Mandatory Public Schooling: Is it a tool for Education and Enlightenment or the Creation of a "Standardized Citizenry"?

Old-thinker News
Dec. 16, 2007

The following quotes can be found throughout John Taylor Gatto's book "The Underground History of American Education."

"In our dream...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way." - John D. Rockefeller’s General Education Board, Occasional Letter Number One (1906)

John Taylor Gatto notes that, "Although this statement was first publicly disclosed in an obscure book (The World's Work, 1912) and republished as part of a collection printed by Rockefeller's GEB in 1913 for its selective readership, it had apparently circulated at the Foundation much earlier. Various guesses place its origin from 1913, a year after the GEB was formed to 1906."

"[Administration] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting; such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which government is the shepherd." - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

"Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way the teacher is always the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven." - John Dewey's Pedagogic Creed, 1897

"That erroneous assumption is to the effort that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence....Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its am everywhere else." - H.L Mencken, The American Mercury, April 1924

"Take at hazard one hundred children of several educated generations and one hundred uneducated children of the people and compare them in anything you please; in strength, in agility, in mind, in the ability to acquire knowledge, even in morality—and in all respects you are startled by the vast superiority on the side of the children of the uneducated." - Count Leo Tolstoy, "Education and Children" (1862)

"Today’s corporate sponsors want to see their money used in ways to line up with business objectives.... This is a young generation of corporate sponsors and they have discovered the advantages of building long-term relationships with educational institutions." - Suzanne Cornforth of Paschall & Associates, public relations consultants. As quoted in The New York Times, July 15, 1998

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks." - Woodrow Wilson, 1909

"They [the "un-intelligent"] are amenable to any reasonable treatment that we may prescribe for them and whenever society is ready to eliminate them from the main group and to provide for them in ways that will make them happy and as efficient as they, with their limited intelligence can be made, we will at least have increased the total efficiency to an almost unbelievable extent. It is said that the busy bee, so often held up to us as a model of industrious work, actually works twenty minutes a day. The explanation of the great amount that he accomplishes is said to be in the fact of the perfect organization of the hive. Perhaps it would be wiser for us to emulate the bee's social organization more and his supposed industry less." - Henry Herbert Goddard, Human Efficiency (1920), page 61-62

School textbooks

"The ideology that lies behind these texts is rather difficult to define.... it does not fit usual political patterns....the texts never indicate any line of action....authors avoid what they choose to and some of them avoid main issues....they fail to develop any original ideas....they confuse social sciences with science....clouds of jargon....leave out ideas....historical names are given no character, they are cipher people....there are no conflicts, only "problems"." - Frances Fitzgerald, America Revised

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