171.Therapy As Curriculum: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org
Therapy As Curriculum
To say that various psychologies dominate modern schooling is hardly to plow new ground. The tough thing to do is to show how that happened and why — and how the project progresses to its unseen goals. The Atlantic Monthly had this to sayin April 1993:
...schools have turned to therapeutic remediation. A growing proportion of many school budgets is devoted to counseling and other psychological services. The curriculum is becoming more therapeutic: children are taking courses in self-esteem, conflict resolution, and aggression management. Parental advisory groups are conscientiously debating alternative approaches to traditional school discipline, ranging from teacher training in mediation to the introduction of metal detectors and security guards in the schools. Schools are increasingly becoming emergency rooms of the emotions, devoted. ..to repairing hearts. What we are seeing. ...is the psychologization of American education.
Two years before I ran across that Atlantic broadside, I encountered a different analysis in the financial magazine Forbes. I was surprised to discover Forbes had correctly tracked the closest inspiration for school psychologizing, both its aims and its techniques, to the pedagogy of China and the Soviet Union. Not similar practices and programs, mind you, identical ones. The great initial link with Russia, I knew, had been from the Wundtian Ivan Pavlov, but the Chinese connection was news to me. I was unaware then of John Dewey's tenure there in the 1920s, and had given no thought, for that reason, to its possible significance:
The techniques of brainwashing developed in totalitarian countries are routinely used in psychological conditioning programs imposed on school children. These include emotional shock and desensitization, psychological isolation from sources of support, stripping away defenses, manipulative cross-examination of the individual's underlying moral values by psychological rather than rational means. These techniques are not confined to separate courses or programs. ..they are not isolated idiosyncracies of particular teachers. They are products of numerous books and other educational materials in programs packaged by organizations that sell such curricula to administrators and teach the techniques to teachers. Some packages even include instructions on how to deal with parents and others who object. Stripping away psychological defenses can be done through assignments to keep diaries to be discussed in group sessions, and through role- playing assignments, both techniques used in the original brainwashing programs in China under Mao.
The Forbes writer, Thomas Sowell, perhaps invoking the slave states in part to rouse the reader's capitalist dander, could hardly have been aware himself how carefully industrial and institutional interest had seeded Russia, China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands with the doctrine of psychological schooling long ago, nearly at the beginning of the century, and in Japan's case even before that. All along we have harvested these experimental growths in foreign soil for what they seem to prove about people-shaping.
For example, the current push for School-to-Work deep mines specific practices of the former Soviet Union, even to the point of using identical language from Soviet texts. School-to-Work was a project installed in Russia by Americans in the 1920s to test the advice of the nineteenth-century Swiss aristocrat von Fellenberg that manual labor should be combined with academic schooling. Fellenberg's doctrine was a short-lived fad in this country in the 1830s, but ever after it had a place in the mind of certain men of affairs and social theorists. The opportunity afforded by Russia's chaos after WWI seemed too promising to pass up.