Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto

"...The modern schools we attend were the result of a 'revolution' engineered between 1905 and 1930." (prologue, p. xviii)

"Between 1896 and 1920, a small group of industrialists and financiers, together with their private charitable foundations, heavily subsidized university chairs, researchers, and school administrators, actually spent more money on forced schooling's early years than did the government. Just two men, Carnegie and Rockefeller, were themselves spending more as late as 1915. In this laissez-faire fashion a system of 'modern schooling was constructed without any public participation, or even much public knowledge. Motives were complex, but it will clear your head wonderfully to listen to what Rockefeller's General Education Board thought the mission should be. Its statement occurs in multiple forms, this one taken from a 1906 document called Occasional Letter Number One:
'In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [of intellectual and moral education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educations, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen - of whom we have an ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

In other words, they didn't want brains or talent, just obedience."

I just keep shaking my head at every paragraph.

It was deliberate to create a school system that would produce workers who would not think too deeply and therefore be easy to manage and who would consume more.

Another quote from the book is of Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, speaking to an audience of businessmen in New York City in 1909: "We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
Gatto goes on to comment, "Forgoing the privilege of education was not a matter of choice, which probably explains why Wilson's remarks were not broadcast to the common public but were made behind closed doors."

It is just maddening that this system was created by a handful of elite people and then enforced by the government as compulsory. And now three or four generations later people can't imagine an alternative to it! We are scared to jump off the conveyor belt, because that is all we know! We laugh at a liberal arts education because it won't prepare you for a JOB. The joke says,
Q: What does a Liberal Arts graduate say?
(update: I found the joke here)

Of this book, Michael P. Farris, Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said, "John Taylor Gatto has forcefully presented the case that...a people who believe in freedom will never emerge from a system that starts with coercion."

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