Against School: How Public Education Cripples our Kids, and Why

John Taylor Gatto:

How do we educate our children to be active, critical thinkers and not dumb passive consumers serving someone else interests? For however strange this may sound to you, it may have been “marketing” itself to bring us the terrible education system most civilized countries have adopted in the last century or so.
The advent of mass production required a growth in mass consumption as well, but back then most people “considered it both unnatural and unwise to buy things they didn’t actually need“.

We don’t need Karl Marx‘s conception of a grand warfare between the classes to see that it is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don’t conform.

Mandatory schooling was a godsend on that count. School didn’t have to train kids in any direct sense to think they should consume nonstop, because it did something even better: it encouraged them not to think at all.

Non-sense, paranoia?

Prof. Cubberley, who was Dean of Stanford’s School of Education, wrote in his 1922 book entitled Public School Administration: “Our schools are . . . factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned.. . . And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down.

The essay I present here today, “Against School” by John Taylor Gatto, is a definitive eye-opener for all those buying into our present education system without any critical perspective.

We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer.

And, worst of all, we don’t bat an eye when Ari Fleischer tells us to “be careful what you say“, even if we remember having been told somewhere back in school that America is the land of the free. We simply buy that one too. Our schooling, as intended, has seen to it.

This is what Prof. Gatto writes without hesitation. He looks in depth at our present education system and analyzes the history and motives that have brought about “school” as we know it today.

And the more I look at it, the more I see how devastatingly negative, traditional school really is. As I have, if you are a parent to some young minds, consider well and deeply where and how to give them an education, and how to avoid the pitfalls of those paralyzing psychological handicaps that the traditional education system imposes on everyone.

School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently.

Read this fascinating essay in full:

Against School: How Public Education Cripples our Kids, and Why:

I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom.
Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.
Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers’ lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there.
When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. Who wouldn’t get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? If even that.
Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children.

Every parent should take some time to read their children’s textbooks, particularly Connected Math, which appears to take a more consumer oriented approach to math education.