Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto, Parts III and IV

The best lives are full of contemplation, full of solitude, full of self-examination, full of private, personal attempts to engage the metaphysical mystery of existence, to create an inner life.

For previous sections, see:
Part I
Part II

Part III is a chapter about the author's youth and experience growing up and teaching.  Here are some of my favorite quotes:
Poverty can't make you miserable; only a bad character and a weak spirit can do that.
Nobody should be allowed to teach until they get to be forty years old.  No one should be allowed anywhere near kids without having known grief, challenge, success, failure, and sadness.
Millions of retired people would make fine teachers.  College degrees aren't a good way to hire anybody to do anything.
The idea that individuals have free will which supersedes any social programming is anathema to the very concept of forced schooling.
Part IV explores corporate domination on American education.  Wealthy, influential foundations, like Rockefeller's and Carnegie's, poured money into funding government schooling, (just like Bill Gates' Foundation).  Has anyone ever asked what Bill Gates knows about education? (See this current article about why Gates is wrong about Common Core - the current universal curriculum push.)  The more money wealthy foundations put into education, the more obligated the system is to their demands.

Gatto says,
" - corporate wealth...has advanced importantly the dumbing down of America's schools, the creation of a scientific class system, and the important attacks on family integrity, national identification, religious rights, and national sovereignty."
The author probes the psychology associated with forced schooling.  Behaviorists believed humans were machines; stage theorists treated humans like vegetables - hence Kindergarten, but neither treated children like people.  Gatto asks, "Are children empty vessels?...Is human nature empty?  If it is, who claims a right to fill it?"
This is the basic hypothesis of utopia-building, that the structure of personhood can be broken and reformed again and again for the better.
Gatto addresses the elimination of failure, morality, and God.
...a plan to eliminate failure structurally from formal schooling was considered and endorsed - failure could be eliminated if schools were converted into laboratories of life adjustment and intellectual standards were muted.
...the only psychological force capable of producing these perversions is morality, the concept of right and wrong. 
Spiritually-minded people cannot be controlled.  The Western Christian ideals must be replaced by the New Religion of Science that teaches:

1. Criticism of parents, community, and traditional values
2. Objectivity and suppression of human feelings
3. Neutrality
4. Only that which is visible can be known

The religion of science says there is no sin; no good or evil; no free will; no redemption; work is for fools; hard work is for slaves; and work as little as you can get away with.  It also says YOU CANNOT TRUST YOURSELF; but you can trust the State to make the best decision for you.

All this is coming true today!

A mother photographs her child doing math and blames Common Core.
The author states that the way to fix the problem with schools is to "return to discipleship in education."  This involves a return to "apprenticeships and mentorships which mostly involve self-education."
They are self-taught through the burdens of having to work, having to sort out right from wrong, having to check your appetites, and having to age and die.
Western spirituality granted every single individual a purpose for being alive.
...everyone counts...What constitutes a meaningful life is clearly spelled out: self-knowledge, duty, responsibility, acceptance of aging and loss, preparation for death...You do it for yourself.  It's time to teach these things to our children once again. 
Finally, the last chapter of Part IV covers more psychology of schooling and what its end result has been.  Gatto says, "School wreaks havoc on human foundations in...eight substantive ways so deeply buried few notice them, and fewer still can imagine any other way for children to grow up."

Schools teach:

1. Forgetfulness
2. Bewilderment and confusion
3. Children are assigned to social classes
4. Indifference
5. Emotional dependency
6. Intellectual dependency
7. Provisional self-esteem
8. The glass house effect: there is no privacy or privacy is a crime

Hence, schools produce children...

1. indifferent to the adult world of values and accomplishment
2. with almost no curiosity
3. with a poor sense of the future
4. who lack compassion for misfortune
5. who can't stand intimacy or frankness
6. who are materialistic
7. who are dependent and grow up to be whining, treacherous, terrified, dependent adults passive and timid in the face of new challenges.

Go to Part V.


cleopatra said...

Absolutely terrific review, Ruth. I'll definitely go back and read your earlier ones when I have time. I love this book and now you have made me want to read it again!

P.S. I was hoping you'd put these reviews on your great books blog! :-)

Ruth said...

Thanks, Cleo. I am still working on my posts for the remaining parts. It's tedious trying to choose what can be cut out b/c so much of it is important. So maybe when I get those posts done, I'll share it on my Great Books blog. Thanks! ~ Ruth