The Open Boat

State Controlled Consciousness
John Taylor Gatto


Schooling is a form of adoption. You give your kid up in his or her most plastic years to a group of strangers. You accept a promise, sometimes stated and more often implied that the state through its agents knows better how to raise your children and educate them than you, your neighbors, your grandparents, your local traditions do. And that your kid will be better off so adopted.

But by the time the child returns to the family, or has the option of doing that, very few want to. Their parents are some form of friendly stranger too and why not? In the key hours of growing up, strangers have reared the kid.

Now let's look at the strangers of which you (interviewer) was one and I was one. Regardless of our good feeling toward children. Regardless of our individual talents or intelligence, we have so little time each day with each of these kids, we can't possibly know enough vital information about that particular kid to tailor a set of exercises for that kid. Oh, you know, some of us will try more than others, but there simply isn't any time to do it to a significant degree.

So what we do is accept and if we don't accept this we are fired or harrassed, we accept the state's prescription that's written in manuals. You do this first, and this second, and this third, and here you have a little latitude to talk to the kid. And the way the state checks on whether you've followed that diet is your standardized tests given at intervals

If your kids do badly, it does not mean that they're bad readers or anything else. It means they haven't been obedient to the drills the state set down and they're marked for further treatment later on with a mark to be excluded from responsible jobs. Perhaps some way is to be excluded from the colleges that lead to responsible jobs, in other ways from the licenses that lead to responsible jobs.

This was ALL worked out. It didn't evolve by a lot of rational people saying we'll take this this and this from the past, then the next generation says we'll take this this and this. This was set down largely in a handful of places. Prussia was perhaps the most prominent of those places. The Prussian experiment leapt into the United States almost immediately in the 1840's. Leapt into the United States; its propagandists covered the country here. Its backers, its financial backers set up the most important teacher training institutes and then financed those institutes and then no one was allowed to become a teacher who didn't more or less subscribe to the fact that experts could create a curriculum and pedagogues could administer it.

Well, that's exactly what Horace, the Roman essayist, talked about in several of his essays. He said, "the master creates the lessons, the pedagogue (the teacher) administers the lessons." But if you find the teacher creating the lessons or deviating from the direction the lessons are headed in, you get rid of the pedagogue.

But the people who gave us schooling, weren't these wealthy people, they were Utopian thinkers who believed the family and tradition were the greatest obstacles to making a perfect society, a utopia. Every utopia that survived, invents schooling, long before we had universal forced schooling for all these little neighborhood schools. They all invented universal schooling of a homogenous variety in order to reach Utopia.

Now let's shift to the basis of your question which is Rockefeller and Carnegie and J.P. Morgan. These people saw a different kind of utopia. Through solving the problem of production with highspeed machinery they saw material abundance could be created and that want - first of all, of course, they thought they could become supremely wealthy which they did - but secondarily, they weren't beasts, they thought that this material abundance, since they had abandoned a belief in a Creator or an Afterlife, this material abundance WAS the best that a human life could aim for.

And to do that the family had to be moved off center stage and the children had to be processed like raw materials. These are the people who saw to it with their influence that, when legislation that was wildly radical based on any past model was proposed, that the right legislators would vote that legislation through. They saw to it that money was available to build these vast piles of brick and stone to drain children out of the community by the force of law mind you.

If you gave children and families options, it probably would take half a decade before many people tried the options, but I think inside of a decade, the institutional schools would vanish because they don't teach the way children learn, nor CAN they teach the way children learn. That's not what they're set up to do. They're set up to produce a predictable homogenous safe product. They're set up to sort people into occupational categories roughly consonant with what the current economy demands.

Your theorists, through history, were the first to reflect on the best most efficient ways to manage populations. Your theorists worked out state institutions very early on - I'll give you one example - that caused the socialization of populations and the stratification of populations to take place, I won't say indeliably but certainly to an extreme degree very early on in the 17th and by the middle of the 18th century the stratifications across Europe were perfect. There was no way really to escape unless you were a highly unusual person and you could see through.

A lot of the constraints on us, a lot of the ah, ah - strings that hold us like puppets are really inventions of our own mind. I'm not saying that there aren't armies and police and various ways to punish deviants. But there isn't any way to punish a LARGE NUMBER of deviants. There isn't any way to do that. It's too expensive to even try to do that, unless you can colonize the minds of children growing up so they become their own police. And they will report other children who are deviating.