As I type this bit up I am listening to several of my friends discuss the graduation of their several children from high school. It’s that time of year. All across America eighteen-year-olds are preparing to say goodbye to lifelong friends, to embrace college, to join the workforce, and to become adults. It is a joyful time.
The local fish wrapper ran, today, a separate pictorial section dedicated to our young people, their early accomplishments and their future plans. In particular the paper dwelt upon the lives and missions of the valedictorians and salutatorians of local schools. These are young men and women who are poised to go far in life.
The news calls them the “best and brightest.” By the popular measure of educational achievement, this moniker fits. However, these words are today minced in a somewhat incorrect manner. “Valedictorian” and “salutatorian” come from Latin roots – valediction and saluation. The former is a farewell, the latter a greeting.
At ceremonies coast to coast these meanings serve a justifiable purpose. The valedictorian speaks first to bid the class farewell to the sheltered academic lives the members have known. The salutatorian then speaks to the promise of the coming years. Or, something like that.
Those acquainted with the works of John Taylor Gatto or who have children of school age, surely understand the decline of quality in American public education. Gatto was formerly New York’s teacher of the year (State and City). His distinguished career spanned decades. Now he speaks and writes of the critical need for drastic school reform. His writing is frequently published at lewrockwell.com. He is the author of The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher’s Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling (2000).
Gatto has related the American model of public education to Soviet-era brainwashing:
Two years before I ran across that Atlantic broadside, I encountered a different analysis in the financial magazine Forbes. I was surprised to discover Forbes had correctly tracked the closest inspiration for school psychologizing, both its aims and its techniques, to the pedagogy of China and the Soviet Union. Not similar practices and programs, mind you, identical ones. The great initial link with Russia, I knew, had been from the Wundtian Ivan Pavlov, but the Chinese connection was news to me. I was unaware then of John Dewey’s tenure there in the 1920s, and had given no thought, for that reason, to its possible significance:
The techniques of brainwashing developed in totalitarian countries are routinely used in psychological conditioning programs imposed on school children. These include emotional shock and desensitization, psychological isolation from sources of support, stripping away defenses, manipulative cross-examination of the individual’s underlying moral values by psychological rather than rational means. These techniques are not confined to separate courses or programs…they are not isolated idiosyncracies of particular teachers. They are products of numerous books and other educational materials in programs packaged by organizations that sell such curricula to administrators and teach the techniques to teachers. Some packages even include instructions on how to deal with parents and others who object. Stripping away psychological defenses can be done through assignments to keep diaries to be discussed in group sessions, and through role-playing assignments, both techniques used in the original brainwashing programs in China under Mao.
The Forbes writer, Thomas Sowell, perhaps invoking the slave states in part to rouse the reader’s capitalist dander, could hardly have been aware himself how carefully industrial and institutional interest had seeded Russia, China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands with the doctrine of psychological schooling long ago, nearly at the beginning of the century, and in Japan’s case even before that. All along we have harvested these experimental growths in foreign soil for what they seem to prove about people-shaping.
– Gatto, The Empty Child, Chapter 13 of The Underground History of American Public Education (2000).
“Slaves,” “people-shaping,” and “brainwashing” are alarming and damning. However, from my experience I find them succient and apt discriptions of American education.
I was lucky growing up. I had a slew of teachers, older and steeped in the traditions of real education – the old school way, who actually dared and cared to teach. I remember them fondly. Also, in high school, college and graduate school I possessed a hard-headed resilience and independence which plagues me to this day. You may sense in my writing.
Today schools are little more than prisons crossbred with day care centers. Our children are marched around like cattle by overweight nitwits. They are subjected to communist indoctrination and cultural immorality. State-worship is everywhere. Rules must be obeyed perfectly. Freakism of every strip is revered. God is banned from the building.
In all this idiocy the one thing missing is teaching – learning and educational experiment are vacant in our public schools. They are unwanted qualities among the people. As George Carlin used to say, the system wants people just smart enough to operate the machines and file the paper – they do not want educated people capable of free thought or consideration.
By the grace of God Almightly the “best and brightest” are often times exempted from this nonesense. Many possess those rebellious traits I hold dear. Many are allowed to pursue real studies in real academic subjects. These are statistical outliers. The other children, the majority, are treated like sheep and criminals.
A boy in West Virginian was recently ARRESTED for wearing a t-shirt which expressed support for the NRA and the Second Amendment. No-one was bothered by the shirt. The lad harmed none. However, the Second Amendment representing the last hope of freedom for oppressed people (like students), the shirt had to be banned and demonized. In an overreaction typical of modern schools administrators, the teacher and principal called the local Gestapo. The child was led away in handcuffs – for wearing a shirt.
The charges were later dismissed by an honest judge. However, great damage has been done. The boy’s mother is suing the school for violating her son’s civil rights. Go mama!
Long ago, public schools had civics classes. In those classes the Constitution, its traditions and foundations were taught. This included the second amendment and the necessary right and obligation of rebellion against tyranny. Revolution was celebrated. Today, as best I can gather, such thought or instruction would constitute a criminal offense. Our babes are taught the government is the end all and be all of human existence. Its supremacy and place must never be challenged.
This is a crime, in and of itself, equal with all the positive modern instruction concerning dependence, homosexuality, death culture, etc. Anything goes and is okay, our children are taught, so long as it does not make any sense. I imagine that math, being completely based on absolute truth, is completely absent from the new schools. Robots and foreigners can always add for us. This subtracts from the ability of our people to independently endure. It cries out for vengeance. Most ears are deaf to that cry.
Back to our new graduates … the fish-wrapper relayed to its readers how a valedictorian and salutatorian of a local high school treated their classmates to the verse and wisdom of Dr. Seuss. This is a commonality in schools these days. Oh, the places you’ll go… This small child’s book was read, in part, in one of my law classes. Maybe it was at our graduation. It was foolish and inappropriate.
(Dr. Seuss, keeping children and adults shit stupid since 1937. Google.)
What kind of world is it when the words of Jesus, Jefferson and Cicero are absent and replaced by the sophomoric rhymes of the kindergarten? Seuss is the level of the new school – childish, pointless, and optimistically vacuous.
Were I permitted to address a graduating class I too would present a Seuss book. I would introduce the Cat in the Hat. I would then rip it in half, throw it on the floor and proceed to tell the children that they were, that day, freed from one form of government oppression. I would congratulate them for surviving without arrest records. I would then extol them of the crucial importance of real learning. Never let schooling interfere with education. Never let education interfere with learning. Question everything. Accept no mastery. Put down with brutality that slavery prepared for your adult lives. I would never be invited back again.
Before I wrote about my experience in college and in law school. I ridiculed myself for opportunities lost and the system for lack of substance. Schooling is what one makes of it. I hope our future generations grasp this. I hope they reject the new theories of dumbed-down complacency. I hope they prosper. Congratulations to the Class of 15.