The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto
For two years, I avoided reading this book, so I wouldn’t risk being unduly influenced by the perspective of a fellow, former teacher. Reviews by others and a magazine interview of Mr. Gatto were sufficient information for most of the historical evidence included in my own book. For those wanting more historical facts, I found it easier to direct them to this book than to repeat what he has already said quite eloquently.
Over 150 years ago, before Horace Mann brought his Prussian school model to New England, most Americans were educated at home or in one-room, church-affiliated, community schoolhouses by teachers who did not dare use their position to brainwash children against the moral values taught at home or church. Back then, at least 80% of Americans were self-employed and 95% of them were literate. Today, at least 85% of American children are schooled [not educated] in a government school by teachers who are expected to be instruments of cultural change, undaunted by the fact that most parents don’t want their children indoctrinated with moral relativism and other Humanist doctrines. Oh yeah, and today only 10% of Americans are self-employed and barely 60% of us can justifiably be called literate.
If only one person tells you public schools are bad because of so and so, you can probably ignore him. What Gatto says though isn’t said in isolation. He’s joined by an army of other writers – Flesch, Blumenfeld, Iserbyt, Eakman, Hirsch, Sykes, Heath, Shortt, Mulroy, Stout, Ravitch, Moore, Stormer, Lundt, Turtel, Loveless, Maddoux, Liberman, D'escoto, Coulter and even Murray.
In 18 chapters, Gatto painstakingly explains how things came to be the way they are today. Between the lines, allusions and veracious details, I can see the heart of a real teacher, one who loves knowledge and kids; moreover, he’s one who loves to impart knowledge to kids. If there are shortcomings to this book, it’s its readability for
But don’t let any of this stop you from reading then re-reading it to get a better understanding. “Big words,” as my students used to call them, are like the blurred spots covering the faces of people on those cop reality shows. Keep reading and re-reading what you don’t understand. Grab a dictionary and use it. It’ll clear up. Give up and you’ll fall into what Frederick Douglass called “mental darkness.” Americans used to learn by reading. It’s time we did so again.
"Time to take our schools back. If they mean to have a war, let it begin now."
John Taylor Gatto