John Taylor Gatto “Dumbing Us Down” http://www.amazon.com/Dumbing-Down-Curriculum-Compulsory-Anniversary/dp/0865714487
After a whole lot of thinking and a few restless nights, I have finally concluded on an ending for this piece of writing I am about to write here, I had been mulling over this since Christmas Eve when I read front to back an amazing book by John Taylor Gatto called “Dumbing Us Down” about Compulory School Systems and how they were actually made to control our Children.
Now this may sound kinda radical but the more and more facts that he present to make this argument are true and sound and you cannot argue with their real-ness in our soicetys school system.
I came to realize that not only am I Dumbed Down by being a Gen Y delusional Gypsy I am also Dumbed down by the fact that I was raised in a public compulsory school system that accounted for my every movement and even changed some of my home life. But one thing stands true that makes me overcome this Dumbness that was forced upon my training to become an adaquate functioning human being in society yes a Drone, something I hope that trickled into the homes of all the children of my generation…Creativity. Creativity saved my life.
Making saved my Life, when my mother despite anything she was taught about having kids in that generation or not, told me at a young age to express myself through Art, “How do you feel? You don’t know how to describe the feelings inside you? Than Draw them and then see how you feel.”
And my father was the only occupation that actually helped me understand being human more than any occupation on this planet, carpentry. Making things into functional items, like a rocking horse for us as kids, or a cabinet for my mothers fine china, or double sized castle beds that gave me and my sister rooms within our one room for privacy, if I learned anything despite compulsory schooling it was that I have the ability as a human being to be Creative, I can Make things that will help me live, I may need to learn to do so, from a person, place, book or experienced teacher, or Guide, but I can Learn how to Build Anything.
That’s not something I think I was taught in School, Some things that public school teachers teach and Gatto recognizes in his book are mind blowing, I was taught indifferance, I was taught confusion, I was never taught the natural order of things or even ever taught how to live for the future and have all my actions reflect what I want my future to be. We were (public school kids of in the last 100 years) taught that BELLS determine our every move and to never live in the present because the present is always changing every 50 min. We were taught to be so dedicated to every subject, Gatto even says jumping in your seats, your so enthused and then taught to actually drop that subject and move on to the next with no realization WHY your actually learning each thing.
Do you think if we were all taught Recycling in school 50 years ago and shown the consequences of our actions that we would still have adults not recycling today? We are not shown that every action we make as a humans will reflect on what the world will look like later. We are not taught that we can Make our own Reality and manifest anything we need in life. We were not taught that we DONT have to be under surveillence for our every move, in fact we were taught the opposite of that, that everything we do must be APPROVED by a higher order, by a teacher, by the principal if we did bad, (been there) and our Parents if we did even worse, “How to creatively punish your children” I am sure there are thousands of books like that from my generation and before. When we were actually taught how to live?
If you are privleged enough to have Maker parents and people who taught you things in life and the consequences of your actions at an early age and that “you are indeed special” but special in a way that you can manifest destiny, maybe your a special Wardolf child or you were homeschooled, whatever the case may be, if you got denied any kind of INSTITUTIONALISED schooling than you are better than me, no your better and smarter then me, and thousands of other compulsory school drones that don’t know the difference between right and wrong because we were forced into thinking that we needed to stay in the classroom and repeat things to learn, because we were forced to live by the bell and drop our every thought onto the next, because we were taught class segregation by age, gpa, and IQ were OK, that we were given a place to be separated from the rest of society and taught things that even our parents were probably forced to learn so they agreed with, were taught that we all must account for every second of our day, half of it for school then supervised play at home and maybe if your lucky we were allowed to learn on our own on our Bicycles and explore the neighborhood or 3 houses down and back if we promised to come right back.. is that learning?
My husband, was not taught this way. I am so lucky that I learn from a life partner that wasn’t solely raised on public schooling, was raised on a herbalogist mother,more than I could ask, and an Electrician father, both Makers and showing him how to live off the land and even wire it for electricity, At one point His mother had an her own Herb Store, and helped people feel better off herbs.
If you were also raised this way you are super lucky and should teach and show the rest of us uneducated people how to take care of ourselves.
The point I am trying to make is, how do we unPROGRAM compulsory Public schooling, how do we excape from the sea of networks always percieved to be genuine and never really caring who we even are, school, jobs, parents, teachers. How do we get together as a generation and stop the same thing from happening to our children, the answer is Manifest Destiny. The Answer is creativity,The answer is sitting down with our children and showing them how to build a home, from an inside out. To create such a sacred place as HOME and to have a even more sacred place called community.
A huge point Gatto made that is just going over and over in my head like a broken record is “How can we have community if we lock up our children into schools and our old people into retirement homes?” we cannot have community if we cant learn and interact with our old people and children, especially the children, how can we all have enthusiasm for life and learn how to be happy with the simple little things if by not looking at our un-Programed Youth. I showed my son two communities already, in the actual Real Definition of a community of young and old, The Santa Rosa Junior College is a community college it accepts high school students and old people/ seniors of our community, it showed my son and I that you can learn without BELLS, or by always changing your subject every 50 minutes, some classes were 2 hours and then you went home, you made your own schedule at the JC, and thats a real community to me, one that allows REAL experiances and learning without segregation.. actually it still has its flaws like a compulsory school institution, it segregated math and english bound students into categories of test scores and IQ but how can we get them to the right teacher without segregation…by changing our whole way of thinking and knowing it takes a community to learn not segregated classes repeating lessons.
So my conclusion to reading this book and realizing how Dumbed down I am, is embracing the Maker in me and the creative manifestor inside of me and teaching my son more and more from experiences and not lessons, I would like to show him that every action he makes is a part of a bigger larger part of our experiences on this planet and our “Footprint on Earth” means everything. If I can do anything as a mother and as a educator and teacher to my child will be to show him PROCESSES and REACTIONS. Like the process of getting up and getting yourself presentable in the morning, brushing your teeth and hair, has a reaction of people thinking better of you and having nice hair and having good teeth, like the process of learning how to talk, I showed him as a child he could express himself in both sign language and talking and either one would have a better Reaction then yelling or crying for me, Like showing him the process of walking and how he learned to lift himself up to the coffee table for food.
It all shows him a reaction of learning a lifelong experience that will shape his future, every meal I make, all the things that take being a mom, maintaining a home, having meals on the table and snacks in the cupboard, all are teaching him about processes and reactions.. is Public school going to do that for him?
I doubt it, I am set to have my son never have to hear a school bell in his life, It is hard enough that I am still learning how to be a better person then to instill all the crazy institutionalized school things that I was taught. I don’t ever want him to be stuck with people the same age as him to learn properly or same IQ, I want him to see the world, and I want him to Grow with it, not be held back and just learn how to be another uncaring drone in the USA.
I am determined that Processes, Making and Creating will save this generation from inevitable repetition of behavior that our parents instilled in us and public schools instilled inside us.