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"BIANCA, YOU ANIMAL, SHUT UP!"

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  • Karen Eck
    Thanks to a couple of members on indigo-parents for passing along the link to read this on line book. http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm The
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 21, 2002
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      Thanks to a couple of members on indigo-parents for passing along the link
      to read this on line book.
      http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm
      The Underground History of American Education

      Here is the first section of the book. I really had no idea about the true
      history and true purpose of the public school system until I began reading
      the words written by Taylor. That was many years ago, when my daughter was
      in 5th grade, she didn't know how to spell many simple words such as
      "does", and she was required to do huge division problems, but hadn't
      memorized her multiplication tables. When I was in school, they gave us
      timed paper drills until we learned them. Homework was often a nightly
      3-hour struggle. She would balk, cry and claim ignorance of what to do with
      the assignment. Her body was in school, but where was her mind? She was
      kept in from recess because she was resistant to and slow in doing her
      assignments, and soon she was happy not to go outside at all. The kids were
      mean to her and talked about her behind her back, and played fickle friends
      games. She was an artistic, creative, sensitive daydreamer. Then I found
      out she could be homeschooled in 2 hours a day with a computer curriculum
      -- that is all the academics that is covered in public school in a day -- 2
      hours. And we were often spending 3 hours on homework alone! Thus began our
      journey into homeschooling and unschooling -- and the writings of John
      Taylor Gatto. He's one of my heros. "Looking backward on a thirty-year
      teaching career full of rewards and prizes, somehow I can't completely
      believe that I spent my time on earth institutionalized; I can't believe
      that centralized schooling is allowed to exist at all as a gigantic
      indoctrination and sorting machine, robbing people of their children. Did
      it really happen? Was this my life? God help me."
      Now that I got started on this book, I don't want to quit. Here's how it
      begins:
      Karen

      http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/prologue.htm
      "BIANCA, YOU ANIMAL, SHUT UP!"

      Our problem in understanding forced schooling stems from an inconvenient
      fact: that the wrong it does from a human perspective is right from a
      systems perspective. You can see this in the case of six-year-old Bianca,
      who came to my attention because an assistant principal screamed at her in
      front of an assembly, "BIANCA, YOU ANIMAL, SHUT UP!" Like the wail of a
      banshee, this sang the school doom of Bianca. Even though her body
      continued to shuffle around, the voodoo had poisoned her.

      Do I make too much of this simple act of putting a little girl in her
      place? It must happen thousands of times every day in schools all over.
      I've seen it many times, and if I were painfully honest I'd admit to doing
      it many times. Schools are supposed to teach kids their place. That's why
      we have age-graded classes. In any case, it wasn't your own little Janey or
      mine.

      Most of us tacitly accept the pragmatic terms of public school which allow
      every kind of psychic violence to be inflicted on Bianca in order to
      fulfill the prime directive of the system: putting children in their place.
      It's called "social efficiency." But I get this precognition, this
      flash-forward to a moment far in the future when your little girl Jane,
      having left her comfortable home, wakes up to a world where Bianca is her
      enraged meter maid, or the passport clerk Jane counts on for her emergency
      ticket out of the country, or the strange lady who lives next door.

      I picture this animal Bianca grown large and mean, the same Bianca who
      didn't go to school for a month after her little friends took to
      whispering, "Bianca is an animal, Bianca is an animal," while Bianca, only
      seconds earlier a human being like themselves, sat choking back tears,
      struggling her way through a reading selection by guessing what the words
      meant.



      In my dream I see Bianca as a fiend manufactured by schooling who now
      regards Janey as a vehicle for vengeance. In a transport of passion she:

      Gives Jane's car a ticket before the meter runs out. Throws away Jane's
      passport application after Jane leaves the office. Plays heavy metal music
      through the thin partition which separates Bianca's apartment from Jane's
      while Jane pounds frantically on the wall for relief. All the above. You
      aren't compelled to loan your car to anyone who wants it, but you are
      compelled to surrender your school-age child to strangers who process
      children for a livelihood, even though one in every nine schoolchildren is
      terrified of physical harm happening to them in school, terrified with good
      cause; about thirty-three are murdered there every year. From 1992 through
      1999, 262 children were murdered in school in the United States. Your
      great-great-grandmother didn't have to surrender her children. What happened?

      If I demanded you give up your television to an anonymous, itinerant
      repairman who needed work you'd think I was crazy; if I came with a
      policeman who forced you to pay that repairman even after he broke your
      set, you would be outraged. Why are you so docile when you give up your
      child to a government agent called a schoolteacher?

      I want to open up concealed aspects of modern schooling such as the
      deterioration it forces in the morality of parenting. You have no say at
      all in choosing your teachers. You know nothing about their backgrounds or
      families. And the state knows little more than you do. This is as radical a
      piece of social engineering as the human imagination can conceive. What
      does it mean?

      One thing you do know is how unlikely it will be for any teacher to
      understand the personality of your particular child or anything significant
      about your family, culture, religion, plans, hopes, dreams. In the
      confusion of school affairs even teachers so disposed don't have
      opportunity to know those things. How did this happen?

      Before you hire a company to build a house, you would, I expect, insist on
      detailed plans showing what the finished structure was going to look like.
      Building a child's mind and character is what public schools do, their
      justification for prematurely breaking family and neighborhood learning.
      Where is documentary evidence to prove this assumption that trained and
      certified professionals do it better than people who know and love them
      can? There isn't any.

      The cost in New York State for building a well-schooled child in the year
      2000 is $200,000 per body when lost interest is calculated. That capital
      sum invested in the child's name over the past twelve years would have
      delivered a million dollars to each kid as a nest egg to compensate for
      having no school. The original $200,000 is more than the average home in
      New York costs. You wouldn't build a home without some idea what it would
      look like when finished, but you are compelled to let a corps of perfect
      strangers tinker with your child's mind and personality without the
      foggiest idea what they want to do with it.

      Law courts and legislatures have totally absolved school people from
      liability. You can sue a doctor for malpractice, not a schoolteacher. Every
      homebuilder is accountable to customers years after the home is built; not
      schoolteachers, though. You can't sue a priest, minister, or rabbi either;
      that should be a clue.

      If you can't be guaranteed even minimal results by these institutions, not
      even physical safety; if you can't be guaranteed anything except that
      you'll be arrested if you fail to surrender your kid, just what does the
      public in public schools mean?

      What exactly is public about public schools? That's a question to take
      seriously. If schools were public as libraries, parks, and swimming pools
      are public, as highways and sidewalks are public, then the public would be
      satisfied with them most of the time. Instead, a situation of constant
      dissatisfaction has spanned many decades. Only in Orwell's Newspeak, as
      perfected by legendary spin doctors of the twentieth century such as Ed
      Bernays or Ivy Lee or great advertising combines, is there anything public
      about public schools.

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