If anyone would like to have an interesting reading to stew about over the vacation week about to start...(are most schools around Vermont on vacation next week - sorry my first year here?)
Read John Taylor Gatto's book: Underground History of American Education
The entire book can be read at http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm but I would suggest it in hand, maybe with a deck-check and some sun.... and maybe something to pound your head against. I'm not taking sides, but in light of some of the posts recently it seems like it could be a venting tool at the very least.
It is interesting to consider how technology fits into this conception of school control.
Here is a bit for those of you that just like dipping your toes:
At least nine major assumptions about the importance of government schooling must be acknowledged as false before you can get beyond the fog of ideology into the clear air of education. Here they are:
1) Universal government schooling is the essential force for social cohesion. There is no other way. A heavily bureaucratized public order is our defense against chaos and anarchy. Right, and if you don't wipe your bum properly, the toilet monster will rise out of the bowl and get you.
2) The socialization of children in age-graded groups monitored by State agents is essential to learn to get along with others in a pluralistic society. The actual truth is that the rigid compartmentalizations of schooling teach a crippling form of social relation: wait passively until you are told what to do, never judge your own work or confer with associates, have contempt for those younger than yourself and fear of those older. Behave according to the meaning assigned to your class label. These are the rules of a nuthouse. No wonder kids cry and become fretful after first grade.
3) Children from different backgrounds and from families with different beliefs must be mixed together. The unexamined inference here is that in this fashion they enlarge their understanding, but the actual management of classrooms everywhere makes only the most superficial obeisance to human difference-from the first, a radical turn toward some unitarian golden mean is taken, along the way of which different backgrounds and different beliefs are subtly but steadily discredited.
4) The certified expertise of official schoolteachers is superior in its knowledge of children to the accomplishments of lay people, including parents. Protecting children from the uncertified is a compelling public concern. Actually, the enforced long-term segregation of children from the working world does them great damage, and the general body of men and women certified by the State as fit to teach is nearly the least fit occupational body in the entire economy if college performance is the standard.
5) Coercion in the name of education is a valid use of State power: compelling assemblies of children into specified groupings for prescribed intervals and sequences with appointed overseers does not interfere with academic learning. Were you born yesterday? Plato said, "Nothing of value to the individual happens by coercion."
6) Children will inevitably grow apart from their parents in belief, and this process must be encouraged by diluting parental influence and disabusing children of the idea their parents are sovereign in mind or morality. That prescription alone has been enough to cripple the American family. The effects of forced disloyalty on family are hideously destructive, removing the only certain support the growing spirit has to refer to. In place of family the school offers phantoms like "ambition," "advancement," and "fun," nightmare harbingers of the hollow life ahead.
7) An overriding concern of schooling is to protect children from bad parents. No wonder G. Stanley Hall, the father of school administration, invited Sigmund Freud to the United States in 1909-it was urgent business to establish a "scientific" basis upon which to justify the anti-family stance of State schooling, and the programmatic State in general.
8) It is not appropriate for any family to unduly concern itself with the education of its own children, although it is appropriate to sacrifice for the general education of everyone in the hands of State experts. This is the standard formula for all forms of socialism and the universal foundation of utopian promises.
9) The State is the proper parent and has predominant responsibility for training, morals, and beliefs. This is the parens patriae doctrine of Louis XIV, king of France, a tale unsuited to a republic.
Morristown School District
(802) 888-6729 (w)
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From: School Information Technology Discussion on behalf of Steve Cavrak
Sent: Fri 4/15/2005 9:12 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The role of K-12 education
On Apr 15, 2005, at 8:36 AM, Tommy Walz wrote:
> We've been hearing about the failure of our public schools for at
> least three generations of kids now. Are our graduates less literate
> than they were in the 50's?
This reminded me of "Sputnik" ... October 4, 1957. A nice site for
those who can remember it,
>> There is a very long history of anti-intellectualism in this
country. George Wallace made a successful political career of running
against intellectuals. That is obvious in our parents' and students'
>> Wish we could figure it out and fix it.
This reminds me of the first book I had to read in college -
DeTocqueville's Democracy in America. HE had it figured out ... recent
thought on it at ...