Friday, July 10, 2009

Are Our Schools Bad On Purpose? (J.T. Gatto, part 1)

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New World Notes News
Volume 2, Number 28 -- July 14, 2009

This week in New World Notes, radio program #72, July 14 & 17:

Executive Summary: In educating students, U.S. public schools range from mediocre down to soul-destroying, John Taylor Gatto suggests. Other scholars and critics of public education--such as Jonathan Kozol, George Carlin, and Aldous Huxley--have argued the same. But Gatto gives a detailed account of WHY things are as they are.

Why? The ruling elite wanted a nation of obedient factory workers and easily-manipulated, childlike consumers, Gatto argues. The public education system of Prussia (now a region of Germany) provided a working model to imitate. There, public schools molded students to fit the current needs of the state. What the Prussian state usually needed was loyal, obedient soldiers.

John Taylor Gatto

The American elite had the inspired idea of molding children instead to fit the needs of business and manufacturing.

Compulsory public schooling has done this well for nearly a century, Gatto argues. The real founders of our public secondary schools were not reformers such as Horace Mann and John Dewey. They were Captains of Industry and of Finance--Robber Barons--including John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan, all ably assisted by powerful educational theorists such as James Bryant Conant, of Harvard.

In this recording, Gatto delivers a powerful, brilliant, well-researched, and very witty speech (originally presented in October 2003); and I'm delighted to be able to make his work a little better known. Today's program presents my condensation of roughly the first third of this long speech.

Two of the books by Gatto

But who is this guy?

No crackpot Lefty idealist, Gatto was a master high-school teacher with three "Teacher of the Year" awards from New York City and one from New York State. Since quitting the profession, he has written books and given lectures, attempting to show Americans that their system of compulsory public schooling is designed to produce social control, not education.

Gatto's web site is In it you'll find a short, profusely illustrated article that nicely summarizes his overall main ideas and main arguments--the "American Education History Tour." Here's a link to it:

Song: The Foremen, California Couldn't Pay Our Education

"School Sucks" by Liese Lotta

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