How public education cripples our kids, and why
Gatto, John Taylorhttp://harpers.org/archive/2003/09/0079746
Date Written: 03/09/2003
Year Published: 2003
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX14182
An essay by a retired teacher on the infantilization of children by the public school system. This intellectual history of US public school curiculum reveals that it was conceived as a democratic means to a reflexively obedient work force.
Do we really need school? I don't mean education, just forced schooling: six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years. Is this deadly routine really necessary? And if so, for what?
We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of "success" as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, "schooling," but historically that isn't true in either and intellectual or a financial sense. And plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons. Why, then, do Americans confuse education with just such a system? What exactly is the purpose of our public schools?
Now for the good news. Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventures. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well schooled kids have to low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material. the grown-up material, in history, literature philosophy, music, art, economics, theology - all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid.