De-Manufacturing Consent with Guillermo Jimenez: The Notion of School as a Mechanism of Control

School's Out: Escaping the Cycle of Compulsory Public Education and Unlearning Authoritarianism

On this edition of De-Manufacturing Consent, Guillermo is joined by the author of the book Don't Do Drugs, Stay Out of School and host of Unplugged Mom Radio, Ms. Laurette Lynn. Guillermo and Laurette discuss the history of compulsory public education and its roots in the Prussian model, developed to increase industrial productivity, encourage authoritarianism, and eventually a totalitarian society. We explore the notion of school as a mechanism of control, the alternatives to this system, and how parents can regain control of their children's education.

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  1. John Taylor Gatto gives an excellent presentation on the history of the compulsory school system:

  2. As a former secondary level teacher for 20 some years the points made in this clip are well taken. I have to say I think moaning and groaning is for a bunch of whimps. Think what it is like to teach in a fascist state, the Soviet Union, creative teachers learn how to get the message across. Yes, it is true that the system suggests that teachers be hard nosed. I did the opposite. I built rapport with my students. When they screwed up, I withdrew emotional support until they got the message. Never had a major problem. Did very creative things with my students. Here is an example teaching an AP biology class in anatomy and physiology. We were talking about neurobiology and left brain and right brain functions. I brought in a large African drum, an ashika. I had the students do a 3:2 beat on their desks. Western music does not really allow for a 3:2 beat because it requires synchronization of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The lead stud in the class, a tennis star got up. The cheerleader joined in, and we went down the hall to the library. Another teacher came out thinking we were playing a CD and was amazed how good it sounded. Not only was I teaching them a lesson in a non-linear way, I was getting them out of programming, and suggesting how to think critically in spite of the controls in the Prussian system.

  3. tonywicher says:

    Public schools have been the foundation of American democracy since Benjamin Franklin. Nothing is more indicative of the degeneracy of our country and our culture than the decay of public education. Public education was the basis of equal opportunity for all. There was a time before this country turned to crap when any kid however poor could get a good public education. Now you can’t get your kids a decent education anywhere. I had to teach my kid everything he knows, and I wish there had been teachers available to teach him some of the things I don’t know, but there weren’t. I had to take him out of school in the 9th grade because of bullying, but he didn’t have a decent teacher that could teach him anything since the first grade. What a waste! What a tragedy! The answer is to restore our public education system to what Benjamin Franklin intended it to be, not to find “alternatives”. What we need is free public education for all, kindergarten to graduate school.

  4. Rose Mary says:

    “What we need is free public education for all”

    “Their [the elite] power consists essentially in their financial control over the economy.”

    Was your meaning here to exempt government, education and media? I am just wondering

  5. “I have to say I think moaning and groaning is for a bunch of whimps. Think what it is like to teach in a fascist state, the Soviet Union, creative teachers learn how to get the message across.”

    The scary thing is, Simon, I’m not sure what message the creative teachers want to get across. My own anecdotal evidence suggests about a 99% ugly, ignorant message.

    What about the suggestions on the show do you call “moaning and groaning”? I would call the guests suggestions, as well as her own actions, courageous and empowering. I’m just not sure how comparing our dishonest fascism, which looks a little softer on the surface, to the Soviet Union (when?) sheds any light on what course to take for parents here and now.

    I am struggling with this right now and a big part of the problem is trying to explain the rationalizations for home education to my spouse, our parents, etc. My action, so far, has been to question what goes on in the classroom and offer my children home education whenever they’re ready to get out of the institution/factory. It’s not easy to think about, and I have plenty to bitch about and will do so if necessary.

    Somebody’s gotta ask these weirdos why they’re making the little children say the Pledge. The more people that moan and groan about it, the better.

  6. @xicha I will say it a little more politic. We are in a bad situation. That does not mean we should abandon our children. I know many teachers that braved the currents and the kids loved them for it. Look up John Borowski. The problem most often with home schooling, is that engineering courses, science labs are not in the home school budget. That said, many homeschooled children have no problem getting into college, and sometimes do better.

  7. Abandon our children or the school system? I don’t think anyone is suggesting abandoning our children.

    I understand that you are speaking from the point of view of a teacher. I work with educators and am aware of their points of view and their research and goals and can say honestly that the point of view in this discussion can afford to be shifted a little more toward that of the children, even if that means the sacrifice of courageous, creative teachers goes un-rewarded.

  8. Also, I’m trying to think about the science and engineering budget for a home education. When I add up all the supply fees they are charging, starting in Kindergarten, I wonder how much more it would actually cost to do it alone or in a small group. Are there facilities that could be rented from time to time?

    I want a good public education system and hope that our conscientious participation might help make it better in some small way. But, I consider that non-participation might be necessary as well. The priority is to make sure my children know that we, as a family, are in control, not the school.

  9. Excuse me, starting in pre-school.

  10. @Xicha: I am in the same situation here … meanwhile researching HS and alternatives. One of the things I found out: HS’ers are able to use local public schools and community collages for labs (science/computer/etc.)One family’s 13 & 15 years old are enrolled in 2 or 3 community col. classes for labs/special programs.

    Also, I was trying to find local area HS networks, and I see 75% or more are religious (only dedicated/avid Christians allowed into their groups). Back in DC/Virginia that was more like 90+%. There are many adv of finding a few like-minded families with same-age group kids …

    Anyhow, as I said, still researching and exploring, and like you, I too am attacked for even thinking about/considering HS option…

  11. CuChulainn says:

    “Think what it is like to teach in a fascist state, the Soviet Union,”

    Nonsense. Schools in the Soviet Union were far superior to those in the USA, and to those in the post-Soviet states since 1990. A woman educated in Ukraine/USSR state schools in the 1980’s found herself in USA universities with the kind of education only the most privileged students of elite private schools in the USA could have received.

    We United Statesers imagine that the whole world is at least as soft and stupid as we are, so as to drink the libertarian koolaid; fortunately we are mistaken.

  12. CuChulainn says:

    In lieu of the usual Saturday musical diversion, brother and sister frogs may savor this morsel of poetic inspiration

    Gilad seems to bring out the best in everyone.

  13. Rose Mary says:

    “We United Statesers* imagine that the whole world is at least as soft and stupid as we are, so as to drink the libertarian koolaid*; fortunately we are mistaken.”

    Two mispelled words, anti-libertarian, a reference to Gilad. Kabbalist from Ireland?

  14. @CuChulainn aka Ryan I can’t verify your anecdote. Teaching in the Washington State-Oregon area there were many Ukrainian and Soviet emigres in my classroom. For the most part they were very alert and intelligent, reflecting upon their parents. Unfortunately, many of them were very adept at cheating with little moral compass. My closest friend of my age group from the Soviet Union spoke 5 languages fluently and was sharp as a whip.

  15. @simon

    Did you go to the Soviet school? I bet you didn’t. Here’s where your and so many others problem starts. You believe that you are progressive, anti state, anti Fascist, full of noble ideas and so on. Yet everything you are so sure of that you “know” and even more so what you “do not know” — everything that really matters for your rulers has been filtered and planted in you from the day you said “Ma.”

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