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AnAmerAffidavit

Friday, December 2, 2016

117. Regulating Lives Like Machinery: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Regulating Lives Like Machinery 

The real explanation for this sudden gulf between NEA policies in 1893 and 1911 had 
nothing to do with intervening feedback from teachers, principals, or superintendents 
about what schools needed; rather, it signaled titanic forces gathering outside the closed 
universe of schooling with the intention of altering this nation's economy, politics, social 
relationships, future direction, and eventually the terms of its national existence, using 
schools as instruments in the work. 

Schoolmen were never invited to the policy table at which momentous decisions were 
made. When Ellwood P. Cubberley began tentatively to raise his voice in protest against 
radical changes being forced upon schools (in his history of education), particularly the 
sudden enforcement of compulsory attendance laws which brought amazing disruption 
into the heretofore well-mannered school world, he quickly pulled back without naming 
the community leaders — as he called them — who gave the actual orders. This evidence of 
impotence documents the pedagogue status of even the most elevated titans of schooling 
like Cubberley. You can find this reference and others like it in Public Education in the 
United States. 

Scientific management was about to merge with systematic schooling in the United 
States; it preferred to steal in silently on little cat's feet, but nobody ever questioned the 
right of businessmen to impose a business philosophy to tamper with children's lives. On 
the cantilever principle of interlocking directorates pioneered by Morgan interests, 
scientific school management flowed into other institutional domains of American life, 
too. According to Taylor, application of mechanical power to production could be 
generalized into every arena of national life, even to the pulpit, certainly to schools. This 
would bring about a realization that people's lives could be regulated very much like 



machinery, without sentiment. Any expenditure of time and energy demanded 
rationalization, whether first-grader or coalminer, behavior should be mathematically 
accounted for following the new statistical procedures of Galton and Karl Pearson. 

The scientific management movement was backed by many international bankers and 
industrialists. In 1905, the vice president of the National City Bank of New York, Frank 
Vanderlip, made his way to the speaker's podium at the National Education Association's 
annual convention to say: 

I am firmly convinced the economic success of Germany can be encompassed in a single 
word — schoolmaster. From the economic point of view the school system of Germany 
stands unparalleled. 

German schools were psychologically managed, ours must be, too. People of substance 
stood, they thought, on the verge of an ultimate secret. How to write upon the empty 
slates of empty children's minds in the dawning era of scientific management. What they 
would write there was a program to make dwarf and fractional human beings, people 
crippled by implanted urges and habits beyond their understanding, men and women who 
cry out to be managed. 

The Gary Plan 

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