think_yourself.gifI saw this in the archives, and consider it worth a re-post here. The man’s website is also worth a visit.

Dumbing Us Down: An Interview With John Taylor Gatto

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

If anyone is qualified to intelligently analyze the institution of modern schooling, its John Taylor Gatto. While teaching in the public schools of Manhattan for 30 years, Gatto was named New York State teacher of the year as well as New York City teacher of the year three times. Then, at the height of his teaching career in 1991, he published an essay in the Wall Street Journal titled I Quit, I Think and promptly quit.Since then, Gatto has traveled the world lecturing and writing about the perils of his former profession. His first book, Dumbing Us Down : The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, has become a modern classic of todays home-schooling movement. His latest book, The Underground History of American Education, chronicles the often-chilling origins of our schooling system, and details why and how children are damaged by it. Extensively researched and thoroughly documented, it is the standard by which all critiques of compulsory schooling must now be compared.

Today Gatto is busy working on The Fourth Purpose, a three-part, six-hour documentary series which will tackle the American school system: present, past, and futureits anomalies, its history, and the alternatives. The idea is to throw a bucket of ice-cold water in the faces of pundits, experts, and bureaucrats.

So what, then, is the primary objective of compulsory education?

The primary objective is to convert human raw material into human resources which can be employed efficiently by the managers of government and the economy. The original purposes of schooling were to make good people (the religious purpose), to make good citizens (the public purpose) and to make individuals their personal best (the private purpose). Throughout the 19th century, a new Fourth Purpose began to emerge, tested thoroughly in the military state of Prussia in northern Europe. The Fourth Purpose made the point of mass schooling to serve big business and big government by extending childhood, replacing thinking with drill and memorization while fashioning incomplete people unable to protect themselves from exhortation, advertising and other forms of indirect command. In this fashion, poor Prussia with a small population became one of the great powers of the earth. Its new schooling method was imitated far and wide, from Japan to the United States.

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