Saturday, October 03, 2009

Decent Homeschooling Resource - David H. Albert

Right now I am reading a decent book by homeschooling *expert* David Albert - Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery.

Below in italics are a couple quotes from said book. In the green blocked quotes are what I thought were interesting historical footnotes he included (for each respective passage).

If we peel away another layer, we find another societal myth at the core of American public education: while it exists ostensibly to create new opportunities (which it arguably does for the few), the major purpose of public education, at which it was spectacularly successful in the nineteenth century and remains so to this day, is to limit these opportunities ("rationalize" would probably be a better term), while training people to accept these limitations.

U.S. Commissioner of Education William Torrey Harris, who could be said to have overseen the birth of the modern public education system in America, wrote in 1889, "Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening....The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role."

Beginning around 1905, a new organizational scheme for public education - the Gary Plan (named after the town in Indiana in which it was first implemented) - was initiated. Under the Gary Plan, school subjects were departmentalized, entailing the constant movement of children from class to class - thus inhibiting any deep exploration of any subject - and requiring schoolteachers to teach the same subject and same lesson again and again, like factory workers assigned to tightening a single bolt. (There were other, more appealing elements, such as ongoing links between the schools and community life, which, however, were never integrated into other Gary-like experiments taking place throughout the rest of the country.) A 1916 analytical report by the New York educator Abraham Flexner found the Gary Plan to be a total failure, "offering insubstantial programs and a general atmosphere which habituated students to inferior performance."

There were protests. In New York City, thousands of children and their primarily immigrant parents protested their children being given "half-rations" of education. Thousands of demonstrators shut down Public School #171, which had adopted the Gary Plan, and riots spread to schools and neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. More than 300 children were arrested, most of them Jewish. The cause of the protest was that the Gary Plan deliberated dumbed down the school, thus limiting the opportunities available to low-income children. While the Gary Plan itself disappeared, its worst aspects - a 'platoon approach' to scheduling designed to allow double enrollment of pupils in a single building and hence save money - was quickly adopted by school systems throughout the nation.

Here's another:

The same people who brought us public education also brought us early twentieth-century eugenics.

From 1900 to 1930, virtually every major educator in the U.S....supported a program of eugenics, or "selective breeding", as imperative to defend and improve the quality of the national character. This was the source of much of Adolph Hitler's thinking on the issue. In 1931, the New York City Commissioner of Education asked (in the publication Eugenical News) whether since "the greatest care is exercised in the breeding of live stock, is it not vastly more important that the human race be improved?" and shouldn't teachers do whatever in their power to prevent the "haphazard mating of human beings?"

This David Albert has a lot of *cred*. He actually edited one of John Gatto's books. What I like about him is that he's very experienced on the homeschooling front; rather than just rail about the inadequacies of Big Education, he serves up plenty of educational prescriptions - which I'll relay once I finish reading his book.

Check out his website here.

And, visit my master John Taylor Gatto link here.

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