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The State of Public Education

WTP wrote:

This may be long but I wrote a paragraph summary below. I used to be a member here, but I left a long time ago. I just came here because I genuinely feel it's an issue people should be aware of and at least research to form an opinion for themselves.

This may be long, so I will summarize it here for those who are going to say it's too long to read:

Public Education as we know it today began in Prussia in the early 1800s. Prussia's goal with education was to indoctrinate its youth into a nationalistic mindset, as well as one of obedience. It worked exceptionally well, Prussia became a world power on the heels of its compulsory schooling experiment. One of the most important facets of it was taking children in early, hence kindergarten being a German word. Education as we know it has not changed, though the model has been tweaked. It has the same purpose and for that reason can never be fixed as long as it remains the way it is.

There is a lot of misinformation out there so, if you don't discard this as conspiracy nonsense and decide to research, be wary - there definitely is conspiracy nonsense out there. In general what has happened to schooling is not conspiracy. It is actually quite out in the open. You can look up "Prussian education" on Wikipedia right now and verify the short excerpt above. Really it is just hidden in plain sight.

Woodrow Wilson himself said to a teachers conference: "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. " I would add that this was during a time when robotics didn't exist; these days the content of this quote is expired in relevancy, BUT the idea behind it remains the same. The American workforce has just transformed into a bureaucracy.

Another quote by Winston Churchill is: "Schools have not necessarily much to do with education... they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school."

I will not lay out the whole history as it is miles long; key players in it are the Prussian Model, John Dewey, corporate foundations such as the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations, the turn of the century psychologist boom of people known as "behaviorists" (think Pavlov's Dogs) and Hugo Munsterberg whom I believe coined the term "Human Resources. And on that note the term "well-adjusted" was coined by behaviorists to mean a subject had been well-adjusted due to behaviorist methods.

William Torey Harris, the Commissioner of Education in the U.S. from 1889 to 1906 said in The Philosophy of Education: "Ninety-nine out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual."

There's also the Gary Schools, an institution that we live in today. This was an education experiment that most prominently introduced the idea of using a bell schedule system to move students from classroom to classroom, but also had an effect on curriculum and how they were taught. The intentions of this system have been debated before, as it was funded heavily by the Rockefeller Foundation (something I will get into in a moment). It was implemented widespread in New York City in the early 1900s, and caused many riots and protests from citizens. It was eventually revoked by a newly elected mayor John Francis Hylan, who said it was "a system by which Rockefellers and their allies hope to educate coming generations in the 'doctrine of contentment,' another name for social serfdom."

The most prominent resource that I have come across to indicate schooling should not be left in the hands of government and certainly shouldn't be compulsory is the Reece Congressional Committee on Foundations. It was a congressional investigation into the hand the industrialist foundations had in schooling.

The committee was disbanded prematurely due to heavy media criticism and attacks to the effect of "they are trying to ruin education."

This link is to the Dodd Report, the official but tentative findings of the premature investigation: http://tekgnosis.typepad.com/tekgnosis/2008/07/the-dodd-report.html

And finally just to address some possible inevitable criticisms that say "but we need mandatory schools!" I'd ask you first off to go ask your coworker, neighbor or manager to answer a chemistry problem using moles, ask them to answer a physics problem dealing with an object thrown in an arc off of a cliff and what its velocity the instant before impact was, or how far it traveled. Ask them to tell you all the amendments to the Constitution. Ask them what a ribosome is, in fact ask them to name the parts of a eukaryote cell and its significance in biology. Ask them about the Grenville Orogeny, ask them what supercontinents came before Pangea. See if they can answer a quadratic problem, see if they know what philosophers influenced the Founding Fathers the most, and then see if they can tell you what John Locke's, Hume's, Hobbes' or Rousseau's philosophies were.

If they can't answer these questions then school amounted to a waste of time, and even if they can answer many of these questions you may look back over that list and ask yourself: "Why did I need to know what the Grenville Orogeny was? Why did I need to know about eukaryotes? What is the significance in learning abstractions of chemistry if I am not a chemist?"

You might ask: "But what about literacy and math? Who will teach them to read?"

Literacy has been declining. America has been renowned for its literacy in a time when there were no public schools. The country as a whole used to make college graduate level books of philosophy best sellers, whereas now the best selling "philosophy" book is probably "The Secret", a book with what appears to be a 5th grade level of vocabulary.

I'd tell you to disregard the Census Bureau's statistics, they've been criticized for simply asking: "Can you read and write?" - of course they can, you'd be a moron if you couldn't, SLAVES were capable of teaching themselves to read and write using the Bible. Literacy is better measured in quality - to what degree are you literate? In that respect the literacy rate has undeniably faltered. In fact the most famous founder of our country, George Washington, learned trigonometry at the age of 11 and was already fully literate and capable of algebra. 11 was the time he first went to school, so he learned algebra and how to read at a college level without school.

Benjamin Franklin was reading books of a college graduate level as someone who wasn't formally educated by the time one would be in middle school today.

The city with the most famous intellectual culture in history, Athens, had no school system at all. The only thing resembling a school system was Plato's Academy, which from what we know was more like a spot intellectuals discussed math and philosophy than a classroom. I think this illustrates people don't have to be coerced to learn. The human animal is naturally curious.

I'd say that in the past children were treated like individuals. Ben Franklin left his home at the age of 10. Nowadays that would be outrageous, but Franklin got work at this age. The very idea of adolescence was created by psychologists in the 20th century. Before that children weren't treated like drooling idiots that can do nothing, they weren't lied to about the Easter Bunny. They were given the world for what it was, and they lived in the real world rather than being buffered from it and "prepared" for it. People like Thomas Edison would not occur in today's society. Thomas Edison sold his own newspapers out of a train at about the age of 13, and he made good money doing it. He first experimented with phosphorus and electricity in that train, and he was actually kicked out of school because he wasn't good at math.

Thomas Edison today would probably be recommended Adderrall and end up an angsty kid forced to be in an institution he doesn't want to be in.

American society used to be mostly entrepreneurial. Many 16 year olds owned their own businesses. Today everyone waits till the age of 21 to get a BA so they are "specialized" in some field to be employed (disregard the medical field in this criticism for obvious reasons), even though many of the computer science whiz kids that made fortunes on advancing computer technology in Silicon Valley were highschool dropouts.

I think the school system is a great injustice in its current form. It has severely retarded adulthood, and it undermines the ability of people to pursue a particular path from a young age like they used to in the past. Kids are not morons unless you treat them like morons. I'd end compulsory education immediately, though I'd leave open the option to go to public school anyways. I'd consider ending public education completely and returning that money to the hands of the taxpayers to pay for private schools, as it had been for decades of which resulted in many American intellectuals.

Compulsory education IS a totalitarian institution, it's forcing you to go to school with a threatened jail sentence. It has been totalitarian for centuries, even in a time where there was such thing as a public school the only people talking about compulsory schools were philosophers musing about how it could be used to create a docile population for a utopian society (Plato for instance), and that was assuming the rulers were ideal.

The main argument of this though is that the history of compulsory public schooling illustrates that it is not meant to educate you anyways. The structure of our school system can't be fixed unless you remove all standardized tests, grades, curriculums, and create local schoolhouses in every neighborhood with no extended administrative bureaucracy otherwise reform is moot, school as it is was formulated to indoctrinate.

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Comments:

NS wrote:

Kindergarten and pre-K should be state mandated. It is so unbelievably important. 

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When your mind is full of indecision, try thinking with your heart.

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ST wrote:

Actually, Napoleon was basically the founder of state education. It was rooted mainly in France. 

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http://www.freerice.com/index.php

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WTP replied:

 Actually, Napoleon was basically the founder of state education. It was rooted mainly in France. 

True, but Horace Mann was the creator of modern education in America, and he based it off of a trip to Prussia. The only real difference is that Prussians had a purportedly universal attendance rate.

Regardless though, Napoleon's intentions with state education were not much different. Their goal was to mold citizens to be better for the state of Imperial France. It's the reason he pushed it so hard, he talked of how France couldn't leave its citizens to the influence of private publications and outside influences at a young age.

 

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WTP replied:

 Kindergarten and pre-K should be state mandated. It is so unbelievably important. 

You trollin' brah?

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NS replied:


 Kindergarten and pre-K should be state mandated. It is so unbelievably important. 


You trollin' brah?


No? 

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WTP replied:


 Kindergarten and pre-K should be state mandated. It is so unbelievably important. 
 

 You trollin' brah?


No?


What can I say, I guess we just disagree. You must have not read my wall of text, but the idea of bringing children into an early education (the age of 3) was first invented (as far as we know) by Plato in "The Republic". He said it was essential to have the state's hand in the youth's upbringing as soon as possible, so as to mold them to authority and to be good political subjects. This may have been enacted in Sparta before "The Republic", I'm not sure.

By the way I'm not trying to be a conspiracy theorist, there are a lot of conspiracy theories about school and I reject the vast majority. I don't think it's a conspiracy, I think it just happened through time by men who thought they were doing a good thing. The Reece Committee is pretty much proof that most elected officials aren't really privy to what's going on in education or where it came from.

Anyways, I think it's a terrible mistake to put kids through "school" at ages so early as 4 (even though all Kindergarten amounts to is a daycare).

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m wrote:

you get what you put into it.  education can be very rewarding.

there's hella alternate options you can even be home schooled or go to college early or go to private school, or go to charter schools, or go to regular old public schools like what i did, but you can't just let your mind rot, that's a population of ignorant lazy fucks without compulsory education.

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"Don't bail; the best of the gold is at the bottom of the
barrels of crap."

-- Randy Pausch

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NS replied:

 Kindergarten and pre-K should be state mandated. It is so unbelievably important. 

  You trollin' brah?


 

 No?


What can I say, I guess we just disagree. You must have not read my wall of text, but the idea of bringing children into an early education (the age of 3) was first invented (as far as we know) by Plato in "The Republic". He said it was essential to have the state's hand in the youth's upbringing as soon as possible, so as to mold them to authority and to be good political subjects. This may have been enacted in Sparta before "The Republic", I'm not sure.

By the way I'm not trying to be a conspiracy theorist, there are a lot of conspiracy theories about school and I reject the vast majority. I don't think it's a conspiracy, I think it just happened through time by men who thought they were doing a good thing. The Reece Committee is pretty much proof that most elected officials aren't really privy to whats going on in education or where it came from.

Anyways, I think it's a terrible mistake to put kids through "school" at ages so early as 4 (even though all Kindergarten amounts to is a daycare). 


Whoa, what a huge generalization! Kindergarten is not daycare. I do not "babysit" my kids. I teach my kids. Some of them come in the classroom in September completely illiterate, and leave in June with a plethora of knowledge, including reading, writing, and math. All of these skills they need to matriculate through grade school.

I don't mean to offend you, but I cannot stand when people outside of the education system make assumptions like these. It is silly assumptions like these that we, as teachers, get disgusting reputations. Furthermore, there are so many tests that we must give these children that it isn't academically feasible to allow a child to enter the 1st grade without a sturdy foundation of the basic concepts of the English language. In Kindergarten, we "catch" children with disabilities and give them proper services which allow them to "catch up" to their normally developing classmates. Taking these services away from children in need is setting the children up for academic failure in grade school. It is so so imperative that these children know how to recognize letters and numbers prior to grade school. Ask any educator, and you will not find a single one who will disagree.

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WTP replied:

 you get what you put into it. education can be very rewarding.

there's hella alternate options you can even be home schooled or go to college early or go to private school, or go to charter schools, or go to regular old public schools like what i did, but you can't just let your mind rot, that's a population of ignorant lazy fucks without compulsory education


I disagree.

I don't disagree with school, I disagree with the idea that people let their minds rot in lieu of not going to school. There's actually a movement that I don't particularly agree with called "unschooling" in which you don't school your kids at all and let them do whatever they want.

Lawyers have come out of that group, and it's a small group. There's only an estimated 100,000 unschoolers in the country. There's also, from what I've personally seen, scientists (a physicist I met that made me aware it even existed) and a programmer. The most famous is Astra Taylor because she is an activist, she went to brown university as someone who didn't go to school till sophomore year of high school (and she excelled enough in her classes to be accepted to that ivy league school).

Plus the initial example of Ben Franklin and Edison who were both autodidacts as well as all of Athens' intelligentsia. I think human beings are naturally curious, otherwise we wouldn't be in this society we live in right now.

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m replied:

so i guess education isn't compulsory, if there's unschoolers.  With homeschooling, parents could probably unschool their children as much as they want.  With a well constructed social setting, this could be extremely successful.

Lacking parents who are that committed, I think the public school system provides a valuable resource to the public and I'm happy to have emerged from it successfully smarter than I entered, doing well in college so far.... 

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WTP replied:

 Kindergarten and pre-K should be state mandated. It is so unbelievably important. 
   

  You trollin' brah?


  No?


 

 What can I say, I guess we just disagree. You must have not read my wall of text, but the idea of bringing children into an early education (the age of 3) was first invented (as far as we know) by Plato in "The Republic". He said it was essential to have the state's hand in the youth's upbringing as soon as possible, so as to mold them to authority and to be good political subjects. This may have been enacted in Sparta before "The Republic", I'm not sure.  

 By the way I'm not trying to be a conspiracy theorist, there are a lot of conspiracy theories about school and I reject the vast majority. I don't think it's a conspiracy, I think it just happened through time by men who thought they were doing a good thing. The Reece Committee is pretty much proof that most elected officials aren't really privy to whats going on in education or where it came from.  

 Anyways, I think it's a terrible mistake to put kids through "school" at ages so early as 4 (even though all Kindergarten amounts to is a daycare). 


Whoa, what a huge generalization! Kindergarten is not daycare. I do not "babysit" my kids. I teach my kids. Some of them come in the classroom in September completely illiterate, and leave in June with a plethora of knowledge, including reading, writing, and math. All of these skills they need to matriculate through grade school.

I don't mean to offend you, but I cannot stand when people outside of the education system make assumptions like these. It is silly assumptions like these that we, as teachers, get disgusting reputations. Furthermore, there are so many tests that we must give these children that it isn't academically feasible to allow a child to enter the 1st grade without a sturdy foundation of the basic concepts of the English language. In Kindergarten, we "catch" children with disabilities and give them proper services which allow them to "catch up" to their normally developing classmates. Taking these services away from children in need is setting the children up for academic failure in grade school. It is so so imperative that these children know how to recognize letters and numbers prior to grade school. Ask any educator, and you will not find a single one who will disagree.  

 


No offense taken, and I don't mean to offend you either, but I would say that there are many educators that disagree with schooling as an institution anyways. Granted I doubt they would disagree with students learning letters and numbers though.

John Holt is one of the more famous educators from a time in the 70s when education methods were getting lots of attention, though he is the proponent of the method I talked about before that I do not totally agree with, his assertion was that (and it wasn't completely pulled out of his ass, he based it on his own studies into schooling) learning how to read and write was such a base skill that it is not necessary to teach it at an early age because anyone who learns it can learn it fluently given a couple of weeks. His examples were various literary figures who didn't learn how to read or write until they were 10 years or older.

But as I said, I don't necessarily agree with that. I'm still forming my opinions on what would be the best way to educate somebody. Another educator from within the institution was John Taylor Gatto, a teacher who got his middle school students over 1,000 internships, over 30,000 hours of community service and some hundreds of jobs. He is a huge critic of the schooling system as a whole, I think he favors small private schooling at a later age (9-10 give or take).

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WTP replied:

 so i guess education isn't compulsory, if there's unschoolers. With homeschooling, parents could probably unschool their children as much as they want. With a well constructed social setting, this could be extremely successful.

Lacking parents who are that committed, I think the public school system provides a valuable resource to the public and I'm happy to have emerged from it successfully smarter than I entered, doing well in college so far....


Unschooling is limited to certain states.

Regardless I'm not attacking public school, just the idea of a parent being fined or jailed for failing to send their child to school mostly on the basis that school as a state run institution is a very shady business.

The question is would you have been served better by a different system? That's why I referenced earlier adulthood in the first post. Washington was a self-made man. He came from an aristocratic family, but his father died and due to the times left all of his money to his first born. This was when Washington went to a school for two years at the age of 11 and learned surveying. If I remember his age right, he landed a high paying job (roughly 90,000-100,000 current dollars) as a surveyor at the age of 16 and bought Mt. Vernon with the money he made.

This wasn't an uncommon thing, many people became employed or apprenticed in a trade at ages as early as 10 and became entrepreneurs at a time they would have been in high school. Our school system is kind of built on the idea of getting a good GPA in order to qualify you for jobs, and all it has done is pushed back the age one enters the job market at which point one is only really qualified to be employed in 10$/hr jobs (I'm talking about high school, I don't have any problems with college except for the standardization of timescales).

The unschoolers just kind of serve as an example of kids who can get into college after spending their youth deciding what they want to do and working in those areas. All it takes to get into state college is a GED (GEDs are terribly easy tests, I had a friend who took a GED test. He said it was like being in 6th grade). Unschoolers also have the nice privilege of being considered homeschoolers so they can just take a test for a diploma. The question is, is such a long stay in school necessary and does it serve you very well other than filling you with some amounts of information, most of which the majority of the class will not retain in the long run?

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l wrote:

The further the state has interjected itself into education, the worse the education of the citizenry has become. 

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l wrote:

Also, it takes one hell of a moron to think that a rejection of mandatory public education is a rejection of education in general.

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Ref: http://www.golivewire.com/forums/peer-eeotpno-support-a.html

December 21, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink