March 30, 2011

What lessons do they learn?


Yesterday I was reading some more from Gatto’s book Dumbing Us Down and I read the following:
With lessons like the ones I teach day after day it should be little wonder we have a real national crisis, the nature of which is very different from that proclaimed by the national media.  Young people are indifferent to the adult world and to the future, indifferent to almost everything except the diversion of toys and violence.  Rich or poor, school children who face the twenty-first century cannot concentrate on anything for very long; they have a poor sense of time past and time to come.  They are mistrustful of intimacy like the children of divorce they really are (for we have divorced them from significant paternal attention); 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 nourished and magnified to a grotesque extent by schooling, which, through its hidden curriculum, prevents effective personality development.  Indeed, without exploiting the fearfulness, selifishness, and inexperience of children, our schools could not survive at all, not could I as a certified schoolteacher.”
And also some scathing remarks about the affects of our current schooling system:
“It is time that we squarely face the fact that institutional schoolteaching is destructive to children.  Nobody survives the seven-lesson curriculum completely 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 re-thinking the schools require would cost so much less than we are spending now that powerful interests cannot afford to let it happen.  You must understand that first and foremost the business I am in is a jobs project and an agency for letting contracts.  We cannot afford to save money by reducing the scope of our operation or by diversifying the product we offer, even to help children grow up right.  That is the iron law of institutional schooling – it is a business, subject neither to normal accounting procedures nor to the rational scalpel of competition.” (emphasis my own)
Where did the idea for compulsory schooling come from?
“Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the State of Massachusetts around 1850.  It was resisted – sometimes with guns – by an estimated eighty percent of the Massachusetts population, the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by militia and children marched to school under guard.
Now here is a curious idea to ponder.  Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was ninety-eight percent, and after in the figure never exceeded ninety-one percent, where it stands in 1990.” (emphasis my own)
Those whose ideas created the system which schools the majority of America’s children:
If we use schooling to break children away from parents – and make no mistake, that has been the central function of schools since John Cotton announced it as the purpose of the Bay Colony schools in 1650 and Horace Mann announced it as the purpose of Massachusetts schools in 1850 – we’re going to continue to have the horror show we have right now.”

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Thank you for sharing!