Dangan in Australia
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So you're on welfare! Perhaps you have been lucky enough to secure an old-age pension. Perhaps a disability
pension. Eve-n a carer's pension might suit you better. But you may have been led into more difficult circumstances
(all planned to happen, I stress), and have been unable to find suitable work, or training. So you may have been
forced to live on one of Centrelink's many welfare payment systems: Work-for-the-dole, Newstart Allowance, the NEIS
scheme, and so on and so forth.
Have you noticed that once people are on the pension, or a receiving a government payout of some sort, how
reluctant people are to do all in their power to get off these entitlements. I have seen many people, in my life,
become so addicted to this form of living, and unfortunatelyonce you're in the retirement box of the three boxes of
slave life (the other two are the box of "education," and the box of "work," which Bolles' book What
Colour is Your Parachute aptly describes), you become very docile, compliant, and easily
controllable. You become very obedient to the system of control, making sure that you never depart from the income
"guidelines" that you must live by if you are to continue to receive benefits. Which is exactly what our masters
have had in mind. Of course the destruction of the true way of living (see Section 9, "Review of The New Agrarian
Mind," of How Families Flourish), and the
destruction of our industries (these are for our good of course, usually called "structural readjustments"), has
always been the plan to drive the old people away from the young, and put them in the prison farm of retirement
homes, well away from imparting any wisdom they may have acquired in their life. This has worked wonders in every
country of the Western world.
Well, if you are on the pension, or any form of government benefit, you already know a little about the general
way in which the Chinese Dangan works! But the Dangan is going to become even more severe, because the motto of our
Fabian masters-- "the inevitability of gradualness"--is to tighten
the noose so very slowly around our necks, so gently and slowly, that we haven't noticed what is really happening
to us. David Icke has summed up the deadly stealth used on us: "The Agenda is for the complete takeover of the
planet by the reptilians without anyone realising that it has even happened."
Did you realize
that the Nazi Fourth Reich is about to
start in literally your own bakyard,
this year of 2011?
Well it is, and it is primarily through the stealth of the Dangan system that they have trapped you. Of course
this system began long before you or I were born. And who are
the controllers of this system, you might ask?
Alan Jones answers that question for us, in his must-read book,
Who Rules the World:
“Today, we find them
holding the positions of power, in Church and State, as the prime
movers in matters of war and global finance; sitting in the
Banking Houses and on policy making councils such as the Bilderberg Group, Council On Foreign Relations, and
the like, which determine the actual fate of mankind. They exercise inordinate control over humanity, by
depopulation agendas and genetic engineering, the control of energy and commodities, education and the media,
and by ideological and psycho-political strategies to divide and rule on all fronts.
The planet' food supply is manipulated by them, in order to achieve strategic objectives. Their utter disdain
for mankind is becoming ever more apparent with each passing day. They seem to regard us as little more than
beasts to do their bidding. Even though we outnumber them by millions, they contain us by the control and
regulation of the basic necessities of life, population control through wars, abortions and a multitude of
other means (which I have covered previously in other articles).
So why do we stand idly by and let them feed their
alcohol and drugs to our youth? Why are we allowing them to destroy our economies and our nations, before our
children ever have the chance to live their lives to the fullest course in what should be a beautiful life?
Our pathetic condition of
apathy, non-awareness and
non-involvement has allowed them to get away with murder on a monstrous
scale for centuries. By our irresponsibility and inaction, they have turned the streets of our
cities into ‘no go’ areas, where people fear for their lives and those of their loved ones.
We have allowed their creation of a legal
system which releases murderers, rapists and paedophiles back onto the streets to repeat their
vile deeds over and over again.
Yet still, the stupefied deafeningly silent majority persists, just like the Ostrich with it's head
in the sand, resplendent in it's self imposed state of cognitive dissonance, denying the obvious; that the
force of evil that Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke of, is now ‘in your fac’
and as clear as daylight, and constructing a global control grid around all our lives, that
unless stopped now, will enslave what is left of the world population after their diabolical plans are
And how do we recognise them? Well, as Jesus said:
“By their deeds you will know
So just pick up a `news` paper, turn on the prime time news, and wherever you see so called `leaders of
nations` justifying wars of aggression, mass slaughter, lies, deception, vice, atrocity, perversion, along with
bare faced lies about overpopulation, climate change and a multitude of measures all designed to take away ever
more your personal liberty, all justified on the baseless grounds of National and or Global Security;
That's them!” (From Philip Jones (1958--2009), Who Rules the
World: The Origin of Evil: Ancient Mythology or Occult Reality. This book is available here: http://righteousalliance.blogspot.com/2009/07/who-rules-worldthe-origin-of-evil.html
. If unavailable here, the book forms Appendix A to Essay 1, “The Fall,” of our book The Beguiled and the
Doctrine of the “Two Spirits,” which is available here: http://NazareneRemnant.org/the-doctrine-of-the-two-spirits.html
Philip Jones died on 24 November, 2009. I believe, like many others (in the know), that he was
murdered for his brilliant expository writing. More particularly, I believe that this book, "Who Rules the
World," was the one that signed his death warrant.)
Yes, we have been born into a totally corrupt system that we have assumed to be the only way to
live. And because we have been so well conditioned by the system, most of us are earning our living by doing the
dirty work of these controllers. Yes, in the coming weeks and months, it will be these same people who will committ
mayhem and mass murder against their own people.
Here's a partial
listing of people who do the dirty work of the money-power elite:
Day-care teachers and staff.
Most of the people who are employed in the "medical model"
industries, which are just fronts for "Big Pharma," and includes nurses, doctors, pharamcists, and a
host of related "professionals."
Porch Masons from every occupation, who have no idea what the
top echelons of Freemasonry are all about.
Lawyers, barristers, judges, and magisitrates.
Local, state and federal politicians, no matter what
All employees of the emergency services, which includes police,
ambulance, fire, and State Emergency Services. In New South Wales, these services now are all "umbrellered" under
the one government department, called DOPES (i.e. Department of Police and Emergency Services).
All Centrelink staff, from the top to the bottom. This grouping
also includes those working in the Job Networks, NEIS Scheme, DOCS (Department of Community Services), and related
All school, college and university teachers and lecturers. This
group may be the most evil and perverse of all the "useful idiots" listed here.
Accountants, tax workers, bankers, bank workers, and related
All religious personnel who teach lies, and part lies. That is,
all churches are apostate in some way, especially when it comes to breaking God's Law concern marriage, usury, and
the keeping of His true calendar and Holy Day system. The most significant apostasy though, is their refusal to
keep the monthly New Moon Festivals. Even though they have been kept ignorant of this syetm of spiritual
purification, they are guilty by default.
Of course those who are not so
hypocritical about the low life they live, such as murderers, thieves, prostitutes, sexual offenders
(yes, this includes lesbians and homosexuals), and other criminals, also belong on this list.
Many of the people listed here will be shocked to be included on this list. They shouldn't be,
because they have been instumental in doing the dirty work of the money-power elite. As Henry Makow said:
"All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to be
given well paid jobs" (Henry Makow, with apologies to Edmund Burke) In other words, much of
the evil and sadness of this world can be explained by the fact that the people themselves have been bribed to do the dirty work of the
satanic overlords of the planet. And at no time have they ever been aware of what was actually being
This takes us to this conclusion, which is coming on the world:
“Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my
might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord. … The clamour will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the Lord has an indictment against the nations; he is entering
into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword.” (Jeremiah 16: 21; 25: 31, RSV,
If you doubt any of this, then I suggest that you have a good look at these two articles:
Who Does the Dirty Work of the Satanic Elite?
Julia Gillard, Red Slippers, "TC" Proponents, and the AshkeNAZI Fourth
But let's move on to the meat of this article, the Chinese Dangan itself.
By John Taylor Gatto
“In the first decades of the twentieth century, a small
group of soon-to-be-famous academics, symbolically led by John Dewey and Edward Thorndike of Columbia Teachers
College, Ellwood P. Cubberley of Stanford, G. Stanley Hall of Clark, and an ambitious handful of others, energized
and financed by major corporate and financial allies like Morgan, Astor, Whitney, Carnegie, and Rockefeller,
decided to bend government schooling to the service of business and the political
state—as it had been done a century before in Prussia.
Cubberley delicately voiced what was happening this
way: "The nature of the national need must determine the character of the education provided." National need, of
course, depends upon point of view. The NEA in 1930 sharpened our understanding by specifying in a resolution of
its Department of Superintendence that what school served was an "effective use of capital" through which our
"unprecedented wealth-producing power has been gained." When you look beyond the rhetoric of Left and Right,
pronouncements like this mark the degree to which the organs of schooling had been transplanted into the corporate
body of the new economy.
It’s important to keep in mind that no harm was meant
by any designers or managers of this great project. It was only the law of nature as they perceived it, working
progressively as capitalism itself did for the ultimate good of all. The real force behind school effort came from
true believers of many persuasions, linked together mainly by their belief that family and church were retrograde
institutions standing in the way of progress. Far beyond the myriad practical details and economic considerations
there existed a kind of grail-quest, an idea capable of catching the imagination of dreamers and firing the blood
The entire academic community here and abroad had been
Darwinized and Galtonized by this time and to this contingent school seemed an instrument for managing evolutionary
destiny. In Thorndike’s memorable words, conditions for controlled selective breeding had to be set up before the
new American industrial proletariat "took things into their own hands."
America was a
frustrating petri dish in which to cultivate a managerial revolution, however, because of its historic freedom
traditions. But thanks to the patronage of important men and institutions, a group of academics were enabled to
visit mainland China to launch a modernization project known as the "New Thought Tide." Dewey himself lived in
China for two years where pedagogical theories were inculcated in the Young Turk elements, then tested on a
bewildered population which had recently been stripped of its ancient form of governance. A similar process was
embedded in the new Russian state during the 1920s.
While American public opinion was unaware of this
undertaking, some big-city school superintendents were wise to the fact that they were part of a global experiment.
Listen to H.B. Wilson, superintendent of the Topeka schools:
The introduction of the American school into the
Orient has broken up 40 centuries of conservatism. It has given us a new China, a new Japan, and is working marked
progress in Turkey and the Philippines. The schools...are in a position to determine the lines of progress.
(Motivation of School Work,1916)
Thoughts like this don’t spring full-blown from the
heads of men like Dr. Wilson of Topeka. They have to be planted there.
The Western-inspired and Western-financed Chinese
revolution, following hard on the heels of the last desperate attempt by China to prevent the British government
traffic in narcotic drugs there, placed that ancient province in a favorable state of anarchy for laboratory tests
of mind-alteration technology. Out of this period rose a Chinese universal tracking procedure called "The Dangan,"
a continuous lifelong personnel file exposing every student’s intimate life history from birth through school and
onwards. The Dangan constituted the ultimate overthrow of privacy. Today, nobody works in China without a
By the mid-1960s preliminary work on an American
Dangan was underway as information reservoirs attached to the school institution began to store personal
information. A new class of expert like Ralph Tyler of the Carnegie Endowments quietly began to urge collection of
personal data from students and its unification in computer code to enhance cross-referencing. Surreptitious data
gathering was justified by Tyler as "the moral right of institutions."
The Psychopathology of Everyday
“Something has been happening in America since the end
of WWII, accelerating since the flight of Sputnik and the invasion of Vietnam. A massive effort is underway to link
centrally organized control of jobs with centrally organized administration of schooling. This would be an American
equivalent of the Chinese "Dangan" – linking a personal file begun in kindergarten (recording academic performance,
attitudes, behavioral characteristics, medical records, and other personal data) with all work opportunities. In
China the Dangan can’t be escaped. It is part of a web of social controls that ensures stability of the social
order; justice has nothing to do with it. The Dangan is coming to the United States under cover of skillfully
engineered changes in medicine, employment, education, social service, etc., seemingly remote from one another. In
fact, the pieces are being coordinated through an interlink between foundations, grant-making government
departments, corporate public relations, key universities, and similar agencies out of public view.
This American Dangan will begin with longer school
days and years, with more public resources devoted to institutional schooling, with more job opportunities in the
school field, more emphasis on standardized testing, more national examinations, plus hitherto unheard of
developments like national teaching licenses, national curricula, national goals, national standards, and with the
great dream of corporate America since 1900, School-to-Work legislation organizing the youth of America into
precocious work battalions. A Dangan by its nature is always psychopathic. It buries its mistakes.
What Really Goes On
School wreaks havoc on human foundations in at least
eight substantive ways so deeply buried few notice them, and fewer still can imagine any other way for children to
1. The first lesson schools teach is
forgetfulness; forcing children to forget how they taught themselves
important things like walking and talking. This is done so pleasantly and painlessly that the one area of schooling
most of us would agree has few problems is elementary school – even though it is there that the massive damage to
language-making occurs. Jerry Farber captured the truth over thirty years ago in his lapidary metaphor "Student as
Nigger" and developed it in the beautiful essay of the same name. If we forced children to learn to walk with the
same methods we use to force them to read, a few would learn to walk well in spite of us, most would walk
indifferently, without pleasure, and a portion of the remainder would not become ambulatory at all. The push to
extend "day care" further and further into currently unschooled time importantly assists the formal twelve-year
sequence, ensuring utmost tractability among first graders.
2. The second lesson schools teach is
bewilderment and confusion. Virtually nothing selected by schools as
basic is basic, all curriculum is subordinate to standards imposed by behavioral psychology, and to a lesser extent
Freudian precepts compounded into a hash with "third force" psychology (centering on the writings of Carl Rogers
and Abraham Maslow). None of these systems accurately describes human reality, but their lodgement in
university/business seven-step mythologies makes them dangerously invulnerable to common-sense
None of the allegedly scientific school sequences is
empirically defensible. All lack evidence of being much more than superstition cleverly hybridized with a body of
borrowed fact. Pestalozzi’s basic "simple to complex" formulation, for instance, is a prescription for disaster in
the classroom since no two minds have the same "simple" starting point, and in the more advanced schedules,
children are frequently more knowledgeable than their overseers – witness the wretched record of public school
computer instruction when compared to self-discovery programs undertaken informally. Similarly, endless sequences
of so-called "subjects" delivered by men and women who, however well-meaning, have only superficial knowledge of
the things whereof they speak, is the introduction most kids get to the liar’s world of institutional life.
Ignorant mentors cannot manage larger meanings, only facts. In this way schools teach the disconnection of
3. The third lesson schools teach is that
children are assigned by experts to a social class and must stay in the class to which they have been
assigned. This is an Egyptian outlook, but its Oriental message only
begins to suggest the bad fit it produces in America. The natural genius of the United States as explored and set
down in covenants over the first two-thirds of our history has now been radically degraded and overthrown. The
class system is reawakened through schooling. So rigid have American classifications become that our society has
taken on the aspect of caste, which teaches unwarranted self-esteem and its converse – envy, self-hatred, and
surrender. In class systems, the state assigns your place in a class, and if you know what’s good for you, you come
to know it, too.
4. The fourth lesson schools teach is
indifference. By bells and other concentration-destroying technology,
schools teach that nothing is worth finishing because some arbitrary power intervenes both periodically and
aperiodically. If nothing is worth finishing, nothing is worth starting. Don’t you see how one follows the other?
Love of learning can’t survive this steady drill. Students are taught to work for little favors and ceremonial
grades which correlate poorly with their actual ability. By addicting children to outside approval and nonsense
rewards, schools make them indifferent to the real power and potential that inheres in self-discovery. Schools
alienate the winners as well as the losers.
5. The fifth lesson schools teach is emotional
dependency. By stars, checks, smiles, frowns, prizes, honors, and
disgraces, schools condition children to lifelong emotional dependency. It’s like training a dog. The
reward/punishment cycle, known to animal trainers from antiquity, is the heart of a human psychology distilled in
late nineteenth-century Leipzig and incorporated thoroughly into the scientific management revolution of the early
twentieth century in America. Half a century later, by 1968, it had infected every school system in the United
States, so all-pervasive at century’s end that few people can imagine a different way to go about management. And
indeed, there isn’t a better one if the goal of managed lives in a managed economy and a managed social order is
what you’re after.
Each day, schools reinforce how absolute and arbitrary
power really is by granting and denying access to fundamental needs for toilets, water, privacy, and movement. In
this way, basic human rights which usually require only individual volition, are transformed into privileges not to
be taken for granted.
6. The sixth lesson schools teach is
intellectual dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them
what to do. Good people do it the way the teacher wants it done. Good teachers in their turn wait for the
curriculum supervisor or textbook to tell them what to do. Principals are evaluated according to an ability to make
these groups conform to expectations; superintendents upon their ability to make principals conform; state
education departments on their ability to efficiently direct and control the thinking of superintendents according
to instructions which originate with foundations, universities, and politicians sensitive to the quietly expressed
wishes of powerful corporations, and other interests.
For all its clumsy execution, school is a textbook
illustration of how the bureaucratic chain of command is supposed to work. Once the thing is running, virtually
nobody can alter its direction who doesn’t understand the complex code for making it work, a code that never stops
trying to complicate itself further in order to make human control impossible. The sixth lesson of schooling
teaches that experts make all-important choices, but it is useless to remonstrate with the expert nearest you
because he is as helpless as you are to change the system.
7. The seventh lesson schools teach is
provisional self-esteem. Self-respect in children must be made
contingent on the certification of experts through rituals of number magic. It must not be self-generated as it was
for Benjamin Franklin, the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, or Henry Ford. The role of grades, report cards,
standardized tests, prizes, scholarships, and other awards in effecting this process is too obvious to belabor, but
it’s the daily encounter with hundreds of verbal and nonverbal cues sent by teachers that shapes the quality of
self-doubt most effectively.
8. The last lesson school teaches I’ll call the
glass house effect: It teaches how hopeless it is to resist because you are always watched.
There is no place to hide. Nor should you want to. Your avoidance behavior is
actually a signal you should be watched even more closely than the others. Privacy is a thought crime. School sees
to it that there is no private time, no private space, no minute uncommanded, no desk free from search, no bruise
not inspected by medical policing or the counseling arm of thought patrols.
The most sensitive children I had each year knew on
some level what was really going on. But we choked the treacherous breath out of them until they acknowledged they
depended on us for their futures. Hard-core cases were remanded to adjustment agencies where they converted
themselves into manageable cynics.
Pathology As A Natural Byproduct
With these eight lessons in hand you should have less
trouble seeing that the social pathologies we associate with modern children are natural byproducts of our modern
system of schooling which produces:
- Children indifferent to the adult world of values
and accomplishment, defying the universal human experience laid down over thousands of years that a close study
of grown-ups is always the most exciting and one of the most necessary occupations of youth. Have you noticed
how very few people, adults included, want to grow up anymore? Toys are the lingua franca of American society
for the masses and the classes.
- Children with almost no curiosity. Children who
can’t even concentrate for long on things they themselves choose to do. Children taught to channel-change by a
pedagogy employing the strategy "and now for something different," but kids who also realize dimly that the
same damn show is on every channel.
- Children with a poor sense of the future, of how
tomorrow is linked to today. Children who live in a continuous present. Conversely, children with no sense of
the past and of how the past has shaped and limited the present, shaped and limited their own choices,
predetermined their values and destinies to an overwhelming degree.
- Children who lack compassion for misfortune, who
laugh at weakness, who betray their friends and families, who show contempt for people whose need for help
shows too plainly. Children condemned to be alone, to age with bitterness, to die in fear.
- Children who can’t stand intimacy or frankness.
Children who masquerade behind personalities hastily fabricated from watching television and from other
distorted gauges of human nature. Behind the masks lurk crippled souls. Aware of this, they avoid the close
scrutiny intimate relationships demand because it will expose their shallowness of which they have some
- Materialistic children who assign a price to
everything and who avoid spending too much time with people who promise no immediate payback – a group which
often includes their own parents. Children who follow the lead of schoolteachers, grading and ranking
everything: "the best," "the biggest," "the finest," "the worst." Everything simplified into simple-minded
categories by the implied judgment of a cash price, deemed an infallible guide to value.
- Dependent children who grow up to be whining,
treacherous, terrified, dependent adults, passive and timid in the face of new challenges. And yet this
crippling condition is often hidden under a patina of bravado, anger, aggressiveness.
A Critical Appraisal
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, as the
new school institution slowly took root after the Civil War in big cities and the defeated South, some of the best
minds in the land, people fit by their social rank to comment publicly, spoke out as they watched its first phalanx
of graduates take their place in the traditional American world. All these speakers had been trained themselves in
the older, a-systematic, noninstitutional schools. At the beginning of another new century, it is eerie to hear
what these great-grandfathers of ours had to say about the mass schooling phenomenon as they approached their own
fateful new century.
In 1867, world-famous American physician and academic
Vincent Youmans lectured the London College of Preceptors about the school institution just coming into
School produces mental perversion and absolute
stupidity. It produces bodily disease. It produces these things by measures which operate to the prejudice of the
growing brain. It is not to be doubted that dullness, indocility, and viciousness are frequently aggravated by the
lessons of school.
Thirteen years later, Francis Parkman (of Oregon
Trail fame) delivered a similar judgment. The year was 1880, at the very moment Wundt was founding his
laboratory of scientific psychology in Germany:
Many had hoped that by giving a partial
teaching to great numbers of persons, a thirst for knowledge might be awakened. Thus far, the results have not
equaled expectations. Schools have not borne any fruit on which we have cause to congratulate ourselves. (emphasis
In 1885, the president of Columbia University
“The results actually attained under our present
system of instruction are neither very flattering nor very encouraging.”
In 1895, the president of Harvard said:
“Ordinary schooling produces dullness. A young
man whose intellectual powers are worth cultivating cannot be willing to cultivate them by pursuing phantoms as the
schools now insist upon.”
When he said this, compulsion schooling in its first
manifestation was approaching its forty-fifth year of operations in Massachusetts, and running at high efficiency
in the city of Cambridge, home to Harvard.
Then, in the early years of the twentieth century,
pedagogy underwent another metamorphosis that resulted in an even more efficient scientific form of schooling. Four
years before WWI broke out, a well-known European thinker and schoolman, Paul Geheeb, whom Einstein, Hermann Hesse,
and Albert Schweitzer all were to claim as a friend, made this commentary on English and German types of forced
The dissatisfaction with public schools is widely
felt. Countless attempts to reform them have failed. People complain about the "overburdening" of schools;
educators argue about which parts of curriculum should be cut; but school cannot be reformed with a pair of
scissors. The solution is not to be found in educational institutions. (emphasis added)
In 1930, the yearly Inglis Lecturer at Harvard made
the same case:
We have absolutely nothing to show for our colossal
investment in common schooling after 80 years of trying.
Thirty years passed before John Gardner’s "Annual
Report to the Carnegie Corporation," in 1960, added this:
Too many young people gain nothing [from school]
except the conviction they are misfits.
The record after 1960 is no different. It is hardly
unfair to say that the stupidity of 1867, the fruitlessness of 1880, the dullness of 1895, the
cannot be reformed of 1910, the absolutely nothing of 1930, and the nothing of 1960 have
continued into the schools of today. We pay four times more in real dollars than we did in 1930 and thus we buy
even more of what mass schooling dollars always bought.
Just under eighteen hundred people wrote letters to me
in the year I was New York State Teacher of the Year, in response to a series of essays I wrote about what I had
witnessed as a schoolteacher, essays which have now become part of this book. In a strange way, those different
letters were eighteen hundred versions of the same letter, a spontaneous outcry against the violation that so many
feel in being compelled to be a character in someone else’s fantasy of how to grow up. Listen to a few of these
Huntington, West Virginia
"Homeschooling may be stressful but it’s nothing compared to the stress I
experienced watching my daughter’s self-respect and creative energy drain away within the first few weeks of
Toronto, Canada "Little has changed since I was asked to sit in
straight rows and memorize an irrelevant curriculum. Recently my wife quit her job because we fear losing contact
with our children as they enter a school system we cannot understand and are unable to change."
Frankfurt, Illinois "I had a rich personal inquiry going on in
many things. School was for me a tedious interruption of my otherwise interesting life."
Washington "My passion is that my daughter be allowed to grow up being
completely who she is. Right now she is a happy, enthusiastic, self-taught child of eight and a half. She taught
herself to read at four, reads everything. School to me has always felt sick at the core of its
Madison, Wisconsin "I’m desperate what to do. Three bright and
lively children but everyday I see a closing down of enthusiasm as they grind their way through a predetermined
Nevada "My wife and I came to the end of the rope with public education
four years ago. I was tired of seeing my once happy child constantly in tears."
Santa Barbara, California "I just took my eight-year-old daughter
from school. Bit by bit she was becoming silent, even fearful. From her anxiety to reach the school bus on time to
the times she was visibly shaken from criticism of her homework. Day by day she was changing for the worse. But the
absolute end was the destructive effect the culture of schoolchildren’s values had on her behavior. Now she laughs
again. I have my laughing girl back."
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania "School started to destroy my family by
dividing us from one another instead of joining us. It created separatism among the kids, among the classes, among
ages, among parents and children. After I took my second grader from school she began to blossom. She loves her
time now, the time is the gift."
Huntersville, North Carolina "I defined myself as a child by my
accomplishments at school just as I had been taught to. I was a National Merit Scholar and a Presidential Scholar
but I couldn’t even make it through two years of college because my own authoritarian schooling had left me
completely unprepared to make my own decisions."
St. Louis, Missouri "Mr. Gatto, you are describing my daughter
when you name the pathological symptoms our children display as a result of their schooling. And you are describing
me – which pains me almost unbearably to recognize and admit."
Haverhill, Massachusetts "I have no certificates of great
accomplishment, no titles, no diploma except a high school one, no degree except when I have a fever. Yet I do have
experience gained while raising three daughters. I’d like to paint a picture for you. I had to take my daughter out
of kindergarten after five weeks. This happy, self-regulating child I was raising showed great signs of stress in
that short of a time. I remembered the rebellion of my two angry teenagers, suddenly made the connection, and took
her from school. And so the last girl I raised as a free child. There have been no signs of anger or rebellion
since then. That was seventeen years ago."
The Systems Idea In Action
In Autonomous Technology:
Technics-Out-Of-Control (1989), Langdon Winner takes a sobering look at modern predicament:
Society is composed of persons who cannot design,
build, repair, or even operate most of the devices upon which their lives depend.... In the complexity of this
world people are confronted with extraordinary events and functions that are literally unintelligible to them. They
are unable to give an adequate explanation of man-made phenomena in their immediate experience. They are unable to
form a coherent, rational picture of the whole. Under the circumstances, all persons do, and indeed must, accept a
great number of things on faith.... Their way of understanding is basically religious, rather than scientific; only
a small portion of one’s everyday experience in the technological society can be made scientific.... The plight of
members of the technological society can be compared to that of a newborn child. Much of the data that enters its
sense does not form coherent wholes. There are many things the child cannot understand or, after it has learned to
speak, cannot successfully explain to anyone.... Citizens of the modern age in this respect are less fortunate than
children. They never escape a fundamental bewilderment in the face of the complex world that their senses report.
They are not able to organize all or even very much of this into sensible wholes.... An objection might be raised
that difficulties of the sort I have mentioned soon will have remedies. Systems theory, artificial intelligence, or
some new modern way of knowing will alleviate the burdens.... Soon there will exist tools of intellectual
synthesis. I must report I found no such tools in practice. I have surveyed the various candidates for this honor –
systems theory and systems analysis, computer sciences and artificial intelligence, new methods of coding great
masses of information, the strategy of disjointed incrementalism and so forth. As relief for the difficulties
raised here none of these offers much help.... The systems idea is another – and indeed the ultimate – technique to
shape man and society.
By allowing the existence of large bureaucratic
systems under centralized control, whether corporate, governmental, or institutional, we unwittingly enter into a
hideous conspiracy against ourselves, one in which we resolutely work to limit the growth of our minds and spirits.
The only conceivable answer is to break the power of these things, through grit, courage, indomitability and
resolution if possible, through acts of personal sabotage and disloyalty if not.
- Except for a small fraction of Gifted and
Talented Honors kids sequestered in a remote corner of the third floor, who followed different protocols,
although a good deal less different than they knew.
- This particular form of rational psychopathy has
been an epidemic in the Northeast for decades, and it has struck my own life more than once. Some think that
auto-glass installers send agents through lines of parked cars late at night to crack their windshields on the
sensible supposition that in a trade without many practitioners, a decent proportion of new work will go to the
creators of the need. Or perhaps the entire guild underwrites the trade, who knows?
- What I would never do is to argue that the damage
to human potential is adequately caught in the rise or fall of SAT scores or any other standardized measure
because these markers are too unreliable – besides being far too prone to strategic manipulation. The New
York Times of March 9, 2003, reported in an article by Sara Rimer that Harvard rejects four valedictorians
out of every five, quoting that school’s director of admissions as saying: "To get in [Harvard], you have to
present some real distinction..." A distinction which, apparently, 80 percent of "top" students
- Different addictive readers of school histories
might tally eight crises or five, so the stab at specificity shouldn’t be taken too seriously by any reader.
What it is meant to indicate is that careful immersion in pedagogical history will reveal, even to the most
skeptical, that mass schooling has been in nearly constant crisis since its inception. There never was a golden
age of mass schooling, nor can there ever be.” (Source: )
By John Taylor Gatto
One day after spending nearly my entire life inside a
school building as student and teacher, I quit. But not before I saw some things you ought to know. McCourt is
right, spit flies everywhere in the classroom and school, children mock us because of it. The smell of saliva. I
had forgotten until I returned as a teacher. Put the cosmic aspect aside and come back again into school with me.
See it from the inside with grownup eyes.
On my first day back to school I was hired to
substitute in a horrible place, Wadleigh Junior High School, nicknamed "the death school" by regulars at the West
End Tavern near Columbia. Jean Stapleton (Archie Bunker’s wife, Edith) had gone there as a young girl; so had Anäis
Nin, celebrated diarist and writer of erotica. Some palace revolution long before I got there had altered the
nature of this school from an earnest, respectable Victorian lock-up to something indescribable. During my teaching
debut at Wadleigh, I was attacked by a student determined to bash my brains out with a chair.
Wadleigh was located three blocks from that notorious
110th Street corner in Harlem made famous by a bestseller of the day, New York Confidential, which called it
"the most dangerous intersection in America." I mention danger as the backdrop of my teaching debut because two
kinds of peril were in the air that season: one, phony as my teaching license, was the "Cuban Missile Crisis"; the
other, only too genuine, was a predicament without any possible solution, a deadly brew compounded from twelve
hundred black teenagers penned inside a gloomy brick pile for six hours a day, with a white guard staff misnamed
"faculty" manning the light towers and machine-gun posts. This faculty was charged with dribbling out something
called "curriculum" to inmates, a gruel so thin Wadleigh might rather have been a home for the feeble-minded than a
place of education.
My own motive in being there was a personal quest. I
was playing hooky from my real job as a Madison Avenue ad writer flogging cigarettes and shaving cream, a
fraternity boy’s dream job. Not a single day without Beefeater Martinis, then the preferred ad man’s tipple, not a
morning without headache, not a single professional achievement worth the bother. I was hardly a moralist in those
days, but I wasn’t a moron either. Thoughts of a future composed of writing fifty words or so a week, drunk every
day, hunting sensation every night, had begun to make me nervous. Sitting around the West End one weekend I decided
to see what schoolteaching was like.
Harlem then was
an ineffable place where the hip white in-crowd played in those last few moments before the fires and riots of the
1960s broke out. Black and white still pretended it was the same high-style Harlem of WWII years, but a new
awareness was dawning among teenagers. Perhaps Mama had been sold a bill of goods about the brighter tomorrow
progressive America was arranging for black folks, but the kids knew better.
"The natives are restless." That expression I heard a
half-dozen times in the single day I spent at Wadleigh, the Death School. Candor was the style of the moment
among white teachers (who comprised 100 percent of the faculty) and with administrators in particular. On some
level, black kids had caught on to the fact that their school was a liar’s world, a jobs project for seedy white
The only blacks visible outside Harlem and its
outrigger ghettos were maids, laborers, and a token handful stuffed into make-work government occupations, in
theater, the arts, or civil service.
The notable exception consisted of a small West Indian
business and professional elite which behaved itself remarkably like upper-class whites, exhibiting a healthy dose
of racial prejudice, itself built on skin color and gradations, lighter being better. British manners made a
difference in Harlem just as they did elsewhere. The great ad campaigns of the day were overwhelmingly British. Men
in black eye patches wearing Hathaway shirts whose grandfathers fought at Mafeking, "curiously delicious" Schweppes
"Commander Whitehead" ads, ads for Rolls cars where the loudest noise you heard was the ticking of the electric
clock. The British hand in American mid-twentieth-century life was noticeably heavy. Twelve hundred Wadleigh black
kids had no trouble figuring out what recolonization by the English meant for them.
I had no clue of this, of course, the day I walked
into a school building for the first time in nine years, a building so dark, sour, and shabby it was impossible to
accept that anyone seriously thought kids were better held there than running the streets.
Consider the orders issued me and under which I
traveled to meet eighth graders on the second floor:
Good morning, Mr. Gatto. You have typing. Here is your
program. Remember, THEY MUST NOT TYPE! Under no circumstances are they allowed to type. I will come around
unannounced to see that you comply. DO NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING THEY TELL YOU about an exception. THERE ARE NO
Picture the scene: an assistant principal, a man
already a living legend throughout the school district, a man with a voice of command like Ozymandias, dispatching
young Gatto (who only yesterday wrote the immortal line "Legs are in the limelight this year" for a hosiery ad)
into the dark tunnels of the Death School with these words:
Not a letter, not a numeral, not a punctuation mark
from those keys or you will never be hired here again. Go now.
When I asked what I should do instead with the class
of seventy-five, he replied, "Fall back on your resources. Remember, you have no typing license!"
Off I went up the dark stairs, down the dark corridor.
Opening the door I discovered my dark class in place, an insane din coming from seventy-five old black Underwoods,
Royals, Smith Coronas: CLACKA! CLACKA! CLACKA! CLICK! CLICK! CLACK! DING! SLAM! CLACK! Seven hundred and fifty
black fingers dancing around under the typewriter covers. One-hundred and fifty hammering hands clacking
louder by far than I could bellow: STOP....TYPING! NO TYPING ALLOWED! DON’T TYPE! STOP! STOP! STOP I SAY! PUT THOSE
COVERS ON THE MACHINES!
The last words were intended for the most flagrant of
the young stenographers who had abandoned any pretense of compliance. By unmasking their instruments they were
declaring war. In self-defense, I escalated my shouting into threats and insults, the standard tactical remedy of
teachers in the face of impending chaos, kicked a few chairs, banged an aluminum water pitcher out of shape, and
was having some success curtailing rogue typers when an ominous chant of OOOOOHHHHHH! OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH! warned me
some other game was now afoot.
Sure enough, a skinny little fellow had arisen in the
back of the room and was bearing down on me, chair held high over his head. He had heard enough of my deranged
screed, just as Middlesex farmers had enough of British lip and raised their chairs at Concord and
Lexington. I too raised a chair and was backing my smaller opponent down when all of a sudden I caught a vision of
both of us as a movie camera might. It caused me to grin and when I did the whole class laughed and tensions
"Isn’t this a typing period?" I said, "WHY DON’T YOU
START TYPING?" Day One of my thirty-year teaching career concluded quietly with a few more classes to which I said
at once, "No goofing off! Let’s TYPE!" And they did. All the machines survived unscathed.
I had never thought much about kids up to that moment,
even fancied I didn’t like them, but these bouts of substitute teaching raised the possibility I was reacting
adversely not to youth but to invisible societal directives ordering young people to act childish whether they want
to or not. Such behavior provides the best excuse for mature oversight. Was it possible I did like kids,
just not the script written for them?
There were other mysteries. What kind of science
justified such sharp distinctions among classes when even by the house logic of schooling it was obvious that large
numbers of students were misplaced? Why didn’t this bother teachers? Why the apparent
indifference to important matters like these? And why
was the mental ration doled out so sparingly? Whenever I stepped up my own pace and began cracking the mental whip,
all manner of kids responded better than when I followed the prescribed dopey curriculum. Yet if that were
so, why this skimpy diet instead?
The biggest mystery lurked in the difference between
the lusty goodwill of first, second, and to some extent third graders—even in Harlem—the bright, quick intelligence
and goodwill always so abundant in those grades, and the wild change fourth grade brought in terms of sullenness,
dishonesty, and downright mean spirit.
I knew something in the school experience was
affecting these kids, but what? It had to be hidden in those first-, second- and third-grade years which appear so
idyllic even in Harlem. What surfaced by fourth grade was the effect of a lingering disease running rampant in the
very utopian interlude when they were laughing, singing, playing, and running round in the earlier grades. And kids
who had been to kindergarten seemed worse than the others.
But schoolwork came as a great relief to me in spite
of everything, after studying Marlboro cigarette campaigns and Colgate commercials. In those days I was chomping at
the bit to have work that involved real responsibility; this imperative made me decide to throw ambition to the
winds at least for the moment and teach. Plenty of time to get rich later on, I thought.
In New York City in the 1960s, becoming a teacher was
easier than you could imagine or believe (it still is). It was a time of rich cash harvests for local colleges
giving two-week teacher courses for provisional certification; nearly everyone passed and permanent license
requirements could be met on the job. At the end of summer I had a license to go to school and get paid for it.
Whether I could actually teach was never an issue with anyone. Kids assigned to me had no choice in the matter.
That following autumn I found regular work at William J. O’Shea Junior High whose broken concrete playground sat in
plain view of the world-famous Museum of Natural History, diagonally across Columbus Avenue to the northeast.
It was a playground my kids and I were later to use to make the school rich by designing and arranging for a
weekend flea market to be held on this site. But that came long afterwards.
Dr. Caleb Gattegno, Expert
I began to schoolteach as an engineer would, solving
problems as they arose. Because of my upbringing and because of certain unresolved contradictions in my own
character I had a great private need not just to have a job but to have work that would allow me to
build the unbuilt parts of myself, to give me competence and let me feel my life was one being lived instead of it
living me. I brought to those first years an intensity of watchfulness probably uncommon in those who grow up
untroubled. My own deficiencies provided enough motivation to want to make something worthwhile happen.
Had I remained a problem-solver I would have drowned
in life for sure, but a habit of mind that demands things in context sensitized me to the culture of schooling as a
major element in my work and that wariness eventually allowed me to surmount it. The highest school priorities are
administrative coherence, student predictability, and institutional stability; children doing well or poorly are
incidental to the main administrative mission. Hence teachers are often regarded as instruments which respond best
if handled like servants made to account for the silverware. In order to give these vertical relationships
strength, the horizontal relationships among teachers— collegiality—must be kept weak.
This divide-and-conquer principle is true of any large
system. The way it plays itself out in the culture of schooling is to bestow on some few individuals favor,
on some few grief, and to approach the large middle with a carrot in one hand, a stick in the other with
these dismal examples illuminating the discourse. In simple terms, some are bribed into loyalty, but seldom so
securely they become complacent; others sent despairing, but seldom without hope since a crumb might eventually
fall their way. Those whose loyalties are purchased function as spies to report staff defiance or as cheerleaders
for new initiatives.
I used to hear from Granddad that a man’s price for
surrendering shows you the dirt floor of his soul. A short list of customary teacher payoffs includes: 1)
assignment to a room on the shady side of the building; 2) or one away from playground noise; 3) a parking permit;
4) the gift of a closet as a private office; 5) the tacit understanding that one can solicit administrative aid in
disciplinary situations without being persecuted afterwards; 6) first choice of textbooks from the available supply
in the book room; 7) access to the administrators’ private photocopy machine; 8) a set of black shades for your
windows so the room can be sufficiently darkened to watch movies comfortably; 9) privileged access to media
equipment so machines could be counted on to take over the teaching a few days each week; 10) assignment of
a student teacher as a private clerk; 11) the right to go home on Friday a period or two early in order to beat the
weekend rush; 12) a program with first period (or first and second) free so the giftee can sleep late while a
friend or friendly administrator clocks them in.
Many more "deals" than this are available, extra pay
for certain cushy specialized jobs or paid after-school duty are major perks. Thus is the ancient game of divide
and conquer played in school. How many times I remember hearing, "Wake up, Gatto. Why should I bother? This is all
a big joke. Nobody cares. Keep the kids quiet, that’s what a good teacher is. I have a life when I get home from
this sewer." Deals have a lot to do with that attitude and the best deals of all go to those who establish
themselves as experts. As did Dr. Caleb Gattegno.
A now long-forgotten Egyptian intellectual, Caleb
Gattegno enjoyed a brief vogue in the 1960s as inventor of a reading system based on the use of nonverbal color
cues to aid learning. He was brought to the middle school where I worked in 1969 to demonstrate how his new system
solved seemingly intractable problems. This famous man’s demonstration made such impact on me that thirty
years later I could lead you blindfolded to the basement room on West 77th Street where twenty-five teachers and
administrators crammed into the rear lane of a classroom in order to be touched by this magic. Keep in mind it was
only the demonstration I recall, I can’t remember the idea at all. It had something to do with color.
Even now I applaud Gattegno’s courage if nothing else.
A stranger facing a new class is odds-on to be eaten alive, the customary example of this situation is the hapless
substitute. But in his favor another classroom advantage worked besides his magical color technology, the presence
of a crowd of adults virtually guaranteed a peaceful hour. Children are familiar with adult-swarming through the
twice-a-year-visitation days of parents. Everyone knows by some unvoiced universal etiquette to be on best behavior
when a concentration of strange adults appears in the back of the room.
On the appointed day, at the appointed hour, we all
assembled to watch the great man put children through their paces. An air of excitement filled the room. >From
the publicity buildup a permanent revolution in our knowledge of reading was soon to be put on display. Finally,
with a full retinue of foundation officers and big bureaucrats, Dr. Caleb Gattegno entered the arena.
I can’t precisely say why what happened next
happened. The simple truth is I wasn’t paying much attention. But suddenly a babble of shouting woke me. Looking
up, I saw the visiting expert’s face covered with blood! He was making a beeline through the mob for the door as if
desperate to get there before he bled to death.
As I later pieced together from eyewitness accounts,
Dr. Gattegno had selected a student to cooperate with his demonstration, a girl with a mind of her own. She didn’t
want to be the center of attention at that moment. When Gattegno persisted her patience came to an end. What
I learned in a Harlem typing class years earlier, the famous Egyptian intellectual now learned in a school in the
middle of some of the most expensive real estate on earth.
Almost immediately after she raked her long
fingernails down his well-educated cheeks, the doctor was off to the races, exiting the room quickly, dashing up
the staircase into Egyptian history. We were left milling about, unable to stifle cynical remarks. What I failed to
hear, then or later, was a single word of sympathy for his travail. Word of the incident traveled quickly through
the three-story building, the event was postmortemed for days.
I should be ashamed to say it, but I felt traces of
amusement at his plight, at the money wasted, at the temporary chagrin of important people. Not a word was ever
said again about Gattegno again in my presence. I read a few pages of his slim volume and found them intelligent,
but for some unaccountable reason I couldn’t muster interest enough to read on. Probably because there isn’t any
trick to teaching children to read by very old-fashioned methods, which makes it difficult to work up much
enthusiasm for novelty. Truth to tell, the reading world doesn’t need a better mousetrap. If you look up his
work in the library, I’d appreciate it if you’d drop me a postcard explaining what his colorful plan was all
New teachers and even beleaguered veterans are hardly
in any position to stand back far enough to see clearly the bad effect the dramatic setting of the building—its
rules, personalities, and hidden dynamics—has on their own outlook and on children’s lives. About one kid in five
in my experience is in acute torment from the intimidation of peers, maybe more are driven to despair by the
indifference of official machinery. What the hounded souls can’t possibly see is that from a system standpoint,
they are the problem with their infernal whining, not their persecutors.
And for every one broken by intimidation, another
breaks himself just to get through the days, months, and years ahead. This huge silent mass levels a moral
accusation lowly teachers become conscious of only at their peril because there is neither law nor institutional
custom to stop the transgressions. Young, idealistic teachers burn out in the first three years because they can’t
solve administrative and collegial indifference, often concluding mistakenly that consciously willed policies of
actual human beings—a principal here, a department head or union leader there—are causing the harm, when
indifference is a system imperative; it would collapse from its contradictions if too much sensitivity entered the
I would have been odds-on to become one of these
martyrs to inadequate understanding of the teaching situation but for a fortunate accident. By the late 1960s I had
exhausted my imagination inside the conventional classroom when all of a sudden a period of phenomenal turbulence
descended upon urban schoolteaching everywhere. I’ll tell you more about this in a while, but for the moment,
suffice it to say that supervisory personnel were torn loose from their moorings, superintendents, principals and
all the rest flung to the wolves by those who actually direct American schooling. In this dark time, local
management cowered. During one three-year stretch I can remember, we had four principals and three superintendents.
The net effect of this ideological bombardment, which lasted about five years in its most visible manifestation,
was to utterly destroy the utility of urban schools. From my own perspective all this was a godsend. Surveillance
of teachers and administrative routines lost their bite as school administrators scurried like rats to escape the
wrath of their unseen masters, while I suddenly found myself in possession of a blank check to run my classes as I
pleased as long as I could secure the support of key parents.
Hector Of The Feeble-Mind
See thirteen-year-old Hector Rodriguez [not his real
name] as I first saw him: slightly built, olive-skinned, short, with huge black eyes, his body twisting
acrobatically as he tried to slip under the gated defenses of the skating rink on the northern end of Central Park
one cold November day. Up to that time I had known Hector for several months but had never really seen him,
nor would I have seen him then but for the startling puzzle he presented by gatecrashing with a fully paid
admission ticket in his pocket. Was he nuts?
This particular skating rink sits in a valley
requiring patrons to descend several flights of concrete steps to reach the ice. When I counted bodies at the foot
of the stairs, Hector was missing. I went back up the stairs to find Hector wedged in the bars of the revolving
security gate. "You little imbecile," I screamed. "Why are you sneaking in? You have a ticket!" No answer, but his
expression told me his answer. It said, "Why shout? I know what I’m doing, I have principles to uphold." He
actually looked offended by my lack of understanding.
Hector was solving a problem. Could the interlocking
bars of the automatic turnstile be defeated? What safer way to probe than with a paid ticket in hand in case he got
caught. Later as I searched school records for clues to understand this boy, I discovered in his short transit on
earth he had already left a long outlaw trail behind him. And yet, although none of his crimes would have earned
more than a good spanking a hundred years earlier, now they helped support a social service empire. By substituting
an excessive response for an appropriate (minimal) reaction, behavior we sought to discourage has doubled and
redoubled. It is implicit in the structure of institutional logic that this happens. What’s bad for real people is
the very guarantee of institutional amorality.
At the time of this incident, Hector attended one of
the fifty-five public schools with the lowest academic ratings in New York State, part of a select group threatened
with takeover by state custodians. Seven of the nine rapists of the Central Park jogger—a case that made national
headlines some years back—were graduates of the school. Of the thirteen classes in Hector’s grade, a full nine were
of higher rank than the one he was in. Hector might be seen at twelve as an exhausted salmon swimming upstream in a
raging current trying to sweep away his dignity. We had deliberately unleashed such a flood by assigning about
eleven hundred kids in all, to five strictly graduated categories:
First Class was called "Gifted and Talented Honors."
Second Class was called "Gifted and Talented."
Third Class was called "Special Progress."
Fourth Class was called "Mainstream."
Fifth Class was called "Special Ed." These last kids had a cash value to the school three times higher than
the others, a genuine incentive to find fatal defects where none existed.
Hector was a specimen from the doomed category called
Mainstream, itself further divided into alphabetized subcategories—A, B, C, or D. Worst of the worst above Special
Ed would be Mainstream D where he reported. Since Special Ed was a life sentence of ostracism and humiliation at
the hands of the balance of the student body, we might even call Hector "lucky" to be Mainstream, though as
Mainstream D, he was suspended in that thin layer of mercy just above the truly doomed. Hector’s standardized test
scores placed him about three years behind the middle of the rat-pack. This, and his status as an absolute cipher
(where school activities, sports, volunteer work, and good behavior were concerned) would have made it difficult
enough for anyone prone to be his advocate, but in Hector’s case, he wasn’t just behind an eight-ball, he was six
feet under one.
Shortly after I found him breaking and entering (the
skating rink), Hector was arrested in a nearby elementary school with a gun. It was a fake gun but it looked pretty
real to the school secretaries and principal. I found out about this at my school faculty Christmas party when the
principal came bug-eyed over to the potato salad where I camped, crying, GATTO, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME? His exact
words. Hector had been dismissed for holiday only that morning; he then hightailed it immediately to his old
elementary school, still in session, to turn the younger children loose, to free the pint-sized slaves like a
modern Spartacus. Come forward now one year in time: Hector in high school, second report card. He failed every
subject, and was absent enough to be cited for truancy. But you could have guessed that before I told you because
you read the same sociology books I do.
Can you see the Hector trapped inside these implacable
school records? Poor, small for his age, part of a minority, not accounted much by people who matter, dumb, in a
super-dumb class, a bizarre gatecrasher, a gunslinger, a total failure in high school? Can you see Hector?
Certainly you think you do. How could you not? The system makes it so easy to classify him and predict his
What is society to do with its Hectors? This is the
boy, multiplied by millions, that school people have been agonizing about in every decade of the twentieth century.
This is the boy who destroyed the academic mission of American public schooling, turning it into a warehouse
operation, a clinic for behavioral training and attitude adjustment. Hector’s principal said to the Christian
Science Monitor when it made a documentary film about my class and Hector’s, "Sure the system stinks, but John
[Gatto] has nothing to replace it. And as bad as the system is, it’s better than chaos."
But is the only alternative to a stifling system
Hector Isn't The Problem
The country has been sold a bill of goods that the
problem of modern schooling is Hector. That’s a demon we face, that misperception. Under its many faces and
shape-shifting rhetoric, forced schooling itself was conceived as the frontline in a war against chaos. Horace Mann
wrote once to Reverend Samuel May, "Schools will be found to be the way God has chosen for the reformation of the
world." School is the beginning of the process to keep Hector and his kind in protective custody. Important people
believe with the fervor of religious energy that civilization can only survive if the irrational, unpredictable
impulses of human nature are continually beaten back, confined until their demonic vitality is sapped.
Read Merle Curti’s Social Ideas of the Great
Educators, a classic which will never be allowed to go out of print as long as we have college courses as
gatekeeper for teacher certification. Curti shows that every single one of the greats used this Impending Chaos
argument in front of financial tycoons to marshal support for the enlargement of forced schooling.
I don’t want to upset you, but I’m not sure. I have
evidence Hector isn’t what school and society make him out to be, data that will give a startlingly different
picture. During the period when the skating incident and school stickup occurred, Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska
was putting together an education plank in order to run for his party’s presidential nomination. To that end, his
office called me to inquire whether I could meet with the Senator to discuss an article I wrote which had been
printed in the Congressional Record. It was agreed we would meet for breakfast at Manhattan’s famous
Algonquin Hotel, site of the famous literary Roundtable. Hector and his close friend Kareem would join
Our conference lasted three hours without any bell
breaks. It was cordial but businesslike with the senator asking hard questions and his assistant, a vivacious
attractive woman, taking notes. Hector dominated the discussion. Concise, thoughtful, inventive, balanced in his
analysis, graceful in his presentation with the full range of sallies, demurs, illustrations, head-cockings, and
gestures you might expect from a trained conversationalist. Where had he learned to handle himself that way? Why
didn’t he act this way in school?
As time passed, Hector gravitated bit by bit to the
chair where the woman I thought to be Kerrey’s assistant was sitting. Hector perched in a natural posture on its
arm, still apparently intent on the verbal give and take, but I noticed he cast a smoldering glance directly down
at the lady. By a lucky accident I got a snapshot of him doing it. It turned out she was the movie star Debra
Winger! Hector was taking both Washington and Hollywood in stride while eating a trencherman’s breakfast at
a class hotel! He proved to be a valuable colleague in our discussion too, I think the Senator would
In April of the following year, Hector borrowed
fifteen dollars from me to buy pizza for a young woman attending Columbia University’s School of International
Affairs. As far as Hector was concerned, being a graduate student was only her cover—in his world of expertise as a
knowledgeable student of the comic book industry (and a talented self-taught graphic artist), she was, in reality,
a famous writer for Marvel Comics. The full details of their liaison are unknown to me, but a brilliant piece of
documentary film footage exists of this young woman giving a private seminar to Hector and Kareem under an old oak
tree on the Columbia campus. What emerged from the meetings between writer and diminutive hold-up man was a
one-day-a-week private workshop at her studio just north of Wall Street.
In November of that same year, utterly unknown to his
school (where he was considered a dangerous moron), all gleaming in white tie, tails and top hat, Hector acted as
master of ceremonies for a program on school reform at Carnegie Hall, complete with a classical pianist and a
lineup of distinguished speakers, including the cantankerous genius Mary Leue, founder of the Albany Free School,
and several of my former students.
The following spring, just after he produced his
unblemished record of failure as a high school freshman, Hector came to me with a job application. An award-winning
cable television show was packaging kids into four-person production teams to make segments for a television
magazine format hour like 60 Minutes. Hector wanted to work there.
I sprang the bad news to him right away: "Your goose
is cooked," I said. "You’ll sit down in that interview and they’ll ask you how you’re doing in school. You’ll say,
‘Listen, I’m failing all my subjects and oh, another thing, the only experience I have with TV is watching it until
my eyeballs bug out—unless you count the time they filmed me at the police station to scare me. Why would they want
to scare me? I think it was because I held up an elementary school and they didn’t want me to do it
"So you’re dead the minute they run your interview on
any conventional lines. But you might have a slim chance if you don’t follow the form sheet. Don’t do what other
kids will. Don’t send in an application form. Guidance counselors will pass these out by the thousands. Use a typed
résumé and a cover letter the way a real person would. And don’t send it to some flunky, call up the station, find
out who the producer of the show is, say in a letter that you’re not the greatest sit-down student in the
world because you have your own ideas, but that you’ve come to understand film through an intense study of comic
art and how it produces its effects. All that’s true, by the way. Mention casually you have a private
apprenticeship with one of the big names in the comic business and that you’ve done consultation work for the
famous Nuyorican Poet’s Café...."
"I have?" asked Hector.
"Sure. Don’t you remember all those times you sat
around with Roland chewing the fat when he was trying to shoot his film last year? Roland’s one of the founders of
the Nuyorican. And toss in your emceeing at Carnegie Hall; that ought to set you apart from the chumps. Now let’s
get on with that résumé and cover letter. As sure as I’m sitting here, they’ll only get one cover letter and
résumé. That should buy you an interview.
"The only way you can squeak through that interview
though is to convince someone by your behavior you can do the job better than anyone else. They’ll be
staring the spots off your every move, your clothing, your gestures, trying to see into your soul. Your goose is
cooked if you get caught in a grilling."
"You mean I’ll shift around," Hector asked, "and get
an attitude in my voice, don’t you?"
"Right, just before the shifty look comes into your
eyes!" I said.
We both laughed.
"So, what do I do?" Hector asked.
"The only thing you can do is quietly take over
the interview. By quietly, I mean in a way they won’t understand what’s happening. You and I will just sit here
until we figure out every single question they might ask, and every single need they might have which they
won’t tell you about, and every single fear they have that some aspect of your nature will screw up
their project. Remember they’re not hiring a kid to be nice people, they’re hiring a kid because that’s the
gimmick of their show. So what you must do is to show by your commanding presence, impeccable manners, vast range
of contacts, and dazzling intelligence that their fears are groundless.
"You’re going to show them you love work for its own
sake, that you don’t watch the time clock, that you can take orders when orders make sense, that you are a
goldmine of ideas, that you’re fun to be around. You’ll have to master all this quickly because I have a hunch
you’ll be called in right after your letter arrives. Can you do it?"
Six weeks later Hector started his new job.
One Lawyer Equals 3,000 Reams Of
Once, a long time ago, I spoke before the District 3
School Board in Manhattan to plead that it not retain a private lawyer when all the legal work a school district is
legitimately entitled to is provided free by the city’s corporation counsel. In spite of this, the district had
allocated $10,000 to retain a Brooklyn law firm. This is standard technique with boards everywhere which seek legal
advice to get rid of their "enemies." They either prefer to conceal this from the corporation counsel or fear such
work might be rejected as illegitimate. One school board member had already consulted with these same attorneys on
five separate occasions pursuing some private vendetta, then submitting bills for payment against the school funds
of the district. Sometimes this is simply a way to toss a tip to friends.
My argument went as follows:
In order to emphasize the magnitude of the loss this
waste of money would entail—emblematic of dozens of similar wastes every year—I want to suggest some alternate uses
for this money which will become impossible once it’s spent on a lawyer none of the kids needs. It would
Three thousand reams of paper, 1,500,000 sheets. In
September six of the schools in District 3 opened a school year without any paper at all. Letters from the
principals of these schools to the school board, of which my wife has photocopies, will attest to this. It would
buy enough chemicals and lab specimens to run the entire science program at I.S 44 and Joan of Arc, nearly 2,000
copies of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare as discounted by Barnes and Noble in hardcover, enough
sewing machines and fabrication supplies to offer six modern dressmaking classes. In light of the fact New York
City’s fashion industry is a major employer, it would seem a saner use of the funds. How many musical instruments,
how much sports equipment, wood, ceramic materials, art supplies does $10,000 buy? The Urban League’s "Children
Teach Children" reading project could be put in the district, displacing armies of low-utility, $23-an-hour
consultants. With $10,000 we could pay our own students $1-an-hour—receive better value—and see our money in the
pockets of kids, not lawyers. Invested in stock or even 30-year treasury notes as a scholarship fund, this money
would return in perpetuity enough interest yearly to pay a kid’s way through City University. The money in
question would buy 50,000 pens. Eight computer installations. Two hundred winter coats for kids who are
I concluded with two suggestions: first, a referendum
among parents to find out whether they would prefer one of the options above or a lawyer; second, to buy 10,000
lottery tickets so we all could have a thrill out of this potlatch instead of the solitary thrill a Brooklyn lawyer
would have banking our check.
Four years later, I appeared before the same school
board, with the following somewhat darker statement:
On September 3, 1986, my teaching license, which I
had held for 26 years, was terminated secretly while I was on medical leave of absence for degenerative arthritis.
The arthritis was contracted by climbing 80 steps a day to the third floor for more than a year—at the express
request of the co-directors—with a badly broken hip held together by three large screws.
Although papers for a medical leave of absence were
signed and filed, these documents were destroyed at the district level, removed from central board medical offices.
The current management apparently was instructed to deny papers had ever been filed, allowing the strange
conclusion I had simply walked away from a quarter century of work and vanished.
The notice terminating my teaching license was sent
to an address where I hadn’t lived for twenty-two years. It was returned marked "not known at this address." This
satisfied the board’s contractual obligation to notify me of my imminent dismissal, however
When I returned to work from what I had no reason
to assume wasn’t an approved leave, I was informed by personnel that I no longer worked for District 3, and that I
could not work anywhere because I no longer had a teaching license. This could only be reinstated if my building
principal would testify he knew I had properly filed for leave. Since this would involve the individual in serious
legal jeopardy, it isn’t surprising my request for such a notice was ignored.
From September 1987 to April of 1988 my family was
plunged into misery as I sought to clear my name. Although I had personal copies of my leave forms at the first
hearing on this matter, my building principal and the district personnel officer both claimed their signatures on
the photocopies were forgeries. My appeal was denied.
Just before the second hearing in March, a
courageous payroll secretary swore before a public official that my leave extensions had always been on file at
Lincoln, signed by school authorities. She testified that attempts had been made to have her surrender these
copies, requests she refused. Production of her affidavit to this at my third hearing caused an eventual return of
my license and all lost pay. At the moment of disclosure of that affidavit during a third grievance hearing, the
female co-director shouted in an agitated voice, "The District doesn’t want him back!"
I am asking for an investigation of this matter
because my case is far from the only time this has happened in District 3. Indeed, all over New York this business
is conducted so cynically that administrators violate basic canons of decency and actual law with impunity because
they know the system will cover for them no matter how culpable their behavior.
No comment was ever forthcoming from that Board of
Education. Two years after my restoration, I was named New York City Teacher of the Year. Two years after that, New
York State Teacher of the Year. A year later, after addressing the Engineer’s Colloquium at NASA Space Center,
invitations poured in to speak from every state in the union and from all over the world. But the damage my family
had sustained carried lasting effects.
Yet I proved something important, I think. On looking
back at the whole sorry tapestry of the system as it revealed itself layer by layer in my agony, what was most
impressive wasn’t its horrifying power to treat me and my family without conscience or compassion, but its
incredible weakness in the face of opposition. Battling without allies for thirty years, far from home and
family, without financial resources, with no place to look for help except my native wit, nor for courage except to
principles learned as a boy in a working-class town on the Monongahela River, I was able to back the school
creature into such a corner it was eventually driven to commit crimes to get free of me.
What that suggests is cause for great hope. A relative
handful of people could change the course of schooling significantly by resisting the suffocating advance of
centralization and standardization of children, by being imaginative and determined in their resistance, by
exploiting manifold weaknesses in the institution’s internal coherence: the disloyalty its own employees feel
toward it. It took 150 years to build this apparatus; it won’t quit breathing overnight. The formula is to take a
deep breath, then select five smooth stones and let fly. The homeschoolers have already begun.
The Great Transformation
I lived through the great transformation which turned
schools from often useful places (if never the essential ones school publicists claimed) into laboratories of state
experimentation. When I began teaching in 1961, the social environment of Manhattan schools was a distant cousin of
the western Pennsylvania schools I attended in the 1940s, as Darwin was a distant cousin of Malthus.
Discipline was the daily watchword on school
corridors. A network of discipline referrals, graded into an elaborate catalogue of well-calibrated offenses, was
etched into the classroom heart. At bottom, hard as it is to believe in today’s school climate, there was a common
dedication to the intellectual part of the enterprise. I remember screaming (pompously) at an administrator who
marked on my plan book that he would like to see evidence I was teaching "the whole child," that I didn’t teach
children at all, I taught the discipline of the English language! Priggish as that sounds, it reflects an
attitude not uncommon among teachers who grew up in the 1940s and before. Even with much slippage in
practice, Monongahela and Manhattan had a family relationship. About schooling at least. Then suddenly in 1965
Whatever the event is that I’m actually referring
to—and its full dimensions are still only partially clear to me—it was a nationwide phenomenon simultaneously
arriving in all big cities coast to coast, penetrating the hinterlands afterwards. Whatever it was, it arrived all
at once, the way we see national testing and other remote-control school matters like School-to-Work legislation
appear in every state today at the same time. A plan was being orchestrated, the nature of which is unmasked in the
Think of this thing for the moment as a course of
discipline dictated by coaches outside the perimeter of the visible school world. It constituted psychological
restructuring of the institution’s mission, but traveled under the guise of a public emergency which (the public
was told) dictated increasing the intellectual content of the business! Except for its nightmare aspect, it
could have been a scene from farce, a swipe directly from Orwell’s 1984 and its fictional telly
announcements that the chocolate ration was being raised every time it was being lowered. This reorientation did
not arise from any democratic debate, or from any public clamor for such a peculiar initiative; the public was not
consulted or informed. Best of all, those engineering the makeover denied it was happening.
I watched fascinated, as over a period of a hundred
days, the entire edifice of public schooling was turned upside down. I know there was no advance warning to
low-level administrators like principals, either, because I watched my first principal destroy himself trying to
stem the tide. A mysterious new deal was the order of the day.
Suddenly children were to be granted "due process"
before any sanction, however mild, could be invoked. A formal schedule of hearings, referees, advocates, and
appeals was set up. What might on paper have seemed only a liberal extension of full humanity to children was
actually the starting gun for a time of mayhem. To understand this better, reflect a minute on the full array of ad
hoc responses to wildness, cruelty, or incipient chaos teachers usually employ to keep the collective classroom a
civil place at all. In a building with a hundred teachers, the instituting of an adversarial system of justice
meant that within just weeks the building turned into an insane asylum. Bedlam, without a modicum of civility
This transformation, ironically enough, made
administrative duty easier, because where once supervisory intercession had constituted, a regular link in the
ladder of referral as it was called, in the new order, administrators were excused from minute-to-minute discipline
and were granted power to assume that incidents were a teacher’s fault, to be duly entered on the Cumulative Record
File, the pedagogical equivalent of the Chinese Dangan.
There was a humorous aspect to what transpired over
the next few years. I had no particular trouble keeping a lid on things, but for teachers who counted upon support
from administrative staff it was a different story. Now, if they asked for a hand, often they were pressured to
resign, or formally charged with bad classroom management, or worst of all, transferred to an even more hideous
school in expectation they would eliminate themselves.
Most, under such tension, took the hint and quit. A
few had to be pushed. I remember a magnificent math teacher, an older black woman with honors and accomplishments
to her name, much beloved and respected by her classes, singled out for public persecution probably because she
acted as an intractable moral force, a strong model teacher with strong principles. Daily investigative teams from
the district office watched her classes, busily took notes in the back of her room, challenged her style of
presentation openly while children listened. This went on for two weeks. Then the administration began to call her
students to the school office to interrogate them, one by one, about the teacher’s behavior. They coached some kids
to watch her during her classes, coached them to look for any telltale signs she was a racist! Parents were called
and offered an option of withdrawing their kids from her classes. Broken by the ordeal, one day she
When my wife was elected to the district school board,
one of her first actions was to gain access to the superintendent’s private files without his knowledge. Some of
those records concerned details of official cases of harassment. Dozens of employees had been similarly purged, and
dozens more were "under investigation" in this gulag on West 95th Street.
Contacting these people in private, it became clear to
me that, they were far from the worst teachers around. Indeed some were the best. Their relative prowess had
emboldened them to speak out on policy matters and so marked them for elimination.
One principal, whose school was the most successful
reading environment in the district, received similar treatment, ultimately sentenced to an official Siberia in
Harlem, given no duties at all for the two years more he lasted before quitting. His crime: allegedly striking a
girl although there were no witnesses to this but the girl, a student who admitted breaking into the light-control
panel room in the auditorium where the offense is supposed to have occurred. His real crime was his refusal to
abandon phonetic reading methodology and replace it with a politically mandated whole-word substitute.
I escaped the worst effects of the bloodbath. Mostly I
minded my business trying to ignore the daily carnage. In truth I had no affection for the old system being
savaged, and chaos made it easier for me to try out things that worked. On balance, I probably did my best work
during those turbulent years as a direct result of the curious smokescreen they provided.
But accounts are not so simple to balance overall. If
I regarded run-of-the-mill school administrators as scared rabbits or system flunkies, the reformers I saw parading
daily through the building corridors looked like storm troopers and made my skin crawl.
On several occasions, energetic efforts were made by
these people to recruit my assistance as an active ally. All such appeals I politely refused. True belief they had,
but for all of it they seemed like savages to me, inordinately proud of their power to cause fear, as willing to
trample on the decencies as the people they were harassing as indecent. However, it seemed just possible something
good might actually emerge from the shakeup underway. About that, I was dead wrong. As the project advanced,
schools became noticeably worse. Bad to begin with, now they mutated into something horrible.
What shape began to emerge was a fascinating echo of
the same bureaucratic cancer which dogged the steps of the French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions. Do-nothing
administrators and nonteaching teachers multiplied like locusts. With them came an entirely new class of
school-teacher, one aggressively ignorant, cynical, and often tied to local political clubs. New categories of job
description sprang up like weeds.
My own school fell victim to a politically correct
black gym teacher imported from New England to be its principal. Two schoolwide riots followed his installation,
mass marches on city hall transpired in which local politicians instrumental in the man’s selection used
schoolchildren as unwitting cadres to lobby their favorite schemes in newsworthy, children’s crusade
A small band of old-fashioned teachers fought
rearguard actions against this, but time retired them one by one until, with only an occasional exception, the
classrooms of Community School District 3, in one of the most prosperous neighborhoods on earth, became
lawless compounds, job projects for the otherwise unemployable.
I need to wrap this up so we can get on with things. I
have to skip the full story of the Hell’s Angel math teacher who parked his Harley Hog outside the door of his
classroom, and when the principal objected, told him in front of startled witnesses that if the man didn’t shut his
mouth, the number-crunching cyclist would come to his home that evening, pour gasoline under his front door, and
set his house on fire. I have to skip the hair-raising stories of not one but three junior high teachers I knew
quite well who married their students. Each, spotting a likely thirteen-year-old, wooed the respective girl in
class and married her a few years later. They took the more honorable course, hardly the outcome of most
teacher-student romances I was privy to. I have to skip the drug habits of staff in each of the buildings I worked
in and other lurid stuff like that. In the midst of the unending dullness of institutional schooling, human nature
cracks through the peeling paint as grass through cement. I have to skip all that. Suffice it to say, my life
experience taught me that school isn’t a safe place to leave your children.
Education As A Helix Sport
Here’s a principle of real education to carry you
through the moments of self-doubt. Education is a helix sport, a unique personal project like seatless unicycle
riding over trackless wilderness, a sport that avoids rails, rules, and programmed confinement. The familiar
versions of this are cross-country skiing, sailing, hang-gliding, skateboarding, surfing, solitary mountain
climbing, thousand-mile walks, things like that. I think of education as one, too.
In a helix sport the players search for a new
relationship with themselves. They endure pain and risk to achieve this goal. Helix sports are free of expert
micromanagement. Experts can’t help you much in that moment of truth when a mistake might leave you dead. Helix
sports are a revolt against predestination.
Bringing children up properly is a helix sport forcing
you to realize that no boy or girl on earth is just like another. If you do understand this you also understand
there can exist no reliable map to tell you all you need to do. Process kids like sardines and don’t be surprised
when they come out oily and dead. In the words of the Albany Free School, if you aren’t making it up as
you go along, you aren’t doing it right.
The managerial and social science people who built
forced schooling had no scruples about making your kids fit into their scheme. It’s suffocating to the spirit to be
treated this way. A young lady from Tucson wrote me, "Now that I’m nearly 25, I can hardly remember why I began to
be afraid to go to school." I wrote back that she was afraid because her instincts warned her the school business
had no use for the personal growth she sought. All pedagogical theory is based on stage theories of human
development. All stage theories of child rearing talk in averages. The evidence before your own eyes and ears must
show you that average men and women don’t actually exist. Yet they remain the basis of social theory, even though
such artificial constructs are useless to tell you anything valuable about your own implacably nonabstract
I'm Outta Here!
One day, after thirty years of this, I took a deep
breath and quit.”
When the NWO sets in, You'll know the
Tribulation has Begun
“While the youngest mind is taught that there are no
absolutes, that no decision is final; that no authority figure except the state has the last word; that everything
is equally acceptable; that real objectivity is the absence of any standard of right and wrong;
then I contend that these young minds will be
learning the ruthlessness which is so prevalent in today's youth, and being acted out on all sides in
today's society. In the Educationists' terminology, the logical consequences of this
philosophy, real freedom, is achieved only when one is a slave to the state. It's worth mentioning that democracy
is not seen by the educationist as a form of government, but as a WAY of life. It is in reality a socialized
society. There's something vastly more sinister to be pointed out here than just the production of group mentality.
The implication of such a group mind is that the person goes through life looking to the group to validate his
decisions. The corollary of this insistence on relating everything to the group, relating from smaller to larger
groups, and taking the largest group decision as the ultimate, is that the family is downgraded to just another
small group with no special meaning. Thus, all family decisions, especially in the area of values, are open at all
times to modification through group dynamics in the classroom, and eventually become of little importance at all to
the child. (Estalvin Dee Lillywhite, Secrets That Every American Should Know 193-194 Hawkes Press:
By 1995 it could be stated: "Almost a quarter of Americans
work in public schools as students or staff." Education as we know it may soon be abolished. The plan's based in
part on the Russian system of indoctrination. (In the mid-1980's, education exchange agreements gave the Russians
American technology, while they explained how to brainwash children). (John Loffler, "Beyond Goals 2000: Workers
for the 21st Century," Personal Update 2; May 1997).
Diplomas will be replaced by a CIM:
Certificate of Initial Master. without a CIM it will be virtually impossible to find work. Workers without the
certificate "will be condemned to dead-end jobs that leave them in poverty, even if they are working." Later it
will become illegal to employ anyone without a CIM. The focus will be on lifetime learning. The work force will be
monitored by a national computer containing everyone's academic and psychological work profiles. This totalitarian
creation, modeled after the Communist Chinese Dangan system, will also include employee career histories. There'll
be no exception for home schoolers: all will be forced to participate to get a job. The system is said to be
"voluntary" but states will be forced to participate - or lose federal funds. The educational agenda is being
driven by an interlocking set of laws, government departments, and private foundations (Loffler, p. 3).” (When
the NWO sets in, You'll know the Tribulation has Begun, http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/radio090.htm )
Public Records in China
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dang'an (simplified Chinese: 档案; traditional Chinese:
pinyin: dàng'àn) is a Chinese word meaning "record". Used in the political and administrative context, it
means an archival system that records the "performance and attitudes" of citizens of mainland China. Together with the hukou, it has been an important part of the government's
efforts to maintain social stability [read “it has been an important part of the government's efforts to
maintain social control.”]. Majority of the records are kept by the local archive bureaus, some by the State
Archives Administration of China at the national level.
The Dang'an includes information possibly found in a
Western CV: physical characteristics, employment record,
photograph, etc. However, it also contains many other documents that would be considered private in some other
cultures. According to Wang Fei-ling and other sources, this includes appraisals by supervisors and peers,
academic reports from primary school to university, professional credentials, any criminal convictions or
administrative penalties, club/society memberships, employment records and political history (such as Youth League and CPC membership and assessments). Some of the
material is composed by the subject. Even the death certificate and eulogy may be placed in the
There are two copies for adults: one held on behalf of
their work unit by its supervisory organization, and the other at
the local Public Security Bureau (PSB). Access to dang'an
is strictly controlled. Citizens do not usually see their dang'an, although they may ask a
Communist Party member to check it for them. Alterations may only be carried
out by special cadres, and when combined with the custom of guanxi the result is that "Personal revenge, false entries and
special favors are thus part of the game."
A Montreal-based human rights group has claimed that
the PSB in the process of computerizing the hundreds of millions of dang'an.
During the Maoist era, these dossiers were consulted by work unit officials
as they made decisions about the major life events of those under their control. Urban residents were assigned
jobs by the state. Thereafter, permission from the work unit was needed for marriage, childbirth and transferring the dang'an (i.e.,
changing workplace). During the Cultural Revolution era, there even used to
determine which individuals and families would be sent to carry out manual labour in the countryside, under the
theory of bloodlines. As late as 2003, academic Zhou Jinghao could write that "A work unit controls
employees basically through the dangan (personnel dossier) system. An employee cannot transfer to another work
unit without his dangan."
As Chinese economic reform has proceeded, the
situation has been less clear-cut, as the dang'an system conflicts with market-oriented labour contracts.
Graduates have been able to choose their own employment since the mid 1990s in most regions (the latest,
Tibet, in 2006), and marriage has not required
work unit consent since 2003. Some private companies in prosperous Guangdong do not even require access to the files, which
remains with the employee's neighbourhood committee. However, individuals may still
be granted or denied passports, promotions and other benefits based on information
in their dang'an. According to BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, "A black mark against you – a
bad school report, a disagreement with your boss, a visit to a psychiatrist – all can travel with you for the
rest of your life…"  They are also used in
investigations by the Ministry of State Security.
The dossier means that every individual is responsible
for all of their behaviour and everything they do will be recorded for the rest of their life. Consequently the
dossier discourages any 'errant' behaviour and is seen as aiding the harmonious nature of the person’s work
– Ouyang Huhua, 
Limitations of the dang'an system
An embryonic dang'an is created when individuals enter
the school system.
This is similar to the permanent file of a school student in some Western school systems, and is transferred from
school to school, but is required for entry to university or a work unit, to which the file is then transferred. Millions of
peasants, who work on family farms and small businesses, never acquire a dang'an. Those who do are classified as
either cadres (Chinese: ganbu) or workers (Chinese:
gōngrén). It is difficult to cross this boundary.
According to Zhou, "private and foreign-funded
enterprises are no longer required to receive the dang'an when they hire employees." Instead, foreign firms transfer
them to the Ministry of
The future of dang'an was questioned by Qiao Shi, P.R.China's number three leader in the
mid-90s. In 1996, he proposed to the National People's Congress that the dang'an
system be abolished. Both Qiao and the proposal fell out of favour the following year.”
Journal: Where Each Worker
Is Yoked to a Personal File
By Nicholas D.
Published: March 16,
BEIJING — Behind a locked metal grill door on the second floor of the Beijing
Engineering Design Institute is a small room stacked with files from floor to ceiling. There is a file here on each
of the institute's 600 employees, and although they are never allowed to peek inside, they live all their lives
with their file looming over them.
As part of China's complex system of social control and
surveillance, the authorities keep a dangan, or file, on virtually everyone except peasants. Indeed, most Chinese
have two dangan: one at their workplace and another in their local police station.
"Here's one, a man called Ji," Zhang Yuhong, a 34-year-old
Communist Party member and dangan clerk at the design institute, said as she skimmed through the loose-leaf binder
that served as Mr. Ji's dangan, pronounced dahng-ahn.
"School records and grade transcripts," she began, offering
a foreigner a rare look into the dangan system. "Entry into the Communist Youth League and the Communist Party.
Family members and photo. Promotions and level of work. Performance evaluations. That kind of thing. About 10
items." Employer Keeps the File
A file is opened on each urban citizen when he or she enters
elementary school, and it shadows the person throughout life, moving on to high school, college and employer.
Particularly for officials, students, professors and Communist Party members, the dangan contain political
evaluations that affect career prospects and permission to leave the country.
The file system in China is fundamentally different from any
in the West, not only because the Chinese system encompasses all urban citizens, but because the file is kept by
one's employer. The dangan affects promotions and job opportunities, and it is difficult to escape from because any
prospective employer is supposed to examine an applicant's dangan before making a hiring decision. And there is no
Freedom of Information Act to allow access to material in one's file.
The dangan is part of a web of social controls that insure
order in China. Other elements of the web include the personal identity card that each citizen must carry, the
residence permit that determines in what city a person can live, and the "work unit" that provides lifetime
employment, housing, political study and permission to have a child.
Julia Gillard, Red Slippers, "TC" Proponents, and the AshkeNAZI Fourth
Are You a "TC" Proponent?
The Fozdyke Letters
Defining the Spiritual War You Failed to Fight
What the Study of History Should Have Been
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