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Jaime
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Thanks for posting Mae Jemison's TED Talk. I wonder when TED will have John Taylor Gatto do a presentation... Here's an excerpt from John Taylor Gatto's "Weapons of Mass Instruction." To read the entire piece: http://tinyurl.com/deyhu9 "What was asked of prosperous children in the 1970s would have been standard for children of coal miners and steel workers in the 1940s and 1950s. Many theories abound for why this was so, but only one rings true to me: From WWII onwards it is extremely easy to trace the spread of a general belief in the upper realms of management and academy that most of the population was incurably feeble-minded, permanently stuck at a mental level of twelve or under. Since efforts to change this were doomed to be futile, why undergo the expense of trying? Or to put a humane cast on the argument, which I once heard a junior high school principal expound at a public school board meeting: Why worry kids and parents with the stress of trying to do something they are biologically unable to achieve? This was precisely the outlook Abraham Lincoln had ridiculed in 1859 (see Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life); precisely the outlook of Edward Thorndike, inventor of "educational psychology" at Columbia Teachers College; precisely the outlook of H. H. Goddard, chairman of the psychology department at Princeton; precisely the outlook of great private corporate foundations like Rockefeller and Carnegie; precisely the outlook of Charles Darwin and his first cousin, Francis Galton. You can find this point of view active in Plato, in John Calvin, in Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza, in Johann Fichte, and in so many other places it would take a long book to do justice to them. As long as ordinary Americans like Ben Franklin's dad were in charge of educating their young, America escaped domination from the deadly assumptions of permanent inferiority - whether spiritual, intellectual, or biological - which provide the foundation for rigid social classes, by justifying them. As long as the crazy quilt of libertarian impulses found in the American bazaar prevailed, a period which takes us to the Civil War, America was a place of miracles for ordinary people through self-education. To a fractional degree it still is, thanks to tradition owing nothing to post-WWII government action; but only for those lucky enough to have families which dismiss the assumptions of forced schooling - and hence avoid damage by the weapons of mass instruction. As the German Method, intended to convert independent Bartleby spirits into human resources, choked off easy escape routs, it wasn't only children who were hurt, but our national prospects. Our founding documents endowed common Americans with rights no government action could alienate, liberty foremost among them. The very label "school" makes a mockery of these rights. We are a worse nation for this radical betrayal visited upon us by generations of political managers masquerading as leaders. And we are a materially poorer nation, as well."