Education – Some Tuesday Links

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…

Leonora Ruffo in 2+5: Missione Hydra (1966)
Off-topic interlude: Here’s 1950-60s Italian film star Leonora Ruffo holding a space rifle thing, from a cheesy Italian sci fi flick from 1960. It’s funny how some pretty women can get that cast of face that makes ‘I’m a space alien’ completely believable. E.g., that alien queen lady from ‘V’ (although the haircut certainly helped in her case) .

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.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

6 thoughts on “Education – Some Tuesday Links”

  1. Some great stuff in the Underground Grammarian’s archives, but I think that sometimes even some of those writers fall into assumptions they don’t even know they have. Like this:

    With one breath, our teachers boast that they are highly trained professionals worthy of profound respect and large salaries. With the next, they whimper that they can hardly be expected to compete with Mod Squad or teach large classes. Our teacher-training departments presume to teach how to teach, but not, apparently, how to teach in the face of great but clearly expectable obstacles. It’s as though physicians should ask to be spared the trouble of treating the sick. If our teachers aren’t deeply enough educated and well enough trained to win, as good teachers have always won, battles against stupidity and ignorance, then what can they do? Babysit?

    I kind of take the point, but he betrays an assumption here. Good teachers have not “always won” in this system. In fact, they have nearly always lost, because the system is broken. It is unfair to expect every member of a profession to be St. John Bosco.

    He talks about “large classes” as an expected obstacle. It is NOW, but it shouldn’t be, because this is 100% not conducive to good teaching and not historically how teaching was done. It is a modern innovation.

    Yes, ye old one room schools probably had 30 or 40 person classes, or around that nunber in some parts…one class. Not five. 130 students, probably most of whom don’t want to be there. And teachers are expected to do…what? Just shut up and not complain about this? Nose to the grindstone, you signed up for this, or are you incompetent hacks?

    No, most teachers did not, which is why most quit.

    So I think he sees a real problem, but he doesn’t grasp that there may be reasons for it beyond “teachers are all bad”. There’s some naivete there. Teacher education needs to be overhauled true. But lipstick on a pig makes a prettier pig in the end.

      1. This reminds me of the millage increase discussions we used to have before Michigan reformed its school funding model. Lansing (or wherever, Lansing is my place) needs more more money to help the public schools. But, the local parochial schools do a fine job with their students, and they’re funded at one-half to one-third the per-pupil spending of the Lansing school district. Yeah, but those parochial schools don’t have to deal with all the broken families our kids come from. And this extra money is going to fix that problem – how?

  2. I read “Dumbing us Down”; thought it was one of the most meaningful books I ever read, and then have never read any more Gatto. I need to rectify this. Sorry he has passed. I tried to hear him speak, but could not get in the door. Ended up listening to the governor speak. It was useful. The opposing party and the head of Public Instruction put words in her mouth for years over that speech. How dare she speak at a home schooler’s convention and say anything good about non-public schooling.

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