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The Underground History of American Education

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the mandatory-daycare-free-prison dept.

Education 1346

Chris Acheson writes "John Taylor Gatto is a former New York City school teacher. During his 30-year career, he has taught at 5 different public schools, has had his teaching license suspended twice for insubordination, and was once covertly terminated while on medical leave. He has also won the New York City Teacher of the Year award three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year award once during the final year of his career. The whole time he has been an outspoken critic of the school system. Nine years after leaving his career, he published The Underground History of American Education (full text available here), in which he puts forth his insider's vision of what is wrong with American schooling. His verdict is not what you'd expect: the school system cannot be fixed, Gatto asserts, because it has been designed not to educate. Skeptical? So was I." Read on for the rest of Acheson's review.

The true purpose of schooling, according to Gatto, is to produce an easily manageable workforce to serve employers in a mass-production economy. Actual education is a secondary and even counterproductive result since educated people tend to be more difficult to control.

Over the course of the book, Gatto exposes many of the individuals, organizations, and crises (both real and manufactured) that helped to make our public school system what it is today. Such architects as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford, and a handful of teaching and management experts sought to benefit directly from a dumbed-down citizenry. Others contributed in a naive attempt at Utopian social engineering, mostly unaware of the harm that they were doing. There was never any master plan, though. The author puts it best:

With conspiracy so close to the surface of the American imagination and American reality, I can only approach with trepidation the task of discouraging you in advance from thinking my book the chronicle of some vast diabolical conspiracy to seize all our children for the personal ends of a small, elite minority.

Don't get me wrong, American schooling has been replete with chicanery from its very beginnings: indeed, it isn't difficult to find various conspirators boasting in public about what they pulled off. But if you take that tack you'll miss the real horror of what I'm trying to describe, that what has happened to our schools was inherent in the original design for a planned economy and a planned society laid down so proudly at the end of the nineteenth century. I think what happened would have happened anyway-without the legions of venal, half-mad men and women who schemed so hard to make it as it is. If I'm correct, we're in a much worse position than we would be if we were merely victims of an evil genius or two.

Gatto maintains throughout the book that all individuals have an innate curiosity and desire to learn. Examples are given in the first chapter of prominent historical figures who prospered with little or no formal schooling. But I found the examples of desire for substantive education on the part of "the masses" to be most compelling:
When a Colorado coalminer testified before authorities in 1871 that eight hours underground was long enough for any man because "he has no time to improve his intellect if he works more," the coaldigger could hardly have realized his very deficiency was value added to the market equation.
The real function of the school system is not to empower people by giving them knowledge, but to crush this instinct toward self-improvement before it makes the workers too independent and troublesome. Another compelling example is the "Jewish Student Riots" described in chapter 9:
Thousands of mothers milled around schools in Yorkville, a German immigrant section, and in East Harlem, complaining angrily that their children had been put on "half-rations" of education. They meant that mental exercise had been removed from the center of things.

The book does have a few problems. Gatto is by his own admission somewhat casual about citing his sources. This is important because there are some assertions made that many will find dubious. For example:

Looking back, abundant data exist from states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent wherever such a thing mattered.
This would be a great fact to toss out when trying to convince someone that schooling is unnecessary. But where does this statistic come from? What does "wherever such a thing mattered" mean? Some readers may be willing to simply take Gatto's word for it and accept this assertion, but skeptics will be left unsatisfied. According to historical census data from 1840, the national average literacy rate for white adults was indeed approximately 93%, and the literacy rate for white adults living in Connecticut was 99.67%. Why not simply say that the statistic refers to white adults? The omission hurts the author's credibility in the eyes of a skeptical reader.

The other thing that I found disappointing is that Gatto doesn't discuss solutions to the schooling problem as thoroughly as I wanted. Throughout the book examples are shown of educational methods which have worked well. As I read, I mulled these over, and anticipated that the final chapter (titled "Breaking Out Of The Trap") would be a comprehensive look at these methods and ways to promote their implementation. But that final chapter is mostly a collection of anecdotes. Gatto does provide a short list of positive suggestions and a promise to cover solutions more fully in a future book.

The picture that Gatto paints for us of our school system and society is frightening, but I also found it comforting to see evidence that ignorance and apathy are not the natural state of humanity. I found hope in the fact that things were once different. Having a clearly defined problem that can be solved is preferable to having a vague suspicion that something is wrong, but no clear idea what it is.

The ideas presented in Gatto's Underground History have the potential to change our society and our individual lives for the better. Even when we are trapped within the system, knowing how it works and what it is really up to can help us retain our wit and our humanity. If you are a student, if you are a parent, if you know or care about anyone who is in school, or even if you are just concerned about corporate and government control versus individual freedom, you need to read this book.

You can purchase The Underground History of American Education from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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bananas (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179558)

i love bananas

Re:bananas (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179626)


And how long have you loved ... "bananas"?

Religion and Schooling (1, Insightful)

a5cii (620929) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179569)

The sooner we get an education system which does not teach religion or political or patriotic based material the better.

Re:Religion and Schooling (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179645)

Please mod this nonsense down. The author did not claim that "religion" in schools was a problem, he claimed that the school IS A RELIGION!

Re:Religion and Schooling (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179683)


Please mod the parent post down! The author did not claim that "religion" in schools was a problem, he claimed that the school IS A RELIGION.

This time with a +2 modifier so it gets heard.

Re:Religion and Schooling (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179789)

Maybe a moderator would like to challenge the content of my post instead of modding down? Hmm? Here is my source [] , directly from the book. And I quote:

School is a religion. Without understanding the holy mission aspect you're certain to misperceive what takes place as a result of human stupidity or venality or even class warfare. All are present in the equation, it's just that none of these matter very much--even without them school would move in the same direction.

Anyone who has a problem with religions (ANY religions) being discussed in school is not someone who can be educated. Whether you like it or not, Christianity, Muslim, Jewish, Greek Mythology, Buddism, and other religions all have played a strong part in history.

So get it right, will you?!? The author said "school is a religion", not "school has too much Christianity".

Re:Religion and Schooling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179916)

What's up with your rants and who are you ranting against? The guys you're ranting against seem like they never mentioned anything about teaching about religions or discussing religions.

Re:Religion and Schooling (5, Insightful)

strictfoo (805322) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179684)

The sooner we get an education system which does not teach religion or political or patriotic based material the better.

What school system are you referring to? Not the US school system clearly, a system where highschool religion classes exclude Christianity, where political science teachers worship europe, and where students are told that if the US were to vanish in a instance the world would be fine again in a month or two (a subject I once had a heated debate with my AP US History teacher about)

Come on now. Yes I know there are some school districts across the country that may also teach creationism as well as evolution, but those are clearly not the norm by any means.

Re:Religion and Schooling (5, Interesting)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179700)

This isn't going to happen as long as educational curricula are based upon textbook teachings. As Diane Ravitch chronicled in her poignant bestseller The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn [] , there are many lobby forces at work that keep textbook publishers from making sales to school districts if they don't fit the group's agenda. This includes references to multiculturalism from the left, and patriotic propaganda from the right, both of which are not only prevalent but pervasive in American education. There will be no end.

Re:Religion and Schooling (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179815)

This isn't going to happen as long as educational curricula are based upon textbook teachings.

More to the point, this isn't going to happen as long as schooling is tax-funded.


Re:Religion and Schooling (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179723)

Not teaching religion, political or patriotic material is in itself a religious/politic/patriotic decision. Gatto's point is that people should be driven to learn what they want to learn --- almost in the fashion of Montessori.

Re:Religion and Schooling (5, Insightful)

grape jelly (193168) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179740)

I take issue on your points.

Firstly, religion: we must make sure that in our quest to discourage endorsement of a particular religion, we do not discourage religion outright. That is, we must ensure that we accept all religions equally, favoring none.

Politically based literature, I believe is essential. It is absolutely necessary to create a populace that understands issues on both sides and is able to logically analyze those issues and "pick a side" so to speak. Most of our nations most dividing issues (abortion, being the most notable one that comes to mind) have sane, reasonable arguments on both sides of the fence.

Lasly, patriotism is a vague term that is largely misused by the right to imply that you should be doing what they say. Patriotism itself is not inherently a bad thing and can pull people in a nation together. However, through education on varying political and religious systems, as well as through education that teaches the people to think on a global scale, we can both be proud of the nation we reside in (for it truly is still great, imo) and yet also be conscious and aware of other nations' desires, beliefs and rights.

Re:Religion and Schooling (5, Informative)

danheskett (178529) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179823)

It's odd though...

I went to all religious schooling, my whole life. Never set foot in a public school until I was 16 and went to take the SAT at a public school across town.

You can take a look around my area and notice that virtually every prominent civic, business, and social leader followed the same track as I did. Bank presidents, mayors, city politicans, state senators, our Congressperson, etc.

My high-school routinely scored 150-200 points higher than average on the SATs.

On top of that, we took students of all economic backgrounds, all racial backgrounds, and all religious backgrounds. The only discrimination at the time was that it was all-male.

The difference in my view? My teachers were either all Jesuit priests, all themselves educated by Jesuit priests, or at very least, dedicated to their style and manner of teaching.

I can't say exactly why the school does better than public education, but by all measures, it does. So many things are different: a student took a swing once in the cafeteria at our litterally ~75 year old WWII-era Marine vice-principal. After avoiding the attack with cat-like grace and precision, he grabbed the kid by the hair and physically expelled him from campus. Can you imagine that happening at a public school? What type of red-tape would have to be brought to bear at a government run school?

Other differences? I can think of a few that might be relevant: strict dress code - pressed pants, starched shirt, suit-coat or blazer, appropriate tie, groomed hair, proper facial hair care (beards/goatees, etc allowed, but must be neat), authority of teachers, non-reproach of teachers on matter of discipline (example: teacher told student if he didn't stop interupting he'd be forced to stand the rest of the year instead of sitting. Result? Student stood for 2 months at the back of the room), required civics class, required ethics class, required religious education class (contrary to belief, it was not an evangelical style class; it was a serious study of religion; 1 year of scholarly biblical study, 1 semester of study of Jewish scripture, 1 semester stufy of world religion, 1 year study of non-religious spirituality, 1 year study of christianity), required public speaking classes, etc. Non-core non-liberal education topics were discouraged: minimal technology classes (typing, basic computing skills), minimal phys. ed, no vo-tech, etc.

Ohh well.

Teaching? (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179880)

The sooner we get an education system which does not teach religion or political or patriotic based material the better.

Here's a clue for you. Teachers spend so much time preparing students to take tests (Ever hear of a political candidate saying they've got a better idea on making schools accountable through testing?) there's scant time to teach outside of a packaged program, let along politics or patriotism (and religion, that's a livewire in the local schools, don't touch it.)

Re:Religion and Schooling (1)

extremescholar (714216) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179971)

The sooner we get an education system which does not teach religion or political or patriotic based material the better.

So teaching about the American Revolution is right out because it could be patriotic based? And we can't teach Government class, well because that is political.

Me thinks someone is an arse.

um (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179573)

um, dupe?

me too! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179575)

me too!

as a former teacher (4, Funny)

flint (118836) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179588)

it's no wonder he's written a tell-all book. Those who take the Vow of Poverty need to make a buck.

Re:as a former teacher (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179780)

Yeah! Which is why his entire book is available for free on the web!

dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179592)

Wasn't this reviewed a couple months back?

Re:dupe? (2, Insightful)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179642)

I also recall seeing this recently, but I think it was over at k5, not here.

As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (2, Interesting)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179595)

First, the education system here is based on some industrial-conformity training system devised by industrialists in the 1800s, or therabouts.

It is not really natural or right for kids of a certain age to be sitting in a desk all day. Boys especially need to have a break at certain stages of their growth, usually about 13-15 yo, when they should be sent away from home to some sort of boarding school/military school/vocational school arrangement, at least for a time. It all depends on the kid.

Once again, Europe has us beat in this area. Just do what the most advanced countries in Europe do, and it will undoubtedly be twice as good as what we do.

Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179698)

Once again, Europe has us beat in this area. Just do what the most advanced countries in Europe do, and it will undoubtedly be twice as good as what we do.

If you'd read the book, you'd see we first started getting into this mess by "educators" going over to Prussia and bringing their system back over to the U.S. "Doing what the Europeans do" is what got us into this!

Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (1)

Hinhule (811436) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179724)

Seems to me like the European system evolved then.

Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179813)

Note the phrase "most advanced". I don't know if Prussia qualified.

There's also the issue of then and now. Holding onto a century-plus system with no regard of advances elsewhere is bound to have a huge number of flaws.

Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179888)

"Doing what the Europeans do" is what got us into this!

Wouldn't this be a logical fallacy? If the Europeans were wrong once, it doesn't mean they will be wrong every time after that.

Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179779)

Boys especially need to have a break at certain stages of their growth, usually about 13-15 yo, when they should be sent away from home to some sort of boarding school/military school/vocational school arrangement.
Could you justify that statement more?

Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (4, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179851)

Once again, Europe has us beat in this area. Just do what the most advanced countries in Europe do, and it will undoubtedly be twice as good as what we do.

Sorry, that's a load of complete crap. The model of training kids to be good little apparatchiks started in europe, and I can tell you from the hellish year that I spent in a German school, that shools over there are, if anything, more regimented than in the USA.


Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (2, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179986)

Uhm, Europe is not a single country, there are many different countries and the school system is different in almost all of them. I spent a semester at a french university, one of the more prestigous ones even, and that was the worst semester of university I've ever had. It felt like being back in fourth grade, do as the teachers say or get yelled at, and don't even consider hanging out in uni buildings between lectures...


Re:As a former teacher, I agree--it's not fixable (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179853)

Boys especially need to have a break at certain stages of their growth, usually about 13-15 yo, when they should be sent away from home to some sort of boarding school/military school/vocational school arrangement, at least for a time. It all depends on the kid.

I guess I was one of those kids that didn't need that. What kids do need is to go to college AWAY from home... When I mean AWAY I mean outside of a single day's drive. No going home on the weekends for laundry, food, family time. These people need to stay the fuck at school and experience the "half-way house" experience that College helps to create.

Sending someone off to boarding/military/vocational schools when they are in their mid-teens will do nothing but help to alienate the child in a time when they might be alienated enough.

Kids need time to be apart *AND* they need time to grow but seperating them from their family at this point of their lives is hardly the way to do it. Wait for them to be of a mature enough age 18+ here in the States and don't let the little bastards come back.

You learn a lot, grow a lot, and change a lot in those years but you are still under the light security blanket that the college envrionment creates.

The problem is with the civil rights loons (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179875)

The reason that the European system would not work in the USA is because people in the USA get all touchy when you try to say that "kid A is more capable than kid B". There is currently a witch hunt against such practices in the USA when it so happens that kid A is a suburbanite and kid B is a minority from the inner city regardless of any other circumstances.

The end result is that every kid is equally babysat, whether the they are destined to go to Harvard or to the local penitentiary until they graduate with their "everybody is equal" high school diploma. That is when kid B really gets screwed.

the European system is even worse (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179922)

The European system is even more overtly designed to train good little workers. In many countries, you have to pick a career by the time you're 16, and rather than receiving any sort of further general education, you at the age of 16 start receiving specialized education to train you for that job.

Same with higher education: whereas in the US people who want to be doctors get a general undergraduate degree, and then go to med school, in Europe they go straight to med school.

This idea has been around for a bit. (4, Insightful)

outZider (165286) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179599)

Fans of Daniel Quinn should take note that this very idea has been around in both Ishmael and The Story of B. Our educational system isn't designed for learning, per se, but to train kids to be proper working adults, and to make sure they know how life "really works" in our culture.

There are always exceptions to the rule -- you will always find a teacher willing to go the extra mile, or a student who rises far above the rest. Mediocrity reigns in the American public school system, and it isn't going to change any time soon.

Re:This idea has been around for a bit. (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179758)

Damn, ya beat me to this post.

One thing I've been working hard at over the past year in college is breaking away from the standards of mediocrity that I've let myself fall into over the past 13 years of my education. One thing that people find very often whether in education or in employment is that there's a well-worn path of expected behavior, and that if you do what's expected and do it well-enough, you'll get by.

Hmmm... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179600)

His verdict is not what you'd expect: the school system cannot be fixed, Gatto asserts, because it has been designed not to educate.
That explains a lot.

A vote for Kery is a vote for a loser (1)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179744)

NO chance the walking corpse can win...might as well vote for Nader

One word. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179615)


Education systems are wrong (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179617)

Children should be with their parents and extended family. Having transient adult figures isn't the way to be raised.
Children shouldn't spend all day with their human contact being dominated by others of exactly the same age. A child should have contact with a wide range of age groups.
Children should be being taught by example.
Children should learn the values needed to want to learn and understand the reasons why they should. Passing an exam doesn't make a person a good person, nor productive, nor creative, nor caring.
The longer a modern education system is present in a society, the more the society dies.

Re:Education systems are wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179716)

moderated down straight away? That's the fraility of the Slashdot moderating system. Yes, people really do think this way, see here [] .
Schools have become so normalised that people can't imagine society being without them. So you immediately decide it to be an invalid opinion because you consider it unthinkable.

No kidding. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179627)

I have been railing against the mis-use of the university system in North America for years. It is no longer about learning, but memorizing, cheating and begging to get a 'grade' so you can get a job. It's a system designed to keep young people out of the work force (because work is mostly illusory these days anyways) , to keep them in debt and create a class of permanent woker/paupers with the illusion of being 'educated'.
So they can get ready to compete against each other to curry favor with the dominant monkeys instead of enjoying life.

"curry favor with the dominant monkeys" (0, Offtopic)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179673)

Hammer. Nail. Head.

Re:No kidding. (1)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179696)

illusion of being 'educated'

True. I read this quote in a /.er's sig:
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education -- Mark Twain"

Re:No kidding. (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179907)

The problem with that argument is that over a lifetime, a university education pays itself back in increased earnings many times over. The other problem with that argument is that the undergraduate system feeds the graduate system. Somehow, graduate students are showing up, educated and prepared, despite having "wasted" the previous 4 years. If college was really that worthless, I'd expect we'd be hearing about high school diploma holders making more money on average (they have 4 years more to work) and graduate students not being prepared for their studies.

Re:No kidding. (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179955)

It is no longer about learning, but memorizing, cheating and begging to get a 'grade' so you can get a job.

Speak for yourself. Maybe you need to find a different school, if that's been your experience.

So they can get ready to compete against each other to curry favor with the dominant monkeys instead of enjoying life.

In my experience, the people yelling this the loudest also seem to forget to come up with a way to acquire the resources to enjoy life.

If you think college is worthless - then how would you suggest people that (for example) want to work in the more advanced scientific, medical, or mechanical fields make a living? Not everything can be self-taught or learned on the job.

Re:No kidding. (1)

Unholy_Kingfish (614606) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179975)

I felt the same way when I was at Rutgers. I see people being book zombies, but not really learning anything. I learned a lot from a few classes (CompSci/Physics), but some other classes seemed to have no point. Just review and spew courses, which I had trouble with. When I learn things, I remember for my whole life. When I have to give you copies of information, I will forget when I am done. And what does that get me?

Friends who graduated large universities do not remember 95% of what they went to school for. They did what they had to do to get the grades to graduate. They have good jobs since they did well in college. But are they any smarter for it? I see one of my boss's kids doing poorly in school because he wants to learn more than they can give him. But since he gets bored and can't pay attention, he receives poor grades. Now if he doesn't conform to the system, he will do poorly in high school, which means he can't get into good colleges, which means lower paying jobs. Now if he could learn on his own without the systems arcane rules, he might be the one getting us to the stars.

"No Child Left Behind" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179630)

My mother is a school librarian in NY and she has told me how Bush's current plan means that teachers teach tests instead of lessons, but I agree with this guy; it seems evident that the school system was designed to make quasi-educated, but more importantly obedient factory workers. You want your workers to be able to read instructions, etc, but not much more; not think on their feet or anything. Its the only explanation for the disparity between college and primary school; and now that everyone is going to college, it's becoming the difference between a masters and a bachelors.

Re:"No Child Left Behind" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179689)

The reason they teach tests is because they don't know *how* to teach lessons. This isn't the fault of Bush. It isn't the fault of teachers. It is the fault of school boards, administrators, and state education departments.

Re:"No Child Left Behind" (4, Insightful)

jayayeem (247877) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179837)

New York has 'taught to the test' a lot longer than Bush has been president. I moved to NY state when I was high school age, and spent 3 years learning to take 'Regent's exams.'

Re:"No Child Left Behind" (2, Insightful)

RZeno (599572) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179854)

The results of the "No Child Left Behind" program are obvious to anyone in education: The majority of the time and money is spent on those students who either value education the least (different cultures value education very differently) or have severe language and/or learning difficulties.

"No Child Left Behind" = the bar has been lowered to the point where most can get by. It ensures everyone gets an education just good enough for employment in the fast food industry. If you want your child to have other employment options, find other education options for them.

Quick Intro (4, Informative)

Euphonious Coward (189818) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179638)

A quick intro to the ideas explained at length in the book may be found at The Six Lesson Schoolteacher [] , from an article by Gatto published in Whole Earth Review in 1991.

On a similar topic: (4, Informative)

Tar-Palantir (590548) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179648)

I haven't read Gatto's book (though I should). I do have a recommendation for a similar work though: James Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me". It doesn't take on the whole education system (it's American history specific), but he does show at length that American history is deliberately taught in a way that discourages critical thought, heroizes the government, and suppresses historical dissent. Great read. Now I have to read the book actually reviewed...

The guy has a point (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179654)

If you've worked with little kids, one of the first things you notice is that almost every single one of them really, really wants to learn.

But somehow, during about K-4th grade, most of the kids in the US educational system seem to have that crushed out of them.

Personally, I don't think the schools are wholly to blame. Quite a lot of it is cultural. Kids learn early -- from TV, from movies, and even from books -- that it's cool to be ignorant, it's cool to be a wiseass, but it's never cool to be a nerd.

Re:The guy has a point (2, Insightful)

dup_account (469516) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179742)

Mod this argument up. Stupid is so cool that we (meaning you all who voted for him) elected an intelligence underachiever (Bush) rather than a brainiac (Gore). And I believe it is because being intelligent (or appearing intelligent) is not cool. OOOO.. the nerd claims he invented the internet. He's too stiff (meaning he's thinking rather than being driven by emotions)

This is brilliant (5, Interesting)

Pi_0's don't shower (741216) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179665)

This is so on-point it's frightening. I was a high school teacher in Los Angeles from 2000-2001, and it's frightening how much of what is articulated in this exerpt I *experienced*.

We had a principal who was fantastic, because he was a former teacher from the area. But when he was replaced by someone with more "administrative experience" it was appalling how quickly things declined. Children aren't held to standards, parents come at odds with teachers, administrators point the finger at teachers, and the children are the ones left out in the cold.

In just one year there, I was chastised for
1) Driving students home to bad neighborhoods after dark.
2) Creating an extra-curricular dance program that "interfered" with the students curriculum.
3) Attempting to engage students with "dangerous" science demonstrations (i.e. using a bunsen burner constitutes dangerous, using 1 Tesla Magnets constitutes dangerous.)
4) Breaking up a fight with my bare hands (I was chastised for "laying my hands" upon the students.)

The list goes on. I truly believe that the entire system needs reform, from the bottom up and the top down. But without involved parents, administrators who take full responsibility, students who are forced to live with their choices instead of having excuses made for them, and up to date equipment and books, it truly is a lost cause except for the few self-motivated students.

Re:This is brilliant (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179899)

I'm thankful I had several teachers like you when I went to school. Thank you.

Re:This is brilliant (5, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179905)

All of those examples seem to be primarily liability issues. So your problems may be the lawyers, not the schools. Which I can well believe.

Re:This is brilliant (2, Insightful)

kevlar (13509) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179923)

This is why you send your kids to a reputable private school. In private schools the only thing you might see is parents getting pissed at teachers, but in any decent school the parents won't win (the exception is when money is involved but that is a rare occasion!).

Premise (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179666)

he true purpose of schooling, according to Gatto, is to produce an easily manageable workforce to serve employers in a mass-production economy. Actual education is a secondary and even counterproductive result since educated people tend to be more difficult to control.

I could agree with this, were my school more like a trade school, which it wasn't. Most of my elementary and later teachers actually encouraged some level of independent thinking and creativity -- others were often astounded whenever a student thought of 'the third way' One particularly poor teacher, 2nd grade, seemed only there for the money or until she could get somewhere else -- I was frequently on her bad side and grew to loathe school, prefering to be tardy by as much as 2 hours roaming woods and poking around a creek for frogs and snakes.

I'm more likely to believe the role of schools in NYC was to keep the little animals manageable by compressing their little minds into a one-size-fits-all mould.

I'd later find I had a very high IQ and did exceptionally well in college, after graduating highschool only by the merest of threads.

If you have a kid and your kid seems disinterested or hostile about going to school, you might consider getting more involved and learn about the teacher and the school. At an early age contending with a poor teacher can have a lifelong impact.

Another good book to read.. (1)

suso (153703) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179685)

for perspective on the educational system are the first couple chapters of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad". While the book deals mainly with how to make money. There is a lot of good perspective on the usefullness (or lack of) a higher education in the U.S.

Re:Another good book to read.. (1)

Cyclopedian (163375) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179929)

Not just that, the book deals with the public school lack of "Financial Education" curriculm.

Can any one of you recall how much education you got in middle school or even high school about saving money, paying off debts before they become huge debts, and teaching the difference between liabilities and assets?

I would guess almost none of you can recall getting that from the public school system. "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" is an insightful read on the Finanicial Education angle of public education.


Educational Triage (3, Insightful)

TrentL (761772) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179703)

Interesting ideas.

My problem with current education is the ridiculous "leave no child behind" mentality. We don't need to send all these people to college. Let's be realistic about that and send some of them on the path to a meaningful trade. High school is all "college college college", and as a result, lots of kids get NOTHING out of it (and a bad side effect is that college is becoming the new high school with an influx of immature students). So, my proposed Triage:

Kids who want to go to college.
Kids who want to learn a trade skill.
Punks who are on their way to prison. Priority #1 is separating this group from the first two.

Re:Educational Triage (3, Interesting)

Lovedumplingx (245300) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179835)

I couldn't agree more.

I taught a MATH 051 course my last year of college. This class covered nothing harder than learning how to figure percentages and doing basic conversions (ft. -> cm. and such). And yet of the entire 18 students (it was a small school, but this was one of 4 different sections of this class) I think 2 finished with a grade higher than a B.

I asked them what they did when they went shopping and saw "20% Off"? Did they automatically assume they were getting a deal? And one girl told me that of course it was a deal because it was 20% off!!!

I further questioned if they had ever done this type of work before and they all said yes in High School but not one of them could "re-learn" the information they "learned" in High School.

With the emphasis of these students to go to college our school systems have completely neglected to give any of the students a basic knowledge of arithmetic and other required skills to survive.

Re:Educational Triage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179912)

I think if you figure out the first two groups and manage to engage students' interests, group three would shrink drastically.

Re:Educational Triage (4, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179921)

What about "Kids who have no idea of what they want to do for the rest of their lives"?

That would be a bigger group than any one of yours.

Re:Educational Triage (1)

Paleomacus (666999) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179968)

I'd also suggest a year off in between High School and College; travelling, working, whatever(not wasting time). The whole undergraduate track needs a revamp from what I've experienced.

mod pdowgn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179704)

writing is on the da3blers. I8 truth, achievements that

Re:mod pdowgn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179977)

You ate truth? Damn, that's why it's missing from so many places.

Skeptical? -- No (1)

jhouserizer (616566) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179707)

His verdict is not what you'd expect: the school system cannot be fixed, Gatto asserts, because it has been designed not to educate. Skeptical?

I've always thought that it was broken beyond repair. Even when I was younger and still in the system I thought it was a joke. Everything that was "spoon fed" to me during all of high school could have been covered in one year or less if I had been taught in a way that worked for me individually.

The current system must move all students of the same age along at the same pace. Thus everyone is treated as if they are the 'dummest' person, and the 'dummest' person is usually just being taught the wrong way for their personality type.

What are your solutions? (2, Interesting)

ACK!! (10229) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179745)

Outside of the most ardent libertarians no one is seriously talking about chunking the one tax funded public institution which is literally the closest with local school boards to the electorate, the public school system.

So for a public school system to survive what do we as a society need to do?

Are voucher systems somehow the silver bullet or does that simply stretch public funds to private hands and further deplete the money to be spent on public education?

Or perhaps what does real accountability mean? Or does it just mean more teaching to the tests?

Is it the teachers fault or does society blame the teachers too much?

What can we do?

Nice link. (1)

bs_02_06_02 (670476) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179752)

Full text available here.... should read, "Buy book here."

Not surpriseing - deliberate dumbing down (4, Informative)

fbg111 (529550) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179762)

The true purpose of schooling, according to Gatto, is to produce an easily manageable workforce to serve employers in a mass-production economy. Actual education is a secondary and even counterproductive result since educated people tend to be more difficult to control.

To anyone interested in this topic, I'd suggest also reading Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt's book, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America [] . It'll make you want to homeschool your kids.

Re:Not surpriseing - deliberate dumbing down (2, Insightful)

marshmeli (122728) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179972)

It'll make you want to homeschool your kids.

why would anyone want to homeschool their kids?

they get no interaction with other kids and are far too sheltered. It think it is a big mistake and many times its becuase the parents are scared of the world - well that is life and the world we live in you have to deal with it. Schools have many problems but hopefully the parents will help and motviate their child and guide them in the right direction. But I do not think home schooling is the correct fix.

He also explains... (2, Interesting)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179767)

Why school is a society based on popularity. In a culture where people don't do any actual work all day (eg. school, wealthy ladies who leech off their husbands), that society invariably turns against itself, creating arbitrary judgements about the value of its members.

Gatto's got it almost right, and has a lot of good ideas. Like having kids work from 14 on.

Cache link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179768)

Bummer that [] cached the too-many-users error page.

Sounds like a load of crap (4, Insightful)

cunniff (264218) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179783)

Caveat: I did not read the whole book, just browsed through the online pages. However, this seems like a classic example of the "hasty generalization" fallacy ( 0generalization [] ). The author extrapolates his personal experiences and assumes that they are representative of the whole nation's school system, weaving a conspiracy theory through it to further sensationalize it.

First of all, there is no "national school system" in the United States. Each state is responsible for public education within its own borders. I don't know about New York, but at least in Colorado, the situation is nowhere close to that described in his prologue. If a Colorado administrator had subjected a student to the verbal abuse described there, they would be subject to disciplinary action at the least, and possibly termination.

I know that education in the United States is not perfect. There are many areas that desparately need improvment, especially science and math education, but hysterical diatribes such as these do little to advance the dialogue and only serve to inflame the True Believers.

Re:Sounds like a load of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179898)

Well you are obviously a True Believer in the system.

I guess their obedience training worked well on you since you refuse to question anything.

Not available online (3, Informative)

Quixote (154172) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179784)

Full text available here

No, the full text is not available (as far as I can tell). From this page [] :
Each month we will post a new chapter on this Web site. If you are patient, in 18 months you will have read the book in its entirety.

As the son of two teachers (4, Insightful)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179803)

I can agree - education is going nowhere fast. I can't believe that kids are being taught how to use Powerpoint and Word in school. What happened to learning to think?

Teach someone to think, and they can figure out Powerpoint and Word. Teach someone Powerpoint and Word and you have an idiot who can't do anything else.

Every homeschooled person I've ever met have been crazy geniuses because they were taught how to think and reason. Of course, they are also socially inept as they didn't have to deal with masses of other children.

Keep the population stupid, and they will be more apt to eat up your propaganda. Ignorance is bliss.

The real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179821)

The real problem in education is that the teacher spends too much time trying to get control of the classroom, and parents not taking the effort to make sure that their kid isn't a disipline problem, and has done their schoolwork. Too much must see TV, I guess.

Teaching to tests is a bad thing, but since testing is used to judge how well schools are doing, it won't go away.

There is no conspiratorial "true purpose" (3, Insightful)

Ben Escoto (446292) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179822)

The true purpose of schooling, according to Gatto, is to produce an easily manageable workforce to serve employers in a mass-production economy. Actual education is a secondary and even counterproductive result since educated people tend to be more difficult to control.
I'm currently teaching now (college level) and my parents were both public school teachers (elementary and high school level) all in the US. So I'm so glad I found out that our true purpose all this time wasn't to educate people! Congrats on enlightening us!

But seriously, large organizations have no single "true" purpose which determines their effect, but are composed of tens of thousands of people, who each have different goals. Much more important is what the people actually doing the work (all the teachers and principles, who actually interact with the children) are trying to do, what their purpose is. It's laughable that we are against "actual education".

Of course certain structural reforms could improve education. But to say that the true purpose of the American educational system is against education is silly.

of course (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179824)

I thought everyone knew this.

The whole point is to create armies of obedient patriotic worker drones.

Who would submit to being dehumanized by working a production line doing the same task over and over or for todays workplace sit in a tiny cubicle for 12 hours at a time if you don't train them from a very early age to sit at a desk and obey.

Can you imagine taking some tribal person out of the jungle and telling them you must sit in this little cubicle and stare at this screen for 12 hours a day for the rest of your life? They would run away in terror! But since we are "civilized" we start to train our children to be automaton drones from an early age.

You can't really fix it thought because industrial capitalism needs masses of obedient patriotic unquestioning workers in order to function properly.

Trade away half of your life working in a cubicle producing wealth for the shareholders and they will give you back enough money to live and buy some useless techno gadgets.

Not what I'd expect...? (5, Insightful)

dameron (307970) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179827)

That's exactly what I'd expect. Our public school system grew out of the industrial revolution's need for people to have a minimum skill set and be regimented from an early age to follow a bell system. Ring. Lunch. Ring. Work. Ring. Leave.

Now that we're moving into a post industrial world (or that the industrial world is moving overseas) the regimenting is a bit less important and the skills taught have eroded to the point that McDonald's now has pictures of the food on the cash register instead of text.

The schools are great at producing people with stunted reasoning skills who can be content working at Wal Mart and make great consumers, and who vote (when they vote, if the system were perfect they wouldn't vote at all) based on emotion and often against their own interests.

There are some political parties who just can't afford to have an informed or educated electorate (hint: they tend to cut education spending and demonize teachers), and who's children never touch public school anyway.


the nazis invented the volkswagon (1, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179829)

Why are we so hung up on the origins of things? The nazis invented the VW, was it a bad car?

Prediction for the debate here (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179836)

1) A bunch of people who don't have a public school education are going to try to convince everyone else that because they haven't experienced public school, they are experts on the subject. They don't like public schools, of course.

2) A bunch of people with public school educations are going say their arguments against public school educations are intellectually superior. If they are so smart, they must have gotten that way in public schools.

3) A bunch of self-educated people are going to argue against public schools, claiming that they are educated _despite_ the system, not because of it.

4) Hardly anyone will bring up the points that our public schools are actually very competitive, bad-apples are unfairly overemphasized, and that the system of education involves parents AND schools together.

5) Voucher mania will play a role in the discussions here today.

6) Home-schooling parents will become indignant.

7) Exactly one person will change their opinion. Slightly.

Re:Prediction for the debate here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179973)

Sounds like that person is not going to be you.

Knowledge is power (1)

static0verdrive (776495) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179839)

It makes sense in a way - why give the public access to more knowledge than they need? Knowledge is power, and if too many people knew the truth, the government wouldn't be able to pull off some of the stuff they are now starting to pull off...(KAFF patriot act KAFF taking freedom KAFF KAFF turning into what the founding fathers escaped from KAFF)

nerds (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179846)

I think that the "Why Nerds Are Unpopular [] " essay by Paul Graham would also be appropriate here. Some people do try to learn and improve themselves, while others simply don't care or only want their piece of paper.

Entitlement minded parents are to blame as well. (5, Interesting)

Blaede (266638) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179848)

How many times have we heard about parents pushing for easier or non-existent teaching for their precious and sensitive whelps and yet demand that they "graduate" despite not learning a thing?

Ashamed to to say, I've seen this in my own family. A cousin of mine was coddled since he was born (hell he was in preschool an extra year, how fucked up is that?) by his relative caretakers (an aunt) after his mother died while he was a baby. Despite living in poverty, this person was spoiled continuously with toys. As I recall, he didn't stop playing with toys (complete Star Wars and He-Man collections, to name an example) till the 7th grade. Any attempts by the schools (throughout his schooling) to get him to learn or stay disciplined was met by a ferocious attack by his caretakers. Needless to say, he was socially promoted until he dropped out at 16.

He has worked a total of 2 weeks in his life (he is 32 now), in jobs given to him by relatives in an honest attempt to help, despite he not having training for anything. He quit them after complaining he was actually made to work, doing tasks as running sales money to the bank, etc. His caretakers were equally vehement in their condemnation of his kin/employer about their requirement he work for his money. To this day he subsists on $600 a month for diabetes disability, and will likely continue until he dies. For somone who has worked a grand total of 80 hours in his entire life, he has inexplicably owned more vehicles than I have. Last I heard, his aunt was saving up money to get him his latest toy, a truck, since he's never owned one.

This is no secret to teachers (1)

Gus (2568) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179849)

It's interesting to see this (hopefully) become more well-known in mainstream society. Having grown up in a family of teachers (both parents, one step-parent, three aunts, two grandparents, and a sibling all taught public school), the fact that school wasn't about educating but rather socializing youth (in the adapting to society sense, not small-talk). Preparing them for what would be expected of them as adults, which for the most part is TPS reports.

It's also worth noting that of the whole herd of relatives I listed, not one still teaches. About half retired, and the rest moved into other jobs.

I imagine this on /. is a lot like running a piece critical of Microsoft in a teacher's magazine. A lot of people will agree with it based on their own experiences but had never come up with the conclusions before.

I don't know what he's talking about.... (5, Funny)

dcigary (221160) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179867)

...the public education system was very good to me. I'm a distinct individual who can operate independently and think for myself. The thought that I've been "bred" to be a "working stiff" in this U.S. economy is just a fabrica...

...Ooops, here comes my Boss. Gotta run....

I concur (3, Interesting)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179886)

His verdict is not what you'd expect: the school system cannot be fixed, Gatto asserts, because it has been designed not to educate.

I agree 100%.

The true purpose of schooling, according to Gatto, is to produce an easily manageable workforce to serve employers in a mass-production economy. Actual education is a secondary and even counterproductive result since educated people tend to be more difficult to control.

Again, I agree, but I have one thing to add. The US education system also serves as a babysitter up through undergraduate degrees. Education also helps keep unemployment down, and in the case of "higher" education, people are out of the workforce and they are _paying_ into the economy.

And yeah, educated people are a pain in the ass for the "establishment". Try to get some menial "regular" job with a PhD. Who wants a person who is skilled in critical thinking and independant thought to ask people "Do you want to biggie size that?"

In fact, education is overexaggerated. I routinely ask people "What percentage of the population has a college degree?" And I routinely get answers about 50-60% while it has been 20% for a long time, and it is increasing. I don't remember what its at now, but nowhere near 50%.

I consider myself lucky in that I have done standard unskilled services work (convenience store clerk) and manual labor (landscaping and construction). I did construction when I was in college, and let me tell you, I felt very stupid for a month or so, even though I'm a good "booksmart" kind of guy. One skill I was really lacking was basic teamwork. Plus I did not know the vocabulary for the work, and basic stuff like using a level, plumbob, tape measure, etc.

The reasons that I don't have a problem with the education system not educating are twofold. 1) People don't need to be educated and 2) those few that do need educating and are bright will get it.

You can also see the role of being educated in our breeding habits. The more educated one is the fewer offspring they will have, and the inverse is true as well. Poor, uneducated people here in the US have tons off kids. Since kids when they are young are a liability, they tend to keep the poor poor. But one thing that I've noticed about the poor and their offspring, is that the children are more likely to take care of their parents when they are older. Whereas the wealthier/educated crowd are more independant in their old age because they do "smart" stuff like invest their money, have retirement funds, etc.


Very True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10179927)

I spent the latter years of my high school life basically pondering the meaning of it all. Why am I being shoved through a system that tries to make all of our minds think alike? What possibly can be the good for society to do this?

I went to a diverse school - many middle to upper income students, and a lot of poorer, immigrant students. I made friends with both groups and I came to this conclusion -

Many of the poorer students are quite content doing something like auto repair, construction, etc. for a living and they can actually make good enough money doing so. Why do these students need to have all these classes that they are going to get nothing out of, that teaches them things they don't need, and basically makes them even more frustrated with life because they are probably learning from Dad/Uncle about cars or constuction after school and probably already have a job anyway?

The main problem I had as a student was the fact that school administration does not care about the student. They only care about power and control. Notice how these administrators always listen to parents (becuase of pressure from elected school board members who might be voted out if the local management does not do what the parents want) but don't care about students, their concerns, their opinions?

What about the standardized curriculum that usually consists of worksheets and pre-fabbed tests that teachers just simply need to photocopy? Why does this count as meaningful education to modern educators?

I could go on forever here, but I think this is a good overview of the many problems with the system.

High School (1)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179933)

I distinctly remember thinking of how dim-witted my teachers in high school were and thought that it was because I was just a kid and should think that way. Now that I'm all growed-up and I meet these people I realize that I may not have been far off the mark. I know a couple down the street that has no desire to have children yet the wife is an elementary school teacher. This strikes me as odd in a profound way.

A "thinker" book (3, Interesting)

Jerf (17166) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179944)

This is one of those books you have to let percolate a bit before passing (negative) judgement against it; I first read [] the book just as I was getting my Master's degree and it is hard to come to grips with the idea of just how much of your life has been wasted by the system. A lot of you are still in school and the cognitive dissonance can still be bad for you.

And I was even one of those who would attack the schools on other grounds, mind; I was open to the idea it was flawed, hell, I knew it was flawed, but just how deeply and how deliberately sent me into shock.

Give it a try; more of my opinion in the above link, though I won't trouble Slashdot with it. Gatto really puts his case together well.

Also, I observe there are a lot of Slashdotters who reflexively assume home schooling is some sort of evil. Make sure you first satisfy yourself that the institutional schooling we now have is not itself a form of evil, perhaps even worse. Having read both sides of both issues, at this point I consider not home schooling borderline child abuse. Most of the homeschooling flaws pointed out by people, such as the ever popular (and unfounded in my experience) "lack of socialization" is correctable, with parental effort. The flaws in institutional schooling are not; indeed, they are assumed "beyond reproach". What amazes me about the human spirit is how many escape the system as I did without a crushed spirit, not how well it works.

Good book review (1)

rrangel (791703) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179947)

I hope future book reviews on slashdot follow the care that this one took.

A good adjunct to.... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179954)

.....The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America: A Chronological Paper Trail []
by Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt. From the sounds of the review of this new book, it's very similar, and has a lot of the same conclusions. What makes it very important is, it is deliberate, done on purpose, and still on going. 21 reviews, 4.5 star rating, BTW.

I've suspected as much for years. (4, Insightful)

snarkasaurus (627205) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179967)

One of the things forcibly impressed upon me from wasted years of "education" is the way school actively decieves you about the nature of the workplace.

Medical education is my latest nightmare. It fills the student with theory and visions of how things "should" be done, and informs them not at all regarding how things ARE done. Pity the poor medical student on their first hospital placement. The garbage colectors know more about what the score is than they do.

I've been out of public school for so long that I can't comment on how things are now, but higher education baby, that I can. What we have here is what I call Certification Syndrome. You aren't worth a damn to anyone unless you are Certified in some subject or other. Like a Certified Microsoft Engineer has a clue why XP screws up on one PC but not another.

The unholy alliance of lazy large busineses looking for replaceable cogs and schools willing to crank them out is what we have these days. Unfortunately people trained to be good little cogs don't do great things. Bill Gates for example is not a good little cog. Bill doesn't have a CME either, I bet.

Bottom line, if you want to be educated instead of trained, you have to WORK your ass off at it. Same for your kids. Teach them how to think, give them the tools of rationality or put up with them when they become Radical Vegan Socialists for Peace with a CME or an MD. Because that's what's fashionable at school this decade.

Next decade it'll probably be Radical Christian Conservatives For War. I don't see that as an improvement. You got a brain, you should get some decent software for it. God forbid you should have an origional thought.

looking back on my highschool years (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179976)

I have to wonder if this situation is not what drove my best physics teacher to alcoholism...

I can't imagine what it's like to have to perpetuate a system you don't like because you're a slave to your house mortgage, car payments, etc.

Oh wait...

In Education... (2, Insightful)

BJZQ8 (644168) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179983)

I work in education, and never has a truer article come along in my memory. Schools are not here for teaching students; they have become self-perpetuating job-producers for people unable or unwilling to pursue "hard" jobs. Incompetent teachers are protected by unions and simultaneously given raises just for existing. Billions of dollars are poured down the drains of "technology" and "special education" with little or no accounting and rationale for them. In short, though, you will never change the system now. It is too entrenched. Much like the governmental system in general, it now feeds off itself. Try to run for President saying that you will dismantle the Education's similar to saying you're going to get rid of Social Security. It is so entrenched in society's collective mind that it will never change without a revolution.

Real purpose of education (0, Troll)

raider_red (156642) | more than 10 years ago | (#10179984)

The true purpose of schooling, according to Gatto, is to produce an easily manageable workforce to serve employers in a mass-production economy. Actual education is a secondary and even counterproductive result since educated people tend to be more difficult to control.

I figured they were just trying to generate more Democratic voters.

In all seriousness, most of the business-people and employers I know despair at the state of public education because they need free-thinking creative people to meet the demands of a more challenging, knowledge-based workplace. If anyone is responsible for the degradation of education in America, it's the governments we've entrusted it too who have turned it into a way to sap more public funding.
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