An Angry Look at Modern Schooling: An Enclosure Movement for Children

The secret of American schooling is that it doesn’t teach the way children learn, and it isn’t supposed to; school was engineered to serve a concealed command economy and a deliberately re-stratified social order. It wasn’t made for the benefit of kids and families as those individuals and institutions would define their own needs. School is the first impression children get of organized society; like most first impressions, it is the lasting one. Life according to school is dull and stupid, only consumption promises relief: Coke, Big Macs, fashion jeans, that’s where real meaning is found, that is the classroom’s lesson, however indirectly delivered.


The strongest meshes of the school net are invisible. Constant bidding for a stranger’s attention creates a chemistry producing the common characteristics of modern schoolchildren: whining, dishonesty, malice, treachery, cruelty. Unceasing competition for official favor in the dramatic fish bowl of a classroom delivers cowardly children, little people sunk in chronic boredom, little people with no apparent purpose for being alive. The full significance of the classroom as a dramatic environment, as primarily a dramatic environment, has never been properly acknowledged or examined. —John Taylor GattoAn Angry Look at Modern Schooling: An Enclosure Movement for Children (

I’m blogging this because of Gatto’s willingness to say the emperor has no clothes.

I’m not as disillusioned about public schools as Gatto seems to be, but then I’ve never tried to fight for reforms. We have instead quietly opted out of the factory-style education system, and we have made lifestyle choices that permit us to live modestly on one salary, in a profession that permits me to have a lot more family time during the summer, so that we can invest the time and energy doing the vitally important job of helping to prepare our children for the world.