Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Curious as to why our school systems are so screwed up? Join my online book group!

"The shocking possibility that dumb people don't exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn't real."
Those are the some of the opening words of John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education. In 1991, shortly after he received both the New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year Awards, Gatto resigned to begin his new career as an education reform advocate. He's been doing that ever since.

I heard about this specific book and some of its ideas from another book I was reading. When I looked it up online, I found out that--though in its 3rd edition--it is being made available for free viewing on the Internet by The Odysseus Group.

Here's where you can read the book for free.

My plan is to read a 1-2 chapters a week and post blogs to foster discussion on them. If people want to join me, all the merrier. If not, too bad. I just thought this might be a fun new way to interact.

At least check out the website above, read the reviews, and consider whether it might be worth your while. Besides, I'm not concerned about this just because I have a degree in secondary education. I've been seriously concerned for a long time with how our school systems run, and I've had ideas about what some problems might be, but never a sense as to why it got to be how it is. Perhaps this book will give some answers, perhaps not, but it at least is worth looking into.

Afterall, the stakes are high. Think about all of the money we pour into education, yet so much is wasted. More importantly, think about the effects upon children and society that education has.

And if you're still not interested, here's a teaser of what we'll probably be reading about (based upon what the references this other book I just read made to Gatto's). Have you ever heard that mass compulsory education began primarily because industrialists in England were looking for a better way to draw people into working in large and hazardous factories? That it is based off of the educational system of the Indian caste-system? That Prussia adapted it in the 1800s to rebuild their army for military expansion? Basically, that the modern mass compulsory education system is limiting and coercive force against most children's real potential?

All of that and more is dealt with in this book. And supposedly, there's plenty of historical evidence to back it up. I'm excited about this history lesson, and hope that you'll join me! (seriously, it won't take up that much of your time!)


At 11/09/2005 07:52:00 AM, Blogger MikeD said...

I'd like to be involved, what days will be discuss. I'm obviously flexible with my schedule.

At 11/10/2005 12:16:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Good question. By "discuss" are you thinking of the blog commentbox, or do you think there'd be a better way?

Until we figure this out, whoever is interested, just go ahead and read the Prologue, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2.

[Note: I checked and there are 18 chapters total, plus the prologue and an epilogue, in case you were wondering.]

At 11/12/2005 07:23:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Okay, unless someone suggests a better medium, I plan on blogging the first post for discussion this Friday (November 18th). Discussion will be over the Prologue, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2.

At 11/13/2005 12:50:00 AM, Blogger Meggers said...

Hi, I happened upon your blog through a St. Blog's Parish link. I read the first few pages of this book out of curiosity, and it seems rather interesting. Count me in on the discussion, if that's okay.


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