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The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile
The Memory Hole ^ | July 17, 2003 | Russ Kick

Posted on 04/25/2004 9:37:10 AM PDT by ChocChipCookie

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.

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).

posted 17 July 2003 | copyright 2002-3 Russ Kick

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: education; homeschool; homeschooling; indoctrination; publicschools
Interesting article.
1 posted on 04/25/2004 9:37:10 AM PDT by ChocChipCookie
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To: ChocChipCookie
good article
2 posted on 04/25/2004 9:37:59 AM PDT by cyborg
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To: ChocChipCookie; All
"The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile"

Yes, it is a good article. And BTW, government schools have far less to do with education and far more to do with indoctrination. But we must always remember "the truth is out there," and after the indoctrination ends at the threshhold of adulthood, some will seek that truth. Others will embrace a proletarian existence and vote Democrat.

3 posted on 04/25/2004 9:44:42 AM PDT by davisfh
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To: ChocChipCookie
Something I wrote on my own journal, all of the following is true and of my own account:

The structure of our university system shocks me. There are some grand exceptions to what I am about to lay out, but I believe I am witnessing the breakdown of learning.

Someone in class the other day said (I am paraphrasing), “There are two kinds of teachers: With good teachers the work is both challenging and fun. When you do well, you feel like you’ve accomplished something and that you really know the subject matter. The bad teachers don’t teach. You earn a good grade without feeling like you understand the concepts and get an overall dirty feeling of the course because you feel like you haven’t earned that ‘A’ that you received.”

I’m focusing on the latter part of that statement. I can name the few teachers that have met the standard of a good teacher, but almost every other teacher I have had in college falls in the latter section, with the few remaining slipping into the average de jour. I mean average de jour because those teachers falling into that category should be classified as bad teachers in a utopian system, but they exceed the “bad teachers” in ability. The bad teachers that I have and have had I honestly think should not be teaching. Tenure and politics however, hold a stronger opinion than I, and I fear speaking openly about such things, as they could have a damaging impact while I am still a student.

What started this downward trend? I can’t be sure, but I think it has something to with what I will call reckless compassion. One of my professors actually told us the following story, again paraphrasing: “One day, my son had a terrible fever, and was complaining of being cold. I looked at him and just couldn’t stand the sight of him shivering. He was running a fever over a hundred degrees. I just wanted him to be warm again, so I wrapped him up in blankets. His temperature reached 106…”

This story left me smitten. It collected so many thoughts that I have been dealing with since I started college. The boy in the story didn’t die, and I do not know if the professor actually did this to his child, he was telling it to teach a lesson that I do not think he followed himself.

The class he teaches is known for its difficulty because of its lack of visible effects. In my opinion, he does not teach the class. He mainly spent the entire lectures working insipid homework problems. He hardly averaged working one problem a period. The difficult concepts in the class were never explained in any detail resembling teaching. Thus, students didn’t learn the concepts (they are used to this lack of teaching by now) and didn’t bother learning it on their own without his “help.” The students therefore didn’t perform well on his tests. Already, only a grade of 85% was necessary for an A in the class. The teacher got wind of students doing badly in his class and began wrapping us up in blankets. Now, only an 80% was required for an A. You can imagine how low you could get on this new scale and still get the C necessary to qualify as an engineering class.

Let me ask this to people encouraging this behavior: What kind of message does this send to the student? From my observation, this message is that we really don’t need to know this material, it isn’t important, and it is just horrible that the college requires you to take this class. Not only that, but if your class is too hard and you’re too lazy to own up to your own responsibility and teach yourself, don’t worry, we’ll lower standards.

This class, however, is none of the above. It is a basic class, when not understood, leads to perpetual motion machines and other failings of engineering logic that can cause problems later on.

This class is not the only course I have taken that suffers in the same way. In other colleges that don’t take themselves as seriously as engineering, it’s even worse. In my international relations class, the multiple choice questions for the final were given out a week ahead of time. The test was ridiculously easy, most questions only had 3 not 4 or 5 answers, and some wrong answers were even jokes (no, not a joke as in too easy for the test, a joke as in you read it when you see it and know the answer, without having to think once). For an example:

The “Star Wars” program was:
A. A defense program under president Reagan
B. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away
C. The last frontier

If there is one thing that I notice that is also peculiar about these classes is that the teachers don’t allow you to keep the tests. These are printed pieces of paper that you do not write answers on. You simply bubble in your nice little scantron and that’s it. But, they won’t let you get away without giving the test back. It’s almost like they feel shameful for even giving such a stupid test that anyone could take and pass without even having took the course. They do not want a record of what they have been “teaching” their classes.

Now, if it were up to me, I would not have taken this class. The most enlightening things I learned in this class were from two documentaries that we watched, one on Waco the other on Rwanda. I had to take this class because I need an “I” for “international” credit. I still need another “I” credit, and the thought of taking something silly and unacademic like “Survivor: Tribal Experiences and Cultural Relativity” a class based on the TV show Survivor. All of these classes aren’t horrible, but the good ones are hard to find, especially when you’re interested in a subject and you already know more than what they’re teaching.

To deliver another blow to the education system, let me tell whoever is reading this about another class that is required for “education” minors and most likely majors as well, that my girlfriend took and was constantly complaining about how bad the class was. First of all, assignments included: dressing up and having a fashion show with newspaper clothing, walking around with a box on your head to see what it’s like to be a blind person, and removing your shoes as a class and passing them around to strangers. Going through the disaster that ensues when the period ends and you only have one of your shoes and someone else’s whom you don’t know must be horrible if you actually participated. Oh yeah, and this is in a class in the largest auditorium on campus, completely filled.

When you take a test and you finish, you cannot leave. The doors are locked. The TAs block the exits. When a group of people try to get up and leave because they’re tired of waiting (and time for the exam is already up), the teacher shouts at them to sit down and be quiet or she won’t let them leave. This is a college course. What does this have to do with education? If this is a product and also a future example of our education system and who will be leading it in the future, I fear for humanity because these situations exist right now at my school and I know that they are not the worst.

What will be my goal then? I certainly don’t want to succumb to social pressure and skate by with A’s and pretend that I am an expert at the subject matter I am supposed to be learning. Such illusions, I imagine, will strike a person with depression once they realize the scam they have just naively wasted years of their life on. Let’s not forget the notion that college is the time when you’re “supposed to” party your brains out, sleep around with a sorority, experiment with whatever drugs you can come across, and be “cool” in the eyes of your friends only to emerge as a “normal” adult.

I wonder what the consequences are for such a recklessly compassionate society such as ourselves. As long as we can blame others, or substances, on driving around drunk and killing innocents, or nearly commit suicide through alcohol poisoning, we will continue to digress. We must look back and see where the problems begin and end, at ourselves.

I’m not going to let the system beat me. I am not going to let myself settle for what someone else considers “ ‘A’ work” when I realize that it’s only “aiming for the middle.” This is my only chance at this life. If everyone else around me is going to settle for what they know is only average, when they know it will be labeled as “excellent,” they are asking for it. It’s the ignorant ones that I worry about, and that is anyone that doesn’t see the faults in the way things are going.

I refuse to live an average life and live in an average country. I have been told my entire life that this is the best place on earth and that we are a role model to the rest of the world. That better not change under my watch.
4 posted on 04/25/2004 10:22:05 AM PDT by anobjectivist (Publically edumacated)
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To: 2Jedismom
5 posted on 04/25/2004 10:32:42 AM PDT by TxBec (Tag! You're it!)
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To: ChocChipCookie
There is no such expression as "for free." Otherwise a fine article.
6 posted on 04/25/2004 10:38:37 AM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: anobjectivist
One problem with university courses today is that the students evaluate the instructors. Now, that sounds harmless, right? Even beneficial. The students evaluate the instructors, the university reviews the results, and they can weed out the bad instructors and help the good ones improve, right?

That's the theory. The reality is...a very large percentage of the students expect the instructors to:
(a) make the class really easy, and
(b) make the tests easy, and
(c) give out 60% A's and B's.

If the instructor does not do this, then the students "punish" them on the evaluations. I have personally seen evaluations, on a scale of 1 to 10 for each question, be 100% 1's (the lowest value) for some instructors.

For such instructors, instead of a bell curve in the evaluations, you see a capital M formation, caused by a number of students who like being challenged and who felt they learned something evaluating the instructor highly, and another number who are "punishing" the instructor because the class was too "hard".

General result - such instructors are not retained. Instead, instructors who "give away" good grades, get good evaluations. They are retained.

7 posted on 04/25/2004 10:48:01 AM PDT by dark_lord (The Statue of Liberty now holds a baseball bat and she's yelling 'You want a piece of me?')
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To: dark_lord
Yes, that is exactly what I have seen and experience every semester.

I'm one of those that is overly critical of "easy" professors and I always give the real teachers excellent reviews.

I even went so far as to personally thank my Calc 2 teacher for not dumbing down the class when I took his class my first semester in college.

It does seem though that the majority claim the real teachers are "bad teachers" because they can't scoot by, skip class, and still get an A when they don't know jack.

I noticed this when I personally handled the evaluations for one of my classes. The teacher was excellent by my standards, a select few seemed to agree, but the majority gave some pretty harsh reviews.

Here, it never seems to be your own fault when you do bad.
8 posted on 04/25/2004 10:55:40 AM PDT by anobjectivist (Publically edumacated)
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To: ChocChipCookie
My doubts began to creep in when I was in 5th grade, when my teacher went through my results for the standardized tests we all took. Rather than being show my test again or the percentage of what I'd gotten correct, I was shown where I was on the curve & an equivalent grade level of what I'd already learned.

When you tell an 11 year old that they have met the skills of a high school graduate in a few subjects, expect them to spend a certain amount of energy trying to figure out why the system wants them to keep going along with the program.

My Mom, bless her heart, explained it to me pretty clearly. Employers would see my high school diploma as proof of having the ability to do what is expected. Teachers reinforced this, when they included homework in the final grade. The system is less interested in your demonstrating knowlege of the subject matter, than it is in your demonstrating you are willing to jump through all of the hoops in the proper order.
9 posted on 04/25/2004 11:18:38 AM PDT by GoLightly
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To: ChocChipCookie
bump for later reading.
10 posted on 04/25/2004 11:26:58 AM PDT by I still care
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To: Junior; PatrickHenry; RadioAstronomer
11 posted on 04/25/2004 11:42:45 AM PDT by Aracelis
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To: Aracelis
Interesting. I've read that our first government-funded, mandatory schools were in Massachusetts in the 1840s, around the same time that Massachusetts was disestablishing its state church (it was the last state to do so). The model for the Massachusetts school system was (so I've read) taken from imperial Prussia.
12 posted on 04/25/2004 12:16:32 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: Aracelis
Ah, found a website on this: Why There Are Public Schools. Talks about Prussia, and says: "American advocates of compulsory state schooling observed the Prussian system, became enamored of it, and adopted it as their model. As former teacher John Taylor Gatto writes ... "
13 posted on 04/25/2004 12:21:01 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: All; everyone; SOMEONE; Everybody; Kim_in_Tulsa; diotima; TxBec; SLB; BibChr; JenB; ...

14 posted on 04/25/2004 1:37:59 PM PDT by 2Jedismom (Expect me when you see me!)
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To: 2Jedismom
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.

This man knows nothing about the public school system. It's thirty or more years since the schools emphasized memorization ("rote memorization" is a leftwing cliche); the war on memorization is part and parcel of pedagogical anti-intellectualism. And if he believes that public school classrooms are "lorded over by unquestionable [sic] authority figures," he's delusional. If only. This guy sounds like he's writing from Mars.

BTW, the method of teaching by memorization goes back at least as far as the Jesuits in the early 17th century. But hey, maybe they were in on it, and were deliberately setting up the future American system, 300 hundred years in advance.

People like the writer make lefties look downright intelligent.

15 posted on 04/25/2004 2:28:48 PM PDT by mrustow
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To: mrustow
I was surprised to see kids do their times tables on their FINGERS (if they don't have a calculator).
16 posted on 04/25/2004 2:30:36 PM PDT by cyborg
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To: ChocChipCookie
Please don't call them "public schools". They're "government schools". And, straight out of the "Communist Manisfesto".
17 posted on 04/25/2004 2:34:15 PM PDT by jslade (People who are easily offended, OFFEND ME!)
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To: mrustow
This man knows nothing about the public school system.

What man? What post are you quoting? Nothing in #14.

Uh, you would not happen to be a skool teecher, wuld u?

18 posted on 04/25/2004 4:06:40 PM PDT by don-o (Stop Freeploading. Do the right thing and sign up for a monthly donation.)
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To: ChocChipCookie
A friend of mine has a friend who teaches at an elite private school. At the school, they start kids on foreign languages in kindergarden, when kids are most able to easily pick up a foreign language. The teacher also notes that mastering foreign languages early provides educational benefits in other areas.

My friend asked her why she thought the same thing wasn't done in public schools. Her reply was "One does not give servants the keys to the master's bedchamber"

19 posted on 04/25/2004 4:11:56 PM PDT by SauronOfMordor (That which does not kill me had better be able to run away damn fast.)
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To: SauronOfMordor
Not all public schools offer a progressive, touchy feely, cooperative, multi-cultural-laden curriculum. Parents all over the country are starting charters and private schools based on the age-old Trivium -- classical education.

20 posted on 04/25/2004 4:26:55 PM PDT by ladylib
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To: ChocChipCookie
I'm a product of the public education system. What is this guy talking about? As for myself, I don't know and I don't care...
21 posted on 04/25/2004 4:29:19 PM PDT by MeanFreePath
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To: MeanFreePath
That's okay.
22 posted on 04/25/2004 4:35:42 PM PDT by ladylib
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To: ChocChipCookie
Enjoyed the article, and while I don't agree with every single point the author makes, it still makes a lot of good ones.

Points I would make include:

Large class sizes and regimentation take advantage of "economies of scale" and are not necessarily an impediment to learning, provided that the teacher is allowed to keep order and not let disruptive students rule the day. I was able to learn a core curriculum in a baby boom elementary school with as many as 45 students in a room.

Sometimes, learning by rote memorization is a good thing; multiplication tables and basic rules of grammar and spelling come to mind.

All things being equal, the public high school diploma awarded to me in 1976 is worth more than whose awarded ten, and certainly 20 years later, when the touchy-feely crowd completed their takeover.

I'm a bigger fan of home-schooling with each passing year. Not only is the evidence of its success beyond amazing, what I spent 12 years learning I could have learned in eight.

23 posted on 04/25/2004 4:37:24 PM PDT by ihatemyalarmclock
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To: ChocChipCookie
24 posted on 04/25/2004 4:39:23 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle
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To: ihatemyalarmclock
The amount of wasted time in bricks and mortar school has become of increasing interest to me. It is *so* efficient to homeschool. My K child has started 1st grade math and science. I like being able to move at their own pace and meet individual needs -- and do so in much less time than is spent in a classroom. So much of class time is spent on "management" issues.
25 posted on 04/25/2004 4:42:39 PM PDT by GOPrincess
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To: GOPrincess
A lot of the time in a lot of schools is spent on a lot of nonsense and a lot of that nonsense is detrimental to the well-being of your child. But you know that already because you've made other arrangements for your child's education.
26 posted on 04/25/2004 4:59:04 PM PDT by ladylib
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To: don-o
This man knows nothing about the public school system.

What man? What post are you quoting? Nothing in #14.

Uh, you would not happen to be a skool teecher, wuld u?

I've got a revolutionary pedagogical tip for you, and I'm giving it to you for free, though I have a feeling you'll squander it. (After all, you think that someone else having any knowledge of a subject about which you know nothing is cause for you to mock him. Ignorance is surely bliss.) First read the article, THEN respond to posts!

If the person reading this for you doesn't have time to read the article for you, I hope she'll call Literacy Volunteers of America on your behalf.

27 posted on 04/26/2004 8:14:48 AM PDT by mrustow
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