The question has been coming up rather often lately, especially amid political debates as each side wonders -- or screams -- how can the other be so utterly, blindly stupid as to believe xxxxxxxx?
The answer is, it is not the fault of "modern education." It is not the fault of "new-fangled, touchy-feely bullshit in place of the Three Rs."
It is not the fault of television, video games, violent movies, pornography, or drugs.
It is not the fault of irresponsible parents or latch-key teenagers.
It is not the fault of incompetent teachers, totalitarian administrators, or lazy teacher aides; of too much/too little education funding, too large/too small schools or class size, too many/too few after-school activities; of the economy/Party A/Party B, etc., ad nauseum . . .
Nor any of the other societal ills so often blamed for it.Those are the result of the problem, not its cause.
I think you might be somewhat amazed at the true answer to the subject question.....Alexis de Tocqueville's Observations on American Society by Old-Thinker News | March 31, 2008http://www.oldthinkernews.com/Articles/oldthinker news/alexis_de_tocqueville.htmAmericans rely on authority only when they cannot do without it
"Americans are taught from birth that they must overcome life's woes and impediments on their own. Social authority makes them mistrustful and anxious, and they rely upon its power only when they cannot do without it. This first becomes apparent in the schools, where children play by their own rules and punish infractions they define themselves. One encounters the same spirit in all aspects of social life. An obstruction blocks a public road, interrupting the flow of traffic. The neighbors immediately set up a deliberative body. Out of this improvised assembly comes an executive power that will remedy the ill before it occurs to anyone to appeal to an authority..." (p. 215)Enlightenment disseminated throughout the country
"The United States has no capital. Enlightenment, like power, is disseminated throughout this vast country. Hence the beams of human intelligence do not all emanate from a common center but crisscross in every direction. Nowhere have the Americans established any central direction over their thinking, any more than they have established any central direction over affairs of state." (p. 210)The intelligence of ordinary Americans
"Nothing makes me admire the common sense and practical intelligence of the Americans more than the way in which they avoid the countless difficulties arising from their federal constitution. Seldom have I met an ordinary American who could not distinguish with surprising ease between obligations stemming from laws passed by Congress and obligations originating in the laws of his state..." (p. 187)Ready made opinions
"In the United States, the majority takes it upon itself to provide individuals with a range of ready-made opinions and thus relieves them of the obligation to form their own." (p. 491)An idea that is clear and precise...
"Generally speaking, only simple conceptions can grip the mind of a nation. An idea that is clear and precise even though false will always have greater power in the world than an idea that is true but complex." (p. 186)Rise of aristocracy
"What can be foreseen right now is that if the Americans did abandon the republic, they would move quickly to despotism without tarrying for long in monarchy. Montesquieu said that there is nothing more absolute than the authority of a prince who succeeds a republic, because the indefinite powers once fearlessly entrusted to elected officials would then be placed in the hands of a hereditary leader. This is true in general, but particularly true of a democratic republic. In the United States, officials are not elected by a particular class of citizens but by the majority of the nation; they directly represent the passions of the multitude and are entirely dependent on its will. They therefore inspire neither hatred nor fear. Thus, as I noted earlier, little care has been taken to limit their power by circumscribing their action, and the range of arbitrary discretion left to them is vast. The habits fostered by this way of ordering things could outlast it. American officials could keep their indefinite power yet cease to be answerable to anyone, and it is impossible to say where tyranny would then end.
There are some among us who expect to see an aristocracy arise in America and who are already predicting exactly when it will seize power." (p. 460)Mandatory Public Schooling: Is it a tool for Education and Enlightenment or the Creation of a "Standardized Citizenry"? by Old-thinker news | Dec. 17, 2007
"A government system of education in Prussia is not inconsistent with the theory of Prussian society, for there all wisdom is supposed to be lodged in the government. But the thing is wholly inadmissible here . . . because, according to our theory, the people are supposed to be wiser than the government. Here, the people do not look to the government for light, for instruction, but the government looks to the people. The people give the law to the government. To entrust, then, the government with the power of determining the education which our children shall receive is entrusting our servant with the power to be our master. This fundamental difference between the two countries [United States and Prussia], we apprehend, has been overlooked by the board of education and its supporters." - Orestes Brownson, In Opposition to Centralization, 1839John Dewey
"Dewey goes on to acknowledge that education and schooling are instrumental in creating social change and reform. He notes that “education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction.”Mandatory Public Schooling: Is it a tool for Education and Enlightenment or the Creation of a "Standardized Citizenry"? by Old-thinker news | Dec. 17, 2007
"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"John Dewey and the Chaos of Contemporary Public Education" by Gennady Stolyarov II
"The dismal and declining student performance at America’s public schools is no accident. Nor is the pervasive bullying by peers and repression by teachers that the brightest, best-mannered, and most accomplished students encounter in public schools today. Both are the direct results of the educational philosophy promulgated by John Dewey (1859-1952), the originator of “Progressive” education and a self-proclaimed advocate of collectivism and opponent of teaching objective knowledge in the schools. Dewey’s ideas have largely shaped the ways in which today’s American public education system works—or, more accurately, does not work."Mandatory Public Schooling: Is it a tool for Education and Enlightenment or the Creation of a "Standardized Citizenry"? by Old-thinker news | Dec. 17, 2007
"This subject [mass psychology] will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship. Anaxagoras maintained that snow is black, but no one believed him. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity... It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark grey. Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen. As yet there is only one country which has succeeded in creating this politician's paradise." - Bertrand Russel, The Impact of Science on Society (1952) page 41
"A Short Angry History of American Forced Schooling" by John Gatto
"Readers learned in 1967, of course you and I were not among those readers, that chemical experimentation on minors would be normal procedure in the post 1967 world. That is a pointed foreshadowing of the massive Ritalin interventions which would accompany the student body of the future. Teachers were expected to function as government change agents and their trainers, ( this the first time reading this document that I realized that the expression "teacher trainer", like animal trainer, is an odd locution) the teacher trainers, were notified that behavioral science would henceforth replace academic curriculum in schools. The project identified the future as one (again I'm quoting) "in which a small league would control all important matters, one in which participatory democracy would largely disappear". Children would be made to see that their classmates, and indeed the average man or woman were so inadequate, were so irresponsible that they had to be controlled and regulated."
"There can be no doubt that the fantastic wealth of American big business is a direct result of school training. Schools training a social lump to be needy, frightened, envious, bored, talentless and incomplete. The successful mass-production economy demands such an audience. It isn't anybody's fault. Just as the Amish small business, small farm economy requires intelligence, competence, thoughtfulness and compassion, ours needs a well managed mass -- level, anxious, spiritless families, godless and conforming; people who believe that the difference between Coke and Pepsi is matter worth arguing about. The American economy depends on schooling us that status is purchased and others run our lives. We learn there that sources of joy and accomplishment are external, that the contentment comes with the possessions, seldom from within. School cuts our ability to concentrate to a few minutes duration, creating a life-long craving for relief from boredom through outside stimulation. In conjunction with television and computer games, which employ the identical teaching methodology, these lessons are permanently inscribed. We become fearful, stupid, voiceless and addicted to novelty.
The secret of American schooling is that it doesn't teach the way children learn -- nor is it supposed to. Schools were conceived to serve the economy and the social order rather than kids and families -- that is why it is compulsory. As a consequence, the school can not help anybody grow up, because its prime directive is to retard maturity. It does that by teaching that everything is difficult, that other people run our lives, that our neighbors are untrustworthy, even dangerous. School is the first impression children get of society. Because first impressions are often the decisive ones, school imprints kids with fear, suspicion of one another, and certain addictions for life. It ambushes natural intuition, faith, and love of adventure, wiping these out in favor of a gospel of rational procedure and rational management."Alexis de Tocqueville's Observations on American Society by Old-Thinker News | March 31, 2008
http://www.oldthinkernews.com/Articles/oldthinker news/alexis_de_tocqueville.htmAn immense tutelary power...
"I therefore believe that the kind of oppression that threatens democratic peoples is unlike any the world has seen before. Our contemporaries will find no image of it in their memories. I search in vain for an expression that exactly reproduces my idea of it and captures it fully. The old words "despotism" and "tyranny" will not do. The thing is new, hence I must try to define it, since I cannot give it a name.
I am trying to imagine what new features despotism might have in today's world: I see an innumerable host of men, all alike and equal, endlessly hastening after petty and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn into himself, is virtually a stranger to the fate of all the others. For him, his children and personal friends comprise the entire human race. As for the remainder of his fellow citizens, he lives alongside them but does not see them. He touches them but does not feel them. He exists only in himself and for himself, and if he still has a family, he no longer has a country.
Over these men stands an immense tutelary power, which assumes sole responsibility for securing their pleasure and watching over their fate. It is absolute, meticulous, regular, provident, and mild. It would resemble paternal authority if only its purpose were the same, namely, to prepare men for manhood. But on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them in childhood irrevocably. It likes citizens to rejoice, provided they think only of rejoicing. It works willingly for their happiness. It provides for their security, foresees and takes care of their needs, facilitates their pleasures, manages their most important affairs, directs their industry, regulates their successions, and divides their inheritances. Why not relieve them entirely of the trouble of thinking and the difficulty of living?
Every day it thus makes man's use of his free will rarer and more futile. It circumscribes the action of the will more narrowly, and little by little robs each citizen of the use of his own faculties." (p. 818)Reduced to timid and industrious animals...
The sovereign, after taking individuals one by one in his powerful hands and kneading them to his liking, reaches out to embrace society as a whole. Over it he spreads a fine mesh of uniform, minute, and complex rules, through which not even the most original minds and most vigorous souls can poke their heads above the crowd. He does not break men's wills but softens, bends, and guides them. He seldom forces anyone to act but consistently opposes action. He does not destroy things but prevents them from coming into being. Rather than tyrannize, he inhibits, represses, saps, stifles, and stultifies, and in the end he reduces each nation to nothing but a flock of timid and industrious animals, with the government as its shepherd."Mandatory Public Schooling: Is it a tool for Education and Enlightenment or the Creation of a "Standardized Citizenry"? by Old-thinker news | Dec. 17, 2007
"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)"American Education History Tour" by John Taylor Gatto
"the new purpose of schooling—to serve business and government—could only be achieved efficiently by isolating children from the real world, with adults who themselves were isolated from the real world, and everyone in the confinement isolated from one another.
Only then could the necessary training in boredom and bewilderment begin. Such training is necessary to produce dependable consumers and dependent citizens who would always look for a teacher to tell them what to do in later life, even if that teacher was an ad man or television anchor. "Mandatory Public Schooling: Is it a tool for Education and Enlightenment or the Creation of a "Standardized Citizenry"? by Old-thinker news | Dec. 17, 2007
“Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening… The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they’re not tempted to think about any other role." - U.S. Commissioner of Education William Torrey Harris, 1889"Against School" by John Taylor Gatto (Harpers, Sep 2003)
"But the motives behind the disgusting decisions that bring about these ends need not be class-based at all. They can stem purely from fear, or from the by now familiar belief that "efficiency" is the paramount virtue, rather than love, liberty, laughter, or hope. Above all, they can stem from simple greed.
There were vast fortunes to be made, after all, in an economy based on mass production and organized to favor the large corporation rather than the small business or the family farm. But mass production required mass consumption, and at the turn of the twentieth century most Americans considered it both unnatural and unwise to buy things they didn't actually need. Mandatory schooling was a godsend on that count. School didn't have to train kids in any direct sense to think they should consume nonstop, because it did something even better: it encouraged them not to think at all. And that left them sitting ducks for another great invention of the modem era - marketing.
Now, you needn't have studied marketing to know that there are two groups of people who can always be convinced to consume more than they need to: addicts and children. School has done a pretty good job of turning our children into addicts, but it has done a spectacular job of turning our children into children. Again, this is no accident. Theorists from Plato to Rousseau to our own Dr. Inglis knew that if children could be cloistered with other children, stripped of responsibility and independence, encouraged to develop only the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy, and fear, they would grow older but never truly grow up. In the 1934 edition of his once well-known book Public Education in the United States, Ellwood P. Cubberley detailed and praised the way the strategy of successive school enlargements had extended childhood by two to six years, and forced schooling was at that point still quite new. This same Cubberley - who was dean of Stanford's School of Education, a textbook editor at Houghton Mifflin, and Conant's friend and correspondent at Harvard - had written the following in the 1922 edition of his book Public School Administration: "Our schools are ... factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned .... And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."
It's perfectly obvious from our society today what those specifications were. Maturity has by now been banished from nearly every aspect of our lives. Easy divorce laws have removed the need to work at relationships; easy credit has removed the need for fiscal self-control; easy entertainment has removed the need to learn to entertain oneself; easy answers have removed the need to ask questions. We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer. We buy $150 sneakers whether we need them or not, and when they fall apart too soon we buy another pair. We drive SUVs and believe the lie that they constitute a kind of life insurance, even when we're upside-down in them. And, worst of all, we don't bat an eye when Ari Fleischer tells us to "be careful what you say," even if we remember having been told somewhere back in school that America is the land of the free. We simply buy that one too. Our schooling, as intended, has seen to it.
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."
And now you know the answer.Recommended further reading:"SCHOOLING FOR HUMANITY: When Big Brother isn't Watching" by David O. Solmitzhttp://www.spinninglobe.net/excerptsfh.htmTeenscreen, a Front Group for the Phycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complexhttp://www.psychsearch.net/teenscreen.html