0060_We Don’t Need Brains_Chapter 1_Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Gatto

[This is the second post about John Taylor Gatto’s book, Weapons of Mass instruction.  The first post is linked here.]

Donna Jack, February 9, 2016

In the first chapter of John Taylor Gatto’s book, Weapons of Mass Instruction: A School Teacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling,1  he shares some things that are not reported in curriculum and teachings in compulsory schooling, and are not to be found reported in our society in general.  People today don’t realize that compulsory schooling was never intended to educate, but from its inception, it was meant to destroy education in the United States.

Mr. Gatto gives evidence of this intent to destroy, and reports on some successful accomplishments of this goal over the years.

In Chapter one, under the sub-title “We Don’t Need Brains,”  he shares that the rapid decline of education in our country started to be seen in this country, after a small group of people had been meeting and planning together for a number of years.    This group was made up of people and heads of organizations that intentionally set out to secretly destroy education in this country, for their own secret political, ideological and financial reasons. They decided that the ability to read (literacy) was standing in their way of taking over this country.

Between 1896 and 1920, this small group of people who owned industries and handled large amounts of money, joined forces with chairs of departments in colleges and universities, school administrators, and researchers.

To substantiate this claim of subversion and intentional destruction, Mr. Gatto quotes a section from a 1906 document entitled Occasional Letter Number One,2  which came from Rockefeller’s General Education Board.

The excerpt Mr. Gatto shares, shows that the authors of the Occasional Letter Number One were surprised at how easy it was for them to change education, with no resistance at all from parents or from anybody. They made it clear that they didn’t want compulsory schooling to provide intellectual or moral substance, or to develop the talents of individual students; but rather they wanted to create an unquestioning, compliant nation of human resources. Below is the sample he quoted, from the 1906 Rockefeller General Education Board:

“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 were doing in an imperfect way.” 3 
-The Rockefeller General Education Board, Occasional Letter No.1, 1906. 

The above quote and the one below, by H. L. Menchen, an avowed atheist, make it clear that “public education” was not meant in any way to make students scholars or even individuals. It was meant to lower the mental capacity of “the young of the species.”

“That erroneous assumption is to the effort that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence….Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”
-H.L Mencken, The American Mercury, April 1924.4

These people that Mr. Gatto speaks of, eventually worked their plans into universities that taught teachers, through people like John Dewey.  First Dewey went to Russia.

John Dewey convinced Lenin’s wife to abandon phonics in Russia.5

John Dewey, a hero of compulsory public schooling, was a card-carrying Communist, who went to Russia, and convinced Lenin’s wife (who could make decisions for all education in Russia) to use whole-word instruction to teach reading for all Russian children. She proceeded to implement it. That method of teaching reading was such an abysmal failure, that it was dropped, because it made the Russian children illiterate.

Russia already had control of the minds and behaviors of their people, and instead they needed literate people who could learn what the state demanded – in order to fill prescribed jobs necessary for Russia to flourish economically and in other ways.

Note:  Whole language teaches reading as if it were not phonetic: comprised of thousands of individual shapes of words that need to be memorized. The Russian language is a phonetic language, like ours.

John Dewey instituted the failed method of teaching reading.6

Dewey then proceeded to institute, in the United States, the same method of teaching reading that had failed in Russia, because he wanted to destroy literacy in the United States. Dewey was at Columbia University from 1904 until 1930, and while he was a professor there, he was in a position to control the teaching of teachers throughout the country. Teachers of teachers, and public school teachers, were taught to use the word-say method (look-say, sight reading, whole language, etc.) when teaching reading.

One of the places you can read about John Dewey’s trip to Russia, is in The Whole Language/OBE Fraud: The shocking story of how America is being dumbed down by its own education system, by Samuel L. Blumenfeld.

Watch a video presentation by  Samuel L. Blumenfeld.

Decline of literacy after implementation of Whole Language
[Seen in the testing of new recruits in the military]7

Mr. Gatto shares that in 1932 we had 98% literacy in our country.

From 1942 – 1944 (WWII) the literacy in the United States went down to 96%. These people were educated in the 1930s.

When the Korean War began 6 years later in 1951, the literacy dropped to 81%, a 14% drop from the WWII era. These soldiers were educated in the 1940s.

During these years of constant decline in literacy in the United States, there were more “professionally trained” teachers in public schools. There was more “scientific” control over the choice of textbooks than there had been before and during World War II. The ability of people to read, write, count, think, and speak kept falling farther below the ability of all those people before them who had been “less educated.”

By the end of the Vietnam war in 1973, 27% were not considered literate enough to “read safety instructions, interpret road signs, decipher orders” – a 73% illiteracy rate.

Back in 1940, comparing literacy of whites and blacks, Mr. Gatto says literacy for whites was 96%, with 80% literacy for blacks. This was an 80% literacy for blacks, even with all the disadvantages they had!  By 1973 our literacy rate across the board was 73%.

Why the decline in literacy since then, especially among blacks?  There is good reason to believe that it was caused greatly by the switch in public schools from teaching the phonetic system (alphabetic system) to teaching a system not based on our alphabet (memorizing whole word units and encouraging guessing at words rather than phonetically reading them).  The goal to destroy literacy in the United States is being accomplished.

Note:  Mr. Gatto points out that parents in white home had been teaching children phonetics for 300 years, but blacks had not been allowed to read when they were slaves (unless they sneaked and learned on their own like Frederick Douglass had – see Freed Through Literacy).  After slavery, most black children were learning to read by 3rd grade, that is, until phonics was taken out of schools – then their literacy began to decline.  Unlike most white children, they did not have parents to supplement learning to read with phonics, since most of their parents had been slaves and had not learned how to read.

Read about Frederick Douglass in this excerpt from a Gramma Grizzly post dated September 6, 2015:  Freed Through Literacy.

Note: When Charlotte Iserbyt was in the US Department of Education in the 1980s, she learned of a several-decade experiment to dumb down the minorities in the inner cities in our country. Read an abbreviated document about this government program here: Experimentation with Minorities and deliberate dumbing down for planned economy

Illiteracy, to varying degrees, is spreading into the homes of almost all children today, because of the national standardization of schooling. See the post by Jane Robbins:  How a GOP Congress Quietly Imposed Common Core on the Entire Country.



1John Taylor Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Though the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling (Gabriola Island, BC V0R 1X0, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2009), p. 8-11.
2-3 -The Rockefeller General Education Board, Occasional Letter No.1, 1906. http://www.zhibit.org/diemythographer/die-mythographer-die/occasional-letter-number-one-2006.
4  -H.L Mencken, The American Mercury, April 1924.http://www.zhibit.org/diemythographer/die-mythographer-die/occasional-letter-number-one-2006.
5Samuel L. Blumenfeld, The Whole Language/OBE Fraud: The shocking story of how America is being dumbed down by its own education system (Boise, Idaho: The Paradigm Company, 1995. [First printing January 1996], pp. 119-123+.
6Blumenfeld, pp. 119-123+.
7Gatto, pp. 9-10.


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