Posts Tagged ‘deception of schooling’

James is knocking it out of the park again!

My dad hit me when I got bad grades. Particularly when I was young and got a bad grade in “Conduct”. Happiness was an “A”. Even better: an “A+”. Sadness was an “F”. It was almost like a joke. Like the only way to get an “F” is if you tried to screw up almost as much as you tried to get an “A”.

But  in twelve years of basic schooling I can’t’ remember anyone asking where the “E” was. It goes A, B, C, D (which was really horrible to get a D. It means you were trying somewhat (so as to avoid the “F”) but you were just plain stupid and got a D. Not even a C.) and then, the magic “F”. Which was more than just a letter but a one-letter acronym. None of the other letters stood for anything. They were just letters. They could’ve been replaced by numbers (Claudia tells me in Argentina they were graded by numbers from one to ten. No letters). It’s not like “A” stood for Amazing. Or “B” Boring. “C” Crazy. “D” Dumb. You could’ve just replaced them by 1, 2, 3, 4. Or a “1+”. But F was irreplaceable.

(the mirror image of the tattoo says “Never a Failure, Always a Lesson”)

“F” stood for “Failure”.  [Note: except when I was really little. There was “O” for outstanding. “S” for Satisfactory. And “N” for needs improvement. I got an N for conduct and it’s the first time I remember my dad hitting me after the teacher told him I was always calling her old, which she was and there is no shame of that but I only realize that now that I am as old as she was.]

So why no “E”. I think teachers got together 5000 years ago. Maybe 10,000 years ago and came up with the horrifying conclusion: Some students might think “E” stood for Effort. As in, “at least I didn’t get an ‘F’. I got an ‘E’ which means I put in an effort.” And doesn’t that go along all too easily with the lie teachers say, “I’m not going to judge you on your grade, I’m going to judge you on the effort you put into this class.”

Did they ever really judge you on that? And if they did, do you really think they would want you to get an “E” on a test and then have to put up with your arguing at the end of a semester when you would say, “See! I put in the effort! I got an “E” on everything and you said that would be how you would judge me.”

“This is awful”, said a teacher at that first convention of the union of the national teachers club. “We have to take the ‘E’ out of the alphabet.”

“But,” said Mr. Maroon. “We spend years teaching them that song: A, B, C, D, E, F, G… to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star. And now we have to tell them there is no E?”

“There is an E! Just not in grades. Why is this such a difficult thing to understand? If we put an ‘E’ in there then our schools will NEVER get funding. All our schools depend on our students, smart or stupid, doing well on those standardized tests where they fill in the multiple choice circles and cyborgs read them and grade them and the better they do, the more funding we get. If we put an ‘E’ into the system the students might clog up the pipes with Effort instead of Amazing. They might even think “E” is for Exceed because at least it beats Failure! WE CANNOT HAVE AN ‘E’!”

I doubt that conversation really happened. They really backed themselves into a corner. They thought by using letters instead of numbers that would fool kids into some state of confusion where they really didn’t know how they did. Like, “is a B good or bad?” But everyone knows where they stand when it comes to 1 through 10.

But now they were stuck with the “E”. Until they decided to strike it from the alphabet. But only some of the time. Except for that one time an entire novel was written without using the letter “e”. That guy knew what he was doing. The insidious removal of the most common letter in the English language.

Because that’s what English is about. It’s not “Anglo”. It’s not quite “Saxon”. It’s not “Latin”. But its a weird mixture of all three, concocted like a test tube baby in some scientist’s laboratory when the aliens landed and impregnated our ancient Mothers with the sperm from their dying planets (since they came from a Federation of planets surrounding a supernova, or perhaps supernovae (there’s that “E” again) ).  So we can keep on experimenting and investing and twisting and testing. Now “google” is a verb, a noun, a business, the beginnings of an artificially intelligent singularity, a map, an email, a social network, and a photo album with the flowers as bookmarks. We don’t need those anymore thanks to Google. No memories are special enough to mark them with a flower, thanks to the newest word in the dictionary.

Ugh, trying to unravel the Rubik’s Cube-like scam of lower education is a full-time job. Once you get a side with all one color you realize you’ve hopelessly prevented yourself from getting the other side to be one color.

I have not read much about home schooling or unschooling so I am no expert. But I’ve thought about it. And this is how I would do it if my kids were to let me unschool them.

A) First, (and again, this is without reading about it at all so I, at best, uneducated on the topic). I prefer the word “unschooling” to “home schooling”. I assume home schooling means I replace the teacher, buy them science textbooks, math, Canterbury Tales, etc. I don’t want to do that. That sounds boring to me and I assume to them as well. Unschooling sounds more like it – i.e. just completely no education at all.

B) Only one requirement: read one book a week. It doesn’t matter what book. I will pay them 10 cents a page. WHAT!? How can you pay your kids to learn? Well, I want my kids to get used to being paid for doing things they enjoy. Later in life (just a few years really) they will have to do it anyway. Why not get used to being paid for something they enjoy right now? This way they will know easily to avoid getting paid for things they don’t enjoy. (this is hopefully a way to avoid them going into a life of prostitution).

Then we talk about it. Then we visit the bookstore and they get to browse other books and see what they like. I get a synesthesia of experience when I go into a bookstore, some sections have bright colors and draw me to them (fiction, current affairs, philosophy, art, comics, history) and some I can just feel the drab greyness (interior decorating, crafts, children). They would browse until something pulls at them. Then they would buy it and read it.

C) Every day: I’d set out drawing and painting materials. They’d also be encouraged to keep a diary. I want the creative neurons going. I can’t force them to do this. But maybe they would want to.

D) At least an hour of sports a day.

(sports are good for kids)

E) I’d set up playdates for after school so they can get socialization. Or playdates with other kids that are being unschooled or home schooled (there are more than you think out there). My kids think that all home-schooled kids are “weird” because they aren’t social. But I ask them, “when do you talk to your friends anyway?” And they say, “after school”. So that argument is out the window.

F) The rest of the time they can do whatever they want: eat, read, watch TV, sleep, blow stuff up, do nothing but stare at the wall, walk around the block, go to the movies. Whatever. In fact, I hope they do a lot of nothing. People get addicted to doing “something”. What’s so great about “something”. I like to do nothing. Even when people do nothing they try to label it: like “meditation”. Ugh, what a boring thing: meditation. Try, “I just did nothing. I even thought about nothing in particular.”

When you are capable of actually doing nothing (not so easy after decades of “something addiction”), there’s a deep well that springs up, and fills every corner of you, crowding at the anxieties, the fears, the pressures put on you from government jobs colleagues bosses friends family. The nothing replaces all the vomit they try to kiss into your mouth.

By doing all the above they have more opportunity to discover their passions, more play time, more creative time, just as much social time.

The standard criticism: kids should learn how to deal with kids they don’t like and doing things they don’t like. People say this to me all the time, ranging from Harvard graduates to my own kids. “Kids should do things they don’t like!” Really?

My answer: Why? It doesn’t seem like adults are any good at that so how did experiencing it as a kid help them?

What makes me an expert on unschooling? Absolutely nothing. And that’s the point. I just don’t want them to do any of the 100 bad memories I (and just about everyone else) has about standardized schooling. Why should they have to go through with it?

And I’m going to grade them every week. I’ll give them a big piece of paper with the letter “E” on it. And we can talk about what it means. Maybe every week it will mean something different. That sounds like fun.

Source: LewRockwell.com

by Gary North
Tea Party Economist

President Obama has signed an executive order. He has set up a new bureaucracy. This bureaucracy plans to make inner-city education so good that whites will move back.

You remain skeptical? O, ye of little faith!

This executive order has this goal: to give black children top-flight public education, which means non-flight education. Blacks who have been able to get out of inner-city school districts have been fleeing for several decades. This is what the President is trying to stop.

There is a problem with his plan: public education. It has been declining visibly for approximately 100 years, give or take a decade. The decline has sped up over the last 50 years.

For blacks, the decline has been a disaster. The inner-city schools have been deliberately dumbed down as policy. Thomas Sowell has written on several occasions about the all-black high school in Washington, D.C.: Dunbar High School. From 1870 to 1955, it provided education as good as any white district’s program. (It was surely better than mine, 1955-59.) It taught Latin. It taught advanced courses in science. Its students went to college. Ralph Bunche was one of its graduates. It was deliberately dumbed down half a century ago as a matter of district policy.

President Obama intends to smarten up the inner-city schools. How will he do this? With a new bureaucracy.

His executive order is a litany on the failure of tax-funded education in America. It’s hard to fault him on this. The problem is this: the federal government has been laying down the law to school districts for 40 years. The schools have gotten worse. Dr. Charles Sykes’ book has it right: Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves, But Can’t Read, Write, or Add.

Candidate Ronald Reagan vowed to shut down the Department of Education. Its budget went up every year he was in office.

Obama’s executive order is nothing short of messianic. It proposes to achieve the following.

(1) The Initiative will help to restore the United States to its role as the global leader in education; strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages; and help ensure that African Americans receive a complete and competitive education that prepares them for college, a satisfying career, and productive citizenship. . . .

(4) In working to fulfill its mission and objectives, the Initiative shall, consistent with applicable law:

(i) identify evidence-based best practices that can provide African American students a rigorous and well-rounded education in safe and healthy environments, as well as access to support services, which will prepare them for college, a career, and civic participation;

(ii) develop a national network of individuals, organizations, and communities to share and implement best practices related to the education of African Americans, including those identified as most at risk;

(iii) help ensure that Federal programs and initiatives administered by the Department and other agencies are serving and meeting the educational needs of African Americans, including by encouraging agencies to incorporate best practices into appropriate discretionary programs where permitted by law;

(iv) work closely with the Executive Office of the President on key Administration priorities related to the education of African Americans;

(v) increase the participation of the African American community, including institutions that serve that community, in the Department’s programs and in education-related programs at other agencies;

(vi) advise the officials of the Department and other agencies on issues related to the educational attainment of African Americans;

(vii) advise the Secretary on the development, implementation, and coordination of educational programs and initiatives at the Department and other agencies that are designed to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for African Americans of all ages; and

(viii) encourage and develop partnerships with public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit stakeholders to improve African Americans’ readiness for school, college, and career, as well as their college persistence and completion. . . .

And how will his executive order achieve all this? By providing lots of jobs in Washington!

(c) Interagency Working Group.

(1) There is established the Federal Interagency Working Group on Educational Excellence for African Americans (Working Group), which shall be convened and chaired by the Initiative’s Executive Director and that shall support the efforts of the Initiative described in subsection (b) of this section.

(2) The Working Group shall consist of senior officials from the Department, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and such additional agencies and offices as the President may subsequently designate. Senior officials shall be designated by the heads of their respective agencies and offices.

(3) The Initiative’s Executive Director may establish subgroups of the Working Group to focus on different aspects of the educational system (such as early childhood education, K-12 education, higher education (including HBCUs and PBIs), career and technical education, adult education, or correctional education and reengagement) or educational challenges facing particular populations of African Americans (such as young men, disconnected or out-of-school youth, individuals with disabilities, children identified as gifted and talented, single-parent households, or adults already in the workforce).

(d) Administration. The Department shall provide funding and administrative support for the Initiative and the Working Group, to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations. To the extent permitted by law, other agencies and offices represented on the Working Group may detail personnel to the Initiative, to assist the Department in meeting the objectives of this order.

I can see the progress! I can see the SAT scores rising! I can see hope restored in inner cities!

And all this from a man who never spent a day in an American tax-funded school.

Only in America!

Continue Reading the executive order on www.whitehouse.gov

July 31, 2012

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com. He is also the author of a free 31-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2012 Gary North

If you are a parent of school-age children, this is an excellent, must read essay published in Harper’s Magazine in June 1985. I graduated from college that same year with an education degree. I joined the army of mediocrity to teach compliance, unquestioned obedience, and submission to tyranny. My college professors told romanticized lies about “making a difference” and “changing the world” through education. I quickly discovered that State schools teach us how not to think. I hope you enjoy the essay and consider sharing with others.

Source: The Underground Grammarian (A site dedicated to the late Richard Mitchell)

Why Johnny Can’t Think

The Politics of Bad Schooling

by Walter Karp
(from Harper’s Magazine, June 1985)

The following books are discussed in this essay:
A Place Called School, by John I. Goodlad
The Good High School, by Sara Lawrence Lightfoot
Horace’s Compromise: The Dilemma of the American High School, by Theodore R. Sizer
High School: A Report on Secondary Education in America, by Ernest L. Boyer and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, by the National Commission on Excellence in Education
The Great School Debate: Which Way for American Education?, edited by Beatrice and Ronald Gross
The Challenge to American Schools, edited by John Bunzel
The Troubled Crusade: American Education 1945-1980, by Diane Ravitch
_______________________

Until very recently, remarkably little was known about what actually goes on in America’s public schools. There were no reliable answers to even the most obvious questions. How many children are taught to read in overcrowded classrooms? How prevalent is rote learning and how common are classroom discussions? Do most schools set off gongs to mark the change of “periods”? Is it a common practice to bark commands over public address systems in the manner of army camps, prisons, and banana republics? Public schooling provides the only intense experience of a public realm that most Americans will ever know. Are school buildings designed with the dignity appropriate to a great republican institution, or are most of them as crummy looking as one’s own?

The darkness enveloping America’s public schools is truly extraordinary considering that 38.9 million students attend them, that we spend nearly $134 billion a year on them, and that foundations ladle out generous sums for the study of everything about schooling–except what really occurs in the schools. John I. Goodlad’s eight-year investigation of a mere thirty-eight of America’s 80,000 public schools–the result of which, A Place Called School, was published last year–is the most comprehensive such study ever undertaken. Hailed as a “landmark in American educational research,” it was financed with great difficulty. The darkness, it seems, has its guardians.

Happily, the example of Goodlad, a former dean of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, has proven contagious. A flurry of new books sheds considerable light on the practice of public education in America. In The Good High School, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot offers vivid “portraits” of six distinctive American secondary schools. In Horace’s Compromise, Theodore R. Sizer, a former dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, reports on his two-year odyssey through public high schools around the country. Even High School, a white paper issued by Ernest L. Boyer and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, is supported by a close investigation of the institutional life of a number of schools. Of the books under review, only A Nation at Risk, the report of the Reagan Administration’s National Commission on Excellence in Education, adheres to the established practice of crass special pleading in the dark.

Thanks to Goodlad et al., it is now clear what the great educational darkness has so long concealed: the depth and pervasiveness of political hypocrisy in the common schools of the country. The great ambition professed by public school managers is, of course, education for citizenship and self-government, which harks back to Jefferson’s historic call for “general education to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom.” What the public schools practice with remorseless proficiency, however, is the prevention of citizenship and the stifling of self-government. When 58 percent of the thirteen-year-olds tested by the National Assessment for Educational Progress think it is against the law to start a third party in America, we are dealing not with a sad educational failure but with a remarkably subtle success.

Passive, Docile Students

Consider how effectively America’s future citizens are trained not to judge for themselves about anything. From the first grade to the twelfth, from one coast to the other, instruction in America’s classrooms is almost entirely dogmatic. Answers are “right” and answers are “wrong,” but mostly answers are short. “At all levels, [teacher-made] tests called almost exclusively for short answers and recall of information,” reports Goodlad. In more than 1,000 classrooms visited by his researchers, “only rarely” was there “evidence to suggest instruction likely to go much beyond mere possession of information to a level of understanding its implications.” Goodlad goes on to note that “the intellectual terrain is laid out by the teacher. The paths for walking through it are largely predetermined by the teacher.” The give-and-take of genuine discussion is conspicuously absent. “Not even 1%” of instructional time, he found, was devoted to discussions that “required some kind of open response involving reasoning or perhaps an opinion from students…. The extraordinary degree of student passivity stands out.”

Sizer’s research substantiates Goodlad’s. “No more important finding has emerged from the inquiries of our study than that the American high school student, as student, is all too often docile, compliant, and without initiative.” There is good reason for this. On the one hand, notes Sizer, there are too few rewards for being inquisitive.” On the other, the heavy emphasis on “the right answer … smothers the student’s efforts to become an effective intuitive thinker.”

Yet smothered minds are looked on with the utmost complacency by the educational establishment–by the Reagan Department of Education, state boards of regents, university education departments, local administrators, and even many so-called educational reformers. Teachers are neither urged to combat the tyranny of the short right answer nor trained to do so. “Most teachers simply do not know how to reach for higher levels of thinking,” says Goodlad. Indeed, they are actively discouraged from trying to do so.

The discouragement can be quite subtle. In their orientation talks to new, inexperienced teachers, for example, school administrators often indicate that they do not much care what happens in class so long as no noise can be heard in the hallway. This thinly veiled threat virtually ensures the prevalence of short-answer drills, workbook exercises, and the copying of long extracts from the blackboard. These may smother young minds, but they keep the classroom Quiet.

Discouragement even calls itself reform. Consider the current cry for greater use of standardized student tests to judge the “merit” of teachers and raise “academic standards.” If this fake reform is foisted on the schools, dogma and docility will become even more prevalent. This point is well made by Linda Darling-Hammond of the Rand Corporation in an essay in The Great School Debate. Where “important decisions are based on test scores,” she notes, “teachers are more likely to teach to the tests” and less likely to bother with “nontested activities, such as writing, speaking, problem-solving or real reading of real books.” The most influential promoter of standardized tests is the “excellence” brigade in the Department of Education; so clearly one important meaning of “educational excellence” is greater proficiency in smothering students’ efforts to think for themselves.

Probably the greatest single discouragement to better instruction is the overcrowded classroom. The Carnegie report points out that English teachers cannot teach their students how to write when they must read and criticize the papers of as many as 175 students. As Sizer observes, genuine discussion is possible only in small seminars. In crowded classrooms, teachers have difficulty imparting even the most basic intellectual skills, since they have no time to give students personal attention. The overcrowded classroom inevitably debases instruction, yet it is the rule in America’s public schools. In the first three grades of elementary school, Goodlad notes, the average class has twenty-seven students. High school classes range from twenty-five to forty students, according to the Carnegie report.

What makes these conditions appalling is that they are quite unnecessary. The public schools are top-heavy with administrators and rife with sinecures. Large numbers of teachers scarcely ever set foot in a classroom, being occupied instead as grade advisers, career counselors, “coordinators,” and supervisors. “Schools, if simply organized,” Sizer writes, “can have well-paid faculty and fewer than eighty students per teacher (16 students per class without increasing current per-pupil expenditure.” Yet no serious effort is being made to reduce class size. As Sizer notes, “Reducing teacher load is, when all the negotiating is over, a low agenda item for the unions and school boards.” Overcrowded classrooms virtually guarantee smothered minds, yet the subject is not even mentioned in A Nation at Risk, for all its well-publicized braying about a “rising tide of mediocrity.”

Do the nation’s educators really want to teach almost 40 million students how to “think critically,” in the Carnegie report’s phrase, and “how to judge for themselves,” in Jefferson’s? The answer is, if you can believe that you will believe anything. The educational establishment is not even content to produce passive minds. It seeks passive spirits as well. One effective agency for producing these is the overly populous school. The larger schools are, the more prison-like they tend to be. In such schools, guards man the stairwells and exits. ID cards and “passes” are examined at checkpoints. Bells set off spasms of anarchy and bells quell the student mob. PA systems interrupt regularly with trivial fiats and frivolous announcements. This “malevolent intruder,” in Sizer’s apt phrase, is truly ill willed, for the PA system is actually an educational tool. It teaches the huge student mass to respect the authority of disembodied voices and the rule of remote and invisible agencies. Sixty-three percent of all high school students in America attend schools with enrollments of 5,000 or more. The common excuse for these mobbed schools is economy, but in fact they cannot be shown to save taxpayers a penny. Large schools “tend to create passive and compliant students,” notes Robert B. Hawkins Jr. in an essay in The Challenge to American Schools. That is their chief reason for being.

“How can the relatively passive and docile roles of students prepare them to participate as informed, active and questioning citizens?” asks the Carnegie report, in discussing the “hidden curriculum” of passivity in the schools. The answer is, they were not meant to. Public schools introduce future citizens to the public world, but no introduction could be more disheartening. Architecturally, public school buildings range from drab to repellent. They are often disfigured by demoralizing neglect–“cracked sidewalks, a shabby lawn, and peeling paint on every window sash,” to quote the Carnegie report. Many big-city elementary schools have numbers instead of names, making them as coldly dispiriting as possible.

Stamping Out Republican Sentiment

Public schools stamp out republican sentiment by habituating their students to unfairness, inequality, and special privilege. These arise inevitably from the educational establishment’s longstanding policy (well described by Diane Ravitch in The Troubled Crusade) of maintaining “the correlation between social class and educational achievement.” In order to preserve that factitious “correlation,” public schooling is rigged to favor middle-class students and to ensure that working-class students do poorly enough to convince them that they fully merit the lowly station that will one day be theirs. “Our goal is to get these kids to be like their parents,” one teacher, more candid than most, remarked to a Carnegie researcher.

For more than three decades, elementary schools across the country practiced a “progressive,” non-phonetic method of teaching reading that had nothing much to recommend it save its inherent social bias. According to Ravitch, this method favored “children who were already motivated and prepared to begin reading” before entering school, while making learning to read more difficult for precisely those children whose parents were ill read or ignorant. The advantages enjoyed by the well-bred were thus artificially multiplied tenfold, and 23 million adult Americans are today “functional illiterates.” America’s educators, notes Ravitch, have “never actually accepted full responsibility for making all children literate.”

That describes a malicious intent a trifle too mildly. Reading is the key to everything else in school. Children who struggle with it in the first grade will be “grouped” with the slow readers in the second grade and will fall hopelessly behind in all subjects by the sixth. The schools hasten this process of failing behind, report Goodlad and others, by giving the best students the best teachers and struggling students the worst ones. “It is ironic,” observes the Carnegie report, “that those who need the most help get the least.” Such students are commonly diagnosed as “culturally deprived” and so are blamed for the failures inflicted on them. Thus, they are taught to despise themselves even as they are inured to their inferior station.

The whole system of unfairness, inequality, and privilege comes to fruition in high school. There, some 15.7 million youngsters are formally divided into the favored few and the ill-favored many by the practice of “tracking.” About 35 percent of America’s public secondary-school students are enrolled in academic programs (often subdivided into “gifted” and “non-gifted” tracks); the rest are relegated to some variety of non-academic schooling. Thus the tracking system, as intended, reproduces the divisions of the class system. “The honors programs,” notes Sizer, “serve the wealthier youngsters, and the general tracks (whatever their titles) serve the working class. Vocational programs are often a cruel social dumping ground.” The bottom-dogs are trained for jobs as auto mechanics, cosmeticians, and institutional cooks, but they rarely get the jobs they are trained for. Pumping gasoline, according to the Carnegie report, is as close as an auto mechanics major is likely to get to repairing a car. “Vocational education in the schools is virtually irrelevant to job fate,” asserts Goodlad. It is merely the final hoax that the school bureaucracy plays on the neediest, one that the federal government has been promoting for seventy years.

The tracking system makes privilege and inequality blatantly visible to everyone. It creates under one roof “two worlds of schooling,” to quote Goodlad. Students in academic programs read Shakespeare’s plays. The commonality, notes the Carnegie report. are allowed virtually no contact with serious literature. In their English classes they practice filling out job applications. “Gifted” students alone are encouraged to think for themselves. The rest are subjected to sanctimonious wind, chiefly about “work habits” and “career opportunities.”

“If you are the child of low-income parents,” reports Sizer, “the chances are good that you will receive limited and often careless attention from adults in your high school. If you are the child of upper-middle-income parents, the chances are good that you will receive substantial and careful attention.” In Brookline High School in Massachusetts, one of Lightfoot’s “good” schools, a few fortunate students enjoy special treatment in their Advanced Placement classes. Meanwhile, students tracked into “career education” learn about “institutional cooking and clean-up” in a four-term Food Service course that requires them to mop up after their betters in the school cafeteria.

This wretched arrangement expresses the true spirit of public education in America and discloses the real aim of its hidden curriculum. A favored few, pampered and smiled upon, are taught to cherish privilege and despise the disfavored. The favorless many, who have majored in failure for years, are taught to think ill of themselves. Youthful spirits are broken to the world and every impulse of citizenship is effectively stifled. John Goodlad’s judgment is severe but just: “There is in the gap between our highly idealistic goals for schooling in our society and the differentiated opportunities condoned and supported in schools a monstrous hypocrisy.”

Phony Reforms

The public schools of America have not been corrupted for trivial reasons. Much would be different in a republic composed of citizens who could judge for themselves what secured or endangered their freedom. Every wielder of illicit or undemocratic power, every possessor of undue influence, every beneficiary of corrupt special privilege would find his position and tenure at hazard. Republican education is a menace to powerful, privileged, and influential people, and they in turn are a menace to republican education. That is why the generation that founded the public schools took care to place them under the suffrage of local communities, and that is why the corrupters of public education have virtually destroyed that suffrage. In 1932 there were 127,531 school districts in America. Today there are approximately 15,840 and they are virtually impotent, their proper role having been usurped by state and federal authorities. Curriculum and text. books, methods of instruction, the procedures of the classroom, the organization of the school day, the cant, the pettifogging, and the corruption are almost uniform from coast to coast. To put down the menace of republican education its shield of local self-government had to be smashed, and smashed it was.

The public schools we have today are what the powerful and the considerable have made of them. They will not be redeemed by trifling reforms. Merit pay, a longer school year, more homework, special schools for “the gifted,” and more standardized tests will not even begin to turn our public schools into nurseries of “informed, active and questioning citizens.” They are not meant to. When the authors of A Nation at Risk call upon the schools to create an “educated work force,” they are merely sanctioning the prevailing corruption, which consists precisely in the reduction of citizens to credulous workers. The education of a free people will not come from federal bureaucrats crying up “excellence” for “economic growth,” any more than it came from their predecessors who cried up schooling as a means to “get a better job.”

Only ordinary citizens can rescue the schools from their stifling corruption, for nobody else wants ordinary children to become questioning citizens at all. If we wait for the mighty to teach America’s youth what secures or endangers their freedom, we will wait until the crack of doom.

 


 

 

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On my daily stroll through the LRC I found another great article by Fred Reed. Keeping it real is what Fred does best. Enjoy!

A Taste of Realism

Yuck!

May 1, 2012

I wonder what purpose the public schools serve, other than to warehouse children while their parents work or watch television. They certainly don’t teach much, as survey after survey shows. Is there any particular reason for having them? Apart from their baby-sitting function, I mean.

Schooling, sez me, should be adapted to the needs and capacities of those being schooled. For unintelligent children, the study of anything beyond minimal reading is a waste of time, since they will learn little or nothing more. For the intelligent, a public schooling is equivalent to tying an anchor to a student swimmer. The schools are an impediment to learning, a torture of the bright, and a form of negligent homicide against a country that needs trained minds in a competitive world.

Let us start with the truly stupid. Millions of children graduate—“graduate”—from high school—“high school”—unable to read. Why inflict twelve years of misery on them? It is not reasonable to blame them for being witless, but neither does it make sense to pretend that they are not. For them school is custodial, nothing more. Since there is little they can do in a technological society, they will remain in custody all their lives. This happens, and must happen, however we disguise it.

For those of reasonably average acuity, it little profits to go beyond learning to read, which they can do quite well, and to use a calculator. Upon their leaving high school, question them and you find that they know almost nothing. They could learn more, average not being stupid, but modest intelligence implies no interest in study. This is true only of academic subjects such as history, literature, and physics. They will study things that seem practical to them. Far better to teach the modestly acute such things as will allow them to earn a living, be they typing, carpentry, or diesel repair. Society depends on such people. But why inflict upon them the geography of Southeast Asia, the plays of Shakespeare, or the history of the nineteenth century? Demonstrably they remember none of it.

Some who favor the public schools assert that an informed public is necessary to a functioning democracy. True, and beyond doubt. But we do not have an informed public, never have had one, and never will. Nor, really, do we have a functioning democracy.

Any survey will reveal that most people have no grasp of geography, history, law, government, finance, international relations, or politics. And most people have neither the intelligence nor the interest to learn these things. If schools were not the disasters they are, they still couldn’t produce a public able to govern a nation.

But it is for the intelligent that the public schools—“schools”—are most baneful. It is hideous for the bright, especially bright boys, to sit year after year in an inescapable miasma of appalling dronedom while some low-voltage mental drab wanders on about banalities that would depress a garden slug. The public schools are worse than no schools for the quick. A sharp kid often arrives at school already reading. Very quickly he (or, most assuredly, she) reads four years ahead of grade. These children teach themselves. They read indiscriminately, without judgement—at first anyway—and pick up ideas, facts, and vocabulary. They also begin to think.

In school, bored to desperation, they invent subterfuges so as not to lapse into screaming insanity. In my day the tops of desks opened to reveal a space for storing crayons and such. The bright would keep the top open enough so that they could read their astronomy books while the teacher—“teacher”—talked about some family of cute beavers, and how Little Baby Beaver….

I ask you: How much did you learn in school, and how much have you learned on your own? Asking myself the same question, I come up with typing, and two years of algebra.

The bright should go to school, but it is well to distinguish between a school and a penitentiary. They need schools at their level, taught by teachers at their level. It is not hard to get intelligent children to learn things, and indeed today a whole system of day-care centers only partly succeeds in keeping them from doing it. They like learning things, if only you keep those wretched beavers out of the classroom. When I was in grade school in the early Fifties, bright kids read, shrew-like, four times their body weight in books every fifteen minutes—or close, anyway. In third grade or so, they had microscopes (Gilbert for hoi polloi, but mine was a fifteen-dollar upscale model from Edmund Scientific) and knew about rotifers and Canada balsam and well slides and planaria. These young, out of human decency, for the benefit of the country, should not be subjected to public education—“education.” Where do we think high-bypass turbofans come from? Are they invented by heart-warming morons?

To a remarkable extent, dumb-ass public schools are simply not necessary. I asked my (Mexican) wife Violeta how she learned to read. It was through a Head Start program, I learned, called “mi padre.” Her father, himself largely self-taught, sat her down with a book and said, see these little squiggles? They are called “letters,” and they make sounds, and you can put them together….. Vi contemplated the idea. Yes, it made sense. Actually, she decided, it was no end of fun, give me that book…Bingo.

The absorptive capacity of smart kids is large if you just stay out of their way. A bright boy of eleven can quickly master a collegiate text of physiology, for example. This is less astonishing than perhaps it sounds. The human body consists of comprehensible parts that do comprehensible things. If he is interested, which is the key, he will learn them, while apparently being unable to learn state capitals, which don’t interest him.

What is the point of pretending to teach the unteachable while, to all appearances, trying not to teach the easily teachable? The answer of course is that we have achieved communism, the rule of the proletariat, and the proletariat doesn’t want to strain itself, or to admit that there are things it can’t do.

In schooling, perhaps “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” isn’t a bad idea. If a child has a substantial IQ, expect him to use it for the good of society, and give him schools to let him do it. If a child needs a vocation so as to live, give him the training he needs. But don’t subject either to enstupidated, unbearably tedious, pointless, one-size-fits-nobody pseudo-schools to hide the inescapable fact that we are not all equal.

Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well, A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Bem, Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle, Au Phuc Dup and Nowhere to Go: The Only Really True Book About Viet Nam, and A Grand Adventure: Wisdom’s Price-Along with Bits and Pieces about Mexico. Visit his blog.

Copyright © 2012 Fred Reed

I’m scared.  For my grandson!  He turns 5 this year and will soon get thrown into the collective pot of tepid water.  Sitting around the fire pit in our back yard after Christmas, I told my daughter my concerns.  “If I get fired from my frog boiling duties (government school teaching) for not conforming to authoritarianism, I want to home school Chris (not my grandson’s real name).”  She welcomed the idea.

Boiling Frog

Chris is scheduled to enroll in “Frog Boiling 101” next year.  I’m referring here to the intentional scheme of indoctrination by the State in forced schooling.  I’m scared for our future as a family and, on a larger scale, our country.  Throughout our short history, promoters of the good-of -the-group collective understood the crucial role “education” would play in destroying individualism.  Jane Addams, the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (1931), said, “America’s future will be determined by the home and the school.  The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.”  While I’m opposed to her philosophy and efforts to downplay the individual, she speaks truth to the subject of schooling in America.

Addams admonishes, “ The child becomes largely what he is taught.”  What do we teach in public schools?  Answer: Frog boiling.  Are the principles of liberty lost in the memory hole?  What does our future hold?  Liberty or slavery?  What exactly is “Frog Boiling 101”?

The loss of liberty doesn’t happen over night.  It slowly slips away into the memory hole.  In my youth, we’d go frog gigging on summer nights.  The process was simple.  Get in a john boat with a flash light and a barbed piece of metal on the end of a long stick and paddle to the croaking sounds.  Shine the light on the edge of the bank and pick your victim – and watch for snakes in overhanging limbs.  Nothing empties a boat faster than a water moccasin landing on your bare feet.

For any PETA members that may have stumbled upon my story, gigging is a relatively quick and humane (okay, maybe not) method to kill a frog.  We didn’t make frog skin boots to flaunt our youthful manliness.  We simply ate the critters.  Here’s something that should really get you boiling mad: Frog Boiling 101!

This is close enough to frog spots.

This method is far more brutal and torturous.  It’s epidemic!  If PETA  ever organizes a protest of this grotesque scourge to millions, I’ll be the first in line with cardboard on stick.  I promise!

You see, the reason frog boiling is such a methodical evil, yet effective cooking method, is the deception of the process.  A young, unsuspecting, innocent creature is placed in large pot of lukewarm water, typically from a municipal water-spout.  In the room temperature liquid, he begins splashing around and meets all his new friends in this new water park atmosphere.  What could more fun?

The fun begins to wear off.  Boredom and rigid schedules and rules take over…and the keeper of the heat stokes the fire.  Little by little, the swimming area begins to heat up.  No problem thinks the juveniles.  I’m actually getting used to the heat.  It bothers me from time to time, but no biggie.  A wise keeper or manager of the heat knows not to bring the water to boil before the process begins.  Uncle Ed is an expert on, well, everything and he knew, and advised that a wild, free-range amphibians would leap from the scalding pot immediately.  If the fire increase below the pot gradually and with patience, a slow cooking will take place.  When I say slow, I mean a 12 year process.  The meat falls of the bones.  Yum!

Tender is good!

If a stick of red oak is added incrementally, the frogs go on playing in the water and suspect nothing.  They are very adaptive critters.  You must play to this tendency.  They’ll notice the water is a little hotter, but not shockingly so.  Only a little worse.  They do whisper to one another as it starts steaming.  With close inspection, you may even hear a vague voice of resistance.  Don’t worry.  They always wait for a drastic temperature swing hoping for one of the a brave resister to make trouble and leap for freedom.  That never happens if you apply heat imperceptibly.  “It’s not so bad,” they end up muttering as they wipe sweat from each others brows.  Besides, after 12 years of little heat increases in an institutional pot, it’s quite intimidating to even dream of freedom in the real swamp.  It actually begins to feel “secure” in the pot.  These metal walls keep the water moccasins out.  Each stick of fire wood is less shocking to the senses.  Weakness in the limbs is thought to be a natural occurrence for everyone.

There have been a few lucky enough to escape.  They told their horrible tales back in the swamp but were labeled alarmist and a little touched.  History has no place in today’s schooling.  It must be directed. Dumb frogs are good for our keepers.  They introduced the course and perfected the methodology of “Frog Boiling 101”.

What to do?  GET OUT OF THE POT while you can!

Dinner is served!