Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Most People Are Sheeple

Most People Are Sheeple

This little rhyme has been running through my mind as of late.

I think it every time I stand at a crosswalk, and see groups of people standing there, mindlessly waiting for the blinking white "Walk" light before they proceed to cross the street while texting on their iPhones...when any observant person can easily see no oncoming traffic for hundreds of yards in either direction. Do you really need a blinking light to tell you it's safe to cross a street with no oncoming cars in sight?

I think it every time I stand in line at a grocery store and see some morbidly obese person with a cart full of processed, packaged junk "food" products, or the long lines of cars cued up at the fast food restaurant drive throughs. Can you not see yourself in the mirror everyday and make the connection between the junk in your trunk and the junk you put into your mouth?

I think it every time I see someone with an Obama or a "GO Green!" bumper sticker on their sub-compact, hybrid car driving precisely at the speed limit in the left hand lane of the freeway, oblivious to the people behind them trying to pass the even slower senior citizens clogging up the other lanes. Do you really think anyone is impressed by your expressed support for "Our Most Historical President Ever?" Do you really think sporting environmental slogans on your hybrid vehicles are doing your part in "saving the planet?"

I think it every time I hear people discussing how "terrible Tiger Woods" is. Hello....if Tiger had been the one to hit his cheating spouse with a golf club, no one would be calling HIM a victim or worthy of a multi-million dollar divorce settlement!

I am finding myself experiencing a continually diminishing threshold of tolerance for the indoctrinated behaviors and beliefs manifesting themselves in the brainwashed citizenry of our BraveNewWorldOrder.

And it all goes back to the very root of our problem...the institutionalized, bureaucratic system that we call "Public Education" that is largely responsible for churning out a population of sheeple, easily herded, cajoled and controlled by their Tell-A-Visions.

Former public school teacher, and author of Legally STUPiD: Why Johnny doesn’t have to read, R C Murray, uses Orwell's term, Proles, which is pretty much the same thing as "sheeple" in his recent article, Our Prole-Producing Schools.

In order to fix any problem, we have to identify the source of the problem, and although there are at least seven principal malefactors I’d blame for our big government problem, I blame our public schools the most. In fact, I’ve made it my life’s goal to tell all Americans why they shouldn’t have their children in public schools.

For four years I taught in and fought The System, which is not the failure many folks think it to be. For 150 years, public schools have been doing exactly what they were designed to do – produce proles – that functionally illiterate class of people Orwell saw as the “hope” for Oceania, a fictional country ruled over by an all-powerful government called The Party or simply Big Brother. Do you think it’s coincidental the current administration talks so much about hope to his disciple-constituents, the majority of whom can barely read and write and who pay no taxes?

While I certainly agree with R C Murray's main point here, I don't think the goal is illiteracy...after all, you need all the proles -- sheeple -- to be able to at least have somewhat competent reading skills so they can read and absorb all of the official propaganda in print and on Tell-a-Vision. What the schools really do is produce a mass of people who are incapable of original thought...people who mindlessly submit to authority and willingly do as they are told; to know their PLACE.

Individual knowledge and personal beliefs too often conflict with government goals. This is the reason for one of today’s teaching strategies, “Group Learning.” Those diverse learners mentioned earlier cannot understand what they read (if they can read at all), and they can’t explain their thoughts (if they have any) in writing, so they need help. Public schools now place at least one accelerated-gifted student with two or three diverse learners in a “small group setting” in which they “work together” to complete a learning project.

In reality, the AG student does all the work, but everybody gets the same passing grade. No child gets left behind. In Legally STUPiD, I satirically propose “Group Testing” for all standardized tests. One AG student is paired with two diverse learners (a.k.a., proles) who simply copy his or her answers on their score sheet.

It’s a learning experience for everyone. The AG student learns his or her role as a productive member of society whose taxes are necessary to support the non-productive proles depending on him. The proles learn to support politicians who support them with entitlement programs. In a nutshell, this is how our Constitutional republic has become a socialist state!

Now THAT would be an education in how the "REAL" world in today's America works...

Another public school teacher, Jerome Kohn also contributed to today's LewRockwell.com with an article, When a School Gets Sick, which goes into more details on the current situation with regards to the latest initiatives being carried out in our "Public Education" system:

Being a libertarian, I have never been comfortable working in a government-run public school, but a PowerPoint presentation at a recent faculty meeting made me realize just how monstrous the system really is. The presentation was on something called RTI (Response to Intervention), and it began with a slide entitled "When a kid gets sick..." While RTI is hailed as a revolutionary new approach, it is really just an old practice dressed up in new jargon. With both RTI and its predecessor, nonperforming or uncooperative students are identified and treated as if they suffer from some kind of illness.

In either case, the process typically ends with parents seated at a long conference table facing grim-faced teachers, administrators, counselors, social workers and perhaps even a psychiatrist all armed with file folders full of evaluations and test results. The remedy these "experts" prescribe usually involves placement in some Special Education program (i.e. low expectations dumping ground) and sometimes even the prescription of some dangerous mind-altering drug like Ritalin. Few parents ever object to or question these measures. Many parents even insist on them believing this special treatment is necessary to help their "ill" child. Supporters of RTI may protest that they are only trying to help and that Special Education or drugs are only last resorts. That may be true, but they fail to see the stigma attached to the child being labeled and processed like some kind of lab rat, and they fail to acknowledge the record of failure for all of their "interventions." Most important, they fail to even consider that the problem may be with the school and not with the child.

May? I think it's an almost certainty! More specifically, it's little boys who are naturally rambunctious and inquisitive who are simply out of place in the strict, regimented and dumbed-down curriculum of our BraveNewSchools who are deemed "ill" and dosed up on Ritalin.

But everyone knows about how the system does a disservice to the "special education" students...the learning disabled and intellectually challenged students caught in the gears of the system.

I found Kohn's other point much more illuminating in diagnosing the true purpose of our education system - his observations of the "gifted and talented" students. The "achievers." Those kids deemed "bright."

Being labeled gifted means entering a fiercely competitive world of point mongering and grade grubbing. Honor students work extraordinarily hard to please their teachers and other authority figures. In academics, they fight for every point and are always looking for "extra credit." Typically, the parents of these students are also highly involved (i.e. applying pressure) and express tremendous concern about their son’s or daughter’s grades. At parent-teacher conferences, it is only grades in fact that come up for discussion – never learning. For the honor student, getting a "C" (and for some even a "B") on a major test, project or (God forbid!) on a report card brings on a personal and family crisis. It never occurs to these students or to their parents that these grades are merely the subjective evaluations of their teachers who know little to nothing about the person they are evaluating. Indeed, the parents know little to nothing about the teacher doing the evaluating.

Nevertheless, the honor student’s self-esteem and parental approval is completely tied to the teacher-assigned letter grades. In addition to obsessing over grades, honor students also join many clubs and go out for competitive sports. Many times they do this because they actually enjoy such activity, but just as often they join for the same reason they fight for grades – because it is expected of them and because they believe it is the key to getting into a big-name university. The life of the typical honor student is a life of frenetic activity, competition, homework and anxiety. Rarely is there time for reflection, solitude or contentment. Upon graduation from high school, many honor students know only that they are to go to college. As for what they want to do with their lives or what their real passion is, most have no clue. Many will never know.

I remember when I was in 5th grade, and my Mother tried to get me to enter the "gifted and talented" program at my school. My testing scores put me in the top percentile in my class, but the G&T teacher told my Mother that she wouldn't accept me into her class because of my behavioral and attitude problems (I spent many an afternoon in detention or in the Vice Principal's office getting yelled at).

I remember at that time feeling devastated by her rejection. I knew most of the kids in that G&T class, and I KNEW I had the intelligence to match or surpass most of them in educational achievement. Now I laugh at the memory of my rejection. I have always had a problem with mindless submission to authority, and after thinking about what Kohn relates here, I'm now 100% sure the G&T teacher was absolutely right in denying my admittance into her program.

Still, Kohn's most relevant point that resonates with me is this:

As for learning, most adults I know have forgotten most of the subjects they allegedly learned in school (even those they got A’s and B’s in), and what they do remember is usually politically correct nonsense. Witness how many parents are unable to help their children with their homework. We learn only those things we genuinely want to learn.

Forcing students to take classes in subjects they are either uninterested in or not ready for is pointless and only frustrates student and teacher alike. At best, teachers in our public schools are mere entertainers filling the dreary hours of the school day. Despite all the clever classroom activities, worksheets, and projects, how many former high school honor students ten years after graduation can still factor a quadratic equation, prove a geometry theorem or explain and classify the different types of rock in the Earth’s crust? Unless they are professional mathematicians or geologists, who really cares if they can?

This is so true on so many different levels.

I spent 5 years in my State University. I took all sorts of different courses to satisfy my liberal arts curriculum requirements. I had a cumulative 3.6 gpa in 5 years of college...and yet there are only a few classes I attended in which I learned something that sticks with me to this day, 10 years later.

But those things I endeavored on my own to study and practice? Like playing musical instruments, or martial arts? I genuinely wanted to learn those things, and I certainly gave myself a real education in those areas of my interest...no degrees, institutional hoop-jumping and other bureaucratic institutionalization were required for me to seek out a true education.

Unfortunately, it seems the only thing students actually do remember from their government-provided education is the government’s propaganda. One has to wonder, in fact, if such indoctrination has been the purpose of government schooling all along. How else but through indoctrination does one explain people’s willingness to vote to raise their own taxes, sacrifice themselves or their children to the government’s military, or continue to hold to an almost cult-like belief in a system that has an unbroken record of failure? To get a sense of the damage, compare the attitude of today’s typical American with that of our non-schooled ancestors. The spirited self-reliance, daring and individualism that once defined the American character have been replaced by a docile dependency and mindless conformity.

I wonder no longer. Our educational system was designed precisely to condition our children into docile dependency and mindless conformity...the hallmark characteristics of sheeple.


Keating said...

This reminds of a comment I saw on another message board articulating why there will be no possibility of a revolution in this country: this country was founded, by the efforts of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and others. Brilliant, forceful, and principled men. We won't have any semblance of a revolution today because there are no men who act, walk, talk, and think like the forefathers of this country.

And your post definitively hits on the very reason why.

Thank you for such an insightful and memorable post.

. said...

You might find this interesting, HL

Illiterate Nation: Reedin, Righten, Rithmatic – by Ted Byfield.

Btw, I was at the liquor store the other day, and on every damn shelf was a "green sign" saying that the best bag of all is no bag... so, when I got to the cashier, I asked for a bag for my bottle, and also my beer. I was glad to see they were plastic. I mean, really, someone has to keep plastic bag factory workers in a job!

I actually do care about the environment and rarely use bags, but, that green shit being shoved down my throat irritates me on so many levels...

Excuse me while I let my big V-8 idle in the driveway as I run back inside, take a long Al Bundyish crap, and then wipe my ass with a spotted owl.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine how unstable a society would be without the majority of its populace in a prole-like stupor? A large proletariat stabilizes a nation like a heavy hull does a yacht. Without them, a country would be in hyper-ventilating chaos at the slightest provocation.

Proles, while not terribly loyal to whatever government they have, are not politically motivated enough to switch loyalties elswehere, and so they act as an obstacle to political wannabes. Every government cultivates a large proletariat for its own protection, and ours does it through public education and welfare.

If you don't belong amongst the proles, there are only 3 other places you can belong: amongst the rulers or inner party; amongst the outer party - the class that maintains the state; or amongst the subversives - the heretics,rebels and exiles.

All states have been organized like this from the beginning of history. Orwell didn't make it up.

Tarl said...

this country was founded, by the efforts of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and others. Brilliant, forceful, and principled men. We won't have any semblance of a revolution today because there are no men who act, walk, talk, and think like the forefathers of this country.

The American Revolution happened because of the efforts of very few men. Then as now, most people were sheeple, and a revolution today would happen not as a result of what the sheeple do or think, but as a result of the efforts of a few brilliant, forceful men. Naturally the goal of the Establishment is to identify and coopt such people long before they even start thinking about Revolution, let alone acting on their thoughts.

We learn only those things we genuinely want to learn.

Eh, I don't necessarily agree with this. Some things must be learned even though we don't "want" to learn them.

Most people really don't want to learn anything, of course, and have no business being in school beyond 8th grade.

Mr.M said...

hybrid car driving precisely at the speed limit in the left hand lane of the freeway, oblivious to the people behind them trying to pass the even slower senior citizens clogging up the other lanes.

HAHA. My phrase that defines HI drivers to the T is "the left lane is for driving FAR, not FAST"...I actually think the most courteous drivers I've ever "met" was on the drive from LA to Vegas.

All true though - our educational system is clearly biased. Those biases can come from the teacher or from the institution, as well. My younger sister, who's at college, took English 101 where the professor was speaking about gender as a social construct. I'm sorry? This is English, not gender studies. The class spent quite awhile on this topic too.

So, yes. I agree that the public educational system is just another means to indoctrine the masses.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Coincidentally, just started perusing Hirsch's "New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy." There's an important distinction b/w literate (can read, but comprehension & learning suffer due to lack of broader foundational knowledge) and culturally literate. I think City Journal or some other blog just had an article on his results (very un-pc and therefore attacked by the libtard crowd, despite his being a lib dem) in a few schools showing massive improvements for students.

Unknown said...

I'm a retired phys ed teacher from Quebec. Same sad thing over here. When I said to my students that their school was their prison, they doubted me !
If a teacher dared fight for the spiritual growth of his students, he's ostrasized quickly.
The goal for my students: to still (and always !) have their special and unique flames-of-life in their eyes when high scool is finished.

Anonymous said...

It's very interesting for me to read this about the American public education system. I grew up in a communist country (migrated to Australia) and this entire blogpost of yours describes exactly that socialist education system! Well, minus the Ritalin as they couldn't afford drugs. I remember that older people in my family (we have relatives who live in North America and Europe) saying that such BS waste-of-time education would never happen in America and wish we young ones could be sent there. If only they knew!

Hestia said...

What excellent thoughts, KG! Government schools are training grounds for totalitarian rule and prisons our most precious and vulnerable citizens should not be subjected to.

Now off to read the links you have shared.

sfer said...

The danger of labeling kids as "intelligent" or "gifted" is recognized by social psychologists:



MarkyMark said...

I can't believe you forgot John Taylor Gatto on that list of authors exposing the REAL purpose of public skool...

Patri Friedman said...

I went to a pretty good public school, but it was still bad enough that my siblings were homeschooled. I think the best answer is one my grandfather suggested long ago: Vouchers. Separate public funding of education from public implementation, and the competitive pressure will result in much better schools. If you are interested in advocacy in this area, check out the Friedman Foundation for School Choice.

Keoni Galt said...

Mark, I certainly did not forget...it's just that I've linked to JTG's works many, many times in the past. In this case, I simply wanted to focus on others sources that are saying much the same as JTG...a highlighting of corroboration of sorts.

globalman100 said...

Fuck...don't get me started on the 'public fool system'. School was mostly torture to me. Because I was so smart I always finished any 'work' in about 10-20% of the time allocated. When I asked for more to do please I was always told 'sit there and be quiet'. About 12 fucking years of 'sit there and be quiet'. I really wanted to learn stuff and they refused to teach me any more than was in the 'curriculum'. I knew by the time I was 7 that school was about day care and not about teaching me anything. Fortunately my parents bought the world book encyclopaedias that year and I spent about 4 years reading them in my spare time.

When I was 14 I was very much into poetry of the style of W. H Auden and books like 'Lord of the Flies' and '1984'. Boys will be boys. We were given an assignment to write a poem. I worked on mine really hard for over a week. I was very proud of it. I felt it was the best I had ever done. My (female of course) teacher not only gave me zero for it she claimed it was plaugerised and had my put on detention. My denial of that fell on deaf ears, even to the principal. I never wrote another poem. When I was 17 my english teacher harshly criticised me for being 'too realistic'. LOL!

I had only 2 good teachers in that public fool system. One of whom I liked so much I visited him for years after I left. He was my physics teacher. He was so enthusiastic about my 'talent' he used to have me teach the physics class. It was no surprise I won the top scholarship in Australia for physics. (I turned it down.) The other good teacher I had taught 3 and 4 unit maths. Towards the end he claimed I had exhausted his ability to teach me new stuff and suggested a couple of the professors at the local college as mentors but we really didn't have the money for that. It was no surprise to me I got the highest mark in my region and was in the top 1%.

A kid really has to want to teach himself to be able to come out of the public fool system with his brain in tact even 40 years ago. Now? You have to send the kids to private schools. No option.

Anonymous said...

Witness how many parents are unable to help their children with their homework...

So true. I help my daughter with her math. My wife is a college graduate but stopped learning math when they hit fractions.

Still, before I help my daughter, I have to read the examples from her book. Showing her how to solve things the way I learned may not help her. Last week, she had to solve a problem using a particular technique that was counter-intuitive and more difficult than the standard method. She asked me, "why would anyone do it this way"? I doubt that anyone would.

globalman100 said...

In most schools now they are teaching the kids to solve math problems in counter-intuitive and complex ways so that they do not learn how do solve problems. They want good sheep who do what they are told. Not ones who can see problems and solve them.

Kamal S. said...

John Taylor Gatto is brilliant reading. He not only goes into GREAT depth to diagnose the problem but he suggests workable solutions, and his exploration of the actual history of the problem is very, very, valuable.

That and he bothers to rigorously document his claims about the history of modern schooling.

I cannot recommend him highly enough, seriously.

Anonymous said...

"In most schools now they are teaching the kids to solve math problems in counter-intuitive and complex ways so that they do not learn how do solve problems. They want good sheep who do what they are told. Not ones who can see problems and solve them."

Most people call me a leftist - I consider my self a political non-Euclidian, and part of the problem with America is that, spiraling down the toilet to the right, it appears to many that ANY way out (fascist, libertarian, tribal, competitive, you name it - the complete circle) appears to be to the left.

That aside, I am 53, in college in America, and find this to be completely true. I am a long-time electronics engineer and science geek, and I swear they are making me not know how to do things I've done since age 10. Whoever is designing the math curriculum is skilled at it, and sensible, intuitive scientists aren't part of their desired output.

What is desired is specified quite overtly:
1. do what you're told

2. believe that this stuff is hard, and being able to do it makes you superior

3. believe that this stuff is hard, and people who have memorized more formulas than you are qualitatively superior to you.

4. Don't think too much about whether the math connects with reality, that's not your concern. Just do the math.

5. You will be employed in large groups, often as large as hundreds, and you will all gain or lose funding together, so there's no percentage in being interested in anything unusual. If you diverge much from the middle of the bell curve (even if the divergence is "better than") you will not FIT IN, and hence will drag down your team's employability. The rest of the team members, of course, are also counseled in this, and are perfectly happy to exert peer pressure to see that the more skilled don't get led off the trail of highest profitability.

globalman100 said...

'left and right' are hoaxes. The politicians are ALL controlled and compromised. The answer is to reduce guvment to the mere role of protecting rights. Period. And if the guvment will not protect rights as sworn peace officers then ignore the present guvment and create a new one. I put a presentation be shaefer cox into the forms on spearhead. He has set up an alernative guvment is fairbanks alaska. This is one way out. We are still awaiting the results of the guardians of the free republics efforts. It is very hopeful since there has been a complete news blackout on their letters to the guvnors after the initial flurry of predictably bad press.