John Taylor Gatto, the great contemporary critic of formal education, should be more influential, but his name is rarely spoken above a whisper, even though most who hear his critique know that he’s correct. His Underground History of American Education is a must-read.
Getting into Gatto isn’t what this article is about, even though it’s derivative of his work. What I want to do is to persuade you that educational ideals of bringing equality to students and to the broader society are deeply misleading to parents.
Not only does it attempt to create a course of character formation which fails to make room for unique characteristics distinguishing each child from another, it also breaks down differentiation between boys and girls. Further, it creates an artificial age-segregated environment which is totally unlike any other social environment that the child will experience once they enter adulthood.
Parents give their children up to egalitarian institutions in the hopes that the school will form their minds and moral characters in such a way that will make them successful and happy — at least as understood by the parents. What it tends to do instead is to mold the students in a way that’s convenient for the state, along with some of the friends of the state.
Given that the modern West tends to be dominated by the state, it makes sense that those same parents would want their children to be well-adapted to the world that that state created. Because to fail to conform to the needs of the state is to become, usually, a less successful and happy person.
In this, egalitarian education does what it says on the label. Parents who want their children to be well-socialized, that is, to conform to democratic society, are entirely well-served by these institutions. They demoralize the high performers and encourage the low performers beyond their capacities. This constituency forms the majority.
The difficulty that the state — and parents — have with the education system is that the system is poor at producing human flourishing.
Society needs productive, unique, nonconforming geniuses. The state even needs them, to make for more room for the leftist ratchet.
Egalitarian education does its best to create a uniform product, in which one unit is much like another unit, with some slightly premium or slightly inferior models slipping through quality control now and again.
Parents tend to believe that conformity will make their children happy. It instead makes them drones with overly high expectations for themselves. As of 2014 in the US, over 2 million children were being home schooled, with a long record of low double digit percentage growth going back to around 1999. While it may not be an ideal solution, it’s the best one available, especially given the accreditation requirements for private schools and the increasing interference from the Federal Government upon religious schools.
The long term goal ought to be to pressure the formal schooling system until it becomes much more like the prison system — mostly for the lower classes and criminals. This requires less political activism, and more of a significant change in mores.
Rather than attempting to reform the reformers or to scream and moan about the latest outrage of Common Core, instead, let the future generations of your enemies become stupider. Treat them like they belong to a foreign country, because they do, when you boil down to the essence of it. It’s not worth the effort to rescue them from themselves, especially when you have your own to care for.
Educate your own to their advantage. And never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.
Brutal. I love it.
Gatto’s main complaint isn’t that the system crushes geniuses, it’s that it crushes everybody.
Which it does.
Reactionary Expat says
Until almost a year ago, I worked in the government education system in three countries (two in the Anglosphere and one in Asia) for almost thirteen years. I feel like it was an incredibly dispiriting experience for myself, and that I I only barely escaped with my sanity. I will never send my own children through public education. I urge others to follow suit.
I’d also say private isn’t much better. Private probably even more progressive