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AnAmerAffidavit

Thursday, January 26, 2017

167. Reality Engages The Banana: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Reality Engages The Banana 

Michael Matthews' analysis of language as a primary behavior in itself will serve as an 
illustration of the holes in rat psychology. His subject is the simple banana. 8 Contrary to 
the religion of behaviorism, we don't experience bananas as soft, yellowish, mildly 
fibrous sense impressions. Instead, reality engages the banana in drama: "Food!", "Good 



for you!", "Swallow it down or I'll beat you into jelly!" We learn rules about bananas 
(Don't rub them in the carpet), futurity (Let's have bananas again tomorrow), and value 
(These damn bananas cost an arm and a leg!). And we learn these things through words. 

When behaviorism pontificates that children should all "learn from experience," with the 
implication that books and intellectual concepts count for little, it exposes its own 
poverty. Behaviorism provides no way to quantify the overwhelming presence of 
language as the major experience of modern life for everyone, rich and poor. 
Behaviorism has to pretend words don't really matter, only "behavior" (as it defines the 
term). 

To maintain that all knowledge is exclusively sense experience is actually not to say 
much at all, since sense experience is continuous and unstoppable as long as we are alive. 
That is like saying you need to breathe to stay alive or eat to prevent hunger. Who 
disagrees? The fascinating aspect of this psychological shell game lies in the self- 
understanding of behavioral experts that they have nothing much to sell their clientele 
that a dog trainer wouldn't peddle for pennies. The low instinct of this poor relative of 
philosophy has always been to preempt common knowledge and learning ways, translate 
the operations into argot, process them into an institutional form, then find customers to 
buy the result. 

There is no purpose down deep in any of these empty-child systems except the jigsaw 
puzzle addict's purpose of making every piece FIT. Why don't children learn to read in 
schools? Because it doesn 't matter in a behavioral universe. This goes far beyond a 
contest of many methods; it's a contest of perspectives. Why should they read? We have 
too many smart people as it is. Only a few have any work worth doing. Only the logic of 
machinery and systems protects your girl and boy when you send them off to behavioral 
laboratories on the yellow behaviorist bus. Should systems care? They aren't Mom and 
Dad, you know. 



'While fact-checking the book in March 2003, 1 had occasion to contact Professor Matthews in Australia, who had no memory of ever using 
bananas in his scholarly prose! Fortunately, he found the reference in his works several days later and was gracious enough to contact me, or 
this lovely critique of psychobabble would have been lost to the Underground History. 

Programming The Empty Child 

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