Phi Beta Cons

Radical Thinking On the Sources of the ‘Challenged’ American Intellect (and the Infantilized Presidential Campaign)

… vital reading, from writer Vin Suprynowicz:

… American schooling was taken over, in the late 19th century, by statists enamored of the Prussian compulsion model, aiming to create a docile peasant class by crippling the American intellect — making reading seem real hard, for starters, by replacing the old system in which delighted kids learned to combine the sounds of the Roman letters, with a perverted “whole word” method better suited to decoding hieroglyphics.

In July 1991, John Taylor Gatto, New York’s Teacher of the Year, quit, saying he was tired of working for an institution that crippled the ability of children to learn. He explained:

“Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history … It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.
“Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be ‘re-formed.’ It has political allies to guard its marches, that’s why reforms come and go without changing much. …
“David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first — the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel ‘learning disabled’ and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, ‘special education’ fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.
“In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths. …”
Citing the 1993 National Adult Literacy Survey, Gatto in his book “Underground History of American Education,” reports only 3.5 percent of Americans are literate enough today “to do traditional college study, a level 30 percent of all U.S. high school students reached in 1940, and which 30 percent of secondary students in other developed countries can reach today.”This month, that majority is choosing our presidential candidates based on who looks better on TV.

(Tip: Writer Jack Kemp)

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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