E-journal July 18, 2006

Surrounded by Propaganda

This current conflict between Israel and Lebanon reminds me of when I was in Israel and saw firsthand the struggle for sovereignty between the Israelis and Palestinians. One thing that really struck me was that in every Palestinian occupied section we entered, loudspeakers blared continual messages of hatred for the Jews. It was a chilling experience, and I could imagine that the streets of Nazi Germany may have been similar in the years before the Holocaust.

It reminded me of a talk I once heard John Gatto give about his visit to a country undergoing a Communist revolution. There were loudspeakers set up at every street corner so that during all of their waking hours the citizens heard propaganda encouraging them to devote themselves to the Communist way of life.

Gatto went on to say that he has become convinced that Americans are surrounded by constant propaganda, but we just don’t realize it because it is not in the form of blaring loudspeakers, but in the form of television, radio, magazine ads, billboards, and the countless other types of media that are continually trying to influence the way we live.

But in Gatto’s mind, the most pervasive propagandist force is compulsory, state-provided institutionalized education, because it is given the means and the time to mold young minds to a way of thinking that supports whatever those in power want supported.

Those of you who know me, know that I like to offer books and tapes that challenge ingrained assumptions about life and help us see how we have been propagandized by the world (and sometimes by the church) into holding distorted views of reality. These materials aren’t necessarily from a Christian perspective, but they share truths that are usually never discussed by the media and never taught in school.

In that spirit, I want to share excerpts of a speech given by John Gatto several years ago. (You can read the whole speech HERE>>)

What an Educated Person Must Know
(If you missed past issues of the e-journal, you can read them HERE>> )

by John Taylor Gatto

Ten Essential Qualities to Adapting to a Changing World

A few years back one of the schools at Harvard, perhaps the School of Government, issued some advice to its students on planning a career in the new international economy it believed was arriving. It warned sharply that academic classes and professional credentials would count for less and less when measured against real world training. Ten qualities were offered as essential to successfully adapting to the rapidly changing world of work:

1) The ability to define problems without a guide.
2) The ability to ask hard questions which challenge prevailing assumptions.
3) The ability to work in teams without guidance.
4) The ability to work absolutely alone.
5) The ability to persuade others that your course is the right one.
6) The ability to discuss issues and techniques in public with an eye to reaching decisions about policy.
7) The ability to conceptualize and reorganize information into new patterns.
8) The ability to pull what you need quickly from masses of irrelevant data.
9) The ability to think inductively, deductively, and dialectically.
10) The ability to attack problems heuristically.

You might be able to come up with a better list than Harvard did without surrendering any of these fundamental ideas, and yet from where I sit, and I sat around schools for nearly 30 years, I don't think we teach any of these things as a matter of school policy.

None of the schools I ever worked for were able to provide any important parts of this vital curriculum for children. All the schools I worked for taught nonsense up front. And under the table, they taught young people how to be dumb, how to be slavish, how to be frightened, and how to be dependent.

Schools are bad places for children to grow up

Schools as we have arranged them are bad places for children to grow up. I include the schools generally thought of as "good" in that indictment, and I would suggest to you this is sufficient explanation why two-thirds of a million families nationwide have taken their children back from public authorities and are educating them at home. That number will surely double in the next five years unless restrictive legislation stops it.

Kids educated at home are brighter and more impressively human than institutionalized kids simply because they are allowed to learn free of bells, bogus experts, phony sequences, endless interventions and similar junk. The pedagogy they are exposed to is real because it is rooted in the tradition of the past as represented by parents; the pedagogy of schoolteachers is that of state-appointed witch doctors, drawn from vain, bizarre and arrogant theories of human development based on human whim. It is not for nothing teacher colleges are reviled.

If journalists did regular comparisons between home and government variety teaching, forced government schooling would gradually be exposed for the unnatural growth on its host society that it really is, a kind of tumor which over the 20th century has become malignant.

The Lessons Schools Teach

I've spent a number of years thinking hard about this thing; I've written a couple of books about it and hope to write a few more until I've said all I have to say, but the best service I can render you right now is to lay out a blueprint of the invisible curriculum schools teach. It is this curriculum, expensively maintained by rivers of tax money that make schools in my opinion the single greatest problem in modern American life.

The first lesson schools teach is confusion. Because they have too many people, too many cells in a far too constrained space, and too much money which must be spent and then justified, schools teach too much. They can allow no time for learning. Schools allow no time for learning, only for memorization.

Schools teach the unrelating of everything. Take mathematics: a very great mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead, said in The Aims of Education that the way we teach math is disconnected and bewildering; you can't learn math this way….
Schools teach confusion. Disconnected facts are not the way to a sane young mind but just the opposite.

Another thing that schools teach well is class position. Schools teach that children are put into a class and must stay in the class to which they are assigned except in the unlikely event that someone important lets them out. Grouping children by age, by social class, or standardized reading scores is an inherently vicious practice, and a stupid one besides if your aim is to develop the intellect.

Still another thing that schools teach is the meaninglessness of everything except external reward and punishment. By bells and many other similar techniques they teach that nothing is worth finishing. The gross error of this is progressive: if nothing is worth finishing then by extension nothing is worth starting either. Few children are so thick-skulled, they miss the point.

The lessons continue. A big one is emotional dependency and this is achieved as an animal trainer works, by kicks and caresses. With the whip or the perfumed hand, we condition children to subordinate their own learning patterns--those sequences unique to every man or woman born--to the arbitrary whim of some servant of the state.

We teach that human dignity, even in matters as basic as urination and the movement of one's bowels, is at the disposal of others.

Next is intellectual dependency. Waiting for a random stranger appointed by the state to dictate the contents of your mind, frequently evaluating the storage and retrieval of those contents, and training reflexive responses to the merit of those contents could not fit into anybody's definition of how the mind and the intellect gain power.

If you cannot yourself imagine any other way to "learn," you might want to pick up Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, or Watson and Crick's book, The Double Helix, in which you will be surprised to learn that DNA was discovered while playing games.

Perhaps the most important lesson schools teach is the lesson of alienation, self-dislike, fear, envy, that sort of thing.

A strong self-image comes from four reliable sources: a strong family, a strong culture, a strong religion, and a strong work tradition; you need only hang around school people for a long time as I have to realize how very unwelcome parents are in schools, and culture, religion, and hard work are not quite, but almost, equally anathema. This is because the actual work and traditions of a community are considered dangerous competition to the order and discipline of abstract schooling--which indeed they are.

As a result of the lessons our schools teach, we turn loose incomplete and undeveloped young men and women, people who subsequently grow older but are unable to grow into adults no matter how old they get.

The notion that every problem can be studied with an empty mind, without preconception, without knowing what has already been learned about it must condemn children to chronic childishness. The uprooted and incoherent curriculum of modern schooling produces children who are, at best, indifferent to the dishonest adult world around them, and at worst are angry children who hurt us, hurt each other, and hurt themselves.

We continue to grow crops of children who have trouble connecting the present to the future and trouble connecting the past to the present. Year after year we turn out a mass of the young, morally numb, who have had the meaning taken out of their growing up time.

… whether it's going to be possible to get an education in the new schools will depend on political decisions made by those who hold power in trust for all of us. Or perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps it will depend on defiant personal decisions of simple people, like the quiet revolution of the homeschoolers taking place under our noses right now which may be the most exciting social movement since the pioneers, not least because it is leaderless; a revolution in which our type of factory schooling has been treated as irrelevant, which it most certainly is. Starting as a skeptic, I have been visiting home schools all over the country for the past two years; starting as a skeptic, I came away feeling like Ezekiel when he saw the wheel. But I'll save that speech for another time.

More rants and raves coming in the next issue . Stay tuned....

View past ejournals HERE>>

Books by John Gatto. These books will change the way you think about education. Gatto was a public school teacher for decades and New York's Teacher of the Year, so he has first-hand experience with the effects of public schooling. Not only do his books discuss the major issues about what schooling does to our children, he offers insights into what a true education entails and reflects on our society as a whole and the distorted thinking that leads us to subject our children to an influence that robs them of their creativity and enthusiasm for learning. Gatto's books are "MUST READS."

Dumbing Us Down elaborates on what Gattos shares in this article on what institutionalized schooling actually teaches children.

A Different Kind of Teacher
discusses what it takes to really educate children in a way that they become real people.

Until next time....

P.S. Here are the webpages I've finished. Each page listed will take you to more pages on that topic.

Webpages about choosing teaching materials

Webpages about the importance of reading great books and booklists for children of all ages

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Home Business Resources

The Pride Financial Network Stock and Options Home Study Program
I keep encouraging you to at least check this program out because of the time critical issue mentioned below and also because I know it works. For a limited time, Chris Verhaegh is offering his home study program at a special price and with a special extended guarantee. Find out more about it HERE>>

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Rhea's Entrepreneur Days I've known Rhea Perry for over ten years and seen her heart for helping home school families develop an entrepreneurial mindset and start their own family businesses. She also is very concerned that teens are trained to become entrepreneurs. So for the last five or six years she has held "Entrepreneur Days" where she brings together leaders in different businesses and lets them share their secrets.

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Building the Business of Your Dreams (8 CD Set) I've had requests for just the business portion of the From Home School to Home Business Seminar, so have developed a set of the business CDs from that set. It contains 8 CDs and includes sessions on The Entrepreneurial Mind, Multiple Streams of Home Income, Discovering Your Ideal Life and Ideal Business (2 CDs) , Developing a Business Plan (2 CDs), and The Importance of Business Relationships. Plus, there is a very important and insightful interview on Redeeming the Marketplace. Find out about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

Home School Resources

Notebooking! Yes! You CAN Be a Binder Queen! Cindy Rushton is the "queen" of education through notebooking and uses notebooking for EVERYTHING! In this resource, she teaches you how to create "notebooks" around each course of study, whether you're working with a toddler or a high-schooler, pouring out all her ideas and tips for helping your children deepen their studies and document learning all along the way. Cindy addresses many of the tough questions that many of us face in a way that will make it easy to for you to apply these ideas TODAY!. Special offer: 30% off! This is the 2005 version that normally sells for $20, but you can get it now for $14.

Books and CDs by the Elijah Company. The Elijah Company is closed, but Home School Marketplace carries many of the products by Chris and Ellyn Davis as well as products we published for others. Here are just a few of our best-sellers.

30% off WIN books

We have the following WIN books available: The Reluctant Writer, Comprehensive Story Writing, Writing Man 1 & 2, and WIN Twin.

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I Saw the Angel in the Marble

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Turning Hearts: Davis Seminar Set (8 CDs)

The Best of Chris and Ellyn Davis, this set contains seminars given by Chris and Ellyn Davis of The Elijah Company at home schooling conventions. The set contains all of the favorites that home schoolers ask for over and over. People have told us this set of CDs changed their lives. Find out more about them HERE>>

Angel in the Marble/Davis Seminars Set
Order a combination of I Saw the Angel in the Marble and the Davis Seminars CDs HERE>>

From Home School to Home Business
(14 CD Set)

If you missed one of our From Home School to Home Business Conferences, you missed a great time.People who have attended tell us that it changed their lives—not only in the area of home schooling, but also in the area of creating their own sources of home income.This set is huge and filled with useful and encouraging information about how to be successful at home schooling and at home business! Find out more about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

Building the Home School of Your Dreams

Building the Home School of Your Dreams is a 6 CD set taken from the From Home School To Home Business Seminar and feature sessions by Chris Davis and Mary Hood. Find out more HERE>>

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