We had a great time in Michigan. Spunky’s written about much of it here, and I suggest you go see what she says. I concur for the most part. Among other things, she says:
Gatto’s talks were centered around the theme of “Fourth Purpose Schooling”. He introduced each purpose in his first talk The Underground History of American Education. (You can read his whole book of the same title here. )
From the public’s perspective he outlined the four purposes of education:
1. To make good people.
2. The make good citizens.
3. To allow each individual to be their personal best.
4. The managerial goal of social efficiency.
Gatto believes we have moved past the first three purposes in the United States. He asserts that we are now in the fourth purpose that of a managed economy directed by the state and its largest corporations. (This was first introduced in the late 1800’s by the NEA’s Committee of Ten and its suggestion of core curriculum standards.)
Actually, The Committee of Ten wasn’t so bad. It was the later committee which undid their good work (The Commission of Reorganization on Secondary Education). That later committee was so bad that Richard Mitchell refers to them as ‘the gang of twenty-seven.’ The work of both committees is online as etexts. I linked to both of them last June in this post, (and I was disappointed that nobody commented on my clever pun).
I’ve commented before that it seems to me that much of so-called ‘school reform’ is about doing what is best for the institution of government schooling rather than what is best for the children. Isn’t it odd that no matter what the complaint, the solution is always to strengthen and centralize control of the institution? This should come as no surprise. The goal of those in the upper echelons of institutions is ultimately perpetuation of the institution itself. Our institution of public education is extremely successful. As Richard Mitchell says,
“Furthermore, any institution that still stands must, by that very fact, be successful. When we say, as we seem to more and more these days, that education in America is “failing,” it is because we don’t understand the institution. It is, in fact, succeeding enormously. It grows daily, hourly, in power and wealth, and that precisely because of our accusations of failure. The more we complain against it, the more it can lay claim to our power and wealth, in the name of curing those ills of which we complain. And, in our special case, in a land ostensibly committed to individual freedom and rights, it can and does make the ultimate claim–to be, that is, the free, universal system of public education that alone can raise up to a free land citizens who will understand and love and defend individual freedom and rights. Like any politician, the institution of education claims direct descent in apostolic succession from the Founding Fathers.”
Personally, I think every time we push for reform we merely give better weapons for our keepers to beat us over the heads with. Look where testing is leading- to nationalizing the curriculum. I never thought to ask who writes those tests!
We can’t reform it. It needs to be dismantled.