November 17, 2012
Richard Grove of Tragedy and Hope on the topic of compulsory public education and specifically the work of author and former New York schoolteacher of the year John Taylor Gatto, and the 2012 film The Ultimate History Lesson.
Gatto is the author of Weapons of Mass Instruction which focuses on mechanisms of traditional education which cripple imagination, discourage critical thinking, and create a false view of learning as a by-product of rote-memorisation drills. His earlier book, Dumbing Us Down introduced the now-famous expression of the title into the common vernacular. This book adds another chilling metaphor to the brief against conventional schooling. Gatto demonstrates that the harm school inflicts is rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy, he argues, is to render the common population manageable. To that end, young people must be conditioned to rely upon experts, to remain divided from natural alliances and to accept disconnections from their own lived experiences. They must at all costs be discouraged from developing self-reliance and independence. Escaping this trap requires a strategy Gatto calls ‘open source learning’ which imposes no artificial divisions between learning and life. Through this alternative approach our children can avoid being indoctrinated. Only then can they achieve self-knowledge, good judgement, and courage.
Tragedy and Hope’s video version of this interview can be found here.
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