Some Extracted Lessons from The Underground History of American Education

by Elusive Wapiti on April 11, 2011

John Taylor Gatto, author of An Underground History of American Education (which I review here), drafted a synopsis of his landmark book for inclusion a larger compendium entitled Everything You Know Is Wrong. (Note: EYKIW is available on Google Books here, my review of EYKIW is here, and Gatto’s synopsis of Underground History contained within EYKIW may be found here).

In this article, Gatto aims to, ironically, “re-educate” Americans on the purpose(s) and methodology of their compulsory public schooling (PS) system. A quote from his article frames his argument the best:

It was only the law of nature as they perceived it, working progressively as capitalism itself did for the ultimate good of all. The real force behind school effort came from true believers of many persuasions, linked together mainly by their belief that family and church were retrograde institutions standing in the way of progress. Far beyond the myriad practical details and economic considerations there existed a kind of grail-quest, an idea capable of catching the imagination of dreamers and firing the blood of zealots.

The entire academic community in the US and abroad had been Darwinized and Galtonized by this time, and to this contingent, school seemed an instrument for managing evolutionary destiny [emphasis mine, EW].

But discuss Gatto does, and the lessons come quickly.  The first one is that the aim of PS system is not to educate, but to “impose on the young the ideal of subordination” to the aims of the political State, as well as produce two kind of workers…”one class to have a liberal education [and] a much larger class…to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific manual tasks”* fit to labor in the nation’s factories.

Second, the school system teaches that only a certain small elite shall rule, both through structure (the two-tier educational system), and through each student’s personal experience in the social cauldron of the PS.  Howso? By being lumped in with peers a la Lord of the Flies, each student sees how cruel and irresponsible their peers can be, first-hand, in a mass demonstration of human deficiency.  It is not hard to imagine how the PS system, by conditioning the citizenry to believe in their hearts that their peers are cruel and intellectually stunted beings incapable of self-control, trains the populace to accept, even desire, the yoke of heavy government.  This conviction feeds the growth of the State and with that growth liberty retreats.

Third, the PS system bears the indelible mark of the socialist, even fascist, philosophy in vogue at the time of its creation. Consider the mission statement of Rockefeller’s General Education Board in 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 [sic] great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctor, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have amply 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.

This mission statement makes it clear that the mission of compulsory public schooling is to mold, to centrally direct, and to indoctrinate.  NOT educate.

Gatto’s fourth lesson is that the PS system utterly fails in its mission to school, providing as evidence  plummeting literacy rates after compulsory public schooling was implemented nationwide. Whereas before they were literate, but after they were not.  So much so, in fact, that just after World War II, the Army could not believe literacy had fallen so much in a generation that they commissioned a study to find out how over half a million recruits had attempted to fake illiteracy. They hadn’t quite yet discovered that yes, their recruits really were that illiterate, and no, they weren’t faking it.

Fifth, the PS trains the student to anesthetize themselves, to alienate themselves from themselves, from their families, religions, and culture. Why? So that they could not adequately resist being led by whichever leader was appointed over them.  Independent-thinking men are potential revolutionaries. Another quote, from a luminary late 19th-century educator William Torrey Harris:

Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed curriculum. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.  The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places…it is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature.  School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world

The sixth lesson Gatto imparts is the PS system was “expressly created to serve a command economy and a command society, one which the controlling coalition would be drawn from important institutional stakeholders in the future”. One can only speculate as to who this “controlling coalition” will be comprised of.  The PS system was designed to accomplish this command economy / command society task with six functions:

  1. adjustive (how subordinates react to authority),
  2. diagnostic (determining the students “proper” role),
  3. sorting (training students to serve in their determined role),
  4. conformity (children shall be produced so that they are all alike. Standardized testing serves this purpose),
  5. genetic hygiene (tagging the unfit so clearly their genes are eliminated from the gene pool…what we men know as the glass cellar**), and 
  6. continuity (training the next generation of educators).

Many may still be asking, even after reading those lessons, “how is such a diatribe against compulsory public schooling relevant to the manosphere?”  The answer, my friends, is simple: members of the manosphere desire freedom, and the public school system is designed to choke off that desire.  Instead, it is designed to create and indoctrinate dim, unquestioning subjects to serve as cogs in the great corporatist machine.  Your freedoms and futures, and that of your sons*** and daughters, depends upon your and their ability to think for your- and themselves, and that ability is in many ways contingent upon sidestepping this indoctrination camp, or rehabilitating others who have escaped with their lives and minds intact.

In the end, it is the ultimate rebellion, the clearest expression of ‘taking the red pill':  how clearly may we, and those whom we love and have custodial responsibility for, see when our thinking is not clouded and our habits are not molded by the social and mental conditioning acquired in halls of concrete and steel with a program of instruction approved by and implemented by agents of the corporatist State?  If we want a revolution…that is, a change in how things are…our first step is to free our minds and that of our sons and daughters.

I’ll end this column with a quote from, appropriately so, Lenin

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.

and Der Fuhrer

When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.”

* This quote is from the world’s first fascist head of state, Woodrow Wilson. The quote may be found here.

** I expand upon Warren Farrell’s seminal definition of glass cellar to capture also the social condition of men in our society who fall through the cracks.  Consider the homeless person, and ponder why is it one sees so few women homeless, vagrants, and bums?

*** Boys in particular suffer badly in a PS system, if for no other reason than their maladaptation to such a stupefying environment begs disciplinary action and forced medication.


About the author: EW is a well-trained monkey charged with operating heavier-than-air machinery. His interests outside of being an opinionated rabble-rouser are hunting, working out, motorcycling, spending time with his family, and flying. He is a father to three, a husband to one, and is a sometime contributor here at Spearhead. More of his intolerable drivel is available at the blog The Elusive Wapiti.

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