Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Thursday, 16 October 2008

On Education

"A brilliant diploma film made by Raja Mohanty. Education is all about controlling and shaping the minds of the young. A movie worth seeing for everyone interested in education."

Designed for Genocide

Schooling as Genocide

"Unrepentant documents the "deliberate and systematic extermination" of indigenous people within the Indian residential school system by the Catholic, United, Presbyterian and Anglican churches, in collusion with the federal government. The film is based on Annett's groundbreaking book, "Hidden From History: The Canadian Holocaust."

Related links

Watch on CTV
The Untold Story
Hidden from history
Residential Schools: An Essential Component of Genocide
Canada's Residential Schools
Schooling as genocide

Deschooling Society

"In Deschooling Society, Illich argues that formal schooling is unnecessary, and indeed harmful to society. He regards schools as repressive institutions which indoctrinate pupils, smother creativity and imagination, induce conformity and stultify students into accepting the interests of the powerful.

He sees this hidden curriculum operating in the following way.

1 Pupils have little or no control over what they learn or how they learn it. They are simply instructed by an authoritarian teaching regime and, to be successful, must conform to its rules. Real learning, however, is not the result of instruction, but of direct and free involvement by the individual in every part of the learning process. In sum, ‘most learning requires no teacher’.

2 The power of the school to enforce conformity to its rules and to coerce its inmates into acceptance of instruction stems from its authority to grant credentials which are believed to bring rewards in the labour market. Those who conform to the rules are selected to go on to higher levels in the educational system. Illich states ‘Schools select for each successive level those who have, at earlier stages of the game, proved themselves good risks for the established order.’ Conformity and obedience therefore bring their own rewards.

3 Finally, students emerge from the educational system with a variety of qualifications which they and others believe have provided them with the training, skills and competence for particular occupations. Illich rejects this belief. He argues that, ‘The pupil is "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence.’

Education and social problems

Illich sees the educational system as the root of the problems of modern industrial society. Schools are the first, most vital and important stage in the creation of the mindless, conforming and easily manipulated citizen. In schools individuals learn to defer to authority, to accept alienation, to consume and value the services of the institution and to forget how to think for themselves. They are taught to see education as a valuable commodity to be consumed in ever increasing quantities.

These lessons prepare pupils for their role as the mindless consumers to whom the passive consumption of the goods and services of industrial society becomes an end in itself. Responding to advertisements and the directives of the powerful, they invest time, money and energy in obtaining the products of industry. Deferring to the authority of professionals, individuals consume the services of doctors, social workers, lawyers. Trained to accept that those in authority know what’s best for them, individuals become dependent on the directives of governments, bureaucratic organizations and professional bodies.

Illich maintains that modern industrial society cannot provide the framework for human happiness and fulfilment. Despite the fact that goods are pouring from the factories in ever increasing quantities, despite the fact that armies of professionals provide ever more comprehensive pro-grammes to solve social ills, misery, dissatisfaction and social problems are multiplying. The establishment offers a solution which is at once simple and self-defeating: the consumption of even more goods and services. Illich concludes:

As long as we are not aware of the ritual through which the school shapes the progressive consumer - the economy’s major resource - we cannot break the spell of this economy and shape a new one.

Illich proposes a simple yet radical solution: the abolition of the present system of education. Since schools provide the foundation for all that is to follow, deschooling lies ‘at the root of any movement for human liberation.’

In place of schools Illich offers two main alternatives.

1 First, skill exchanges in which instructors teach the skills they use in daily life to others.

2 Second, and most important, Illich proposes learning webs which consist of individuals with similar interests who ‘meet around a problem chosen and defined by their own initiative’ and who proceed on a basis of ‘creative and exploratory learning’."

Haralambos and Holborn

Education or Propaganda?

Education: Free and Compulsory

Article by Murray N. Rothbard

Read it here.

Compulsion in Education

Lots of good links here.

The real motive

... behind the intervention of the state in education was the protection, survival and aggrandizement of the state ruling élite. As pointed out by a perceptive historian, in the schooling system of the nation state "the purpose of education ... is to bend the will of the young to the will of the nation" (1960, Elie Kedourie, Nationalism), that is to the will of the nation state rulers. Or, to quote the words of a well-known French historian (Ernest Lavisse) at the beginning of the XX century "if the schoolboy does not become a citizen fully aware of his duties, and a soldier who loves his gun, the teacher will have wasted his time."


Dead Prez - They School

Hidden Curriculum

"The Marxist perspective is critical of the educational system, arguing that it is unfair, and serves to coerce people into accepting their "roles" in an unequal society. Althusser argues that "Teachers are in effect agents of capitalism who through their classroom work reproduce the exploitative relations of capitalism. They produce pupil 'types' who will accordingly receive more or less education and enter the labour force at different points.

Marxists tend to regard the manifest curriculum as a "smoke screen" behind which the real agenda, or hidden curriculum, is operative. The aim of the hidden curriculum is to socialise young people into accepting the role assigned to them by the capitalist class. The hidden curriculum teaches submission, deference and respect for the established organisation of work. The majority of teachers unconsciously deliver the hidden curriculum."


Alvin Toffler on Education

Compulsory Medication

No MMR? Then you won’t start school - "Children will be banned from starting school until they receive the MMR jab, under new Labour party proposals. Take-up of the MMR jab fell dramatically after research appeared to show a link between the triple vaccination and autism."


Families will make case for vaccine link to autism - "Overall, nearly 4,900 families have filed claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children."


Watch online
: Autism and the MMR Vaccine.

The Metros - Education

Education's overrated, and I'm the monster that it created.
And doing homework's anti-social, but I'm an A-star pupil
GCSE in music, I don't know how the fuck I'm gonna use it,
The time is of the essence, but the pills are a depressant
And I think I've learnt my lesson but I'm only adolescent

And all the wasted time I've spent,
The grass is greener on the other side of the fence!
And to me, it makes no sense.

Schooling is not an education

John Taylor Gatto talking about the difference between "schooling" through public schools and true education.

Part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5

Quotes - John Stuart Mill

"A general State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body."

Quotes - H.L. Mencken

"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 aim everywhere else." - H. L. Mencken

Schooling as social engineering

"There are those who wish to use children and schools as social engineers with a view to creating a different society but we should not even be trying to do such things. Children need to be nurtured, educated and cared for, not thrown into the frontline of social reform. Teachers simply do not have the contact time to 'create' behaviours and attitudes within children. They are not – and cannot be – social engineers and social workers and surrogate parents, as well as subject teachers, all rolled into one." - Rod MacKinnon, Headmaster

Read it here.

School to Prison Pipeline

A short video on the connections between the education and justice systems: Book 'Em: undereducated, overincarcerated

The following documentary tackles similar issues.

Our Children's Future in Our Hands
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

"It's generally agreed that the problems lie in the system, not the people. I'm not saying the teachers, because teachers are just as much suppressed as the kids are in the system. How many teachers have attempted to speak out against the system? The system of education, if you speak out, you're crushed."

"School systems are not keeping up with the times and what that does is create desperate people and some of them become criminals. Our school system punishes people for making mistakes. The only way a human being learns is by making a mistake so it starts in our school system where we punish people for making mistakes instead of encouraging them to make mistakes and learn from them. Well the criminal system operates exactly the same way. So the school system microcosm is only a reflection of a tougher system called a prison system."

And finally some news clips of children abused at school by the police.

Five year old girl arrested
11 Year Old Tasered At School
School Guards Break Child's Arm

Bertrand Russell on Education

"Education in a scientific society may, I think, be best conceived after the analogy of the education provided by the Jesuits. The Jesuits provided one sort of education for the boys who were to become ordinary men of the world, and another for those who were to become members of the Society of Jesus. In like manner, the scientific rulers will provide one kind of education for ordinary men and women, and another for those who are to become holders of scientific power. Ordinary men and women will be expected to be docile, industrious, punctual, thoughtless, and contented. Of these qualities probably contentment will be considered the most important. In order to produce it, all the researches of psycho-analysis, behaviourism, and biochemistry will be brought into play."

Read the book online here...
[part 3, XIV, Education in a Scientific Society p.251]

"Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished ... The social psychologist 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. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for more than one generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen."

Bertrand Russell quoting Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the head of philosophy & psychology who influenced Hegel and others – Prussian University in Berlin, 1810

School of Life

More info here...

The Curse of Education

... by Harold E. Gorst

Read the book online...

"IN calling this little book 'The Curse of Education', the term 'education' is used to express the conventional mode of teaching and bringing up children, and of educating youth in this and other civilized countries. It is with education systems, with the universal method of cramming the mind with facts, and particularly with the manufacture of uniformity and mediocrity by subjecting every individual to a common process, regardless of his natural bent, that I have chiefly to find fault. I thought it might be useful to draw attention to what I believe to be a fact, namely, that the foundations of all existing education systems are absolutely false in principle; and that teaching itself, as opposed to natural development and self-culture, is the greatest obstacle to human progress that social evolution has ever had to encounter."

The Adolf Hitler Schools

Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6

Students under Surveillance

From Teachers TV: "Electronic technology offers schools unprecedented ways of surveying students' behaviour and movement. Many praise the benefits that such technology brings, but are there dangers involved too? One secondary school featured in this programme, has over 100 CCTV cameras watching its students in classrooms, in corridors and in the playground." - Watch it here.

The Wave (Die Welle)

"The Wave is an compelling German film about a high school teacher who sets up an experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship, but it soon spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own. Reviews praise the film for demonstrating the intoxicating power of conformity. The film is based on a novel of the same name written by Todd Strasser."
Download torrent here.

The original 1981 version can be found here.
Finished june 2007

Our Killing Schools

Our Killing Schools: A Political Philosopher's Perspective
Researching the problem of school violence
Lecture by C. Bradley Thomps [1hr 4mn]
Listen here.

Peer Pressure

or the power of conformity...

Brain Botox

On the news:
Future pupils may use 'brain Botox'
Schoolchildren could be given 'smart drugs'

"Now it might seem axiomatic that helping everyone think more deeply is just what the doctor ordered. Yet our education system is already pervaded by an intellectual snobbery that exalts academic excellence over emotional well-being. In the modern era, examination rituals bordering on institutionalised child-abuse take a heavy toll on young lives. Depression and anxiety-disorders among young teens are endemic - and still rising. It's worth recalling that research laboratories routinely subject non-human animals to a regimen of "chronic mild uncontrolled stress" to induce depression in their captive animal population; investigators then test putative new antidepressants on the depressed animals to see if their despair can be experimentally reversed by patentable drugs. The "chronic mild stressors" that we standardly inflict on adolescent humans can have no less harmful effects on the mental health of captive school-students; but in this case, no organised effort is made to reverse it. Instead its victims often go on to self-medicate with ethyl alcohol, tobacco and street drugs. So arguably at least, the deformed and emotionally pre-literate minds churned out by our schools stand in need of safe, high-octane mood-brighteners more urgently than cognitive-tweakers. Memory-enhancers might be more worthwhile if we had more experiences worth remembering." From Smart Drugs II by
Ward Dean, John Morgenthaler and Steven Fowkes

Today's link: Boosting your brainpower: ethical aspects of cognitive enhancements - A discussion paper from the British Medical Association

Watch Online

The Price of Privilege

Toy Boys

A 20mn film directed by Gabby Dellal (UK) about the "indescribable pressures various parents place on their children to perform well on a school entrance exam."

Quotes - Anne Sullivan

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience."

Another Quote...

“The student arrives at the classroom door as a human being who needs to know, play, explore and feel. Yet once she or he crosses that threshold, her or his own need to know is subordinated to someone else’s idea of what she or he needs to know. The potential for joyful, self-active education is radically reduced by the asceticism of the classroom.”

Berthold Brecht Sears, ‘Learning Freedom’

Compulsory Education

From Compulsory Education: An Oxymoron of Modernity
by Professor Dennis O'Keeffethe:

"First of all, are the two components of "compulsory education" mutually contradictory, an oxymoron? Might one say, to parody Hobhouse on Rousseau, that:

"Insofar as it is educational, it is not compulsory;

And insofar as it is compulsory, it is not educational."?"

School's Purpose

"A "Schoolhouse Rock"-inspired look at the origins of the American education system. Originally recorded with a live audience for "In The Loop" at Minnesota Public Radio in May, 2007. Music and lyrics by Jeff Horwich."

Who Controls Our Children?

Peg Luksik on how today's educational system dumb down kids deliberately, making zombie-like people who don't ask any questions but just follow orders.

Out from animals

I Never Let My Schooling Interfere With My Education

Value, respect and meaning learnt for equality. It doesn’t cost them much to teach my child to read. Schooling and education have a deviating means. My education’s not the same as my academy.

Dictate and talk about it, don’t make a chore of knowledge. Literacy and numeracy are relevant to everybody. A child will learn by aptitude (it’s) not a empty vessel to be filled. Teach me how not what so I can define and adjust my views.

It’s how I learnt not what I learned.

What need of institution? Do you tell your children twice? What need of force to induce a child to read and write? If they’re leaving school able to live happy and peaceful lives who cares if they can solve x+1=y?

Talking with people instead them talking to me.

Deb Meier - Watch Online

Quotes - Disraeli

Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. - Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1874)

Quotes - Winston Churchill

Schools have not necessarily much to do with education... they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school.

Quotes - Stalin

Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

Ivan Illich - Watch Online

Quotes - Education

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. - William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education (1889-1906)


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. - Statement by the Rockefeller Education Board (1906)

Quotes - Elwood Cubberly

[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." - Elwood Cubberly, Dean of Education at Stanford (1905)

Quotes - John Dewey

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. - John Dewey (1897)

Compulsion in education

Jonathan Dimbleby hosts a panel-led studio debate on the raising of the school leaving age [60mns video] - watch it here

Quotes - G. K. Chesterton

What's wrong with the world - G. K. Chesterton, 1874-1936

Here's a taster, from part 4:

"There are no uneducated people. Anyone will tell you that the trouble with the poor is not so much that the old are still foolish, but rather that the young are already wise.

Without going to school at all, the gutter-boy would be educated. Without going to school at all, he would be over-educated. You will hear venerable idealists declare we must make war on the ignorance of the poor; but, indeed, we have rather to make war on their knowledge.

Real educationists have to resist a kind of roaring cataract of culture. The truant is being taught all day. If the children do not look at the large letters in the spelling-book, they need only walk outside and look at the large letters on the poster. If they do not care for the colored maps provided by the school, they can gape at the colored maps provided by the Daily Mail. If they will not work so as to get a prize from their school, they may work to get a prize from Prizy Bits. If they cannot learn enough about law and citizenship to please the teacher, they learn enough about them to avoid the policeman. If they will not learn history forwards from the right end in the history books, they will learn it backwards from the wrong end in the party newspapers.

And this is the tragedy of the whole affair: that the London poor, a particularly quick-witted and civilized class, learn everything tail foremost, learn even what is right in the way of what is wrong. They do not see the first principles of law in a law book; they only see its last results in the police news. They do not see the truths of politics in a general survey. They only see the lies of politics, at a General Election.

I will not question that our elementary education is better than barbaric ignorance. But there is no barbaric ignorance. I do not doubt that our schools would be good for uninstructed boys. But there are no uninstructed boys."

Quotes - John Gatto

I remind you that what is right for systems is often wrong for human beings. Translated into a recommendation, that means that... we must be prepared to insult systems for the convenience of humanity, not the other way around.

Compulsory Schooling and Crime

Those intent on raising the compulsory school age to 18 use, as one of their arguments, the nonsensical idea that "compulsory schooling lowers the likelihood of committing crime or going to prison". This argument is not new - in fact, it has been used to support the very establishment of state controlled mass compulsory schooling.

Many voices have argued the contrary; here's just a few:

"For all the propaganda about the inexhaustible benefits of an ever expanding educational estate, it is at times nearer the truth to identify education as linked to insurrection and disorder. In Britain, for example, the huge expansion in secondary education has gone hand in hand with an equally significant increase in juvenile crime. At best the former did not prevent the latter. In my view, on the contrary, it fuelled it."
[D.O'Keeffe Compulsory Education: An Oxymoron of Modernity]

[State] schools... do not tend to reduce crime. There is even tentative evidence of reverse causality: juvenile crime actually increases with an increase in size of the [state] school sector. [Edwin G. West, 1980]

"It is strange that as education spreads and poverty decreases, juvenile crime should steadily rise." [The Times Educational Supplement, 1963]

"There is a growing body of opinion which believes that our educational system must bear its share of responsibility for many of the problems of behavior, which show themselves in juvenile delinquency and vandalism." [W.Singer, Ulster Teachers' Union President, 1965, seen here]

If we go back to the origins of compulsory education, we might get a better idea of other possible reasons - other than crime reduction - for its establishment.

Adam Smith was an influential figure who held that "the State had every right, not only to take over education as a state function but also to make it compulsory." In his book Wealth of Nations (1776), he argued that it "was a matter of state interest that "the inferior ranks of the people" be instructed to make them socially useful and to render them "less apt to be misled into any wanton or unnecessary opposition to measures of government."

David Botsford explains it flat out: "The purpose of compulsory state schooling was and is to shape the individual’s attitudes, perceptions, conditioned reflexes and entire psychology in such a way as to make him or her a useful tool of the political authorities, a tool whom those authorities can manipulate and control by means of propaganda in adult life."

This is his ending paragraph: "George Orwell’s classic story Animal Farm, in which the pigs gradually, by a series of almost imperceptible steps, established a tyranny on the farm while claiming that they were acting for the benefit of the animals there, could have been written as a history of the British educational system over the past 160 years. Truly the price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

Before I finish, I just want to go back to Adam Smith, who also said:
"No discipline is ever requisite to force attendance upon lectures which are really worth the attending, as is well known wherever any such lectures are given."

Our 'democratic' politicians, who want to force people old enough to leave home, get a full time job, pay taxes, raise children and join the army into an extra two-year sentence of enforced schooling, must be very aware that whatever 'education' they're planning to offer isn't worth the attending - hence the need to introduce an enforcement system with the power to penalise and criminalise innocent young people and their parents.

Raising expectations
makes it clear that parents will be expected to "encourage and facilitate their child’s participation, and if there is evidence that a parent of a young person is helping them to break to law it should be possible to hold them accountable as well."

What's the message here? That parents, despite their children being old enough to leave home, get a full time job, pay taxes, raise children and join the army, are responsible for their children's decisions? That young citizens don't belong to themselves but to the state? That, should they decide to pursue their education otherwise, their parents should become agents of the state?

This is not about learning, it is about control. This is not about the needs of our children but the desires of the few. This is not about social justice but about maintaining and increasing corporate power. This is not about social justice; it's about further eroding our children's freedoms and opportunities.

It's about using 'educational qualifications' as tools for discrimination. It's about narrowing the meaning and purpose of education, reducing it to an offensive, demeaning, abusive, coercive system whose function is not to create healthy and happy individuals but obedient little cogs in a rotten, unsustainable machine.

Not only it redefines education to something that happens only in prescribed settings but also redefines the purpose of our children's existence - no options but to become a rat; or a criminal, if you dare have other plans...

I wonder how they're planning to 'encourage' children with diffabilities... Let's not even mention young entrepreneurs, the future Richard Bransons...

Related link: What Effect Does School Attendance Have on the Crime Rate?

What If...?

What if the education system we have, which is the result of the application to education of industrialisation processes, has run its course and should go the way of the cotton mill or the coalmine?

What if we were to ask ourselves about the specific purpose of the education system and whether that was different from the specific purpose of education?

What if the two were incompatible? That serving the specific needs of the system meant that we ended up neglecting the specific needs of the child?

Ian Gilbert


Captive Audience

Advertising Invades the Classroom

White Under-Achievement

White Under-Achievement - 1 of 3
White Under-Achievement - 2 of 3
White Under Achievement 3 of 3

A disabling system

A taster of The Future of Work by Charles Handy, a visiting Professor at the London Business School, writer, teacher, and broadcaster:

"To be a pupil in a large school is a strange experience. How many of us, if asked to organise an office, would so arrange things that people worked for eight or nine bosses a week, in perhaps five different work groups, in seven different rooms, without any desk or chair to call their own or put their belongings and discouraged, if not prohibited, from talking to anyone while working? Furthermore, which of us would then interrupt them thirty minutes into each task and move them on to the next? Only slightly caricatured, that is the experience of a pupil in a large secondary school.

The truth is that, organizationally, the secondary school is not organised around the pupil as worker but around the pupil as product. Raw material is passed from work station to work station, there to be stamped or worked on by a different specialist, graded at the end and sorted into appropriate categories for distribution. The secondary school is the definite sorting mechanism, and it leaves indelible impression. [Many] leave alienated by an institution that seems to them oppressive, irrelevant and dismissive of their possible contribution to the world. Truly, for them, it is a disabling system."

Propaganda and Education

From Easily Led, A History of Propaganda, by Oliver Thomson:

"Of all forms of communication, education ought in some respects to be the most free of ... propaganda, yet clearly this has hardly ever been the case throughout history. The fact that one function of education has usually been to produce citizens useful to and cooperative with the state, obeying its moral parameters, responsive to its corporate objectives, means that even regimes which have regarded themselves as above the use of propaganda have, in fact, been using many aspects of the education process to mould the young religiously, morally, economically and politically. [...] Educational subjects like history, literature, religion, geography have nearly always been taught in a biased manner, bringing up new generations to have attitudes compatible with the dominant group in society."

"As propaganda is similar in many ways to, and sometimes even a form of, education, it is not surprising that audience participation, a recognised aid to educational learning, is also of value in persuasion by propaganda."

"Significantly one of the most potent aspects of successful propaganda lies in the age of the audience. Mass indoctrination of the very young is much easier than that of adults, reaches much deeper and is very much harder to erase."

Culture, Politics & Pedagogy

A Conversation with Henry Giroux

"An active citizen, says the prolific and influential Henry Giroux, is "somebody who has the capacity not only to understand and engage the world but to transfom it when necessary, and to believe that he or she can do that." In this provocative new interview, Giroux speaks with passion about the inextricable links between education, civic engagement, and social justice. Strongly influenced by Paulo Freire, the Brazilian scholar of progressive education, Giroux advocates for a pedagogy that challenges inequality, oppression, and fundamentalism. Essential viewing for students of education, cultural studies, and communication."

Quotes - Plato

Plato's Republic: [extract from Book VII]

And, therefore, calculation and geometry and all the other elements of instruction, which are a preparation for dialectic, should be presented to the mind in childhood; not, however, under any notion of forcing our system of education.

Why not?

Because a freeman ought not to be a slave in the acquisition of knowledge of any kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

Very true.

Then, my good friend, I said, do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to find out the natural bent.

That is a very rational notion, he said.

Quotes - Jean Jacques Rousseau

[what follows is from Rousseau's Emile, or On Education, Book III]

We are never able to put ourselves in the child's place, we fail to enter into his thoughts, we invest him with our own ideas, and while we are following our own chain of reasoning, we merely fill his head with errors and absurdities.

[612:] Let the child do nothing on anyone's word. Nothing is good for him but what he recognises as good. By always pushing him beyond his present enlightenment, you believe you are exercising a foresight which you really lack. To arm him with a few vain tools which he may never use, you deprive him of man's most universal tool -- common-sense. You accustom him to being always led, of never being anything but a machine in the hands of others. You wish him to be docile when he is little; that is to wish that he will be gullible and easily duped when he grows up. You ceaselessly tell him, "What I ask is for your good, though you cannot understand it. What does it matter to me whether you do what I'm asking or not? It is for you alone that I am making this effort." With all these fine speeches you give him now to make him wise, you are paving the way for a fortune-teller, pied-piper, quack, imposter, or some kind of crazy person to catch him in his snare or draw him into his folly.

[613:] A man must know many things which seem useless to a child, but need the child learn, or can he indeed learn, all that the man must know? Try to teach the child everything that is useful to his age and you will find that his time will be well filled. Why impose on him the studies of an age he may never reach while neglecting those studies which are right for him today? But, you ask, will there be time for him to learn what he ought to know when the time comes to use it? I do not know; but this I do know, that it is impossible to teach it sooner, for our real teachers are experience and feeling.

[618:] In the first place you must realize that it is rarely up to you to propose what he ought to learn. It is for him to desire it, to seek it, and to find it -- to you to put it within reach, to skilfully give birth to this desire, and to furnish him with the means of satisfying it.

Public Schools, Public Prisons

"Why have we put our children into education prisons called public schools? What crimes have they committed? Why do we condemn almost 45 million innocent children to this punishment? Do I exaggerate by calling these schools "prisons?" Well, let's compare prisons and public schools." - Read more here and here.

Joel Turtel, author of Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children, holds a degree in Psychology. For the last ten years he has served as an Education Policy Analyst, studying the climate of today's public schools and its effect on children and parents.

Today's link: How Public Schools Harm Children

Uselessness of “Government Schools”

School - The Real Purpose

is the title of this short video I found on YouTube

[and here's the lyrics for you to sing along...]

Little boy, little girl
Welcome to the real world
Life is tough, there are rules
That's what you learn in school

ABC 123
And above all listen to me
'Cause I'm up here; you're down there
Someone will be above you everywhere

Hush little one we've only just begun
Its time now to get wise and
Count your blessings 'cause haven't you heard
These are the best days of your life
The best days of your life

In this world that we live in
You gotta have discipline
My words you do not oppose, what I say goes
Don't rock the boat or the boat won't float
Take Melt Memorize Dehumanise Lobotomise

What you don't know won't hurt you so
Try not to dig too deep
Don't know about you
But I've never heard of a really unhappy sheep

Roses are red and violets are blue
And your brains are cookie to some
We would get started but we must be parted
'Cause your teacher just got laid off
Your teacher just got laid off

Quotes - Paulo Freire

The following is from Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire:

"A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a narrating Subject (the teacher) and patient listening objects (the students). The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness.

The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. Or else he expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the students. His task is to "fill" the students with the contents of his narration -- contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity.

Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to memorize mechanically the narrated account. Worse yet, it turns them into "containers," into "receptacles" to be "filled" by the teachers. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teachers she is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are.

Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the "banking' concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.

In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry. The teacher presents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by considering their ignorance absolute, he justifies his own existence. The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teachers existence -- but unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher."

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Quotes - Marshall B. Rosenberg

"...That's the purpose of schools, it's to educate students to be nice, dead people because that's what industry requires, nice, dead people who will do work without questioning whether it serves life; they'll do it just to get the bosses' approval...

Teachers have been told that praise and compliments will increase students performance. I tell teachers that it does work for a very short time, until people see the manipulation in it, and then it no longer increases production but what's worse, it destroys the beauty of gratitude. Now you can't even be sure, when someone is giving some gratitude, whether its sincere or whether the person is using it as a device to get you to do what they want.

And this is what our schools do because its their job to train people to work within structures in which they'll work for praise, approval, salaries, and they won't look at whether what they're doing is polluting the environment, whether it is destroying the work experiences in other cultures, exploiting other cultures... People who have been educated to go in and put in their 8 hours a day are working for the salary and the approval.

In life serving education the teachers and the students work as partners, the teachers don't tell students what they have to do, they assist the students to identify their own objectives; students don't work for grades, they don't work for approval. Having picked objectives which they see will enrich their lives they work to serve their lives."

Quotes - Ivan Illich

"Since when are people born needy? In need, for instance, of education? Since when do we have to learn the language we speak by being taught by somebody? I wanted to find out where the idea came from that all over the world people have to be assembled in specific groups of not less than 15, otherwise it's not a class. Not more than forty, otherwise they are underprivileged. For yearly, not less than 800 hours, otherwise they don't get enough. Not more than 1,100 hours, otherwise it's considered a prison. For four-year periods by somebody else who has undergone this for a longer time.

How did it come about that such a crazy process like schooling would become necessary? Then I realized that it was something like engineering people - that our society doesn't only produce artifact things, but artifact people. And that it doesn't do that by the content of the curriculum, but by getting them through this ritual which makes them believe that learning happens as a result of being taught..."

"Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question."

History of compulsory schooling

"This ultra short documentary explains the history of compulsory schooling and advocates choice in education. It starts 200 years back with Prussian absolutism. There, under the regime of a dictatorship, compulsory schooling was invented and implemented on a massive scale. It continues to show how educators such as Maria Montessori, Célestin Freinet, Peter Petersen and Rudolf Steiner had a hard time challenging their governments ideas on education.

I made this to rise awareness about the true origins of our school system. It is also a call for action, to liberate ourselves from this outdated and harmful institution. Our society is changing ever faster, we no longer need a bureaucratic school system. We need learning environments that are way more open and flexible. We need choice in education."

Charley Junior's School Days

An animation from 1949 introducing the Education Act of 1944:
propaganda about the post war education system.
Charley junior is told about his future school days.

Watch it online: Charley Junior's School Days

The behaviourist basis of modern education

Pellets of food or electric shocks are delivered to rat students depending on their behaviour. Reward and punishment, except the word punishment is replaced by "motivation". The goal is to control the student's behaviour. Generalizing on studies as this, "educators" developed similar schemes to motivate human students.

Quotes - Noam Chomsky

"Education is a system of imposed ignorance."

Children Must Learn

If you're interested in the history of compulsory education you might like to watch this 12mn video. About 8mns into the film, made in 1940, notice the propaganda and the kinds of messages children were receiving at school - notice carefully chosen passages from books inciting dissatisfaction with the promises of consumerism and the banking system.

Quotes - John Holt

Nobody starts off stupid. You have only to watch babies and infants and see that they show a desire and ability to learn that in an older person we might call genius. But what happens, as we get older, to this extraordinary capacity for learning and intellectual growth?

What happens is that it is destroyed, and more than by any other other one thing, by the process that we misname education - a process that goes on in most homes and schools. We adults destroy most of the intellectual and creative capacity of children by the things we do to them or make them do. We destroy this capacity above all by making them afraid, afraid of not doing what other people want, of not pleasing, of making mistakes, of failing, of being wrong. Thus we make them afraid to gamble, afraid to experiment, afraid to try the difficult and the unknown.

We destroy the disinterested (I do not mean uninterested) love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encoraging them to work for petty and contemptible rewards - gold starts, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall... - in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.

We encourage them to feel that the end and the aim of all they do in school is nothing more than to get a good mark on a test, or to impress someone with what they seem to know. We kill not only their curiosity but their feeling that it is a good and admirable thing to be curious, so that by the age of ten most of them will not ask questions, and will show a good deal of scorn for the few who do.

Quotes - John Holt

What is essential is to realize that children learn independently, not in bunches; that they learn out of interest and curiosity, not to please or appease the adults in power; and that they ought to be in control of their own learning, deciding for themselves what they want to learn and how they want to learn it.

John Holt, How Children Learn

Quotes - Gilbert K. Chesterton

The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their common sense.

John Gatto - watch online

JB: Would you comment on the idea that grading on the curve, which I presume most schools do, is a way to put in a type of bell curve social stratification...

JTG: In order to control everybody, certain strategic courses were undertaken in forced schooling... Somewhere in the age of 12, the idea was to set everyone suddenly in competition with each other, and produce visible marks of rank everyone, so that no matter how secure you were in your understanding of something, there would always be people you could see who had been visibly recognized as your masters. And according to Hegel and a number of other thinkers, this constant "alienation" would lead to the kind of society which could be placed under the direction of certified experts that the state, and the corporate world, found safe and productive!

Quotes - John Gatto

"Modern forced schooling started in Prussia in 1819 with a clear vision of what centralized schools could deliver:

1.Obedient soldiers to the army;
2.Obedient workers to the mines;
3.Well subordinated civil servants to government;
4.Well subordinated clerks to industry
5.Citizens who thought alike about major issues. "

Quotes - Gareth Lewis

It is not the fault of young people that there is no role for them in society and it is not their fault that they are not allowed to work, and that the 'education' they are offered is uninspired and demeaning.

The years covered by secondary education should be a special time in a person's life; it is when they grow from being a child into an adult, and they are entitled to expect the best that society can offer to guide them through this transition. Instead, they are often marginalized and segregated from the rest of society. They are denied almost any opportunity to voice their concerns about the 'education' to which they are subjected and they are not allowed to make any complaint about the way they are being treated.

In these circumstances it is hardly surprising that they become prey to problems such as drug abuse, smoking, drinking, crime, etc., but these should not be seen as 'teenage' problems - they are society's problems and teenagers are the more or less helpless victims. It would be in everyone's interest to find a way of treating teenagers with a proper amount of respect and dignity. practice, just one single adult making the effort to treat them as a human being can make all the difference in a young person's life....

Gareth Lewis - Unqualified Education

Quotes - Christopher Titmuss

"I was lucky enough to leave school at the age of fifteen and never to go back. I left school without a single qualification. It seemed to me then that school endeavoured to minimise one's enjoyment of life, of fun and play. It wasn't worth the sacrifice.

I still have the sympathy for that expression of extreme thought which says we only stop learning when we go to school. I greatly appreciate the immense significance of education... Education is a marvellous and indispensable tool for inner development but I believe it still remains often out of touch with the depths of inner experience and the wisdom of the heart. The Latin word educat means 'to lead out', 'to bring out'. Whether schools truly fulfil that mission is questionable.

It was rather ironic that thirty years after leaving school, I was invited to speak at a conference on the Philosophy of the Future of Humanity at Cambridge University. There I expressed the view that education easily abuses the mind through imposing on it too many demands to absorb knowledge, to be clever, to be ruthlessly self-interested. The desire to add letters before and after one's name seems to imply that students are not satisfied with the number of letters in their name!

To live wisely and intelligently requires a deep, meditative re-examination of priorities. Without this inquiry, we will go on demanding more and more from the minds of the young to force them to fit into the objectives of the private and public sector."

from Light on Enlightenment

Quotes - John Gatto

"I've come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us... I began to wonder, reluctantly, whether it was possible that being in school itself was what was dumbing them down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children's power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behaviour."

Quotes - John Holt

“[an] important and indeed essential social function of Schools is ranking – that is, grading and labelling, putting children into pecking orders, dividing them into winners and losers. All modern societies, like most societies in the past, are organized into a few winners, and a great many losers, a few “decision-makers” who give commands and many who carry them out. It is of course not always easy to tell where the line is between winning and losing. The line is in the mind… those who feel like losers are losers”

from Instead of Education by John Holt

Quotes - Carl Rogers

I think my deepest criticism of the educational system at that period [junior high and high school], and that also applies to other periods, is that it's all based upon a distrust of the student. Don't trust him to follow his own leads; guide him; tell him what to do; tell him what he should think; tell him what he should learn. Consequently at the very age when he should be developing adult characteristics of choice and decision making, when he should be trusted on some of those things, trusted to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes, he is, instead, regimented and shoved into a curriculum, whether it fits him or not.

Carl Rogers in R. Evans Carl Rogers: The Man and His Ideas

Quotes - H.L. Mencken

Whenever 'A' attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon 'B', 'A' is most likely a scoundrel.

Quote - Fredrich August von Hayek

It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil....if we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion.

Quotes - Robert Lindner

Our schools have become vast factories for the manufacture of robots. We no longer send our young to them primarily to be taught and given the tools of thought, no longer primarily to be informed and acquire knowledge; but to be "socialized" -- which in the current semantic means to be regimented and made to conform.

Robert Lindner, psychoanalyst in Must You Conform? (1956)

Stefan Blankertz

"In the context of coercion, education is nothing but the manufacture of subjection,and cannot in spite of any good intentions be otherwise. By interfering in education the government teaches that people do not belong to themselves but that they are subjects of the State. This lesson is learned implicitly, whatever the stated aims of education are... if there is compulsory schooling, if there is a State monopoly of schools, if children are denied human rights, then the real lesson of subjugation is learned."

from The Manufacture of Subjection: A Critique of Compulsory State Education

Quotes - John Gatto

"In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time. Class change lasts 300 seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other, even to tattle on their parents. Of course I encourage parents to file their own child's waywardness, too.

I assign "homework" so that this surveillance extends into the household, where students might otherwise use the time to learn something unauthorized, perhaps from a father or mother, or by apprenticing to some wiser person in the neighbourhood.

The lesson of constant surveillance is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate. Surveillance is an ancient urgency among certain influential thinkers; it was a central prescription set down by Calvin in the Institutes, by Plato in the Republic, by Hobbes, by Comte, by Francis Bacon. All these childless men discovered the same thing: Children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under central control."

Quotes - Murray Rothbard

"Going hand in hand with the spread of public education have been compulsory attendance laws, which have forced all children up to a high—and continually increasing—minimum age, to attend either a public school or a private school certified as suitable by the state apparatus. ...the entire mass of the population has thus been coerced by the government into spending a large portion of the most impressionable years of their lives in public institutions. We could easily have analized compulsory attendance laws in our chapter on involuntary servitude, for what institution is more evidently a vast system of incarceration? a vast prison system for the nation's youth, dragooning countless millions of unwilling and unadaptable children into the schooling structure. The New Left tactic of breaking into the high schools shouting "Jailbreak!" may have been absurd and ineffective, but it certainly expressed a great truth about the school system. For if we are to dragoon the entire youth population into vast prisons in the guise of "education," with teachers and administrators serving as surrogate wardens and guards, why should we not expect vast unhappiness, discontent, alienation, and rebellion on the part of the nation's youth? But now it is increasingly acknowl­edged ...that, especially in urban areas, the public schools have become cesspools of crime, petty theft, and drug addiction, and that little or no genuine education takes place amidst the warping of the minds and souls of the children.

A crucial fallacy of worshippers is confusion between formal schooling and education in general. Education is a lifelong process of learning, and learning takes place not only in school, but in all areas of life. When the child plays, or listens to parents or friends, or reads a newspaper, or works at a job, he or she is becoming educated. Formal schooling is only a small part of the educational process, and is really only suitable for formal subjects of instruction, particularly in the more advanced and systematic subjects. The elementary subjects, reading, writing, arithmetic and their corollaries, can easily be learned at home and outside the school.

from Public and Compulsory Schooling

Quotes - John Gatto

"Why, then, are we locking kids up in an involuntary network with strangers for twelve years? Surely not so a few of them can get rich? Even if it worked that way, and I doubt it does, why wouldn't any sane community look on such an education as positively wrong? It divides and classifies people, demanding that they compulsively compete with each other, and publicly labels the losers by literally de-grading them, identifying them as "low-class" material. And the bottom line for the winners is that they can buy more stuff!"

"Mass education cannot work to produce a fair society because its daily practice is practice in rigged competition, suppression, and intimidation. The schools we've allowed to develop can't work to teach non-material values, the values which give meaning to everyone's life, rich or poor, because the structure of schooling is held together by a Byzantine tapestry of reward and threat, of carrots and sticks. Official favor, grades, or other trinkets of subordination have no connection with education; they are the paraphernalia of servitude, not freedom."

"Mass schooling damages children. We don't need more of it."

Quotes - John Gatto

"Why, then, are we locking kids up in an involuntary network with strangers for twelve years? Surely not so a few of them can get rich? Even if it worked that way, and I doubt it does, why wouldn't any sane community look on such an education as positively wrong? It divides and classifies people, demanding that they compulsively compete with each other, and publicly labels the losers by literally de-grading them, identifying them as "low-class" material. And the bottom line for the winners is that they can buy more stuff!"

"Mass education cannot work to produce a fair society because its daily practice is practice in rigged competition, suppression, and intimidation. The schools we've allowed to develop can't work to teach non-material values, the values which give meaning to everyone's life, rich or poor, because the structure of schooling is held together by a Byzantine tapestry of reward and threat, of carrots and sticks. Official favor, grades, or other trinkets of subordination have no connection with education; they are the paraphernalia of servitude, not freedom."

"Mass schooling damages children. We don't need more of it."

Quotes - Einstein

It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.

Quotes - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If the colleges were better, if they really had it, you would need to get the police at the gates to keep order in the inrushing multitude. See in college how we thwart the natural love of learning by leaving the natural method of teaching what each wishes to learn, and insisting that you shall learn what you have no taste or capacity for. The college, which should be a place of delightful labour, is made odious and unhealthy, and the young men are tempted to frivolous amusements to rally their jaded spirits. I would have the studies elective. Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge."

Katarina Tomasevski

"From the human rights viewpoint, education is an end in itself rather than merely a means for achieving other ends. When economists define education as efficient production of human capital and classify all its human rights dimensions as externalities, the resulting image of people as human capital obviously clashes against people as subjects of rights.

The objective of getting all school-aged children to school and keeping them there till they attain the minimum defined in compulsory education is routinely used in the sector of education, but this objective does not necessarily conform to human rights requirements. The core human rights standards for education include respect of freedom. The respect of parents' freedom to educate their children according to their vision of what education should be has been part of international human rights standards since their very emergence."

Katarina Tomasevski
The Right to Education

Quotes - H.L. Mencken

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.

Quotes - John Stuart Mill

A general state education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and (...) the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation...

Quotes - Gandhi

"Real education has to draw out the best from the boys and girls to be educated. This can never be done by packing ill-assorted and unwanted information into the heads of the pupils. It becomes a dead weight crushing all originality in them and turning them into mere automata."

The School Day Begins

It's Monday morning at 7:01.
You’re still half asleep; your homework’s half done.
Your shower is cold; your oatmeal’s dry.
Your mother forgets to kiss you good-bye.
You’re walking to school; it’s thirty degrees.
Your fingers won’t work; your toes and ears freeze.
Your zipper is stuck; your left sneaker squeaks.
Your backpack strap snaps; your soup thermos leaks.
You slip on school steps; you trip in the hall.
The toilet floods in the bathroom stall.
The gym door is locked; library’s the same.
The principal greets you by the wrong name.
Your classroom is hot; the coat rack is packed.
Your bean sprout is dead; your clay pot is cracked.
Your pencils are dull; the sharpener jams.
Your fingers get crunched when your desktop slams.
Your math partner’s gone; your neighbor is rude.
Your teacher’s again in a crabby mood.
The morning bell rings; it is 8:01.
Come cozy up to the blackboard,
Another school day’s begun.

Quotes - Marshall B. Rosenberg

Nothing creates more resistance than telling people they "should" or "have to" or "must" or "ought to" do something. These terms eliminate choice. Without the freedom to choose, life becomes slave like. "I had to do it, superior's orders" is the response of people robbed of their free will. Prompted by directives and injunctions, people do not take responsibility for their actions.

Quotes - Daniel Monk

"Constructing education as a form of ‘welfare’ enables state involvement to be distinguished from totalitarian control.

"Despite the common sense perception that attending school is necessary for child development there appears to be remarkably little evidence or research to support this claim, rather school attendance simply appears to be ‘the normal thing to do’."

"...attempts to raise awareness of the potential harms and dangers to children within ... schools causes unease and has been strongly resisted as (it poses) a threat to the social and political investment and construction of them as child friendly and child appropriate is only in the last couple of years that bullying has been identified as a problem that needs to be addressed and that school refusal has been acknowledged to be a rational reaction to school."

Quotes - D. S. Johnson

A mere accumulation of dissociated bits of information, even if infinite in quantity, will do nothing for the betterment of one's living, and, in fact, will only serve as mental clutter -or "mental fat," as opposed to "mental muscle."

Teaching conformity

Educationally the world still lives in the 18th Century. Our schools remain locked in a straitjacket of specialist subjects, of objects, of 'facts', of reductionism. We have created a static world, a dusty collection of isolated fossils, gradually decaying before our eyes. This is the worldview we are still teaching to today's children, the force feeding of conformity, of authority, of outside expertise, of fixed 'knowledge' that does not in any way fit the actual the world we inhabit. If the models used by our bureaucracies cannot cope with such dynamic ideas then we need to replace them, not try to control humanity to fit those historically outdated boxes. from Complexity Theory: Actions for a Better World

Training for lifelong toil

What is the purpose of education? Why do we send our kids to school for a decade or more? In modern educational systems it often seems that all learning must relate to being 'employable', in other words that the whole purpose of our life is to make profit for someone else, i.e. effectively a form of 'economic slavery'. This view of 'education' as a form of vocational training (dog like) for lifelong toil (at public expense!), is anathema to any view of a child as a human being. Given a changing world, such specific training is more or less redundant, even by the time the child leaves school, hence the supposed need for 'lifelong learning', for 'workers' forever to be playing 'catch-up' to corporate whim...

from Intrinsic and Holarchic Education

Quotes - Charles E. Silberman

It is not possible to spend any prolonged period visiting school classrooms without being appalled by the mutilation visible everywhere - mutilation of spontaneity, of joy, of learning, of pleasure in creating, of sense of self.

Charles E. Silberman, Crisis in the Classroom, 1970


Quotes - George Bernard Shaw

"There is nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school. To begin with, it is a prison. But it is in some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for instance, you are not forced to read books written by the warders and the governor. In prison they may torture your body but they do not torture your brains"

Quotes - Bertrand Russell

"Children who are forced to eat acquire a loathing for food and children who are forced to learn acquire a loathing for knowledge"

Schooling Nature by Japan Pathak

Hey! All you butterflies!
You ought to carry schoolbags on your backs!
And you should not fly freely here and there, this way and that!
Hey! You beautiful rivers and streams!
Do not meander, but flow straight!
And do not make a noise either: flow quietly!
Likewise all you fishes!
Do not swim any which way you please.
Swim in straight lines,
As they do in swimming championships!
Hey! All you colourful flowers!
Wear the same colour, uniform and dress,
As they do in school!

Fingerprint ID checks on school children

Quotes - Chris Shute

"Whatever their claims, schools are training most young people to be habitually subservient."

"A school, like a fascist state, is about the business of compelling people to conform to a pattern of behaviour and a way of thinking decided by the few who hold power over them."

Quotes - Adolf Hitler

"The boy must be transformed into the man; in this school he must not only learn to obey, but must thereby acquire a basis for commanding later. He must learn to be silent not only when he is justly blamed, but must also learn, when necessary, to bear injustice in silence."

B. F. Skinner - Shaping Behaviour

Watch it here.

Danger School

Read the e-book here.
This is a 101 page booklet filled with illustrations.

Flowers are Red

Listen to this song here

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man
I'm paintin' flowers he said
She said... It's not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There's a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You've got to show concern for everyone else
For you're not the only one

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me.....

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It's for your own good..
And you won't come out 'til you get it right
And are responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin'
She said...Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let's use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

There still must be a way, to have our children say
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

© Copyright 1996-2006 The Harry Chapin Archive.

The Underground History of American Education

The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto - Read it here.

Quotes - Alfie Khon

Kids are not pets to be trained;
they're not clay to be moulded,
they're not computers to be programmed
and, above all,
they're not vessels to be filled.

About School - Anonymous

He always wanted to explain things, but no one cared.
So he drew.

Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn't anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie on the grass and look up in the sky and
it would only be the sky and the things inside him that
needed saying.

And it was after that he drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture.
He kept it under his pillow and would let no one see it.
And he would look at it every night and think about it.
And when it was dark and his eyes were closed he
could see it still.
And it was all of him and he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him.
Not to show anyone, but just to have it with him like a friend.

It was funny about school.
He sat in a square brown desk like all the other square
desks, and he thought it would be red.
And his room was a square brown room like all the other rooms.
And it was tight and close.
And stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil and chalk, with his arm
stiff and his feet flat on the floor, stiff, with the teacher watching
and watching.

The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys.
He said he didn't like them and she said it didn't matter.

After that they drew.
And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about the morning.
And it was beautiful.

The teacher came and smiled at him.
"What's this?", she said.
"Why don't you draw something like Ken's drawing?
Isn't it beautiful?"
After that his mother bought him a tie and he always drew
aeroplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.

And he threw the old picture away.

And when he lay out alone looking at the sky, it was big
and blue and all of everything, but he wasn't anymore.

He was square and brown inside and his hands were stiff.
And he was like everyone else.
All the things inside him that needed saying didn't need it anymore.
It had stopped pushing.
It was crushed.

Like everything else.

(This Poem was written by a Grade 12 Student who committed suicide some 2 weeks later.)

Deliberate Dumbing Down

The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America e-book (736 pages)here

Psychiatry in Schools


“Life in Classrooms” the classic 1968 study by anthropologist Philip Jackson showed that children in school spent up to 50% of their time waiting. Roland Meighan, formerly a special professor of education at Nottingham University measured children in a primary school spending 60% of their time “waiting for something to happen”.

from Educentre

Mad World

Children waiting for the day they feel good...
and... the way that every child should
Sit and listen, Sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, No one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, Look right through me...

Quotes - John Holt

"Schools do not have the power of life and death over children. But they do have the power to cause them mental and physical pain, to threaten, frighten, and humiliate them, and to destroy their future lives."

from Freedom and Beyond

Quotes - John Holt

"(Children need)To be free of the constant pressure of adults, rules, regulations; to be left alone, to not be harassed all the time about hair, clothes, homework, exams, college; things to do; a society to grow in and into, a society that makes sense, has reasonable purposes, that they can trust and respect."

Quotes - Tom Wheeler

"When we go to school we are taught that school will teach us what we need to survive in society by giving us the necessary skills to get a job and “take care” of ourselves, but the system is not interested in our well-being. It is only interested in what we could do for them. The process of public education is a combination of rudimentary knowledge which we need to be able to serve the rich and powerful plus “norming” behavioural indoctrination intended to keep us from questioning the status quo when we become servants to the capitalists or the government by persuading us that the system which exploits us somehow exists solely for our benefit (a blatant contradiction and a lie)."

from Why Not to Trust Your School, an article by Tom Wheeler.

Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Quotes - Einstein

He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.

Quotes - Edwin G. West

"Protection of a child against starvation or malnutrition is in the same category of importance as protection against ignorance. It is difficult to envisage, however, that any government, in its anxiety to see that children have minimum standards of food and clothing, would pass laws for compulsory and universal eating, or that it should entertain measures which lead to increased taxes in order to provide children's food "free" at local government kitchens or stores. It is still more difficult to imagine that most people would unquestioningly accept this system, especially where it had developed to the stage that for 'administrative reasons' parents were allocated those stores which happened to be nearest their homes; or that any complaint or special desire to change their pre-selected stores should be dealt with by special and quasi-judicial inquiry after a formal appointment with the local 'Child Food Officer' or, failing this, by pressure upon their respective representatives on the local 'Child Food Board' or upon their Congressman. Yet strange as such hypothetical measures may appear when applied to the provision of food and clothing, they are nevertheless typical of English and American state education as it has evolved by historical accident or administrative expediency. Presumably it is recognized that the ability in a free market to change one's food market when it threatens to become, or has become, inefficient is an effective instrument whereby parents can protect their children from inferior service in a prompt and effective manner. If this is so, then one should expect that the same arguments of protection would in this respect point in the direction not of a state school system where it is normally difficult to change one's 'supplier' but in the direction of a free market where it is not." from The Uneasy Case for State Education by Edwin G. West

Quotes - John Holt

"Education, with its supporting system of compulsory and competitive schooling, all its carrots and sticks, its grades, diplomas, and credentials, now seems to me perhaps the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern and worldwide slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and "fans," driven more and more, in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve "education" but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people-shaping and let people shape themselves.

This does not mean that no one should ever influence or try to influence what others think and feel. We all touch and change (and are changed by) those we live and work with. We are by instinct talkative and social creatures, and naturally share with those around us our view of reality. Both in my work as writer and lecturer, and among my friends, I do this all the time. But I refuse to put these others in a position where they feel they have no choice but to agree with me, or seem to agree. This is why, except as an occasional visitor, I will no longer do my teaching in compulsory and competitive schools..."

Quotes - Murray N. Rothbard

It is obvious that a person acquires his education in all activities of his childhood; all his waking hours are spent in learning in one form or another. He is learning all the time. In a fundamental sense, as a matter of fact, everyone is "self-educated."

Since each person is a unique individual, it is clear that the best type of formal instruction is that type which is suited to his own particular individuality. (...) It is clear that the formal school, characterized by classes in which one teacher instructs many children, is an immensely inferior system.

What then shall we say of laws imposing compulsory schooling on every child? These laws are endemic in the Western world. (...) Obviously, the worst injustice is the prevention of parental teaching of their own children.

from Education: Free and Compulsory