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Social efficiency: American education past and present

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, philosopher, "spiritual father of neo-naziism," and key influence on the public education system said:

"Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished. . ."

This bluntly presented mission may contrast with the educational euphemisms we hear today, but a former New York teacher of the year argues that it still holds.

John Taylor Gatto, former New York teacher of the year and unschooling advocate says that the prime directive of the school system is putting children in their place. "It’s called 'social efficiency.'" Gatto's book The Underground History of American Education on the roots and history of public education is available to read free online.

Gatto describes school as a factory where children are processed by government agents called schoolteachers. It all sounds ominous, and perhaps it should. Few parents question the compulsory aspect of sending one's children to be processed by these schoolteachers and to pay for the service, regardless of how the job is done, and with no proof of the so-called efficiency of the programming.

In his Undergound History, Gatto pointed out that while you can sue a doctor for malpractice, you can't sue a schoolteacher.

What are schools for if kids aren't learning and thriving?

Time magazine reported that US public schools are worse than any schools in the developed world.

Educational theorist John Goodlad noted that it's "more than passing strange" that the American public takes for granted that schools are a disaster, yet holds teachers near the top of the public's trust.

Schools don't have to be as bad as they are

The Independent Project where students design their own program has been described as unschooling for schools. In Finland, where kids are described as "the smartest in the world," school doesn't start til age 7, their is little standardized testing, and the more gifted help out the ones who need it.

Ultimately, parents are responsible for their child's education whether they send their kids to school or opt-out by jumping through legal homeschooling hoops. All parents, all society, should question what happens in schools and why.

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