The late, great John Taylor Gatto wrote many things good to read. Here’s one. A sample:
What if there is no “problem” with our schools? What if they are the way they are, so expensively flying in the face of common sense and long experience in how children learn things, not because they are doing something wrong but because they are doing something right? Is it possible that George W. Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would “leave no child behind”? Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up?John Taylor Gatto, How public education cripples our kids, and why
The shift from thinking (in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary!) that the schools are basically a good thing, they just need (endless) reform to get back to doing what they used to do well and/or finally become the tools of Progress they were always meant to be, to realizing that, from their foundation, our schools were intended as instruments of control, and learning is only permitted to take place if it supports that control, was for me the critical, life-altering change.
Gatto, especially in his Underground History of American Education, pointed me to Fichte and the chain of Americans, many with with Prussian PhDs, who founded and headed up state education departments and education schools. Then you go read these guy, and the people they influenced and who influenced them, and – wow. It’s not about the 3 Rs, boys and girls. Note: this is not a blanket endorsement of everything Gatto said – I haven’t read 10% of what he said! Yet.
Here’s his site, with much more to read. (It does not seem to have been thoroughly updated to reflect his death in 2018.)
A whoa moment: at the very end of his life, when, due to a stroke he had to type things out with one finger, he wrote a series of letters to Trump, and stated his strong support, because “You are already on record as denouncing Common Core Curriculum as the anti-American, Marxist project it is. Its author, David Coleman, from Frankfurt School roots on his father’s side and sex-driven feminism on his mother’s (former president of America’s most radical women’s college, Bennington, which mocked virgins openly during the 50s and 60s, and was nationally famous for doing so)…” I had no idea; Gatto had struck me as having some almost hippy leanings, sometimes, what with his anti-establishment takes on schooling, although he did become a solid anti-Marxist as he dug through education history (the same thing happened to me!). He also had careers in advertising and script writing, so he’s more circumspect and calculated in what he says and the way he says it than us laymen would be…
I’ve mentioned the Underground Grammarian before; it was recently brought back into my attention by a comment from regular reader Andrew Brew, who knew, as I didn’t, the Mr. Grammarian was Professor Richard Mitchell. I first ran across him through Mike Flynn’s blog many years ago (under “interesting sites” in the left-hand column), but never gave him the reading he deserves. So, here – let me recommend him again:
Aha! How about this? What would be the correct form after a singular antecedent? He, of course. Everybody knows that. But wait! That’s a rank sexist slur. How about he or she or he/she? Still sexist–he comes first. Maybe she or he or she/he? Sexist again, but the other way around. What to do? The hell with it! Stick in they. After all, who’s going to read the thing? Just a bunch of graduate advisors (Advisors?), and what do they know?THE UNDERGROUND GRAMMARIAN, Volume Two, Number One…………January 1978
Professor Mitchell fought the good fight against nonsensical, incoherent, and just plain bad English, and the colleges that enabled and encouraged it. It’s gotten much, much worse than when he started in the late 1970s. That said, I will sheepishly admit my writing would not withstand the broadside of his criticism which it more than occasionally would deserve. On the plus side, reading his little newsletter is not only amusing, but can actually help one improve one’s grammar and usage.