Education

I am just a woman. A woman who dropped out of college and has lived her whole life in the underclass. A woman who is young and who is considered by many to be “crazy”. So I have no credibility to anyone but myself (and people who know little to nothing about me).

However, here is a book (reproduced here as a serial essay) by someone who is educated and it is a pretty good introduction to why school sucks and is a tool to reproduce conformity. Or, as the author calls it, “dumbness.”

The Underground History of American Education

Yes, I realize this is specifically written about American school systems. But, and this is repeatedly pointed out throughout the text, American society and thus American education is based upon the British model, so I feel that the information can be extrapolated to describe most of white Western culture.

And I also cannot speak for the author’s intent, eg, who he is speaking for; yes, it’s presumably white males, even though he doesn’t explicitly say so. However, using our knowledge as feminists, we can read and understand the ideas of this text, then add to it what we know about female and non-white children’s experiences:

– constant otherizing and scapegoating
– additional likelihood of abuse (racial for non-white children, sexual for female children)
– yet more brainwashing (racist for non-white children, sexist for female children)
– the hammering home of our inferiority until we either accept it completely or reject it openly and are punished severely/labeled “insane” or “problem children” (working again to reinforce our senses of inferiority and otherness)

In addition to this material, which in summary is that school is a social engineering project designed to keep an entire class of people enslaved to another class of people, we know that white male schooling was never intended for non-whites or females. Since it now likes to play lip service to “equality”, white schooling functions as yet another machine to beat nonwhite children (especially Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and now migrant children) into the white mold; the white man’s burden, white society’s desire to “drive the savage out” of nonwhite people, has just become more insidious and cloaked under the guise of ‘education’, ‘knowledge’, and ‘self-betterment’. Supposedly benign concepts, right?

And female children exist somewhere at the very bottom of the pyramid, absorbing all of these harmful messages in addition to being taught (as though the rest of society, media, family, hasn’t taught them enough) that their primary place is that of servant. Of slave. As less-than-male, as subordinate.

We know these things. Why don’t we know these things?

If, as it has been suggested, I’m just sour grapes about education because I was a “bad student” (which is not even true — I earned straight A’s in school and only got in trouble a few times [which were all the result of my acting irrationally in the face of trauma]) — listen to and understand this person, who was in fact a teacher.

“School became a major domestic battleground for the scientific rationalization of social affairs through compulsory indoctrination.”
“Using methods of behavioral psychology, children would learn proper thoughts, feelings, and actions, and have their improper attitudes brought from home ‘remediated.'”
In other words, this schooling (our schooling! that you [unless you were home-schooled, and even probably then] and I were subjected to) was designed solely for the creation of a massive proletariat. Oh, and with a big side helping of eugenics. Let’s not forget the eugenics.

(Also, let it be said that I don’t think this author takes his case far enough. I don’t wax as poetic about previous systems of education as he does, considering that women haven’t been allowed to teach themselves since, oh, say, prior the witch-burning and demonization of female-knowledge [such as ‘witch doctoring’ and midwifery].)

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5 Responses to Education

  1. joy says:

    Also, yeah, there’s some dumb stuff in there*. I know it. But there’s dumb stuff in everything written by men. Weed it out.

    * Specifically, he seems to feel that birth control is a form of eugenics; I admit to finding the eugenics aspect of birth control to be horrifying, in addition to feeling that birth control would be a lot less necessary if women stopped having sex with men — but as long as men are raping women with impunity, as they have been for thousands of years, we need something in place to keep us from having to bear their spawn.
    Especially if we are or were poor and/or immigrant women living in substandard conditions with no way to support ourselves, much less the infinite babies we are or were otherwise compelled to keep churning out until which point as our impregnator(s) lost interest in us and/or we died (of disease, addiction, and/or complications from all the fucking/pregnancies).

  2. joy says:

    Also, if you read the “god” chapter, replace mention of ‘god’ with the thought of wholeness as a person, spiritual (divorced from religion) nurturing, female-for-female education such as ‘witch-doctoring’, and it makes sense.

    Because obviously, more god is not what we need. Especially as women.

  3. dogho says:

    Okay, homeschool kid highschool dropout insomniac radfem is trying to think of some more dude’s books. If yer into the topic, anyway.

    Ummmm. Deschooling Society, Ivan . . . Ilich? And Dumbing Us Down, by Gatto. I think. Both kinda cliche, maybe. I’d like to re-read the latter. It’s been years.

  4. skeptifem says:

    Birth control was pushed as eugenics. It is a bit like the old slogans for suffrage, one of the most common arguments was that women were morally more pure (seeing as how they didn’t drink, smoke, and go to prostitutes like men did) and would “purify politics” with their votes. It was a shitty argument and no one thinks it is a good reason for universal suffrage anymore, but it was used at the time and it would not be a mistake to ascribe the belief to some suffragists. Birth control pioneers were in favor of eugenics sometimes. It isn’t difficult to get the impression that birth control exists for that reason.

    I like John Taylor Gatto’s critique as a tool so much BECAUSE he totally misses the other layers of social problems. He is a conservative old white man who was a teacher for a long time and did some history research. The dismissals usually leveled at critics of the education system cannot be used on him because of his sex, race, education, and work history. It is a book I can hand to dudes and they will read it and think about the content for awhile, which is usually hard to do when discussing the failure of school as a concept. It also makes his work very focused on specific problems instead of being difficult to digest for people uninitiated to issues of race, class, gender, etc. I am sure that there are authors who will do a better job of being inclusive and comprehensive that will make for better titles in the future, but for now his books on school cannot be beat for availability and effectiveness.

  5. From Tumblr:

    18 Signs That Life In U.S. Public Schools Is Now Essentially Equivalent To Life In U.S. Prisons

    #1 Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has announced that school officials can search the cell phones and laptops of public school students if there are “reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school.”

    #2 It came out in court that one school district in Pennsylvania secretly recorded more than 66,000 images of students using webcams that were embedded in school-issued laptops that the students were using at home.

    #3 If you can believe it, a “certified TSA official” was recently brought in to oversee student searches at the Santa Fe High School prom.

    #4 A few years ago a class of 3rd grade students at one Kentucky elementary school were searched by a group of teachers after 5 dollars went missing. During the search the students were actually required to remove their shoes and their socks.

    #5 At one public school in the Chicago area, children have been banned from bringing their lunches from home. Yes, you read that correctly. Students at that particular school are absolutely prohibited from bringing lunches from home. Instead, it is mandatory that they eat the food that the school cafeteria serves.

    #6 The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending huge amounts of money to install surveillance cameras in the cafeterias of public schools so that government control freaks can closely monitor what our children are eating.

    #7 A teenager in suburban Dallas was recently forced to take on a part-time job after being ticketed for using bad language in one high school classroom. The original ticket was for $340, but additional fees have raised the total bill to $637.

    #8 It is not just high school kids that are being ticketed by police. In Texas the crackdown extends all the way down to elementary school students. In fact, it has been reported that Texas police gave “1,000 tickets” to elementary school kids over a recent six year period.

    #9 A few months ago, a 17 year-old honor student in North Carolina named Ashley Smithwick accidentally took her father’s lunch with her to school. It contained a small paring knife which he would use to slice up apples. So what happened to this standout student when the school discovered this? The school suspended her for the rest of the year and the police charged her with a misdemeanor.

    #10 A little over a year ago, a 6 year old girl in Florida was handcuffed and sent to a mental facility after throwing temper tantrums at her elementary school.

    #11 In early 2010, a 12 year old girl in New York was arrested by police and marched out of her school in handcuffs just because she doodled on her desk. “I love my friends Abby and Faith” was what she reportedly wrote on her desk.

    #12 There are actually some public schools in the United States that are so paranoid that they have actually installed cameras in student bathrooms.

    #13 Down in Florida, students have actually been arrested by police for bringing a plastic butter knife to school, for throwing an eraser, and for drawing a picture of a gun.

    #14 The Florida State Department of Juvenile Justice has announced that it will begin using analysis software to predict crime by young delinquents and will place “potential offenders” in specific prevention and education programs.

    #15 A group of high school students made national headlines a while back when they revealed that they were ordered by a security guard to stop singing the national anthem during a visit to the Lincoln Memorial.

    #16 In some U.S. schools, armed cops accompanied by police dogs actually conduct surprise raids with their guns drawn. In this video, you can actually see police officers aiming their guns at school children as the students are lined up facing the wall.

    #17 Back in 2009, one 8 year old boy in Massachusetts was sent home from school and was forced to undergo a psychological evaluation because he drew a picture of Jesus on the cross.

    #18 This year, 13 parents in Duncan, South Carolina were actually ticketed for cheering during a high school graduation.

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