not free.
</blockquote>
I find that assertion questionable. I've heard very little from
the proponents of school choice when it comes to issues of freedom
for those being subject to the schooling. The children are almost
always considered to be passive objects, shunted to whatever schools
their parents deem appropriate. And there's very little in the way
of concern for how authoritarian those schools they get shunted to
would be.
<blockquote>
Your "free market fairy dust" comment just
shows your engrained biases.
</blockquote>
Libertarian socialist shows bias against capitalism.
Oh, the shock of it all. Are we next going to breathlessly
conclude that the sky is blue?
<blockquote>
You equate "free market" with "corporate
America". However, and much to the contrary, most private educational
institutions are indeed not-for-profit.
</blockquote>
Most private educational institutions are not substantially different
from the public ones they purport to improve upon. In fact, many of them
are even <em>more</em> authoritarian than public schools. And
I wasn't commenting on the profit/non-profit status of private schools,
but the basis
under which schools would compete in a marketized educational system.
<blockquote>
I'm continually amazed at the
resistance some show towards school vouchers.
</blockquote>
I'm continually amazed that people think clicking their heels together
three times and saying "free market efficiency" constitutes a rational
argument.
<p>
<blockquote>
One very important difference between public schools and private
schools is that private schools do not have to teach to any bureaucrat
or politican's campaign platform. Things like public schools in Kansas
teaching creationism over evolution are just one such example. With
school vouchers, if parents want their children to be taught Creationism,
they're free to send them to catholic school. (Or should be at least). If
parents want their children to be taught evolution, they're free to send
them to a sane school.
</blockquote>
Exactly. And this is an improvement, exactly how? Kids will still get
herded into authoritarian institutions and get various kinds of mind-rot
shoved at them.
<p>
Yes, yes, I know. It's now being done according to "free market"
principles. The gray metal bars of the prison cell have been
repainted green. What liberation! What freedom! I'm <em>so</em>
fucking impressed.

Human System 20.Jul.2003 00:03

PhilKll philk@ideal-lies.com

While I agree the education system is a joke, I went to a major college in eastern washington, where the president was more concerned with marketting ploys than education, so I have first hand experience in the travisty of knowledge being perpatrated as a diploma. But so what happens when you teach the masses to "think for themselves?" Who's going to dig the ditches? Build the houses? Shovel shit? and break thier backs? So what if you indoctrinate the masses with "intellectualism?" are they going to see thier lives as the worker bees they are, and accept thier necassary roles in society? Or are they just going to have the ability to see the decadence in our existence? What these people you quote are talking about is our social structure, in cold harsh terms, this is the way it is. Not saying I worship the flag, and blindly believe we are the greatest nation in the world, but too many questions lead to too many pointless answers. Groups such as a nation of people, need leadership, America prides itself on having choices, if everyone made thier own choice there would be hundreds of millions of choices. Groups need guidence and leadership, leaders lead, the majority takes care of the majority thru their hard work, a bit of national pride lets them do this with a smile, cause the majority of the majority will never realize the "American Dream" its like Religion, its a lie to keep us from realizing there is no meaning to life. If you could teach the everyone to accept thier roles, to be happy with no hope, to realize, its 1-2-3 and your dead no more no less, then I can see this, but there is one thing I know, no one is willing to accept the brutality of reality.

Freedom to choose 20.Jul.2003 00:04

James

If you haven't heard much in the way of freedom with regards to schooling, please visit that link I posted. You'll find much to read precisely in that area.

"Most private educational institutions are not substantially different
from the public ones they purport to improve upon."

Really? Tell that to all the wealthy parents who have flocked to private schools. I think they'd be interested to hear it. (Also, ask a private university what they'd think about turning over control of their institution to the government. They have enough trouble with Title IX as it is).

"In fact, many of them are even more authoritarian than public schools."

Yes. Probably some are. And some aren't. That's called the freedom to choose.

"I wasn't commenting on the profit/non-profit status of private schools, but the basis under which schools would compete in a marketized educational system."

Whether or not you were commenting on it directly, it's central to the argument. If you suppose that the government can run schools more efficiently than a for-profit educational corporation could -- an idear I find a bit unlikely -- how do you suppose the government could run them more efficiently than a non-profit organization? Just the economies of scale argument? I don't think so.

"I'm continually amazed that people think clicking their heels together
three times and saying "free market efficiency" constitutes a rational
argument."

Sarcasm is no substitute for real facts. The idea is that such a large, unwieldy organization as the government -- trying to cater to all tastes -- is inherently less efficient than private groups. Whether or not that's true, it's hardly the only reason to support school choice.

"Exactly. And this is an improvement, exactly how? Kids will still get
herded into authoritarian institutions and get various kinds of mind-rot
shoved at them."

Umm, it's an improvement because now the people who don't want to be herded into authoritarian institutions don't have to be? Now they have the choice to go anywhere they choose. While those who want their children to be taught creationism are still afforded that right.

How we raise our children and the beliefs we instill upon them are some of the most fundamental liberties in our lives. Are you really advocating that the government teach children contrary to the wishes of their parents? And you claim to be libertarian?

"Yes, yes, I know. It's now being done according to "free market"
principles. The gray metal bars of the prison cell have been
repainted green. What liberation! What freedom! I'm so
fucking impressed."

I just plain don't understand this argument. What painting of the bars? The bars are gone. No longer are parents chained to the particular school within their particular geographic area, nor are they as limited by their particular income status. There are no longer any bars. I'm advocating complete freedom of choice. If a parent wants to send their child to a religious institution, that's their choice -- noone is forcing them. The bars only exist when people such as yourself advocate forcing a certain line of thought on children. (Be it evolution, or creationism). The fact of the matter is that people have different beliefs and ideals. The government should not involve itself in such things. (Beyond enabling choice, that is).

Also, take a looksie at the idea of democratic complexes, if you would, which I touched on this old discussion:

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/05/264762.shtml

reiteration of original article (let's eliminate corporate indoctrination) 20.Jul.2003 01:57

GRINGO STARS

John Taylor Gatto climaxed his 33 year teaching career as New York State Teacher of the Year after being named New York City Teacher of the Year on three occasions. He quit teaching on the OP ED page of the Wall Street Journal in 1991 while still New York State Teacher of the Year, claiming that he was no longer willing to hurt children. His books include: Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (1992); The Exhausted School (1993); A Different Kind of Teacher (2000); and The Underground History Of American Education (2001) The following was culled from his most recent work.

Perhaps the greatest of school's illusions is that the institution was launched by a group of kindly men and women who wanted to help the children of ordinary families -- to level the playing field, so to speak. Let's see what's really behind these illusions:

THE MAKERS OF MODERN SCHOOLING

The real makers of modern schooling weren't at all who we think.
Not Cotton Mather
or Horace Mann
or John Dewey.

The real makers of modern schooling were leaders of the new American industrialist class, men like:
Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron.
John D. Rockefeller, the duke of oil.
Henry Ford, master of the assembly line which compounded steel and oil into a vehicular dynasty.
and J.P. Morgan, the king of capitalist finance.

Rich white men like these, and the brilliant efficiency expert Frederick W. Taylor, who inspired the entire "social efficiency" movement of the early twentieth century, along with providing the new Soviet Union its operating philosophy and doing the same job for Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany; men who dreamed bigger dreams than any had dreamed since Napoleon or Charlemagne, these were the makers of modern schooling.

THE BUSINESS OF SCHOOLING & THE FOURTH PURPOSE

If modern schooling has a "Fourth Purpose," there must be an earlier three. Traditional forms of instruction in America, even before the Revolution, had three specific purposes:
1. To make good people
2. To make good citizens
3. And to make each student find some particular talents to develop to the maximum.
The new mass schooling which came about slowly but continuously after 1890, had a different purpose, a "fourth" purpose.

The fourth purpose steadily squeezed the traditional three to the margins of schooling; in the fourth purpose, school in America became like school in Germany, a servant of corporate and political management.

We should reveal the mechanism of mind control training, habits, and attitudes.

Children were literally trained in bad habits and bad attitudes! Teachers and principals, "scientifically" certified in teachers college practices, were made unaware of the invisible curriculum they really taught.

The secret of commerce, that kids drive purchases, meant that schools had to become psychological laboratories where training in consumerism was the central pursuit.

THE BUSINESS OF SCHOOLING

Since bored people are the best consumers, school had to be a boring place, and since childish people are the easiest customers to convince, the manufacture of childishness, extended into adulthood, had to be the first priority of factory schools. Naturally, teachers and administrators weren't let in on this plan; they didn't need to be. If they didn't conform to instructions passed down from increasingly centralized school offices, they didn't last long.

In the new system, schools were gradually re-formed to meet the pressing need of big businesses to have standardized customers and employees, standardized because such people are predictable in certain crucial ways by mathematical formulae. Business (and government) can only be efficient if human beings are redesigned to meet simplified specifications. As the century wore on, school spaces themselves were opened bit by bit to commercialization.

These processes didn't advance evenly. Some localities resisted more than others, some decades were more propitious for the plan than others. Especially during and just after national emergencies like WWI, the Depression, WWII, and the Sputnik crisis, the scheme rocketed forward; in quieter moments it was becalmed or even forced to give up some ground.

But even in moments of greatest resistance, the institutions controlling the fourth purpose -- great corporations, great universities, government bureaus with vast powers to reward or punish, and corporate journalism -- increasingly centralized in fewer and fewer hands throughout the twentieth century, kept a steady hand on the tiller. They had ample resources to wear down and outwait the competition.

The prize was of inestimable value -- control of the minds of the young.

SCHOOL BECOMES A DANGEROUS PLACE

After 1900 the new mass schooling arenas slowly became impersonal places where children were viewed as HUMAN RESOURCES. Whenever you hear this term, you are certain to be in the presence of employees of the fourth purpose, however unwitting. Human resource children are to be molded and shaped for something called "The Workplace," even though for most of American history American children were reared to expect to create their own workplaces.

In the new workplace, most Americans were slated to work for large corporations or large government agencies, if they worked at all.

This revolution in the composition of the American dream produced some unpleasant byproducts. Since systematic forms of employment demand that employees specialize their efforts in one or another function of systematic production, then clear thinking warns us that incomplete people make the best corporate and government employees.

Earlier Americans like Madison and Jefferson were well aware of this paradox, which our own time has forgotten. And if that is so, mutilation in the interests of later social efficiency has to be one of the biggest tasks assigned to forced schooling.

Not only was the new form of institution spiritually dangerous as a matter of course, but school became a physically dangerous place as well.

What better way to habituate kids to abandoning trust in their peers (and themselves) than to create an atmosphere of constant low-level stress and danger, relief from which is only available by appeal to authority? And many times not even then!

Horace Mann had sold forced schooling to industrialists of the mid-nineteenth century as the best "police" to create moral children, but ironically, as it turned out in the twentieth century, big business and big government were best served by making schoolrooms antechambers to Hell.

SCHOOL BECOMES AN ARENA OF MEANINGLESS PRESSURE

As the twentieth century progressed, and particularly after WWII, schools evolved into behavioral training centers, laboratories of experimentation in the interests of corporations and the government. The original model for this development had been Prussian Germany, but few remembered.

School became jail-time to escape if you could, arenas of meaningless pressure as with the omnipresent "standardized" exams, which study after study concluded were measuring nothing real.

For instance, take the case of Bill Bradley and George W. Bush, two of the four finalists in the 2000 presidential race. Bradley had a horrifying 480 on the verbal part of his own SATs, yet graduated from Princeton, won a Rhodes Scholarship, and became a senator; Bush graduated from Yale, became governor of Texas, and president of the United States -- with a mediocre 550. If you can become governor, senator, and president with mediocre SAT scores, what exactly do the tests measure?

Perhaps they sort out good scientists from bad? If so, how is it that both the scientists principally involved in the Human Genome Project have strange scholarly background, to say the least?

Francis S. Collins, the head of the public portion, was homeschooled, and never followed any type of formal curriculum.
Craig Venter was a very bad boy in high school, a surfing bum who nearly flunked out, and he didn't go to college after graduation, but into the U.S. Army as an enlisted man before being shipped off to Vietnam!

SCHOOL AS A PLACE OF BEWILDERMENT AND BOREDOM

The new purpose of schooling -- to serve business and government -- could only be achieved efficiently by isolating children from the real world, with adults who themselves were isolated from the real world, and everyone in the confinement isolated from one another.

Only then could the necessary training in boredom and bewilderment begin. Such training is necessary to produce dependable consumers and dependent citizens who would always look for a teacher to tell them what to do in later life, even if that teacher was an ad man or television anchor.
bordeom is required, sadly
bordeom is required, sadly

e 20.Jul.2003 02:49

sorry this is a mess

also www.freeskoolco-op.org for oly folk

Hey, xyzzy 20.Jul.2003 03:47

Bill

I notice you entered a discussion about education and diverted it to a squabble over 'private' schools, complete with the usual insoluable ignorance and lies.

Was that your purpose?

yea, verily 20.Jul.2003 07:48

Joanne Forman jofo@laplaza.org

You got that right! I am a product of the public schools, and almost perished from ennui. However, I was saved by two things: (1) my parents were readers (2) music lessons....it's no secret that the public schools are designed to teach tolerance of boredom and authority. Anything else is extra!.....I was a puppeteer for many years, and have been in every possible situation with kids you can imagine: at 4-5 yrs. old, they were bubbling over with enthusiasm and curiosity. By third grade it was ALL GONE. How come? Because that's the way the ruling class wants it.

Re: Human System 20.Jul.2003 09:21

xyzzy

I find the assertion that mass coercion and indoctrination are necessary to prevent self-destruction to be extremely questionable.

Study a little history, and for that matter a little anthropology and archaeology. People have been doing things like building houses to shelter themselves from the elements (and in general engaging in labor to better their situations) for millennia, well before the advent of any formalized education systems. Heck, even animals do that. Or do scrub jays attend secret schools somewhere in order to build their nests and stash their caches of acorns?

"Groups need guidence and leadership, leaders lead, the majority takes care of the majority thru their hard work, a bit of national pride lets them do this with a smile, cause the majority of the majority will never realize the "American Dream" its like Religion, its a lie to keep us from realizing there is no meaning to life."

That is basically the same rationale that Hitler and Mussolini used to enslave and propagandize their masses. No thanks.

Re: Hey, xyzzy 20.Jul.2003 09:31

xyzzy

> I notice you entered a discussion about education and diverted it
> to a squabble over 'private' schools, complete with the usual
> insoluable ignorance and lies.

Well, it's a discussion about education, isn't it? Private schools
are educational institutions, aren't they? School vouchers are an
educational policy proposal, correct? Therefore a discussion of
vouchers and private schools would seem to be completely on-topic.

Perhaps you should enumerate an argument as to just why what I post
constitutes "ignorance" and "lies" instead of just baldly asserting
same and expecting me to take it simply on your say-so.

My purpose was to (a) agree that Gatto's assertion that schools
indoctrinate (notice the subject I chose for my initial comment:
"Sure schools indoctrinate, but..."), while (b) pointing out flaws
in Gatto's proposals for "reform", in the hopes of (c) taking that
greater understanding to go beyond the current vouchers-and-competition
proposals being pushed by the Right.

Re: Freedom to Choose 20.Jul.2003 10:09

xyzzy

> If you haven't heard much in the way of freedom with regards to
> schooling, please visit that link I posted. You'll find much to
> read precisely in that area.

I find a lot to read there, but most if it seems to be elaborations
on the points you already have made here. The notion of "freedom"
found therein seems to be extremely limited and constrained to the
"freedom" of certain individuals with privilege over others (parents
over children, the wealthy over the non-wealthy) to have more
"freedom" to dominate and control society.

I find that a twisted and warped definition of "freedom". It could
be used to conclude that the two freest societies of the 20th
century were the Stalinist USSR and Nazi Germany, because the
"freedom" of Hitler and Stalin to rule and manage society as they
wished was so unfettered.

Freedom is the freedom of queer children to be free from parents
who want to psychologically torture them over their sexuality.
Freedom is the freedom of poor children to be free of a society
where they are constrained to crappy schools while the bourgeoisie
buy a better future for their children in the best schools. Freedom
is the freedom to imagine radically different notions of society
and to work to change it as opposed to the "freedom" to have ones
parents choose which school will make you the best submissive little
worker-bee.

> "Most private educational institutions are not substantially
> different from the public ones they purport to improve upon."
>
> Really? Tell that to all the wealthy parents who have flocked to
> private schools. I think they'd be interested to hear it. (Also,
> ask a private university what they'd think about turning over
> control of their institution to the government. They have enough
> trouble with Title IX as it is).

I don't find this much of a meaningful argument. Personally, I
could care less about preserving the ability for the privileged to
institute a system of quasi-aristocracy by buying their way into
schools that better shape their children into the next generation
of aristocrats.

> "In fact, many of them are even more authoritarian than public
> schools."
>
> Yes. Probably some are. And some aren't. That's called the
> freedom to choose.

Whose freedom? Whose choice? I want no part of a "freedom" for the
powerful to have more power over the rest of society.

> "I wasn't commenting on the profit/non-profit status of private
> schools, but the basis under which schools would compete in a
> marketized educational system."
>
> Whether or not you were commenting on it directly, it's central to
> the argument. If you suppose that the government can run schools
> more efficiently than a for-profit educational corporation could
> -- an idear I find a bit unlikely -- how do you suppose the government
> could run them more efficiently than a non-profit organization?
> Just the economies of scale argument? I don't think so.

Oh, boy. "Efficiency." Another feel-good word. "Efficiency"
doing what, for what ends, promoting what values, and at whose
behest?

> Umm, it's an improvement because now the people who don't want to
> be herded into authoritarian institutions don't have to be? Now
> they have the choice to go anywhere they choose. While those who
> want their children to be taught creationism are still afforded
> that right.

NO IT DOESN'T! It means that people (clue: children are people,
though for some reason you seem to have difficulty appreciating
this fact) will CONTINUE to be herded into authoritarian institutions,
a process that in true Orwellian style will be labeled "freedom".

> How we raise our children and the beliefs we instill upon them are
> some of the most fundamental liberties in our lives. Are you really
> advocating that the government teach children contrary to the wishes
> of their parents? And you claim to be libertarian?

No. I want all social organizations (families, businesses, and
educational institutions to name just three) to be examined for
how authoritarian they are, these authoritarian tendencies held up
to question, and if they cannot be justified to be replaced by less
or non-authoritarian principles.

Most of the vouchers crowd wants to ignore the authoritarianism in
society except for one microscopic little area called "school
choice" (and then really only for the rich, because the vouchers
of the non-rich won't let them freely choose the best of schools).
Apparently even the authoritarianism WITHIN educational institutions
is outside of their area of concern.

In fact, their willingness to label as "freedom" such nauseating
turns of events as a queer child being shunted into a conservative
religious school against his or her will shows how cynical their
definition of "freedom" really is.

And they claim to be libertarian!

There is nothing that competes with habit 20.Jul.2003 13:31

James

There are certain arguments which can be made about the arbitrary manner in which our society sets ages of consent, ages of majority, etc. But wow. At what age do you propose we should free children from the tyrannical rule of their parents?

This is actually newly-charted territory for me. It's truly a unique argument against school choice. What you're arguing, however, is not libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. It's some extraordinary brand of anarchism, the likes of which I've never seen nor heard.

Parents have a natural right to care for, protect and nurture their children. We have strong biological instincts to help them. Indeed, that urge is not only limited to humans -- most mammals watch over their young until they reach an age of maturity. The only difference with our society is that we have set a static measure of time on that care, based on revolutions around the Sun. That, I suppose, is somewhat strange if you think about it.

Still, I can think of no other superior manner by which organized society could rightfully determine whether or not a child has become an adult. (I guess you'd be arguing against organized society altogether, though).

So I'm not sure how to argue the point with you, other than to point out that while children often have some sway with their dictatorial parents, they have zero pull with the bureaucrats within their school district. So while school choice would not emancipate the poor young spirits completely, it couldn't hurt.

Similarly, it does not eliminate social class. I never claimed that it did. If that's the goal, we need nothing short of revolution. But in the meantime, school choice helps towards the same ends.

The wealthy are already sending their children to private schools. With school choice, they're still going to do it. But with school choice, some families who otherwise might not be able to send their child to a better school now will be able to. Some parents are willing to make enormous sacrifices in living conditions so that their children can receive educations better than they themselves received. A family making $25,000/year might be willing to give-up $5,000 a year for their child's education, if they thought it would help them. Without school choice, that amount of money wouldn't result in a much better education for their child. But with school choice, it would.

School choice could easily result in more freedom for teachers as well. With school choice, there would be nothing stopping a group of likeminded teachers from forming a Teacher's Collective.

"It could be used to conclude that the two freest societies of the 20th century were the Stalinist USSR and Nazi Germany, because the "freedom" of Hitler and Stalin to rule and manage society as they wished was so unfettered."

Strawman. Mothers != Hitler. What a strange thought.

"Freedom is the freedom of queer children to be free from parents
who want to psychologically torture them over their sexuality."

Yes, but you're arguing above and beyond school choice now. I could use the same argument for school choice -- school choice is the freedom for queer students to be free from school administrators who want to psychologically torture them over their sexuality.

"I don't find this much of a meaningful argument. Personally, I
could care less about preserving the ability for the privileged to
institute a system of quasi-aristocracy by buying their way into
schools that better shape their children into the next generation
of aristocrats."

Yes, but as I said above -- they already are. School choice does not exasperate the problem, it alleviates it. Poor children are already -- this very day -- stuck in rotten schools. Especially urban students. Urban students score much below their suburban peers, and I hardly think it's their genetics, anymore than it's the air that they breath.

"Oh, boy. "Efficiency." Another feel-good word. "Efficiency"
doing what, for what ends, promoting what values, and at whose
behest?"

Efficiency meaning the schools actually have textbooks for the children. (Not sure about yourself, but when I was in school we had 1 textbook for every 2 children.) Efficiency means good teachers are quickly and meaningfully promoted. Efficiency means parents have the ability to exact demands from the school. Et cetera.

"Most of the vouchers crowd wants to ignore the authoritarianism in
society except for one microscopic little area called 'school
choice'"

And so your entire argument ultimately rests upon cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Re: Re: Human System 20.Jul.2003 22:18

PhilKll

"People have been doing things like building houses to shelter themselves from the elements (and in general engaging in labor to better their situations) for millennia, well before the advent of any formalized education systems. "
Yeah I know, but there are now 250 million people in the U.S. there is no possible way we would have the resources to house these people if everyone were to build thier own huts, and grow a garden. There has to be a stratification of society to provide the cheap labor. As far as the education system, the only way you could teach people to think for themselves, is to convice them they want to think for themselves, one person could in no way hope to change the world or an entire classroom into a group of "free thinkers" the masses have to want to. Blaming the education system isn't necessarily the best way. Most people I've dealt with in the last few years, if you don't handcuff them throw them to the ground and hold a gun to thier head, they want you to drag them kicking and screaming into this "free thinking." Its the American way, or more likely human nature to take the path of least resistence The masses have to want it, I never paid attention in class and could have gotten more out of not showing up, I naturally went my own way and sought out what I've learned, I had a few teachers along the way who pointed me in the right directions, but I wanted it, so I went and got it. I think most of the people just want to be told they are doing fine and to continue on, def dumb and blind. You can scream till your mind collapses on itself, but until the majority of people want to be "free thinkers" it ain't going to happen. Also I've been in plenty of classes where the teachers didn't give a rats ass who learned what or how and neither did the students, its not always a corporate/government/religion conspiracy, when are we going to start blaming the masses? When do the people take responsibilty for the people?

Re: Hey, xyzzy 20.Jul.2003 22:50

Bill

Thank you for replying.

I am not certain whether you replied, "yes" or "no". Or if you avoided replying. Or perhaps you didn't notice my question at all.

Anyway, I think you mean, "yes", it was your purpose to divert discussion.

In reply to your questions :

No. I believe Gatto's book is not about "education" in the vague generalized pointless hypothetical. I believe that the parts I have seen are focused on _what_is_taught_ : boredom, cowardice, deference to authority, hopelessness.

Certainly, that was the intention of Gringo's original article, and his additional comment, and some of the early commenters. You, too, have responded to that, both explicitly and implicitly.

Of course, Gatto might start frothing at the mouth halfway through chaptre eighteen, and those Odyssey folks should be watched carefully. However, I haven't seen any of that yet.

Gringo never brought any of it here.

Furthermore, thousands of talented, dedicated, freedom-loving, clear-eyed young (and old) people have responded to summonses, such as, "Exceptional teachers needed to nurture America's exceptional young minds", and, "America's future is in your hands!" The majority well-trained, well-intended, volunteers, a few chalk-pushers, and the odd paedophil. Hardly a voucher among the lot.

Nevertheless, they efficiently murdered spirits, leached initiative, and harried self-esteem from the face of the earth. They elected Bush (both of them). They enrolled Saddam Hussein in alQaida.

Despite McLuhan, the medium is not the entire message. Who gets paid, and how much they are permitted to suck from the system, are distinct from what the system does to its victims.


I didn't say any of your arguments were ignorance or lies; the phrase, "complete with the usual insoluable ignorance and lies", refers to "squabble".

While you don't use the words, many of the verbal constructions you apply to James mean, essentially ignorance or lies. And his to you. Neither of you has provided much real information.

You haven't pointed out "flaws in Gatto's proposals for reform".

He and Gringo have made none here.

You have merely claimed that strawmen constructed by yourself or James are flaws, or ridiculed him and them.

In the process you have, at least, smothered discussion, and buried Gatto's observations -- with which you claim to agree -- under a mess of irrelevance.

In the process you have smeared Gatto's obsevations with guilt by association.

Furthermore, xyzzy 20.Jul.2003 22:51

Bill

Before you cry, that was not your intent:

I did not speak of your intent.

I spoke of your action.

But they have 21.Jul.2003 00:43

James

Bill, this topic did move somewhat offtopic; but your claim that Gatto has offered no proposals for reform is simply not true.

Both in the book and through the actions of and stated goals of his Odysseus group, Gatto advocates some form of school choice. He argues both traditional Friedmanesque school vouchers, or some strange flavor of government free market emulation, wherein government schools would compete amongst each other.

By excerpting Gatto, GRINGO implicitly did bring school choice into question.

I'm not sure what type of discussion -- between a couple of partially engaged individuals on a Sunday afternoon -- you would hope for. Are we only allowed discussion if we provide long, thoroughly cited encyclopedic essays? Or can we casually discuss a reasonable (or unreasonable, as the case may be) alternative system, with the goal of fixing the matter at hand?

Gatto and Gringo's original assertions are still brightly lit, displayed at the very top of this page. All visitors will see and read it first, despite our meandering dialogue. Any new visitors to this parent post are free too, of course, to comment as they see fit.

It seems that most commentators thus far have been largely in agreement with Gatto's contentions. With no dissent to spark debate, it's only natural that peripheral issues be tackled.

Am I wrong?

my intention was to help publicize the REALITY of US education's goals 21.Jul.2003 01:59

GRINGO STARS

Gatto is a good researcher and a good critical thinker. He also is interested in making people integral - their thoughts and actions reflecting each other. By all accounts, he is an excellent teacher who is concerned with the entire student, not just the intellect. To me, Gatto's value is as an illuminator of the openly-stated goals of US education (and many other countries) - and he quotes and footnotes these blunt innovators-of-modern-schooling with skill. If you don't believe him, look up his sources. I like when I can check and see if someone is full of BS.

When Gatto stopped teaching, his reason was "I can't go on teaching children to fit in to a world that I don't want to live in anymore." I understand his decision. But like other intellectuals, their main worth is in pointing out things that you can already find out for yourself. Noam Chomsky is good for that. He never tells anyone what to do because that is not his specialty. He knows others have a more fundamental understanding of the politics of dissent. His realm of knowledge is in studying what countries actually DO. His conclusion that countries exist to enrich the wealthy at the working class' expense does not automatically lead to any ONE particular action and he is honest enough to admit that others would have more effective ideas for enacting change.

Similarly, Gatto's disgust with the educational system is very well informed and researched. But his theories of how to best deal with the problem are just that - theories. I think it is important for people to realize what is being pushed on them. Even intelligent students will deny that this methodical crushing of any real critical thinking has had an effect on them. And look at James - he buys most of what the establishment is selling him, and somehow denies that that same system's indoctrinator (school) has had ANY effect on him. Chalk up yet another win for Carnegie/Rockefeller/Morgan.

But they have not 21.Jul.2003 02:55

Bill

By excerpting Gatto, Gringo EXPLICITLY excluded 'school choice'.


Without bringing real information into the discussion, you are merely swapping the ignorance and lies I mentioned.

That is a waste of your time, which you are entitled to waste as you see fit.

It is also a waste of my time, Gringo's, and those others' who tentatively entered discussion. That is time you are not entitled to waste.

Further, you are wasting this political resource, IMC Portland, both as a collection of bits and software, and as a gathering of people who (in their various ways and with their various levels/directions of analysis) wish to understand and improve their worlds. This surely qualifies as a Venial Sin or worse.


You are very wrong.

You, James, the first commenter, disagreed in part (although with one of those strawmen, not something Gatto actually said) -- then jumped to voucher schools before anybody else had a chance to agree or disagree. PDXTeach disagreed. Annabelle Stonewall agreed and presented a story about the consequences of the system Gatto describes, which would have been very interesting to discuss. xyzzy agreed then tarred Gatto with "free-market fairy dust". Later, Gringo by adding comment in the same vein as his original article expressed his dismay at the discussion, for which he hoped, being strangled at birth. (my colourful metaphor, not his)

There were a variety of responses. Serious discussion could have grown around the topic posed. Discussion was hijacked early.

Second, it is _not_at_all_ natural that lack of dissent or debate should spark a desperate search for something to fight over.

It is natural that the topic be examined more closely, that people pool their observations and experience, that consequences of the thesis be explored -- both to test the thesis and to identify what dangers it predicts for us.


What I was getting around to, in my questioning of xyzzy, is that he and you are behaving exactly as one might expect from even so few pages as posted here by Gringo.

You not only broke in and smashed up a potentially profound discussion,
like any garden-variety troll,
or like any bored Office of Fatherland Security agent,
you also think such behaviour is a acceptable or correct.


Think about what you said :

There was no strife so you had to manufacture some.

You were bored on a Sunday afternoon, so fuck Gringo and those others.

The way to discuss anything, including something profoundly important,
is to trade insults and ignorance.

You think all that is natural.


You, james and xyzzy, the trolls, the saboteurs, the riot-cops,
you are all products of that system which Gatto describes.

The only things which make you different are,
you claim to be special,
you doubtless deny owning a Darth Vader suit.

Establishment politics 21.Jul.2003 03:13

James

Gringo, no fair labelling me some blinded, accomodating, obedient worker ant kowtowing to the establishment. I don't think I should have to defend the fact that I don't disagree with everything fed to me. That seems like a misplaced burden of proof to me.

Also, I certainly did not deny the schools effect upon me. To quote myself at the top of this thread, "It took me years to unlearn many of the untruths taught me in public schools. I probably have many more to unlearn."

Also, I was unschooled for the 7th and 8th grades, and dropped out of highschool near the beginning of my junior year. Since 6th grade, I only took part -- if you can call it that, I slept through everything and was there only because it was forced upon me -- for 2 years. So I've had a bit less indoctrination than the average public schooler, with quite positive effects, I believe. Still, I'm sure I would have been better off without any of the state's schooling, and that has much shaped my opinion of state-run education. I don't pretend to know the extent of the effects that public schooling had on me. It's my belief that the effects are largely limited to distortions of fact, not distortions of reasoning. But I won't pretend to know that for sure.

When I argue for school choice, I like to include parental-sponsorhip among the choices, as I'm positive that's the best mode of education, when a child's parents are properly equipped to handle it.

Anyway, thanks for opening my eyes to Gatto's work. I've ordered it from Amazon. (Reading it on the computer was beginning to give me a headache).

TV 21.Jul.2003 04:33

Did someone say?

tv

Junk Food 21.Jul.2003 04:33

Junky

Junk Food

Play Station 21.Jul.2003 04:34

All I wanna do is play

Play Station

Internet 21.Jul.2003 04:35

4:40 am

Oops!

Re: There is nothing that competes with habit 21.Jul.2003 08:56

xyzzy

> There are certain arguments which can be made about the arbitrary
> manner in which our society sets ages of consent, ages of majority,
> etc. But wow. At what age do you propose we should free children
> from the tyrannical rule of their parents?

Children should never be subject to tyrannical rule of anybody. See
below.

> This is actually newly-charted territory for me. It's truly a
> unique argument against school choice. What you're arguing, however,
> is not libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. It's some
> extraordinary brand of anarchism, the likes of which I've never
> seen nor heard.

I don't think it's particularly extraordinary; it just naturally
follows from basic precepts of anarchism. And us anarchists have
been using the label "libertarian" for at least as long as the
right-wing, get-the-government-off-the-backs-of-the-poor-bourgeoisie
folks. Don't see why I should suddenly cede the term to them.

> Parents have a natural right to care for, protect and nurture their
> children. We have strong biological instincts to help them.
> Indeed, that urge is not only limited to humans -- most mammals
> watch over their young until they reach an age of maturity. The
> only difference with our society is that we have set a static
> measure of time on that care, based on revolutions around the Sun.
> That, I suppose, is somewhat strange if you think about it.

Never said anything against nurturing, or that parents nurturing
children is contrary to basic human nature. Nurturing does not
have to be tyrranical or even particularly authoritarian. That
many apparently see it as intrinsically so speaks volumes as to
the sort of indoctrination present in our society.

> Still, I can think of no other superior manner by which organized
> society could rightfully determine whether or not a child has become
> an adult. (I guess you'd be arguing against organized society
> altogether, though).

The way families have been structured and children have been raised
has gone through immense changes over the ages. Current methods
are hardly old and inviolable. If you want to play the "human
nature" game seriously, you'll have to drop civilization altogether
in favor of some sort of neolithic (or even paleolithic) hunter-gatherer
society.

Not that I'm necessarily arguing for that; it's just that what
arose as Homo sapiens evolved into the species we know ourselves
as is probably the closest system to our natural instincts and
predispositions. It certainly ain't capitalism and the modern
nuclear family, which are a real Johnny-come-latelies as social
institutions go. And unless people who play the "it's not human
nature" game advocate it, they're just as open to the charges
they make as those they make the charges against.

> So I'm not sure how to argue the point with you, other than to
> point out that while children often have some sway with their
> dictatorial parents, they have zero pull with the bureaucrats within
> their school district. So while school choice would not emancipate
> the poor young spirits completely, it couldn't hurt.

Sure it could hurt. It could hurt if parents largely interpret
nurturing as authoritarianism (as many apparently do). It could
hurt if parents merely want their kids to be submissive little
income-maximizing worker bees (and the market would cater to this
desire). It could hurt if vouchers end up making less education
available to the poor instead of more (see below).

> Similarly, it does not eliminate social class. I never claimed
> that it did. If that's the goal, we need nothing short of revolution.
> But in the meantime, school choice helps towards the same ends.

I see no way that the issue of social class can be addressed short
of revolution, either. However, it has yet to be shown to my
satisfaction that school-choice will necessarily help towards those
ends.

> The wealthy are already sending their children to private schools.
> With school choice, they're still going to do it. But with school
> choice, some families who otherwise might not be able to send their
> child to a better school now will be able to. Some parents are
> willing to make enormous sacrifices in living conditions so that
> their children can receive educations better than they themselves
> received. A family making $25,000/year might be willing to give-up
> $5,000 a year for their child's education, if they thought it would
> help them. Without school choice, that amount of money wouldn't
> result in a much better education for their child. But with school
> choice, it would.

And that's actually a big part of the problem. The middle class
can afford to pay a little more for their children (and their
children only), while the poor only get to spend the amount of
their vouchers, and no more. Guess who will win most of the slots
for the best schools, and guess who will be stuck with the "take
it or leave it" schools in such a market?

School choice already exists (and has existed for about fifty
years) in a fashion, and it is already a disaster for most low-income
families. The greater personal mobility brought about by the
automobile and freeway systems has enabled middle and upper class
families to choose to flee the cities for the suburbs, where they
lavish tax dollars on schools for their own children, while at the
same time inner-city schools decay. Those stuck in the decaying
schools get the shaft.

Going to a voucher-based system will only further decouple the middle
class from the poor, further exacerbating social stratification.

And while I've brought up the subject of present-day school choice,
then there's the higher education system (which even has vouchers
called "scholarships"), which is every bit as much into bending
students to authority and submission as the K-12 schools are. More
reasons to doubt that choice proposals in and of themselves will
result in a largely positive outcome.

> School choice could easily result in more freedom for teachers as
> well. With school choice, there would be nothing stopping a group
> of likeminded teachers from forming a Teacher's Collective.

Whether or not that becomes more than a minor insignificant blip
in the overall scheme of things depends strongly on the values of
society as a whole. The overall capitalism-fetishization of the
current school choice crowd makes me very skeptical that there
would be much of this if they get their way.

> > "It could be used to conclude that the two freest societies of the
> > 20th century were the Stalinist USSR and Nazi Germany, because the
> > "freedom" of Hitler and Stalin to rule and manage society as they
> > wished was so unfettered."
>
> Strawman. Mothers != Hitler. What a strange thought.

Cute... now you try to put words in my mouth and say I compared
parents to Hitler.

> > "Freedom is the freedom of queer children to be free from parents
> > who want to psychologically torture them over their sexuality."
>
> Yes, but you're arguing above and beyond school choice now. I
> could use the same argument for school choice -- school choice is
> the freedom for queer students to be free from school administrators
> who want to psychologically torture them over their sexuality.

If only it were, I'd be less skeptical about it. But to reiterate,
most school-choice proponents (yourself included, at least at the
start of this discussion) seem to view children as passive objects
in the whole scheme, almost on the par of being the property of
their parents.

> > "I don't find this much of a meaningful argument. Personally, I
> > could care less about preserving the ability for the privileged to
> > institute a system of quasi-aristocracy by buying their way into
> > schools that better shape their children into the next generation
> > of aristocrats."
>
> Yes, but as I said above -- they already are. School choice does
> not exasperate the problem, it alleviates it. Poor children are
> already -- this very day -- stuck in rotten schools. Especially
> urban students. Urban students score much below their suburban
> peers, and I hardly think it's their genetics, anymore than it's
> the air that they breath.

Congratulations. You've make my point exactly. Suburban versus
urban schools ARE a result of school choice -- see above.

> > "Oh, boy. "Efficiency." Another feel-good word. "Efficiency"
> > doing what, for what ends, promoting what values, and at whose
> > behest?"
>
> Efficiency meaning the schools actually have textbooks for the
> children. (Not sure about yourself, but when I was in school we
> had 1 textbook for every 2 children.) Efficiency means good teachers
> are quickly and meaningfully promoted. Efficiency means parents
> have the ability to exact demands from the school. Et cetera.

It could mean such things, but I'm skeptical it WILL mean them under
the school-choice proposals of the Right.

Efficiency means educational corporations holding down the wages
and benefits of teachers. It means increasing class sizes to reduce
labor costs. It means molding children into corporate team-players
so they can advertise to the parents how much more income their
graduates make over other schools' graduates. Efficiency means
parochial schools shoving superstitious nonsense into the heads of
children to increase the size of the flock (baaaa!) of the sponsoring
religion. It means the well-off getting "more value for their
money" by wasting less of their income on the education of the
less-well-off and more on their own children. It means the lobbyists
of the educational corporations bribing politicians into ever-more-lax
standards for the schools they operate. It means pandering to
parents' fears and misconceptions instead of helping parents deal
with same.

Or, rather, it COULD mean any or all of those things. Which happens
depends on the values of society. A society that values greed and
getting ahead of others won't have a very egalitarian or libertarian
educational system. A market-based one would only result in a
system that more "efficiently" panders to these out-of-whack values.
No thanks.

> > "Most of the vouchers crowd wants to ignore the authoritarianism in
> > society except for one microscopic little area called 'school
> > choice'"
>
> And so your entire argument ultimately rests upon cutting off your
> nose to spite your face.

??? And just what hat did you pull that non-sequitur out from?

Re: But they have 21.Jul.2003 09:05

xyzzy

What James said (and no, I don't know who he is and aren't conspiring with him to drag this discussion off-topic).

I mean, really, now, if everyone agrees with the Gatto's analysis that Gringo posted, wouldn't a bunch of posts saying nothing more than "Yes, I agree!" be (by virtue of their lack of content) a bigger waste of this forum than James and I are making with our arguments?

And isn't the natural response to an observation like "Schools are individualism-crushing indoctrination factories" something along the lines of "OK, how should we fix the problem?". Unless, possibly, one doesn't see that as a problem that merits fixing.

Re: But they have 22.Jul.2003 01:45

Bill

I don't often indulge in quotations. However, you have been ever so kind to supply so many straight-lines, I cannot let then go to waste.

''What James said''

For example, ''It seems that most commentators thus far have been largely in agreement with Gatto's contentions.''

''(and no, I don't know who he is and aren't conspiring with him to drag this discussion off-topic).''

Please, wait until you are accused before acting guilty.

No, I don't believe you are conspiring. As I said before, you and James are acting exactly as you have been trained.

''I mean, really, now, if everyone agrees with the Gatto's analysis that Gringo posted, wouldn't a bunch of posts saying nothing more than "Yes, I agree!" ...''

I did not see such a string of posts. In fact, I said so.

''... be (by virtue of their lack of content) a bigger waste of this forum than James and I are making with our arguments?''

The might be. If they occured. But they haven't.

So we are left with the waste you and James are making.

''And isn't the natural response to an observation like "Schools are individualism-crushing indoctrination factories" something along the lines of "OK, how should we fix the problem?".''

No. I would expect varied responses, perhaps :

"Yes, but..."
"You're kidding!"
"Prove it."
"No, I disagree."
"Terrorist!"

''Unless, possibly, one doesn't see that as a problem that merits fixing.''

They are you and James who wish to squabble over voucher-schools.

Exactly as you have been trained.


Although, James appears to have gone away to buy the book, maybe to learn about the topic under discussion.

Still lurking 22.Jul.2003 02:23

James

Bill,

I decided to honor your wishes and see if perhaps we were suffucating some greater debate, waiting under the surface. But this article will soon drop off the front page, and you've posted yet again arguing this point. (That makes 9 posts related to your objections now (this one makes 10!), versus 8 between xyzzy and I, but who's keeping count?)

I disappeared for about 24 hours, and xyzzy has been gone since early this morning. In that span, there has not been a single post -- on topic, or off.

I think you have a misconception of what Indymedia is. It's not devoted to the subject of education. So it's unreasonable to expect such a detailed discussion of the subject. Conversations by their very nature are wandering, and that's part of what makes it fun. If GRINGO wanted a strictly-focused debate just on the origins and design of the current education system, he should have made his post to any of the numerous polisci-type blogs on the Internet devoted to the subject of education.

I'm not convinced you're not just trolling. (Indeed, with every new post, I'm beginning to believe more and more that you are). If you had real objections, a much more useful tact to have taken might have been to actually spark a discussion on the subject at hand yourself. You've criticized xyzzy and myself for not providing any facts -- which we both have -- yet you yourself have added literally nothing to the discussion.

If you were trolling, it was a nice troll and you reeled me in. If not, please go away until you have something useful to say.

No longer lurking 24.Jul.2003 00:48

Bill

How can you expect anybody to believe anything you say, when you can't count, and you can't remember from one post to the next what you said.

By saying you had gone away, I had thought to give you the benefit of the doubt, but your claim to lift the pillow off your victims face, with hope in you heart, after rigor mortis has set in, seems to me hypocritical.


"Indymedia emerged from the clouds of tear gas that filled the streets of Seattle in 1999 as a tool for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth. Then and now, the stories told through Indymedia come from the hearts and minds of people on the frontlines of the struggle for justice against tyranny."

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/static/about.shtml

"The Independent Media Center is a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth. We work out of a love and inspiration for people who continue to work for a better world, despite corporate media's distortions and unwillingness to cover the efforts to free humanity."

 http://www.indymedia.org/about.php3

There is nothing on those pages which forbids "fun". In fact, I have seen people giggling uncontrollably while collaborating on Indymedia reports.

However, those pages sound pretty damn serious. They appear to rank "fun" after "accurate" and "truth"; rather than, as you claim, before.

They appear, in fact, to invite Gringo to post here, rather than banish him to some vanity ghetto. They appear at least to hope that serious discussion might prevail over empty bickering.


It is true, I have contributed nothing to your "debate" with xyzzy, except the observation, "Without bringing real information into the discussion, you are merely swapping the ignorance and lies I mentioned."

I have been showing how xyzzy and you are typical products of the education system Gatto describes.


Remember all those lies Bush told about Iraq -- there is an article in the NewsWire somewhere which says there were 36 of them. As each was pretty much disproven, he would trot out a new one. Now, they are down to bickering over whether he really said something or if he really said the Brit really said it.

Typical school-yard stuff. Typical SCHOOL-yard stuff. Everytime you get caught, shift the focus. When you run out of lies, start over -- nobody will remember.

And believing it, albeit with a little help from TV (hey! I mentioned TV!), is typical school-room stuff.


You know what? The arbitrary statements posed as fact, the forgetting, the convenient misunderstanding, the desperate search for something, anything, to say back. None of that is deliberate, conscious, mendacity.

Bush, the people who move his lips, don't know they are lying. They are merely saying whatever combination of words seems likely to advance their purpose. It was a fallacy popular in the middle-ages when, as today, those with mostest biggest swords proved their point.

In order for you to be a sucker for that kind of behaviour, you must believe it is the proper way to argue.

That's what they taught you in school.

Final good news 24.Jul.2003 00:49

Bill

All of Gatto's books were borrowed from my local public library, the day after Gringo first posted here.

I am in fourth and fifth places on the request lists for two.

In my little burg, there are at least six people moved by Gringo to read more.

Of course it might be a coincidence.

Thanks for the good news Bill - please spread the word 24.Jul.2003 23:47

GRINGO STARS

I am glad that a heads-up about Gatto and the US education system's real goals was actually noticed! Seriously, it encourages me to hear that someone is actually reading this, out there in the vacuum of the internet, and I am not merely typing (and cutting and pasting) for nothing. I'm going to keep on keeping on.