Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quotes About the Detriments of Schooling
Collected by Laurie A. Couture, M.Ed, LMHC

"When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children any way they could, by pouring their derision upon anything we did, and exposing every weakness, however carefully hidden by the kids... We don’t need no education; we don’t need no thought control; no dark sarcasms in the classroom; Teachers, leave those kids alone! Hey! Teacher! Leave us kids alone! All in all its just another brick in the wall...All in all you’re just another brick in the wall." -Pink Floyd (The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Another Brick In the Wall, 1979)

"Comparing me to those who are conventionally schooled is like comparing the freedoms of a wild stallion to those of cattle in a feedlot." -Colin Roch, 12 year old Homeschooler

"School is a prison, and I can’t afford the bail." -12 year old boy, middle school student

"Everybody in my class thought [my] comic books were really funny, except for one person - my teacher! I remember one teacher who used to rip up my books and tell me I'd better start taking life more seriously, because I couldn't spend the rest of my days making silly books. Fortunately, I wasn't a very good listener... One day my principal took me out of class and said to me, ‘I know you think you’re special because you can draw, but let me tell you something: artists are a dime-a-dozen. You will never make a living as an artist!’ Those words haunted me for many years. How delightful it was to prove him wrong!" -Dav Pilkey (author and artist of children’s books)

"I see public school as a burning building, and I'm going to save every child I can." - John Holt

"The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders." -John Taylor Gatto

"The most important piece of technology in any classroom is the second hand of a clock. The purpose is to teach millions of students the identical prayer: Please God, make it move faster." -Derrick Jensen

"The first abuse of human rights implicit in mass coercive schooling is detention without having broken the law. In a democracy, it is an abuse of human rights to do this. Yet children are detained for 15,000 hours of their young lives in a day detention centre called school. Their only offence appears to be that they are young." -Roland Meighan

"Most children’s early experiences are undemocratic. Their human rights, including free speech, are ignored... Children do not need to be taught about oppression; they are oppressed. They do not need to be taught about human rights abuses; their human rights are trampled on every day they are in school." -Wendy Priesnitz

"School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence." -H.L. Mencken

"Education makes one fundamental mistake. It exists... Education as it has come to be practiced in our society is the destruction of the child. Born into curiosity and driven by the innate need to learn, children are herded into prison like institutions, forced through threats to unnaturally sit in hard chairs and memorize the most preposterous bits of disconnected information. They are coerced through punishment and reward to perform on tests, behave according to arbitrary rules, and not communicate with eachother... This truly bizarre situation is not only failing to produce creative individuals; it is sinking into the abyss of its own violence." -Steven Harrison

"Do not be surprised if the school seems more intent on shielding an abusive, incompetent teacher than in protecting children who are under the control of that teacher." -Jordan Riak

"In all these years I have seen numerous examples of the abuse of students in the name of discipline. There are too many cases where students are victims of dangerous and toxic but legally sanctioned, routinely used, and pedagogically promoted disciplinary practices." -Irwin A. Hyman

"We pay a heavy price for confining young people to schoolrooms... The kids I see... don’t like themselves very much. I’m not surprised. In schoolrooms people are useless... Useless people seldom like themselves very much. The children we capture sense the time they are losing is precious time, time that will never return. They dislike themselves for not knowing how to save their lives and turn time to real use." -John Taylor Gatto

"Working on the kindergarten and first-grade programs, I observed something that I thought was truly remarkable. In these grades, children spend most of their time learning things that no one growing up in our culture could possibly avoid learning. For example, they learn the names of the primary colors. Wow, just imagine missing school on the day when they were learning blue. You'd spend the rest of your life wondering what color the sky is." -Daniel Quinn

"My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school." -Margaret Mead

"The tyranny I've seen with my own eyes (with a career in teaching and teaching teachers) would fill a book. Martinets of the classroom terrorize roomfuls of elementary school children by paralyzing them with fear. I have seen this so many times it keeps me awake at night. The teaching profession attracts cowardly and petty tyrants who get off by dominating little boys and girls. That's one of the reasons the school system is not reformable in any humanist sense. The System must be abolished in its present form. Wiped out. Schools need to be (1) not compulsory; (2) transformed or upgraded to the best library systems and made into learning centers where community people of all ages are invited to learn on their own terms at every stage of their lives, from infancy to dotage. It's human-centered, where one can use the toilet whenever the body requires it." -Norm Lee

"It could easily be argued that when education goes wrong in a democratic society, little else goes right." -Jordan Riak

"Our form of schooling creates an abundance of social pathologies and contradicts the way children actually learn- sacrificing human potential to an obsession with hierarchy, order, routine, surveillance, and the creation of lifelong dependence on "expert" authority." -John Taylor Gatto

"...The whole idea of children sitting motionless at desks listening to the same material being presented at the same rate was appalling... I began to see first grade as a violent shock to the healthy human organism" -George Leonard

"Play is the work of children." -Bob Keeshan "Captain Kangaroo"

"In school, the trap of dependency on others opens with "good students" waiting for teachers to tell them what to do. Learning to follow instruction is an important objective of school training. "Experts" call all the shots and make all the decisions, including about such basic human rights as when it is appropriate to go to the bathroom and when its ok to talk..." -Wendy Priesnitz

"The world is full of jobs that hold no intrinsic interest or pleasure. We seem to be adapting our schools to this dullness in life. By compelling our students’ attention to subjects which hold no interest for them, we, in effect, condition them for jobs they will not enjoy." -A. S. Neill

"What a vast perversion of the natural relationships of children and adults has been worked by our bureaucratized system of public education!... The world as it exists is what the young are hungry for." -George Dennison

"The difference between the real child and the child in the chair at school was immense in all cases. It was the difference, specifically, between somebody artificial and somebody real." -Jonathan Kozol

"Almost every child, on the first day he sets foot in a school building, is smarter, more curious, less afraid of what he doesn’t know, better at finding and figuring things out, more confident, resourceful, persistent,, and independent, than he will ever again be in his schooling, or, unless he is very unusual and lucky, for the rest of his life." -John Holt

"All the time you are in school, you learn through experience how to live in a dictatorship. In school you shut your notebook when the bell rings. You do not speak unless granted permission. You are guilty until proven innocent, and who will prove you innocent? You are told what to do, think, and say for six hours a day. If your teacher says sit up and pay attention, you had better stiffen your spine and try to get Bobby or Sally or the idea of Spring or the play you’re writing off your mind. The most constant and thorough thing students in school experience- and learn- is the antithesis of democracy." -Grace Llewellyn

"Learning is like breathing. It is a natural, human activity: it is part of being alive... Our ability to learn, like our ability to breathe, does not need to be improved or tampered with. It is utter nonsense, not to mention deeply insulting, to say that people need to be taught how to learn or how to think. We are born knowing these things. All that is needed is an interesting, accessible, intelligible world, and a chance to play a meaningful part in it." -Aaron Falbel

"It is a fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail." -Albert Einstein

"School takes our children away from any possibility of an active role in community life..." -John Taylor Gatto

"I try never to let my schooling get in the way of my education." -Mark Twain

"The idea of shipping our children off to a warehouse where they are educated by strangers from a curriculum designed by politicians and academics theorists is so strange and disconnected from the reality of a child that we have to wonder how this could come to be the fact in our society. Why would we want our children treated like this?" -Steven Harrison

"The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill conviction but to destroy the capacity to form any." -Hannah Arendt

"By stars and red checks, smiles and frowns, prizes, honors, and disgraces, I teach kids to surrender their will to the predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld by any authority without appeal, because rights do not exist inside a school-- not even the right of free speech... As a schoolteacher, I intervene in many personal decisions, issuing a pass for those I deem legitimate and initiating a disciplinary confrontation for behavior that threatens my control. Individuality is constantly trying to assert itself among children and teenagers, so my judgments come thick and fast... rights in such matters cannot be recognized by schoolteachers, only privileges that can be withdrawn...." -John Taylor Gatto

"In the North American system men and women are subjected from childhood to an inexorable process... A person imprisoned by these schemes is like a plant in a flowerpot too small for it. He cannot grow or mature. This sort of conspiracy cannot help but provoke violent individual rebellions." -Octavio Paz

"Today’s schools have too little to do with learning and too much to do with control, indoctrination, and destruction of the human spirit." -Steven Harrison

"The incidence of educator-induced violence far exceeds that of offenses committed by students. Yet it is little studied, mostly ignored, and in some settings greatly encouraged." -Irwin A. Hyman

"A vampire network like a school, which tears off huge chunks of time and energy needed for building community and family-- and always asks for more-- needs to have a stake driven through its heart and be nailed to its coffin. The feeding frenzy of formal schooling has already wounded us seriously in our ability to form families and communities, by bleeding away time we need with our children and our children need with us. That’s why I say we need less school, not more." -John Taylor Gatto

"Why do people take or keep their children out of school? Mostly for three reasons: they think that raising their children is their business not the government’s; they enjoy being with their children and watching and helping them learn, and don’t want to give that up to others; they want to keep them from being hurt, mentally, physically, and spiritually." -John Holt

"Can true learning take place where students are forced, not just in attendance, but in the restriction of movement, mind, and spirit that takes place in a school?" -Steven Harrison

"I hated school so intensely. It interfered with my freedom. I avoided the discipline by an elaborate technique of being absent-minded during classes." -Sigrid Undset (1928 Nobel Prize in Literature)

"There are other abuses of human rights to be found in 'education'. One is ageism or age-apartheid...The expectation that spending this time in the company of equally immature persons will somehow lead to maturity is laughable. It actually leads to the tyranny of the peer group where behaviour, tastes in clothes, in drugs, in attitudes to other generations are defined by the immature for the immature." -Roland Meighan

"One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examination, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect [upon me] that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year." -Albert Einstein

"Even when most people still supported the schools in principle, hundreds of parents...were telling or writing me that most of their worst anxiety dreams were still school dreams, or that every time they went into their children’s school, for whatever reason, they could feel their insides tighten up and their hands begin to sweat." -John Holt

"A society that is free cannot educate its children in anything less than freedom. It is unclear why our society, educated by force now for more than a century, accepts more and more limitations on its own freedom and expression?" -Steven Harrison

"One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child." -Maria Montessori

"Teachers want to be little gods protected by dignity. They fear that if they act human, their authority would vanish and their classrooms will become bedlams. They fear to abolish fear." -A.S. Neill

"We only need rules to protect others. We do not need rules to protect people from themselves... In a Quality school, people are more important than rules." -William Glasser

"Compulsory education, besides being dramatically infringing on the individual’s rights,... forces schools to warehouse students who have no interest in being in school." -Steven Harrison
"...The force-feeding process [of schooling] is so relentless that many students gag on it. They tune out or leave school, and in some cases, become permanently soured on learning." -Wendy Priesnitz

"Schools are physically injurious-- for the body, which at this early age is inseparable from the soul." -Leo Tolstoy

"It was no doubt noticed that, when given a choice, most children prefer not to do school work.... Most children don't like textbooks, workbooks, quizzes, rote memorization, subject schedules, and lengthy periods of physical inactivity. One can discover this - even with polite and cooperative children - by asking them if they would like to add more time to their daily [school] schedule. I feel certain that most will decline the offer." -Earl Stevens

"All living creatures are always motivated by the basic needs of their species. But every living creature, including students, is not necessarily motivated to do what you, I, or anyone else thinks they ought to do. There is certainly no basic need to do schoolwork." -William Glasser

"What happens to learners in this worksheet wasteland? The truth is that most of them learn to comply and remain passive and may outwardly appear to be very successful students. Other children, unable to go along with such stale fare as they’re given daily in the classroom, begin slipping in their achievement but are able to keep up appearances...Finally there is a group of children totally unable to keep up the charade, mostly because their own unique ways of learning clash so severely with the narrow way that schools go about educating them. This group has earned a couple of unjust labels in recent years: learning disabled (LD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disordered (ADHD)." -Thomas Armstrong

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better... Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience." -Anne Sullivan
"The root ideas of a democratic education are as simple as they are radical: children should be accorded the same human rights and freedoms as adults; they should be granted responsibility for the conduct of their affairs; and they should be full participants in the life of their community. Democratic schools provide an environment where children can live their formative years in exactly the same manner as they will live out their mature years--as free citizens of a society devoted to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." -Daniel Greenberg

"Young people are capable of deciding what is important or necessary, and once they have decided, they are capable of working much harder than we imagine. Schools, after failing to give children the chance to decide what is important to them and to understand the relationship between their chosen goal and specific tasks, then conclude that children are lazy, no good, unmotivated." -Susannah Sheffer

"Unfortunately, most schools systematically eradicate the very skills that creators need. They reward success and punish failure, stifling experimentation and creativity. They teach children to perform meaningless tasks to please arbitrary authorities at the expense of their own thoughts, feelings, and purposes. You succeed at what you’re told to do in school, or you’re regarded as a failure. Any project or purpose you may dream up on your own is irrelevant." -Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver

"Expect to be misunderstood; expect to be bored by much of what comes your way; expect to be ignored, to have your needs go unmet, to have to adjust to the world- don’t expect it to adjust to you... Schools teach these lessons exceedingly well, with great power... Schools have taught [children] to associate learning with this painful form of misunderstanding and with a frustrated boredom that ought to be the exceptio n to their education experience, not the rule." -David Guterson

"I’m continually amazed and horrified at how seemingly bright, intelligent parents do this incredible job at home with their little ones, so careful about their care providers and diet and media exposure, and then just hand them over to the system at five years old... And the justifications are equally amazing. I liken it to the phenomenon... of parents who deliver their children to the hands of their abuser."-Anonymous, (as quoted in Walking on Water by Derrick Jensen)

"This morning I went with a friend to take her son to school and when we were walking back out she said she’d seen a lot of mothers crying last week dropping their children off to their first year of school... ‘Why do all of those mothers cry?’ She didn’t answer. She knows, I think, it’s because they’re all overriding every instinct they have for their child’s well-being." ." -Anonymous, (as quoted in Walking on Water by Derrick Jensen)

"Children waiting for the day they feel good, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, made to feel the way that every child should. Sit and listen, sit and listen, went to school and I was very nervous, no one knew me, no one knew me. Hello teacher, tell me what's my lesson. Look right through me, look right through me." -Tears for Fears (Mad World)

"Imagine a fairy tale country that has a government based on freedom, democracy and basic human rights for all. Now, imagine that to prepare that country’s children for the rights and responsibilities of living in and contributing to the free, democratic society, the government institutes a strange practice: Beginning at the age of five, children in the country are confined for 13 years as hostages to a totalitarian institution run as a dictatorship. In that institution, children’s movement and bodily functions are controlled and regimented... Children have no right to question the validity of the curriculum, no right to critical thinking in deviance to the teacher’s agenda, no right to dispute or influence procedures for maintaining order and guidance... Children are taught that the democracy exists, but are not allowed to take part in it. At the age of 18, children in that country are released. They are expected to be ready to function in society, advanced education and careers as self-motivating, free-thinking, innovative and assertive individuals. Now imagine that this fairy tale is not a fairy tale, but the very real state of the American Educational Institution for the past hundred years." -Laurie A. Couture

"One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the [junior high class]room where my workshops were to be held was a bright red bumper sticker stuck to the front of the teacher’s desk: "This is not Burger King, and you can’t have it your way." Signs are posted all over the walls... telling students that if they misbehave they’ll be sent to the principal’s office. One orders, in all caps, that STUDENTS MUST NEVER SPEAK WITHOUT RAISING THEIR HANDS AND BEING GIVEN PERMISSION BY THE TEACHER. Although it was a math classroom, it was clear that the real point was, as always, submission to authority. I don’t know how I survived it. I don’t know how any children survive it. I guess the truth is that in a very real sense many don’t. And that is the point." -Derrick Jensen Homework

"We should question whether homework may not represent an intrusion by the state into our private lives. We would hardly stand for a government mandate that we spend an hour each night on citizenship training; the very though evokes Big Brother. But in essence, that is exactly what the homework ritual is. The school, as an instrument of the state, has invaded our family time with its agenda." -Etta Kralovec and John Buell

"I assign a type of extended schooling called "homework", so that the effect of surveillance... travels into private households, where students might otherwise use free time to learn something unauthorized from a father or mother, by exploration or by apprenticing to some wise person in the neighborhood." -John Taylor Gatto

"It’s time for us to ask ourselves why we seem to regard homework as an ugly fact of nature, like the weather or a cold we must endure. Why are we so willing to put up with the imposition of homework on our family lives when we all feel so frustrated by the practice?" -Etta Kralovec and John Buell

"‘Suzie did not have time to finish her math in school today, so I have sent it home with her to finish; please give her time to do it.’ -Mrs. Teacher. ‘We did, but that did not give her time to do all her household chores, so we have sent some laundry to school with her to fold; please give her time to do it.’ -Mrs. Mom." -Rick Garlikov

"I finally had enough of the homework interfering in my time with my family, and decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. I walked into each of my children’s classes this morning and told their teachers that I needed to take my children home for a little homework. I told them, ‘It won’t take very long. I just need to reinforce our home values’". -Jane, from "What Happened to Recess and Why are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? by Susan Ohanian

"Jane said that her son’s teacher gives homework on weekends. When Jane said she’d contact the teacher at home with some questions, the teacher answered, "I’d prefer you wait until Monday- I’m off on weekends." Jane replied, "So is my son. We do not do homework on weekends at our house."" -Susan Ohanian The Foundations on Which School Was Built

"Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual." -William Torrey Harris (U.S. Commissioner of Education 1889-1906)

"The great purpose of school can be better realized in dark, airless, ugly places... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world" -William Torrey Harris (U.S. Commissioner of Education 1889-1906)


wyldthang said...

HI Wolfdancer! thanks for coming by my blog ;0) You have a great list of quotes and things to think about. I will say that my experience growing up through school was a good one, filled with moral, fine character-ed teachers who were not afraid to state their beliefs or become a friend/mentor. I truly learned to learn, and to have a lifelong desire to learn about new things(and, like, it's "ok" to teach myself ;0)). That said, I realize it's not a common experience at all. My kids do go to school, but they realize too that it is more of a party thing, and what they will get out of school will be a result of what they put into it. There is a big trend here of kids getting the GED at 16(or doing online studies--essentially homeschooling through the school, whod've thunk!) and going to community college or work. I also believe that volunteer work in the classroom by wise and caring adults is probably the best thing people can do to imrove classroom conditions. The smart teachers will use the volunteer to stretch their resources, and the dumb teachers can be offset by the volunteer who can actually help a student learn to write an essay. The kids soak up individual genuine attention and help with their work--they respect honest critique and suggestions. They see through PC bull and are relieved you do too. Sometimes just having an adult SMILE at them, instead of saying "no", "you're (insert derogatory comment)" or "whatever, just do it", opens the door to hope and a sense the world is not so screwed up. Sorry to ramble! I like motorcycles, too, I'm shopping for a WR250 yippee!

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