The Underground History Of American Education - Chapter 9

Posted on 05/10/2005 in misc

I'm not sure if I've really got my brain wrapped around this chapter yet. I may have to read again to really get it. Gatto squarely lays the blame for public education, and the state of our current society in general, at the feet of two people most of us know fairly well.

Frederick Taylor and Charles Darwin.

Taylor was, of course, the father of scientific management. Coincidently, I have a B.S. in Organizational Leadership and Supervision. This is a management degree from Purdue University that was (is?) heavily influenced and directed by Ford, Chrysler, and GM. It is one of the primary training grounds for entry level management who will start their career supervising 3rd shift in a transmission factory somewhere in Southern Ohio. (I never did any of it).

We spent a lot of time on Taylor. We did time studies, lots of them. I don't remember anything negative about Taylor in the program. Scientific Management was an unquestioned good thing.

In case you are wondering how this is connected to public education.

Taylorism, had four characteristics designed to make the worker "an interchangeable part of an interchangeable machine making interchangeable parts." Since each quickly found its analogue in scientific schooling, let me show them to you:3 1) A mechanically controlled work pace; 2) The repetition of simple motions; 3) Tools and technique selected for the worker; 4) Only superficial attention is asked from the worker, just enough to keep up with the moving line. The connection of all to school procedure is apparent.

The Darwin connection is both simple, and complex. Prior to the Civil War, Americans by and far were individualists. Everybody was on their own, capable of whatever they could manage. Darwin, by advancing the idea that evolutionary nature had favored certain groups, gave cover to liberal elitists to advance forced schooling. They had scientific proof in Darwin that the bottom 90% of society were there because they were supposed to be there, and they had no chance of advancing. They needed to be taught to be happy with their station in life, and be grateful for the factory jobs the top 10% would graciously provide to them in a few years.

This is a gross simplification, but I hope the idea is getting through.

To realize the tremendous task Fabians originally assigned themselves (a significant part of which was given to schooling to perform), we need to reflect again on Darwin?s shattering books, The Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), each arguing in its own way that far from being blank slates, children are written upon indelibly by their race of origin, some "favored" in Darwin?s language, some not. Both books taken together issued a license for liberal upper classes to justify forced schooling. From an evolutionary perspective, schools are the indoctrination phase of a gigantic breeding experiment. Working-class fantasies of "self-improvement" were dismissed from the start as sentimentality that evolutionary theory had no place for.

Since it was inevitable that the lower class were staying put, it made perfect sense to the elitists to speed the process. After all, it was all in pursuit of some capitalist utopia, right?

Society evolves slowly toward "social efficiency" all by itself; society under stress, however, evolves much faster! Thus the deliberate creation of crisis is an important tool of evolutionary socialists. Does that help you understand the government school drama a little better, or the well-publicized doomsday scenarios of environmentalists?

There is a lot more in the chapter, a lot more. Reading Chapter 9 is without a doubt one of the most disturbing 30 minutes I have ever invested in a book. I'm going to be up all night as my mind wrestles with this.

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