Gatto: The 6 Purposes of the Modern SCHOOL

It really has very little to do with teaching, learning, or education.  This is a lesson I gave my 12th graders in public speaking class.  At least 3 of them were red pilled.  No lie.


What does the school do with the children? John Taylor Gatto states the following assertions in “Dumbing Us Down”: It makes the children confused. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials that programming is similar to the television.

  1. It fills almost all the “free” time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again. 
  2. It teaches them to accept their class affiliation. 
  3. It makes them indifferent. It makes them emotionally dependent. 
  4. It makes them intellectually dependent. 
  5. It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem). 
  6. It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised

Go through John Taylor Gatto’s presentation, and let me know, in writing, what you think. By informing you what his research on the history of American Schooling showed, does he ‘connect the dots’ for you about your experience in school? Explain how effective this presentation was, and why.


From the transcript of another video, if you want to explore further:

“Two years it took me to find a copy of the book [Principles of Secondary Education by Alexander James Inglis]–750 pages, tiny print and as dull as your imagination can be. And furthermore, it is not till you get to the very middle of the book–in an unlabelled section–that he spills the beans. Let me spill them for you.  

There are 6 purposes, or functions, as he calls them. The first he [Alexander Inglis] calls the Adjustive Function: Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. That’s their main purpose–habits and reactions to authority. That is why school authorities don’t tear their hair out when somebody exposes that the Atomic Bomb wasn’t dropped on Korea, as a history book in the 1990s printed by Scott Foresman [did], and why each of these books has hundreds of substantive errors. Learning isn’t the reason the texts are distributed.  

So, first is the Adjustive Function–fixed habits. Now here comes the wonderful insight that being able to analyze the detail will give you. How can you establish whether someone has successfully developed this Automatic Reaction because people have a proclivity when they are given sensible orders to follow. That is not what they want to reach. The only way you can measure this is to give stupid orders and people automatically follow those. Now you have achieved Function #1.  

Have you ever ever wondered why some of the foolish things that schools do or allow to continue? [Function] #2, he [Inglis] calls it the Integrating Function, but it is easier to understand if you call it the Conformity Function. It’s to make children alike as possible–the gifted children and the stupid–alike as possible because market research uses statistical sampling, and it only works if people react generally the same way.  

The Third Function he calls the Directive Function: School is to diagnose your proper social role and then log the evidence that here is where you are on the Great Pyramid, so that future people won’t allow you to escape that compartment.  

The Fourth Function is the Differentiating Function. Because once you have diagnosed the kids in this layer, you do not want them to learn (5 min, 32 min) anything that the higher layers are learning. So you teach just as far as the requirement of that layer.  

Number 5 and 6 are the creepiest of all!  Number 5 is the Selective Function. What that means is what Darwin meant by natural selection: You are assessing the breeding quality of each individual kid. You’re doing it structurally because school teachers don’t know this is happening. And you’re trying to use ways to prevent the poor stuff from breeding. And those ways are hanging labels–humiliating labels–around their neck, encouraging the shallowness of thinking.

I often wondered, because I came from a very very strict Scotish-Irish culture that never allowed you to leer at a girl. But when I got to NYC, the boys were pawing the girls openly and there was no redress for the girls at all, except not showing up in the classroom–high absentee rates. Well, you are supposed to teach structurally that sexual pleasure is what you withdraw from a relationship and everything else is a waste of time and expensive.  

So, the Selective Function is what Darwin meant by the favored races. The idea is to consciously improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit with their inferiority by poor grades, remedial placement, and humiliation, so that their peers will accept them as inferior. And the good breeding stock among the females will reject them as possible partners.  

And the Sixth is the creepiest of all! And I think it is partly what Tragedy and Hope is about–a fancy Roman name, the Propaedeutic Function. Because as early as Roman bigtime thinkers, it was understood that to continue a social form required that some people be trained that they were the custodians of this. So, some small fraction of the kids are being ready to take over the project.

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“Master Teacher, Envious System” – Themes and Direction

Learning Target: What are the main THEMES discussed in the movie “Stand and Deliver” and the article “Master Teacher, Envious System”?

Review Definition: THEMEa subject of discourse, discussion, meditation, or composition; topic // a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc., as in a work of art.

Written Classwork (20 points):

  • What are the themes discussed in the movie so far and the article?       You should be able to write what the theme is in one sentence.
  • Defend your theme with two or three points or pieces of evidence that support your premise.

Today’s Excerpt:


He was an immigrant from Bolivia. He had taught school in Bolivia, but he was legally unqualified to teach in the United States. He could not speak English. He got a job as a bus boy in a restaurant. Within six months, he was the head cook. He was that kind of man.

He enrolled in a local community college. With scholarship aid and a day job with Burroughs, he graduated in mathematics from a four-year school. He still wanted to teach. So, he quit his job and applied for a position in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He was sent to Garfield.

This made sense. He spoke Spanish. He was a new teacher. Garfield was not on any new teacher’s list as the preferred school. So, he wound up in a school where there was no advanced mathematics training.

He was not content with this arrangement. He was able to add courses on more advanced math. He called mathematics the great equalizer. It does not care what your social background is. It does not care what language you speak. It is objective. Either you get the answer correctly or you don’t. He told them they could go to college. “I’ll teach you math and that’s your language. With that you’re going to make it. You’re going to college and sit in the first row, not the back, because you’re going to know more than anybody.”

He persuaded students that they were the best. This comes out clearly in the movie. He pushed them, he manipulated them, he sometimes humiliated them, but he got them to take his class. They showed up before school began. They stayed after school. They came to class on Saturdays. They came to summer school. They worked harder than students in their peer group, and I don’t mean just in East L.A. I mean the whole age group. They worked like the children of Asian immigrants.

They also scored like the children of Asian immigrants. Year after year, more of his students passed the AP. This was considered impossible — not genetically, but socially and culturally.

Escalante said that what students needed was desire — “ganas,” in Spanish. They needed a challenge, and he was going to give it to them. He did, year after year.

Edward James Olmos and Jaime Escalante:

A Former Student Visits

Originally posted in 2013:

A former student came by today, and we had a wonderful discussion.  LW was a frustrating case for me when she was in 9th grade English – she was different from the other students.  She wanted to draw all the time, and she was a supremely talented artist – I could see why she wanted to create art instead of do cookie cutter education.  I didn’t know it at the time, but she is Exhibit A as to how the school paradigm does NOT work for many students.

We talked about her time at the High School, how it was frustrating.  She recognized the fraudulence of the system as a young person.  I was surprised to hear her explain how she understood, as a 13 year old, that the politicians were lying through their teeth.  I ashamedly admit, I didn’t notice fully until I was in my early 30’s, and actually started paying attention to the words.  We discussed the limits and the inherent propaganda in the school system, race in America, double standards and the social hoops that have to be jumped through to move up the ladder in our country today.

I recommended a few things to her – she’s now in her early 20’s and needs to make a living.  I will do what I can to help there, but intellectually I volunteered the merits of the following:

1)  The Ultimate History Lesson:  John Taylor Gatto is interviewed for five hours and he gives you a lesson you’ll never forget.  Gatto researched the origins of school in America, and what he found was a miserable story about control and the purveyors of minority wealth and power coming up with a system to maintain a stranglehold on ‘the masses’.  The ‘elect’, in Calvin’s terms, deserve to rule The Herd, and they can scientifically prove it.  The interviewer, Richard Grove, had pages of questions and notes in preparation for the interview and wound up using none of it as an electrifying gallop through history and philosophy ensued.  The discussion is framed in the history of school, and Gatto’s 30 years experience as a public school teacher in NYC.  This is truly a feast for the intellect and deserves multiple viewings.

2)  Ask yourself – who are the ‘favored races’?   When you look at Darwin’s book, who is he speaking about when he places that on the title?  LW correctly pinned down that racism in America is often not who or what one thinks it is.  Racism is managed, massaged, and used to divide regular folk.  These fights and divisions cause rifts that the Power Elite use to divert energy and attention away from them.  “The Other” is the enemy, it can’t possibly be the people at the top who dictate policy…

3) Lastly, I brought up Albert Jay Nock’s essay “Isaiah’s Job“.  LW noted that some of her friends have not ‘woken up’, as she did years ago.  They don’t see the force, fraud and coercion that goes on in daily American life.  I noted that I surround myself with like minded people, but not everyone who I consider a friend sees it either.  The majority of my colleagues do not see things the way I do, and I suspect they find me funny or weird.  I know LW is seen that way by many, as it was already happening in high school when she was 15 years old.  Too bad.  So many things in our world today are backward.  I was late to wake up.  I shared that I was the garden variety liberal democrat public sector believer until my early to mid thirties.  I then flew to the ‘other’ side of the spectrum – the Establishment Conservative side of things, reading National Review and the Wall St. Journal with regularity.  Then, when I realized that these two sides were a managed conflict, and the ideas of freedom and libertarianism came through to me – it was a sudden awakening.  It was good to speak with a young, intellectually curious person.  What a joy!

Here is The Ultimate History Lesson, with John Taylor Gatto:

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I also sell custom made mugs like this one here on Amazon. I’ll do personalized orders as well. They are all made in the United States – in Pennsylvania.

All of the mugs are here on Gearbubble. These are made in the USA, and if you don’t want to contribute to Amazon’s record profits during this time of CV19, the Gearbubble link is the one to use. Thank you!

On Making a Difference

You hear people in the school business often talk about ‘making a difference’.  I showed John Taylor Gatto’s ‘Classrooms of the Heart’ a few days ago as an assignment, and the message from it not only resonated with this 12th grader, it has changed her life.  She sees the school system for what it is, and will pass that knowledge down. 

Here’s the response I got:

“This video assignment came at a perfect time for me. Currently, I am in the process of analyzing myself; who I am, who I want to be, and where I want to go. I realized that this was necessary during this corona virus era where I actually have time to think! I have learned more about myself during this quarantine period than ever before. One factor that has contributed to the prevention of listening to my own thoughts was school. Closing public schools and doing school work from home has allowed for me to think my own thoughts; instead of listening to the thoughts of others, and being told how to do things. 

Although it is tragic what is going on with the pandemic, I am grateful to have the time to finally analyze/understand myself; something that I had never been able to do in seventeen years. Before this, I was living solely to do what others told me to do: homework assignments, deadlines, tests etc. This was how life was for me ever since I started school. Never once did I have time to think for myself. This is simply because the school system does not allow for you to have your own thoughts or opinions. Instead your own thoughts get clouded and are replaced with rules, regulations, and school procedures. However, after being blessed with this time to think for myself I had a realization; I don’t want to go back to the way I was thinking before, and changes will be made. 

One of the quotes that really left a mark on me from viewing this documentary was: “Self-knowledge requires long periods of privacy, long periods of testing who you are, what your limits are, this can’t take place while someone is filling your time with orders or tests”. I felt emotional when I heard him say this because he put into words what I felt had been missing from my educational experience. It all became clear to me. I admire how Mr. Gatto listens to his students, and who they are. This is one of the factors missing in public school teachers. Many teachers believe that students are in a classroom solely to sit and listen to them go on and on, and students believe the same thing because that is how they have been wired.

A second quote that impacted me was when Mr. Gatto said “One of the worst things about these schools is that they don’t ever give students time to think”. I agree. Students don’t know any better than to sit and listen to a teacher because that is “correct” in a school environment. After viewing this video, I proposed to myself that I will change that about myself, because now I understand that my thoughts and feelings are valid, and that I should never be told that they are not. Now I understand that when someone discourages you from voicing your thoughts or clouds them with other information, they are trying to keep you down so that you become like the rest of society; wired. After viewing this video, I wish I would have been in Mr. Gatto’s class or would have received this information in eighth grade, but it’s better late than never. I am definitely saving this video for my children in the future, thank you Mr. Marolla for sharing this gem.”

I responded with this:
“You are very welcome. I’m glad we spoke and I’m happy that you were able to distill the main idea that you need a time for quiet thought. Comfort and confidence in ourselves is the key to inner peace and a fulfilling life. School gets in the way. There’s a reason they had to force it on a people, in an America that was fiercely independent. Few realize what you’ve realized. You are unique in seeing what you see.”
John Taylor Gatto’s legacy continues.


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I also sell custom made mugs like this one here on Amazon.  I’ll do personalized orders as well. They are all made in the United States – in Pennsylvania.

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John Taylor Gatto Speaks to the 2021 12th Grader

 I showed Gatto’s “Classrooms of the Heart” to this year’s seniors.  They get it.  As usual, they get it better than most of the adults in their lives.  The unorthodox thoughts, systems, methods and concepts that JT Gatto introduced to his 8th graders rang true with students who weren’t born until 2002.

Here is one of the reactions.  It shows you that Gatto is still reaching students even years after his death:

My Udemy classes are here – extremely low price and you have them forever.

I also sell custom made mugs like this one here on Amazon.  I’ll do personalized orders as well. They are all made in the United States – in Pennsylvania.

All of the mugs are here on Gearbubble. These are made in the USA, and if you don’t want to contribute to Amazon’s record profits during this time of CV19, the Gearbubble link is the one to use.  Thank you!