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'Against School' - John Taylor Gatto

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Kerbie Dixon

on 21 September 2012

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Transcript of 'Against School' - John Taylor Gatto

How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why... 'Against School'
"We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of 'success' as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, 'schooling,' but historically that isn't true in either an intellectual or a financial sense...plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons." -pg. 2 Schooling vs. Education -John Taylor Gatto The institution of public education does not cultivate independent thinking and creativity, but creates a passive and immature society. Main Argument... National literature has "numerous and surprisingly consistent statements of compulsory schooling's true purpose." -p. 2
Example:
H.L. Mencken's The American Mercury (1924)- "(the aim of public education) is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality."
What is the purpose of public schools? The purpose of public schools cont'd... "...help kids take an education rather than merely receive a schooling. We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness - curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight - simply by being more flexible about time, text, and tests..."- Pg. 1 Alexander Inglis' Principles of Secondary Education (1918) -
Modern Schooling has 6 Basic Functions...
1. The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. Destroys the idea of teaching useful/interesting material (students always going to be obedient).
2. The integrating function. "Conformity function." Intent is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable--> useful in harnessing and manipulating a large labor force.
3. The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. Logging evidence on a student's "permanent record." Bad kid vs. good kid.
4. The differentiating function. Once social role determined, "children are to be sorted by role and trained only as far as their destination in the social machine merits- and one step further. "-p.4
5. The selective function. Refers to Darwin's theory of natural selection and the "favored races." Schools tag the unfit (poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments) and peers accept them as inferior.
6. The propaedeutic function. Societal system requires an elite group of "caretakers" to watch over/control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed so government might proceed unchallenged and corporations always have access to obedient labor. "There were vast fortunes to be made...in an economy based on mass production and organized to favor large corporation rather than the small business or the family farm. But mass production required mass consumption...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. And that left them sitting ducks for another great invention of the modern era - marketing." -p.4 Mass Production, Mass Consumption, and How Schooling Contributes Theorists (Plato, Rousseau, etc.) knew "if children could be cloistered with other children, stripped of responsibility and independence, encourage to develop only the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy, and fear, they would grow older but never truly grow up." -p. 4-5 Marketing can always convince two groups of people to consume more than they need to: addicts and children. "School has done a pretty good job of turning our children into addicts, but it has done a spectacular job of turning our children into children." -p.4 According to Gatto, we have become a nation of children, "happy to surrender our judgements and wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments" p.5 -- For example:
Easy divorce laws = removes need to work at relationships
Easy credit = removes need for fiscal self-control
Easy entertainment = removes need to learn to entertain oneself
Easy answers = removes need to ask questions
Today...

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.

Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored.

Urge them to take on the serious material in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology...

Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues.

Solution? Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone...they seek companionship through the TV, computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned...p.6
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