Is the atmosphere of fear and anxiety that pervades high schools throughout America, fear that without admission to the right college an individual’s life is doomed, one of the most effective crowd control devices ever invented?
Such is the claim of John Taylor Gatto in his new book Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling. I entirely agree with him on this point. The belief that learning depends on a college education, and that worldly success depends on it is, a myth. Many jobs today depend on the credentials acquired at colleges and universities, but the learning, especially in an age of advanced commuications, can be acquired for less. Less money, less time, less hassle and less damage to the ability to think.
Gatto was once an award-winning teacher in Manhattan. He now believes schools deliberately inculcate stupidity and passivity. They do bring one good to society: they are a successful jobs program. He tried to discover the reasons for our profound over-schooling and concluded, “Only a darkness at work, reachable not by common experience but through historical, sociological, psychological, theological, political and philosophical research, could reveal the causes, it seemed to me.”