John Taylor Gatto is a retired American school teacher with nearly 30 years experience in the classroom, and author of several books on education. He is an activist critical of compulsory schooling, and of what he characterizes as the hegemonic nature of discourse on education and the education professions.
The Origin of the School System
School was to be a surgical incision into which the class based management theories of England were to be inserted to interdict the liberty traditions. England’s multi layered social class is simply a modern day representation of Julius Cesar’s advice that “when you’re overwhelmed by the enemy, you divide them and conquer them that way by setting them against each other.”
The method was to be by the infiltration of the minds of children, out of sight of their parents. The well read here won’t be shocked, theorists from Plato to Frederick of Prussia knew and taught explicitly that if children could be kept childish beyond its term in nature, if they could be coddled in a society of children without any real responsibility except obedience. If the imminence of death and certainty of pain and loss could be removed from daily consciousness.
If the profound reflections of one’s own death could be replaced with the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy and fear, young people would grow older but they would never grow up and the great enduring problem of supervision would be solved. For who could argue the truth that childlike people are far easier to manage than critical thinking, self reliant ones.
The Six Functions of Modern Schooling By Alexander Inglis, (Harvard Professor)
1. Adjustive, Adaptive Function
Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. Notice that this precludes critical judgment completely. Notice that requiring obedience to stupid orders is a much better test of function one that following sensible orders ever could be. You don’t know whether people are flexibly obedient unless they’ll march right off the cliff.
2. Diagnostic, Directive Function
School is to determine each student’s proper social role, logging the evidence mathematically and anecdotally with cumulative records.
3. Sorting, Differentiating Function
School sorts children by treating individuals only so far as their likely destination in the social machine. Not one step beyond. So much for making kids their personal best.
4. Conformity, Integration Function
As much as possible, kids are made to be alike. Whatever background they come from, they are to be made alike. This is done so their future behavior will be mathematically predictable in service to market and government research. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.
5. Hygenic, Selective Function
This nothing to do with individual health but it has a lot to do with the health of the race. Hygiene is a polite way of saying that school is expected to accelerate natural selection by tagging the unfit. Schools are meant to tag the unfit – with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments – clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes.
6. Propaedeutic Function
A small fraction of lucky kids will quietly be taught how to take over management of this continuing projection. Guardians of a population deliberately dumbed down and rendered childlike in order for government and economic life to be managed with a minimum of hassle.
The Effects of Modern Schooling
Gatto states the following assertions in “Dumbing Us Down“:
It makes the children confused. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials that programming is similar to the television, it fills almost all the “free” time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
It makes them indifferent.
It makes them emotionally dependent.
It makes them intellectually dependent.
It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised
Gatto is currently working on a 3-part documentary about compulsory schooling, titled The Fourth Purpose