| School |
(propaganda, social control)
• Stanley Kaplan|
|"The reproductive organ of the consumer society", coming to resemble prisons more and more closely, especially in USA, where attempts have been made to criminalize those who feed the hungry or comfort the afflicted.|
School is an institution in which young people are isolated from adult society, monitored, measured and subjected to rigidly controlled interactions with a range of (generally professionally certified) adults known as teachers. Ivan Illich, in Deschooling Society, terms school "the reproductive organ of the consumer society."
The official narrative about being for the good of children is belied by its imposition on a subject population (whether through threats of violence or subterfuge). Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights boldly declares that "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory."
US teacher John Taylor Gatto exposed the hidden purposes of schools in great detail with his best selling Underground History of American Education. It is well understood as a social control designed to make children more predictable, obedient and otherwise amenable to institutional management (i.e. control).
- 1 Official narrative
- 2 Origins
- 3 Modern extremes
- 4 Banning ordinary activities
- 5 Instilling of values
- 6 Alternatives
- 7 Examples
- 8 Related Quotations
- 9 References
The official narrative school will be familiar to many readers from their own experience, and one key to deciphering its significance is that the history of schooling is unknown to almost everyone in the schooling business. Schools purport to be the backbone of society and vital for developing the "competitiveness" of "human resources". Public schools are portrayed as the center of communities. The ostensible goals of the public school system are two fold:
1. Externally, the typical school district claims to maximize the potential of every student, regardless of mitigating factors. Teachers and administrators understand parental lack of interest in student education or distraction by poverty and are explicitly told to find ways to get parents involved. Within the community of educators, however, it is openly acknowledged that the most irritating parents are the involved ones (a.k.a. "helicopter parents," "tiger moms" or just "you know who." It is understood by the community that students are given ample opportunities to explore talents and skills and increased funding can only help a school provide more of these experiences via staffing, building additions, and supplies.
2. The internally acknowledged aim of the vast majority of school districts is to have every student either employed or invested in the higher education system by graduation. This includes fostering a sense of community within the bounds of the school and leads to su communities of young people within the larger communities. Events such as Prom, Homecoming, and student government elections are meant to bond students together and create a support system of teachers and peers independant of outside interference (via family, religion and/or Independent study.) Publicly, students given differentiated instruction but due to time constraints, teachers are expected to teach to the middle, understanding that the very lowest of students will likely never pass standardized tests regardless of instruction, and the highest students will likely pass without instruction. Lessons are designed for the approximately 60% of students who will benefit from explicit instruction.
Public controversies include NCLB, IDEA, and CCSS. While it is fine to discuss issues internally with other teachers, it is expected to fully endorse requirements to the public- at the risk of career disenfranchisement or loss of liscense. Conflicting narratives include the responsibility of the educator to both expose students to new ideas and to protect them from radical ones .
The public education system has very little community involvement. In general, teachers are prohibited from being appointed to the school board as a conflict of interest. This leads to a school board, especially in rural communities, comprised of parents who flex political muscles for academic favors. In general, the only power a school board has is in approving hires and fires and therefore the community can do little more than threaten a teacher with firing if they are dissatisfied with the education.
Instead, the state and federal government have passed mandates of increasing restriction and complexity requiring schools to show proficiency in areas deemed vital by elected officials and the Department of Education. Such mandates include book lists of approved texts as well as emphasis on certain subjects and skills (such as essay writing from secondary sources) and the elimination of others (such as generative writing from primary sources).
It is vital that citizens acknowledge that social indoctrination (how to behave in the world) is of primary importance to the education system and is in no way hidden to the public. Kind words (as opposed to freedom of speech), gender and race equality (as opposed to equity), responsibility for past injustices (as opposed to personal responsibility) are all part of state-sanctioned lesson plans and are considered of primary importance over content-based curriculum. This is called classroom management when implicitly taught or social literacy when explicitly taught. Courses in these subjects make up a large portion of any education degree, often as "diversity training" or "behavioral management."
Forced schooling is intended to interfere with children’s abilities to educate themselves.
Mass compulsion schooling in the modern era first came to prominence in Prussia in the 19th century, and was swiftly followed by a huge rise in militarism in that country. Neighbours UK and France copied the tactic, while emissaries from Japan and USA were dispatched to learn how to institute forced schooling in those countries.
As so eloquently documented by John Taylor Gatto in his Underground History of American Education, the rise of compulsory education was inextricably linked with the rise of factory labour and mass production. The facade of altruism was not a high priority in the early days of school, and on occasions, children were even marched to school at gunpoint (most regularly, native American children in USA and Canada). The pressure on industrialists to find compliant workers for their factories was clear. As John D. Rockefeller put it “I do not want a nation of thinkers. I want a nation of Workers.”
Politicians could readily appreciate the power of schools to facilitate compliance. Winston Churchill is quoted as remarking that “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.”
Although some progressive policies such as restorative justice are being tried out in US schools, formerly unthinkable social engineering policies are also being carried out. CCTV is not yet mandated but appears to be becoming de rigeur in US schools; by 2015, 64% of US schools were using CCTV cameras, up from 32.5% in 2003.
Removing Free Speech
Free speech has been explicitly ruled to not apply to schoolchildren in US educational establishments. The FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize US government policies and “western corruption”, suggesting that they are potential future "terrorists".
War on drugs
Los Angeles Unified school police officials were given over 60 M-16 automatic rifles, an armored vehicle priced at $750,000 and 3 grenade launchers by the U.S. Department of Defense. Following criticism they kept the vehicle and rifles, but returned the grenade launchers, unused.
- Full article: “Terror drill”
- Full article: “Terror drill”
Increasingly realistic "terror drills" are used to shock and condition children. Parents have launched legal action, citing details such as "a man wearing a mask rushed into the classroom swinging a large hammer while threatening the students with serious bodily injury and/or death." Real firearms are used and the CIA has hidden real explosives in school buildings and vehicles. This emerged in 2016 after a routine check on a US school bus revealed it had been driving around with plastic explosive hidden under the hood. The CIA stated that it had been "accidentally" left there after a training exercise a week before.
Many commentators have noted the close similarity between US schools and US prisons, with one noting wryly that "the difference seems to be that “modern” jails have better educational facilities and seem to be in better condition". The "School-to-Prison Pipeline" refers to the fashioning of future prisoners by school policies. It affects disproportionately poor, non-caucasion students.
Banning ordinary activities
As of 2016, the individual cases referred to below are by no means typical, but illustrate the training of US towards the replacement of individual consciences towards unquestioning obedience to a rigid, impersonal set of rules.
In Canada in 2015 a school bus driver told an 8 year old girl must not read on the bus because it was dangerous. "He suggested [other students] might stand up to see what she was reading, or she might poke herself in the eye with the corners of the book." The school board deferred to the driver, saying that while reading was not dangerous per se, the bus driver could make the rules and she had to follow them. A spokesman for the bus company supported the driver.
Walking to school
Some parents have been told that they must not let their children walk alone to school, even being threatened that unless they accompany their children to school, their children will be taken away from them.
Feeding the hungry
In 2014, Kyle Bradford, an 8th grader in California was given a detention for sharing a chicken burrito with a friend.
Tending to the sick
In 2016 Anthony Ruelas, 15, witnessed his eighth grade classmate wheezing and gagging for minutes while no one did anything. He was suspended after carrying him to the school nurse.
Comforting the afflicted
Jackson Heights Middle School in Oviedo, Florida has a code of conduct which prohibits “inappropriate or obscene acts” including “unwelcome or inappropriate touching, or any other physical act that is considered to be offensive, socially unacceptable or not suitable for an educational setting.” This has been interpreted as a blanket ban on hugging, holding hands, linking arms and kissing, even in the case of family members comforting one another.
Instilling of values
In UK, the government has announced that schools should support "British values", so by the 2014 definition, they must oppose "extremism". In 2017, the Chief Inspector of Schools has agreed to meet Muslim campaigners who are calling for a ban on the Islamic headscarf in state primary schools.
"Most English and Welsh secondary schools have installed software that apparently allows teachers to continually monitor their students’ internet activity. Most schools have failed in any way to inform the youngsters parents that they are being watched. No permission is asked of pupils."
John Taylor Gatto maintains that school exams primarily measure obedience, not ability. Alfie Kohn observes that many studies have tried to link them to other correlates of 'success' in life, but the effort has not been successful, and some have found a negative correlation. Although much vaunted by school teachers, the only predictive power of examination scores is as regards subsequent score on subsequent examinations.
“Tests aren't tests at all, they're drills. They're part of a psychological training package which controls the behaviour of the unsuspecting. The ultimate goal is to establish and perpetuate a hierarchy. You have to be made to feel that you failed.”
John Taylor Gatto (2007) -
|Advice to youngsters from James Corbett|
Many countries make school attendance compulsory. However, some allow for kids to be homeschooled or to attend independent schools such as free schools. After an upswing the 1960s and a decline in the 1970s, democratic schools are becoming increasingly popular again in USA.
Many universities have put made or all of their teaching material freely available on the internet, allowing students a more flexible, informal approach to learning. Countless websites (such as this one) similarly seek to educate their readers.
|Phillips Exeter Academy|
|Stuyvesant High School|
|George Carlin||“Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that... that doesn't help them. That’s against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they are getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don't want that. You know what they want?... They want obedient workers, obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.”||George Carlin|
|John Lennon||“The people have the power, all we have to do is awaken that power in the people. The people are unaware. They’re not educated to realize that they have power. The system is so geared that everyone believes the government will fix everything. We are the government.”||John Lennon|
|John Taylor Gatto||“As a vampire fears garlic, the marketplace fears wisdom. Well schooled populations are usually trained to pay lip service to democracy. At the same time, they are being conditioned to avoid the attitudes and behaviors democracy requires. It's a dilemma without an easy answer, because though our national consciousness honors the idea of a democratic society, our national economy and our government would wither and die under anything less than a command-and-control reality. Would you teach critical judgment and moral behavior to everybody? Tell me something, if you would. How could an economy like ours, grounded in the global sale of war machinery, industrially produced meant, fruit and vegetables which has a nutritional value about half of what farm products did in 1940, that relies on financial trickery and the mass sale of magical programs of schooling (not all of them inside school). How could an economy like this endure in a climate of critical intelligence?”||John Taylor Gatto||2008|
- Article 26, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
|Constitutes||Propaganda + and Social control +|
|Description||"The reproductive organ of the consumer society", coming to resemble prisons more and more closely, especially in USA, where attempts have been made to criminalize those who feed the hungry or comfort the afflicted. +|
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