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Friday, May 19, 2017

31. Participatory Democracy Put To The Sword: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Participatory Democracy Put To The Sword 

Thirty-odd years later, between 1967 and 1974, teacher training in the United States was 
covertly revamped through coordinated efforts of a small number of private foundations, 
select universities, global corporations, think tanks, and government agencies, all 
coordinated through the U.S. Office of Education and through key state education 
departments like those in California, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York. 

Important milestones of the transformation were: 1) an extensive government exercise in 
futurology called Designing Education for the Future, 2) the Behavioral Science Teacher 
Education Project, and 3) Benjamin Bloom's multivolume Taxonomy of Educational 
Objectives, an enormous manual of over a thousand pages which, in time, impacted every 
school in America. While other documents exist, these three are appropriate touchstones 
of the whole, serving to make clear the nature of the project underway. 

Take them one by one and savor each. Designing Education, produced by the Education 
Department, redefined the term "education" after the Prussian fashion as "a means to 
achieve important economic and social goals of a national character." State education 
agencies would henceforth act as on-site federal enforcers, ensuring the compliance of 
local schools with central directives. Each state education department was assigned the 
task of becoming "an agent of change" and advised to "lose its independent identity as 
well as its authority," in order to "form a partnership with the federal government." 

The second document, the gigantic Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project, 
outlined teaching reforms to be forced on the country after 1967. If you ever want to hunt 



this thing down, it bears the U.S. Office of Education Contract Number OEC-0-9- 
320424-4042 (BIO). The document sets out clearly the intentions of its creators — nothing 
less than "impersonal manipulation" through schooling of a future America in which "few 
will be able to maintain control over their opinions," an America in which "each 
individual receives at birth a multi-purpose identification number" which enables 
employers and other controllers to keep track of underlings and to expose them to direct 
or subliminal influence when necessary. Readers learned that "chemical experimentation" 
on minors would be normal procedure in this post- 1967 world, a pointed foreshadowing 
of the massive Ritalin interventions which now accompany the practice of forced 
schooling. 

The Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project identified the future as one "in which 
a small elite" will control all important matters, one where participatory democracy will 
largely disappear. Children are made to see, through school experiences, that their 
classmates are so cruel and irresponsible, so inadequate to the task of self-discipline, and 
so ignorant they need to be controlled and regulated for society's good. Under such a 
logical regime, school terror can only be regarded as good advertising. It is sobering to 
think of mass schooling as a vast demonstration project of human inadequacy, but that is 
at least one of its functions. 

Post-modern schooling, we are told, is to focus on "pleasure cultivation" and on "other 
attitudes and skills compatible with a non-work world." Thus the socialization classroom 
of the century's beginning — itself a radical departure from schooling for mental and 
character development — can be seen to have evolved by 1967 into a full-scale laboratory 
for psychological experimentation. 

School conversion was assisted powerfully by a curious phenomenon of the middle to 
late 1960s, a tremendous rise in school violence and general school chaos which followed 
a policy declaration (which seems to have occurred nationwide) that the disciplining of 
children must henceforth mimic the "due process" practice of the court system. Teachers 
and administrators were suddenly stripped of any effective ability to keep order in 
schools since the due process apparatus, of necessity a slow, deliberate matter, is 
completely inadequate to the continual outbreaks of childish mischief all schools 
experience. 

Now, without the time-honored ad hoc armory of disciplinary tactics to fall back on, 
disorder spiraled out of control, passing from the realm of annoyance into more 
dangerous terrain entirely as word surged through student bodies that teacher hands were 
tied. And each outrageous event that reached the attention of the local press served as an 
advertisement for expert prescriptions. Who had ever seen kids behave this way? Time to 
surrender community involvement to the management of experts; time also for 
emergency measures like special education and Ritalin. During this entire period, lasting 
five to seven years, outside agencies like the Ford Foundation exercised the right to 
supervise whether "children's rights" were being given due attention, fanning the flames 
hotter even long after trouble had become virtually unmanageable. 



The Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project, published at the peak of this 
violence, informed teacher-training colleges that under such circumstances, teachers had 
to be trained as therapists; they must translate prescriptions of social psychology into 
"practical action" in the classroom. As curriculum had been redefined, so teaching 
followed suit. 

Third in the series of new gospel texts was Bloom's Taxonomy, in his own words, "a tool 
to classify the ways individuals are to act, think, or feel as the result of some unit of 
instruction." Using methods of behavioral psychology, children would learn proper 
thoughts, feelings, and actions, and have their improper attitudes brought from home 
"remediated." 

In all stages of the school experiment, testing was essential to localize the child's mental 
state on an official rating scale. Bloom's epic spawned important descendant forms: 
Mastery Learning, Outcomes-Based Education, and School to Work government- 
business collaborations. Each classified individuals for the convenience of social 
managers and businesses, each offered data useful in controlling the mind and 
movements of the young, mapping the next adult generation. But for what purpose? Why 
was this being done? 

Bad Character As A Management Tool 

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