I am so glad to see someone else saying what I've been saying ever since graduating high school. The public schools must go. They are, as Gatto points out, an institutional structure designed to process and homogenize our population into a shapeless mass of helpless conformity, and have long outlived their purpose, if indeed there ever was a better purpose than that to begin with.
Let's be charitable, and say that the aim of national public schooling was simply to ensure basic functional education for everyone. Face it-- we now have, as a nation, the resources to ensure that. We've long ago surpassed that criteria, though, and formed our schools into crucibles, into which young minds are poured and out of which they are stamped as identical dull ingots, ready for their dull corporate jobs. Is it any wonder that corruption and wholesale corporate cowardice are the order of the day in the adult world now? Who ever taught anyone anything other than "Listen to your boss (teacher). Obey the bell (clock in & clock out -- nothing else matters)." Who ever let them learn any different?
I went to a very small private school called Falmouth Academy for grades 7 through 12. While my public school friends were learning how to fit in, we learned how to be whoever we were, and still get along socially. We learned that teachers were just people like us, and they had no special deep wisdom or power. This, despite what everyone would assume might happen, made us respect them more, on the whole, and made it awfully clear in the rare instances when they were trying to bullshit us.
We didn't have punishment really, because none was really needed. When someone did something wrong, they were taken aside and given a very stern look, and it was made clear that you had disappointed everyone. Not that you "broke the rules", but that your behavior was inappropriate, and that everyone expected better from you. In one case, a student was expelled, but mostly it was for deliberately and repeatedly acting out because she simply didn't want to be there.
It was not utopia, and it didn't always work. Adolesence is a difficult time for most people, no matter what the circumstances. But it worked most of the time, and the people I know from high school are generally less screwed up and more aware of who they are and what they want than people who went through the public school grinder. Interestingly, many people from my class, despite being very smart, had a really hard time with college, myself included. Colleges, many of them anyway, appear to assume that their students have been properly "prepared" by high school, and then present themselves as glorious bastions of freedom, while mainly cloaking the same six lessons in a better vocabulary. They didn't quite know what to do with someone who saw their "freedom" as a giant step backward from the intellectual freedom of high school. I went to William and Mary, by the way, and dropped out senior year because it was eminently clear to me that school was getting in the way of my education.
And to conclude this overly long rant, I want to say that the one big problem with most schools today, the single thing that above all else should condemn them to the dustbin of history, is the fact that they uniformly fail to teach the love of learning. If a student likes to learn, she will learn for her whole life, and the school has done it's job. If she does not love learning by the time school is over, then the school has failed the student, and all of us.
Not the real rusty
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