Blog post with links:
Got an email yesterday with the following question regarding our Open
Source Learning Future Salon:
Mark, thanks for putting on a great lecture series. I got a lot
out of Jamais Cascio's seminar. The description of Gatto's
presentation sounds like a diatribe against our current education
system, which we all agree could be improved. Does he has any positive
suggestions? The talk as described sounds like a bummer.
I asked John about any "positive suggestions" and here is his
responds: An article he wrote a couple of years ago. Once you read it,
you may understand why I am so looking forward to our Open Source
Learning Future Salon on the 21st of August. RSVP: http://snurl.com/32ggk
Compulsion-schooling tries to shoehorn every style, culture, and
personality into one ugly boot that fits nobody.
Admit there is no one right to grow up successfully.
One-system schooling has-had a century and a half to prove itself. It
is a ghastly failure, Children need the widest possible range of roads
in order to find the right one to accommodate themselves. The premise
upon which mass compulsion schooling is based is dead wrong. It tries
to shoehorn every style, culture, and personality into one ugly boot
that fits nobody. 1fax credits, vouchers, and other more sophisticated
means the necessary to encourage a diverse mix of different school
logics of growing up. Only sharp competition can reform the present
mess; this needs to be an overriding goal of public policy. Neither
national nor state government oversight is necessary to make a
voucher/tax credit plan work:
a modicum of local control, a disclosure law with teeth, and a policy
of client satisfaction or else is all the citizen protection heeded.
It works for supermarkets and doctors. It will work for schools, too,
without national testing.
Teach children to think dialectically so they can challenge the hidden
assumptions of the world about them, including school assumptions, so
they can eventually generate much of their own personal curriculum and
oversight. But teach them, too, that dialectical thinking is unsuited
to many important things lil& love and family. Dialectical analysis is
radically inappropriate outside its purview.
Arrange much of schooling around complex themes instead of subjects.
"Subjects" have a real value, too, but subject study as an exclusive
diet was a Prussian secret weapon to produce social layering.
Substantial amount of interdisciplinary work are needed as a corrective.,
Force the school structure to provide flex-time, flex-space.
flex-sequencing, and flex-content so that every student can be
personalized to fit the whole range of individual styles and performance.
Break the teacher certification monopoly so anyone with something
valuable to teach can teach it. Nothing is more important than this.
Our form of schooling has turned us into dependent, emotionally needy,
excessively childish people who wait for a teacher to tell them what
to do. Our national dilemma is that too many of us are now homeless
and mindless in the deepest senseat the mercy of strangers.
The beginning of answers will come only when people force government
to return educational choice to everyone. But choice is meaningless
without an absolute right to have progress monitored locally too, not
by an agency of the central government. Solzhenitsyn was right. The
American founding documents didn't mention school because the authors
foresaw the path school would inevitably set us upon, and rejected it.
The best way to start offering some choice immediately is to give each
public school the independence that private schools have.
De-systematize them, grant each private, parochial, and home school
equal access to public funds through vouchers administered as a loan
program, along with tax credits. In time the need for even this would
diminish, but my warning standsif these keys to choice are tied to
intrusive government oversight, as some would argue they must be, they
will only hasten the end of the American libertarian experiment.
Vouchers are only a transition to what is really called for: an
economy of independent livelihoods, a resurrection of principles over
pragmatism, and restoration of the private obligation, self-imposed,
to provide a living wage to all who work for you. School can never
deal with really important things. Only education can teach us that
quests don't always work, that even worthy lives most often end in
tragedy, that money can't prevent this; that failure is a regular part
of the human condition; that you will never understand evil; that
serious pursuits are almost always lonely; that you can't negotiate
love; that money can't buy much that really matters; that happiness is
A 25-year-old school dropout walked the length of the planet without
help, a 17-year-old school dropout worked a 26-foot sailboat all by
herself around the girdle of the globe. What else does it take to
realize the horrifying limitations we have inflicted on our children?
School is a liar's world. Let us be done with it.