Sunday, September 23, 2007

Re-building Eden - The Great Utopian Cockup

John Taylor Gatto continues to offer his perspective of the elements of contemporary society and religion and elucidates the conflicting notions supporting present-day ideologies of education. It is a fascinating read for students of the modern school system. In determining a first-line of defense of "Western Values", we must come to understand the philosophical and moral precepts underlying our belief systems, both Christian and non-Christian alike. Gatto presents an historical view, not from a religious, rather from a rational perspective.

If we have any realistic notion of opposing the utopia-building ideas underpinning the present objectives of the globalist NEA's educational philosophy, we must come to know our own strengths and weaknesses. I think too, it will require a synthesis of old and new ideas; understanding the historical skein of the last 200 years is the key to opposing all radical ideologies currently focussed on de-humanizing our children, and thus our society-at-large.

Because it's Sunday, and the air here on the high plains is crisp and glorious, I'll begin with the hope-full end of Gatto's insightful essay,

"Against School"

How public education cripples our kids, and why

By John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto is a former New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year and the author, most recently, of The Underground History of American Education. He was a participant in the Harper's Magazine forum "School on a Hill," which appeared in the September 2003 issue.

Mr. Gatto:

...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 adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a 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. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.

First, though, we must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants. Don't let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a pre-teen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there's no telling what your own kids could do. After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I've concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves. read the rest

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