John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #6: Rockefeller Plays God

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did Max Mason, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation (1929-1936), announce that a program was underway that would enable the Rockefellers to control human behavior?

Here’s a published excerpt from Lily E. Kay’s 1993 book, Who Wrote the Book of Life?: A History of the Genetic Code, that says he did:

The quote may also be found in Mark Zuss’ The Practice of Theoretical Curiosity.

Additionally, the quote may be found in Steven Rose’s Lifelines: Life Beyond the Genes.

Disclaimer: I lack the required knowledge to attempt to assign credibility to academics who write about the history of genetics research.

The Big Question: What do you do when you have the power to socially control a mass of people who have no idea that they are being socially controlled?

Source Mention: Page 2

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #5: Subjects of Little Value

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did Edward L. Thorndike (a founding father of Educational Psychology) really say that academic subjects are of little value?

Here’s his quote from a website of which I’m not familiar:

Despite rapid progress in the right direction, the program of the average elementary school has been primarily devoted to teaching the fundamental subjects, the three R’s, and closely related disciplines… Artificial exercises, like drills on phonetics, multiplication tables, and formal writing movements, are used to a wasteful degree. Subjects such as arithmetic, language, and history include content that is intrinsically of little value. Nearly every subject is enlarged unwisely to satisfy the academic ideal of thoroughness… Elimination of the unessential by scientific study, then, is one step in improving the curriculum.

It Gets Worse: Wikipedia also claims that Thorndike was yet another academic of the early 20th century who held Eugenic views.  Here’s what Thorndike had to say:

…selective breeding can alter man’s capacity to learn, to keep sane, to cherish justice or to be happy. There is no more certain and economical a way to improve man’s environment as to improve his nature.

Source Mention: Page 2

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #4: Rockefeller Conspiracy

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did a mayor of New York City really say that the Rockefeller Foundation was a giant octopus that had its tentacles wrapped around the schools?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

[John Francis] Hylan’s most famous statement against “the interests” was the following speech, made in 1922, while he was the sitting Mayor of New York City:

The real menace of our Republic is the invisible government, which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy legs over our cities, states and nation. To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller-Standar Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as the international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. Continue reading John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #4: Rockefeller Conspiracy

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #3: Mating of the Unfit

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Did Professor Arthur W. Calhoun really want agencies of public education to “check the mating of the unfit?”  Here’s some of what he had to say in his  A Social History of the Family from Colonial Times to the Present:

In Case You Missed It: Calhoun wanted Congress to pass laws that would stop the “procreation of undesirable citizens.”  Presumably, the protection of “positively eugenic matings” would be achieved through sterilization.

Calhoun advanced his position just a few short years before  Margaret Sanger voiced her advocacy for the “sterilization of the insane and feebleminded” as one of the aims of The American Birth Control League.  (Eugenics was the height of intellectual fashion at the time.)

Professor Arthur W. Calhoun continues: 

Familism: a social pattern in which the family assumes a position of ascendance over individual interests (Merriam-Webster)

In Case You Missed It: Calhoun envisioned a future in which “notable lines of heredity” would experience family as a luxury granted to them by the privilege of their high standing in society.

My Personal Opinion: Arthur W. Calhoun wasn’t one of the good guys.

Source Mentions: Pages 1 & 2

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #2: Into the Custody of Community Experts

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.

Could Professor Arthur W. Calhoun really have gotten away with publicly advocating for children to pass from blood families “into the custody of community experts” all the way back in 1919?  Here’s some of what he said in his  A Social History of the Family from Colonial Times to the Present:

The Sinister Summary:

Problem: Modernization in industrial and social life (allowing women to work alongside men in factories) has made it impossible for parents to successfully perform their parental functions.

Not the Solution #1:  Encourage parents to find an independent livelihood outside of the factory/corporate system that would provide them with the time and resources to raise their own children.

Not the Solution #2: Ease restrictions on small businesses.

Solution: Allow qualified community experts to perform the complexer functions of parenthood.

Source Mention: Page 1

John Taylor Gatto Fact Check #1: Why Children Work

Sporadically picking through the sources in John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction.  Here’s a link to Helen Todds Why Children Work: The Children’s Answer, published by McClure’s Magazine in 1913:

This is certainly a fascinating historical document.  While I’m as skeptical of the integrity of the journalism of 1913 as I am of the journalism of today, I find Ms. Todd’s account to be sobering.

Personal Reflection: I find it strange that our contemporary view of child labor is still largely framed by the the mental images that we hold of the factory conditions of the early 20th century.  In this age of the service economy would it be possible to reach a compromise that could provide safe opportunities for children to be more productive members of society?  Can they be any more than tax evaders who occasionally engage in illicit lawn mowing, dog walking, and babysitting?

Source Mention: Page 1