Re: virus: What We Seek Is What We Get

Eric Boyd (
Tue, 04 Jun 1996 21:45:12 -0500

Reed Konsler wrote:
> You forgot to mention that "school" no longer fulfills the role
> for which it was initially developed. Most people recieve their
> cultural training through the television. One of the reasons
> parents resist extending school hours is the perception that
> children should have "free-time" in order to play and "do
> as they will" before entering the dull work-a-day life of
> quiet desperation that awaits them.
> And what do those children do with that "free-time" so kindly
> protected their parents? They watch TV...where they learn
> how to live a dull work-a-day-life of quiet desperation.

This is very depressing. "quiet desperation"... that has a nice ring to
it... perhaps I'll make it the title of an essay sometime.


I've got a few kbytes here on schools...

From: "This Book is not Required" by Inge Bell (1985)
"Why do our school function this way? Why is intellectual curiosity
regularly killed in order to teach discipline? Why do our school give
even seven-year-olds failing grades? Whenever sociologists see a system
continiually operating in "dysfunctional" ways, they suggest that
perhaps we have not discovered the "real" function of the system. A hint
is given here in the fact that the only schools which don't beat up
their students emotionally are a few private and public schools which
serve the rich. The real purpose of school is to make people obedient
to authority. The mindlessness of school is meant to prepare us for the
mindlessness of most jobs. And, perhaps, most importantly, it is the
job of schools to convince those who have lousy jobs that their fate is
their own fault...that thet just weren't smart enough (translate,
deserving enough) to do any better." -p11

[Schools:] vast factories for the manufacture of robots.
-- Robert Lindner (1914-1956)

Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is
curtailed by the obligation to attend school.
-- Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society (1971)

Teaching means different things in different places, but seven lessons
are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood Hills. They constitute a
national curriculum you pay for in more ways than you can imagine, so
you might as well know what it is. . . . 1. Confusion. 2. Class
Position. 3. Indifference. 4. Emotional Dependency. 5. Intellectual
Dependency. 6. Provisional Self-Esteem. 7. One Can't Hide... It is the
great triumph of compulsory government monopoly mass-schooling that
among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best of my
students' parents, only a small number can imagine a different way to do
things. John Taylor Gatto, speech on accepting 1991 New York State
teacher of the year award

... and there is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent
people so horrible as a school. To begin with, it is a prison. But it is
in some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for instance,
you are not forced to read books written by the warders (who of course
would not be warders and governors if they could write readable ooks),
and beaten or otherwise tormented if you cannot remember their utterly
unmemorable contents. In the prison you are not forced to sit listening
to the turnkeys discoursing without charm or interest on subjects that
they don't understand and don't care about, and are therefore incapable
of making you understand or care about. In a prison they may torture
your body; but they do not torture your brains; and they protect you
against violence and outrage from your fellow-prisoners. In a school you
have none of these advantages. With the world's bookshelves loaded with
fascinating and inspired books, the very manna sent down from Heaven to
feed your souls, you are forced to read a hideous imposture called a
school book, written by a man who cannot write: A book from which no
human can learn anything: a book which, though you may decipher it, you
cannot in any fruitful sense read, though the enforced attempt will make
you loathe the sight of a book all the rest of your life. -- George
Bernard Shaw, winner of the 1925 Nobel Prize in literature "A Treatise
on Parents and Children," preface to Misalliance (1909), reprinted in
Bernard Shaw: Collected Plays with Their Prefaces, volume IV (1972),
page 35.

[Education is] one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of
thought. -- Bertrand Russell, winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize in

All four of the presidents whose images are carved on the side of Mt.
Rushmore had less classroom schooling before college than any of today's
fifth graders. Theodore Roosevelt, winner of the Nobel Prize, was
entirely home schooled. All four of those men (whose writings I've read)
were considerably more literate than most of today's high school, or
even college, graduates.
Silberman goes on to quote a critic of age-grading:
It is constructed upon the assumption that a group of minds can be
marshalled and controlled in growth in exactly the same manner that a
military officer marshalls and directs the bodily movements of a company
of soldiers. In solid, unbreakable phalanx the class is supposed to move
through all the grades, keeping in locked step. This locked step is set
by the 'average' pupil--an algebraic myth born of inanimate figures and
an addled pedagogy. The class system does injury to the rapid and
quick-thinking pupils, because these must shackle their stride to keep
pace with the mythical average. But the class system does a greater
injury to the large number who make slower progress than the rate of the
mythical average pupil... They are foredoomed to failure before they

Hope you enjoyed being even more depressed...