Gatto points with stunning eloquence to the core problem. To set the stage, listening to how and why he departed from public-school teaching in 1991, "after planning and bringing about the most successful permit school fund raiser in New York City history, after placing a single eighth-grade class into 30,000 hours of volunteer community service, after organizing and financing a student-run food cooperative, after securing over 1000 apprenticeships, directing the collection of tens of thousands of books for the construction of private student libraries, after producing for talking job dictionaries for the blind, writing to original student musicals, and launching and our motto of other initiatives to reintegrate students with a larger human reality, I quit." At the time, Gatto was New York State teacher of the year. "An accumulation of disgust amd frustration which grew too heavy to be borne finally did me in." When all is said and done, Gatto doesn't blame the grotesque psychological experiments and failed pedagogic approaches and school crime spree's that steal headlines. Rather, he points to the subtle, soul-killing power of forced government schooling, the devastating effect on each child's not-so-hidden genius of sitting at a desk in a classroom all day for one's entire youth.
The strongest meshes of the school net are invisible. Constant bidding for strangers attention creates the chemistry producing the common care to respects of modern schoolchildren, whining, dishonesty, malice, treachery, cruelty. Unceasing competition for official favor in the dramatic fishbowl of classroom delivers cowardly children, little people sunk in chronic boredom, little people with no apparent purpose for being alive. The net effect of holding children in confinement for 12 years without honor paid to the spirit is a compelling demonstration that the state considers the Western spiritual tradition dangerous. And of course it is. School is about creating loyalty to certain goals and habits, a vision of life, support for class structure, and intricate system of human relationships cleverly designed to manufacture the continuously low level of discontent upon which mass production and finance rely.
The bottom line, says Gatto:
Spiritually contended people are dangerous for a variety of reasons. They don't make reliable servants because they won't jump at every command. They tests what is requested against a code of moral principle. Those who are spiritually secure can't be easily driven to sacrifice family relations. Corporate and financial capitalism are hardly possible on any massive scale once a population finds its spiritual center.
If the government's education system, like most of what the government does these days, is dangerous to our freedom and happiness, how then are we to educate our children?