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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

28. A Change In The Governing Mind: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org


An Angry Look at Modern Schooling 

Today 's corporate sponsors want to see their money used in ways to line up with business 
objectives.... This is a young generation of corporate sponsors and they have discovered 
the advantages of building long-term relationships with educational institutions. 
— Suzanne Cornforth of Paschall & Associates, public relations consultants. As quoted 
in The New York Times, July 15, 1998 

A Change In The Governing Mind 

Sometimes the best hiding place is right in the open. It took seven years of reading and 
reflection for me to finally figure out that mass schooling of the young by force was a 
creation of the four great coal powers of the nineteenth century. It was under my nose, of 
course, but for years I avoided seeing what was there because no one else seemed to 
notice. Forced schooling arose from the new logic of the Industrial Age — the logic 
imposed on flesh and blood by fossil fuel and high-speed machinery. 

This simple reality is hidden from view by early philosophical and theological 
anticipations of mass schooling in various writings about social order and human nature. 
But you shouldn't be fooled any more than Charles Francis Adams was fooled when he 
observed in 1880 that what was being cooked up for kids unlucky enough to be snared by 
the newly proposed institutional school net combined characteristics of the cotton mill 
and the railroad with those of a state prison. 

After the Civil War, Utopian speculative analysis regarding isolation of children in 
custodial compounds where they could be subjected to deliberate molding routines, began 
to be discussed seriously by the Northeastern policy elites of business, government, and 
university life. These discussions were inspired by a growing realization that the 
productive potential of machinery driven by coal was limitless. Railroad development 
made possible by coal and startling new inventions like the telegraph, seemed suddenly to 
make village life and local dreams irrelevant. A new governing mind was emerging in 
harmony with the new reality. 

The principal motivation for this revolution in family and community life might seem to 
be greed, but this surface appearance conceals philosophical visions approaching 
religious exaltation in intensity — that effective early indoctrination of all children would 
lead to an orderly scientific society, one controlled by the best people, now freed from the 
obsolete straitjacket of democratic traditions and historic American libertarian attitudes. 

Forced schooling was the medicine to bring the whole continental population into 
conformity with these plans so that it might be regarded as a "human resource" and 
managed as a "workforce." No more Ben Franklins or Tom Edisons could be allowed; 
they set a bad example. One way to manage this was to see to it that individuals were 
prevented from taking up their working lives until an advanced age when the ardor of 
youth and its insufferable self-confidence had cooled. 

Extending Childhood 

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