Education News

Here, we will gather together some of the more interesting education news stories form around the world. With everyday stories of great success and the trials of fighting against an increasingly bureaucratic system there should be something to challenge and stretch every mind. You can also send us your suggestions for stories.

The School to Prison Pipeline

posted Oct 23, 2014, 7:49 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Oct 28, 2014, 8:30 AM ]

It begins with deep social and economic inequalities, and has taken root in the historic shortcomings of schooling in the USA. The civil and human rights movements of the 1960s and ’70s spurred an effort to “rethink schools” to make them responsive to the needs of all students, their families, and communities. This rethinking included collaborative learning environments, multicultural curriculum, student-centered, experiential pedagogy—we were aiming for education as liberation. The back-to-basics backlash against that struggle has been more rigid enforcement of ever more alienating curriculum.

The “zero tolerance” policies that today are the most extreme form of this punishment paradigm were originally written for the war on drugs in the early 1980s, and later applied to schools. As Annette Fuentes explains, the resulting extraordinary rates of suspension and expulsion are linked nationally to increasing police presence, checkpoints, and surveillance inside schools.

As police have set up shop in schools across the country, the definition of what is a crime as opposed to a teachable moment has changed in extraordinary ways. In one middle school we’re familiar with, a teacher routinely allowed her students to take single pieces of candy from a big container she kept on her desk. One day, several girls grabbed handfuls. The teacher promptly sent them to the police officer assigned to the school. What formerly would have been an opportunity to have a conversation about a minor transgression instead became a law enforcement issue.

Children are being branded as criminals at ever-younger ages. Zero Tolerance in Philadelphia, a recent report by Youth United for Change and the Advancement Project, offers an example:

Robert was an 11-year-old in 5th grade who, in his rush to get to school on time, put on a dirty pair of pants from the laundry basket. He did not notice that his Boy Scout pocketknife was in one of the pockets until he got to school. He also did not notice that it fell out when he was running in gym class. When the teacher found it and asked whom it belonged to, Robert volunteered that it was his, only to find himself in police custody minutes later. He was arrested, suspended, and transferred to a disciplinary school.

Early contact with police in schools often sets students on a path of alienation, suspension, expulsion, and arrests. George Galvis, an Oakland, Calif., prison activist and youth organizer, described his first experience with police at his school: “I was 11. There was a fight and I got called to the office. The cop punched me in the face. I looked at my principal and he was just standing there, not saying anything. That totally broke my trust in school as a place that was safe for me.”

Read more at Rethinking Schools:

(Click on the image above to enlarge the statistics)

Further Available Resources:

Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline That's Destroying Our Kids

Criminal U: America's Most Successful Institution Educating the Poor

Fact Sheet: How Bad Is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

Race, Disability and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

School-to-Prison Pipeline

Why Many Inner City Schools Function Like Prisons

The School-To-Prison Pipeline Can Start Even Before Kindergarten, Mother Points Out

The School-to-Prison Pipeline Starts in Preschool

The School-to-Prison Pipeline

A little video:

YouTube Video

Something to think about:

(Click on the above image to enlarge)

The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

posted Sep 3, 2014, 4:04 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Sep 3, 2014, 4:11 AM ]

Getting Things Done is a time-management method, described in a book of the same title by productivity consultant David Allen. It is often referred to as GTD. The GTD method rests on the idea of moving planned tasks and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items. This allows one to focus attention on taking action on tasks, instead of on recalling them.

In time management, task priorities play a central role. Allen's approach uses two key elements — control and perspective. He proposes a workflow process to control all the tasks and commitments that one needs or wants to get done. There are six "horizons of focus" to provide a useful perspective.

GTD is based on storing, tracking and retrieving the information related to the things that need to get done. Mental blocks we encounter are caused by insufficient 'front-end' planning. This means thinking in advance, generating a series of actions which can later be undertaken without further planning. The human brain's "reminder system" is inefficient and seldom reminds us of what we need to do at the time and place when we can do it. Consequently, the "next actions" stored by context in the "trusted system" act as an external support which ensures that we are presented with the right reminders at the right time. As GTD relies on external memories, it can be seen as an application of the theories of distributed cognition or the extended mind.

Read more:

More Links to Explore:

The Art of Stress-Free Productivity: David Allen at TEDx

YouTube Video

1. David Allen: Genius Network Interview

2. Time Management Magazine Interview With David Allen

3. GTD Explained in Minutes

4. Accelerated Learning: How To Get Good at Anything in 20 Hours

5. How to Implement Getting Things Done with David Allen

6. How David Allen Gets Things Done

7. How to Get Things Done in The USA

There is a lot more information about this subject online so feel free to search. 

The Philosophy of Law & Liberty

posted Sep 2, 2014, 1:19 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Sep 2, 2014, 1:31 AM ]

Law is, generally, a system of rules which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour, although the term "law" has no universally accepted definition. Laws can be made by legislatures through legislation (resulting in statutes), the executive through decrees and regulations, or judges through binding precedents (normally in common law jurisdictions). Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including (in some jurisdictions) arbitration agreements that exclude the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution (written or unwritten) and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions (including canon and socialist law), in which the legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and common law systems, where judge-made binding precedents are accepted.

Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, which is still the case in some religious communities, particularly Jewish, and some countries, particularly Islamic. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law.

The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas. Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law (not to be confused with civil law jurisdictions above) deals with the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organisations. These resolutions seek to provide a legal remedy (often monetary damages) to the winning litigant.

Under civil law, the following specialties, among others, exist: Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus ticket to trading on derivatives markets. Property law regulates the transfer and title of personal property and real property. Trust law applies to assets held for investment and financial security. Tort law allows claims for compensation if a person's property is harmed. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Administrative law is used to review the decisions of government agencies. International law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to military action.

Read more:

Watch a video:

The Philosophy of LIberty:

YouTube Video

Stossel: What's Happening To Free Speech?:

YouTube Video

Futher Essential Information:

1. What is the rule of Law?

2. Jordan Maxwell on The UCC

3. Jordan Maxwell: The Law Series (Part 1)

4. Noam Chomsky on Corporate Personhood

5. The Corpoation: Full Film

6. The Four Horsemen: Documentary

7. Philosophy of Liberty ... Expanded

8. Common Law vs Civil Law

Social Psychology Video Series

posted Jul 2, 2014, 5:43 AM by Graham William Hendrey

NSA has attempted to raise the standard of social education once again. We have published a series of videos that aim to encourage people to reflect on their own relationships with the people in their environment. This series looks at common problems and suggest possible steps to take to resolve personal conflicts.

It also acts as a brief introduction to social philosophy and the fundamental ideas of universally preferable behaviour (UPB) as an accurate moral standard for our modern western society.

More videos will be added in the near future so please return regularly to our You Tube channel to keep up to date with all of the latest developments.


You might also find these links useful:

Universally Preferable Behaviour:

Universally Preferable Behaviour:

The Pathology of Pooh

posted Dec 6, 2013, 5:51 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Dec 9, 2013, 1:13 AM ]

Abstract: Somewhere at the top of the Hundred Acre Wood a little boy and his bear play. On the surface it is nocent world, but on closer examination by our group of experts we find a forest where neurodevelopmental and psychosocial problems go unrecognized and untreated.

On the surface it is an innocent world: Christopher Robin, living in a beautiful forest surrounded by his loyal animal friends. Generations of readers of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories have enjoyed these seemingly benign tales. However, perspectives change with time, and it is clear to our group of modern neurodevelopmentalists that these are in fact stories of Seriously Troubled Individuals, many of whom meet DSM-IV3 criteria for significant disorders. We have done an exhaustive review of the works of A.A. Milne and offer our conclusions about the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood in hopes that our observations will help the medical community understand that there is a Dark Underside to this world.

We begin with Pooh. This unfortunate bear embodies the concept of comorbidity. Most striking is his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), inattentive subtype. As clinicians, we had some debate about whether Pooh might also demonstrate significant impulsivity, as witnessed, for example, by his poorly thought out attempt to get honey by disguising himself as a rain cloud. We concluded, however, that this reflected more on his comorbid cognitive impairment, further aggravated by an obsessive fixation on honey. The latter, of course, has also contributed to his significant obesity. Pooh's perseveration on food and his repetitive counting behaviours raise the diagnostic possibility of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Given his coexisting ADHD and OCD, we question whether Pooh may over time present with Tourette's syndrome. Pooh is also clearly described as having Very Little Brain. We could not confidently diagnose microcephaly, however, as we do not know whether standards exist for the head circumference of the brown bear. The cause of Pooh's poor brain growth may be found in the stories themselves. Early on we see Pooh being dragged downstairs bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head. Could his later cognitive struggles be the result of a type of Shaken Bear Syndrome?

Pooh needs intervention. We feel drugs are in order. We cannot but wonder how much richer Pooh's life might be were he to have a trial of low-dose stimulant medication. With the right supports, including methylphenidate, Pooh might be fitter and more functional and perhaps produce (and remember) more poems.

Read more:
Canadian Medical Association Journal

Additional Supporting articles:

The Mental Disorders of Winnie-the-Pooh Characters

Winnie the Pooh Mental Disorders & Reading Between the Lines

Background Reading:

A. A. Milne

Pooh celebrates his 80th birthday

Made-up words in Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter 'help children learn English'
The Original Language of Winnie-the-Pooh

Teen Suicide & Education for Life

posted Oct 24, 2013, 5:43 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Nov 20, 2013, 11:12 PM ]

By all accounts, American teenagers should be the happiest people in the world. They live in a 
virtual Disney universe, with delectable Big Macs, fantastic new cars, parents who buy them video games and cater to their every need, music that appeals to their adolescent tastes, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and all sorts of magical gadgets and computers. They are citizens of the greatest, richest, most advanced nation in history, the beneficiaries of its freedoms and beauty. So, why has life become so unbearable for so many of them?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that 60 percent of high school students claim that they have thought about committing suicide, and around nine percent of them say that they have tried killing themselves at least once. Indeed, the CDC reports that suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans aged 15 to 24. The only two phenomena that cause more death among teenagers are car accidents and homicide.

A recent survey of high-school students found that almost one in five had seriously considered suicide; more than one in six had made plans to attempt suicide; and more than one in 12 had made a suicide attempt in the past year.

But this is not a new situation. Education Week (10/31/84) reported that there were 18 teenage suicides a day in the United States, or about 6,570 per year. According to the Boston Herald(3/5/86), a half million teenagers tried to kill themselves in 1985. There is no reason to believe that this morbid death-wish has abated among teenagers in 2012. Indeed, teen suicide is now so common that only the most spectacular tragedies get national attention.

One such tragedy occurred in April 1990 in Sheridan, Arkansas, where three high school students committed suicide within 24 hours of each other. This rural community of 3,200 people is about 40 miles south of Little Rock. According to Facts on File (5/18/90):

The suicides began April 30, when a 17-year-old student, Thomas Smith, walked to the front on his American history class at Sheridan High School, told one of the girls in the class he loved her and then shot himself in the head with a .22 caliber pistol as his classmates watched.

Later that evening, a friend of Smith’s, Thomas M. Chidester, 19, was found shot to death at his home with a .45 caliber pistol, leaving a note that read, “I can’t go on any longer.” The next day, another Sheridan High student, Jerry Paul McCool, 17, was found shot to death at his home with a .22 caliber pistol. Police labeled the death a suicide, although McCool’s parents insisted it had been an accident. The three deaths occurred in the wake of another suicide in Sheridan, by 17-year-old Raymond Dale Wilkinson, who had shot himself to death on March 28. Police said there appeared to be no link among the killings, other than the friendship between Smith and Chidester, and that none of the youths had been in trouble with the police.

We are now all too familiar with these bizarre cluster suicides that have shocked and baffled communities all across America:

Jefferson County, Colorado: At least 14, possibly 17, teenagers committed suicide between January 1985 and April 1986. A study showed that “few of the victims had taken drugs or alcohol before killing themselves. Some had problems at school or with the law, but others were model students who participated in sports and had high grades.” (Rocky Mountain News, 4/10/86)

Fairfax County, Virginia: Three Annandale High School seniors committed suicide between September 17 and October 26, 1987. According to the Fairfax Journal of 10/29/87, Annandale students are a “very ordinary bunch of American kids. ... Nobody really knows what specific troubles the Annandale youths who killed themselves may have been facing.”

Omaha, Nebraska: Three teenagers attending Bryan High School committed suicide and two attempted suicide within a two-week period in February 1986. According to Education Week(2/19/86), the students were “normal kids, not really involved with drugs or anything.”

Leominster, Mass.: On March 27, 1986, George Henderson, 14, a Leominister High School honor student, shot himself to death with a 12-gauge shotgun in his bedroom. He was the sixth teen suicide in Leominster in two years, the third in that school year. According to the Worcester Telegram of 3/28/86: “Here was a boy not identified as being a child at risk. ... There was no indication something was wrong ... he was a good student, an athlete from a relatively normal family.”

Bergenfield, New Jersey: In March 1987, four teenagers — two boys and two girls — committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in a car idling in a closed garage. They had made a suicide pact.

Alsip, Illinois: Nancy Grannan, 19, and Karen Logan, 17, described as best friends and classmates, committed suicide in March 1986 by carbon monoxide poisoning in a closed garage.

School officials and parents expressed bafflement when trying to figure out why these young people killed themselves. Some psychologists suggested that it may have had something to do with low self-esteem. But many of these suicide victims were good students, good athletes, well-loved by their families. So why did they put an end to their promising young lives?

Is it possible that death education is an important contributing cause? Most people, including parents, haven’t the faintest idea what death education is. A graphic description of death education was given in the Winslow Sentinel of 4/9/90. Winslow, a town of about 5,500 inhabitants, is in central Maine where people assume that weird subjects like death and dying are not part of the school curriculum. You’ll assume differently after reading this account:

Death, dying, funerals, wills and organ donations — pretty morbid stuff, but not for a group of Winslow High School seniors.

They wrote their own obituaries and epitaphs, filled out organ-donation cards, visited a funeral home and talked about such issues as mercy killing. They wrote instructions for their own funerals.

As part of a week-long seminar on death and dying, the 60 seniors learned to feel more comfortable about the issue of death — what to do if someone dies, what to say to family members of a deceased loved-one, how to prepare for the inevitable.

“It’s the first time I’d ever been exposed to anything like this. Families don’t talk about death,” said Jennifer Erickson, who took the seminar as part of her psychology class. “Because of this course, I’ll talk to my own kids about death,” she said.

Jeffrey Charland attended the seminar as part of his sociology elective. “A lot of people don’t have experience with going to funerals,” he said. “It helped us to feel more comfortable about being around someone who has lost someone.”

Guidance Counselor Cathleen Clement taught the seminar. She came up with the idea for the course when she was in graduate school, looking at different areas in which students need exposure. ... “I wanted to (conduct the seminar) in a positive, upbeat way, even though the topic is morbid,” she said.

How anyone can be upbeat about death is a bit of a stretch. Ms. Clement could have taught a seminar on the Constitution, or some interesting aspect of American history, but she chose death education which she learned about in graduate school. High school seniors, concerned with making productive lives for themselves after 12 years of politically-correct schooling, ought to be given a positive outlook which will help them deal with living instead of dying. But as the Rev. R. J. Rushdoony has written: “Humanistic education is the institutionalized love of death.” The article continues:

Activities for the course included role-playing, in which students pretended someone had died. They went through the motions of dialing 911, making funeral arrangements, and either going through stages of grieving themselves, or helping another person through those stages.

In the process, they learned about the cost of being embalmed and buried in a coffin, as opposed to being cremated, and about the choices they have. “We got a price list on everything, and it’s expensive to die,” said Erickson.

Charland said that while taking the course he has made the decision to be cremated when he passes on. “I want to be cremated because of environmental reasons. It saves land and is a lot cheaper,” he said.

The trip to Gallant Funeral Home Inc. in Waterville was neat, according to Charland. Although the students did not see any bodies there, they did see the equipment and tools used for preparing them for burial. ... The students saw the make-up, and learned that a hairstylist comes in to fix the corpse’s hair. ...

Clement said the students never stopped asking questions at the funeral home. ...

Erickson said she wants to teach, probably high school sociology, and Charland wants to work in the field of psychology. Clement said some students initially felt uncomfortable with the seminar, but eventually became less afraid.

There is no indication in the newspaper article that parents were consulted about the seminar or were asked for their approval. Also, not all students react to death education as calmly as the two interviewed by the reporter. Some get quite upset. Death educator Nina Rebak Rosenthal, in an article entitled “Death Education: Help or Hurt?” (The Clearing House, Jan. 1980) wrote:

Death arouses emotions. Some students may get depressed; others may get angry; many will ask questions or make statements that can cause concern for the instructor. ... Students may discuss the fact that they are having nightmares or that the course is making them depressed or feeling morbid. ... Others may have no reactions or feel a great sense of relief that someone finally is talking about the things they often felt they could not say. Others may become frightened. In fact, Bailis and Kennedy report that secondary students increased their fear of death and dying as a result of participating in a death education program.

Depression, fear, anger, nightmares, morbidity. These are the negative emotions and reactions stirred up in students by death education. Is this what parents want their children to experience? Is this what they send their children to school for? However, according to Ms. Rosenthal, simply because death education can cause such emotional turmoil and anxiety is no reason not to teach it. “Since death has been such a taboo topic, open and honest communication is essential. Such communication,” she writes, “helps to desensitize students to anxiety-arousing items.”

Thus, the purpose of death education is to “desensitize” children to death — to remove or reduce that reasonable, rational, and useful antipathy toward death that helps us preserve our lives. Maybe that’s why it’s a taboo subject. But it is when children begin to see death as “friendly” and unthreatening that they begin to be drawn into death’s orbit and lured to self-destruction. It’s a phenomenon that might be called “death seduction,” in which an individual is drawn irresistibly into a fascination and then obsession with death. The individual, with the usual adolescent problems, begins to reject life and love death.

(To be continued.)

Written by  Sam Blumenfeld 



Teen Suicide: Is Death Ed a Cause?

Teen Suicide: Is Death Ed a Cause?

Teen Suicide: Is Death Ed a Cause?


The Past, Present & Future of Death Education:

Does Anyone Need Death Education?

Death Education in the Primary School [1]

Effects of Death Education Programs upon Secondary School Students


Death Education Overview

What is Death Education? Basics:


NSA - Death Education News Report:

YouTube Video

Remove the word 'Education' from 'Death Education' and you get the picture. (G)


Casual sex linked to depression and suicidal thoughts

Would your marriage survive the porn chat?

How to tell your wife you want to watch online porn

Britain is a sexualised society now. Fact. We must educate our children

Girl Guides back Telegraph better sex education campaign

The Death of The Magna Carta

posted Oct 11, 2013, 1:47 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Oct 11, 2013, 3:16 AM ]

Down the road, only a few generations, perhaps we shall not at all recall the millennium of The Magna Carta, one of the great events in the establishment of civil and human rights. Whether its legacy shall be celebrated, mourned, or ignored is not at all clear. That should be a matter of serious immediate concern. What we do right now, or fail to do, will determine what kind of world will greet that event. It is not an attractive prospect if present tendencies persist – not least, because the Great Charter is being shredded before our eyes.

The first scholarly edition of Magna Carta was published by the eminent jurist William Blackstone. It was not an easy task. There was no good text available. As he wrote, "the body of the charter has been unfortunately gnawn by rats" – a comment that carries grim symbolism today, as we take up the task the rats left unfinished.

Blackstone's edition actually includes two charters. It was entitled The Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest. The first, the Charter of Liberties, is widely recognised to be the foundation of the fundamental rights of the English-speaking peoples – or as Winston Churchill put it more expansively, "the charter of every self-respecting man at any time in any land." Churchill was referring specifically to the reaffirmation of the Charter by Parliament in the Petition of Right, imploring King Charles to recognise that the law is sovereign, not the King. Charles agreed briefly, but soon violated his pledge, setting the stage for the murderous civil war.

After a bitter conflict between King and Parliament, the power of royalty in the person of Charles II was restored. In defeat, Magna Carta was not forgotten. One of the leaders of Parliament, Henry Vane, was beheaded. On the scaffold, he tried to read a speech denouncing the sentence as a violation of Magna Carta, but was drowned out by trumpets to ensure that such scandalous words would not be heard by the cheering crowds. His major crime had been to draft a petition calling the people "the original of all just power" in civil society – not the King, not even God. That was the position that had been strongly advocated by Roger Williams, the founder of the first free society in what is now the state of Rhode Island. His heretical views influenced Milton and Locke, though Williams went much farther, founding the modern doctrine of separation of church and state, still much contested even in the liberal democracies.

As often is the case, apparent defeat nevertheless carried the struggle for freedom and rights forward. Shortly after Vane's execution, King Charles granted a Royal Charter to the Rhode Island plantations, declaring that "the form of government is Democratical", and furthermore that the government could affirm freedom of conscience for Papists, atheists, Jews, Turks – even Quakers, one of the most feared and brutalised of the many sects that were appearing in those turbulent days. All of this was astonishing in the climate of the times.

A few years later, the Charter of Liberties was enriched by the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, formally entitled "an Act for the better securing the liberty of the subject, and for prevention of imprisonment beyond the seas". The US constitution, borrowing from English common law, affirms that "the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended" except in case of rebellion or invasion. In a unanimous decision, the US supreme court held that the rights guaranteed by this Act were "[c]onsidered by the Founders [of the American Republic] as the highest safeguard of liberty". All of these words should resonate today.

Read more of Noam Chomsky's Article:

How the Magna Carta became a Minor Carta: Part 1.

How the Magna Carta became a Minor Carta: Part 2.


Britain to Repeal Magna Carta

Did Magna Carta Die in Vain?

Magna carta Civilian safety Jury Trial theft by UK Labour Party

Ken Clarke is ready to betray 800 years of British justice

"The Relevance of the Magna Carta to the 21st Century"
The Magna Carta & Our Constitution
The Magna Carta - Failed Diplomacy that Changed the World
Magna Carta: Our Freedoms Our Rights

Magna Carta and the Commons
Magna Carta presentation by Professor John Robson

Moral of the story: 'Know Your History' (G)

What Have We Done to Our Kids?

posted Sep 17, 2013, 8:39 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Sep 19, 2013, 9:22 AM ]

The UK has become the drug and alcohol "addictions capital of Europe", a think tank has warned. The Centre for Social Justice - set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith - said drink and drug abuse cost the UK £36bn a year. Its report warned that the UK has become a hub for websites peddling potentially dangerous "legal highs".

The CSJ also criticised the government for failing to tackle heroin addiction and cheaply available alcohol. The report, No Quick Fix, found that last year 52 people in England and Wales died after taking legal highs, up from 28 the previous year.

The substances, sometimes referred to as club drugs and including Salvia and Green Rolex, are often marketed as bath salts or research chemicals. But the drugs can be sold legally as long as they are clearly marked "not for human consumption", but have been known to cause permanent bladder damage, blood poisoning and death.

According to the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), there are now more than 130 UK-registered websites selling the products cheaply by mail order - making postal service workers unwitting drug mules.
'Faster bans needed'

The think tank said one in 12 young people in the UK admitted to having taken legal highs - the highest figure in Europe. It said a faster system of prohibition was needed to deal with legal highs, as 150 new substances have come on to the market in the last three years, while the government has managed to ban just 15 in the same period.

The report also attacked a failure to offer heroin addicts effective treatment.
How our children's prospects are trailing behind Europe
Television turns your children into zombie-headed sloths
Scurvy returns among children with diets 'worse than in the war’
Russian children get gay love books from the West
Hundreds of children identified as extremism risk
Home schooling: if a child gets bored at school, blame the system
School is a prison — and damaging our kids
Five-year-old children arrive in primary school still in NAPPIES and unable to speak
Sleep and the Teenage Brain
Children need more exercise - especially girls
UK 'fares badly in European health league table'
TV habits 'can predict kids' waist size and fitness'
Mapping children's chances
Children's diet better in 1950s

The mass overmedication of foster children with psychiatric drugs

Family Happiness and the Overbooked Child

Study finds that home births are safer than hospital births

(More links may be added through time)


Television's Effects on Children

The War Against Children and Families
UK Children Stuck in 'Materialistic Trap'
Emotional Anarchy and the Kinsey Legacy

The moral of the story is ... 'Don't be or create a victim'.   (G)


Henry Giroux & The Dead Zones of Imagination

posted Sep 4, 2013, 1:15 AM by Graham William Hendrey

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.  ~  Martin Luther King, Jr.

If the right-wing billionaires and apostles of corporate power have their way, public schools will become “dead zones of the imagination,” reduced to anti-public spaces that wage an assault on critical thinking, civic literacy and historical memory.1 Since the 1980s, schools have increasingly become testing hubs that de-skill teachers and disempower students. They have also been refigured as punishment centers where low-income and poor minority youth are harshly disciplined under zero tolerance policies in ways that often result in their being arrested and charged with crimes that, on the surface, are as trivial as the punishment is harsh. 2 Under casino capitalism’s push to privatize education, public schools have been closed in cities such as, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York to make way for charter schools. Teacher unions have been attacked, public employees denigrated and teachers reduced to technicians working under deplorable and mind-numbing conditions. 3

Corporate school reform is not simply obsessed with measurements that degrade any viable understanding of the connection between schooling and educating critically engaged citizens. The reform movement is also determined to underfund and disinvest resources for public schooling so that public education can be completely divorced from any democratic notion of governance, teaching and learning. In the eyes of billionaire un-reformers and titans of finance such as Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, the Walton family and Michael Bloomberg, public schools should be transformed, when not privatized, into adjuncts of shopping centers and prisons. 4

Like the dead space of the American mall, the school systems promoted by the un-reformers offer the empty ideological seduction of consumerism as the ultimate form of citizenship and learning. And, adopting the harsh warehousing mentality of prison wardens, the un-reformers endorse and create schools for poor students that punish rather than educate in order to channel disposable populations into the criminal justice system where they can fuel the profits of private prison corporations. The militarization of public schools that Secretary Arnie Duncan so admired and supported while he was the CEO of the Chicago School System was not only a ploy to instill authoritarian discipline practices against students disparagingly labeled as unruly, if not disposable. It was also an attempt to design schools that would break the capacity of students to think critically and render them willing and potential recruits to serve in senseless and deadly wars waged by the American empire. And, if such recruitment efforts failed, then students were quickly put on the conveyor belt of the school-to-prison pipeline.  For many poor minority youth in the public schools, prison becomes part of their destiny, just as public schools reinforce their status as second-class citizens. As Michelle Alexander points out, “Instead of schools being a pipeline to opportunity, [they] are feeding our prisons.” 5

Market-driven educational reforms, with their obsession with standardization, high-stakes testing, and punitive policies, also mimic a culture of cruelty that neoliberal policies produce in the wider society. They exhibit contempt for teachers and distrust of parents, repress creative teaching, destroy challenging and imaginative programs of study and treat students as mere inputs on an assembly line. Trust, imagination, creativity, and a respect for critical teaching and learning are thrown to the wind in the pursuit of profits and the proliferation of rigid, death-dealing accountability schemes. As John Tierney points out in his critique of corporate education reforms in The Atlantic, such approaches are not only oppressive – they are destined to fail. He writes:

Policies and practices that are based on distrust of teachers and disrespect for them will fail. Why? ‘The fate of the reforms ultimately depends on those who are the object of distrust.’ In other words, educational reforms need teachers’ buy-in, trust, and cooperation to succeed; ‘reforms’ that kick teachers in the teeth are never going to succeed. Moreover, education policies crafted without teacher involvement are bound to be wrongheaded. 6

The situation is further worsened in that not only are public schools being defunded and public school teachers attacked as the new welfare queens, but social and economic policies are being enacted by Republicans and other right-wingers to ensure low-income and poor minority students fail in public schools. For instance, many Tea Party-elected governors in states such as Wisconsin, North Carolina and Maine, along with right-wing politicians in Congress, are enacting cruel and savage policies (such as the defunding of the food stamp program) that directly impact on the health and well-being of poor students in schools. 7 Such policies shrink, if not destroy, the educational opportunities of poor youth by denying them the basic provisions they need to learn and then utilizing the consequent negative educational outcomes as one more illegitimate rationale for turning public schools over to private interests.

To read more articles by Henry A. Giroux and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

When billionaire club members, such as Bill Gates and right-wing donors such as Art Pope, are not directly implementing policies that defund schools, they are funding research projects that turn students into test subjects for a world that even George Orwell would have found hard to imagine8 For instance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided a $500,000 grant to Clemson University to do a pilot study in which students would wear galvanic skin bracelets with wireless sensors that would track their physiological responses to various stimuli in the schools. A spokesperson for the foundation argues in defense of this creepy obsession with measuring students’ emotional responses by claiming that the biometric devices are a help to teachers who can measure “‘real-time’ (reflective feedback), kind of like a pedometer.” 9

It is not the vagueness of what this type of research is trying to achieve that is the most ludicrous and ethically offensive part of this study: It is the notion that reflective feedback can be reduced to measuring emotional impulses rather than produced through engaged dialogue and communication between actual teachers and students. How can bracelets measure why students are acting out if they are hungry, bored, fearful, sick or lack sleep because their parents might be homeless? How do such studies address larger structural issues such as the 50 million people in the United States who go hungry every night, one-third of whom are children?  And how do they manage to ignore their own connection to the rise of the surveillance state and the ongoing destruction of the civil rights of children and others? Research of this kind cannot speak to the rise of a Jim Crow society in which the mass incarceration of poor minorities is having a horrible effect on children. As Michelle Alexander points out, these are children “who have a parent or loved one, a relative, who has either spent time behind bars or who has acquired a criminal record and thus is part of the under-caste – the group of people who can be legally discriminated against for the rest of their lives.” 10 And the effect of such daily struggle is deadly. She writes:

. . . For these children, their life chances are greatly diminished. They are more likely to be raised in severe poverty; their parents are unlikely to be able to find work or housing and are often ineligible even for food stamps. For children, the era of mass incarceration has meant a tremendous amount of family separation, broken homes, poverty, and a far, far greater level of hopelessness as they see so many of their loved ones cycling in and out of prison. Children who have incarcerated parents are far more likely themselves to be incarcerated. 11

In contrast to the socially and ethically numb forms of educational research endorsed by so-called reformers, a recent study has linked high-stakes testing to lower graduation rates and higher incarceration rates, indicating that such testing plays a significant role in expanding “the machinery of the school-to-prison pipeline,” especially for low-income students and students of color.12  Most critics of the billionaires’ club ignore these issues. But a number of critics, such as New York University education professor Diane Ravitch, have raised significant questions about this type of research. Ravitch argues that Gates should “devote more time to improving the substance of what is being taught . . . and give up on all this measurement mania.” 13 Such critiques are important, but they could go further. Such reform efforts are about more than collapsing teaching and learning into an instrumental reductionism that approximates training rather than education. As Ken Saltman points out, the new un-reformers are political counter-revolutionaries and not simply misguided educators. 14

Noam Chomsky gets it right in arguing that we are now in a general period of regression that extends far beyond impacting education alone. 15 This period of regression is marked by massive inequalities in wealth, income and power that are fueling a poverty and ecological crisis and undermining every basic public sphere central to both democracy and the culture and structures necessary for people to lead a life of dignity and political participation. 16 The burden of cruelty, repression and corruption has broken the back of democracy, however weak, in the United States. America is no longer a democracy, nor is it simply a plutocracy. It has become an authoritarian state steeped in violence and run by the commanding financial, cultural and political agents of corporate power. 17

Corporate sovereignty has replaced political sovereignty, and the state has become largely an adjunct of banking institutions and financial service industries. Addicted to “the political demobilization of the citizenry,” the corporate elite is waging a political backlash against all institutions that serve democracy and foster a culture of questioning, dialogue and dissent. 18 The apostles of neoliberalism are concerned primarily with turning public schools over to casino capitalism in order to transform them into places where all but the privileged children of the 1% can be disciplined and cleansed of any critical impulses. Instead of learning to become independent thinkers, they acquire the debilitating habits of what might be called a moral and political deficit disorder that renders them passive and obedient in the face of a society based on massive inequalities in power, wealth and income. The current powerful corporate-based un-reform movement is wedded to developing modes of governance, ideologies and pedagogies dedicated to constraining and stunting any possibility for developing among students those critical, creative, and collaborative forms of thought and action necessary for participating in a substantive democracy.

At the core of the new reforms is a commitment to a pedagogy of stupidity and repression that is geared toward memorization, conformity, passivity, and high stakes testing. Rather than create autonomous, critical, and civically engaged students, the un-reformers kill the imagination while depoliticizing all vestiges of teaching and learning. The only language they know is the discourse of profit and the disciplinary language of command. John Taylor Gatto points to some elements of this pedagogy of repression in his claim that schools teach confusion by ignoring historical and relational contexts. 19  Every topic is taught in isolation and communicated by way of sterile pieces of information that have no shared meanings or context.

A pedagogy of repression defines students largely by their shortcomings rather than by their strengths, and in doing so convinces them that the only people who know anything are the experts – increasingly drawn from the ranks of the elite and current business leaders who embody the new models of leadership under the current regime of neoliberalism. Great historical leaders who exhibited heightened social consciousness such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, John Dewey, Paulo Freire and Mahatma Ghandi are relegated to the dustbin of history. Students are taught only to care about themselves and to view any consideration for others as a liability, if not a pathology. Ethical concerns under these circumstances are represented as hindrances to be overcome. Narcissism along with an unchecked notion of individualism is the new normal.

Under a pedagogy of repression, students are conditioned to unlearn any respect for democracy, justice, and what it might mean to connect learning to social change. They are told that they have no rights and that rights are limited only to those who have power. This is a pedagogy that kills the spirit, promotes conformity, and is more suited to an authoritarian society than a democracy. What is alarming about the new education un-reformers is not only how their policies have failed, but the degree to which such policies are now embraced by liberals and conservatives in both the Democratic and Republican Parties despite their evident failure. 20 The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education study provides a list of such failures that are instructive. The outcomes of un-reform measures noted in the study include:

Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more, in “reform” cities than in other urban districts. Reported successes for targeted students evaporated upon closer examination. Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks of experienced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers. School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districts money.  Charter schools further disrupted the districts while providing mixed benefits, particularly for the highest-needs students. Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reforms drew attention and resources from initiatives with greater promise.  The reforms missed a critical factor driving achievement gaps: the influence of poverty on academic performance. Real, sustained change requires strategies that are more realistic, patient and multipronged. 21

The slavish enthusiasm of the cheerleaders for market-driven educational policies becomes particularly untenable morally and politically in light of the increasing number of scandals that have erupted around inflated test scores and other forms of cheating committed by advocates of high stakes testing and charter schools. 22 David Kirp offers an important commentary on the seriousness and scope of the scandals and the recent setbacks of market-oriented educational reform. He writes:

In the latest Los Angeles school board election, a candidate who dared to question the overreliance on test results in evaluating teachers and the unseemly rush to approve charter schools won despite $4 million amassed to defeat him, including $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $250,000 from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall, feted for boosting her students’ test scores at all costs, has been indicted in a massive cheating scandal. Michelle Rhee, the former Washington D.C. school chief who is the darling of the accountability crowd, faces accusations, based on a memo released by veteran PBS correspondent John Merrow, that she knew about, and did nothing to stop, widespread cheating. In a Washington Post op-ed, Bill Gates, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting high-stakes, test-driven teacher evaluation, did an about-face and urged a kinder, gentler approach that teachers could embrace. And parents in New York State staged a rebellion, telling their kids not to take a new and untested achievement exam. 23

While pedagogies of repression come in different forms and address different audiences in various contexts, they all share a commitment to defining pedagogy as a set of strategies and skills to use in order to teach prescribed subject matter. In this context, pedagogy becomes synonymous with teaching as a technique or the practice of a craft-like skill. There is no talk here of connecting pedagogy with the social and political task of resistance, empowerment or democratization. Nor is there any attempt to show how knowledge, values, desire and social relations are always implicated in power.  Any viable notion of critical pedagogy must reject such definitions of teaching and their proliferating imitations even when they are claimed as part of a radical discourse or project.  In opposition to the instrumentalized reduction of pedagogy to a mere method that has no language for relating the self to public life, social responsibility or the demands of citizenship, critical pedagogy works to illuminate the relationships among knowledge, authority and power. 24 For instance, it raises questions regarding who has control over the conditions for producing knowledge such as the curricula being promoted by teachers, textbook companies, corporate interests or other forces?

Central to any viable notion of what makes a pedagogy critical is, in part, the recognition that pedagogy is always a deliberate attempt on the part of educators to influence how and what forms of knowledge and subjectivities are produced within particular sets of social relations. In this case, critical pedagogy draws attention to the ways in which knowledge, power, desire, and experience are produced under specific conditions of learning, and in doing so rejects the notion that teaching is just a method or is removed from matters of values, norms, and power – or, for that matter, the struggle over agency itself and the future it suggests for young people. Rather than asserting its own influence in order to wield authority over passive subjects, critical pedagogy is situated within a project that views education as central to creating students who are socially responsible and civically engaged citizens. This kind of pedagogy reinforces the notion that public schools are democratic public spheres, education is the foundation for any working democracy and teachers are the most responsible agents for fostering that education.

This approach to critical pedagogy does not reduce educational practice to the mastery of methodologies. It stresses, instead, the importance of understanding what actually happens in classrooms and other educational settings by raising questions such as:  What is the relationship between learning and social change?  What knowledge is of most worth?  What does it mean to know something? And in what direction should one desire?  Yet the principles and goals of critical pedagogy encompass more. Pedagogy is simultaneously about the knowledge and practices teachers and students might engage in together and the values, social relations and visions legitimated by such knowledge and practices. Such a pedagogy listens to students, gives them a voice and role in their own learning, and recognizes that teachers not only educate students but also learn from them.

In addition, pedagogy is conceived as a moral and political practice that is always implicated in power relations because it offers particular versions and visions of civic life, community, the future, and how we might construct representations of ourselves, others, and our physical and social environment.  Pedagogy provides a discourse for agency, values, social relations, and a sense of the future. It legitimates particular ways of knowing, being in the world, and relating to others. As Roger Simon observed, it also “represents a version of our own dreams for ourselves, our children, and our communities. But such dreams are never neutral; they are always someone’s dreams and to the degree that they are implicated in organizing the future for others they always have a moral and political dimension.” 25 It is in this respect that any discussion of pedagogy must begin with a discussion of educational practice as a particular way in which a sense of identity, place, worth, and above all, value is informed by practices that organize knowledge and meaning.

Central to my argument is the assumption that politics is not only about power, but also, “has to do with political judgements and value choices,” 26 indicating that questions of civic education and critical pedagogy (learning how to become a skilled citizen) are central to the struggle over political agency and democracy.  Critical pedagogy rejects the notion of students as passive containers who simply imbibe dead knowledge. Instead, it embraces forms of teaching that offer students the challenge to transform knowledge rather than simply “processing received knowledges.” 27 Under such circumstances, critical pedagogy becomes directive and intervenes on the side of producing a substantive democratic society. This is what makes critical pedagogy different from training. And it is precisely the failure to connect learning to its democratic functions and goals that provides rationales for pedagogical approaches that strip what it means to be educated from its critical and democratic possibilities. 28

Critical pedagogy becomes dangerous in the current historical moment because it emphasizes critical reflection, bridging the gap between learning and everyday life, understanding the connection between power and difficult knowledge, and extending democratic rights and identities by using the resources of history.  Rather than viewing teaching as technical practice, pedagogy in the broadest critical sense is premised on the assumption that learning is not about memorizing dead knowledge and skills associated with learning for the test but engaging in a more expansive struggle for individual rights and social justice. The fundamental challenge facing educators within the current age of neoliberalism, militarism, and religious fundamentalism is to provide the conditions for students to address how knowledge is related to the power of both self-definition and social agency. In part, this suggests providing students with the skills, ideas, values and authority necessary for them to nourish a substantive democracy, recognize antidemocratic forms of power and fight deeply rooted injustices in a society and world founded on systemic economic, racial and gendered inequalities.

Any viable notion of critical pedagogy must be understood as central to politics itself and rather than disconnect public education from larger social, economic and political issues, it must connect them to such forces as part of a wider crisis of both education and democracy. At the very least, education must be viewed as part of an emancipatory project that rejects the privatization and corporatization of public schools and the tax and finance forces that support iniquitous schools systems. For pedagogy to matter, it must support a culture and the relations of power that provide teachers with a sense of autonomy and control over the conditions of their labor. Teachers must be viewed as public intellectuals and a valuable social resource, and the conditions of their labor and autonomy must be protected. In this instance, the fight to preserve labor unions must be viewed as central to preserving the rights and working conditions necessary for public school teachers to teach with dignity under conditions that respect rather than degrade them.

Critical pedagogy must reject teaching being subordinated to the dictates of standardization, measurement mania and high stakes testing. The latter are part of a pedagogy of repression and conformity and have nothing to do with an education for empowerment.  Central to the call for a critical pedagogy and the formative and institutional culture that makes it possible is the need to reconfigure government spending and to call for less spending on death and war and more on funding for education and the social programs that make it possible as a foundation for a democratic society. Schools are about more than measurable utility, the logic of instrumentality, abject testing, and mind-numbing training. In fact, the latter have little to do with critical education and pedagogy and must be rejected as part of an austerity and neoliberal project that is deeply anti-intellectual, authoritarian, and antidemocratic.

As a moral and political project, pedagogy is crucial for creating the agents necessary to live in, govern and struggle for a radical democracy.  Moreover, it is important to recognize how education and pedagogy are connected to and implicated in the production not only of specific agents, a particular view of the present and future, but also how knowledge, values and desires, and social relations are always implicated in power. Power and ideology permeate all aspects of education and become a valuable resource when critically engaged around issues that problematize the relationship between authority and freedom, ethics and knowledge, language and experience, reading texts differently, and exploring the dynamics of cultural power. Critical pedagogy address power as a relationship in which conditions are produced that allow students to engage in a culture of questioning, to raise and address urgent, disturbing questions about the society in which they live, and to define in part the questions that can be asked and the disciplinary borders that can be crossed.

Education as a democratic project is utopian in its goal of expanding and deepening the ideological and material conditions that make a democracy possible. Teachers need to be able to work together, collaborate, work with the community, and engage in research that informs their teaching.  In this instance, critical pedagogy refuses the atomizing structure of teaching that informs traditional and market-driven notions of pedagogy. Moreover, critical pedagogy should provide students with the knowledge, modes of literacy, skills, critique, social responsibility, and civic courage needed to enable them to be engaged critical citizens willing to fight for a sustainable and just society.

Critical pedagogy is a crucial antidote to the neoliberal attack on public education, but it must be accompanied and informed by radical political and social movements willing to make educational reform central to democratic change. 29 The struggle over public education is inextricably connected to a struggle against poverty, racism, violence, war, bloated defense budgets, a permanent warfare state, state sanctioned assassinations, torture, inequality, and a range of other injustices that reveal a shocking glimpse of what America has become and why it can no longer recognize itself through the moral and political visions and promises of a substantive democracy. And such a struggle demands both a change in consciousness and the building of social movements that are broad-based and global in their reach.

The struggle to reclaim public education as a democratic public sphere needs to challenge the regressive pedagogies, gated communities, and cultural and political war zones that now characterize much of contemporary America. These sites of terminal exclusion demand more than the spectacle of cruelty and violence used to energize the decadent cultural apparatuses of casino capitalism. They demand an encounter with new forms of pedagogy, modes of moral witnessing, and collective action, and they demand new modes of social responsibility. As Martin Luther King, Jr. insisted, “We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.” 30  We can update King’s speech to encompass the weak, voiceless, and victims of our nation who are now represented by the low-income and poor minority youth who inhabit both the public schools and increasingly the prisons.  These are the throwaway youth of an authoritarian America; they are the excess who painfully remind the elite of the need for social provisions, the viability of the public good, and those principles of economic life in need of substantial rethinking.

Under neoliberalism, it has become more difficult to respond to the demands of the social contract, public good, and the social state, which have been pushed to the margins of society – viewed as both an encumbrance and a pathology. And yet such a difficulty must be overcome in the drive to reform public education. The struggle over public education is the most important struggle of the 21st century because it is one of the few public spheres left where questions can be asked, pedagogies developed, modes of agency constructed and desires mobilized, in which formative cultures can be developed that nourish critical thinking, dissent, civic literacy and social movements capable of struggling against those antidemocratic forces that are ushering in dark, savage and dire times. We are seeing glimpses of such a struggle in Chicago and other states as well as across the globe and we can only hope that such movements offer up not merely a new understanding of  the relationship among pedagogy, politics, and democracy, but also one that infuses both the imagination and hope for a better world.


[1] I have taken this term from David Graeber, “Dead Zones of the Imagination,” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 2 (2012): 105-128.

[2] I address this issue in great detail in Henry A. Giroux, Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability (New York: Palgrave, 2010).

[3] See Michael D. Yates, “Public School Teachers: New Unions, New Alliances, New Politics,” Truthout (July 24, 2013). Online: See also the June 2013 special issue of Monthly Review, edited by Michael Yates, on “Public School Teachers Fighting Back.”

[4] For an excellent critique of this type of corporate educational un-reform, see Kenneth J. Saltman, The Failure of Corporate School Reform (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2013).

[5]  Jody Sokolower, “Schools and the New Jim Crow: An Interview with Michelle Alexander,” Truthout (June 4, 2013). Online:  These themes are more fully developed in Michelle Alexander, Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2012).

[8] For two examples of the appropriation of culture by corporate power and their donors and foundations, see Katherine Stewart, “The Right-wing Donors Who Fuel America’s Culture Wars,” The Guardian (April 23, 2013), online:; and John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney, Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America (New York: Nation Books, 2013).

[10]     Sokolower, “Schools and the New Jim Crow.”

[11] Sokolower, “Schools and the New Jim Crow.”

[14] Kenneth Saltman, The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philosophy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

[17] See, more recently, Norman Pollack, “Toward a Definition of Fascism,” CounterPunch (August 6, 2012), online:

[18] Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton University Press, 2008), p. ix.

[19] John Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, second revised edition (Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2002).

[20] On the predatory nature of such reforms, see Henry A. Giroux, Education and the Crisis of Public Values (New York: Peter Lang, 2012); and Michael Gecan, “How Predatory Reformers Are Destroying Education and Profiting at Our Children’s Expense,” AlterNet (June 14, 2013), online: On the failure of such reforms, see the work of Kenneth Saltman, Diane Ravitch, Henry A. Giroux, Jonathan Kozol, Shirley Steinberg, bell hooks, and others.

[21] Elaine Weiss and Don Long, Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality: The impacts of test-based teacher revaluations, school closures, and increased charter school access on student outcomes in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. (Washington, DC: Broader, Bolder Approach to Education (April 22, 2013). Online:

[24]  For examples of this tradition, see Maria Nikolakaki (ed.), Critical Pedagogy in the Dark Ages: Challenges and Possibilities (New York: Peter Lang, 2012); and Henry A. Giroux, On Critical Pedagogy (New York: Continuum, 2011).

[25] Roger Simon, “Empowerment as a Pedagogy of Possibility,” Language Arts 64:4 (April 1987), p. 372.

[26] Cornelius Castoriadis, “Institutions and Autonomy.” In Peter Osborne (ed.), A Critical Sense (New York: Routledge, 1996), p. 8.

[27] Chandra Mohanty, “On Race and Voice: Challenges for Liberal Education in the 1990s,” Cultural Critique (Winter 1989-1990), p. 192.

[28] Amy Gutman, Democratic Education (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

[29] Stanley Aronowitz, “Education Rediscovered,” The Indypendent, Issue #155 (September 9, 2010). Online:

[30] Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” Information Clearing House. Speech delivered on April 4, 1967 at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City. Online:


Originally published at TruthOut.

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books include:  On Critical Pedagogy (Continuum, 2011), Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability (Paradigm 2012), Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories and the Culture of Cruelty (Routledge 2012), Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), and The Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013), America’s Disimagination Machine (City Lights) and Higher Education After Neoliberalism (Haymarket) will be published in 2014). Giroux is also a member of Truthout’s Board of Directors, and a Contributing Editor of Cyrano’s Journal. His web site is

Original Article Link:

The Six Functions of Secondary Education

posted Jul 3, 2013, 5:09 AM by Graham William Hendrey   [ updated Jul 11, 2013, 12:20 AM ]

In the 1922 edition of Public Education in the United States, Ellwood P. Cubberley, Professor of Education at Stanford Junior University wrote:

"Our schools are, in a sense, factories, in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of twentieth-century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."

Furthermore, this gentleman also had the honor of editing the book upon which this article is based.

The purpose of this article is to summarize the foundational reasoning of our modern western education system and its practical application in society as outlined by Alexander James Inglis (1879–1924), who was Assistant to The Professor of Education at Harvard University, in his classic work 'Principles of Secondary Education' which was published in 1918, and correspondingly to highlight how relevant today his vision of education's purpose still is.


The inspiration for this article comes from the research work of John Taylor Gatto to which links will be provided at the end of this article.

We shall begin.

In exactly the same way that news media, not long after the invention of the printing press, was inserted into society as a 4th column that eventually allowed the powers that be to maintain a control over the 'status quo' in society, modern education, in a not too dis-similar fashion, was planned to eventually become a 5th column that once driven into place would cement a perfect new order in the world that, was hoped by many social elites, would be irreversible.

It was a centuries old plan, regularly updated as technology advanced, that the class based royal system of England, which itself had successfully imported military Prussian models and Socio-Indian caste hierarchy, and that had so well fed and watered the first truly modern feudal based global empire, would be slid slowly and carefully into all societies with traditions of liberty or religious freedoms. A thinly disguised veil of social principles would gradually divide the students against each other so that among friends children would find only enemies and constant conflict. It would become a perfect model, of divide and conquer in the great tradition of Julius Cesar, where state ethics, out of the sight of the parents, could interfere in the development of young minds without the barrier of inter-generational family values or core moral foundations.

Children, outside of the nuclear family and surrounded only by other children of similar social background, could be trained from as young an age as possible to supervise each other, and would remain limited, powerless and ignorant in some kind of dis-topic Neverneverland where they truly never would grow up. They would be lost to the future and the past and left without the psychological and intellectual resources to make any meaningful change to the order of society. Fearful of reprisals and unsure of each unsteady step the pupils would be taught to await instruction rather than develop their own natural instinct to explore the world around them. Under such conditions they would become forever dependent on handouts from the state, who would come, over time, to incrementally replace the role of parents.

All too soon this concept and the models built around it would be exported all over the world. Vertical learning environments would be abolished and replaced with horizontal inconsequential interactions and children would become incomplete humans who would be hidden from harsh realities of life and the principle of a true balanced family by a fog of falsely reasoned rewards, high walls, loud bells, obtrusive distractions, absent responsibility, senseless inactivity and a constant repetition of the need for obedience. Alongside this, in due time, the principal interactive ratios of society had already changed and by the mid 20th century we found one adult to be commonly surrounded by 25 children whereas just a little more than one century previous the standard had been 4 adults to one child.

Surreptitiously, somebody has stolen our dreams of learning in freedom, of liberty, through self discovery, from right under our noses. So how did this thief creep up on us. Did he come in the night when we were sleeping? Did he pick our pocket as he walked past? Or was he always there disguised as a friend pretending to help while just waiting for an opportune moment. If we take a closer look at a few central pages of Inglis's classic treatise we find that perhaps he simply walked in through the front door that was left unlocked. In essence we let him in.

What follows are the Six Functions of Secondary Education, with original quotes, as stated by the aforementioned author with a description of the manner in which they have subtly manifested themselves inside the modern school system.

The Adjustive or Adaptive Function


'Mere adjustment through the development of relatively fixed habits of reaction is fairly adequate for those elements which may be conceived as destined in all likelihood to remain relatively unchanged in their essential characteristics within the life of the present generation'

Book Page: 375


Fixed habits of automatic reaction to authority must be established with no space for critical judgment or personal opinion. Nothing will be possible without permission and you are to learn how to accept rules that you don't like with the understanding that you can't change them. Order will be the aim and obedience will be consistently rewarded. Independent ideas will be discourage, frowned upon and in more extreme cases punished through a variety of disciplinary techniques with fixed standards and ideals.

The Integrating Function


'One of the imperative demands made by society on the secondary school is provision for the development … of likemindedness, of unity in thought, habits, ideals and standards, requisite for social cohesion and social solidarity'

Book Page: 377


The statistics necessary to control society require conformity from the masses. Orders, however ridiculous, must without question be followed. Tests must be taken, homework assignments must be handed in before deadlines, the appropriate dress must be worn at all times, the correct toilet pass must be presented on request and figures of authority must be addressed with the right language. Finally all evidence will be logged with scientific methods of mathematical precision in a cumulative permanent record.

The Differentiating Function


'Being necessitated by the relation of the two factors of integration and differentiation in the process of social evolution … the differentiating function arises out of the necessity of taking advantage of the differences among individuals for the purpose of determining social efficiency'

Book Page: 379


No variations except that on the same theme shall be allowed at any time. All students will be molded alike and so be to the greatest extent predictable. Teaching will be done in levels, layers or tiers. Preferably by social class or income bracket or geographical location or all three. Such horizontal planning can be compared to the process of a computer game where all the tasks or challenges in each level must be completed before you can move on. The end of one section will lead to nothing more that the beginning of the next … and so on it will continue.

The Propaedeutic Function


'A more intensive and more extensive preparation for the social-civic activities is possible; preparation for vocational activities in its direct and specific form is deferred; different forms of preparation for different modes of leisure are possible and justified; a somewhat higher selection of pupils is common, at least with reference to social and economic status'

Book Page 379


A small fraction of children will be groomed to rule over the others. They will be given privileges and taught that they deserve this role as guardians of the population. The will reinforce the value of a common purpose for all and will develop the attitude that servants exist to serve and nothing beyond. They will believe in the Darwinian principles of survival of the fittest delivered as a birth right and will follow such directions with blind faith. Though the small faction may at times be exposed to alternative opinions they will understand that they are powerless to effect any form of change within the system itself.

The Selective Function


'From one aspect selection is commonly considered as involving the elimination of those individuals who are unable to meet the demands set. To this view little objection could be raised, provided, and only provided, that the demands set could be justified … which rests on the further assumption that either all desirable mental traits are involved in the specific subjects selected, or the improvement in mental traits involved can be transferred.'

Book Page 381


Processes of compulsory health assessment, both physical and psychological, will provide feedback on the quality and will allow for changes in the structure that prevent any one group from thinking or breeding too much. The unfit will be tagged, labeled or branded with poor grades and referral for punishment which will lead to their rejection by the main group. The unwanted will be stigmatized and made to appear unattractive to anyone but their own minority group. Ranks and tables will reinforce a winner takes all culture.

The Diagnostic and Directive Function


The mere offering of various forms of instruction does not complete the work of secondary school. It must, as far as possible, add to that function the function of exploring, testing, diagnosing, and directing the education of the pupil … including … moral guidance, social guidance, physical guidance and vocational guidance.'

Book Page: 383


Students will be well trained for a specified destination and nothing more. The school will guide the student and provide a justifiable evidence base for the reasons of choice, in fact, the answers will be provided before the questions have been asked. The school will tell the students exactly what roles they are able to perform in society with the subtext that all alternatives are at most impossible and at least a fantasy. It will sort them, file them, label them, and set permanent physical and psychological boundaries, borders or barriers wherever they are able.

So what does this all mean when we interpret it collectively.

In an attempt to pull, with a little force, these points together, we must recognize that the system has aimed to create, from the sentient individual, a stimulus response animal capable only of reflexive obedience. In essence stimulus response communicative ability is a form of mental slavery where the free thinker is re-modeled into a robotic operant cog in the great machine of society. Without the insertion of a logical thought process such as that paralleled in the trivium there can be no extension of true knowledge, no habit of intellectual self defense, and therefore ultimately no liberty for mind, body or the spiritual soul. No matter how beautiful the bird it would forever be confined to the pan-optical environs of its one dimensional cage.

As, educational historian, John Taylor Gatto, who himself personally recognized the visible effect of the process while he was teaching, wrote: ''We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer.'' And the cause? Terrified of over production in an unimpeded open market society of competing interests, industrialists, over 100 years ago, felt that limits needed to be surgically inserted to ease expectations. This bore its rotten fruit in the scientific infantilization of whole generations where it is now possible to avoid real contact with the functions of world for beyond the first third of our lives.

With such a system in place the upper echelons, of any generation, could relax as duties were performed and orders executed in an ever increasing self governing fashion. The intended consequence of such a process is quite clear to the reasoned mind. Nothing ever changes and the 'status quo' is in place as long as the system remains stable and fulfills it's tasks and upgrades it's principles where it is necessary. With these limitations firmly in place the mind will not be able to exercise itself beyond a certain point. In essence our children are broken before they are built. They are taught learned helplessness encoded into a societal normalcy bias where the group is conditioned to hold back the individual.

The trouble is that sensible people, who have retained some semblance of self worth, either adults or children, do not want to be incomplete individuals and true learning is an inevitable natural process if individuals are left untampered with. The school system that reinforces these ideas only torments and tortures the free thinking mind, on purpose of course. Childhood, in any harsh reality, ends somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12, and beyond this point we are all beings of equal stature, though not necessarily adults, who have independent thoughts and impulses. We are sentient, creative and capable of great deeds if we find that right moment where the people, the place and the time lock together in an unbreakable three cord fold.

To understand the real purpose of modern schooling, and its slave to work orientation, is to understand why human history has taken the course that it has. There are no perfect solutions to the artificial problems we have today, but to not know the past is to be as if you were born yesterday. We can change this by sharing what we know and building on each others dreams. By breaking the mold that has tightened it's hold on us over the last two centuries. For we are not empty soul-less machine like creatures that need to be taught how to feel, how to love or how to pursue happiness. We are beings of light, of love and of grace and it is our destiny to realize this, and the sooner the better. The alternative would be to lose our humanity and have to re-search for its meaning over the coming centuries.

Perhaps it is best to approach this subject from an altogether different perspective.

Is it not better to live a short life doing what you love and living to the fullest extent that you can than it is to have a long life doing things for a system that can not feel the beat of your heart or see the sweat on your brow? In the end nobody wins 'the game of life', especially one with constant assessment, interruption and diversion. The greatest gift that can survive our limited lifetime on this planet is that the knowledge which you have learned gets passed on to the next generation so that they may continue to dream your dream, or live their dream, or expand on humanities collective dream to find or even rediscover its destiny in the stars. Yet, personally we all have a unique destiny, and there is no single way, there are just multitudes of possibilities and each one as beautiful and unimaginable as the next.

Once you realize this, and can visualize education not 'as a die cast' but as door of eternal hope and reason, then we will have the strength and not fear that which grows out of this moment, the inevitable to-morrow. With this we can constructively challenge the system face to face, shape it, make it our own, embrace it, build our own Guerrilla Curriculum for life long learning, and never need to recoil. Because what becomes of you is what you envision and the positive light that guides your life will serve as a beacon to others, everywhere. If you are able to do this then you will have a higher probability of having a long successful life doing what you love and living to the fullest extent that you can, and you shall have no need of external systems that are heartless and spiritually unprofitable. As was the intellectual disguise of the true reason behind compulsory, which means forced, schooling.

For those with the time to do research, the documentation exists far beyond what has already been included here, though not always in the public domain, to reinforce the claim that the majority of our education systems have been subverted to the point where real learning through true experimentation, inside of a controlled curriculum, is extremely rare. But, we humans are ever adaptive, stubborn and resourceful beings with a natural tendency to break illogical constructs built around us and so pockets of natural learning, however isolated, do occur. But this is, sadly, far from enough.

To conclude let us examine the first mission statement, written over 100 years ago, of Rockefeller’s General Education Board as it is found in a document called Occasional Letter Number One:

''In our dreams … people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple … we will organize children … and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.''
Attributed to Rev. Frederick T. Gates, Advisor to John D. Rockefeller (1906)

And so finally I ask you to hold an idea in your mind, a simple concept. That if knowledge of the truth, as it is reflected here, is the first step to wisdom, then it is time to unshackle the chains and emancipate ourselves from this regulatory discipline of mental slavery. Please ask yourself what you can do to expand the horizons of the world that surrounds you to work for a better and brighter future, for each brother and sister, with purposefully higher ideals and goals than those set by the previous generations.

With respect.

Graham W. Hendrey
Founder & Director 
Native Speakers Academy 

July 2013

Additional Information and references: 


Available information on Alexander James Inglis is almost non-existant

Book Pages refer to the 1918 version.

(001) Principles of Secondary Education: by Alexander James Inglis

(002) Against School: by John Taylor Gatto

(003) History News Network: American Roots of Nazi Eugenics

(004) The Underground History of American Education: by John Taylor Gatto

(005) Ellwood Patterson Cubberley (Bio)


The 13 Principles of Elite Schools

Who's Afraid of The Peer Review Process

The Case for The Abolition of Tests in High Schools

The Final Human Right (It's not about guns, it's about control)
The World Through A Needle (Vaccination Research)

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