Skip to comments.John Taylor Gatto - The Purpose Of Schooling
Posted on 01/06/2013 8:14:00 AM PST by wintertime
Youtube video: 7:05
This video is well worth the time.
John Taylor Gatto-The Purpose of Schooling
So?....With the government schools becoming increasingly more prison-like,( and with children literally be arrested for behavior that was once seen as a learning opportunity and handled within the school), do John Gatto's comments ring true? I think they do.
If children attend the government's godless prison-like schools and are treated like state prisoners within the prison-like compounds, they risk learning to be comfortable with being state prisoners. The continuation of government schooling has, and will have, evil consequences for the child and for the future of our nation. What will be the consequences in the voting booth?
Please...Conservatives! Wake up! We must begin the process of privatizing universal K-12 education. It is **urgent**!!! We must work toward complete separation of school and state. NOW!
Finally....I consider government schooling to be so evil for the child and such a threat to our nation that I have made a decision. I will not have a government school worker for a friend. They are too evil, too stupid, or too much of a well meaning but very befuddled Useful Idiot to be a friend. This is my personal decision.
(Excerpt) Read more at youtube.com ...
This is the first time I have heard John Gatto’s voice. This video is **excellent**.
Once again - opinion being pawned off as “news” and not even a description of the purported video.
I don’t do you tube videos as they eat up far too much of my limited bandwidth - and I most especially do not look at them without any clue of the content ahead of time.
Government schooling can not be defended. It is a socialist, single-payer, compulsory-use, compulsory-funded, and godless socialist entitlement backed by the threat of armed police and court threat. It never has been,( nor is it now), religiously, culturally, or politically neutral. These tax-funded government prison-like and godless schools are a First Amendment and freedom of conscience abomination.
Treating children, whose only crime was to be born, like state prisoners can not be defended, It can not be reformed. I consider it to be evil for the child and a threat to the future of our nation.
So....Government school defenders, please feel free to comment on this thread. Please feel free to use my name freely, and to comment on my posts, but please do not ping me or send private mail. I'd rather not have that clutter up my ping and private mail lists.
If you choose to ping me or send private mail, you will receive a polite request from me not to do so.
I have made a decision. To engage those defending an abomination is to give the abomination a veneer of legitimacy.
Government schooling can not be defended.
nothing more than a personal opinion, which has been shown time after time, after time.
Treating children, whose only crime was to be born, like state prisoners can not be defended, It can not be reformed.
Hyperbolic personal opinion.
I consider it to be evil for the child and a threat to the future of our nation.
If you choose to ping me or send private mail, you will receive a polite request from me not to do so.
In other words she has nothing to back up nor defend her own hyperbole, rhetoric, and personal opinion.
I have made a decision.
So have the rest of us.
To engage those defending an abomination is to give the abomination a veneer of legitimacy.
To point out personal opinion that is nothing more than ad hom attacks, personal slurs, and often outright lies is something all conscientious folks must do.
Oh - and the misuse of the ""news" segment of FR for that which belongs in "personal/bloggers" will continue to be pointed out whenever necessary (which lately has been every new posting by the creator of this thread.)
I recommend you get Gatto’s book, “The Underground History of American Education” to get a full understanding of what American education was founded to do and why it’s going to continue to turn out Obama voters for the next generation.
All it took to elect FDR was one to three generations of voters indoctrinated to be comfortable with socialism in government schools that are socialist-funded, compulsory, single-payer, price-fixed cartel schools.
By my grandmother's day ( born 1894) government schooling was largely godlessly secular with perfunctory nods to God in the morning. Is it any wonder that she and my father learned to worship at the altar of the state and look to FDR as the nation's redeemer and savior?
Thank you for the links.
If they haven’t been posted before, in the coming weeks I will post them as threads.
The thread was posted to News/Activism.
Wintertime: "Please...Conservatives! Wake up! We must begin the process of privatizing universal K-12 education. It is **urgent**!!! We must work toward complete separation of school and state. NOW!"
Sounds like "Activism" to me.
The thread was started with the use of an undescribed youtube video and the poster stated her own opinion without any information about the content to back up such a “call.”
That is not “news” or even “activism” in so far as it is repetitive rhetoric from said poster. Thus it belongs in “personal/bloggers” or at least “chat” and not cluttering up the news feed.
P.S. I am not breaking FR protocol by not pinging the other poster - I have been repeatedly told by her not to do so.
wintertime: thanks for posting your continually provocative threads.
The public schools are the creators of the willing participants in American-style socialism, just as Soviet schools shaped their students to fit the requirements of Russian-style socialism.
Shutting down the public schools will be the first step towards the restoration of American Civilization.
I expect twelve year olds will have to lead this campaign, as the adult population is too morally compromised by the System to really object to it or "go Galt".
The Romans demanded their bread and circuses from all aspiring politicians - why would US citizens be any different?
Perhaps we humans can learn from history, and perhaps not.
This ping list is for the other articles of interest to homeschoolers about education and public school. This can occasionally be a fairly high volume list. Articles pinged to the Another Reason to Homeschool List will be given the keyword of ARTH. (If I remember. If I forget, please feel free to add it yourself)
The main Homeschool Ping List handles the homeschool-specific articles. I hold both the Homeschool Ping List and the Another Reason to Homeschool Ping list. Please freepmail me to let me know if you would like to be added to or removed from either list, or both.
Gatto is a former teacher who has written extensively on his experiences. I know you hate summertime, but Gatto is legit. His writings have made a difference in many families. Gatto’s stuff has been posted on FR for as long as I’ve been a member, this is where I learned of him.
If you can’t watch, at least look him up. Freepers used to research.
I did not know he passed away! Thanks for posting that. His book cemented our decision to keep on the path, even when we were discouraged.
Gak! I read that in YouTube comments, but Wikipedia doesn’t indicate that. Sorry!
You know NOTHING about me, most especially about who I may or may not hate, nor about whether or not I know about a particular subject.
The fact there are people, who for whatever reason, are unable to watch videos - a brief synopsis of a video is just common courtesy.........which seems to be in short supply on FR of late.
I encourage people to read his writings. You may not agree with what he has to say, but he certainly makes you think.
I'm sad to hear that he has passed.
I can’t find anything online that says he has died, however. He had a couple of strokes in 2011, but it looks like he was still lecturing in 2012???
You know what, you’re right.
What exactly is wrong with the “Prussian model”? It served me well when I went into boot camp, and better when I was in OCS. It is the model that is utilized in police academies and has served very well at both Annapolis and West Point where I had the pleasure to lecture for 2 years.
Rumor, then. I’m glad he’s alive and well.
Take at hazard one hundred children of several educated generations and one hundred uneducated children of the people and compare them in anything you please; in strength, in agility, in mind, in the ability to acquire knowledge, even in moralityand in all respects you are startled by the vast superiority on the side of the children of the uneducated.
Count Leo Tolstoy, "Education and Children" (1862)
The idea of schooling free men in anything would have revolted Athenians. Forced training was for slaves. Among free men, learning was self-discipline, not the gift of experts. From such notions Americans derived their own academies, the French their lycees, and the Germans their gymnasium. Think of it: In Athens, instruction was unorganized even though the city-state was surrounded by enemies and its own society engaged in the difficult social experiment of sustaining a participatory democracy, extending privileges without precedent to citizens, and maintaining literary, artistic, and legislative standards which remain to this day benchmarks of human genius. For its five-hundred-year history from Homer to Aristotle, Athenian civilization was a miracle in a rude world; teachers flourished there but none was grounded in fixed buildings with regular curricula under the thumb of an intricately layered bureaucracy.
There were no schools in Hellas. For the Greeks, study was its own reward. Beyond that few cared to go.
Sparta, Athens neighbor, was a horse of a different color. Society in Sparta was organized around the concept of cradle-to-grave formal training. The whole state was a universal schoolhouse, official prescriptions for the population filled every waking minute and the family was employed as a convenience for the state. Spartas public political arrangements were an elaborate sham, organized nominally around an executive branch with two legislative bodies, but ultimate decision-making was in the hands of ephors, a small elite who conducted state policy among themselves. The practical aspect of imitation democracy figures strongly in the thought of later social thinkers such as Machiavelli (1532) and Hobbes (1651), as well as in minds nearer our own time who had influence on the shape of American forced schooling...
Spartan ideas of management came to American consciousness through classical studies in early schooling, through churches, and also through interest in the German military state of Prussia, which consciously modeled itself after Sparta. As the nineteenth century entered its final decades American university training came to follow the Prussian/Spartan model. Service to business and the political state became the most important reason for college and university existence after 1910. No longer was college primarily about developing mind and character in the young. Instead, it was about molding those things as instruments for use by others.
--John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education
The issue I have with Gatto is that the he sees this as an Either or proposition which it is not.
There is a place for simply learning or memorizing facts and information. Indeed you must do that before you can think critically about anything.
He is basically repackaging John Dewey, another socialist.
It is not the form of education that is as important as the World View of the educator. The problem with public schools is the world view of the system. It is evil and that make s them evil. The pedagogy and curriculum are almost beside the point
Yes, but not at gunpoint.
He is basically repackaging John Dewey, another socialist.
The two couldn't be more opposed. Gatto advocates freedom, and unforced, classical learning, which provides the tools required for critical thinking and independent learning. Dewey's method is collective. He actively discouraged individual learning by promoting whole language, which makes it difficult to learn how to read.
It is not the form of education that is as important as the World View of the educator.
BOTH are crucial. The medium is as much, or more of the message. I believe that it is the latter. Why? Because we rightly judge people and institutions by what they do, rather than by what they claim to believe. You can't teach about freedom, strip children of every last vestige of freedom, and be thought of as anything other than a liar, hypocrite, or fool.
Read The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher below.
Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. My license certifies me as an instructor of English language and literature, but that isn't what I do at all. What I teach is school, and I win awards doing it.
Teaching means many different things, but six lessons are common to schoolteaching from Harlem to Hollywood. You pay for these lessons in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what they are:
The first lesson I teach is: "Stay in the class where you belong." I don't know who decides that my kids belong there but that's not my business. The children are numbered so that if any get away they can be returned to the right class. Over the years the variety of ways children are numbered has increased dramatically, until it is hard to see the human being under the burden of the numbers each carries. Numbering children is a big and very profitable business, though what the business is designed to accomplish is elusive.
In any case, again, that's not my business. My job is to make the kids like it being locked in together, I mean or at the minimum, endure it. If things go well, the kids can't imagine themselves anywhere else; they envy and fear the better classes and have contempt for the dumber classes. So the class mostly keeps itself in good marching order. That's the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place.
Nevertheless, in spite of the overall blueprint, I make an effort to urge children to higher levels of test success, promising eventual transfer from the lower-level class as a reward. I insinuate that the day will come when an employer will hire them on the basis of test scores, even though my own experience is that employers are (rightly) indifferent to such things. I never lie outright, but I've come to see that truth and [school]teaching are incompatible.
The lesson of numbered classes is that there is no way out of your class except by magic. Until that happens you must stay where you are put.
The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. But when the bell rings I insist that they drop the work at once and proceed quickly to the next work station. Nothing important is ever finished in my class, nor in any other class I know of.
The lesson of bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Bells are the secret logic of schooltime; their argument is inexorable; bells destroy past and future, converting every interval into a sameness, as an abstract map makes every living mountain and river the same even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.
The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal. As a schoolteacher I intervene in many personal decisions, issuing a Pass for those I deem legitimate, or initiating a disciplinary confrontation for behavior that threatens my control. My judgments come thick and fast, because individuality is trying constantly to assert itself in my classroom. Individuality is a curse to all systems of classification, a contradiction of class theory.
Here are some common ways it shows up: children sneak away for a private moment in the toilet on the pretext of moving their bowels; they trick me out of a private instant in the hallway on the grounds that they need water. Sometimes free will appears right in front of me in children angry, depressed or exhilarated by things outside my ken. Rights in such things cannot exist for schoolteachers; only privileges, which can be withdrawn, exist.
The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me.) This power lets me separate good kids from bad kids instantly. Good kids do the tasks I appoint with a minimum of conflict and a decent show of enthusiasm. Of the millions of things of value to learn, I decide what few we have time for. The choices are mine. Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity.
Bad kids fight against this, of course, trying openly or covertly to make decisions for themselves about what they will learn. How can we allow that and survive as schoolteachers? Fortunately there are procedures to break the will of those who resist.
This is another way I teach the lesson of dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. This is the most important lesson of all, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives. It is no exaggeration to say that our entire economy depends upon this lesson being learned. Think of what would fall apart if kids weren't trained in the dependency lesson: The social-service businesses could hardly survive, including the fast-growing counseling industry; commercial entertainment of all sorts, along with television, would wither if people remembered how to make their own fun; the food services, restaurants and prepared-food warehouses would shrink if people returned to making their own meals rather than depending on strangers to cook for them. Much of modern law, medicine, and engineering would go too the clothing business as well unless a guaranteed supply of helpless people poured out of our schools each year. We've built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don't know any other way. For God's sake, let's not rock that boat!
In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged. A monthly report, impressive in its precision, is sent into students' homes to spread approval or to mark exactly down to a single percentage point how dissatisfied with their children parents should be. Although some people might be surprised how little time or reflection goes into making up these records, the cumulative weight of the objective-seeming documents establishes a profile of defect which compels a child to arrive at a certain decisions about himself and his future based on the casual judgment of strangers.
Self-evaluation the staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet is never a factor in these things. The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents, but must rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.
In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time. Class change lasts 300 seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other, even to tattle on their parents. Of course I encourage parents to file their own child's waywardness, too.
I assign "homework" so that this surveillance extends into the household, where students might otherwise use the time to learn something unauthorized, perhaps from a father or mother, or by apprenticing to some wiser person in the neighborhood.
The lesson of constant surveillance is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate. Surveillance is an ancient urgency among certain influential thinkers; it was a central prescription set down by Calvin in the Institutes, by Plato in the Republic, by Hobbes, by Comte, by Francis Bacon. All these childless men discovered the same thing: Children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under central control.
It is the great triumph of schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best parents, there is only a small number who can imagine a different way to do things. Yet only a very few lifetimes ago things were different in the United States: originality and variety were common currency; our freedom from regimentation made us the miracle of the world; social class boundaries were relatively easy to cross; our citizenry was marvelously confident, inventive, and able to do many things independently, to think for themselves. We were something, all by ourselves, as individuals.
It only takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers from then on. The cry for "basic skills" practice is a smokescreen behind which schools pre-empt the time of children for twelve years and teach them the six lessons I've just taught you.
We've had a society increasingly under central control in the United States since just before the Civil War: the lives we lead, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the green highway signs we drive by from coast to coast are the products of this central control. So, too, I think, are the epidemics of drugs, suicide, divorce, violence, cruelty, and the hardening of class into caste in the U.S., products of the dehumanization of our lives, the lessening of individual and family importance that central control imposes.
Without a fully active role in community life you cannot develop into a complete human being. Aristotle taught that. Surely he was right; look around you or look in the mirror: that is the demonstration.
"School" is an essential support system for a vision of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows to a control point as it ascends. "School" is an artifice which makes such a pyramidal social order seem inevitable (although such a premise is a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution). In colonial days and through the period of the early Republic we had no schools to speak of. And yet the promise of democracy was beginning to be realized. We turned our backs on this promise by bringing to life the ancient dream of Egypt: compulsory training in subordination for everybody. Compulsory schooling was the secret Plato reluctantly transmitted in the Republic when he laid down the plans for total state control of human life.
The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony; we already have one, locked up in the six lessons I've told you about and a few more I've spared you. This curriculum produces moral and intellectual paralysis, and no curriculum of content will be sufficient to reverse its bad effects. What is under discussion is a great irrelevancy.
None of this is inevitable, you know. None of it is impregnable to change. We do have a choice in how we bring up young people; there is no right way. There is no "international competition" that compels our existence, difficult as it is to even think about in the face of a constant media barrage of myth to the contrary. In every important material respect our nation is self-sufficient. If we gained a non-material philosophy that found meaning where it is genuinely located in families, friends, the passage of seasons, in nature, in simple ceremonies and rituals, in curiosity, generosity, compassion, and service to others, in a decent independence and privacy then we would be truly self-sufficient.
How did these awful places, these "schools," come about? As we know them, they are a product of the two "Red Scares" of 1848 and 1919, when powerful interests feared a revolution among our industrial poor, and partly they are the result of the revulsion with which old-line families regarded the waves of Celtic, Slavic, and Latin immigration and the Catholic religion after 1845. And certainly a third contributing cause can be found in the revulsion with which these same families regarded the free movement of Africans through the society after the Civil War.
Look again at the six lessons of school. This is training for permanent underclasses, people who are to be deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius. And it is training shaken loose from its original logic: to regulate the poor. Since the 1920s the growth of the well-articulated school bureaucracy, and the less visible growth of a horde of industries that profit from schooling exactly as it is, have enlarged schooling's original grasp to seize the sons and daughters of the middle class.
Is it any wonder Socrates was outraged at the accusation that he took money to teach? Even then, philosophers saw clearly the inevitable direction the professionalization of teaching would take, pre-empting the teaching function that belongs to all in a healthy community; belongs, indeed, most clearly to yourself, since nobody else cares as much about your destiny. Professional teaching tends to another serious error. It makes things that are inherently easy to learn, like reading, writing, and arithmetic, difficult by insisting they be taught by pedagogical procedures.
With lessons like the ones I teach day after day, is it any wonder we have the national crisis we face today? Young people indifferent to the adult world and to the future; indifferent to almost everything except the diversion of toys and violence? Rich or poor, schoolchildren cannot concentrate on anything for very long. They have a poor sense of time past and to come; they are mistrustful of intimacy (like the children of divorce they really are); they hate solitude, are cruel, materialistic, dependent, passive, violent, timid in the face of the unexpected, addicted to distraction.
All the peripheral tendencies of childhood are magnified to a grotesque extent by schooling, whose hidden curriculum prevents effective personality development. Indeed, without exploiting the fearfulness, selfishness, and inexperience of children our schools could not survive at all, nor could I as a certified schoolteacher.
"Critical thinking" is a term we hear frequently these days as a form of training which will herald a new day in mass schooling. It certainly will, if it ever happens. No common school that actually dared teach the use of dialectic, heuristic, and other tools of free minds could last a year without being torn to pieces.
Institutional schoolteachers are destructive to children's development. Nobody survives the Six-Lesson Curriculum unscathed, not even the instructors. The method is deeply and profoundly anti-educational. No tinkering will fix it. In one of the great ironies of human affairs, the massive rethinking that schools require would cost so much less than we are spending now that it is not likely to happen. First and foremost, the business I am in is a jobs project and a contract-letting agency. We cannot afford to save money, not even to help children.
At the pass we've come to historically, and after 26 years of teaching, I must conclude that one of the only alternatives on the horizon for most families is to teach their own children at home. Small, de- institutionalized schools are another. Some form of free-market system for public schooling is the likeliest place to look for answers. But the near impossibility of these things for the shattered families of the poor, and for too many on the fringes of the economic middle class, foretell that the disaster of Six-Lesson Schools is likely to continue.
After an adult lifetime spent in teaching school I believe the method of schooling is the only real content it has. Don't be fooled into thinking that good curricula or good equipment or good teachers are the critical determinants of your son and daughter's schooltime. All the pathologies we've considered come about in large measure because the lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments with themselves and their families, to learn lessons in self-motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love and, of course, lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home life.
Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in.
A future is rushing down upon our culture which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material experience; this future will demand, as the price of survival, that we follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. These lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.
2) Innovation and creativity are rewarded. Officers and enlisted men are taught to follow orders as far as required to achieve goals, but often the method of achieving the goals is left tot he individuals.
Also one of the criticisms I have seen leveled is that "Children don't know anything." Well in grade school I had to sit down and memorize the multiplication tables. Same thing with the spelling and meaning of vocabulary words.
Many of the countries that are kicking our butts in student achievement use this same model.