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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

George Carlin takes on public education

If you like the hilarious clip below, consider reading John Taylor Gatto's awesome, "An Underground History of Public Education". The whole thing is online for free and I highly recommend it. Also, if you have an mp3 player, a great radio show called Unwelcome Guests has been airing readings of chapters from the book, so you can effectively 'read' it as an audio book if you want.

In modern society, the fundamental institutions of our society must at once seem both absolutely necessary and also shrouded in mystery. For instance, we must all believe that without cops we'd all be killing each other and ripping each other off, but how many of us know the history of policing and why we really have cops? Where did cops come from? How long have cops been around as an institution? How can you be sure we need them if you don't know the answers to these questions? Just admitting that we haven't always had them suggests they might not be necessary. This, in fact, turns out to be the case.

So, it's the same thing with public education. Where did public education come from, and why do we have it? Do you know? Did they teach you that in school? Nope, not once in the twelve years they held you hostage did they share with you the history of your prison. Hell, they don't even teach that to teachers. Nevertheless, you're supposed take on faith that it's totally natural and necessary for parents to give their kids up seven hours a day to state bureaucrats - at the same time you're not supposed to know why that is. And you're supposed to take for granted that you're supposed to sit your ass in a hard wood chair 35 hours a week at the same time you're not supposed to know just why the hell they're keeping you there. Or why you still can't get a job that pays more than ten bucks an hour after you finish.

If you're in school now, try asking your teacher where public education came from. Odds are they won't be able to tell you. That's because you are meant to ignore every instinct you have against it and trust in authorities who will never justify themselves to you. And that's what school is for.

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