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Review: The Underground History of American Education

By localroger in Culture
Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:13:04 AM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)

In 1991 John Taylor Gatto was a thirty-year veteran of the New York school system, and had been honored as both NYC and NY state Teacher of the Year. Then, at the height of his career, he published a provocative essay titled I Quit, I Think in the Wall Street Journal, and shortly thereafter he did indeed quit.

Nine years later Gatto published The Underground History of American Education, a massively researched exposition of his discontent with the education system. Now he's made it available to read online, and it's an eye-opener.

One of the more interesting people I encountered back in my New Age days was D. She was crazy. I don't mean "believes in crystal magic" crazy, I mean fire-in-the-brain full-blown-psychosis crazy. D.'s condition did not respond to medication and it manifested in vivid, lifelike visions. She was older than me and had had reached an interesting detente with her condition; she was smart as a whip and knew full well what her visions were, but she had decided it was easier and more fulfilling to accept them rather than denying them. As a result she probably had a richer life than most normal people do.

One day D. greeted me darkly. "I had a vision of Leviathan," she said. Her vision of Leviathan still gives me chills today; it was a great lurking beast beneath the surface of the real world, more machine than animal, with its tentacles everywhere. You could not escape it. At the moment of your birth it would put its claws into you and it never let you go. It would destroy you eventually for you are its food and its spirit; but it would destroy you sooner and more painfully and cast you aside for the worthless dross you were to it if you balked it. I really can't do justice to D.'s description; she made it seem like a real thing that I might see myself. D. described a soulless corporate steamroller that moulds those of us it can into those unnatural shapes it finds useful, and discards the rest of us like the shavings on a workshop floor; and she made it feel real.

This brings me to John Taylor Gatto.

I wish I could say I was outraged by The Underground History of American Education. Outrage would be comfortable. Outrage would provide energy and suggest courses of action. But outrage will not come; instead what I feel is horror. Because what Gatto has done is to reveal D.'s Leviathan in all its ghastly splendor.

This book represents a superhuman effort of scholarship; it took Gatto nine years to write after the epiphany that destroyed his career. But it's no small monster he has uncovered. The Leviathan revealed by Gatto is made up of humans and human ideas and human dreams and a generous dollop of human evil, but the true horror is that it is not human. Just as we are something other than the cells which make up our bodies, Leviathan is bigger than any of the people or dogmas that make it up.

Gatto traces every tentacle back to the stem cell from which it emerged -- the dreamers, crackpots, tyrants, fascists, and Utopian do-gooders whose efforts and ideas swirled around in human society until they metastazed into something nobody could have imagined. Gatto begins at the beginning -- before Leviathan, before universal schooling, he shows us how we learned by example. Over and over Gatto demonstrates that when you give a human a compelling reason to learn, he will absorb knowledge at an unbelievable rate. Gatto tells us,

Abundant data exist to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent, wherever such a thing mattered. Yet compulsory schooling existed nowhere.
Gatto makes a good case that learning is a natural process that people excel at unless you interfere with it. And what schooling does is interfere with that process. Tragically, for the last fifty years in particular, whenever someone notices that the schools aren't doing their job the answer is always to hire more people given more training to interfere more.

In Part One:

Gatto shows us how the founders of the US and the great Classical philosophers educated themselves by picking their own topics of interest, and how in a nation with few schools most people taught themselves to read -- often in a matter of weeks -- by the now-controversial but bone-obvious method of sounding out the letters. Gatto later spends some time on the fate of Phonics in the classroom, and the unnaturally pigheaded manner in which it was forced out in favor of the "whole word" method which demonstrably doesn't work.

In Part Two:

Gatto then shows us how systems developed explicitly to keep the masses stupid for social control in India and Prussia were eagerly imported by the new capitalists hoping to cement their oligarchy. But as soon as we are wanting to blame these greedy bastards for the present mess, Gatto reminds us that Utopianists are as much to blame for their own contributions:

Utopian schooling is never about learning in the traditional sense; it's about the transformation of human nature.
The catalyst that allowed these two groups to foist their unholy vision on an unsuspecting populace was coal. Cheap manufacturing and far-flung empire created a management class whose very existence depended on skilled but compliant functionaries. Schools were created to certify these new "professionals." Ordinary people were drawn to these unnatural training institutions because they wanted the jobs and prestige that came with being in management. It quickly became "obvious" that it was in society's interest to ensure a steady supply of such compliant skilled functionaries for the factories and offices which were the heart and lungs of this new beast, and so the argument was swallowed that schooling should be compulsory.

Once the system was established of manufacturing, jobs, and schooling, the efficiency experts and "scientfic managers" moved in to fine-tune things. These people wanted to quantify the skills they were imparting to the new working and management classes, and they ruthlessly expanded upon the idea of people as interchangeable parts, tested and programmed to do exactly and only what they were required and expected to do. And the amazing thing is that, even though the whole idea is contrary to every shred of common sense and experience, it was lapped up and propped up and remains central dogma to this day even though, just like the whole-word method for reading, abundant evidence shows that it's wrong and stupid.

In Part Three:

Having laid out the origins of today's dysfunctional school system, Gatto takes off on a one-chapter personal tangent.

The great destructive myth of the twentieth century was the aggressive contention that a child could not grow up correctly in the unique circumstances of his own family.
Gatto recounts some incidents from his own childhood which would raise the hackles of any family court lawyer today, and reveals how the risks and dangers and "bad influences" he was subjected to were actually critical in forming his personality.
Before I went to first grade I could add, subtract, and multiply in my head. I knew my times tables not as work but as games Dad played on drives around Pittsburgh. Learning anything was easy when you felt like it. My father taught me that, not any school.
The other thing Gatto makes it clear he learned from his childhood village is his sense of ethics. Mistakes are made and punishment and shame forged a sense of honor and reputation. These things can't be formally taught; they emerge differently for everyone because we make different mistakes and have different epiphanies. But the aim of modern schooling (and family law) is to remove all opportunity for mistakes and to eliminate shame.
Principles were a daily part of every study at Waverly. In latter days, schools replaced principles with an advanced form of pragmatism called "situational ethics," where principles were shown to be variable according to the demands of the moment. During the 1970s, forcing this study on children became an important part of the school religion. People with flexible principles reserve the right to betray their covenants. It's that simple. The misery of modern life can be graphed in the rising incidence of people who exercise the right to betray each other, whether business associates, friends, or even family. Pragmatists like to keep their options open. When you live by principles, whatever semantic ambiguity they involve you in, there are clear boundaries to what you will allow, even when nobody is watching.
In Part Four:

The experience of global war gave official school reform a grand taste for what was possible.
In the postwar years the school system, already highly advanced in the cause of moulding good little corporate drones, was put into overdrive and aggressively forced into every last backwater of resistance. The Fascists, the eugenecists, the Utopianists, and the keepers of the new industrial caste system all saw the schools as the best vehicle for perfecting their vision of society. Although schools are always sold to the public as a means of teaching the "three R's," Gatto shows that mere learning came to be the least of the public school's function (which is one reason they've become so bad at teaching those unimportant little details).

The new behaviorist theories that treat children more like lab rats than unique individuals came to be applied with a vigor that resulted in a litany of horrific and insane policies. In Part Four Gatto delves into exactly what the school system has become and how it affects the very real people who are consigned to it. And the picture isn't pretty.

Internally, away from the critical eyes of parents, the schools abandoned all pretense of being about traditional education. School became a total institution, a warren of crushing boredom and ridiculous, often contradictory rules; and success wasn't judged by the ability to impart or receive knowledge nearly as much as on how those rules were followed.

In Part Five:

In the final section of the book Gatto goes into the politics of schools, the exact mechanisms by which the best teachers and administrators are hounded out (because anyone who is more interested in human beings than in the rules is a threat to the system). In another chapter are the mechanisms by which "modern" school systems are foisted on communities which don't need or want them, by the cunning manipulation of building codes and other legal tricks. Leviathan will not stand for any corner of the world to be out of its grasp, or any individual to slip away.

In the final chapter of the book Gatto attempts to provide some hope by citing various people who did slip out of Leviathan's grasp, and providing some small advice.

Your four-year-old wants to play? Let him help you cook dinner for real, fix the toilet, clean the house, build a wall, sing "Eine Feste Burg." Give her a map, a mirror, and a wristwatch, let her chart the world in which she really lives. You will be able to tell from the joy she displays that becoming strong and useful is the best play of all. Pure games are okay, too, but not day in, day out. Not a prison of games. There isn't a single formula for breaking out of the trap, only a general one you tailor to your own specifications.
Which is all well and good, but it presupposes that Leviathan is going to let you get away with this. Already it is rousing a few tentacles against the incipient threat of home schooling. And every once in awhile the threat is re-raised to eliminate summer vacation and make the total institution a yearlong affair. Combine that with the insane dictum that my own schools abided by recommending an hour of homework for each daily class, and you see that Leviathan has no intention of allowing your kid to be a kid. And for the last few decades, if you get too uppity Leviathan has been perfectly willing to step in and take your children from you for your failure to raise them by its standards.

Although Gatto only goes into it to the extent necessary to explain how schools got the way they are, he makes it clear that the schools themselves are just one tentacle of an even larger, still largely unseen monster. The schools are the way they are in large measure because the economy needs them that way. Gatto briefly mentions but doesn't really explore the wider ramifications of this; the way Leviathan makes our very existence, our ability to have a place to stay and a meal to eat, contingent on our willingness to abide by its standards and participate in its body. Unless you come up with a really clever alternative you must work to support your life, and all work leads back to Leviathan because Leviathan has control of the air supply. You can cooperate, or you can live in a cardboard box and starve; other alternatives have been suppressed as has our memory that they ever existed at all.

This, to me, is the ultimate horror of Gatto's book; he spent nine years documenting the school system, a system with which he had a thirty-year intimate familiarity. Yet the thing he reveals is clearly even larger than that. If you manage to follow his advice and save your child from being a flunky, where will he live and how will he eat? Gatto doesn't go there in The Underground History, but it's clearly the next question a reader needs to ask.


Gatto ends his book with the obligatory rousing call...

Time to take our schools back. If they mean to have a war, let it begin now.
Well that's a nice sentiment, John, but let's get real. Your own book has just meticulously documented how teachers, administrators, and even principals who insist on even minor deviations like sticking to phonics for reading are ruthlessly hounded out of the system. You've shown us how communities have new school systems foisted on them despite democratically refusing twelve times in a row. And have you by any chance been watching how the Iraq war protesters are treated, and how seriously they're taken by the Administration?

Leviathan doesn't care. You cannot beat a thing like that unless you're willing to tear out its heart -- and that means destroying our entire civilization.

Even after reading The Underground History I'm not sure I want that. I'm not sure I see any other way out but I'm not sure I want to see it all blow up. As you yourself say,

Spare yourself the anxiety of thinking of this school thing as a conspiracy, even though the project is indeed riddled with petty conspirators. It was and is a fully rational transaction in which all of us play a part. We trade the liberty of our kids and our free will for a secure social order and a very prosperous economy. It's a bargain in which most of us agree to become as children ourselves, under the same tutelage which holds the young, in exchange for food, entertainment, and safety. The difficulty is that the contract fixes the goal of human life so low that students go mad trying to escape it.
Well yes, that's about it, isn't it? We agree to be the cells of Leviathan's body because Leviathan is mighty and it raises us up, even if it is prone to destroy us at whim. Just as a brain cell can't function in the wild without a body to support it, most of us have forgotten how to exist without the many functions Leviathan provides for us. And that's why we do what it wants, even though it drives us insane.

The problem with fighting Leviathan is that ultimately, Leviathan is made up of us. It has turned us into specialized organisms that can't survive without it. If you can figure out how to fight the body you're part of, you're a smarter brain cell than I am, John Taylor Gatto.

D. saw Leviathan for what it was, plain and whole and it didn't take her nine years of research to work it out. But then, D. is crazy which means by definition Leviathan has no use for her, so it's probably an advantage. When it takes a crazy person to see the situation for what it is, it's not a good sign.

So, one might ask what can be done. Not being entirely normal myself I formed my own response to Leviathan's power when I was still a small child, just becoming aware of its power and callousness. Being by some estimates one of Leviathan's brain cells, it's even metaphorically appropriate. At the age of seven or so I vowed that I would never have kids. At the time I didn't even know exactly how kids came about, but I kept that vow even when I was old enough to learn how the whole having-kids thing works.

I find it interesting that in his list of responses to the situation John Taylor Gatto didn't think of that; I suppose we all have our blind spots.


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o Raw Infrastructure


o Completely beneficial 2%
o Necessary evil 11%
o Just let 'em loose in the library 11%
o We Don't Need No ED-U-CA-TION 9%
o If you can read this, thank a teacher. 7%
o If you can't read this, blame an administrator. 5%
o You're paranoid with this Leviathan sh*t, d00d. 6%
o Bring back the one-room schoolhouse. 3%
o Home schooling rules. 18%
o There are much bigger problems. 2%
o Schools are THE problem. 14%
o I dint haf no skool an im ok 1%
o Slink back under your rock, you uneducated loser 4%

Votes: 110
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o John Taylor Gatto
o The Underground History of American Education
o online
o Also by localroger

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Review: The Underground History of American Education | 372 comments (363 topical, 9 editorial, 1 hidden)
yes but (2.88 / 9) (#5)
by Black Belt Jones on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 10:23:13 PM EST

will underground education teach me to build hand-coded assembler flat-file databases?

Of course, my man (3.00 / 5) (#8)
by localroger on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 10:35:13 PM EST

That is the kind of hole that underground education will leave in your knowledge; you will make a totally dumb-ass mistake and get called on it (hopefully by fewer people) and you'll look it up and you will never, ever make that mistake again. And then, underground education will have fixed that hole in your knowledge. That's how it works.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
You better hope so (2.66 / 6) (#33)
by trhurler on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:08:31 AM EST

Because I doubt there's a single public school in the nation that employs anyone competent to teach you how to do it in a formal setting.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I hope not!@# (none / 0) (#181)
by p4r on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:46:44 PM EST

That's been a stupid thing to do since, what.. 1975?

[ Parent ]
Suppressed alternatives (2.80 / 5) (#12)
by Squidward on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 11:02:39 PM EST

Unless you come up with a really clever alternative you must work to support your life, and all work leads back to Leviathan because Leviathan has control of the air supply. You can cooperate, or you can live in a cardboard box and starve; other alternatives have been suppressed as has our memory that they ever existed at all.

Which alternatives were these? Haven't people always had to work to support their lives?

It seems to me as though I have far more options than I would have had 200 years ago.

There's work, then there's work (none / 1) (#15)
by localroger on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 11:16:03 PM EST

Our studies of primitive societies are flawed because the only primitive societies we have to study are those eking out a bare existence in the places Leviathan hasn't taken an interest in, but even there they tend to be more egalitaritan, and require less formal work than modern society does. I've seen many references stating that hunter/gatherers do about 20 hours of necessary work per week per person, even in harsh climates.

Most of our "options" today are concerned with technologies that haven't even existed until recently.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Meh (2.00 / 4) (#22)
by jmzero on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:41:23 AM EST

There's lots of societies in history that had an abundance of resources meaning a "short work week".

They filled their time 3 ways:

  1. Art (pyramids, totem poles, temples)
  2. Repopulating until resources were once again scarce and long work was required
  3. War
Usually a few of those in combination...

Anywho, there is no Leviathan.  There is a social contract that, in order to work, pretty much has to include everyone.  This is a consequence of living in a world that must be shared.  There are certain visions of life incompatible with the order of things.  They may be better, but society will have to limp there all at once.  The alternative? Imagine a traffic system where everyone followed their own rules.  The fact that society is able to be stable while still affording us the tremendous amount of freedom we have is amazing.  We are staggeringly lucky to live in a time when such a large number of people have the luxury of even contemplating these things, let alone charting their course in life to such a degree.

Some parts of "the way things are" are wrong, and many parts are geared to the lowest common denominator - particularly education.  But even this is improving.  To use the example from the story, teaching reading by phonics is now the norm where I live.  I had many more options and much more freedom in my schooling than my father did in his.  Techniques of teaching have improved, along with the material presented.

And, for whatever its failings, the education system works.  For the most part, people will not learn complex subjects like calculus outside of a typical classroom environment - and have little desire to do so.  I learned computer programming by poking around - but nobody else where I work did.  They learned by going to a class, taking tests, and doing homework.  Education was perhaps a crutch to make up for their lack of willpower or such - but it's a crutch that got them up the hill.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

That's what you say (none / 1) (#32)
by trhurler on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:01:29 AM EST

Of course, you probably live your life entirely by the script, right? Thought so.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
asdkjf (none / 0) (#356)
by jmzero on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 10:22:33 AM EST

Of course, you probably live your life entirely by the script, right?

All normal mice have tails.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Is it good to be a happy cog? (none / 0) (#365)
by Russell Dovey on Mon Aug 09, 2004 at 04:49:30 PM EST

Or a sad... what?

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Is it good to be a happy cog? (none / 0) (#366)
by Russell Dovey on Mon Aug 09, 2004 at 04:55:15 PM EST

Or a sad... what?

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

There's Necessary, then There's Necessary (none / 0) (#87)
by virg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:10:27 PM EST

> ...but even there they tend to be more egalitaritan, and require less formal work than modern society does. I've seen many references stating that hunter/gatherers do about 20 hours of necessary work per week per person, even in harsh climates.

This lifestyle isn't that hard at all. It's rather easy, in fact, to satisfy the necessities of life with about 20 hours of work per week per person. The trick is to do as the hunter/gatherers do. The part that people who pine for shorter work days forget is that these societies don't consider things like roads, electric power and indoor plumbing to be "necessities of life". Live without those, and you'd be amazed how little you'll actually have to work to make ends meet.

Don't like their lifestyle so much any more? Then don't complain that having more means you have to work more to afford it.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Ok, I'll bite (none / 0) (#96)
by MorePower on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:03:01 PM EST

I'll trade my current life to be able to be a hunter/gatherer and work 20 hours per week. Ok maybe I like electricity a bit, so I'll work 30 hours a week so I can have elecricity. I'll be ok without plumbing, and roads are mainly just for going to work. If I can't get electricity only, then I'll give it up too.

Now, how do I do it. Obviously hulting and gathering on other poeple's land is tresspassing (plus these other poeple have built over the land so there's little to hunt and gather) and its illegal to hunt or gather in national parks or other public land, I'll need to buy enough land to support myself.

Since right now my $60,000 (per year average) income is barely enough to make payments on a small modest condo I don't think I'll be able to buy vast tracts of hunting grounds anytime soon.

[ Parent ]
you have to move (none / 0) (#109)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:59:15 PM EST

Anywhere that $60,000 doesn't give a quite comfortable life is nowhere near the kind of place you'd have to move to. Where I live, I can easily afford a house and over an acre of land for that much, and still have money I don't know what to do with.

And yet, I could move about 30 miles east and live on a huge piece of property for almost nothing, hunt deer and grow crops enough to feed a very large family all year round. $30,000/year would be overkill there.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Interesting (none / 1) (#113)
by MorePower on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:18:10 PM EST

I find it a little hard to believe that land is that much cheaper. I'm not saying you're lieing,

I have heard that land is cheaper in other places. I just always assumed that it wasn't a significant difference. For reference, I bought my condo for $190,000. I could't afford a loan much bigger than that (if fact, I had to fight rather hard to get that loan). This area was the cheapest (by far) of all the comunities I seached in (the nature of my job alows me to live practically anywhere, as long as it's near a major airport). Well actually Phoenix was slightly cheaper, but my girlfriend didn't want to live in the desert and the price difference wasn't that great.

I admit, I ruled out living in rural areas (my job wouldn't allow it anyway) or anyplace that gets snow (damn cold weather really sucks hard) and I was only interested in the western US so maybe I didn't get a full feel for how the land prices change from place to place.

[ Parent ]

not lying at all (none / 0) (#115)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:24:10 PM EST

Rural land is much cheaper than city land. I live in Rochester, NY. Lot's of farmland in surrounding counties that's dirt cheap, so to speak. Lots of snow too.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Whoah! (none / 0) (#125)
by wurp on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:13:01 PM EST

You paid $190,000 for a condo after looking around at multiple areas?  You need to find new resources to check into!!

I am paying $175k for a two story house with a double lot and an in-ground pool in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  It's a pretty good deal, but not a great one.

I bought a small house in Fayetteville, AR for $40,000.  This was in town.  If I were buying rural land, I could easily buy enough to support my family for, say, $20k.  The reason I personally don't do this is that I have two kids and a wife who appreciate the niceties of "civilization".
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Pretty Wild (none / 0) (#243)
by MorePower on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:07:05 PM EST

The response I get from my friends, family and co-workers around here when they hear the price of my condo is generally "Wow, that's cheap!", followed by "Is your neiborhood safe?" (they wonder if I bought property in a getto).

Given the orginal parameters that I had to live in the West and near a major airport I considered the following areas: San Diego, Los Angeles, San Fransisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Las Vegs, Phoenix, and Seattle. I ruled out Seattle as too cold, and my girlfriend ruled out Las Vegas and Phoenix as too hot. Of the remaining cities, eastern L.A. (getting close to San Bernardino) was by far the cheapest.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (none / 0) (#249)
by wurp on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:53:38 PM EST

Those are mostly areas I would say were exorbitantly expensive (from my POV).  I didn't realize Phoenix and LV were that expensive, but the other cities I just consider to be ludicrously expensive for housing.  Around here you can get a $70k 2-3 bedroom house in a decent neighborhood, if you are willing to take a 30 minute drive to work.

The house I'm in now is 7 years old and pretty nice.
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Back to the Point (none / 0) (#250)
by virg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:00:46 PM EST

> Given the orginal parameters that I had to live in the West and near a major airport...

The original comment discussed how much shorter a work week primitive cultures have, and my comment was to the effect that living that lifestyle doesn't require more than 20 man-hours per week, but that wanting more than those primitive cultures means you have to work more to get more.

You've just proven my point. In the west? Near a major airport? Guess what? That level of civilization costs money, and getting that money costs time. You asked me, "I'll trade my current life to be able to be a hunter/gatherer and work 20 hours per week. Now how do I do it." Well, move to the Ozark mountains, where there are places you can buy land for US$200.00 per acre, set yourself up, and live there. Give up the luxury of living near an airport, or in the western U.S., or holding a job that requires these things. Did you forget he was discussing "primitive"? What's primitive about access to a major airport? Primitive is being a hunter/gatherer, or a subsistence farmer, which is what these cultures that he glorifies are doing.

And suddenly, I find you're not really willing to trade your current life for it after all, are you?

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Well no (none / 0) (#253)
by MorePower on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:18:43 PM EST

I forgot all about our original point! Yeah, I am more than adaquately convinced that the option to live on my own land does exist. So right now I am paying for: decent weather, the ability to keep my present job, and the niceness of living in a non-rural environment. Which is not a bad trade off as my current job is very nice. It just disturbed me that (I thought) I was dependant on my large salary just to have housing at all.

Consider me better informed now!

[ Parent ]
Funny, my math comes up with a different answer. (none / 1) (#237)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:14:22 PM EST

Given the number of able-bodied adults in any given nation/region/etc, once you delete all the cruddy paperwork, the 3 bosses that the laborer has, all managing him, the government bureaucrats and other people who work so hard doing nothing fathomable, you'd still get to keep your indoor plumbing, electric lights, and roads. And you'd still have a work week much smaller than 40+ hours. Actually, I'm scared what the total would be, so I haven't been too careful.

But who among us would be shocked if only necessity of life equaled 3-6 hours a week, or necessities + luxury equivalent to someone making $45kpy equals 12 hours a week?

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

ironic or frightening (none / 1) (#13)
by collideiscope on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 11:03:32 PM EST

that John Taylor Gatto's site is unreachable now. You choose.

Hope is a disease. Get infected.
K5 comes of age, we K5'ed it :-) /nt (none / 3) (#14)
by localroger on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 11:12:19 PM EST

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
Well I voted -1 on this (2.20 / 5) (#16)
by pHatidic on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 11:46:50 PM EST

I really wanted to vote this up to the front page before I even read the article based on the topic alone. This is one of the most influential books I've ever read and for some reason it has never really been publicly discussed at all. But the article just wasn't that inspiring to me; it seems like more of a pseudo-summary than an actual book review. It doesn't even say whether the book is worth reading or not which is sort of the point of a book review.

If you read just one thing by John Taylor Gatto, read his essay the six-lesson school teacher.

And if you want to see a telling portion of the book, read the section about the National Adult Literacy Survey.

Fair enough (none / 2) (#17)
by localroger on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 11:55:01 PM EST

It's an awesome book, and if I didn't do justice to it in your eyes, well I fault myself there. I wrote this article in the way I think D. would have wanted, in a bit of a haze of rage and the sense of injustice. It was her vision and she made a point about feeling things rather than contemplating them in an abstract fashion.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
That's a stupid reason to vote it down. (none / 1) (#21)
by D Jade on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:41:07 AM EST

So you really liked the book and was wondering why there was no public discussion about it and then when there finally is an oppurtunity for discussion, you vote it down because you didn't think the article was a review?


You're a shitty troll, so stop pretending you have more of a life than a cool dude -- HollyHopDrive
[ Parent ]
Yeah you're probably right (none / 0) (#23)
by pHatidic on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:12:32 AM EST

But at the same time I don't think this article will generate much discussion. After all how can people discuss a book they haven't read? I'd rather see a discussion of the ideas in the book as opposed to the book itself.

[ Parent ]
Stupid reason? (3.00 / 4) (#27)
by gzt on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:13:22 AM EST

You want a stupid reason to vote something down? I voted it down 'cause it's an article. That's right. -1 ARTICLE.

[ Parent ]
Yes it does. (none / 0) (#102)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:31:46 PM EST

The article is totally for the book. You should be able to glean that by the author's language and his metaphor to D's Leviathon. He speaks as though it were fact that the school system is part of D's Leviathon and he attributes the exposure of this fact to the book. I think perhaps you're just retarded.

[ Parent ]
awareness (3.00 / 5) (#18)
by adimovk5 on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 11:56:19 PM EST

The key to controlling the Leviathan is awareness. You must name the creature and expose it to the light of day. You must spread the news. You must teach the lesson to your neighbors, friends, and family. You must teach your children. The Leviathan is real. The Leviathan cannot be killed without killing us. We are the Leviathan.

We must study it and learn from it. In studying it, we study ourselves. We can prepare for a better tomorrow in which we are the masters of the Leviathan instead of its slaves.

The Leviathan is the collective will, the group think.

It is every voice that swears that society is more important than individuals.

It is not belonging but servitude. It is not sharing but submission. It is not cooperation but slavery.

No teacher teached me to read (none / 2) (#19)
by kaol on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:11:06 AM EST

I was 5 or 6 at the time. Our family had a boat at the time, which for me meant hours of forced free time while we were sailing. Needless to say, I was bored out of my hide. One time I decided confine myself into the forepeak with a Donald Duck comic book.

I didn't even know the letters. I had to try the whole alphabet for each letter and try to guess what the whole word meant. It was all one big Caesar cipher for me. Granted that my mother had read it to me sometime and I had the general idea of what it was about, but it was still somewhat of a feat. Eventually I emerged from the forepeak and proudly demonstrated my new skill to her. I remember I had an headache afterwards.

She hadn't bothered to try to teach me to read before school. She'd already tried that on my older brother, who didn't like it.

No teacher taught you about strong verbs, either (3.00 / 4) (#24)
by teece on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:39:08 AM EST


-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

Thanks. Someone had to say it. N/T (none / 0) (#51)
by Frequanaut on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:39:11 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Blame the non-native speaker day (none / 1) (#58)
by kaol on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:41:20 AM EST

Oh well, most of the things I've learned of the English language have been taught to me in school. I'll pass the blame to them.

Finnish is such a nice language. We don't have any strong verbs. Some 40 or so declination groups, but it's somewhat contrived to even claim they really exist. They can be deduced most of the time from the verb itself, and the rest follow too, if you know a bit of the history of the language. Some phonemes have disappeared from the language, but the conjugations remain.

I never got the hang of learning the declination groups of Swedish verbs, they're positively arbitrary... As are their nouns. The "der,die oder das" raffle of the German lessons left me perplexed too.

Any time you see somebody write "propably", they're most likely Finnish.

I know I use commas per the grammar of Finnish, that'll lead to quite a few extra ones when writing English.

I've been reading my roommate's books (he studies linguistics), longing for a pretty artificial language. Esperanto isn't really such. He thinks artificial languages are a wasted effort.

But none of this is really topical... Sorry for the rant. I thought how I learned to read was a cute little story and on topic too. Too bad my little mistake distracted you anglophones.

[ Parent ]

the perfect language (none / 0) (#68)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:19:51 AM EST

No gender ala English and Mandarin
No particular importance on word order, ala English
No tense ala Mandarin
No difficulty with spelling or pronunciation, ala German
No articles ala Russian

And now, a phrase in this perfect language style to summarize these points:


al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

oy? (none / 0) (#128)
by mikpos on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:16:17 PM EST

No particular importance on word order, ala English
What do you mean by word order? English is pretty strongly SVO. I can't say things like "furry got cat I a". You could say perhaps "no particular importance on word order, ala Latin"?

Realistically, any substantially analytical language is going to need some serious word order.

[ Parent ]

it's not too strenuous (none / 0) (#135)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:52:34 PM EST

Yes, it does follow a basic SVO pattern, but within that pattern, there's a lot of flexibility. I could have said ala Latin, maybe, but I'm not that familiar with it.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

English Word Order (none / 0) (#145)
by teece on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:07:45 PM EST

Is actualy fairly restrictive.  It is very restrictive compared to synthetic langauges like Latin or Spanish.  Indeed, at one point (eg Old English) English was fairly synthetic, too.  But it switched from synthetic to analytic during and somewhat after Middle English.

If you don't believe that word order is contstrained in English, go read a little Shakespeare.  Pay attention to the word ordering -- a lot of it is completely 'ungrammatical' by modern standards.  We can understand it -- but there are many word orders that Shakespeare uses that are not used in modern English, and that would be changed by an editor in written modern English.

Shakespeare lived towards the end of the switch from synthetic to analytic, and thus a lot of older word orders were still common in his time.  They've died by now.


*Came he not home to night?
*What sayde he?
*Sent he to Macduffe?
*Or if there were, it not belongs to you.
*Andronicus, staine not thy Tombe with blood.

Other languages have a whole lot more flexibility than even Shakespeare used.  Old Norse poetry is sometimes 100% free of any restraint on word order.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

ok (none / 0) (#154)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:39:27 PM EST

Those kinds of examples were pretty much what I was thinking. "Came he not home tonight?" isn't normal usage currently, but it seems perfectly correct to me.

But, I'll accept your word that there are languages with much greater flexibility there.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

A Norse example (none / 1) (#180)
by arjan de lumens on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:20:35 PM EST

An example of just how free the word order was in Norse: "Madr drap bondin" ("Madr"=the man (subject form), "drap"=killed, "bondin"=the farmer(object form)). Basically, if you change the word order of this little Norse sentence it doesn't in any way affect its meaning, so that
"Madr drap bondin"
"Bondin drap madr"
"Drap bondin madr"
etc all mean the exact same thing - "the man killed the farmer", with subject and object being determined by declension only.

[ Parent ]
No Blame (none / 0) (#159)
by teece on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:03:55 PM EST

Just a small laugh at your expense.  Sorry.

Strong (or irregular, as has become a more common term) verbs are completely arbitrary constructs.  I figured you didn't speak English natively, as it is hardest for ESL learners to remember that kind of stuff.  But to the native speaker it is glaringly obvious.

Finnish is interesting to me in that it is a non-Indo-European language stuck in the middle of a sea of Indo-European.

And it gave English the word sauna!

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#101)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:28:05 PM EST

No teacher taught me what a strong verb is. I had to look it up just now. Basically it's a specific type of irregular verb. But is there an incorrectly conjugated verb in the parent post? If there is, I'm missing it.

[ Parent ]
In the Subject (none / 0) (#174)
by teece on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:08:49 PM EST

'To teach' is a strong verb.  The past tense is taught, not teached.

As far as I know, a strong verb is the exact same thing as an irregular verb.  Calling them irregular is a recent thing.

-- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
[ Parent ]

Oh, hehe, it's so obvious. (none / 0) (#230)
by Fon2d2 on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:20:12 PM EST

I must've glanced past that. When I went back to reread it, I wasn't looking at the subject line.

But anyway the definition for strong verb that I found said it is one in which the vowel sound is changed. For example that past participle of "to sing" is "sung". That makes me wonder if verbs such as "to be" would count.

Also, how recent is calling them irregular? I'm 25 and I was studying irregular verbs before high school.

[ Parent ]

King's Quest was my impetus (none / 1) (#34)
by prolixity on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:02:15 AM EST

I still have 5.25" disk covers with words I had scrawled onto them for my parents to decipher.

I always forgot how to spell 'open' (as in 'open gate' to feed the chickens in King's Quest Three)

After that, I moved on to Infocom and particularly enjoyed "Nord and Bert".

[ Parent ]

It is getting fought. (none / 1) (#20)
by Xeriar on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:35:21 AM EST

It has to. Parts of it are killing it (IE, the legal system, the tax system, and to a degree the school system) and thus, it gets changed.

Occasionally something does get changed without need, of course (slavery) because enough people simply decide it has to be. Leviathan is not, by its nature, some giant evil entity. All civilizations are really one giant superorganism. Like ants are a part of their nest, humans are a part of their society. And these societies are a part of their civilization.

You call it Leviathan and attribute all this evilness to it because, well, people are not predisposed to organization on this level. Six billion people is a staggering number, and each of us are just another one.

The problem has been exagerated recently because the past six centuries have been spent with such a skyrocketing population that there is really no comparing it. Noone has tried coordinating this many people before.

So people fuck up.
Or try to take a little more than their share.
Or just get so overwhelmed as to not even try.

A few millenia of this by so many people have left us with quite a legacy. Of course, it means a lot has to be changed. For what it's worth, I think Leviathan could have turned out to be a lot worse.

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
do you mean IE as in Internet Explorer or i.e.? (none / 2) (#28)
by the77x42 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:14:58 AM EST

"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]
Where is the dissent? (3.00 / 7) (#26)
by Polverone on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:11:27 AM EST

I mentioned this in another comment, but I'll ask again here: where are the nay-sayers? Where are the dissenting views, the people willing to say "things aren't as grim as Gatto makes it seem?" I spent 30 minutes with Google once (okay, not the most thorough of scholarship) trying to find critiques or challenges of Gatto's work. I found virtually nothing.

I did find a few nitpicks: one message on Usenet said that Gatto attributed quotes to Dewey that could not be found in Dewey's writings. Another said that Gatto was wrong about historical literacy rates for blacks. A K5 poster who responded to my linked comment said that Gatto substantially misrepresents parts of Chinese history. This handful of (possible) factual errors leaves me uneasy: are they isolated flaws in a generally outstanding piece of scholarship, or signs of systematic errors?

It doesn't make things any easier that Gatto does not have much use for footnotes, and that many of the sources he does reference are old and obscure. They are old enough that I at one time put "get Gatto's references, scan and post them on the Web" on my long-term todo list. But until I actually attend to that task, it's tough for me to tell how much liberty he's taken with his sources.

This man is hardly obscure, and says things that should be highly controversial, or at least attention-grabbing. But when people talk about this book, it only seems to be to praise it, no matter what their background or political leanings. I would feel better about it if I had been able to hunt down a serious critique, rather than praise heaped upon praise.

Why has no school administration professional made a public rebuttal or commentary on this work? Why is there just one mention of it on the NEA's website, and that mention itself a visitor-submitted comment that received no replies? Why have teachers not risen to defend (even a little bit) the system in which they work?

This man has been published in the Wall Street Journal. He's not some two-bit Usenet crank. So where are the critical responses? The silence is positively eerie.
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.

Obvious (2.00 / 3) (#31)
by trhurler on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:58:34 AM EST

The man is dead on right, and everyone who reads him knows it. BUT, as he says, there isn't much to be done about it. Why argue with him? Remember, the kind of bureaucratic losers who are likely to have their hackles raised by this sort of thing are far too incompetent to actually write a reasonable rebuttal, so don't expect anything from them; they probably paid someone to write their college term papers, which is why they're now public school teachers and principals instead of doing a respectable job.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
no, (none / 0) (#108)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:59:11 PM EST

here's why.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Why no dissent? (2.75 / 4) (#48)
by Squidward on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:02:18 AM EST

This type of claim is extremely difficult to argue against, because any counterclaim can be responded to with "Obviously you've been brainwashed by the system too."

Also, I'd wager that the great majority of school administration professionals would see this as the workings of a conspiracy nut, not worthy of a rebuttal that would only serve to give Gatto publicity.

[ Parent ]

I dissent (none / 1) (#54)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:24:18 AM EST

I don't think the schools are as bad as they're painted here, but I don't think they're good either. I couldn't find a good poll option to pick - my response would be something like "Good concept, bad implementation." The concept of mandatory education is not one that I disagree with, but the current system is horribly broken. Schools today are places where we teach children (a) that they're our enemies and (b) how to do mindless busy-work. They don't have to be like this, though.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
My Opinion (2.75 / 4) (#61)
by minerboy on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:12:06 AM EST

Is that he knows just where the weakness of those in education is. The Party line is that every child can learn, and that all children have value - can do anything - hell, I've seen students with 410 on their math SAT's saying they want to be doctors - shades of Dr Moe, Dr. Larry, Dr. Curly. Educators rarely admit that their job, for a large majority of students, is to train them to do some relatively menial task, to basically be able to act competantly in a complex society.

What Gatto does, is to essentially tell the truth about educators, and criticize them for it. His point is that educators should be doing what they say they want to do. most school administrators would tell you that they are working towards the goals that Gatto suggests, but in a different way, and would quickly point to advances in methodology, and mention the current buzz words - Inquiry learning, fostering critical thinking. They will probably even tell you that their teachers are no longer the "sage on the stage", and that they are endeavoring to create the kinder and gentler "learning community". So dispite gatto's criticism of the system, they want to agree with him. They will wait for particular operational issues to be raised (teacher certification requirements, for example) and then argue on a point by point basis - basically, certification insures a minimum standard of teacher, and then give examples of piss poor teachers in uncertified fundamentalist religious schools.

A better argument, and one you will never hear from the educational community, is that there are many children that go to school that have no chance of ever succeeding in society, beyond being trained for repetitive, semi skilled tasks learned by rote. They will be able to pay bills, drive, etc. all rote tasks, but they won't be able to operate beyond a certain level of complexity, and they won't be able to easily adapt to new situations (the later is a current problem). These Children will never be autodidactic, like Lincoln or Franklin, and are in fact benefiting from the regimented training they receive. Since autodidactic people will almost always succeed, the systems are built for the lease common denominator. In fact, the relative lack of regimentation in the U.S. as compared to Europe, probably accounts for a part of our higher crime rate, (along with the influx of immigrants, who have not been properly regimented)

[ Parent ]
Alternatives. (none / 0) (#69)
by bgalehouse on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:20:51 AM EST

One can claim that Gatto provides little or limited advice for real change. Without having read every chapter (yet) the book seem to be more focused on tearing down than building up.

There is talk about how the cells of Leviathan can fight their own body, but 'cancerous' groups appear all the time, and sometimes they spread and have quite a major effect in the long term. I cannot seem to find the attribution, but to quote somebody or another "If you would change the world, change yourself; then ask a friend to join you."

Not everybody lives near to Sudbury Valley, and without having visited it or spoken with graduates I'll not declare that this particular alternative is tested and works perfectly. However, its existance makes it hard to argue that alternatives are inconceivable.

Similarly, without experience or surveys of homeschooling, it is hard to say that it must be the solution. But again, it illustrates the plausability of an alternative, and it is one that many families have the resources to implement.

[ Parent ]

dialectic (none / 0) (#73)
by thomasn528 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:38:49 AM EST

It seems to me that some of what Gatto objects to -- standardization, mass education -- had some valid points once, but has been overdone. I read an article of his in Harper's last year, liked it, wrote about it, but added:
To be fair, Conant et al would have some rebuttal points to Gatto, I think. For example, it may be that standardized testing has helped create a system of unnecessarily standardized education, but it may also be that's preferable to the class- and connections-based system prior to ETS and SATs. And while Prussia is a useful bogeyman in Gatto's account, by the late 1800s its industrial development and scientific prowess were the envy of the modernizing world. Emulating its school system may have indeed been a worthy reform compared to the status quo, whether or not we should stick with all elements of that system today.

[ Parent ]
I will mention some criticisms I have of the book (none / 1) (#90)
by Eryximachus on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:31:11 PM EST

1) Gatto is an egalitarian, and his book is written from that viewpoint. It is no secret the much of the book is dealing with problems of Negroes.  Yet, Gatto is unwilling to accept the possibility they really are intellectualy inferior to other races and that is why they cannot succeed in more cerebral endeavours.  Gatto completely rejects the Bell Curve, despite huge quantities of data which supports it, much more since the book was originally published.  This is a mistake, and is never properly analyzed in the book, or even stated, yet it is a crucial underlying assumption which permeats every conclusion.    

2)  Gatto has a grasp of some historical trends, but ultimately fails to appreciate firstly how the Nation State is an extension of the family and how the State has a legitimate interest in insuring its children continue the current culture into the future.  

Those were the chief criticisms I recall making when I read the book about 1.5 years ago.

[ Parent ]

Did I miss the <irony> tag? (none / 0) (#118)
by jandev on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:40:54 PM EST

Yet, Gatto is unwilling to accept the possibility they really are intellectualy inferior to other races and that is why they cannot succeed in more cerebral endeavours.
You're joking, right?


[ Parent ]

Yeah, of course I am joking (none / 0) (#131)
by Eryximachus on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:31:11 PM EST

after all, anyone who walks down the street in any major American city can surely see the Negro is the most advanced form of human to have ever existed. After all, look at their home continent! It is a bastion of civility, culture, and progress!

What a fool I am, to have not noticed the brilliance under my nose!  

[ Parent ]

Culture (none / 0) (#189)
by kemayo on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:56:41 PM EST

So, what are you drawing this estimate of a stranger's innate intelligence from?

I would think that before we can make any judgements regarding inborn intellegence between races we would have to find some way to eliminate the cultural difference and attitudes that are imbued in the child-rearing process.  Maybe a study on children who were adopted at an early age in a mixed-race household...?

[ Parent ]

Well non curved bells wouldn't work would they? (none / 0) (#211)
by kerinsky on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:17:38 AM EST

Those studies have been done, again and again, for quite some time now.

Eryximachus refers to, and probably is basing some opinions off of, the book The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein.

A basic summary of the assertions of the book that relate to the grandparent post are that A) there does exists a measurable thing Inteligence B) certain groups (specifically racial minorities in America) reliably measure higher or lower in Inteligence on average C) we can reliably measure this with tests that are not demonstrably biased for or against cultures and these differences remain.

It's 900+ pages with lots of statistics and data. There are several entire books dedicated to refuting it, so if you read it you can read them too and let the memes fight it out in your head.

There are several references and footnotes in that book to studies you describe, I'm too lazy right now to find a source I would trust on the internet with information about such studies on it but I'm sure you coudl find something with 20 minutes on google.

[ Parent ]
Rusty: I want killfiles (none / 0) (#251)
by jandev on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:15:49 PM EST

I assume you're the same Eryximachus that posts here, so you're probably no troll.

Consider yourself killfiled.



[ Parent ]

I am certainly no troll (none / 0) (#256)
by Eryximachus on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:33:18 PM EST

but I don't know anything about the other site you link to.

Eryximachus was a character from Plato's Symposium, so I am rather certain it is a name you will encounter with some frequency. That said, you will live a much more healthy life if you stick to the facts rather than googling a internet handle.

Better yet, you should google the book "The Bell Curve".  While it may offend you that I suggest not all people are identical in ability, and that variance is directly related to ethnicity, the fact remains I have serious sociological data to back up my claims. Such claims can hardly be dismissed as trolling.  

Your intellectual intolerance to free debate is not surprising however.  

[ Parent ]

Actually, that's everyone's home continent... (none / 0) (#327)
by irrevenant on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 08:25:40 PM EST

... - homo sapiens all originally came from Africa.

Incidentally see Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" for an alternate theory for 'the way things are' (tm).

[ Parent ]

You're either a fuckhead racist sheep-shagger... (none / 0) (#367)
by Russell Dovey on Mon Aug 09, 2004 at 07:05:20 PM EST

...or a stupid, poorly written troll.

Either way, fuck off.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Lack of Bell Curve Science (none / 0) (#149)
by Thrasymachus on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:23:11 PM EST

That is my criticism of Gatto as well. He does mention the Bell Curve, though only to dismiss it. On the other hand, I have no doubt that the school system fails to fully develop the academic potentials of both whites and blacks, even if those potentials do differ. Gatto is still extremely useful.

[ Parent ]
Baldrson? [nt] (none / 0) (#252)
by CodeWright on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:58:59 PM EST

A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Dissent... (none / 1) (#147)
by GRAMMERSoft on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:16:19 PM EST

The reason there is no dissent should be perfectly obvious: the modern school system has, for several generations, produced adults incapable of independent thought. When an authority figure, a "Teacher of the Year", no less, weighs in on a subject, dissent is impossible.

[ Parent ]
There can be no refutation of the truth but quiet (none / 0) (#163)
by auraslip on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:32:59 PM EST

[ Parent ]
I don't think that's it (none / 1) (#179)
by Polverone on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:17:25 PM EST

People tilt at truth all the time. "The Earth is 6000 years old, the moon landings were an elaborate hoax, the Bali bombing was the work of Israeli agents with a micro-nuke, Einstein was a fool who didn't know the first thing about physics..." All this and more you can find online, and those statements are made against evidence more widely corroborated that what Gatto has assembled.

Maybe Gatto's book has fallen into a special local minimum where real scholars don't have the inclination (for whatever reason) to challenge it and real crazies don't have enough awareness of his work to challenge it?

The slightly-more-than-half of his book that I read resonated fairly strongly with me. That it never blamed anything but vast Systems and persons long-dead made me wonder if I was, in some sophisticated way, being pandered to, and made me eager to find a comprehensive critique of the book, which I never located. I attended private schools exclusively until graduate school, so I have some anecdotes stored away that indicate Public Schools Are Bad, but no firsthand experience to confirm, deny, or balance those anecdotes.

Here's one of my anecdotes:

When I was in the 7th grade, one of my friends, who didn't work to keep his grades up, left our private school and enrolled in the local public school. Before leaving, he was near the tail end of the grade distribution, with a D+ in math. At the public school, he was regarded as some sort of Math Genius by the other students, often asked for help with work, and an A student. I don't think this was because he suddenly applied himself at the public school, either. I don't know if this indicates that private schools gain many benefits from the luxury of student selection, or that public schools do not prod students to learn as much as they could have, or some combination of the two.

Even in a private school, there were many times that I was frustrated by what appeared to be arbitrary exercises of power and stupidities: why couldn't I do my history homework during English, when it was due next period and I'd have all weekend to finish the English homework? Why, in the 3rd grade, did we all have to take turns reading aloud when many students could read much faster than they could speak and others were suffering (not learning) as they stumbled over the sentences? Why do some teachers or professors even bother to lecture if 90% of what they say is going to be straight from the textbook? I never felt like school broke my spirit or stopped me from learning, though. It did make me more critical. I wasn't even sure I wanted to continue my education after high school, because although I excelled at school, I never enjoyed it. College and beyond was far better, as people always said it would be.

There are also benefits to structured learning. I love chemistry, but would have skipped over a lot of "oh that's just boring math" material that later proved useful, if I hadn't ever had formal chemistry classes. The same is true of other areas that interest me; the pressure of examinations and assignments ensured that I had a broader knowledge of a subject than I would've had if I'd just studied what interested me. This seems like a benefit, anyhow, but maybe if I'd been allowed to focus on what fascinated me, I'd have a deeper knowledge of my interest-areas. Many of the problems Gatto talks about appear to manifest more strongly in public schools, but formal schooling worked reasonably well for me.
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Are schools really for academic education? (none / 3) (#29)
by Azmeen on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:38:41 AM EST

I feel that I've learnt more interesting things out of school than in it. However, I don't think that schools are "that bad" (TM).

If you go to school with the expectation that you will learn all that you need to learn there, you will be very, very dissapointed. My take on it is that schools are actually very good in "stirring" a child's curiosity.

Sure, they'll learn about a dozen subjects throughout the year... and I find that it's perfectly logical that not everything learnt will be of interest to the child, but it is still a highly important point of discovery.

Every child has his or her own intelligences. Each person will have at least two of them. I don't feel that schools should teach each child according to their intelligences. It would be very time consuming and expensive. Even when the method is feasible, the children will then have little interaction with others of different intelligences.

Schools are also one of the most important source of social interaction.

HTNet | Blings.info
So then (none / 3) (#30)
by trhurler on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:56:37 AM EST

What you're saying is that although schools do a lousy job, it would be too hard to do it right, and besides, since schools exist, kids need schools as a way to interact socially, because all the other kids are at school.

That's the most pathetic argument I have ever seen in my life. Seriously.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
That's about right (none / 0) (#35)
by Azmeen on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:04:28 AM EST

Because to me, to do something right, it has to be done perfectly. ie. flawlessly, with no points of failure, works as promised. Anything short of that is not perfect, thus not right.

If your opinion of school is in the traditional sense, ie. a place where children are to be taught academically, then of course my argument is pathetic, as you kindly put it yourself. In fact, I'll agree wholeheartedly with you, if that was my approach.

The current school syllabus is roughly the same as it was 10 years ago. The differences are barely noticable. Not actually "up to date" when you look at it closely now, is it? Now, take a look outside the classroom for a while... has nothing changed for the past 10 years?

Now the interaction bit... show me a better place where kids of similar ages can interact with one another. At the same time, getting a first hand look of different levels of "social hierarchies", grasping the concept of "the haves and the have nots", authority and responsibility... all the things that books can't teach you.

So, in essence, I agree with you that schools definitely do a lousy job, if you expect them to educate the children academically. However, the most important experiences a child can learn from mostly come from the school environment but not the syllabus.

HTNet | Blings.info
[ Parent ]
So then (2.25 / 4) (#38)
by trhurler on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:26:23 AM EST

You think the most important experiences for a child are arbitrary authority, conflicting rules with absurd and poorly specified punishments which are meted out at random, the crushing of any independent thought, the encouragement of conformity at any cost, and the sort of 'socialization' such as consists in forming cliques, hating each other, and being quietly encouraged in this behavior by school administrators who privately know that this is in their interests?

However did children manage to become adults before THIS wonder of the modern world? I just cannot understand. They must all have been antisocial assholes, and imagine - I bet a few of them even had thoughts of their own at some point in their lives, AND ASCRIBED SOME REASONABLE WEIGHT TO THESE IDEAS!

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
When did I say that? (none / 0) (#40)
by Azmeen on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:15:11 AM EST

All the things that you mentioned are not actually universal now is it? And last I checked, I never mentioned that random poorly specified punishment should be handed out (and while we're putting words into each others' mouths) at random.

If such things are happening in all of the schools in your country, wouldn't you at least think that there's something majorly flawed in your social system?

And where did I mention that children should conform at any cost?

I have to agree with the forming cliques part though... I believe it's just as wrong to force kids to be friends with everyone. Likeminded individuals (I guess when discussing children in general, we tend to forget that they are individuals as well... just like adults) tend to develop this behaviour. Care to point out to me why this is a bad thing?

Same with tha hating each other argument... don't tell me that you actually love everyone that you've met so far in your life? Forced love is just as evil as induced hate. This is reality... sure you might be able to raise your kids in seclusion among family members who won't do anything bad to them. But what's their chance of getting by when they face the real world?

HTNet | Blings.info
[ Parent ]
Zero tolerance (none / 1) (#47)
by duffbeer703 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:32:24 AM EST

We here at K5 have zero tolerance for disagreement. You are hereby banished from K5 for a period not exeeding 5 minutes.

And I'm calling my union rep.

[ Parent ]

I love all this anti-school sentiment. (none / 0) (#100)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:12:43 PM EST

I feel validated.

[ Parent ]
First of all... (none / 2) (#137)
by trhurler on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:58:28 PM EST

You're defending public schools. Public schools do all the things I listed. From what I understand, this is not merely a US thing - it IS the Prussian model of public schooling, adopted by most of the world during the industrialization period of the so-called "first world" nations. If you want to defend something OTHER than what we presently have that would itself be a form of universal public education, so be it, but don't tell me I'm putting words in your mouth just because I expect that you know what you're defending!

Second, my whole point about schools and "socialization" is not about forcing kids to do anything. It is about the fact that they at once(for public image's sake,) tell kids they must get along with and even like everyone, while simultaneously quietly encouraging the natural viciousness of kids. Left to their own devices, kids would simply avoid each other in situations where they were cruel to each other, after a short time - but schools don't allow it, and they punish the victims, rather than the aggressors.

And finally, about alternatives: I don't suggest raising anyone in seclusion. The absence of public schooling is not the sequestering of children in their homes. Quite the contrary; without public schooling, kids would probably interact with a much broader group of people than they do when cooped up in classrooms with the same people EVERY DAY.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
if we ever meet in person, (none / 1) (#173)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:57:48 PM EST

i'm gonna give you the swirly of your life.

they damn well ought to punish kids for being victims. christ, if that lesson had gotten through to localroger and the rest of the nerds on this site, this damned article wouldn't even exist.

also, you seem unfamiliar with the situation in modern midwestern suburbs. things are too far apart for kids to have much of a social life within their own neighborhoods. the artificial concentration created by schools is vital in such places. of course, given that you didn't even bother to think through the mechanics of classrooms and school districts before posting (in particular, you don't seem to recognize that, modulo age, children in the same neighborhood tend to end up in the same classroom or at least the same playground at recess), i should expect that you'd advance such a quarter baked argument.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

hmmm (none / 0) (#187)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:17:39 PM EST

Are you aware of any of the history of human beings on this planet?

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

i'm sure this post made a lot of sense to you (none / 0) (#190)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:01:49 AM EST

in your mind, but unfortunately, the rest of us have little insight into what's going on up there.

i will hazard a guess that you mean to say things have always been far apart, to which i will reply that that is absolutely false. in the past, places of significant population have had to stay compact for transportation and distribution reasons. that is no longer the case.

neighborhoods used to be small and friendly to children. now they are filled with curmudgeonly baby boomers who put up fences to keep kids out of their yards. the upshot is that even getting across one's own neighborhood can be several miles' walk along streets that were engineered by an intern. busy streets and similar conditions across all subdivisions mean that without a car, getting to your buddy's house can take over an hour.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Two things (none / 0) (#202)
by trhurler on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:17:55 AM EST

First of all, there were plenty of friends to be had within reasonable walking distance of my house here the burbs.

Second, have you ever heard of bikes? We used them extensively to cover distances that would be annoyingly long on foot. Long before any of us could possibly drive a car, we routinely traveled several miles to hang out. It just wasn't a problem.

I really think you're just talking out your ass. Which, of course, would be the norm.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
bicycles offer substantial mobility, it's true. (none / 0) (#205)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:43:28 AM EST

but you'll find that most modern suburbs are not bicycle friendly. when you start talking about travelling miles by bike, suddenly you're looking at very busy streets and typically no bike paths.

i realize that when you were young, there probably weren't all that many busy streets. well, now there are. the suburban population is larger and more spread out than ever before and their SUVs are ever more numerous and menacing to cyclists.

these new realities place serious restrictions on the mobility bicycles offer and even more serious restrictions on what many parents what boundaries many parents will allow.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Now you're just trolling. I mean, really (none / 0) (#206)
by trhurler on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:56:56 AM EST

Busy streets? Yes, and we rode on them. These days, the new suburbs have bike paths and bike lanes and wider lanes anyway, and bikes are becoming ever more common on public roads. Just give it up; you're not fooling anyone but yourself.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
you haven't seen my old neighborhood. (none / 0) (#208)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:02:40 AM EST

quite a hellhole, that place.

it was an affluent suburb but it had none of the features you describe. and you don't ride bikes on streets where the cars are doing fifty.

my grandparents' neighborhood comes to mind too. it is a vastly worse situation. everything miles apart seperated by highways. not friendly at all.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 0) (#236)
by trhurler on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:05:17 PM EST

First it was the "newer" neighborhoods, now the older ones... Are you sure you're not a Democratic presidential contender?

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
both of the neighborhoods in question (none / 1) (#245)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:29:47 PM EST

are under twenty years old at present and are, in any case, substantially more developed than when they began (larger and busier streets, for example).

interestingly enough, my grandparents' neighborhood is the younger of the two. you see, their age is in fact unrelated to the age of their neighborhood. obviously, this did not occur to you, but that is to be expected. in any case, when we talk about modern suburbs, we are talking about suburbs that exist today, not ones that were built today. again, i realize these subtle distinctions are not your fort$eacute;, but do try to keep up.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

No, no (none / 0) (#276)
by trhurler on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:04:24 AM EST

I wasn't talking about your grandparents. You yourself used the term "older suburban neighborhoods" at one point. I guess you forgot; not surprising since you're a pathetic lying troll who can't even keep his story straight.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
way to go. (none / 0) (#277)
by rmg on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:24:41 AM EST

to me, your post based on a pun. to you, well, you just can't think any straighter than that.

in fact, i never used such a term. i did say "my old neighborhood" which would clearly mean the neighborhood in which i used to live. since you have no further knowledge about the time frames involved, it is impossible for you to estimate the age of that neighborhood with the information given. you see, this is an entirely different sense of the word "old." funny thing, language.

and as a matter of fact, i can keep my story very, very straight. (famously so, in fact. i remember lies i told when i was twelve years old and i keep them straight to this day. my memory for conversations is unparalleled.) what isn't staying straight here is your thought process.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

trhurler is the Troll (none / 0) (#348)
by Milo Minderbinder on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 04:45:49 PM EST

Stop trolling, trhurler. Picking fights with rmg is just plain stupid, you'll loose every time.
[ Parent ]
got any children? (none / 0) (#219)
by speek on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 09:51:20 AM EST

Plan on having any? Are you going to be happy to send them to school all year round (the end of summer vacations is coming - is nearly here already in Florida where my sister lives)?

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

yes and no. (none / 0) (#246)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:31:35 PM EST

again, look at the start of my previous post. i won't do any guess work this time.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 1) (#201)
by trhurler on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:14:06 AM EST

You can try, but I haven't lost a fight in over fifteen years. That was one thing public schools DID teach me how to do. Now, about punishing victims: let's just say I'm twice your size, and I hit puberty before you. I now have far greater strength, and enough mass to shrug off almost anything you can do to me. I can make your life absolute hell, and there is NOTHING you can do about it. You think it is reasonable to punish you? (Hint: yes, this happened to me numerous times. I later pushed one of the assholes down a flight of stairs and nearly killed him, which ended that problem for me. You think schools should encourage that sort of thing?!) The problem is even worse because it is the school that MAKES a victim out of the kid; to then punish him for it certainly teaches one thing: hatred of everyone who has any kind of authority. Public schools richly deserve all the Columbines they get.

As for midwestern suburbs, I grew up in one, you fucking tard. I had plenty of friends outside of school. Maybe you're just an antisocial reject.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
well no, not quite. (none / 0) (#207)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:58:37 AM EST

actually, i just had a conservative mother who did not recognize the situation my location put me in. i was never short of friends, just ways to get to them.

but on the matter of the stairs, yes, i think schools should encourage that sort of thing, though more or less in the same way they do now. i just think it's too bad it made such a whiner out of you. if you'd simply learned to understand the need to maintain order rather than to resent power, i think it would have been a great experience for you. see, this is one of the great arguments in favor of classical education, but i digress...

anyway, it sounds like you were just a fucking nerd and little has changed. you're still filled with resentment and hate. you still have the victim complex. you still weigh 150 pounds. is there still someone in your life you want to push down a flight of stairs?


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

*snicker* (none / 1) (#231)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:26:06 PM EST

if you'd simply learned to understand the need to maintain order rather than to resent power, i think it would have been a great experience for you. see, this is one of the great arguments in favor of classical education, but i digress...

Bravo sir! <golf clap>

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
Hehe (none / 0) (#234)
by trhurler on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:46:47 PM EST

You're like a really talentless version of jsm. Anyway...
but on the matter of the stairs, yes, i think schools should encourage that sort of thing, though more or less in the same way they do now. i just think it's too bad it made such a whiner out of you. if you'd simply learned to understand the need to maintain order rather than to resent power, i think it would have been a great experience for you.
You think this is preferable to a sane exercise of authority? You don't "maintain order" by quietly encouraging people to violate it in ever-bigger ways, and if you don't use power in some constructive fashion, there's no reason to have it.
anyway, it sounds like you were just a fucking nerd and little has changed. you're still filled with resentment and hate. you still have the victim complex. you still weigh 150 pounds. is there still someone in your life you want to push down a flight of stairs?
Well, I'm not a big guy, but I weigh more than 150. I don't think I've been called a "nerd" since about the seventh grade, and then only by a girl who was pissed off that she was too lazy or too stupid to succeed. As for stairs, no; ever since I left school, I find that the sort of people who used to harass anyone smaller than them are now in prison, so they really aren't a problem. Turns out the real world authorities aren't as stupid as you are.

But, I suspect I'll carry resentment and hate to my grave, for one simple reason. They're no longer from the same place. Now it is simply about the fact that I am sickened by the sight of most of humanity freeloading off of the efforts and abilities of a tiny minority, and shitting on the latter the whole while. Most of what passes for "human beings" have as much right to the lives they live as does a tapeworm, except that the comparison fails because tapeworms are not spiteful or particularly greedy.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
re: people who used to harass you (none / 1) (#244)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:20:13 PM EST

no, actually, most of them aren't in prison. now those people are your bosses. you see the harm your resentment did you?

your concept of dessert is precisely the sort of hatred that gave birth to the ayn rand religion. i suppose it must be satisfying to think that you are the upright man amongst tapeworms and parasites. the reality, of course, is less charitable. you're really just a chump who's come to think that productivity is a virtue, when in fact that virtue is the chain your former bullies fastened to your ankle.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 1) (#274)
by trhurler on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:02:05 AM EST

Interesting idea, but I don't deal with people I don't want to deal with. Ever. Oh, you're a prick? Too bad you'll be explaining to your boss why the project isn't done. Yeah, I quit, and yeah, I timed it horribly for you. Don't worry; I don't need you as a reference - I have other competent people for that.

As for your view of productivity, just what do you think would happen without them? And what without me? In one of these worlds, life is nicer. In the other, life comes to an abrupt halt - or at least, civilization does.

And finally, no, really, most of those people are in prison, or rapidly headed that way. My bosses are mostly guys like me who got sick of being used, and decided to see if moving up the ladder made any difference. It didn't, but they're still hoping they can climb above it all. Fortunately, I figured out young that they never will. This was the single most fortunate and enjoyable discovery of my life, as it freed me to do anything I want.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
oh, don't get the wrong idea. (none / 0) (#278)
by rmg on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:33:34 AM EST

i recognize the need for dutiful idiots. i simply don't advise particular people to become them. i mean, what sort of idiot would believe that any particular moral maxim ought to hold for everyone?

i witnessed an interesting spectacle tonight. i came back to my room around two and noticed three tall guys in the hall being loud and obnoxious. some girl pokes her head out of her door and tells them to shut the fuck, she's trying to sleep... well, they hang around and be louder and stupider, bang on the doors and walls, act like asses because what's she going to do about it? -- they were business majors of course. ivy league ones. someday they'll be your bosses bosses.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Doubtful (none / 0) (#291)
by trhurler on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 11:58:27 AM EST

Business majors are actually a rarity in the technical world. MBAs are a dime a dozen, even from Ivy League schools, but they didn't do their undergrad work in business; those guys are still going off to join shoe companies and shit like that. If you look, you'll find that most leaders of tech companies come from technical backgrounds.

That said, I don't buy your story. I'm in fact fairly sure you made it up. Why? Because I've seen things just like that happen a dozen times in my life, and a dozen times, the cops were there in five minutes. Your story seems convenient for your purposes, but it doesn't seem true.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
do you live in candyland? (none / 0) (#294)
by rmg on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 02:41:20 PM EST

do you know the muffin man?

cops do not come to dorms on such idle matters. you certainly do live up to your reputation, though.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

It depends. (2.50 / 2) (#295)
by gzt on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 02:56:53 PM EST

Some people [possibly trhurler] went to school in places where there were Campus Cops who really have nothing better to do than slap the dick out your mouth. Once I even got pulled over for "driving suspiciously". But cops don't go into dorms unless there's a corpse.

[ Parent ]
indeed. (none / 0) (#298)
by rmg on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:21:06 PM EST

of course, trhurler seems to be the kind of pussy who'd call the cops in that situation. or at least try to push someone down a flight of stairs.

she could have called security, but security here is not the cops and they never take any action against students, except to say "move along."


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

What sort of cops do they HAVE at such schools? (none / 1) (#331)
by trhurler on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 03:34:43 AM EST

Where I went to school, they were so bored they'd show up for a report of someone walking while dressed funny. What, are Ivy League cops too good for that, or has there been a crime spree on their campuses lately that keeps the cops busy?:)

I think it is YOU who lives somewhere unreal. Besides, if she's a girl, all she has to do when she talks to the cops is say the guys threatened her, and it is about 80% that even if their story matches up among all three of them(unlikely, since they'll lie about what DID happen out of fear,) that they each get a felony conviction.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
One point I must address (none / 3) (#94)
by Deagol on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:59:26 PM EST

Now the interaction bit... show me a better place where kids of similar ages can interact with one another. At the same time, getting a first hand look of different levels of "social hierarchies", grasping the concept of "the haves and the have nots", authority and responsibility... all the things that books can't teach you.

Real Life (tm) is a better place. Not schools. Not books.

I don't recall if it was this particular Gato book or another (book or author) that make these two points:

One, segregating kids by age is bad. In the old schoolhouse days of Little House on the Prarie, kids of all ages were taught together, and, as the book points out, the literacy ability of people was much higher then it is today. I'm not shuffled into a room at my employer's complex where I only work with other 32-year-old sysadmins. That's insane! Kids don't require exposure to kids of simliar ages to be well adjusted.

Two, the concept of "a childhood" didn't really exist back in the "old days". When kids were old enough to work (mostly agrarian lifestyle back then), they got their asses out and were productive members of the family, then society. When they turned 3, they got eggs from the hens. When they turned 4 they dried the dishes. At 5 they washed dishes. At 6 they milked the cows. My examples are somewhat pulled from my posterior, but I hope my point is clear. The idea that kids are expected (and pretty much limited) to be useless until they're 16 or so is just insane. It's no wonder that people don't grow up with any sense of responsibility, respect, or work ethic any more. I argue that young kids working jobs (in a limited, safe way -- child exploitation need not apply) would advance them much farther than sitting in a classroom all day.

[ Parent ]

Hell yes! (none / 0) (#188)
by Zerotime on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:45:57 PM EST

We should be getting those (previously) useless kids down the coal mines as soon as they can walk upright.

"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
Neil Postman (none / 0) (#223)
by speek on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:13:17 AM EST

The End of Education is probably what you're referring to, or one of his other books.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

You should really read your own comments then (nt) (none / 0) (#37)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:08:56 AM EST

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
[ Parent ]
Preach On! n/t (none / 0) (#98)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:08:30 PM EST

[ Parent ]
yet another effort from localroger. (2.59 / 22) (#36)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:04:50 AM EST

well boys, it's time to break out our sob stories. once more, we may ruefully recount our traumatic formative years. yet again, we will expound upon how society and the school system has robbed us of our potential, that ephemeral essence of being that slipped from our grasp like so many brightly colored moths -- our chains, of course, prevented us from recapturing them -- all those years ago. it was the teachers, the homework, those horrid, perfect little girls -- how they mocked us! -- but never us...

we did not become what we wanted to be because they would not let us. they demanded we do it their way, never our own. never free. never me.

yes, this is the story we've all heard. from ourselves often enough, i imagine. but can anyone -- anyone of intelligence -- believe, as localroger so earnestly asserts, that we are unable to escape from this so-called "leviathan" without some "clever trick"? that we really are nothing more than what the school system (that is to say the man) makes of us? or that the forces of "society" will destroy us should we insist an alternative "life plan"? (the fictions of ayn rand notwithstanding.)

clearly, the examples of those who have gone dramatically astray are many. then why all this pretending about systems and society? is it nothing more than envy? do we imagine these deviants did not face the same "trials" as the rest of us? no, i think it's much worse than that. each of us believes our plight is unique, in spite of the overwhelmingly obvious facts of the matter. (i chalk it up to poor reading.) given that, obviously these exceptions to the rule are no surprise!

but i'm willing to grant this talk about marxist materialism. products of an environment, conditioned to labor, flow of capital, and the rest. in this formulation, indeed, the human being is just, to use roger's inanely nerdish biological metaphor (what luck such things will keep him out of any publication more reputable than this god forsaken blog!), a "cell" in this leviathan. nothing more than an element of the socio-economic order -- an element of capital coursing through the vast system of "tentacles." it is in the nature of the cell to be nothing more.

how about those deviants though? what are they? are they a cancer on the leviathan as localroger so idiotically suggests the utopians are? (an aside for rog: one of the drawbacks of dropping out of school is that you never learn where that sort of rhetoric comes from. hint: it got its big break in the last century.) no, they don't fit into the theory at all. they are something fundamentally different from these mere cellular automata. (you see? we can all pander to nerds!) must be some clever trick...

to bring this all together, i will simply remark upon how easy it is to deviate. one can become an artist, a day trader as many did in the late 90s, an academic, a traveller... any of so many different things. one need not be subject to the manager-professional relationship nor the concept of corporate heirarchy nor any of the other things the failed shells of human beings who bemoan their childhoods as we are about to witness see as somehow inescapable. the chance to deviate is there at every step of the way.

of course, we might expect such an article from someone whose way of sticking it to the man is getting two years of technical training, becoming a semi-skilled laborer (to wit, a visual basic programmer), then in the ultimate act of protest not have a child to replace him -- as surely that shining instance of human spirit (a brain cell. a real chip off the ol' block.) would have only frittered away its life just the same.

but if you are one of those who, by your nature, will not or cannot deviate, please, today after you're done writing your daily java, take a walk in the park (it should be a busy one with playgrounds if you please). surely you'll see that though we all return to the earth, those who spring from it while we're on the way can bring us all the meaning we may have thought we left behind. yes, they may be nothing more than mere cells in the leviathan, but damn it, they're our cells in the leviathan. maybe we all had foolish hopes as children and foolishly grew out of them, but certainly, as cells, we can appreciate the process of osmosis.

please don't make fun of me for writing such a long comment. it's late at night and i've darned all my socks already.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean

It smells like teen spirit (none / 1) (#56)
by rho on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:37:24 AM EST

I would "three" you, but many years ago, my testicles descended without incident. So, instead, I will applaud, a polite opera-box clap, and cross my legs to hide my giant erection.
"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw
[ Parent ]
Jeez (none / 0) (#57)
by minerboy on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:39:41 AM EST

I think your both kinda over analyzing this. Though I think everyone missed the obligatory pink floyd reference.

[ Parent ]
Hint (none / 0) (#212)
by kerinsky on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:27:34 AM EST

It's in the poll.

[ Parent ]
+1FP (none / 0) (#76)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:05:42 PM EST

rmg for editor!

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
s/osmosis/mitosis/ |NT (none / 1) (#204)
by Wise Cracker on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:43:04 AM EST

Caesars come, and Caesars go, but Newton lives forever
[ Parent ]
it is correct as written. (none / 0) (#210)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:05:29 AM EST

the osmosis part is about hope, genious.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Deviant (none / 1) (#214)
by ShiftyStoner on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:35:52 AM EST

I was lucky enough as a child to see both ends of the spectrum. Those who coperated, chose to be a proper functioning cell if you will, my dad and his family. Those who rebeld, my mom, most of her side of the family. My grandparent, those who constantly mumble under their breath about the shit going on in the world around them, usualy directed at republicans, but do what is neccesary.

My great grandma and granmda live in a 2 bedroom house together with my grandmas son. Along with periods of taking care of several generations of rebels when the're not in prison. My grandma has a job, my great grandma gets a check because her husband died. They have been living in the same house for decades. They get by.

My dad went to the army shortly after I was born. He is an acoholic who has to pay child suport for only 2 children now. He has a job, now, the army thing looks great on resimays. If he didn't blow all his cash on alcohol he would be doing good. For the most part he is miserable. But he now has a place and is getting by.

My mom fucked off in school. She rebeld aginst the "leviathon", against the system. She has spent six years of her life in prison. She is pregnant and is taking care of one child allready. She has basicaly decided to conform, only as much as she has to. She is a watress, she has to pay child suport for the kid she is taking care of for when she was in prison. Before she was broken, she made money selling drugs. She was constantly betrayed by freinds who faced anormouse amounts of presure. She has spent over half her life in the system, she is still in the system. The threat of prison is constantly hanging over her, should she lose her job or get a dirty UA. During her rebel years she had no home, she had to live with freinds and off her mother. Frequintly in and out of jail. A miserable horrible existance. That is what you face should you decide to rebel against the system. A life of poverty if not prison.

As for me. I have felt the laviathons grasp across my throat. I have rebeled since 5th grade. The system made my life miserable for many years. Apparently, you have to be a robot if you want to survive.

Your right, there are ways out of it. Become an entraponuer. Your still part of the system, but now you are in control. You have stoped being a sheep and became a wolf. Now the system does not work against you, it doesnt try to keep you down constantly. Now all those brainwashed fools are your servants, making you cash for pocket change even though they work much harder than you. You havn't stoped being a cell, you have changed your purpose.

The way to step out of it completly is to take advantage of the sheep without the aid of the system. No longer needing the system. Possibley even aiding the sheep, freeing them as well. If anarchy took over, you would still have a job. But then you have to keep out of the leviathons grasp. In the beggining it's no easy task and being a robot is just much more apealing. The way to live without the laviathon is most certainly not tot by the laviathon. If you think about it, it will rear its ugly head and show you you are a worthless ant, nothing if you do not stay a part of the system and it will squash you. Beat up the nerds, steal lie cheat, just know your place. In the system you are given purpose, you get confort from knowing if you do your part you will survive. Outside of the system you can be destroyed at any given moment if the leviathon has you. For most, it has them years before it destroyes them and they don't even know it.

Try escaping it. Try. Don't feed the beast, don't work for the beast. See how it workes out for you. It will destroy you, in about a thousand differant ways or just one. You talk as if it is an easy task do it. Make all those years of education pointless. If you acomlish it you will live like a king. If your not living like a king it already has you, your still a pawn, and youll watch as you and all your freinds go down one by one draging eachother down with them.

You can sell drugs. You can rob. You can be a prostitute. You can start a cult. Start a gang. Being a bum is acctualy an easy way of going about it. You feel the breath of the beast, you know you are not welcome, you know you are trash. But it doesn't destroy you, not typicaly. You can make more money than working at mcds thats for sure, but its the least rewarding of the options. You can make art and go about selling it, you're just a bum with a product until you start feeding the beast.

I feel like im just babling. Oh well, click.  
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

Da man (none / 2) (#39)
by Highlander on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:27:33 AM EST

I support the idea of the Leviathan.

However, I think that kids actually can learn something in school.

I'm not sure that they should spend that much time in school and spend so much time in classes that they don't like, and other stuff might be more vital and profitable to them, but learning to read is a prerequisite for learning by yourself from reading books.

localroger, you decided pretty early that you were fed up with the world. I think you need some Zweckoptimismus to get somewhere.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

Accidental opposing view (none / 2) (#41)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:32:46 AM EST

DN (in Swedish) had an article where a professor praises the social democratic educational policy that let her escape the prison of her small home town. She calls it "the escape from the two H:s", house wife and hair dresser. A friendly advisor came by her school and told her about how to get cheap loans for studies at the university.

Of course, going to the university at that time was a bit different than now, as it actually more or less guaranteed you a good job.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

hmmmm (none / 2) (#55)
by minerboy on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:33:43 AM EST

Actually, our modern society needs Women in the workforce to handle the growing number of repetitive, service oriented jobs. What has been sold as an escape into a better world away from the "drudgery" of being a housewife, is in effect, for most women, just a change in scenery. So now they perform tasks for others, while they allow the state to raise and educate their children. Perhaps this is more efficient, so they can buy more nice things, but an escape, hardly.

[ Parent ]
Ah, (none / 2) (#65)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:46:02 AM EST

but in this age, higher education was an escape from the lowest paying service jobs, also. Now, for a long time it has become an idiom to discourage informal services (unsalaried work; helping friends, DIY, taking care of your old parents) and encourage formal services (salaried work; dog walkers, carpenters, house nurses and institutions for the aged). In this light, it might look silly to frown at house wives and partake in some zero-sum game of making informal services formal.

But every individual has to make their own choices. Women are not born with a "good house wife" stamp in their foreheads just as men are not born with a "excellent woodsman" stamp in theirs.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

I homeschool all five of my children (3.00 / 11) (#42)
by mcrbids on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:05:46 AM EST

I see schools as a place where subservience and dedication to the mundane reigns supreme. The classroom environment kills curiosity, drive, motivation, and the whole idea of the importance of finishing what you start.

Classrooms create an environment where mediocrity is honored. If you stand out, you get hit. If you do well, your classmates attack. If you suck, your teacher attacks. Best to be one somewhere in the middle.

This is mediocrity defined.

I want my children to question values. Question authority. Question reality. I want them to shake up the world around them, and demand that it make sense. I don't want pacivists for my kids!

I homeschool - both a challenge and a reward, everyday! My oldest are now 15 and are attending college - don't tell me schools are "good for kids"!
I kept looking around for somebody to solve the problem. Then I realized... I am somebody! -Anonymouse

And hence... (none / 1) (#45)
by twickham on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:26:02 AM EST

I see schools as a place where subservience and dedication to the mundane reigns supreme. The classroom environment kills curiosity, drive, motivation, and the whole idea of the importance of finishing what you start.

And hence gives a child an excellent introduction into what life will be life when they get a job for a large multinational corporation :)

Honestly this article came at a bad time for me. Im a independant contractor that pimps himself out to some large corporpations. Im a software developer and I *really* enjoy the work. But geez some of the permies I work with. Its just depressing to work at an activity you love with people that dont even enjoy doing it. Why the hell would you do something that you hate doing ? Anyways... rant over.

[ Parent ]
because you need money. n/t (none / 2) (#75)
by braeburn on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:00:13 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Do you seriously have to ask that? (none / 3) (#78)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:33:15 PM EST

That's what this whole article is about. Leviathon. The fact that it kills the spirit of most people because they need to work as drones and there really is no easy way out.

My friend Marsha says it's depressing to watch people leaving my workplace. Most of them look morose. Well, hmm, that made me think. I like the people I work with. They're good company. And I like computers. I really liked them in high school. So wouldn't it be obvious that that should be my field of study? But see, nobody tells you what it will really be like to sit and program for 40 hours a week for years on end. You don't really understand the low level of social contact. Underneath, it kills you a little bit, but you stick with it because it's your best fit. Why is that this is the only way to pursue my interest? Leviathon, that's why. Perhaps there're better fits out there if I apply myself, but it's not going to be straightforward.

I've always hated school. It's taken me a long time to put a finger on the various reasons, but I can articulate them pretty well now. The reasons seem obvious, but they're not very straightforward, especially to argue. This article, and thus the book I presume as well, do a good job. For a couple other free online resources that do a good job of articulating the reasons I hate school, check out these two links:

Tied Knowledge
Why Nerds are Unpopular

So whatever, hooray for you for being so happy.

[ Parent ]
The Cheese (none / 1) (#88)
by Ogygus on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:11:02 PM EST

Why the hell would you do something that you hate doing ?


The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
Cool deal! (2.50 / 6) (#86)
by Deagol on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:06:14 PM EST

I've read the book in the write-up, a few yers ago. Even before then, my wife and I were grumbling about the school system our kids were subjected to. After the book, we re-hash the issue at every end-of-summer registration season. We don't want our kids to get beaten down by the lame education system, but we're unsure of how we'd fare as teachers.

Just yesterday, we got the packet of rules and registration stuff for this fall. I was driving the car and had to listen to my wife rant about the idiocy of the whole thing:

"What the fuck does 'modest' mean, anyway? Who the hell gets off on a 4th grade girl wearing a sleeveless shirt? What's wrong with tank tops for boys?"

We live in Utah, where state law says that K-6 school cannot require you to pay any money for anything (pencils, paper, snacks, field trips, etc.), except for caffeteria lunch. So they ask for tax-deductible "donations" -- in a sneaky way. Last year, they asked for a "snack fee" for my kindergarten-aged son when we enrolled him. I mentioed the state law, and they backpeddaled, only then telling me that it wasn't required and that it was really just a "donation". I said good, but no thanks. In middle- and high-school, the can require fees, and that if you get a fee waiver, the kids must do community service to pay for it.

WTF are my property taxes for, anyway? What about the state and federal education funding my taxes pay for? Do you think if my budget wasn't sufficient for me to pay my car registration or income taxes, you think they'd get a kick out of me asking them for a "donation"?

And don't get me started on the LDS (Mormon) influence on the teachers. With stuff my daughter comes home telling us about God and Jesus, I'm sure the ACLU could have had a field day with my school. She was even taught in school 2 years ago that the Japanese were sent to the internment camps in Utah for their "protection".

As it is, though, Utah is pretty easy about homeschooling. It allows those wink-nudge-non-existant-polygamist-households to easily sequester the kids away from society. (I'm not talkin' outta my ass here, my wife has worked with women from active polygamist households -- it's not rare for a man to have a couple of wives, though the large clans that make national news are pretty rare). The upshot, though, is that it makes it easy for us to remove our kids from the system.

We're moving this fall to a remote piece of land. There's no way the busses will be able (or even willing) to pick up the kids, and I'm not driving down (then back up) 20 miles of washboard dirt road each day to take them to the bus -- even if paid the stipend the state requires. In the winter, we may not even be able to get out, so we're gonna be homeschooling out of necessity. Just as well -- our kids will turn out better for it.

I just wish there were more free materials and compilations out there on the 'net to help us out. None the whole-year curriculum sets I've looked at online seem very useful, in spite of their expense. I'm drawn to the "unschooling" method, myself. My wife wants a little more structure, though.

So Kudos to you, mcrbids, on your accomplishments with your own kids. My adventure has just begun (1st and 4th grades this fall). I just hope I don't screw 'em up too much. :)

[ Parent ]

Curious... (none / 1) (#170)
by BigZaphod on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:48:36 PM EST

What do you do for a living that you can be that remote and still support everyone?  I'm guessing you must either work remotely via, say, the Internet, or perhaps you do more "real" things like farming?  Just wondering...

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
You got it (none / 2) (#192)
by Deagol on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:12:35 AM EST

Unix sysadmin. Satellite internet. SSH.

Gotta love technology. But it won't last too long. I don't want to work more than I need to. Once the homestead is paid for (won't take but a couple of years), I'll probably freelance just enough to pay the bills.

We'll also do the local farmers' markets and roadside stands (produce, pine nuts, eggs, cheese, & homemade soaps).

[ Parent ]

Nice. (none / 0) (#199)
by BigZaphod on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:41:43 AM EST

Sounds way cool.  A big part of me wouldn't mind that lifestyle at all.  Convincing the other half of me that it's ok...  now that's the challenge...

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
[ Parent ]
Wait just a cotten picking second (none / 1) (#203)
by spasticfraggle on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:31:09 AM EST

Soap? Chickens? Hmmm, I bet you learned all that stuff right here!

I think you should make, .... A DONATION!

(que maniacal laughter etc)


I'm the straw that broke the camel's back!
[ Parent ]

Homeschooling and Remoteness Don't Mix. (none / 0) (#275)
by celeriac on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:02:53 AM EST

Speaking as someone who was homeschooled:

Once upon a time, we lived in a small New England town. I was about seven. I had a bike and was given pretty much free reign with it... I could get to all the important places: The beach, the climbing rocks, the soccer field, the museums and (especially) the library.

Then we moved to a Western town. I was about ten. Everything a little more spread out, but my legs werelonger too. I could still get to the trails, other kids' places, the hardware store for project supplies, the library--which was bigger...

Then we moved twenty miles out of town to a more rustic subdivision. I was about thirteen.

It was a pretty nice place, actually. But I had no more easy access to the library, or any services for that matter. It was either twenty miles of dangerous highway or ten miles of rutted trail to the outskirts of town. Either that or ask to be ferried around by mom and dad. And how do you meet other kids in the neighborhood when everyone is a mile from everyone else and gets ferried around in cars all the time?

Not the kind of situation you want to be in as a self-directed learner.

The ennui was grating.

I asked to be sent to public school. It was shitty. It was the best option I had.

I'm not saying everyone's going to be the same way, but do consider it. Unschooling relies on a rich environment and freedom to explore it.

[ Parent ]

Fortunately... (none / 0) (#306)
by AME on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 04:40:34 PM EST

Fortunately for you, by the time you entered public school, you had already been taught to think for yourself, and so you probably dodged most of the public education system's deleterious effects.

By the way, I don't necessarily agree that remoteness makes homeschooling impractical. Just taking your statements at face value in my reply.

[ Parent ]

Leviathan (2.57 / 7) (#43)
by bugmaster on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:19:31 AM EST

Didn't Hobbes write something like that ?

In any case, I think that Paul Graham wrote a good article about the subject, titled Why Nerds Are Unpopular. It's very entertaining and well-written, so you should read it, but the gist of it is that our schools are not designed to teach anything to anybody; they're just glorified prisons, places to put kids so that they don't bother anyone while the parents are working. Unfortunately, Paul Graham also seems to think that this is a side-effect of our society, and nothing can be done to change it.

Not Always... (none / 1) (#59)
by Juppon Gatana on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:54:47 AM EST

Of course there are always exceptions to any rule, and in some cases schools really do create an environment where learning is valued. Two years ago I graduated Stuyvesant High School, where there is a tremendous amount of intense academic competition. Stuyvesant is a magnet school that accepts a very small percentage of its applicants based solely on the results of one standardized math-english test, so almost everyone in the school is smart or nerdy in some way, with the exception of those who cheated on the test. In that school, at least, good academic performance is not stigmatized and is usually respected. I remember that in my year, the captain of the football team kept a 97 average, and is now going to Harvard.

- Juppon Gatana
(Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
[ Parent ]
An interesting aspect of the article... (none / 1) (#326)
by irrevenant on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 08:17:25 PM EST

...that unfortunately he didn't go into more deeply, is that, in school, drives and pressures turn inward because they have nowhere else to go.  He points out that this is not true in sport, where students have a shared, external goal - to beat other schools.

Perhaps interschool competition in other areas would help to develop a greater sense of camaraderie within the school in general?

[ Parent ]

Nice work. (1.75 / 20) (#44)
by RobotSlave on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:23:22 AM EST

You've managed to mention Gatto on K5 a mere four years after I did (note the glowing me-to-ism from rusty. Charming, really).

OK, it's not entirely fair to pick on you for that, because, after all, you didn't even post your first comment on K5 until almost a year after I'd mentioned Gatto.

So congratulations, I suppose. Quite a few nutballs have latched onto Gatto in the intervening years (our local tiger is a prime specimen. You two should really get together, some day. He can read your fiction, you can read his essays), so I'm sure responses to this will be all over the map.

Please understand that I haven't bothered to read your review beyond the first few sentences, as I don't consider you even minimally qualified to write such a thing, but I'm pretty sure you'll reap what ye sow, here, regardless. That's the game at hand, after all, isn't it?

Over and out, good buddy.

Not that I claim to know localroger's (none / 2) (#49)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:27:03 AM EST

qualifications, but Kuro5hin is nothing if not a stage for unqualified and uninformed opinions. I find it funny that although the review doesn't cite a single dissenting opinion or opposing viewpoint, or any other viewpoint at all, this doesn't bother you as much as the fact that localroger doesn't seem to know about or care about a little comment you made four years ago. You mentioned it first. You've been here a long time. Do you want a cookie?

[ Parent ]
Excuse me (none / 3) (#50)
by bc on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:36:15 AM EST

If we go down that road, kuro5hin will become a mire of up to three "Is linux Ready for the Desktop?" articles every day, with perhaps the occasional, controversial "Linux isn't ready for the desktop" article from the trolls, thrown in for variety.

I expect people to try and be original here! I remember Gatto being thrashed out many a time before.

♥, bc.
[ Parent ]

Again... (none / 1) (#215)
by RobotSlave on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 07:17:06 AM EST

...I haven't read this article, apart from the first few sentences. I'm sure there are much better (and entirely substantive) criticisms to be made of it.

My public argument, such as it is, is not that localroger's screed is wrong on this or that particular point (I'll leave that to people more bored than myself), but that it is not worth reading to begin with.

With that said, I make no pretense of universalism; I thought it would be quite clear to all that my initial comment was, from an argumentative standpoint, almost entirely personal.

[ Parent ]

Kurt (none / 0) (#67)
by tetsuwan on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:07:33 AM EST

Sounds just like yet another guy that has an uninformed understanding of quantum information theory.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

And twenty prior to Gatto... (none / 2) (#81)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:45:31 PM EST

...both Foucault and Illich were peddling the same essential theory regarding institutions in general.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
er... twenty years prior to Gatto [n/t] (none / 0) (#82)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:47:57 PM EST

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
Dude, I totally kick yer a55! (none / 0) (#257)
by CodeWright on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:33:59 PM EST

Your UID is like an order of magnitude* higher than mine.

I win, you lose.


A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
What the hell is wrong with the schools? (2.55 / 9) (#46)
by bc on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:26:59 AM EST

They produced you lot, didn't they? Or is that what the problem is?

Anyroad, Austria and Germany use the traditional synthetic phonics system, England and the US use the analytic phonics system.

A recent study at a scottish school comparing synthetic and analytic phonics has shown massive advantages for traditional synthetic phonics. Interestingly, boys do much better than girls with synthetic phonics, but both still do better than they were with analytic phonics. The difference is perhaps because girls are better at rote tasks and have higher boredom thresholds - and so can withstand the gruelling three year process of analytic phonics, while the same ground is covered in a clippy three months in synthetic phonics.

Of course, the reason analytic phonics has got such a grip in the UK and the US is down to it being "trendy" and our profusion of trendy socialist sixties teachers, willing to throw out the old and bring in the new, because the new just must be better. Except it isn't, it's much worse. If you say you want to bring back the belt, the cane, or synthetic phonics, you'll get attacked by the left wing state establishment - and it doesn't matter what evidence you have of their superiority. See, they are old, and anything old must be bad, that is the doctrine of the left, and that is why the left ruins and destroys anything it gets its hands on, including our education systems.

Still, I'm hopeful the scottish parliament won't be put off by the trendy teachers, and will force them to adopt synthetic phonics on the strength of the evidence. Mind you, synthetic phonics is probably old enough that is appears a new and radical idea once again, so perhaps the trendy teachers will adopt it for that reason.

♥, bc.

You had me until the belt and cane part [nn--tt]] (none / 0) (#143)
by flimflam on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:56:56 PM EST

-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Leviathan (2.77 / 9) (#52)
by Frequanaut on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:04:42 AM EST

I find the fixation and fear of leviathan much more interesting than underground education.

Leviathan is society. You and I are society. You, me, every other momo reading this article is part of it. Subversives, Politicians, Hobos, Bankers, Gang Members, Lawyers, Anarchists, Teachers, Artists, Terrorists, Your Parents, Your Children, The homeless guy at the methodone clinic.

It is us. It's your existence, it's the common humanity that runs through all. It's not a dark tentacled monster: it's our shared experiences with each other. It's one of the things that makes us human.

Leviathan doesn't control you, but it does affect you. Likewise, no one person controls leviathan, but we all direct it to a certain degree.  You can't escape it because it is you.

Maybe it is a dark tentacled monster to some, if so, only because we've made it so.  We demonize and are scared of things we don't understand. I always think about Jacobs Ladder, maybe it's a matter of perspective and understanding.

Whichever it is, evil beast or us: Do your best to make it better for everyone, don't let others do otherwise.

Leviathon is the Sea (none / 1) (#74)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:40:35 AM EST

When Heaven doth weep, doth not the Earth o'erflow? When the winds howl, doth not the sea wax mad? - Titus Andronicus

I am the darkness. I am not the darkness.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
Leviathan is Big Fou (none / 1) (#224)
by ethereal on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:27:31 AM EST

Whereas Big O represents Behemoth.


Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Wonderful article (none / 2) (#53)
by MMcP on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:16:53 AM EST

I have been putting off reading this book for a while now, thanks for a great writeup.  

Dewey defeats Aristotle (2.87 / 8) (#60)
by IHCOYC on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:59:06 AM EST

He's got one thing right at least:
Wherever it occurred, schooling through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (up until the last third of the nineteenth) heavily invested its hours with language, philosophy, art, and the life of the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. In the grammar schools of the day, little pure grammar as we understand it existed; they were places of classical learning.
I was taught to identify the decline of US education with the anti-intellectual pseudo-philosophy of John Dewey, the man who first articulated the notion that education's purpose was to create obedient servants for the industrial economy. These things were "relevant," and the study of classical languages, the cornerstone of basic education for the preceding millennium, were "not relevant."

Whatever its shortcomings, the classical curriculum at least produced people who were able to express themselves in full paragraphs and complete sentences, complete with subordinate clauses and other fancy options. Classical educations produced writers like Thomas de Quincey and Thomas Macaulay. Abandon them, and you end up with USA Today.
Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

Speaking in complete sentences. (none / 0) (#93)
by Norkakn on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:41:47 PM EST

The poor spelling and grammer present in most discourse today bothers me far less than our tendancy to no use complete thoughts and sentences.  Structuring thoughts into complete sentences and paragraphs forces one to at least consider the logical flow of thoughts, and without it, one can easily justify horrible logic without any complaint.  Up until about 8th grade I always wrote in paragraphs, even (almost especially) when online, even while instant messaging.  Having to take horribly taught and simplistic classes has pretty much destroyed my desire to write coherantly, and I find this very troubling.

I mean, they find it good enough.
ramblings count.
good grades for trying.
just enough sense.
but who actually remembers how to think?

[ Parent ]

localroger has the wool pulled over his eyes (2.80 / 5) (#62)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:19:50 AM EST

Leviathan has fooled you. You are smart. You spotted Leviathan, so Leviathan came up with a new strategy - contain the problem seed and it will eventually die and be gone.

At the age of seven or so I vowed that I would never have kids.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

It's not a heritable condition /nt (none / 0) (#63)
by localroger on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:24:49 AM EST

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
Bull [nt] (none / 0) (#64)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:44:25 AM EST

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

No bull (none / 1) (#157)
by localroger on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:58:34 PM EST

Look, my refusal to procreate isn't going to create a shortage of genes closely related to me. Both of my parents come from backgrounds that can charitably be described as Rural Mississippi White Trash. Most of my relatives still live in towns like Laurel and McComb MS. You could not look at any of a hundred of my nearer relatives and guess that my father would end up teaching college physics. As for me following to a certain extent in his footsteps, I'm certain that had a lot more to do with growing up in his lab than with his genes.

Contrariwise, I have an older coworker who was also once a teacher, who is extremely literate and well-spoken and effective in his job; his only son can best be described as a scatterbrained dweeb.

In short, I've seen plenty of samples and absolutely no evidence that genetics has much at all to do with either intelligence or empathy. What little linkage there is between generations can very adequately be explained by coincidence and upbringing. And by forgetting genetics you don't have to explain the many times when there is no obvious linkage at all.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

so what is the linkage ? (none / 1) (#184)
by minerboy on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:09:35 PM EST

I can think of numerous cases where very succesful people had a poor, abusive home life. It may be that we can't really put our finger on what "good parenting" means, or it could be other factors, more subtle than simple nature or nurture. Perhaps the prenatal chemical environment, perhaps subtle differences of the environment experienced in early childhood. For example literacy rates have fallen significantly from the 1930's (if we believe Gatto, I for one am sceptical.) that does coincide with the rise of lead in the environment from leaded fuels. seems like a very complex problem

[ Parent ]
The small, unpredicatable things (none / 1) (#217)
by localroger on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 08:03:55 AM EST

In my father's case it was an Atomic Energy Commission recruitment van that came around to his rural high school extolling the wonders of atomic science. And I can think of five or six pivotal moments that shaped the direction of my interests -- none of which would have been apparent to my parents or anyone else at the time.

The evil of school is that it reduces the opportunity for you to have those shining moments of awareness that develop your interests. If you are introduced to something as a chore-like rote you will not see the magic in that line of knowledge; the more you are schoold, the more lines of knowledge are poisoned like that. I think Gatto thinks we don't learn to read any more because it's made to seem like more of a burdensome chore than it has to be. That's a much more direct and obvious effect than lead levels, and it explains why some percentage of students from every socioeconomic background manage to advance despite the trend.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

exactly (none / 2) (#186)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:15:47 PM EST

Upbringing, you dope.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Mumbly personal nonsense on my part (2.85 / 7) (#66)
by omiKron on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:56:27 AM EST

There seems to be a fair amount of negativity over this one but I find this write-up excellent. Then again I share a sort of kinship here, having grown up to know my multiplication tables before I entered public school... and having had an atrocious time in those 12 years of schooling where I gained a deeply cynical view of how the world operates, while looking up from the bottom of the fish bowl.

Now is completely different from then... growing up I was reactionary. Schools made learning unpleasant and I didn't have the power of will to overcome and ignore that - I just ate what was put in front of me. Blame doesn't really matter, only results... so I won't gripe further. I'm making up lost time.

But what it all comes down to is simply that schools ARE a place to prepare youths for the workplace, and just as there are hoops to jump through on the job, you'll also find them in what is supposed to be a learning environment. So what if you end up learning procedure more than knowledge, right? I disagree but hey, whatever. Its not something I can change.

It's a damn shame that the most rational people don't seem to want to have children. I made similar vows at a similar age... the other major one was 'I will never be a slave to a bank' meaning I'd never want a mortgage. I'm not sure how rational that is, all things considered, but it stemmed out of seeing the stress my parents went through making payments and avoiding the bite when times were bad. I used to wonder what kind of world it was where people had to pay someone else for their home, but this was before I came to know "how the world works" I guess. What else can we do?

Never heard of Gatto before and I might check it out now. Thanks for the article. This kind of thing is actually why I've been dropping by K5 for a while now...

it's not all trolls and GNAA (none / 2) (#72)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:37:10 AM EST

we occasionally have intelligent discussion. occasionally.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
I hear (none / 3) (#79)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:35:16 PM EST

that monkeys with typewriters also occasionally write something worth reading. Occasionally.

[ Parent ]
My high school CS teacher (2.83 / 6) (#70)
by Vilim on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:30:34 AM EST

For the most part, my high school was like every other high school. The pointless rules existed to be scorned, the teachers took a sadistical pleasure in makeing sure every student jumped through the correct hoops. With one exception. Room 112. Room 112 was an old electronics shop which had been taken over and used by Mr. Koivisto for the computer science courses.

Our high school had a regular stream and the IB program (International Baccalaureate) which was basically a system which tried to encourage that voluntary learning stuff (and succeeded ... a little).

In any case I was in the IB program. I was also one of the 6 people who signed up for IB Higher Level computer science. This meant I got Mr Koivisto as a teacher. He had wonderful style of teaching. First of all, room 112 is alway open (during the school day). Come whenever you feel like (Room 112 was a computer lab with an adjoined abandoned electronics shop). Second, I don't like the curriculum so you are going to learn on your own, anything that I don't think you have learned properly I will touch up on before IB exams.

This had an amazing impact, and I have to say that I learned more in those two years (grades 11 and 12) than in any other class I have ever taken. At one point, Mr Koivisto ordered about 30 older computers (~133 mhz) and told us that we could each have one or two to do whatever we want with. If we fry one, admit our mistake and get another, it won't be a problem. That is where I learned everything I know about computer hardware. He didn't come up and teach us, in fact I doubt he even knew that sort of stuff. But the point was he knew how to give us the tools to learn it on our own.

Another instance is where a few of us decided that a forum system would be a great idea for the school to have. Teachers could post homework online and students could get it from anywhere. We approached Mr Koivisto about this, he thought it was a great idea and 3 days later we had a PIII 700mhz computer to host it on. I was the first server admin, countless others were employed as PHP hackers (Woltlab needed alot of hacking to be used with 1200 students and multiple, UNIX like groups). The forum system is still running today and has been a great success.

Out of the 6 people who were in the class 3 are undergrads at the University of waterloo in software engineering, computer science and mechatronics engineering. One is at Lakehead University taking CS (me), and one is at Simon Frasier taking CS.

American vs Canadian schooling (none / 1) (#164)
by keenan on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:38:16 PM EST

I had a conversation this past weekend with some of my American friends and was amazed at how different the educational systems are in Canada and the U.S.  The differences were at first subtle, and then I discovered there were many trends that help Canadians to learn how to compromise more, to be less competitive, and to think for themselves more.  I have been living in the US for 4 years now, working for Microsoft.  Being valedictorian is solely about grades down here, nothing else matters.  Standardized tests are all the rage.  Class marks are always known -- you're always ranked in your class and generally everybody else knows your rank as well.  Pretty freaky stuff, but when you say "For the most part, my high school was like every other high school," you really should say "other Canadian high schools" because the reality is that schooling in the U.S. is much, much different.  It's all about being a 'National Merit Scholar' and doing well on a single test, the SAT.

It even shows up when I play Trivial Pursuit -- when I play with my smart Canadian friends, I'm average, when I play with my smart American friends (mostly Microsofties), I often win.  Scary, scary stuff.

Keenan (BMath in CS / Cog.Sci. from UWaterloo)

[ Parent ]

Canadian schools are like industrial Canadian beer (none / 2) (#175)
by spammacus on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:24:33 PM EST

... in that they don't suck quite as badly as their American counterparts. That doesn't mean they are strictly speaking good.

I spent quite a few years in school in Canada, but my parents are Brits. They were frustrated with the fact that in university I was still learning things they learned for their O-levels in England. OTOH, word from my relatives across the pond is that Britain's schools are going down the crapper too, now. So maybe it's more a modern problem than a question of cultural differences.

I felt that I learned a lot in public school, especially high school. Unfortunately I always felt that I had to wrest the learning from an unco-operative system rather than being taught. If you don't have the curiosity to suck everything you can out of Canadian schools, you can come out knowing virtually nothing.

As for beer, before all the Canadians on K5 burn me to a crisp... I talking about industrial stuff. Microbrew is great up north. It's actually not too bad down here, but harder to come by.

-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]
Sounds exactly like Kaczynski (2.81 / 16) (#71)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:34:19 AM EST

Congratulations. You've come upon the realization that society has long since given up the latter half of "by the people, for the people." Now you're shocked and appalled that the "machine" is eating your children. Well, hard.

You can't turn back the clock. We have evolved. The Industrial Revolution didn't come about to make our lives easier. If that was truly the case, we would be living in paradise by now. We have the technology to feed, clothe, house, and provide basic health care to the entire world several times over. Obviously, this is not happening.

Do you like NASA? Did you think the photos of Mars' surface were really cool? Well, guess what that cost. It costs more than money. It requires, as you correctly point out, universal obediance. Do you like the Internet? Yes? That's good because you already paid for it.

Have you noticed that the pace of technological growth in the past century has been, historically speaking, astronomical? The Wright brothers' flight at Kittyhawk just celebrated its centennial and now we have private investors in space. Compare that to how long it took to develop the alphabet. All this comes at a cost, and now you're upset because you finally glanced at the check.

So what now? Go out, buy a few Radiohead albums (if you don't already own them), fix yourself a stiff drink, and go back to sleep.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

have your cake and eat it too (none / 1) (#99)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:12:22 PM EST

But, you can take advantage of the system by not participating in the more demoralizing elements. Homeschool your kids and let them grow into powerful, self-driven adults, and they get to live in the same wonderful technologically marvelous world, without having had their spirits destroyed.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

They eventually get jobs (none / 2) (#104)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:39:39 PM EST

And insurance, and loans, and all the other niggling little shit people are forced to deal with. Don't think that it stops with graduation. No, it only gets worse. It only gets worse. It only gets worse.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
What are you talking about? (none / 2) (#107)
by MorePower on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:55:48 PM EST

Adult life is nowhere near as harsh as school. Sure, there are annoiances like taxes and getting approved for loans and stuff. But those things only crop up occationally. School sucks day in and day out, every day for years. Adult life is damn near Utopia, just with occational glitches that have to be manuvered through. School life is constant, forceful, oppession with only an occasional breaks that can be enjoyed (when noone is looking).

[ Parent ]
wow I disagree 100% (none / 1) (#238)
by alprazolam on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:40:05 PM EST

adult life is constant, forceful oppression...at least my adult life. when i was in school i had all sorts of time to learn and think what i wanted...now i get an hour a night...maybe.

[ Parent ]
For me it's even (none / 0) (#242)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 02:44:04 PM EST

Work usually sux unless there's a rare interesting project. School usually sucked unless there was something interesting that happened. In school I had more time, but lacked the money to do anything with it.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Work (none / 0) (#248)
by MorePower on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:44:29 PM EST

I think the key here is work. At least in adult life, you can quit when you feel you don't need money so badly (I know, I've done it before). In school your choice is do what they tell you or commit suicide.

Even when the lure of money is to strong (like when you need to buy food and pay rent/mortgage) you have enourmous power to dictate the terms of your employment. For example, I refused to take any job that primarily involved desk/computer work. I also insisted that it be in the electrical field. In school, I was required to sit at a desk and wirte english papers (and other subjects) without even the satisfaction of my work actually solving any actual problems (as my current job does).

In many ways, I lucked out that my job is as great as it is, but just the freedom to be able to change jobs at will, insist on what type of job you want, and if all else fails to try and found your own bussiness, makes adult life way more flexible and happier than childhood.

[ Parent ]
but (none / 0) (#110)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:11:19 PM EST

You can either have a broken spirit and deal with the niggling annoyances, or still have a will to live and hope and deal with the niggling annoyances.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Hope? (none / 1) (#112)
by LilDebbie on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:16:42 PM EST

Hope for what exactly?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
sorry (none / 0) (#116)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:24:58 PM EST

That's privileged information, just for us members.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

don't take the easy way out. (none / 0) (#105)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:41:02 PM EST

home schooling is a travesty. i know it's easier to do it yourself than brave the teachers and administrators as you boldly break the mold, but it's just not worth it. home schooled children come out broken at the end. no matter what you do, you cannot compensate for the lack of other kids.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

ho-hum (none / 0) (#111)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:13:09 PM EST

...you cannot compensate for the lack of other kids

Such an old and boring strawman.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

i've known five people who were home schooled. (none / 0) (#117)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:34:28 PM EST

my conclusions are right on the mark for each. terrifyingly so for three of them.

it is not a straw man. it is a fact.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

I've known dozens of kids who were public-schooled (none / 0) (#122)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:07:47 PM EST

Ugh! Not a pretty picture!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
oh come on. (none / 0) (#127)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:14:29 PM EST

i doubt they would stage sword fights in a crowded theatre at the age of seventeen. (that may not seem strange to you, but consider this: they were there to spectate.)

no, there is no question in my mind that home schooling causes irreparable damage. it's true that public schools can be bad as well, but if you read my original post, i advocated manhandling the teachers and administrators to assert whatever values you feel so strongly about.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Coming (none / 0) (#129)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:24:37 PM EST

i doubt they would stage sword fights in a crowded theatre at the age of seventeen.
True, they staged their sword fights in the school hallway. Technically, knife fights, but some of those knives were as long as swords anyway.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
nonsense. (none / 0) (#133)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:36:53 PM EST

that sort of thing does not happen in suburban schools, which i presume is what we are talking about. to talk about inner city schools would be to totally evade the issues the article brings up.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

can you elaborate (none / 0) (#130)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:26:56 PM EST

Your example is interesting, but vague. What kind of "theatre"? What sort of swords? What conclusion am I to draw from this example - that they lack impulse control? That they are wild and unruly in general? That they're live-action RPG obsessed fools?

I remember engaging in plenty of disruptive assholish behavior in public too at that age.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

not so much wild and unruly. (none / 2) (#132)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:33:45 PM EST

their problem was a serious lack of socialization. they did not understand what was wrong with their actions. you're close on the last account. one was an rpg nut, the other was a celtic fairy nut.

the situation was, the 1337 liberal arts summer program i was attending paid for us to go see a play. the weirdos in question brought along sticks and fought with them in the aisle between the stage and the seats. there was another home schooler there too who had unrelated (but admittedly somewhat milder) problems.

it wasn't that it was disruptive. what was so shocking about it is that they were doing it at all. without being there to witness it, i don't think you can quite appreciate what a surreal spectacle it was to see people their age behaving that way without even knowing what they were doing.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

socialization (none / 1) (#138)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:00:15 PM EST

Why do we have to accept that homeschooling means a lack of socialization? There are many resources for getting your homeschooled kids involved with other kids - sports, after school programs that you can participate in, other homeschooled kids, community activities and volunteering and more.

I have no doubt homeschooling can be done monstrously poorly - I have only to witness just about every contemporary parent's parenting skills (or complete lack thereof) to imagine the potential horror.

But I don't see that such is a necessary condition of homeschooling.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

why do we have to accept it? (none / 0) (#140)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:12:36 PM EST

because it is an observed fact.

surely there are exceptions. exceptional parents, exceptional students. (of course, remember even J. S. Mill had nervous breakdown on this stuff.) that notwithstanding, i cannot see how we can responsibly advocate home schooling given the general trend.

further, unless you're very sure you have something going for you that no one else does (and remember, the people in question were very _smart and presumably had very smart parents), then fine. hell, i'm conceited enough that i might try it myself. but if you do, you should be very weary of the pitfalls and the facts of the matter: most people fuck it up.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

observed fact? (none / 0) (#142)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:41:24 PM EST

You observed 5 people who you found problematic. Is that what you mean? I just don't share your pessimism about it.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

when a hypothesis goes five for five (none / 0) (#155)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:46:13 PM EST

and i hear the same objection from others, i elevate that hypothesis to fact for the purpose of casual discussion.

if you are determined to ignore it, you do so at your own peril. on the other hand, if my observations hold true, there's a pretty good chance that your children will never figure out what's wrong with them (or even that there is anything). with such stakes as that, why not try your luck?


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

you're an idiot. (none / 0) (#121)
by mister slim on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:06:56 PM EST

Still an idiot.

"Fucking sheep, the lot of you. Yeah, and your little dogs too." -Rogerborg
[ Parent ]

let me guess: (none / 0) (#123)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:08:32 PM EST

you were home schooled?


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Ah, this old thing. (none / 2) (#176)
by starrynight on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:38:59 PM EST

Another person repeating the tired old "socialization!" protest. I have heard this so many times.

Homeschooling can go horribly wrong, when parents use it because schools aren't sufficiently indoctrinating their kids. And I'll be the first to agree that the children need to get out and play with other children. Lord knows I did plenty of that.

However, I've also seen lots of fantastic homeschooling, and in my opinion, it's the majority. I think most homeschoolers make that choice out of a sincere desire to do better by their children -- to have them experience more of life, not less. I have many, many friends who excelled through homeschooling. And there's me.

Anyhow, I disagree. Homeschooling does not automatically lead to broken kids.

[ Parent ]

Not so fast... (none / 0) (#309)
by AME on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 05:18:01 PM EST

A quick look at the social misfits being produced by the current educational system ought to suffice in rebutting your point. But I'll take a different route: Do you have *any* evidence to back up your assertion that homeschooling necessarily produces "Broken kids?"

Even anecdotes will suffice for my purposes, but I live in an area with a very large homeschooling base, so anti-homeschool anecdotes can be easily counter-exampled.

[ Parent ]

Change our goal (none / 2) (#77)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:18:30 PM EST

I have no doubt that there is a Leviathan.  Call it "rules of economics", call it "culture" or whatever you want, but it's obvious that a collective of humans is a chaotic swirl dominated by rules none of us truly understand.

So as the author says, there is no "killing" the Leviathan without breaking off contact between humans.  Instead, can't the Leviathan be a noble creature?  Individual parts rushing to the aid of others in need.  Gazing dreamily into the stars with the intent of extending itself beyond the small rock it now inhabits?

The Leviathan may act to keep its parts in line, but the evolution of society has shown that it certainly has no objection to making a drastic change - especially when its cells benefit.

This Leviathan business (none / 3) (#80)
by GenerationY on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:36:17 PM EST

anything to do with Hobbes or just a coincidence?

Mythology (none / 1) (#84)
by localroger on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:57:57 PM EST

Leviathan and Behemoth are legendary monsters representing the hidden/female and overt/male principles, respectively. IIRC they are found in the Bible as well as classical literature.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
Well yes but (none / 1) (#89)
by GenerationY on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:14:38 PM EST

Hobbes' "Leviathan" is about the origin and purpose of Government and Society. It was Hobbes who first argued for the benefit of the social contract, arguing society without government is carnage and warfare ( rendering life "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short"). Thus Government exists to protect us from each other; Hobbes thought the best government would be one that was indeed a mighty leviathan. He talks extensively about the moral duties of educators to society (amongst a vast number of other subjects obviously).

Just seemed rather too close to be conicidental.

[ Parent ]

Hobbes (none / 0) (#136)
by localroger on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:54:20 PM EST

I haven't read Leviathan but from what I've read about it I'm pretty sure he named it after the beast -- his point probably being that we should embrace Leviathan and make our peace with it, an attitude several comments here also endorse.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
Not really (none / 3) (#139)
by GenerationY on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:06:07 PM EST

his point is that we would all suffer horribly without it. With this point asserted as axiomatic he goes on to develop a system of ethics that follow from that. Wide ranging government was an almost utopian vision for Hobbes or at least synonymous with civilisation.

You have to remember the historical context in which he was writing and also that the the first inklings of Libertarianism (John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham etc.) were at least a century away.

He called it Leviathan because of the scale of the apparatus he had in mind (cf. "big government") and because he drew an analogy with a great living being.

From the introduction:
For by art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMONWEALTH, or STATE (in Latin, CIVITAS), which is but an artificial man, though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in which the sovereignty is an artificial soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; the magistrates and other officers of judicature and execution, artificial joints; reward and punishment (by which fastened to the seat of the sovereignty, every joint and member is moved to perform his duty) are the nerves, that do the same in the body natural; the wealth and riches of all the particular members are the strength; salus populi (the people's safety) its business; counsellors, by whom all things needful for it to know are suggested unto it, are the memory; equity and laws, an artificial reason and will; concord, health; sedition, sickness; and civil war, death. Lastly, the pacts and covenants, by which the parts of this body politic were at first made, set together, and united, resemble that fiat, or the Let us make man, pronounced by God in the Creation.

I strongly suspect your friend was well aware of this work on some level.

[ Parent ]

I know D. was referring to the mythological beast (none / 1) (#152)
by localroger on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:31:58 PM EST

The myth predates the novel by at least a thousand years, and it's more consistent with D.'s cosmogeny.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]
sorry about roger, (none / 3) (#103)
by rmg on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:36:14 PM EST

he's an illiterate.

yes, it has everything to do with hobbes. this leviathan metaphor is ingrained in our culture because of hobbes. this is just another example of a mixed metaphor from localroger. you might give him some latitude for not knowing what he was co-opting, but then it was the title of the damned book.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

Breaking the Cycle (none / 3) (#83)
by haplopeart on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 12:52:37 PM EST

The point of what happens when someone tries to break the cycle is a valid one. Unfortunately its a very hard thing to do, or rather sets the one one trying to break out of the cycle on a very hard road. The business world, and lets be honest the only way to support one's self is to enter the business world in one way or another, expects pieces of paper that prove what your suited to do in life. Without the peices of paper no matter what a persons apptitude for task is the world refuses to believe and assigns that person to the level work that the last peice of paper they got states they are capable of in life. There are exceptions of course. Bill Gates is a notable exception, but his getting around the system and breaking the cycle was as much dumb luck as anything else. I broke out of the cycle soon the end of my system forced education. However I then was set on the hard road to accomplishing life goals through the prove myself route instead of having the shortcut of a piece of paper.
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

It's only "hard" if wants surpass needs. (none / 0) (#92)
by Deagol on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:37:44 PM EST

See the earlier "leviathan provides for us" comment. I truly believe that any person or a (modestly-sized) family can subsist -- comfortably -- on a single minimum wage income. Given a little land, a little time to pay it off, and a lot of hard work, that person/family could pretty much live without a regular income.

(* pauses for dismissing laughter from the crowd *)

Will the kids go to medical school? No, but that doesn't mean they can't be well-educated. Will the wife have a brand new Maytag washer/dryer and dishwasher? Nope. Will the husband have a DirectTV dish and a HDTV plasma TV? Not a chance.

Simple living. Frugal living. Smart living. Tend to the needs of living -- good food (goes a long way towards good health) and shelter that you own outright -- first. Those are pretty cheap and easy to pay for if you don't piss away your money on unnecessary things.

As was the case 100+ years ago, formal education is only a requirement if you desire a career that warrants it or you want to lead an expensive lifestyle. If you desire those things, then you're pretty much stuck with the system. If you want to be a doctor or lawyer because you truly want to "make a difference" then it kinda sucks. However, most people are merely consumers of unnecessary crap, so they deserve this system that's taylored for that lifestyle.

I don't pretend to have reached the ideals I speak of. In fact, the ideal is pretty much unattainable in today's modern, taxed world. However, the desire to get there, and the journey itself, reaps its own rewards. My family is a lot closer than most, but we've still got a loooong ways to go. It's a lifestyle choice, to be sure, and I don't want to force it on anyone. But the system won't really change unless a critical mass of people lead by example or revolt. And I'm not hopeful that either outcome will come to pass in my lifetime (or my kids' lifetime or their kids' lifetime).

[ Parent ]

Land is the key (none / 0) (#106)
by MorePower on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:48:59 PM EST

The problem is that there's no way a minimum wager will ever be able to buy any land. It takes the bulk of my professional salary just to own the 25' by 25' concrete slab that my condo sits on (and I bought it just before the most recent sudden surge upward in home prices).

Why do I live in a condo? It isn't big enough for my future needs. It was the only thing I can afford. Living in one of the 1/4 acre plots that most homes are on is well beyond my means. This is the main problem of self sufficientcy. By the time you could afford to buy enough land to live off of, you have enough money to just live off the interest of your investments anyway.

[ Parent ]
Think rural, my friend. (none / 2) (#162)
by Deagol on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:21:31 PM EST

There is cheap stuff still out there. Here in Utah, you can get undeveloped land for pretty cheap way out in the sticks. Real examples I've seen while shopping for land are: 5 acres for $2500; and 2.5 acres for $900. Granted, it's flat, uninteresting land with no services and nothing but sagebrush, that's 30 miles from the nearest town with over 1000 people in it.

But still... a minimum-wage family could buy that land with just the money they get from the Earned Income Child Credit (up to about $4k) in a single year. Sacrificing the $25/month phone bill for 5 years gets you $1500. Sacrifice the $25/month basic cable subscription, that's $3000 in 5 years.

It all depends on how much pain you want to suffer now in return for freedom later. Drive around rural America. You see lots of shabby mobile homes on modest plots of land (usually around 1/2 to 1 acre), more than likely owned by low-income people. But I'd bet that more of those shabby plots are paid in full -- owned outright -- than most middle-class homes are.

I lived in Salt Lake City for 5 years. Was paying $900/month for 1/8th of acre with an 1800 ft^2 home. I moved to a rural town 150 miles away, and now I pay $300/month for 1/2 acre with 1800 ft^2 home. I telecommute to the same job. I also pay $500/month for 60 acres with a 300 ft^2 cabin, which I plan to move to soon with my family and telecommute.

While I have the advantages of making about $50k/year and being able to telecommute, good planning and the will to tackle the issue can overcome lower incomes. I know that I could easily survive if my pay were cut to 40% of what I now earn. If I sold one of the 2 properties I'm paying on, I could survive on minimum wage.

After moving out here, my wife was astonished at the low cost homes, rent, and groceries (basic staples). To paraphrase her reaction, "Damn -- if I ever found myself needing welfare, I'd move out here. I'd get back on my feet in a heartbeat. Then I'd get ahead ever faster." State assistance (at least in Utah) doesn't depend on local cost of living. (For some context, when we met, my wife was on state assistance.)

She tried to pursuade her less-than-well-off sister and husband to move out to a more rural area. She even sent them listings for cheap land and cheap homes. But they didn't want to live away from city conveniences, nor did they want to take the scary step of moving to an unfamiliar environment. So they continue to pay $600/month in a 800 ft^2 rental house, never earning equity, and enjoying a higher cost of living plus the pollution.

For reference, current US Federal Minimum Wage is $5.15/hr, or $10,712 gross annual ($5.15*40*52), or $892.66/month, or $412 every 2 weeks. Non-US people, or people who don't otherwise know, might find this useful in this discussion.

I'm not attacking you or your work/living choices. But I must point out that they are choices. To assert that "there's no way a minimum wager will ever be able to buy any land" is simply wrong. They may not be able to afford land in a high-population area, or the kind of land that you might find personally suitable, but they could indeed buy land.

I freely admit that zoning and other government medling can throw a wrench into ideas like mine. Those 5 and 2.5 acre parcels, for example, are in a a county where you zoning says you can't simply park a travel trailer and live, and they mandate a permanent foundation and single-wide mobile homes are not permitted. Yet many live in those conditions. In a pinch -- long enough to bootstrap one's self out of debt, or into a larger windfal of cash -- you can usually get away with breaking a few codes for a short time.

Tell me... if you could buy a small plot and a small trailer to live in for cash (or for a monthly payment at 1/8th of what you pay now), but you'd need to drive 1-to-2 hours to work, would you do it? You sound like someone in an expensive, high-population area (California, or some Eastern big city), so I really doubt that's possible for you. But still... would you live a less than ideal life for a while if you could sack away a bunch of cash or own your home outright?

Those shabby mobile homes we see as we approach the rural area of a city or in the fields by the interstates, the ones with the late 80's model car (or two) parked nearby... they are likely owned by "poor folk", but they likely have more security than most of us currently enjoy. They more than likely own their home outright. As Ms. Joplin once sang, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

[ Parent ]

Some people like to live in the city. (none / 0) (#193)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:16:20 AM EST

They also have no interest in owning their home outright.

That said, I think I could pull off the $892.66/month budget and live in Manhattan, although admittedly it would tend to be the northern parts and only barely. If I had to actually DO IT a borough would be more practical, but it seems barely possible. $450 rent (possible sharing a room, with luck might even be possible to get your own room in a several bedrooms apartment - no cable or internet, have to consider if it is cheaper to have a landline or a cell phone). $70 for the subway. $300 for food - I use this number because I pretty much know it to be possible and there's a chance it could be lower. That leaves $72.66 for beer!

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Humm... (none / 0) (#134)
by haplopeart on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:37:19 PM EST

...while I suppose that vision is possible if one wanted to achive it, allow me to throw a monkey wrench of fullfillment into it... Under that theory of achiving a comfortable life style on a minimum wage salary thats all fine and good. I could personally go for living in a log cabin, although with a real floor, Oil/Gas heat and electricity, in the middle of the woods and if minimum wage got me there thats fine. However I would never find a job that fullfills me at minimum wage. So inorder to have a job I find fullfilling I work where I work. But since I don't desire to commute a million miles a day to live in that Log Cabin I have to pay for housing nearer to work that costs more. Therefore it requires the old piece of paper treadmill to prove I am worthy of the job I wish to do to be fullfilled... I however didn't desire to aquire the traditional peice of paper so I had to built one through epirence called a resume over the course of years to prove that I am just as capable as the guy who just graduated from the diploma mill. I am Ok with this though I here via the untraditional course and that was OK with me.
Bill "Haplo Peart" Dunn
Administrator Epithna.com

[ Parent ]
Bad example. (none / 1) (#158)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:02:48 PM EST

Bill's daddy was a multimillionaire. Mommy's tea friends were wives of key IBM executives. And don't forget that any moral person would rather remain in poverty, if success required doing even one fifth of the underhanded, fraudulent, and in some cases criminal, actions that comprise the story of "riches to megariches" that is Bill Gates.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
leviathan provides for us (none / 2) (#85)
by coderlemming on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:01:23 PM EST

...most of us have forgotten how to exist without the many functions Leviathan provides for us. And that's why we do what it wants, even though it drives us insane.

There's the key, though.  Leviathan provides for us, but just look at what it provides.  Not only has it provided, it's seeded in us a need for all of the things it provides, and a need for much more.  So much of the objects and intangible provisions we've surrounded ourselves with really aren't necessary to our health, wellbeing, or even happiness.  Somehow, Leviathan first convinces us that we need a bunch of extraneous provisions, and then it convinces us to sell our souls to get them... and all starting from a very young age.

I, too, swore off kids.  Nominally, this is because I don't feel like spending the time and energy to raise them, and I don't feel like I'll get as much out of the experience as others.  But then I remembered one of my very first reasons for not wanting kids, back when I was in my mid teens -- I didn't want to feed this society by bringing in more slaves, and I didn't want to enslave my children.  This world isn't a world I'd wish on anyone.

You're just one step away from a workable solution, though.  I feel the problem, the root cause of this ugly beast called Leviathan, is society on a grand scale.  It just won't work without the ugliness we've seen.  

In the future, I intend to live my life on a much smaller scale.  Smaller society, closer food supplies, much more fine-grained involvement in all of the things that make up my daily life and health.  Yes, I'm talking about living in a commune, and yes, I realize it's not for everyone.  I just know that I, personally, have my own happiness to worry about, and this is the best way I can see to escape Leviathan.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)

can't understand this attitude (none / 0) (#119)
by Gumpzilla on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:45:40 PM EST

But then I remembered one of my very first reasons for not wanting kids, back when I was in my mid teens -- I didn't want to feed this society by bringing in more slaves, and I didn't want to enslave my children. This world isn't a world I'd wish on anyone.

Getting straight to the point, why haven't you killed yourself yet? Do you truly feel enslaved, with no chance of redemption? Given that you are planning a future for yourself where you attempt to cast off the shackles of mainstream society, I'd imagine that this is not the case. So why do you assume that it would be for any children you'd have?

I also think it's telling that you mention that this idea about slavery first occurred to you as a teenager. When localroger mentioned that he decided at age 7 that he'd never have kids, for example, I'd just laugh that off. I knew several girls in high school, for example, who said they would never have children because it would hurt too much. I seriously doubt that in 10 years, all of them would still feel the same way. I think most people would agree that having children is a major biological imperative; many people gravitate towards it almost instinctually. The force that this has can overwhelm a lot of considerations that you had when you were younger. Not to mention that one's ideas about life and society can change dramatically as you get older. I used to think that Libertarianism seemed to be a pretty good idea, for example.

Not wanting to raise kids because you don't think you have the energy to do it properly is a good call, and I respect that. The rest, about society and slaves, is bunk, in my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Clarification (none / 1) (#151)
by localroger on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:30:05 PM EST

When localroger mentioned that he decided at age 7 that he'd never have kids, for example, I'd just laugh that off.

You shouldn't; I'm forty this year. My wife, who is 45, made a similar decision around the age of ten, which is one reason we're together.

In both of our cases it was not about slavery so much as a desire not to increase the amount of misery in the world. Some people just aren't bothered by pain as much as others; perhaps to you it's no big deal. But it's not funny, stupid, or abstract to some of us.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

seems a shame (none / 0) (#258)
by CodeWright on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:49:06 PM EST

...cuz i think that part of the problem is that people who care don't reproduce as much as those who don't. self-defeating in the long run.

A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
and vice versa (none / 0) (#361)
by coderlemming on Thu Aug 05, 2004 at 01:56:21 PM EST

Don't forget the flipside, people that don't care tend to reproduce a lot.  :P

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]
perhaps there's a survival lesson in there...?[nt] (none / 0) (#362)
by CodeWright on Thu Aug 05, 2004 at 03:14:11 PM EST

A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
the flipside (none / 0) (#259)
by Gumpzilla on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 06:25:53 PM EST

I think it's silly to look exclusively at pain. By having a child, I could argue just as well that you'd increase the amount of joy in the world. What I'm arguing is that people who claim that life is such an awful experience that they wouldn't wish it on anybody seem to me to be espousing a philosophy that makes no sense, because I don't understand why people who really believe that continue to live. If it's all unadulterated badness, then why go on? What's to lose, if it's really that bad?

[ Parent ]
well (none / 0) (#349)
by speek on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 07:36:10 PM EST

I struggle with the idea of bringing someone into the world who will have to die. Life isn't so bad - sometimes it sucks, sometimes it's great, but everyday, I know, there is no escaping that I have to die, and probably in good deal of pain. I still plan on having children, but it's a worry that occurs to me at times.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

misery (none / 0) (#360)
by coderlemming on Thu Aug 05, 2004 at 01:54:31 PM EST

Yeah, that's exactly how I feel.  Perhaps my "slavery" rhetoric tripped parent-of-parent up, but the end point is there:  I don't want to increase the amount of misery in the world.

Besides, I'm too busy trying to eek out my own enjoyable existence, which is hard enough as it is.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]

well... (none / 0) (#359)
by coderlemming on Thu Aug 05, 2004 at 01:52:43 PM EST

I did say it was the first reason.  I do have plenty of others.  No, I do not intend to kill myself just yet.  Times change, opinions shift, so it's not like that's my only reason or even my driving reason for not wanting kids now.

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]
So... (none / 1) (#144)
by bugmaster on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:04:30 PM EST

I assume we won't see much of you here on k5 in the years to come ? After all, posting requires a computer, and Internet access, and that's like being wired into Leviathan's nervous system directly -- a big no-no.
[ Parent ]
Symbiote, or parasite. (none / 0) (#233)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:37:53 PM EST

Everyone is familiar with parasites, be they opportunists like a tapeworm, or something endemic such as lawyers.

And most people know what a symbiote is, even if their examples tend more toward science fiction than they should.

But there is a fuzzy gray here. True symbiotes, a lichen or what have you, the two organisms can't survive without each other. Their entire life, they've been together.

Contrast this with Leviathan. People did, and could still presumably, live without Leviathan. We didn't need it, until it had manipulated us into doing so. That's the key, really. Humanity and Leviathan weren't born together as symbiotes, some freak of evolution. Leviathan wanted to exist, as the maniacal scheme of the megarich, and wanted us dependent. And it used every underhanded trick in the book, and invented a few besides, to make us dependent.

To say that it provides for us, is being dishonest.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Unless... (3.00 / 7) (#91)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:33:25 PM EST

You have a significantly higher station in life than I do, you're not one of Leviathan's brain cells. More like a cell in the wall of Leviathan's bowels. Can't leave, and forced to deal with all the shit that torrents past you.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
1984 (none / 3) (#95)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 01:59:59 PM EST

Well, you know for a lot of people school isn't like what you describe.  It's a dilapidated building with air conditioning, in which they are babysat by the least competant teachers so that they won't be on the streets shooting people.  There's no effort to stop the teaching of phonics as there is no effort to really educate them in the first place.  Furthermore, the funding necessary to educate them is not there.  They are simply held there.

Of course, the machine that Gatto describes exists too.  I always had the privelege of being educated in these depressing fascist regimes.  We seem to have two school systems.  One for the proles, which is simply there to crush them.  And another for the outer party, which makes them good little automatons.  You are thrown from the outer party track possibly because you are too stupid to contribute, but usually because you are too independent and they can't break you.

Of course, I read 1984 in school, so maybe my theory is bunk.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

No, i think it's pretty accurate... (NT) (none / 0) (#183)
by Elendale on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:57:35 PM EST


When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
[OT] Not Wanting Kids... (2.60 / 5) (#97)
by DLWormwood on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 02:06:31 PM EST

As yet another k5'er who doesn't want them, here's a site some of you might appreciate given that being "childfree" seems to be a subtle undercurrent of this article.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
Those who complain about affect & effect on k5 should be disemvoweled

If ever there were... (none / 1) (#120)
by skyknight on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:50:00 PM EST

a meme more likely to be doomed to immediate extinction...

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
not necessarily (none / 0) (#146)
by IlIlIIllIIlllIII on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:14:04 PM EST

memes are the unit of propagation of ideas, as opposed to the propagation of genetic material (whose unit is the gene). Memes exist and are transmitted in an entirely different medium from genes. Genes are passed from parent to child, but memes can be passed from dude to internet to five billion people, or in many other different ways. Nowadays, there's not even a necessary linkage between memes and genetic family, because there's such a wide variety and depth of ways that ideas can get around.

BTW, i'm aware that yours was a facetious statement, but i thought i'd post this anyway.

[ Parent ]

By the way... (none / 0) (#148)
by broken shift key on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:21:22 PM EST

have you seen the final scenes of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty?

,br.,i.fear my sig1,/i.
[ Parent ]
nope (none / 0) (#150)
by IlIlIIllIIlllIII on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:23:24 PM EST

don't got a PS2

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily... (none / 1) (#166)
by skyknight on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:02:17 PM EST

I realize what memes are, but there's more to it than what you've said. Specifically, this meme will lead to a rapid extermination of those who are susceptible to the it, leaving those who are immune to it to fill the population void. With all of the potential carriers destroyed, it would no longer have any viable propagation vectors.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
well, you weren't being facetious (none / 0) (#196)
by IlIlIIllIIlllIII on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:27:53 AM EST

your objection is still that this meme spells death for the genes of the carrier. I'm not sure if being susceptible to that meme is a result of genetics, and it's not as if anybody who gets that particular meme dies before being able to propagate it. Those who are susceptible to it don't need to have children to pass the meme on, they just need a web browser or something. Also, the factors that cause someone to be susceptible to the meme aren't necessarily related to heredity. I think that as long as there are > 5 billion people in the world, and the carrier of the meme has the (seemingly) first world luxury of choosing not to have children, there will be plenty of those who don't.

Why would it result in "a rapid extermination of those who are susceptible to it"?

[ Parent ]

In fact, I was being facetious, but... (none / 0) (#222)
by skyknight on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:12:18 AM EST

there's no reason that facetiousness cannot be a segue into more substantive discourse. Since we're being serious now, I think we have to admit that we don't have sufficient empirical data to determine whether susceptibility to this particular meme is the result of peculiar genetics. Of course, we could back up a level and have a meta-argument about whether genetics effects memetics. I'm not sure the answer to this. One might argue that being capable of Turing computation is sufficient to be capable of any computation, but that might not be a useful line of argumentation. The human mind is a software system that arises out of a hardware system, and while the resulting software may be capable of any given computation, it may be relatively /(dis)?inclined/ toward specific ones. Has anyone given a convincing argument in the Nature versus Nurture debate? I've yet to hear one that convinces me that human discourse is solidly rooted in either. Rather, I'm inclined to think that it's a hodge podge of both that varies wildly from one individual to the next.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Didn't Neal Stephenson write a book about that? (none / 0) (#271)
by Zerotime on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 12:00:43 AM EST


"I live by the river
With my mother, in a house
She washes, I cook
And we never go out."

[ Parent ]
I've read most of his books... (none / 0) (#285)
by skyknight on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 09:56:11 AM EST

and yet I'm not sure to which one you are referring. I haven't read Zodiac, so maybe that is the one.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I think he might mean (none / 0) (#292)
by GenerationY on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 12:40:39 PM EST

the bit with the drummers and Hackworth towards the end of the Diamond Age.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps... (none / 0) (#293)
by skyknight on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 12:43:45 PM EST

but in that case I don't think that the comparison is a good one.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
By this logic... (none / 0) (#324)
by irrevenant on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 07:25:53 PM EST

...fatal germs would all be extinct - they kill off any potential carrier they can get their claws into too.  They follow a number of different strategies to avoid this:

(1)  They're slow-killing.  It doesn't matter if they kill off the carrier if he's able to pass the infection/meme onto two others first.  This meme passes the test, as an adult who adopts this belief system still has a lifetime to pass the meme on.

(2)  They adapt.  When people develop resistance, they come at them through other vectors.  Time will tell how this meme goes on that front...

[ Parent ]

Speaking of Leviathan (3.00 / 5) (#114)
by Zeptillian on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 03:22:20 PM EST

While Mr. John Taylor Gatto does take an entirely too pessimistic view of our educational system, I can't believe that the school system is really that bad, or that it cannot be substantially improved. I believe that each person is responsible for how much they want to take part in their own life, and if things suck for you because you are a drone, then it's because you let it get that way.

Russian author Victor Pelevin has a very good novel which examines this beast from the perspective of a Moscow ad writer who grew up on the outside of capitalism. Guided as much by Zen philosophy as well as magic mushrooms he travels on a journey of spiritual enlightenment towards understanding the true nature of the game. Pelevin is one of the greatest Russian authors since Nabokov. I highly recommend it. The whole book is there in the link above, or you can buy it, if you prefer. If you are interested, but you're too lazy to read the whole book, the manifesto transmitted by Che Guevara in chapter 7 pretty much sums it all up.

+1 FP PELEVIN (none / 0) (#273)
by gzt on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 12:16:54 AM EST

I actually haven't had the chance to read this novel yet. Hmm.

[ Parent ]
I liked school (none / 2) (#124)
by janra on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:08:52 PM EST

Even junior high, but high school was better.

And no, I wasn't one of the popular kids.
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.

Well, personally (none / 3) (#126)
by GenerationY on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 04:14:03 PM EST

I'm pretty glad I went to school (I'm not an American, but I can't imagine our state schools -- 'public schools' in American speech -- are so much different from yours).

I suspect I did learn some things because when I went in I couldn't read or do multiplication or division. Also, I learned how to deal with other people (admitedly, sometimes the hard way, but how else are some of those lessons to be learned else through experience?). In general I was taught certain things and also taught how to teach myself where necessary. I didn't go to a trendy or particularly liberal school but questioning the system was not seen as unhealthy behaviour for young people interested in the world about them and was to some extent encouraged in English Lit and the humanities.

I'm not aware that I was much brain washed beyond basic socialisation (perhaps the dread fingers of the Man are on my shoulder, but personally I don't fancy the life of a crazed savage outcast).

My real point here is that one can get carried away with this sort of navel gazing. There are good schools and bad schools, sure. There are also people too dumb or weak minded to think for themselves, but they are going to be victims whatever happens. If the underlying thesis is that capitalist society is bad, well, what the hell is there left to say on that subject? Schools, like any other social institution, really just mirror the society in which they exist. You'd best get the revolution started or something.

my take on school learning (none / 0) (#172)
by CAIMLAS on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:57:04 PM EST

It seems to me that in school, a person learns procedures, and then on their own - if they're lucky - they learn the thought process behind the procedure. they then become jaded, and hate the procedures, as they've gone a level above the simple "3 R's" and have learned how to think for themselves.

The "home school" approach, or what I imagine the case was 200 years ago with our founding fathers, is for the person to learn how to think logically first. They're then able to figure things out on their own; they're able to think, and the learning process of specifics is greatly abreviated. I imagine this is how people such as Thomas Jefferson were able to have the equivilant of a college degree at the age of 13: learn how to think by doing things that are natural - "playing", as it were, or experimenting with the world around him, not being forced into a concrete mold - and then when he got to be old enough to see the patterns in the world around him, was able to convey those patterns into slightly more abstract matters, such as arithmetic (Jefferson was a surveyor as a young man). He saw the patterns, and applying a symbolic number to the concrete metric which was "one step's worth of space", or what have you.

I imagine we'd all be better off if we were to take the 'Jefferson approach' to learning. Granted, Jefferson was a genius, but I personally feel that genius is not that common in our world - it's just hidden and destroyed.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

I just don't get (none / 0) (#177)
by GenerationY on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:39:52 PM EST

how schooling is supposed to prevent all these things. I mean, really. All this stuff about forming people in a fixed image. I never saw it. No-one controlled my mind and if they gave me things to do that I didn't want to do I paid them lip service and moved on. Personally, I read my way through high school and my degree and no-one interfered with me doing that either. I have no idea if my teacher's ways of doing things matched the books, I only know the people marking the exams were OK with it.

This isn't about educators, this is about parents who don't bring their kids up to have any inititative and the Slashdot-style "I could have been a super genius but my teacher didn't like me" sob stories.

I hope this doesn't sound too scathing, but I really have no patience with this kind of thing. Home schooling is unrealistic anyway unless you are some kind of millionaire. The most basic standards of living pretty much require a dual-income if you have kids.

[ Parent ]

I liked school (none / 1) (#185)
by speek on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 11:12:14 PM EST

I read books in class while the teacher's lectured. I was relentless about it - it didn't matter how many times they complained, the next day, I was right back to reading my book. In elementary school, my friend and I played chess behind the teacher while she read to the rest of the class. It took us a while to convince her to let us, but we didn't stop cajoling for it till she did.

In 7th grade, math class was a study hall. There was a filing cabinet full of lessons. Our task, if we chose to accept it, was to work our way through those lesson plans. How far we got would determine our placement in 8th grade. Then, the teacher sat back and read his book. We were in heaven. In about 2 months, my friend and I raced through 2/3 of the lessons, and then spent most of the rest of the school year reading our books of choice (Stephen Donaldson's Covenant series and The Hobbit included, if I remember right). Then, the last few weeks of the year, we finished off the remaining lessons.

In eighth grade, it was back to not only incredibly slow pace, but a repeat of some of the stuff we'd taught ourselves the previous year.

School didn't outright hurt me - I thrived on tests and the academic competition. But, it didn't do me any good either. I could have learned more in half the time, and had many more varied learning experiences had I been free to do so.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

not true at all (none / 0) (#200)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:04:25 AM EST

You're looking at the scenario from a single-level depth. It's more heinous than you're allowing yourself to accept as possible. It's a lot more than just your teachers and the local administration. It's our culture now, as it's been the teachers and administration for the past 50+ years. Your parents and your parents' parents were educated under the same system as you were, and the class mindset is thoroughly ingrained in you. I strongly recommend you at least skim through that book - if for no other reason, to simply see what all the fuss is about.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

Wrong (none / 1) (#226)
by GenerationY on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 11:01:15 AM EST

My parents were not educated in the same system. My grandparents were children before there was an education system. I did point out quite clearly I am not an American. I'm also probably a bit older than you are imagining.

I read the book when it came out. There is nothing inherently evil about schooling. America, because it is run by corporations, is corrupt in most of its social institutions. This is not news. But all that is required is some correction, not an entire rejection of a system and body of expertise. Teaching has moved on apace in the last 50 years and whilst a few examples can always be raked up of the wrong path being following (e.g., phonics, but show me any body of knowledge or industry that doesn't take wrong turns now and again), in general, techniques are improving. Not all parents are natural educators, and Piaget's "children as scientists" argument notwithstanding, not all children are self-starting motivatd learners easily able to structure their experience of the world. Making comparisons with home schooling enthusiasts (usually rare polymaths with a plenty in the bank) or the founding fathers is stupid. The vast range of knowledge that anyone needs to survive in the modern world requires specialist and highly structured teaching. You can't just casually leap in to many subjects these days, like it or not there is path that must be followed. There are simply not enough geniuses in the world for all home educators to be so skiled.

Gatto is making no new points whatsoever. Perhaps it is a genuine failure in education if people think so. The concepts of functionalist sociology and socialization were taught to us in school (as I have alluded to). These are Victorian notions. Foucault wrote about these themes thirty or so years ago. Nearly everyone in France knows about his ideas.  As I have written about elsewhere in the last two days, Thomas Hobbes was clear on what schooling was about in 1660. Seemingly, Gatto has only just noticed. This does make me wonder if the real problem is America's anti-intellectual culture (psst, this is why the French, who hold state funerals for philosophers, don't really like you).

Schools are just part of society. They can only change with the rest of society; although I acknowledge that Gatta believes that they can directly change society itself I have to disgaree.

[ Parent ]

Yeah (none / 1) (#228)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:13:10 PM EST

Gatto is basically Foucault for simpletons with a dash of Illich thrown in for good measure.

Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera

[ Parent ]
If it's anti-intellectual... (none / 0) (#269)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 11:12:38 PM EST

Why do all the people who seem to agree the most, are some of the most insightful people I've ever met?

That's Gatto's point, that as a bureaucracy, you can't tweak a few things and fix it. Bureaucracies don't work that way, at least outside of France.

Me, I contend that at least with parents that aren't interfered with, they *are* natural educators. Who better to teach you all these things you absolutely must know, than someone that already needs to know them? This isn't just true for humans, I think as brain power evolves in animals, it's necessary for parents to take over where instinct leaves off.

Perhaps it's your unfamiliarity with american education that blinds you to this. Or maybe just the distnace... if I were in another country where this wasn't an issue, I'm not sure I could be all that outraged over it either. But it's bad. Incredibly so.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

A few final thoughts (none / 0) (#272)
by GenerationY on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 12:13:06 AM EST

Actually some of the details of the American system disgust me. All this standardised grading and public ranking. Yuk. The idea of "Honour student onboard" bumper stickers makes me want to take a tire iron to these peoples headlamps. "Mathaletes", "Spelling Bees", and "Honour rolls". It is both utterly disgusting and rather embarassing (admitedly this is probably just my own English-based stiff-upper-lip and no boasting brain washing speaking for me here). Education as a spectator sport. Ouch. Is it coincidental that American sports are also (to the outsider) characterised by an almost autistic obsession with stats almost to the point of neglecting the game itself (never mind the poetry on the pitch that we've just witnessed, look at the guy's numbers. he sucks)? I think not.

My point was really just about schools and what is inherent and what is not inherent in the basic concept of schooling.

Lets reverse it. Imagine a society without state education. You really are shafted unless you are born in the bourgeoisie. Look at poor countries. Look at the price of ignorance; AIDS, superstition, brutality. Not a life perhaps unfulifilled but rather a life that is not worth living. The downsides to schooling are miniscule when viewed in full context. Whilst I do have sympathy for some of what Gatto says, I guess ultimately it does strike me as rather complacent and somewhat bourgeois. Just because theres a fly in my soup it doesn't mean we'd all be better off without food.

[ Parent ]

A few possibilities. (none / 2) (#232)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:29:25 PM EST

You're the small fraction of a population for which this sort of "education" works well.

Or the interference is subtle, something that you might not notice as an adult, let alone as a child.

Or that the memories are painful enough in a vague way that you simply refuse to acknowledge them.

Or maybe there were a few decent teachers, for whom you feel obligated to defend... and you end up defending them all.

I get tired of the "my teacher didn't like me" stories too. But how about me being ready for algebra by 3rd or 4th grade, and calculus by grade 6? Told to shut up and do your math homework, no matter how nicely it's worded, hurts. No foreign language until 8th grade. I was stunted. Christ, it's not hard to imagine what even my own mother might have done with just half the money they must have spent sending me to that hell-hole.

How about the incident I barely remember, 1st grade, of the teacher telling us eskimos lived in igloos, just weeks after my mother and I had watched Nova (at least I think that's the show it would have been, on PBS anyway)? Standing up, and saying that they really lived in houses made of driftwood and sod simply wasn't an acceptable answer. Then again, maybe it's not a good idea to confuse first graders. I admit even as a first grader, that it might have been asking for it, to say that they were really not eskimos, but inuit.

And if this was all a problem for me, someone they called "better than average" on all their meaningless little tests, how good could it have been for the "below average" kids? Imagine being every bit as bad off as I was, but having the learning measured off in even smaller does. Simply because earlier you weren't quite ready to take as big a dose as the rest.

Homeschooling probably is unrealistic for most people. I don't think anyone here denies that, though they might have failed to mention it. The point of Gatto's book isn't that you have to rush out and homeschool, just that if you knew how bad things were, you'd wish you could.

Myself, by the time I was in 10th, I couldn't put up with it any more. I just flunked, literally. I believe it was Algebra II, that finally did it in... had a teacher that was going to give me a final grade F, because I "wasn't writing it down". Answers were right, but I wasn't following procedures. Then again, if the class wasn't hadn't been six years late, maybe I would have been more willing... or maybe I wouldn't. Who knows, maybe I would have been an ass back then, too. As a human being, as an individual, would it have been so wrong for it to have been that way?

Now, this screwed everything up. The way the lass requirements intertwined, it prevented me from anything else I might have wanted to take. So I started flunking everything. I'm fairly certain that even at that point, I must have suspected that jumping through all their hoops wouldn't have saved me from even any long term consequences. But the school, even as the town voted to spend $3500 putting up a road sign proclaiming that it was home to the state wrestling and football champ, still had enough conformists to make a hollow claim about academic performance. You know how every few years we have a USA Today article about how smart people really aren't nerdy, studies prove they're usually attractive? Well, we had one of those too. Can't really say how smart he was, or if he was at all, but his SAT score was the highest in that highschool. By quite a margin, so I was told. Oh, except for mine. If I wasn't lied to about his score, then mine was 190 points higher. This hurt more than a few feelings among the administration, which was actually one of the few times I felt good about myself in highschool. Imagine, the fact that they *weren't* bragging about me, and I liked it.

Fast forward to now. I can't find a job. I have no real prospects. And I invite all the education apologists to attack me and make claims that if I hadn't fucked up school, that I'd be moderately successful now. (And I'm pretty agreeable here... $35,000 per year permanent is as high as my ambition goes). The real truth, that even as an obedient conformist, I had no future. Competence, skill... these things aren't needed. Nothing I have is of value to anyone, myself included.

I'm not the kind of guy you hire after you interview me. If you need to, because I'm qualified in some way no one else is (though that's never the case), then I'm the guy you think of as a temporary. Degree or not, top of class or not, was never going to happen. For those with ambition (and with talent similar to my own), I think many take the path of some professional not as beholden to an employer. Lawyer, doctor maybe. Ick, me a lawyer. I suppose I should be happy for some small gifts.

Every once in awhile, an ugly little dream of mine, to go into some kind, any kind, of business for myself, rears its head. But it's a foreign concept for me, and I don't really understand how to do it, nor do I think that I can learn at this late date. I think that's what hurt most, reading Gatto's book. Being reminded that 100 years ago, people only earned wages as a once in awhile, sometimes sort of thing.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Reminds me... (none / 2) (#241)
by elgardo on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 02:21:44 PM EST

> a final grade F, because I "wasn't writing it down".

This reminds me of one of the major tests in high school. I was supposed to do the same kind of equation sixteen times, and the procedure bored the hell out of me. So before solving the first equation, I substituted certain numbers with variables and generated a formula to shorten down the procedure. Then I used this formula to solve all the equations and finish it all off in fifteen minutes on only three pages and without cramps in my hand (as opposed to the required hour and a half, ten pages and serious writing cramps).

I got zero points on that one and dropped one grade, because I "hadn't shown that I understood the procedure" even though I had done exactly so, just with variables instead of numbers. The formula proved correct, as all my answers were correct.

When I confronted my teacher with this, he said that the formula I had arrived to was "next chapter" and I wasn't supposed to use it yet. He suspected that I had been reading ahead, and didn't buy into the fact that I had generated the formula during the test, even though doing so was blatantly obvious.

In another exam, in computer science no less, the task given went far beyond what we had learned. However, with my additional knowledge, I was still able to turn in a product that followed all specifications.

When they found out that the test wasn't possible to solve with the skills they had taught us, everyone were raised one grade, except me. I was lowered one grade, because I had used skills outside what we had learned, and therefore not shown that I had learned what they had tried to teach me, even though those skills were impossible to prove with the test given to us.

Silly me thought I would be rewarded for meeting all the requirements. Instead, those who had met only half of the requirements of the test got better grades.

[ Parent ]

As rightly they should have. (none / 1) (#247)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 03:31:40 PM EST

If only you had answered with "Yes drill seargant Sir!" when they spoke to you, they might have had a little compassion and passed you.

Oh wait. I misread your post, sound so much like boot camp...nevermind.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

that's "Sir Yes Sargeant Sir" (none / 0) (#266)
by llimllib on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:16:08 PM EST

Always start and end with a Sir, maggot! Drop and give me 20!

[ Parent ]
Funny, that. (none / 0) (#268)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:56:47 PM EST

In a nation that supposedly dismissed all notions of lords and landed gentry and whatnot, why is our military so intent on that? Why the boot camp? I wonder how well the little cannon fodders would do against equally equipped non-bootcamped soldiers.

Symptom of the same problem?

Of course, if 20,000 (insert your own "favorite smaller than current" number here) volunteers that weren't all cast from the same bootcamp mold could defend our country against all likely attacks, then there'd be no excuse for a large standing military.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

I believe the response would have been... (none / 0) (#317)
by Shajenko on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 04:22:29 AM EST

"I am not a Sir! I work for a living! You will address me as Sergeant or Drill Sergeant! Do you understand, maggot?!"

[ Parent ]
Mine too (none / 0) (#318)
by Shajenko on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 04:28:13 AM EST

Every once in awhile, an ugly little dream of mine, to go into some kind, any kind, of business for myself, rears its head. But it's a foreign concept for me, and I don't really understand how to do it, nor do I think that I can learn at this late date.
I'm trying to do the same as well, and I'm not quite sure what you believe is so hard to learn about it. You advertise (hell, flyers, an ad in the yellow pages, and/or a webpage would do a great deal), deal with people who want your services, negotiate a price and terms of the agreement, and then do it and collect the money. Once you're making enough money that the IRS would be interested, you can talk to an attorney using that cash, and figure out the rest.

Of course you can be sued for everything you're worth for something that's not even your fault, but the same thing can happen if you just invite somebody into your home and they slip and fall.

Basically, what appeals to me the most about it are two things: (1) Working on my own terms without a corporate boss, and (2) Cutting out the corporate middleman, so I can profit and hurt them at the same time.

[ Parent ]
School (1.75 / 4) (#141)
by debacle on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 05:40:51 PM EST

I was bored in Kindergarden
I was bored in First Grade
I was bored in Second Grade
I was bored in Third Grade
I was bored in Fifth Grade
I was bored in Sixth Grade
I was bored in Seventh Grade
I was bored in Eighth Grade
I was bored in Ninth Grade, except for Science
I was bored in Tenth Grade
I was bored in Eleventh Grade, except for Calculus
I was bored in Twelvth Grade, except for Physics

No challenge, no urge to learn. Reading ahead was seen as rude, talking out loud was seen as disruptive, helping other children was seen as being nosey, rushing through exams that I didn't care about was considered careless.

I suppose that I was careless when it came to school, and I don't really mind that. I have a "highschool education" but many of my friends are joining a trend where they drop out at 16 and get their GED before 17, hitting college and getting out before 20.

What's the world coming to? An adult before 20? Crazy!

It is my firm belief that the communal mind's solution to all of our problems is not far off from either The Matrix or Skynet.

It is my firm belief that if we don't destroy civilization, it will destroy us.

Destroy civilization in order to save it.

It tastes sweet.

In my school... (Long, examples given...) (none / 3) (#182)
by Elendale on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 10:54:34 PM EST

"Reading ahead was seen as rude..."

Reading ahead, for me, was punished through daily tests. The tests, purportedly, were required to make sure everyone kept up with the class. But when i asked if i could just get the tests as i finished the chapters the request was denied. I was told to quit being so arrogant.

In English class i was easily bored. I finished The Great Gatsby far ahead of time and about 75% of my advanced placement English class didn't finish it at all. (It bored me, i still find little literary value in it no matter how great others consider it- which isn't to say i'm some sort of anti-intellectual bastard, it just doesn't engage me. Different life, i guess.)

They were bored too, but they also didn't have the ability to read the entire book in one sitting.

But rather than mandating we actually read the book what do you think the teacher of this advanced placement English class did? She got the movie and sat us down to watch it. I found the movie even less interesting than the book, so i pulled out a compilation of poetry and began reading that. A few minutes later the teacher came by and pulled the book out of my hands, telling me that when English class was watching a movie all of English class would watch the movie. My protests were shot down with "Be quiet, we're watching a movie". The book was never returned. Requests from myself and from my parents were lost in the system.

Lesson learned? Self direction is punished, following the routine set by another is rewarded.

One of my friends graduated with a 3.98 GPA. He was third in the class- almost valedictorian. The two students who beat him were neither smarter than he nor did they work harder: by their own admission. You see, this friend was from a poor family and college was his way out of cyclical poverty. With scholarships he could afford it, without scholarships he would not have been able to (He did go, by the way, with the aid of a full ride- but that's a different story).

So if he was the better student then why did he get a 3.98 and not a 4.00- which would have secured him the #1 spot?

He had a C in one of his gym classes. He was tall, but physically weak. Not because of laziness or inactivity but because he was physically incapable of "living up to" the expectations of the teacher. Expectations that were set arbitrarily high. When his parents called to complain (the school had a policy that the gym classes graded solely on effort, not on some arbitrary expectation of capability) they were told he was lazy and his work sub-standard.

Lesson? Being slightly weak in one area while excelling in all others is worse than perfect, but only "standard" performance.

Another class that i was in assigned me to do an in-class presentation on a particular disease in my choice of a number of different mediums. One of them, which i was familiar with, was making a web page to detail the disease.

I was finished practically the day the project was assigned, but there had to be an in-class presentation. I set up the presentation on a tuesday, but later moved it to thursday as the computer lab was already being used that tuesday and it had to be registered at least three days in advance (at this point it was about two weeks before the presentation was due). The day before i was scheduled to give my project a substitute teacher was teaching the class. The teacher, for some reason, was under the impression i was supposed to give my presentation that day when it was actually the next. It was impossible to change the schedule the day-of due to the fact that, among other things, the computer lab was being used that day. I was given a zero on the project, which was worth 50% of my final grade for the class.

When the teacher returned the next day i demanded to be allowed to give my presentation the day it was scheduled, the teacher said i wasn't ready when i was called on and thus would recieve a zero. I failed the class.

Lesson? No matter how good or prepared you are: if the system wants to screw you it will.

I could go on, and on, but i trust i have made my point.

I have seen Leviathan. It is not a vision: it is a reality.

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
Great Gatsby (none / 1) (#197)
by X3nocide on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:29:23 AM EST

The great gatsby was a shining pile of turds when it was published, didn't sell well and was generally disliked. I can't fathom how this book has become to be an American "classic," except to say that with peers like A Seperate Peace, the bar to entry is quite low.  

[ Parent ]
this comment (none / 2) (#213)
by rmg on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:04:19 AM EST

epitomizes what makes this site suck.

if you can't see what makes gatsby a classic, that is your problem.


if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

dave dean[ Parent ]

I can't comment on the Great Gatsby... (none / 0) (#227)
by DavidTC on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:10:06 PM EST

...having never read it, but A Seperate Peace is possibly the most boring book ever written. To this day, I still can't figure out what the point of the entire book was.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
funny (none / 0) (#255)
by speek on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:30:38 PM EST

It was one of the few I liked from high school. Actually, coincidentally, I just bought a copy last week.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

"You can't fathom" (none / 1) (#267)
by GenerationY on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:52:59 PM EST

Eh. The disintegration of the American Dream amongst the excesses of the 1920s? Selfishness and cynicism leading to eventual amoral decay (Gatsby) yet still an eye to unobtainable perfection promised to the founding fathers (Daisy)? The ultimate emptiness of American symbols and dreams if they mean nothing to celebrants... theres quite a lot there surely.

Did you think it was about some dude who liked to party or something?
You'd hate Ulysses. Its about this dude who has a shave and goes for a walk.

[ Parent ]

No future tense about it (none / 0) (#368)
by X3nocide on Sun Aug 15, 2004 at 10:43:29 PM EST

Ulyesses was subpar. But proof that cynism isn't a new product of today's advanced understanding of human behavior. Even the Athenean democracy had problems with people decrying that proposed plans benefitted the man who proposed it further than the city itself. Thucydides offers far more insight to Athens than Joyce offers of Dublin.

[ Parent ]
Sorry to hear that experience. (none / 1) (#240)
by Fon2d2 on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:56:08 PM EST

I was pretty embittered by my 12th year of school, but I had no bullshit so extreme as that. I do remember missing a sign up for an oral presentation near the end of the year though. It was an IB/AP history class and the teacher had mentioned there would be group presentation. That's it, just mentioned. No specifics or anything. A couple days later I'd been gone for some IB SL test. I didn't ask what I'd missed, because there were enough others in the class taking that test that I'd assumed she would fill us in the next day. Nope. She'd actually explained and signed up the groups for the presentation that day. What happened? Next week she's saying the presentations will begin the next day and I'm like WTF!? I don't remember how exactly I managed my way through that one, but of course it was all my fault.

/end rant
//would you like to hear me bitch more about school?

[ Parent ]

The prime example of arbitrariness: (none / 1) (#254)
by Elendale on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 05:29:51 PM EST

"The difference between our school and prison is that prisoners are trusted and students are not."

That's (a paraphrase, likely- i'm going from memory) from one of the school's own newspaper publications. The thing that puts the stuff at this school "into perspective" is that there were a lot of really smart kids (despite being a small school we, for example, regularly defeated schools with five times our student number in academic competition- took second in the state in Academic Decathlon three times of the four years i was involved) but that precisely for that reason werethe discipline so strict and the rules so meaningless. If the school didn't keep absolute control on our every movement who knows what sort of chaos might be created? Too much intelligence concentrated in one area might be dangerous to the continued status quo of the school.

Another example, the one that inspired the story from which my quote is taken:

From the "commons" (that was the "trusted study hall" in which only kids with high enough grades were admitted- supposedly it was more "free" and "trusting") in which all of the time was your own. However, for example, if you wanted to go visit the in-school library you had to undertake the following steps:

  1. Get permission from the commons' instructor to get a pass
  2. Sign out of commons
  3. Head up to the library, get permission from the librarian
  4. Sign up for a library pass and recieve a physical pass
  5. Return to commons, sign back in
  6. Get permission to go to the library for an indeterminate amount of time
  7. Sign out
  8. Go to the library, surrender the pass, sign in to the library

    When you were done using the library or when the period was over you then had to:
  9. Sign out of the library
  10. Sign back in to the commons
  11. Note the amount of time spent in the library on the commons' records (which were occassionally examined for any "inconsistencies")

That's pretty ridiculous. Yet i will forever remember the routine: since almost nothing was actually allowed in commons (except for buying and eating the school snacks, light discussion with anyone in commons, or studying) i tried to go to the library every day- where at least there was a computer lab which i could play with, although the rules for getting from the library into the computer lab were similarly ornate- though not as bad as the above, and after a year or so of my daily visits the librarians just waived the hoop-jumping and let me in.

The article then went on to explain the county jail's procedure on similar activities- it was far less difficult and there was far more trust placed in the convicts than in the students.

The article caused a decent amount of student-body uproar and there was some talk of forcing an overhaul of the system. The administration beat us to it, however, and changed the system first: they changed it for requiring you to note how much time you spent at each task (by the synchronised school clocks) and then by handing out detentions to anyone who took "too much" time at any one of the stations. The message, to us, was clear: If you complain about it we'll make it worse, so don't complain.


When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
Damn, what the hell is wrong with your school? (none / 0) (#289)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 10:49:52 AM EST

Again I am unable to match your stories of bullshititude. So allow me to instead just grumble about Mr. Gadalla, my 10th grade math teacher who blatantly played favorites. I should've been more discreet about chatting with friends during classtime but it wasn't very disruptive. It's just that I sat front/back with this one friend of mine and well the whole neck craned around thing seems to get on the nerves of some teachers that think they are like Gods or something. God forbid we should socialize. In retrospect, it was pretty dumb for us to single ourselves out that way when my mother was bringing me with to parent/teacher conferences. So the next thing I know I'm having to time my entrance to the classroom as close to the bell as possible or Mr. Gadalla is coming up to my desk to ask me how I'm doing on the homework assignments. My friend Jeff who sits right next to me, on the other hand, is getting away scott free without turning in a single homework assignment. It's because the class was easy and Jeff did well on the tests so Mr. Gadalla never really bothered to pressure him about it and Jeff got a good grade anyway. Of course I got the same kinds of marks as Jeff, but that didn't matter since I'd been singled out. And the two girls that sat in front of us, also brainiacs like us, had actually been directly told by Mr. Gadalla they did not need to turn in homework. Okay, enough grumbling. That was like 10 years ago.

[ Parent ]
Same thing's wrong with everyone else's... (none / 0) (#301)
by Elendale on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:30:25 PM EST

It's just that in my school it was magnified.

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
About your English class... (none / 0) (#325)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 07:52:50 PM EST

It reminded me of an experience from my 9th grade English class. "We" had "to read" a certain number of books by the end of the year (Huck Finn, some Edgar Allen Poe stuff, Of Mice and Men, etc.). I quote "we" and "to read" because what happened was this: we'd go into class, and the teacher would read the books to us. I am not kidding. And you know what she did sometimes if she felt like doing something else during the class? She'd record herself reading the book at home the night before, and then bring in the tape, and we'd sit there and listen to her reading a tape recording of her reading the book. Eep.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Cry taylor! (none / 0) (#371)
by spiffariffic on Wed Aug 25, 2004 at 10:54:21 PM EST

We "read" A Midsummer Night's Dream in 8th grade "GT" English. While our teacher didn't read it to us, I use quotes because most of the class had the version of AMND with the "English" translation on the opposite page. Every day we'd play games to make sure everyone could follow the grossest of plot points. Standing in a circle, we'd toss a teddybear (Shakesbear! Do you get it?!) around and talk about major events.

The drill question one day was "Why was Hermia skeptical of Lysander's love?"  I heard my fellow students whispering. What were they whispering? "What does skeptical mean?"

[ Parent ]

unless (none / 0) (#304)
by Norkakn on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 04:17:50 PM EST

The fuckwad governor decides that the fewer people should drop out so they decree that the GED can't be taken until you are 18 unless you join the military.  I had to go to community college for two years after I dropped out as I couldn't take the GED.  All of the state universities here require a GED (because that tells so much more than a 34 ACT) and there is no way that I could afford OOS tuition.

Michigan sucks.  They cut all of the gifted programs, all adult ed, all GED funding.  It takes $125 to take the GED while it only takes $24(I think) to take the ACT.  This is horrible!.  Many of my friends are drop-outs who are stuck in dead end jobs who really would like to take the GED to try to do something better the burger king, but when you are making $6.50/hr after working at the same place for 2 years it is really hard to scrape together 125$ for a stupid test!

Sorry, it's something that continually bothers me.

[ Parent ]

I May Be a Teacher, but I'm Not an Educator (none / 2) (#153)
by daigu on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:33:54 PM EST

I May Be a Teacher, but I'm Not an Educator
By John Taylor Gatto
760 words
25 July 1991
The Wall Street Journal

In the first paragraph, he states: "...So I'm going to quit, I think." However, it is not the name of the article. Just thought I would clarify for anyone that wanted to find the original article and read it.

It's in the prologue of his book (none / 0) (#167)
by drivers on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:13:30 PM EST

The letter that you cite is quoted in full in the prologue of his book which you can read online.

[ Parent ]
Why am I not suprised? (1.00 / 5) (#156)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 06:56:32 PM EST

From a community that voted the <a href="http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/7/3/93812/20676">Performance-based Teaching Compensation</a> story not a month ago, is it possible to be shocked that:

A) 80% of those commenting have clearly not even skimmed a single chapter of Gatto's book.
B) Every fourth post comes to the defense of a education system, seemingly without reason
C) Half those in the discussion have a "just below the surface" but still perceptible attitude of "if it sucks for you or yours, then somehow you aren't doing it right, don't buck the system and you'll be happier".
D) Nearly everyone chimes in with their own personal school anecdote, usually with a positive tone, but fails to mention any at all about the dozens, if not hundreds, of students they must have went to school with. Let me guess, they all had positive experiences too?
E) More than a few concede the existence of this non-conspiracy, but try to persuade us that it's actually a good thing.
F) Fully 1/10th of the posts seem to attack this on the grounds that it was authored by localroger, rather than that the book itself is objectionable, or that the k5 review is of low quality.
G) Those that defend this "Leviathan" do so almost certainly not because they think it is an ethical, moral or even necessary construction, but rather that they (or their children) hope to somehow climb to the top of the monstrosity?

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

You're correct (none / 3) (#161)
by pHatidic on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:16:06 PM EST

The article itself doesn't really lend itself to much discussion since if most people won't RTFB until its too late. Perhaps K5 should have a book of the month type thing where we get a book to read and then discuss one month later. Anyway, if anyone who has read the book wants to discuss it then I'll be hanging out in #kuro5hin on irc.kuro5hin.org.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (none / 0) (#171)
by spammacus on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:53:42 PM EST

That book of the month thing is not a bad idea...  I for one like it when we get away from the usual political/meta topics and actually consider literature/music etc.

Then we might see fewer geeks trying to reduce complex realities to limited mathematical reasoning.  I can only take so much semantic argument (mistaken for 'logic') before I want to scream that life is not written in C and that the meanings of it's constructs are rarely axiomatic.
-- "Asshole, deconstruct thyself." - Mr. Surly
[ Parent ]

School was great. (1.50 / 4) (#160)
by Dr Unclear on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:11:40 PM EST

I made good grades effortlessly, was popular with the students and respected by the teachers, and I got to beat up nerds and take their money. I realized even then they were too smart for that money, much too busy developing their intellectual chops to fret chump change. I wonder where they are today, those nerds. Oh, that's right, fretting trolls on kuro5hin. Geniuses.

"Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours."

Play to Learn: Fix a Toilet! (none / 1) (#165)
by Eviction on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 07:41:59 PM EST

I like this concept of play to learn. The master of this method is Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid. The first Karate Kid movie should be required watching for all parents.

/To Pat Morita:/
Thank You, Mr. Miyagi! Daniel-San's lessons teach us all.

EVICTION HAS BEEN BITCH-SLAPPED BY THE K5 EDITORS. IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT WHY, PLEASE LET HIM KNOW. That's right. Due to editorial misconduct, his serial suspense story will never be finished.

Put 'em in a body bag, YEEEEEAHHH! -NT (none / 0) (#229)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:18:56 PM EST

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Erm, wasn't that work to learn? (n/t) (none / 0) (#323)
by irrevenant on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 07:12:53 PM EST

[ Parent ]
You're thinking of work to play. /nt (none / 0) (#343)
by Eviction on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 01:37:30 AM EST

EVICTION HAS BEEN BITCH-SLAPPED BY THE K5 EDITORS. IF YOU CAN FIGURE OUT WHY, PLEASE LET HIM KNOW. That's right. Due to editorial misconduct, his serial suspense story will never be finished.
[ Parent ]
The Horrors of School (2.16 / 6) (#168)
by Nighthawk1961 on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:27:18 PM EST

I have read the first 5 chapters of the book. And so far, I agree totally.
For me and many of my schoolmates, both boys and girls, school was *not* a fun place to be.
I live and went to school in Southern Ontario, Canada. In Canada, 4th grade students are 10 years old.
My fourth grade teacher was a *scary* lady. She had make-up that made her look like "Frankenstiens Bride" - I kid you not. But the worst part was the way she taught, in short, she was a first class BITCH!
I managed to get on her wrong side one day, so she cleared out my desk and put me *and* the desk behind the open classroom door (that swung open to the inside of the room). The effect was that I could see her and only her. This went on for about 3 days. I then told my Mother about it and my Mother went to the school and rasied holy hell. This "teacher" (sic) was being needlessly *cruel* to me (or at least that was *my* opinion).
The point of all this is that school was, for me, a lesson in being a "good boy" and had *nothing* to with "education". I have always been excellent at math and science and can read and write with the best of you, but I am not crediting the school system for this.
The above mentioned episode was one of but many such bad times that I endured while in the school system. And this bullshit about "homework" pisses me off to this day. Why should a child have to endure boring and tedious paper work at home? Isn't that why you go to school?
That's my two cents, thanks.
The Night Hawk

Another story (none / 1) (#260)
by Smokinn on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 06:38:51 PM EST

This episode is forever crystallized in my mind. I'm from Quebec and I was writing a secondary 1 (grade 7) science test. As those tests always easy I was breezing through it until I got to a specific multiple choice question. The question was: which body part dissipates the most heat. I only remember the 2 I was hesitating between. It was either the mouth or the top of the head. I remembered reading that it was the top of the head from my textbook but with images of walking outside in winter with the smoke coming out of my mouth I decided that couldn't possibly be right and that the right answer was the mouth. The next week I got my results back and it was the only question I got wrong. That immediately cemented into me that the point of school was nothing more than to regurgitate what was spoonfed.

[ Parent ]
Me too (none / 0) (#364)
by phraud on Mon Aug 09, 2004 at 11:29:08 AM EST

I also live in Canada, but not all education systems are the same. I have lived in Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario, and the age at which children attend school differs (the cutoff being January 31st up north, but December 31st the more south you travel). For instance, I was 12 when I finished the 8th grade, so for you to be 10 years old in the 4th grade would mean the education system (providing you didn't fail a few grades) that you attended is/was a couple of years behind the one I attended.

You create your own reality. Leave mine to me.
[ Parent ]
so true. (none / 2) (#169)
by CAIMLAS on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 08:42:35 PM EST

Having read this book, it is one of my favorites. It's spot on.
Being someone that is quite interested in intelligence, human thought process, and understanding how people reach conclusions, I find this quite interesting, and most certainly a complex, unsolveable problem due to the nature of large groups of people (at this current time). I've been in a different school system nearly every year of my 'education career', many of them small private schools with so much laundry hanging out you can't even see the building (so to speak). I'm quite well aware of the politics and other brutal systematic methods of conformity that go on.

I've always found it interesting how many parallels the principles behind this book the themes in most of the top films, namely cult/wildly popular/party films, such as Fight Club, Office Space, The Matrix, drug films such as Blow, and even The Graduate, to some degree. The subconscious mind of society has been becoming steadily more conscious of this "Levithian" beast that is societal control, with individuals hardly realizing it themselves. People watch these films repeatedly because they identify with the themes, the people, and the envionment, and they see something of reality in them - yet they're not able to see what it is, exactly, that they're noticing.

I think the only chance for change,really, is for the subconscious societal mind to become conscious. Hollywood seems to be making steps towards doing this, to a certain degree, as there are a lot of people that are wising up to the system to some degree. We can all do our own part by pointing things out to people, but ultimately, I think the system just has to run it's time. Society learns slowly.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

My own experience (none / 2) (#178)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Jul 28, 2004 at 09:58:12 PM EST

I can truthfully say that I became educated despite my schooling, not because of it.

I was nearly held back in eighth grade when I came close to failing a "mentally gifted minors" english class at the hands of a cruel and abusive teacher, yet I was later accepted into CalTech to study astronomy.

I ultimately got a degree in Physics from UC Santa Cruz, but my career has been as a computer programmer, my skill at programming being entirely self-taught, learned by reading books, writing programs, and reading other peoples' code.

-- Could you use my embedded systems development services?

I had a similar experience (none / 0) (#303)
by Norkakn on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 04:09:13 PM EST

that caused me to drop out of HS all together.

The teacher who failed me (BC Calc, softmore year) also too it upon himself to inform the rest of the staff that I really wasn't that bright, and other similar things.  I'm currently at the University of Michigan slowly getting a degree in CE while studying and programming for fun on the side.  Overall I am very glad that I dropped out, as it allowed me to rediscover some of my love of learning that the school system had stripped from me.  I haven't gotten it all back yet, but I am glad that in the past few years I have made a lot of progress.

[ Parent ]

a few comments (none / 2) (#191)
by tiger on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:03:11 AM EST

Several years ago I became interested in this schooling subject and the current alternatives to it, homeschooling and unschooling. Among other things, I read Gatto's 1992 Dumbing Us Down book, which is still in print. Reading Gatto was enlightening, and I used his book as the primary source when I wrote a K5 story on this schooling subject two years ago: Unschooling: An Alternative to Public Schools (this K5 story made the front page and has close to 400 comments; my K5 story was a subset of my slightly longer article Unschooling: Self-Directed Learning is Best, which I wrote in March 2002).

Leviathan doesn't care. You cannot beat a thing like that unless you're willing to tear out its heart -- and that means destroying our entire civilization.

I agree that it is not possible to undo forced schooling for the American population as a whole, because the current establishment is too entrenched and there is no revolution in sight. However, it is still possible at this time in America for individual parents to opt for homeschooling or unschooling for their own children, as long as they follow their state's current requirements.

Whether or not homeschooling/unschooling will ever be outlawed and criminalized in America remains to be seen, but at present it is legal, and parents should take advantage of this opportunity assuming they want what is best for their children.

Americans :— Say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child

I remember working through this problem myself.. (none / 1) (#194)
by nightfire on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 12:18:30 AM EST

The problem with fighting Leviathan is that ultimately, Leviathan is made up of us.

A few years ago I remember reading many articles about greed, control, and horrible injustice, and the "system" got to me. I sorta lost it.

I remember a bizarre conversation on IRC with a friend. It started as venting, and progressed into a disturbing and deluded rant, conceptually, about destroying the system, undoing what we have.. ending misery. My mind seemed to be recursing endlessly as I became conscious of this omnipresent "Leviathan."

Looking back at the log the next day, it was quite frightening to see that almost everything that I had written was gibberish (yet I recalled it making sense at the time; and no I wasn't on drugs :).

The only text that was intelligible towards the end was the last thing I wrote:

All men are great
before declaring war
on humanity.

Reconciliation I suppose.

school IS good preparation for corporate work (none / 2) (#195)
by lazloToth on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:06:28 AM EST

Having worked within highly bureaucratic large impersonal corporations, I believe Gatto is right, school is good preparation for that, the more of your soul/mind that school kills, the less soul/mind killing needs to take place after you are accepted into the corporate world.

The whole dumb, submissive, cow-like ideal of all but maybe 0.00001% in the corporate hive is supported by the schools pretty well, hand in hand with your Pharmas churning out Ritalin. We're all getting good value for our tax and health care dollars, if that's what we're shooting for anyway.

yawn (2.80 / 5) (#198)
by epburn on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:38:32 AM EST

I hope he can blame public schools for his writing style. Gatto's particular combination of dry, rambing, and strident are a special kind of unreadable. I was interested until I read the prologue.

Did my English teachers indoctrinate me? Have I been poisoned against Gatto? Damn you, public school system!

pretty true (none / 1) (#221)
by speek on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:03:47 AM EST

He is a pretty crappy writer. I don't think it's so much that you've been poisoned against Gatto, but more likely due to the fact he was a public school teacher for 30 years. It's probably hard to do that and keep a writer's edge.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Just for that book (none / 0) (#270)
by cronian on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 11:41:35 PM EST

It looks like he got lazy, and maybe didn't have a good editor for that book. I recall that his book Dumbing Us Down was much better written.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Leviathon (2.25 / 4) (#209)
by ShiftyStoner on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 04:03:41 AM EST

I saw it in the 5th grade. I'm still angry. More angry no one seems to care, rather they do care. They complain not enough billions are being spent on brainwashing chilren. Parents themselves force their children to go to school, raise them their entire lives basicaly believing there goal in life is to get an "education". What for is unclear lawer doctor astronot presidant. Doens't matter, what matter is you need to get that A+, you need to get that education.

I read an article by this guy in hightimes about a year back. Maybe less. I think it was this guy anyway, don't remember the name just the story sounds the same.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

I think I'm missing something (none / 0) (#216)
by bob6 on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 07:45:57 AM EST

Schooling is part of the collective project, in every part of the world, that's the whole point of schooling. So what? Is he discovering that he actually doesn't like that project?

did you read any of it? (none / 1) (#220)
by speek on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:01:36 AM EST

Try it. Or read his book "dumbing us down" which is a very small book and very succinctly outlines his complaints about modern schooling.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

I think I will try it (none / 0) (#225)
by bob6 on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 10:38:14 AM EST

By the article, I can't determine if he's criticizing schooling either because:
  1. it doesn't match a proper project for the American society?
  2. it prepares children to be "good citizens"?

[ Parent ]
Answers (none / 1) (#235)
by pHatidic on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:03:54 PM EST

What is the purpose of education? If the first three purposes are to create good people, good citizens, and good lives, as history suggests, then why have we allowed the Managerial Fourth Purpose to dominate what is really occurring in our 100,000 school buildings?

From Gatto's website

[ Parent ]

If you're going to read one of his books, (none / 1) (#322)
by Wise Cracker on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 04:46:59 PM EST

I'd recommend Underground History. I've only read through chapter 4 of Underground History, but it's much better than Dumbing Us Down. The latter is kind of whiny.
Caesars come, and Caesars go, but Newton lives forever
[ Parent ]
"collective project"? (none / 1) (#261)
by Qwaniton on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 06:49:28 PM EST

Please elaborate.
I don't think, therefore I
[ Parent ]
What? (none / 1) (#282)
by bob6 on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 04:44:21 AM EST

The collective project is a set of decisions that were taken by several persons on behalf and for everybody in a country/region/city. It's quite intangible since it encompasses laws, history, informal networks and culture.

My point is that American schools —how they work, what is taught and how teachers are trained— are the result of many decisions made by Americans in general (American politics, American parents, American teachers in particular)*. And, since education is quite connected to every other aspect of society. I was suggesting that Gatto could be criticizing the whole American society rather than just the schools, maybe even without him knowing it.

*Also, you can replace every instance of American by French, Japanese, Scottish, Berliner, etc.

[ Parent ]
Not exactly (none / 1) (#321)
by Wise Cracker on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 04:42:50 PM EST

He says that the American school system was agreed to by "Americans in general" for good reasons: reasons such as producing more literate children in less time. He then says that schools, such as they are, do not achieve the goals the public wanted. He lays blame for this on a variety of people, but not generally on the public as a whole.
Caesars come, and Caesars go, but Newton lives forever
[ Parent ]
Obligitory Jest (2.40 / 5) (#218)
by FantocheDoSock on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 09:28:00 AM EST

"The Leviathan has you, Neo."

She sighs and nods (none / 3) (#239)
by crazydee66 on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 01:52:14 PM EST

It's good to know that there is another D out there that is crazy. And she has seen "it" also.
I'm not totally evil yet.
Hello, I'm the Noodle, and I was unschooled (none / 0) (#262)
by Noodle on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 07:05:43 PM EST

It worked out alright. I had a healthy number of close friends growing up; some of them were homeschooled or unschooled, and some were not. I always got along well with my family. I accidentally taught myself to read at age eight, and went from Dr. Suess to 400+ page fantasy novels in about six months. Though I was too lazy to teach myself higher math and lacked the resources at home to pursue the applied sciences, I did eventually show some interest in those topics, and began taking classes at community college.

Sure, I've often felt a bit disconnected from society, but that's fine. To anyone with a reasonably thick skin and an elementary understanding of history, nothing's all that shocking. Western Civilization's not such a hard nut to crack. I think I'm as well equipped as one can be to survive and stay sane in the modern world.

{The Nefarious Noodle}

Hi Noodle (none / 0) (#265)
by localroger on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 09:43:45 PM EST

If you liked the Cartoon History, you should (if you haven't already) check out Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. This is the source scholarship which Gonick used to draw the Cartoon History.

While the Cartoon History is very good -- nothing Zinn says can match the cartoon railroad magnates crawling around on all fours going "CHOO! CHOO!" -- it gives a lot more solid background.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Unschooled ? (none / 0) (#279)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:36:01 AM EST

Unschooled, as in, illiterate ? That can't be what you mean (duh). What does the word mean, in this context ?
[ Parent ]
Freeform approach to homeschooling. (none / 1) (#300)
by celeriac on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:28:07 PM EST

Homeschooling without formal curricula. You provide a child access to resources that facilitate learning, and they will learn of their own accord.

[ Parent ]
We called that neglect (none / 0) (#305)
by GenerationY on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 04:31:36 PM EST

when I was a lad.

[ Parent ]
And corporal punishment, back in your day? (none / 0) (#315)
by Noodle on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 08:23:41 PM EST

I'll reckon it was called "discipline."

: P

{The Nefarious Noodle}
[ Parent ]

yay (none / 0) (#319)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 12:09:03 PM EST

what a bigoted gorilla.

This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
Oooo Oooo Oooo! (none / 0) (#320)
by GenerationY on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 01:55:49 PM EST

In all seriousness though, I wouldn't want to have to prove to some sort of child safety person that I was doing "non directed learning" with my kids rather than just leaving them with a pile of stuff and wandering off for eight hours to tinker with my truck.

[ Parent ]
One of my HS teachers did that (none / 0) (#308)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 04:49:13 PM EST

He plopped the textbooks in front of us, then settled down for a nap!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Blech (none / 0) (#313)
by celeriac on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 07:45:13 PM EST

Just to clarify, the amount of effort involved in unschooling is not at all diminished. It's a difference in style.

The difference between traditional schooling and unschooling is like the difference between management styles discussed in this article. Traditionally, the educator decides what will be done and when, and acts like their most important job is to keep control of things and check off items in the curriculum. In the other style, the child's innate (and immense) curiosity is the driving force, and the educator does everything in his or her power to keep up. Or to adapt a quote from that article -- unschooling parents act like their most important job is to run around the room, moving furniture out of the way, so that their children can concentrate on their education.

John Holt's books are probably the best place to get a handle on the concept and why it works.

[ Parent ]

Just a sec (none / 0) (#330)
by bugmaster on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 10:34:18 PM EST

But what about kids who'd rather watch TV then unschool themselves ? I know that the standard answer to that is, "Don't let them watch TV ! Evil ! Hssss !", but a). there's no way to ensure that your child never gets exposed to television, and b). there are lots of things like that in our society, such as playing video games, hanging out with other kids, and even reading fiction books.

Basically... what do you do if the kid just isn't interested in learning anything intensively ?
[ Parent ]

Then unschooling is not for them. n/t (none / 0) (#332)
by celeriac on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 04:30:09 AM EST

[ Parent ]
What is for them, then ? [n/t] (none / 0) (#333)
by bugmaster on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 04:59:14 AM EST

No Text
[ Parent ]
You expect an answer? (none / 0) (#334)
by celeriac on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 05:14:02 AM EST

If I don't like tomatoes, what am I going to have for lunch?

[ Parent ]
Vegging is a symptom (none / 1) (#341)
by Julian Morrison on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 09:42:28 PM EST

An unschooled kid won't have the memetically implanted dichotomy between "serious" stuff that's unpleasant, imposed, and arbitarary, versus "play" that's freely chosen but is defined by its lack of any real purpose. They aren't faced with the choice of watch boring TV versus do "homework".

[ Parent ]
Dichotomy (none / 0) (#350)
by bugmaster on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 09:56:18 PM EST

SO... what if this child chooses to "play" TV as opposed to "playing" math or science or history ? After all, he doesn't see a distinction between them. And, as I said, there are other things besides TV, such as hanging out with one's friends, playing video games, even reading fiction.
[ Parent ]
Do you like sugar? Do you eat nothing but sugar? (none / 0) (#353)
by Julian Morrison on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 03:20:37 AM EST

The point is, it's the work=dull, play=fun dichotomy that traps choice of entertainment activity inside the boundaries of the "play" concept. Most such activities are contentless, and therefore mind-numbing in any prolonged exposure. Even the most intricate are purposeless. They're useful for brain unwind, but nobody likes being permanently unwound.

A far more plausible "problem" would be unbalanced interests. The child might dig up every history book in the library, but be unable to mutiply five by seven.

[ Parent ]

Welcome to 1984+20 (none / 0) (#263)
by John Asscroft on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 07:07:54 PM EST

George Orwell believed that tyranny would come with a hob-nailed boot, grinding down forever upon the face of the people. Reality, however, is that such tyrannies do not last. Even the Soviet Union, as hardnosed an Orwellian state as it was, eventually fell apart under the weight of its own internal contradictions.

The velvet glove, not the hob-nailed boot, is the best way to control a people. This book is a how-to guide on how to build the perfect "soft" police state -- a police state where the government rarely intervenes directly in the life of the people, where the majority of people believe they are free, yet, somehow, the majority of the people end up doing exactly what those in power wish them to do. It shows how to indoctrinate the youth of a nation into blind respect for authority, even when said respect is unwarranted. It isn't the full story -- but it is certainly the start of the full story.

-- Your Attorney General
We must destroy freedom to save it from the terrorists who want to destroy freedom. Else the terrorists have won.

Chomsky will fill in another important part /nt (none / 0) (#264)
by jongleur on Thu Jul 29, 2004 at 09:11:01 PM EST

"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
Imagine the Borg (none / 0) (#283)
by minerboy on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 09:21:52 AM EST

With movie star looks, and speaking with the feigned empathy of Oprah. It's good to be assimilated.

[ Parent ]
1984 versus Brave New World /nt (none / 0) (#287)
by skyknight on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 10:02:26 AM EST

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
BNW is more apt (+my favorite on the topic) (3.00 / 2) (#329)
by Elendale on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 10:29:48 PM EST

The Brave New World "nurseries" (IIRC) are much more like the modern school system. Whispering subliminal lessons into the ears of the children, the nurseries smooth out all differences between people. The state of affairs is known, but not questioned. Seems more like our school system.

My favorite story on this is not 1984 or Brave New World, though, but a story from real life- about elephants. Taken from another comment i made recently and modified slightly:

Elephants are giant, powerful beasts- wild ones are impossible for any single human to control (barring technology like guns or tasers, etc). However, human beings (for a variety of reasons) want to employ elephants. When an elephant is small, if you tie a chain around its leg it won't be able to break it. So an elephant that grows up knowing only an unbreakable chain around its leg and never freedom will eventually become so accustomed to this chain that, at a certain point, the chain can be replaced by just a heavy rope and the elephant (though even a heavy chain might not be able to hold it) won't even try to escape: the "unbreakable chain" is on its leg. Humans have their chains and ropes too: compulsory schooling is the chain, the modern workforce (or "society") is the rope.

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
That is extremely interesting... (none / 0) (#336)
by skyknight on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 08:42:50 AM EST

It says a lot about the current human condition. Society used to employ overtly violent means for subjugation of populations. Now it's much more subtle. I think the elephant analogy is brilliant. Our conditioning starts from a very early stage, perhaps with the nursery rhymes that we are read as children. One of my personal axes to grind is the obsession with rote learning and grades. We teach children that to perform is to accept the metrics of others, and to acquiesce to their arbitrary numeric grading. We don't often encourage kids to do things on their own, to decide what is of value and to build something of obvious worth outside of any school created metric. Most jobs today require a high level of subservience, and a blindness to the system as a whole. Workers must perform a very specific task without any real conception of what they are doing in the system at large, and their only feedback is the performance evaluation from their boss, not all that unlike the grades they received in school. People aren't blacksmiths anymore... They don't hammer out a sword from start to finish and take pride in their work, seeing an entire finished product that they made. They are doing quality assurance measurements on the ball bearings that will be fitted into an armored vehicle that they will never see.

I think I'll spend some time today examining the various imagined chains that are holding me down.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Some stuff to consider: (none / 0) (#338)
by Elendale on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 07:34:45 PM EST

On K5, and elsewhere, we've had a lot of debate on the topic already:

I dunno, i'm sure there's more out there. This is just what i have on-hand, though.


When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

[ Parent ]
In fact, I have first hand experience... (none / 0) (#340)
by skyknight on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 09:28:03 PM EST

I was home schooled from the sixth through eighth grade. Initially my parents tried having me do a rigid curriculum, but ultimately I ended up doing "unschooling". I think that this played a huge role in forming who I am today. Attending junior high is perhaps the single most dehumanizing experience that a child can endure; I had the good fortune to miss it altogether.

While other children of my age were having the joy of learning wrung from them, I was voraciously devouring books on history and science, and learning everything there was to know about the local bird population. In lieu of being subjected to the bullying that is SOP for youth of that age, I was patiently sitting high up in the branches of an oak tree in my back yard, having Black Capped Chickadees peck sunflower seed from my hand.

Of course, subsequently attending public high school was therefore a rather painful experience. Being intellectual is an unforgivable crime. Fortunately I was rather large, and thus never was physically roughed up, but the ostracism was a bit much.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
What's the alternative ? (none / 1) (#280)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:43:51 AM EST

I confess, there are aspects of the Leviathan that I hate as much as localroger -- the widespread conformity being the foremost. But... what's the alternative ? All of you who are yelling, "Communism !", you can stop yelling now, because that's just as bad if not worse -- look at what happened in USSR, Cuba, North Korea, etc. The thing is, our society allows us to wield powers which a Unabomber-style hermit can't even imagine. We can, quite literally, look upon the surface of other worlds (through robotic cameras if not with our own eyes). We can edit the genome of living things (well, not that well so far). We can instantly communicate across the entire planet.

These powers greatly expand our horizons, and, ultimately, allow us to live much more interesting lives than the Amish or the Unabombers can achieve. Unfortunately, it takes a massive amount of resources to launch a spacecraft or sequence a genome; this means that most people will only see this stuff on TV -- but it also means that, without a massive Leviathan of some sort to gather and channel these resources, there would be no spacecraft or genomes.

If we gave up on Leviathan, we'd have to give up on most of this stuff, as well. Is it really worth it ?

The resources it takes... (none / 0) (#299)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:22:57 PM EST

To launch a spacecraft will be within the realm of some mildy wealthy individuals within my own lifetime. Maybe even the well-to-do but not wealthy individuals. Sequencing a genome takes what, now? A $500,000 lab? Hell, that's the kind of cash a guy like myself could scrape together over a period of years (ok, so more like decades, but still).

Everything that Leviathan claims only it can do, could probably be done by individuals (or small groups of free individuals) only a short time later. Men may have walked on the moon in 1969, but will it be that long before Rutan or one of his successors puts another person there?

This argument isn't all that compelling. You're two steps away from giving away your freedoms for a few shiny baubles. Come back and tell me your kid has some incurable disease that only gene therapy, as soon as possible, has a chance of fixing. Then I *might* have some small sympathy for your argument.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Not merely cash (none / 0) (#302)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:34:01 PM EST

It also takes a lot of individuals working together for a common goal. For example, SpaceShipOne, the current front-line contender for the X-Prize, got a major boost from Paul G. Allen, to the tune of $20e6, AFAIK. Allen made this money by being a founder of Microsoft, an international magacorp. Even still, the relatively cheap price tag was only possible because Scaled Composites used "off-the-shelf" components; others have spent a lot of effort building them and putting them on the shelf, so to speak. Scaled also hopes that its space venture will be profitable, which means that they rely on the rest of our society to find their service useful, and make it a cornerstone of space infrastructure.

In a broader view, all of us "have an incurable disease that only gene therapy can fix". Not literally, of course, but consider: where do you get your food ? Where does it come from ? The supermarket ? How does it get there ? What about electric power, gas for your car (or mass transit, maybe), etc. Naturally, you could grow and process your own food, generate your own power, etc. -- but then, you probably wouldn't have nearly as much time to pursue higher mathematics, compose music, or even post on k5.

In a society of any kind, even a hippie comune, certain freedoms must be given up for the community to function. For example, I give up the freedom to kill anyone I don't like, in exchange for not having to sleep with a gun under my pillow. I give some of my money to the government, and they build me nice asphalt roads in exchange.

There's a balance between surrendering all freedoms, and surrendering none at all. I am not claiming that, in our current society, this balance is perfect -- but I think that what we have now is still better than total anarchy, or living alone in the woods with squirrels for company.
[ Parent ]

Hardly. (none / 0) (#307)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 04:45:27 PM EST

If Leviathan didn't exist, I'd likely be growing my own food. Or maybe buy it from someone else. You don't seem to get it. I don't know there's any point in explaining.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
I Bow Down (none / 0) (#310)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 05:27:14 PM EST

Wow, I guess I am just too dumb to understand your magnificent argument. Must be due to all that schooling. Clearly, though, I am wrong and you're right. Right ?
[ Parent ]
Assuming that Leviathan... (none / 0) (#311)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 06:22:23 PM EST

Didn't exist until relatively recently, then people must have been able to live without it. Not everyone starved until the first supermarket existed. I figured this was obvious, and yet you're using my "need" of supermarkets as a compelling reason to keep Leviathan.

If supermarkets aren't a reason, and spaceships aren't a reason, just what is?

Oh, let me delve a little deeper on that score. Leviathan in this case would be NASA, not Rutan. As I said, even now, the average individual can't fly into space, but it's down to what, $20 million, you said? That's a significant difference from the billions it took NASA (I've heard in the trillions, adjusted for current dollar). At that rate, wealthy people, and finally not so wealthy people might be able to manage spaceflight someday relatively soon.

Now, there is no way to prove this experimentally or otherwise, but is it so outlandish that if Leviathan never existed, that people might have entered space? (though I concede that it might have been 2069, or even 2169, rather than 1969 for a moon landing). And was avoiding that delay worth the price we pay in Leviathan's existence?

Leviathan isn't necessary, nor do we see any advantages to it that make it worthwhile. Even if its necessity has been forced on us, it doesn't follow that we should glibly decide to keep it out of convenience, and it most assuredly doesn't follow that it retroactively becomes a good thing back in the era where it was being built.

Given the choice of freedom or 7-Eleven, I'll take freedom.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Leviathan did exist (none / 0) (#312)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 06:46:15 PM EST

Sorry -- all this time I was assuming that Leviathan is our entire civilization, all the way since Babylon, Egypt, and Ancient Greece. Why do you think that it is a recent invention ? True, our politics and values have changed a bit since then, but the basic concept is still the same. Census, for example, has existed at least since Ancient Rome.

I think you missed the second part of my post. The reason it is at all possible to launch a spacecraft for "mere" $20e6 is because of the Leviathan, and the massive infrastructure that it supports. Electronics, metallurgy, chemisrty, mass production, computer networks, and yes, even education... without it, there's no way you can build even a walkman, let alone a spaceship. And, of course, the $20e6 has to come from somewhere, as well; Leviathan allows private individuals to amass this substantial amount of wealth, for good or ill.

Besides, I actually like the 7-11. It has food, drink, and bubble gum, at any time, day or night. Pretty useful when you're on the road. A nice example of what free enterprise coupled with an advanced infrastructure can achieve.
[ Parent ]

Read the book. (none / 0) (#314)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 07:48:50 PM EST

Leviathan, in the way most people here are referring to it, is a recent invention, mid to late 1800s. Has its roots in the railroad and oil tycoons of the USA in particular, and to a lesser extent, the old wealth of europe. It is tied in closely to the eugenics movements of the 1920s, and some of humanity's other more shameful achievements.

Even the author speaks as if he can't believe half of what his research is telling him, he tries to deny that there is a conspiracy. Maybe he is right in that, but if so, I'm horrified and shocked that all the worst things about a conspiracy are *still* possible without anyone actually conspiring.

Skim through a few random chapters, alot of the tidbits he writes of stand on their own, even without the education angle.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

My observations... (none / 2) (#281)
by nuck on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:54:10 AM EST

As a twenty-something planning on being a parent within the next ten years, I am thinking about the economic realities of tomorrow in making today's choices and one specific reality is the decision of sending my children to public vs. private schools. When I look at public schools, what I really see are work education centers. When you are in public schools, you are taught by the system to sit still, pay attention, follow directions, synthesize information into reports without doing much original thinking in a heirarchical structure of responsibility and power. The other students enforce conformity often to the lowest common denominator and punish devience through social exile. Attractive girls are showered with attention while sensitive boys are shunned; Smart girls are excluded from popularity while primitive instincts are reinforced in men through sports programs involving social promotion. All of this takes place in a situation where the students must show up at 8am, get a 15 minute recess, 40 minute lunch, 15 minute recess, and then are dismissed. All property on campus is subject to search or seizure as the property belongs to the school. This sounds exactly like a standard oppressive corporate environment pandering to the lowest common denominator and forcing unique individuals into quiet frustration. I attended private school where the rules were more flexible and difference was respected with promotional programs including but not limited to great books, great math, public speaking, work study... and this was in 1-8th grade. The penalties for slacking were harsh to enforce motivation yet uniqueness was rarely punished; a majority of the kids were very creative and have gone on to do well in their respective fields. I agree with the book mentioned previously, The Bell Curve, and it's implications for the society. Smart people do tend to marry smart people and the combination produces an offspring with a greater potential for intelligence than either of the parents. On the inverse, conformists marry conformists and produce an offspring that is more conforming that either of the parents thus growing a gap between the two. I would imagine over time these groups geogravitate together and we end up with our current situation: a bulk of experimental, unique, thoughtful, artistic, innovative culture on the coasts of our country and a center of religious fundamentalists. I advocate an opening learning model free of busy work and rote learning; imagine if from day one you had been raised free of the requirement to memorize lists in favor of exposure to context and learning through experience. If instead of learning a jaded version of history about the native americans and being tested on the white men who were relevant in their extermination, you had the opportunity at a young age to watch multimedia materials produced by native americans and white americans. The earlier you can begin that thought, the stronger your brain will be later. I've been a round peg trying to fit into a square educational system my entire life and I have now accepted (at 26) for better or for worse, I was raised without those barriers of conformity and innovation many people hug furiously. I wish I was more conformist sometimes, it would make life simpler not to be so open to option and adhere to a doctrine, but hey, I just gotta be me. To bring it full circle, for the children that may arrive someday, I hope to be able to put them in a loose school with lots of stimulation which promotes their freethinking and take them during summer on adventures to show them life. Fuck conformity; I going to find me a weird wife and have some weird kids. :)

Thank you, Mr. Eugenicist! (none / 3) (#297)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:16:44 PM EST

That wonderful lesson in how smart people who marry other smart people have smart children while the rest of us have subhuman retards makes my mind stagger and my heart soar! I'm sure when your master race of smart people are in control, you will be benevolent and kind to the remaining native americans.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
Check out the trivium (none / 0) (#342)
by Daughter of the High King on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 12:08:07 AM EST

You would do well to investigate the trivium as an alternative to your future child's education.

[ Parent ]
Favorite quote from the book. (3.00 / 7) (#284)
by jrincayc on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 09:36:04 AM EST

From Separations by John Taylor Gatto in The Underground History of American Education:

The greatest intellectual event of my life occurred early in third grade before I was yanked out of Xavier and deposited back in Monongahela. From time to time a Jesuit brother from St. Vincent's College would cross the road to give a class at Xavier. The coming of a Jesuit to Xavier was always considered a big-time event even though there was constant tension between the Ursuline ladies and the Jesuit men. One lesson I received at the visiting brother's hands2 altered my consciousness forever. By contemporary standards, the class might seem impossibly advanced in concept for third grade, but if you keep in mind the global war that claimed major attention at that moment, then the fact that Brother Michael came to discuss causes of WWI as a prelude to its continuation in WWII is not so far-fetched.3 After a brief lecture on each combatant and its cultural and historical characteristics, an outline of incitements to conflict was chalked on the board.

"Who will volunteer to face the back of the room and tell us the causes of World War One?"

"I will, Brother Michael," I said. And I did.

"Why did you say what you did?"

"Because that's what you wrote."

"Do you accept my explanation as correct?"

"Yes, sir." I expected a compliment would soon follow, as it did with our regular teacher.

"Then you must be a fool, Mr. Gatto. I lied to you. Those are not the causes at all." It was like being flattened by a steamroller. I had the sensation of being struck and losing the power of speech. Nothing remotely similar had ever happened to me.

"Listen carefully, Mr. Gatto, and I shall show you the true causes of the war which men of bad character try to hide," and so saying he rapidly erased the board and in swift fashion another list of reasons appeared. As each was written, a short, clear explanation followed in a scholarly tone of voice.

"Now do you see, Mr. Gatto, why you must be careful when you accept the explanation of another? Don't these new reasons make much more sense?"

"Yes, sir."

"And could you now face the back of the room and repeat what you just learned?"

"I could, sir." And I knew I could because I had a strong memory, but he never gave me that chance.

"Why are you so gullible? Why do you believe my lies? Is it because I wear clothing you associate with men of God? I despair you are so easy to fool. What will happen to you if you let others do your thinking for you?"

You see, like a great magician he had shifted that commonplace school lesson we would have forgotten by the next morning into a formidable challenge to the entire contents of our private minds, raising the important question, Who can we believe? At the age of eight, while public school children were reading stories about talking animals, we had been escorted to the eggshell-thin foundation upon which authoritarian vanity rests and asked to inspect it.

There are many reasons to lie to children, the Jesuit said, and these seem to be good reasons to older men. Some truth you will know by divine intuition, he told us, but for the rest you must learn what tests to apply. Even then be cautious. It is not hard to fool human intelligence.

Later I told the nun in charge of my dorm what had happened because my head was swimming and I needed a second opinion from someone older. "Jesuits!" she snapped, shaking her head, but would say no more.

That's a fantastic story. /nt (none / 0) (#286)
by skyknight on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 10:00:39 AM EST

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
A remark (none / 0) (#288)
by bob6 on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 10:39:48 AM EST

I noticed that some arguments about schooling assume that, once within the school, the pupil is not under her parents responsibility anymore. It seems to me that, even in heavily schooled societies, parents are supposed to watch over the child's schooling and still play the biggest part in her education.
IanoaA but I'm pretty sure there is some parents' representation in school boards, state and federal educational authorities. So how come it is pertinent to claim that:
Internally, away from the critical eyes of parents, the schools [...]

responsibility^Wcontrol (none / 1) (#290)
by localroger on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 10:53:14 AM EST

It seems to me that, even in heavily schooled societies, parents are supposed to watch over the child's schooling and still play the biggest part in her education.

Nearly Gatto's entire book is about how this is not the case, how it stopped being the case, why it's not the case, and how the apparent possibilities for representation are a hollow sham maintained to hide the fact that this is never the case.

What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of some of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the min
[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#354)
by bob6 on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 04:14:50 AM EST

That is scary.

[ Parent ]
Playing a part in their education... (none / 1) (#296)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 03:08:13 PM EST

Usually means the parent is supposed to do cheerleading duty for the glorious teachers. Make sure he does his homework. Make sure that he gets along with others there at school, is happy at school. If he doesn't attend a parent teacher conference, so that they can figure out a way for those things  happen. There is always an undercurrent of enlisting the parent in the task that of demoralizing the child.

Ask yourself this... if the father or mother says "Gee, no wonder you're bored, you already know this stuff, let's skip ahead to something challenging!" and they do the lessons that are supposed to wait for 3 months (or oh my god, 3 years), how will that teacher treat that kid the next day? (Because I don't expect that kid to be sophisticated enough to hide it or lie). Or even more importantly, how will the teacher treat that parent at the next conference? She'll politely rebuke the parent for his or her misguided attempt to teach ahead, or could even become downright rude if the parent doesn't act all that contrite.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

I get the point (none / 0) (#355)
by bob6 on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 04:19:53 AM EST

Only, IanA and, where I live, parents are organized and exercise a decent level of control over teachers, admin, canteen, etc. I was just assuming that it xas the case in the US, appently it is not and this is totally wicked.

[ Parent ]
Leviathan (none / 0) (#316)
by Trifthen on Fri Jul 30, 2004 at 11:55:12 PM EST

Your little side story of a friend who described Leviathan to you kinda sparked my head a bit, and it made me produce this: Leviathan: Story Time

Do it yourself? (none / 0) (#328)
by irrevenant on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 08:45:46 PM EST

If you're unhappy with the way schools are currently run, have you considered starting your own?

A poster pointed out that it's inconvenient-to-impossible for a double-income family to home school a child, so why not try for the next best thing:

Pool your resources.  Hire your own teachers/tutors to your own specifications.  Make it a self-paced learning environment where kids have access to the tools to teach themselves whatever they want to know.  Provide external goals. etc. etc.

Literacy 'wherever such a thing mattered' (none / 0) (#335)
by Angostura on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 08:35:48 AM EST

I'll admit that I have not read the book, but this quote just jumped out at me screaming:

"Abundant data exist to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent, wherever such a thing mattered. Yet compulsory schooling existed nowhere."

Now what exactly does that weasel phrase 'wherever such a thing mattered' mean in this context? Perhaps someone could enlighten me.

A sceptic might suspect that the 'abundant data' was gathered about a self selecting sample of the literate cognoscenti and that the real change here has been the extension of 'wherever such a thing mattered' to mean everyone.

Self selecting sample (none / 0) (#357)
by A55M0NKEY on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 11:08:55 AM EST

Yep, 'wherever such a thing mattered' is a self selecting sample, so no conclusion can be drawn from that statement, other than that jobs requiring employees to be competant in the three Rs were able to find such employees for the most part. Attracted by a higher payrate, enough illiterate folks had the incentive to learn to read, to fill such jobs.

[ Parent ]
Home Schooling (none / 1) (#337)
by Daughter of the High King on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 07:25:47 PM EST

I am a home school mother of five. My husband has a "good" job and we have sacrificed much in order that I may have the privilege to "grow up" with my children. We chose not to watch their minds decay from the cancer we call schools. We have one income, one T.V., one car in which we can all ride together, and one God. My children are a blessing to me and each other. They are happy, active and strong. My children are a joy to all who come in contact with them. They can carry on conversation with skill, tact, and respect. They possess fact, logic and reason. My children will be leaders. Maybe not politically, possibly not even economically, but they will lead: because they think. They will influence those around them and those around them will be richer for having been near them. This is my gift to my children. This is my gift to the world.

Re: Home Schooling (none / 0) (#344)
by hhumbert on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 02:40:59 AM EST

Is your husband, by any chance, a math teacher?

[ Parent ]
With caution (none / 0) (#363)
by Daughter of the High King on Sun Aug 08, 2004 at 04:42:52 PM EST

Not really sure if you are being serious or just having some fun at my expense, but the answer is no.

[ Parent ]
School worked for me (none / 1) (#339)
by benis on Sun Aug 01, 2004 at 08:02:41 PM EST

I came out of school with an education. Although I only finished 7 years ago I can only remember 3 teachers. The first teacher I remember was when I was 6 she got the classes attention through songs on her guitar, we would sit at the mat and repeat after her, when she said "whos got brown hair" all the kids with brown hair would chant back "I've got brown hair". I liked this teacher this was far better than yelling or waiting silently till we all shut up, it gave us something to do to pay attention. The main reason I remeber this teacher was she never seemed to get mad with kids for being kids. In the morning songs she would have cath all phrases to get all the kids singing, such as "who's got ten fingers?" It took her several weeks to notice that I never responded to this one. When she finally did she asked me why, to this I replied "I've got eight fingers and two thumbs" she mearly laughed and included it into our songs from then on. The second teacher I remember was when I was 8, if I had tried to inform him I had 8 fingers not 10 he would have shot me with a gun-stapler or hit me with a metre ruler. Thats all I remember about him. all the teachers from then on meld into one institute, untill I reached 17. In my last year at high school our chemistry teacher figured that chemistry was too hard to force on us every day, so one day a week we had an outing, no not to science facilitys or even factorys. We had breakfasts at McD's lunches in parks, trips to the pools what ever we wanted. The by-product of this was the other 4 days we were in class we were all there to learn, this was teh least disruptive class of my highschool years and there was this bond between the members of this class that I hadn't felt since primary school(5-10y). I do agree that the school system is not right and can cause great distress of failure to many students. However I managed to come out ok, though I think that was more because of my family than the schools.
~I'm doing ok in life :)
Great review localroger (none / 1) (#345)
by fleece on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 07:01:43 AM EST

and thanks for bringing that publication to my attention. As an ex-teacher, it reaffirms something that I have been thinking about for a long time - education is largely about preparing children to become members of an institution - (the professional workplace)BR>
Your review and this article give a more diabolical slant to this (what I thought previously) matter-of-fact notion.

I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
I read some of this (none / 1) (#346)
by epepke on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 11:48:52 AM EST

I read the first printer-friendly versions of the chapters (six beyond the prologue, I believe), and what I mostly got out of it was a massive sense of relief that the bozo isn't teaching any more.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

Compulsory = bad. (none / 1) (#347)
by A55M0NKEY on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 03:51:26 PM EST

Compulsory education is bad, because the students don't neccessarily want to be there. This means that in order to meet the statistical goals demanded by those who pay for the schools, strange practices take place.

One such practice is that of assigning graded homework. Graded homework is a way for teachers to have something to average into their gradebooks to bring up the grades of diligent students who do poorly on tests. If a student fails purely on the basis of test scores blame will be assigned to the teacher by parents and administrators for not assigning sufficient homework. They will appear to be too lazy to correct homework, even if the student never studied for the tests. Completed homework is proof that the teacher was not too lazy to assign homework. Averaged into the gradebook, it brings up the grades of diligent students who can't pass the tests, defusing conflicts for the teacher.

The teacher is under pressure to assign lots of homework. The more the merrier, because the more homework is assigned, the more proof there is that the teacher is not lazy and is *trying* to educate. A huge mound of mimeographed crossword puzzles, connect-the-dots-vocab, multiple choice, copy-definitions-from-the-glossary sheets, corrected by fellow students costs the teacher no effort other than putting 'completed' checkmarks into their gradebook, and has the added bonus of taking half the classtime to go over.

But if students don't complete most of the homework, they won't get higher than a C even if they ace all the tests. Incomplete homework is averaged into the gradebook as zeroes.

Why not let students complete the homework or not as they need to? If a student couldn't do well on tests, they could do all the homework and have it averaged in to prop up their grade ( unfairly ) in order to defuse conflicts with parents and administrators without wasting all the other students' time.

After all, the purpose of homework is as a study aid. Why should students waste their time doing homework for subjects they understand when their time would be more effectively spent studying the points that confused them in class, and on practicing those things that they still don't feel 100% confident at? Because some students would not do any homework even if they needed to, and they would fail their tests.

Then parents and administrators would ask them why the teacher didn't make homework mandatory in order to cram the curriculum down even the unwilling students' throats.

Because some students don't want to learn, because they don't want to be there, all students must do copious unneccessary homework. Students do not take the time to do homework in subjects they are having trouble comprehending because it is much more efficient time-per-sheet and GPA wise to complete useless homework for subjects they already understand than it is to plod through learning the subjects they don't already understand.

A hypothetical example: Because doing all the homework would take more time than Jack is willing to invest, he does all his homework except his Geometry homework. Jack is confused by and is doing poorly in Geometry, but it is better to blow off that class GPA wise than to have incomplete homework bring down his grade in the other classes he has no trouble in. Sure, doing the unneccessary homework teaches him nothing, whereas doing the Geometry homework would be valuable, but Jack just doesn't have the time to learn with all the useless paperwork he gets assigned.

If homework favors the compliantly diligent, and anal retentive if only moderately intelligent among the student body, the tests are also designed to deemphasize critical thought and reward rote memorization. Those who put in the 'effort' to remember useless trivia such as all the names of the Ancient Egyptian Pharoahs get an A on the test. An essay on Ancient Egyptian economic factors is absent as a test criteria. Effort is rewarded, useful comprehension is not. Cramming at the last minute, the kid that finished the textbook in the first three weeks of class, reading while the class drilled on the names of famous Assyrians and talked about their models of Ziggurats, can only remember 50% of the pharoahs on the test. And his Ziggurat model sucked as did his cardboard Pyramid that he made when they switched from the Mesopotamia section to the Egypt section. Those crappy cardboard models marked only complete or incomplete were 15% of the grade, so he had to pass *something*. Enough to avoid a redo.

Teachers can tell things to students, but they can't understand the things for the students. That requires an interested student that will do that part on their own, asking questions perhaps, but taking an active role. But because teachers are 'graded' on how many students pass, there is pressure to only test on memorization which requires less active participation from the student.

Of course, students that are interested tend not to focus on minutae, and do not perform well unless they have put in the drill time. Students who have no clue, but have drilled do well.

Grades in compulsory education do not grade intelligence, or comprehension. They are only a measure of how compliantly diligent and anal retentive you are.

I quit high school after my first 9 week report card. It was full of Ds Es and Fs. Though legally 'home schooled' I went directly to college at age 14, graduating at age 19 with a B.A. in Mathematics Magne cum Laude ( As and Bs ). I was able to overcome my lack of 3.75 years of compulsory education because, being compulsory, it is mostly useless. ( I had a 60% average in High School geometry when I quit )

The main difference between High School and College is that College students all want to be there. Because of this, they are entrusted to educate themselves within that framework. If someone doesn't want to study for exams, then they are free to leave, troubling the professor no more.

In college, there is very little if any graded homework. The professors have better things to do with their time than correct it. If you have a question, they have office hours, but they aren't going to waste time looking at stuff you have no problems with.

College students, are therefore free to use their study time to study subjects that they do not fully understand. They can efficiently ignore the stuff they are sure they understand, and spend the time on the troublesome parts.

The grades are for A) Exams and B) Term papers. They don't care how you learned what you did to be able to do A and B.

Homework (none / 0) (#351)
by bugmaster on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 11:29:17 PM EST

I actually found graded homework quite useful back in high school, and in college (where it was basically optional). It would really suck to find out on the midterm or final that I've missed some critical concept of the course; graded homework let me know right away (well, within a week) what I was missing (if anything). Homework is also a great motivation to excercise your skills, as well. You wouldn't run a marathon without training a bit first, and, similarly, you wouldn't write the final without first doing some homework.

I think your objection is not to homework per se, but to pointless busywork. There was plenty of that too in high school, of course -- but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
[ Parent ]

Solution: (none / 0) (#352)
by Shajenko on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 02:14:09 AM EST

The teacher assigns the homework (optional of course), then posts the answers on his web page (telling the students about it). The students can grade their own homework, and come in to office hours if they don't understand part of it.

[ Parent ]
Re: homework (none / 0) (#358)
by A55M0NKEY on Tue Aug 03, 2004 at 03:37:30 PM EST

My only peeve with homework is with it being non-optional. While some homework is busywork at face value ( vocabulary crossword puzzles for instance ) even homework that would not be busywork for a student who needs the practice would be busywork for someone already familiar with the topic.

While most teachers do grade homework, and do average in incomplete homework as zeroes, some do not. These teachers who do not make homework mandatory find that nobody does the homework, preferring to do the mandatory homework for other classes.

Neither do students study for their class. Seeing that it is possible to get a C in the class without studying at all because incomplete homework will not bring down their grade, some students choose to try and do enough busywork in their other classes to bring those grades up to a C. Other students don't do the homework, and neither do they study, doing poorly on the tests, and making the teacher look bad for not MAKING them study with mandatory homework. Because the latter group of students outnumber the former group, the teachers that force unwilling students to make them look good by making homework mandatory look more effective than those that don't. Students that fall into line, and concentrate on GPA over learning, look smarter than ones that don't.

Students end up being caught in the middle of a tug of war for their time between teachers whose goal must be to please administrators first, teach second.

However, the ultimate confilict is between students that want to learn, and those that would educate those students who don't want to learn against their will. The former need the freedom to learn in their own way, and need to have results measured and rewarded, the latter need the school to be run like a prison ( another place where the inmates want out ), they need the learning process regimented, and they need to be able to document that the students have learned so that those students can reap the societal benefits of a high school diploma without learning having actually taken place. ( Those who would educate students against their will HAVE heard the phrase: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink, but they want the horse's thirst to be certified as quenched regardless of whether he drinks or not. )

If a person can read, they can learn anything else they want to. Literate people don't need to be taught anything - that only makes the process faster. Even in the 21st century, unskilled jobs don't require more than very basic literacy and numeracy. The educational system would therefore be much more effective if it were optional once students mastered sixth grade level reading and math skills. The middle and high school level stuff could then be free but optional. More students would then be educated better, and in less time for less cost. Three years to cover 7th-12 grade seems conservative for a motivated student among motivated students with teachers that can expect students to come already motivated.

As for the students that don't want to learn, they could change their mind and go back to school any time they wanted to stop delivering pizza. Equal opportunity and all that...

Other things that might help: Giving students choice in schools. If a school is failing them, why shouldn't they be able to get a voucher for the amount the state would pay anyway to educate them, and take it elsewhere. School would still be compulsory ( school's main problem ) but at least the students would be able to create their own pressures. They could demand to be educated, or they could demand to be certified. Different schools would cater to different demands, and the respect accorded to the certifications would vary depending on the school's clientelle. Then the government would be pressured to disallow vouchers to be spend at any school that failed to meet 'federal quality standards'. Those education quality standards would then immediately force the best schools to be equal in quality to the lowest common denominator schools - equal opportunity and all that.

[ Parent ]

I have the solution. (none / 0) (#369)
by Lethyos on Sat Aug 21, 2004 at 02:30:27 PM EST

I think this image sums it all up. The battle must not be lost against Leviatan!

earth, my body; water, my blood; air, my breath; fire, my spirit
Have to weigh in on this one (none / 0) (#370)
by spiffariffic on Wed Aug 25, 2004 at 10:29:53 PM EST

I think it's less evil than callously indifferent mediocrity. There are teachers who teach because they love to teach, and you'll remember them. The bulk of teachers are power-hungry, beady-eyed little trolls who teach because they can't do anything else, or for some reason are called as if by sirensong by the politics and meager power they can exert over students. Many teachers simply do not like kids, and that's just the long and short of it.

For those who try to make schools better, there are parents and lawsuits to contend with. Parents will complain that their intellectually unimpressive but plodding children are not included in the GT classes, and their widdle egos are hurting, so, rather than risk a discrimination lawsuit, the little darlings will be integrated by the administration and the quality of the class will go down until it's nothing more than a slightly faster class for those who can at least pretend to pay attention. My brother is 7 years older than me and went through the same school system; by the time I got to it, I only had one real year of GT "enrichment," and afterwards it was all but gone. When he was in school, they had groups of 10 to 15 kids (the actual number of talented children! gasp!) who would get special treatment. When I was in school, we had classes of 25 to 30, and they varied in everything but their blind allegience to authority, their simpering inability to think for themselves or do anything without a teacher telling them to. There were perhaps four or five actually "talented" kids among them (not counting myself). Consequently the level of education went down.

I left high school in February during my 9th grade year, ostensibly to "be homeschooled," but really to homeschool myself. By that time I had been convinced of the futility of even trying any more, since school was so clearly worthless--and the school itself regarded me in the same manner. I had teachers who recommended I be allowed to skip certain classes and the administration said no, even to my art teacher who said "Let her take photography." What on earth did they stand to gain by refusing to let me take photography, exactly? Would I learn the magical ways of the adult world and thereby be able to overthrow their tenuous authoritah?

I never will know, but I told them exactly what they were going to lose. It was with some satisfaction that I got to say, "I'm walking my high-scoring ass outta here" to the principal who told me he was very sorry, but no. (That's the whole purpose of magnet programs, you see. They need to bring in higher testing students to bring up their averages.) And so I did.

Six years later, I can't say I've regretted it.

Teachers explain the success of homeschooling (none / 0) (#372)
by farmgeek on Tue Sep 07, 2004 at 02:34:23 PM EST

There is no teacher more motivated to teach my kids than me.  We (my wife and I) spend as much time as it takes on a subject until the kids get it, because we can and because we want to make sure that they learn.

Plus, we can tailor every subject to the child, which means that our oldest boy gets a different teaching method than our oldest girl, they have different learning styles.

[ Parent ]

Review: The Underground History of American Education | 372 comments (363 topical, 9 editorial, 1 hidden)
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