We cannot grow or mature, like plants in too little flowerpots. We are addicted to dependency; in the current national crisis of maturity we seem to be waiting for the teacher to tell us what to do, but the teacher never comes to do that. Bridges collapse, men and women sleep on the streets, bankers cheat, good will decays, families betray each other, the government lies as a matter of policy--corruption, shame sickness and sensationalism are everywhere. No school has a curriculum to provide the quick fix.
The old Congregationalists would have been able to put their finger at once on the reason pyramidical societies, such as the one our monopoly form of schooling sustains, must always end in apathy and disorganization. At the root they are based on the lie that there is "one right way" in human affairs and the experts can be awarded the permanent direction of the enterprise of education. It is a lie because the changing dynamics of time and situation and locality render expertise irrelevant and obsolote shortly after it is anointed.
Monopoly schooling is the major cause of our loss of national and individual identity. Having institutionalized the division of social classes and acted as an agent of caste, it is repugnant to our founding myths and to the reality of our founding period. It's strength arises from many quartes, the antichild, antifamily stream of history being one-- but it draws it's greatest power from being a natural adjunct to the kind of commercial economy we have that requires permanently dissatisfied customers.--pp 90-91
I had just written my entry on self sufficiency when I finished Dumbing Us Down. This passage really resonates with me because it captures nicely how I perceive modern day-to-day life. Americans in particular are just so confused about what goals they should be pursuing. Now in the greater scheme of things, I realize it is not up to me to determine what goals a human should set for himself, but I can stand honestly and say that those goals should not culminate in how much of the Target fall line resides in his closet. We're all so distracted by the accumulation and the "bling"--whatever bling means for you, be it fast cars, diamonds, wool yarn or artisan cheese-- that we get lost. The energy for true self-expression, not self expression using the latest fashions and toys, is gone or at best, waylaid.
What happens when the lights go out? The teacher is not coming.
I am proud to be among (and from, by the way) people who look past schooling as a means to education. You can obtain both simultaneously, yes; but more often than not school is perceived as something to be endured. Education is a lifelong process to those who truly value knowledge. A card-carrying Libertarian activist, I am out to protect our civil liberties, but as a well-schooled woman, never before recently would I have ever thought school was out to curtail them. Teachers may encourage you to think, but schools certainly don't want you to think too much. I started homeschooling my children for very different reasons than the ones now sustaining this effort. I hope it's enough.
I need to clarify: I don't think schools are evil. I love schools. I am a nerd. It is compulsory, generalized, rank and file public education that makes me want to implode. The children who don't fit into the boring, sit-down-and-regurgitate-what-I-said-to-you schoolrooms are summarily labeled with ADD or autism. If they don't pony up and trot when they "should," they must have a developmental disorder. It's not the child that's broken! Even the testers will tell you that the intelligence is there, apparent in the child. But those children don't fit in...to the school environment. They certainly find their way among their family, with their friends.... but the school is rigid. The assumption is now that the child must be repaired. I think not.
Gatto suggests the complete privatization of the school system. Give the money being funneled into this gargantuan set of industries -- the schools themselves, the textbook companies, the supplies manufacturers-- into schools that actually service the communities in which they exist. Waldorf, Montessori, Sudbury. Technical, Carpenters-- there are enormous varieties in schools that exist now that could have every child thrive. It can be done, but it's a scary process. And not one I have the leisure to wait for with my own children.