Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What do public education, the breakdown of the traditional family, the ghettoization of the church, and the morality of our culture have in common?

The public school system in the United States has become, and not recently, a machine of the state having the purpose of producing the kind of citizen that most benefits the state’s purposes and desires. What the state most needs to stifle is individuality and individual thinking and creativity. Here’s a quote from  a 30 year teacher in New York City schools and former New York State Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto, from his book Weapons of Mass Instruction – A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling:

Take a second to think about these utopian algorithms – dividing people from one another and from their natural allies, is right at the head of the list, but all require wiping the slate as clean of close emotional ties – even ties to yourself! – as possible. Family, deep friendships, church, culture, traditions, anything which might contradict the voice of authority, is suspect. An independent mind  is the worst danger of all, but twelve years spent in a school chair (and now in front of a computer terminal or television, etc.), will convert the most crowded inner life into a virtually blank slate.

From the same book, here’s a quote from William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906 from his book The Philosophy of Education, 1906:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual….

The great purpose of school [self-alienation] can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places…. It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.

Harris is far from a lone radical in the history of public education in America. The model is a Hegelian one from Prussia, used by American industrialists like J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie and communists and socialists like Karl Marx alike. Thus, education isn’t actually a political issue, but an instrument wielded by those in power regardless of their political affiliations. All the other social issues we wrangle with – marriage, sexuality, abortion, women’s rights, religious discourse in the public square, gun control, the nature and meaning of life, etc. – are indoctrinated into our culture and society through the public school system. We learn what we are wanted to learn – nothing more, nothing less.

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