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Article posted Feb 21 2006, 2:21 PM Category: Commentary Source: The Memory Hole Print

The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Uneducated and Docile

It's no secret that the US educational system doesn't do a very good job. Like clockwork, studies show that America's schoolkids lag behind their peers in pretty much every industrialized nation. We hear shocking statistics about the percentage of high-school seniors who can't find the US on an unmarked map of the world or who don't know who Abraham Lincoln was.

Fingers are pointed at various aspects of the schooling system—overcrowded classrooms, lack of funding, teachers who can't pass competency exams in their fields, etc. But these are just secondary problems. Even if they were cleared up, schools would still suck. Why? Because they were designed to.

How can I make such a bold statement? How do I know why America's public school system was designed the way it was (age-segregated, six to eight 50-minute classes in a row announced by Pavlovian bells, emphasis on rote memorization, lorded over by unquestionable authority figures, etc.)? Because the men who designed, funded, and implemented America's formal educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote about what they were doing.

Almost all of these books, articles, and reports are out of print and hard to obtain. Luckily for us, John Taylor Gatto tracked them down. Gatto was voted the New York City Teacher of the Year three times and the New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. But he became disillusioned with schools—the way they enforce conformity, the way they kill the natural creativity, inquisitiveness, and love of learning that every little child has at the beginning. So he began to dig into terra incognita, the roots of America's educational system.

In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee's report stated, "We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes."

By the turn of the century, America's new educrats were pushing a new form of schooling with a new mission (and it wasn't to teach). The famous philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote in 1897:

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 his 1905 dissertation for Columbia Teachers College, Elwood Cubberly—the future Dean of Education at Stanford—wrote that schools should be factories "in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products...manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry."

The next year, the Rockefeller Education Board—which funded the creation of numerous public schools—issued a statement which read in part:

In our dreams...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.

At the same time, William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906, wrote:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.

In that same book, The Philosophy of Education, Harris also revealed:

The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.

Several years later, President Woodrow Wilson would echo these sentiments in a speech to businessmen:

We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.

Writes Gatto: "Another major architect of standardized testing, H.H. Goddard, said in his book Human Efficiency (1920) that government schooling was about 'the perfect organization of the hive.'"

While President of Harvard from 1933 to 1953, James Bryant Conant wrote that the change to a forced, rigid, potential-destroying educational system had been demanded by "certain industrialists and the innovative who were altering the nature of the industrial process."

In other words, the captains of industry and government explicitly wanted an educational system that would maintain social order by teaching us just enough to get by but not enough so that we could think for ourselves, question the sociopolitical order, or communicate articulately. We were to become good worker-drones, with a razor-thin slice of the population—mainly the children of the captains of industry and government—to rise to the level where they could continue running things.

This was the openly admitted blueprint for the public schooling system, a blueprint which remains unchanged to this day. Although the true reasons behind it aren't often publicly expressed, they're apparently still known within education circles. Clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine wrote in 2001:

I once consulted with a teacher of an extremely bright eight-year-old boy labeled with oppositional defiant disorder. I suggested that perhaps the boy didn't have a disease, but was just bored. His teacher, a pleasant woman, agreed with me. However, she added, "They told us at the state conference that our job is to get them ready for the work world…that the children have to get used to not being stimulated all the time or they will lose their jobs in the real world."

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Comments 1 - 9 of 9 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Aug 17 2008, 10:12 AM

98163 Too many people use Harris' quotes out of context, especially Gatto. If you did any research on William Torrey Harris, you would see that he was first and foremost concerned with the morality of the school children. He thought strict discipline would help these students prepare for the outside world and that withdrawing from the outside world while in school would give them time and training to develop a sense of morals and would not be polluted by the evils of the world.

Posted: Aug 10 2010, 12:49 AM

72177 To say the school system is specifically designed this way, today, seems foolish to me. My history classes have pointed out mistakes our government has made in the past and that it is not infallible, my speech class specifically said to be skeptical. It literally said to question and take an active interest in the world, in a standardized textbook for a required class. The school was designed with windows meant to be in every classroom and the halls to have massive windows to let in sunlight for a happier environment. The teachers of advanced classes were given leave to teach their own way, with their own notes, and encouraged active discussion.

Now, anecdotal evidence is hardly admissible as evidence of how society works, especially when it's just one person, but all these claims that we are to be bred as sheep for the government to use when standardized textbooks call out to be skeptical, it all seems rather contradictory.

Posted: Mar 10 2011, 9:07 PM

66254 I mean what you say sure sounds good when you write it like that, and you seem to be a free thinker, where did you go to school?

Because i just recently went through public schooling, and i'm not a "automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed customs". For this reason I completely disagree with you.

I'm guessing you failed out of high school and just want to blame the system rather then yourself.

Also you should work on some more solid, (and recent) evidence instead of the few obscure and random quotes you have from the 1800s


Posted: Mar 22 2011, 1:03 AM

1223 Oh, one can dissent, but must stay within the lines of 'acceptable' dissidence. It doesn't take a genius to realize that today's schools (and not just in the US) are little more than indoctrination camps, where they are taught that things like abortion without parental consent are perfectly acceptable, but heaven forbid someone were to question any of the prevailing doctrines. For example, let a child use the 'n' word and see how much tolerance he/she will be shown. For the record I DON'T use that word because it is vile. However, should a child be expelled for what is essentially an exercise of freedom of speech, while another is told that its perfectly acceptable to hide and terminate a pregnancy? Think about it.

Posted: Jul 07 2011, 1:19 AM

658 ILLUMINATI, enough said.

Posted: May 30 2012, 4:30 PM

64183 Schools teach kids to accept that they can't do anything about the way things are. Even though we're all headed for self-destruction.

Posted: Aug 31 2013, 12:23 AM

6441 The LAST thing our ruling shadows want is a smart voter, a bright mind, Christian values, and a solid character. So, our teachers dumb the kids; smart people of the above traits are shunned; and the masses get sicker and weaker and dumber with all types of heavy metals in our diet and in the air we breathe.

More dots to connect, but you get the point.

Posted: Aug 31 2013, 2:20 AM

174240 @nonymous 6441, sure, that's what they want.

You know, if you continue to vote, you're choosing to relinquish your free-will, while, simultaneously breaking commandment #1.

Why would you choose a human being to represent your ideals, when you have a God that already does? The bible is a tricky book to comprehend - especially, if you have the government's tavi-stocked pastors, telling you what the bible "says." The bible "reads," it "says," nothing - however, it does "speak" to the individual....

Cloud computing = redundancy
We are spoon-fed the same bull-shit from infancy, until death. Any variation in the programming, must have an application, for "redirection" purposes.

The Old Testament reads the word: "matrix" 5Xs... What do you make of it?

Posted: Aug 22 2014, 1:00 PM

2497 I think he is correct the current system does not teach creativity (at least not in a meaningful or useful sense) and teaches us to obey authority. I was a part of the public school system and realized that almost all of what I learned was useless in the "real world."
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