The Astounding Failure of the US Educational System

smartknowledgeu's picture

The below article titled “The Educational System Was
Designed to Keep Us Docile
”, by John Taylor Gatto is a fine read as a complement
to my latest article “Inside the Illusory Empire of the Banking Commodities Con
.”  Who is John Taylor Gatto?
Mr. Gatto was the NYC “Teacher of the Year” three times, and a teacher that
became highly disillusioned with the formal education system due to its
failures to stimulate critical thinking in children.


I find it odd that people that find value in the information
I provide to my clients as well as information that I provide publicly on my
blog often desire to know of me, “Where did you go to school?” I find it even odder
that many people find my attendance of an Ivy League university to be validating
of my knowledge base and thinking skill set, as if attending an expensive
university is responsible for the thought processes that have enabled many of my
big picture, long-term predictions of the global economy to be accurate. I
believe there is absolutely no correlation between the cost of an education and
intelligence or even between formal education and knowledge, although oddly
people believe this relationship to exist. If there is a provable relationship
between formal education and intelligence, it is probably an inverse one. The
more letters you have behind your name (MBA, PhD, JD, MFA, CPA) the greater
level of stupidity one likely possesses, as the attainment of a higher level of
education means that one has been exposed for a far longer time period than the
average citizen to the indoctrination process.


I find oddest of all, the expressions on people’s faces,
when I inform them that I sincerely believe that the knowledge I gained through
formal institutions of academia was detrimental to my understanding of how capital
markets operate. In fact, I explain to those that inquire of my educational
background that I had to rewire my brain and purge it of nearly all of the
false business concepts and stupidity I learned in school because I later found
the great majority of what I had learned in school to be not only downright
deceptive, but also in my opinion, deliberately erroneous. Many people express
genuine shock when I tell them that my formal education was, as was my
education on Wall Street, almost entirely useless to any of the investment
research and analysis I perform today and that my understanding of how capital
markets move is entirely the result of self-education.


"When we look at the information Gatto has uncovered regarding the purpose of the education system as designed by the men that funded and implemented the foundation of the American educational system in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, we discover, in fact, that the US educational system accomplishes exactly what it was designed to do – to dumb down people and suppress the natural inquisitiveness and critical thought processes of children."


In fact, an article I wrote titled “Delaying a College
Education in this Economy is the Right Choice
” probably generated some of the
most perplexed responses I have ever witnessed up close and in person when
discussing the content of this article with others. Some of the responses I have
heard are as follows:


But isn’t this the BEST time to send my kid to college? The
economy is terrible now, so after he graduates, the economy will be much
better, right?

You don’t REALLY mean that, do you? Everyone needs a diploma
to fall back on. Who’s going to respect you without a college degree?

How is my child going to get ahead in life without a college


Even when someone saw eye to eye with my viewpoint and
generally understood the points I was trying to make in that article, in the
end, they still bowed down to societal norms because of the fact that he or she
has been conditioned to believe in the institutional system of education.


Yes, I understand what you’re saying, he or she would tell
me. But I still need to send my child to college. What other choice do I have?

And that’s exactly what the elite want you to believe – that
you have no choice but to indoctrinate your child through a formal institutionalized
process versus providing an alternate path of education and enlightenment for
your child. In the article below, Gatto states, “It’s no secret that the US
educational system doesn’t do a very good job.”
But when we look at the
information Gatto has uncovered regarding the purpose of the education system
as designed by the men that funded and implemented the foundation of
the American educational system in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, we discover, in fact,
that the US educational system accomplishes exactly what it was designed to do
– to dumb down people and suppress the natural inquisitiveness and critical
thought processes of children.


Gatto reveals that Eldwood Cubberly, the future Dean of Education
of Stanford University, argued, in his 1905 dissertation for schools that
should be factory-like in production “in which raw products, children, are to
be shaped and formed into finished products…manufactured like nails, and the
specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry.


I have pointed out numerous times the banker-funded state of
business academia in America as my rationale for why business degrees are often
useless. I have often told those considering entering business school that I
could sit down and talk to them for three hours and probably grant them
knowledge that will be a thousand times more valuable than anything they will
learn during a two-year MBA program at Harvard Business School. I say this not out of
arrogance. I acknowledge that I still have a long road to travel in my
own educational journey. I say this only because I am 100% convinced that the
business school curricula of all traditional institutions of academia will
never provide the knowledge young adults need to succeed in today’s Empire of


Today, revered professors all across the US teach students the
nonsense that bankers want them to learn and that bankers want them to believe
is real, NOT the reality of how currency markets, stock markets and commodity
markets truly operate. Gatto confirms my thesis by pointing out a statement
from the Rockefeller Education Board, a key institution that was a critical
force in shaping modern education in America: “We shall not try to make
[students] into philosophers or men of learning or men of science…The task we
set before ourselves is simple…we will organize children…and teach them to do
in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect


The Educational System Was Designed to Keep Us Docile (John Taylor Gatto)


About the author: JS Kim, the founder and Managing Director of SmartKnowledgeU,
a fiercely independent investment research & consulting firm, attributes
zero of his success as an entrepreneur to the formalized education process, his
four years of education at an Ivy League institution or the attainment of a
double masters in business administration and public policy. Instead, JS
attributes 100% of any success he has attained in any entrepreneurial endeavor
to critical thinking skills that were fostered from international travel,
exposure to independent media and artists, and self-education.





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rocky89's picture

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mkkby's picture

This is fucking hilarious. We have someone proclaiming themselves as "smart" knowledge, presenting no evidence but making broad conclusions about how you should prepare your kids for life. There is a half truth here. No matter how many degrees you have, if you believe things with no proof then you are not smart at all.

If you believe education has no value, then home school your kids (or stop them after high school) and watch what happens. They will be competing with minimally educated kids in third world countries, who will work for little beyond their next meal.

Learn science = objective proof. Reject religion = believing what you are told by others.

MachoMan's picture

The largest difference between home schooling and traditional schooling (aside from home schoolers having a vastly better chance at coming out ahead in the education department) is the social education.  I've never met a kid that was home schooled who wasn't a hair away from aspergers.  The baby sitter sucks, but at least you learn group dynamics...  tact...  and, if you're a little brighter, Machiavellian aptitude.

chopper read's picture

its a microscopic communism in high school, which spews out a lot of students who only know how to operate in a political world.  hence, 60,000 lawyers in Cook County (Chicago), IL.  Our city is fucked because of it.  

MachoMan's picture

I don't think it's the lawyers that are your problem...  that knife slices both ways (they're the people that both stir shit and get you/us out of it/protect us from the government)... 

The problem with our institutional stupidity is that it spits out students who only know how to operate in a world at least as inefficient/ineffective as the present and to utilize the general apathy towards credit to their own pecuinary gain, morality be damned.  When the world is at the peak of the credit bubble or expanding in an unbridled fashion, this creates nothing but snakes without fangs.  Hope we can withstand the winter.

PS, snakes don't turn into anything after the winter other than wiser snakes.

chopper read's picture

(they're the people that both stir shit and get you/us out of it/protect us from the government)... 

lawyers write laws to defend us against.  quite convenient, isn't it?

the general apathy towards credit to their own pecuinary gain, morality be damned.

credit has no conscience, nor should it need one.  money planning should be decentralized, fractional reserve lending should be outlawed, and our economies should be opened to competing currencies including gold and silver. 

credit should be a simple agreement between a lender and a borrower.  one unit of wealth in, one unit of wealth out.  if that unit of wealth is lost, then this is the risk of lending.  the alternative should be to store this unit of wealth in a safe for later use.  it is truly this simple. 

nmewn's picture

Combining both your's and MM's...

"(they're the people that both stir shit and get you/us out of it/protect us from the government)...lawyers write laws to defend us against.  quite convenient, isn't it?"

That is the essence of it isn't it?

I have long held the belief that we should have an overwhelming majority of carpenter's, electricians, plumbers etc. making or in the situation we find ourselves now, repealing laws.

A good start, once this majority of the trades class is in power, would be that any sponsor or co-sponsor of a law cannot advise, lobby for or practice in...the law they sponsored. 

chopper read's picture

Jesse Ventura recently went so far as to say lawyers should be banned from political office.  ???


"government", designed by lawyers to serve lawyers.

"fractional reserve counterfeiting", designed by bankers to serve bankers.

"fiat money", designed by central planners to serve central planners.

MachoMan's picture

You have to separate the people who actually practice law to the politicians.  The people who practice law are, in general, fairly upstanding and subject to their local bars and ethics committees.  However, politicians are, in general, corrupt.  It doesn't matter whether it's a lawyer that is a politician or a teacher, janitor, farmer, or inventor...  most become corrupted by the political system before their tenure is over.  For whatever reason, it seems a disproportionately large % of lawyers are drawn to political office...  I suspect it's that you make a lot of...  acquaintances during practice...  and the ego of thinking lawyers know what's best/are the smartest people in the room is something that often goes with the profession...

The problem isn't lawyers in political office...  it's the entire political system...  elections, campaign/other contributions, voting process, advertising, media control of political information, you name it...  you can stuff anyone in there and they will be posed with a myriad of ethically/morally questionable predicaments...  many drawn to political office, through the process of self nomination, lack the discpline to resist the system...  simple as that...  and further, any ability to change the system should they desire... 

99er's picture

We now have, at the wealth spectrum’s uppermost reaches, just over 1,000 billionaires and another 80,000 “ultra high net worth individuals” worth over $50 million each. We can add into this wealthy summit still another 24 million adults worth between $1 million and $50 million.

At other end of the global spectrum sit three billion people -- “more than two thirds of the global adult population” – with an average wealth per adult less than $10,000. About 1.1 billion of these adults hold net worths less than $1,000.

onlooker's picture

About 25% of the 18 thru 22 year olds in the U.S. are acceptable to the military service. This I learned from the Seabee group this week. Drugs, crime, smarts are the limiters.


WW2 told the US it needed better educated young men. A high school graduate was the goal, and college was free in the GI Bill. It appears that the goal did not work well for today. It did work for a while.  


The family that can home school and spend time with the child has different problems than the single mother in a bad area. The some what bright have an advantage over the some what dumb.


There is a common thread, there are no jobs for most of the dumb and uneducated or the brighter and educated.


There are problems that existed before this depression with bad teachers and worse kids. There has been too much and too little. We have tried to form all thru a common mold dampening down individualism. We have tried to educate everyone including those who can not be educated. We have saved a few that made good because of that effort. We have built up expectations of some who failed because of false expectations. Some have pushed past their abilities and found that the limits could be broken because they didn’t know any better.



Intelligence differential is the cruelest and least equitable part of life. Being jobless without hope is another.

Instant Karma's picture

We all have unique paths through life and in my experience time in college was the most illuminating of my life. Not from taking classes. But from getting out of the house for the first time in my life and learning to live on my own and starting to understand who I was as a person. Back in the early 80s the cost was modest.

College is a nice 4-year block of time to transition to adulthood. To some people, this transition comes naturally, but not for me. I was just 17 when I hit campus, and just 21 when I finished, but it was transformative.

For most people, avoiding a formal education and heading into the work force is the on-ramp to the city of poverty.

For every Bill Gates there are a million guys living with their parents smoking pot trying to figure out how to get SSI.

Arkadaba's picture

I haven't read through all the comments here but to this day I am extremely grateful for the education I did receive. When I was in grade school some of the boomer ideas were taking root - so I didn't skip grade two - I was accelerated. Luckily I had a few old school teachers that taught me to parse a sentence, do basic math without a calculator and most importantly, to think critically. 

And my courses in university confirmed that. Semantics 101 meant a course in logic - I loved it. I had been reading for years but lit courses helped me figure out what I should be reading next.

Granted I did get my education in Canada which is hugely supportive of public education - and it works. 

I have met tons of brilliant people that went through American schools - I've also met people that should not have made it out of kindergarten. 

Coldfire's picture

The general demise of the US higher education system began with the philosophical AIDS of nihilist philosophy, was accelerated by government's insertion into the market with the GI Bill and will ultimately implode as a result of the securitisation - then nationalisation - of education financing. There is a direct analogy to the housing market, but the structures are not physical, but intellectual houses of cards. The costs of degrees in demand by the military-, finance-, legal- and medical-industrial complexes are in an unsustainable bubble, and consequent demand will collapse in tandem with the collapse of the state. As with the industrial unions, these guilds essentially wrote themselves a huge check drawn on the efforts of future generations. The only way out for today's kids is to return this check marked "insufficient funds". They will and it will happen without a shot being fired. Think "going on strike". The disincentives for any Generation Y kid to contribute to the Ponzi scheme that is the US government and its allied complexes are growing with each Treasury "auction".

Cheesy Bastard's picture

Father Guido Sarducci's business school degree: "Buy something, sell it for more".

ZeroPoint's picture

I have to disagree. The purpose of college is not just to force people into thinking about a certain set of facts, it's also supposed to teach you to think on your own.

I went to school for business, found out I hated most of it, and went into software engineering, which is very different. I didn't like the school I went to, but it was key to getting my foot in the door.

Now about ivy league vs. state, I guess it depends what you want to do. If you really want to work on wall street or k street, you probably are better off with that credential. If you want to be anything else, a good state university will help to get you there.




FDR's picture

I went to school at one of the institutions that pioneered "progressive education" a little over a century ago, Johns Hopkins; that system has been the norm for some time now and is excellent as producing spineless, uncreative cogs who can impress most with their competency at structured tasks, recall of information, and gregariousness.  A generation such as ours may be capable of applying thoroughly the knowledge won by our predecessors, but is ill-equipped to add to that knowledge base by comparison; the result: diminishing returns and the victory of entropy.  I highly recommend The Leipzig Connection by Paolo Lionni, How the Order Controls Education by Antony Sutton, and The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand; the last in particular has good stories on John Dewey, probably the most important of the brainwashers - er - educators.  Also good is The Lonely Crowd by David Riesman on the effects of this system as surveyed circa 1950. 

halvord's picture

This article is indeed appalling tripe, because the fundamental intellectual argument is bogus: JSK quotes Gatto's (very very fine) history of K-12 education, then uses it to trash-talk the Higher Education system. The two are completely different structures. 


Yo ZH- This piece is profoundly intellectually dishonest. This is American anti-intellectualism, very cynically promoted. Do you even proofread this stuff?

MachoMan's picture

As a person with more letters after my name than letters in my name, let me tell you that both systems are complete and total horseshit.  Further, more to your point, how can you separate K-12, when colleges have printed so many degrees that an extra four years are necessary to actually reach the former equivalent of a high school degree?  There is "degree inflation" too you know.  The lion's share of the first year or two of a college degree are often spent on remedial classes because K-12 is little more than a babysitter (with a lot more drugs and guns).  Once you finally earn a degree, the choices are to: (1) go get the same job you could have had without a college degree; or (2) get another degree and hope (1) changes.  Like the FED, colleges have printing presses too and know how to use them. 

In short, the distinction between high school and college is practically very narrow...  the primary differences being: (1) you can show up to college in pajamas; (2) women can be practically naked in class; (3) you'll still get laid for (1); (4) you learn that beer really is a meal; (5) you confirm that frat guys really are complete douche bags; (6) you can curse in class; and (7) it costs more.

Rotwang's picture

The 'Seals' of corporations. The dead hand.

Follow them. Demand them. Corporations contract with their seal.

In Washington (Washington State), George is depicted. The original seal had his nose pointing one way, subsequent seals the other way. They change depicts transitions.

The years around 1971 (going off the gold standard), caused a revision in government organization, and changes of 'Seals'.


Lexington Duffet's picture

This is part of the current Right Wing Propaganda-- that unless you believe them, you are biased and incompetent. 

For example, if you believe the Constitution's 1st Amendment prohibits RW christians from placing their beliefs on others, then you are biased.

Or, as Rush Limbagh argued in a WSJ OP ED peice, that if you believe the Government may not protect young girls being f'd by say, David Koresh, a RW whacko who claimed he was the reincarnation of Christ, or enforce a valid Court order, then you are biased. What total BS.  

What total BS from a bunch of lying whack jobs. A bunch of idiots.  A bunch of Traitors.  Calling them that is not biased.   Just speaking an unpleasant truth. 

Since this is a finance based site, Mr. Kim is invited to disprove any theorum discussed in Keynes work A Treatise on Probability.   (PS RW whack jobs, citing other whack jobs is proof you are whack jobs.)

nmewn's picture

LOL...that was a lot of words just to prove Gatto's point ;-)

RichardP's picture

... if you believe the Constitution's 1st Amendment prohibits RW christians ...

Anyone who believes that is uninformed, not biased.  That Amendment is directed at the Federal Government, not right-wing christians.  It prohibits the Federal (not state) government, not citizens.


-Michelle-'s picture

This is part of the current Right Wing Propaganda-- that unless you believe them, you are biased and incompetent.

Tell that to Juan Williams.

swamp's picture

No child left behind means no child advances.

Teach in English only.


And get the government out of education.

trgfunds's picture

Kayl, I'm curious. Are you advocating the "straw man" theory / Redemption? Do you believe that birth certificates are monetized, there should only be 48 stars on the flag (with no gold fringe) and that we are under Admirality law? Do you believe that when you receive a bill from the IRS, a bank, or the cable company, under the Uniform Commercial Code, you can simply write "Accepted for Value" on that bill and it will be paid by your secret Treasury Direct Account, set up by the government when you were born? I'm only asking because, while intriguing, this stuff sounds pretty bogus. Just having found a quick overview on the "vocabulary" of it all below, it seems a little far fetched.

trgfunds's picture

Astounding? No, not really. The education system is a precision guided weapon carefully crafted and designed to destroy it's enemy. YOU and your children. Why are people so surprised by this? Wake the hell up. Religion is a lie, Education is a lie, the legal system is a lie, the financial system is a lie, the government doesn't even exist in the form they tell you it does. Mathematically speaking it is impossible for this many systems to fail so "astoundingly" by chance. This is because it isn't by chance. It is by design. Media is brainwashing you constantly. There is a war going on and you don't even know it. Hard to fight back when you're barely even able to realize there is an enemy. Oh BTW, entertainment is not provided FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT. It's all MK Ultra. Get off your knees. Stop participating in a system that is constantly targeting and destroying you. You can't even get people to pull their money out of big banks, let alone wake the hell up to this crap, so I don't think that'll happen. Most people are literally animals, reproducing, feeding, and doing enormously stupid shit. Can you blame the elites for treating us this way?? Maybe not.

-Michelle-'s picture

I would have to say that all people are, literally, animals.

RichardP's picture

Does that include the elites?

tony bonn's picture

bravo mr kim, god bless you!!!!

outstanding......the education system is all about learned helplessness....."oh you can't do don't have a college degree...." in some fields that is correct but in the field of business and closely allied ones, it is pure rubbish....

and it is very true that higher education is designed to stupefy, limit, and control....

knowledge comes from many channels. academia is only one such channel which in many cases is toxic to intelligent thought. indeed the educational establishment is an organized nazi mobster operation.

i love you man!!!! keep publishing....

bugs_'s picture

academic politics are the most vicious kind because the stakes are so low

Trifecta Man's picture

One of the reasons why teachers are chronically underpaid is the result of the establishment wanting docile Americans to just follow their ways.  When some students questioned the motives of Vietnem War in the late 1960s, which was prompted by the Selective Service system of drafting young Americans to kill and be killed for the benefit of war machine producers, the establishment was infuriated by their protests for peace and troop withdrawals.  What happened in the following two decades was the gradual decline in SAT test scores by American students, as the establishment tried to dumb down students to not question the government by offering teachers less pay than if they pursued a business career, ensuring that the less talented would be left teaching the young.  And that's why students in other foreign countries are ranked higher in their abilities.

Trifecta Man's picture

I remember being taught by one of my economics professor that it did not matter that the coins no longer were being issued with silver in them.  Now I know that fiat money is the biggest scam in the universe.  That is a very costly lesson in opportunity.

kayl's picture

Absolutely. Read my article on the foreclosuregate and the two great deceptions served up courtesy of the Federal Reserve:

kevinearick's picture

time axis to frequency axis to spectroscopy.

Miles Kendig's picture

This 9th grade graduate, autodidactic centric member of the ZH community just loves validation.  Thanks for the scratch behind the ears smartknowledgeu.  Fact remains that this lack of alphabet soupism is one of the major stumbling blocks from my being able to reenter the workforce.  Even on the limited basis available to me.

I have to wonder if this preoccupation with alphabet soupism has more to do with systemic validation, the requirements of debt dynamics or is it simply another reflection of our societies drive to outsource its responsibilities of self government?  This time the concept of community based mentorship - apprenticeship being topical.

Regardless, the drive to macro centricism is wrecking havoc on the greatest form of free capital movement & allocation the world has yet witnessed.  This capital is human capital and we are in the early stages of a negative feedback loop of ever greater constrictive capital controls on this most dynamic of contributors to our society.  Followed closely by the loss of markets, price discovery & true financial alchemy.  All thanks to what this outsourced reliance on alphabet soupism has wrought.

Thanks for this marvelous effort smartknowledgeu.


kayl's picture

Well, we should wreak havoc on their system. File a UCC 1 Financing Statement and start managing your own commercial affairs.

Here's my take on the foreclosuregate and the reasons why:


michigan independant's picture

As a Parent I had to send my children to a tutor fix the problem when they so called fell behind the system. I sent them to public school to not insulate them from reality and to save some money for retirement. The mistake I made was High School was a minimum security facility with armed police as it decended to hostages learning from experts. Now to me ex pert is latin for ex - being removed - and pert as in drip under pressure I learned from my Father. Like I said, I had to hire a grad student to fix a ploblem with one Son in calculus and the other in mid school to catch up since the ability was there but he missed  elements that was needs. No big deal since we took the time to INSURE and persist in there ability to learn under duress as we found out more complicated than my educational needs from the seventy's. I went back to college to brush up on skills I needed from assesment to my abilities. Pointless to discuss solution since they see no problems. I went to a few meetings during there education and the study of the day was warranted to supercede the reality of the moment such as the teachers had raw material issues as they say to social stigma's. Did I have time to assist in solution? No, there mindset was there own prison. What I did teach my now college student's young adults that the world owes you no living and the de programming was minimal from the liberal desease we discussed to closure. The only point I can convey is unmask the fault or acept the validity of the attack on your ability to think for yourself. So far there doing well in work and going to college as a secondary route to understanding since all politics are local. One is working to medical and one to enginnering with the other at Federal Express since to date education is not his avenue to date.

I do not have a answer other than what Franklin warned us to that either there is, or not, or you better hope not to thought to belief's. What I do understand in Business the heart rules the mind and the mind rules the body so choose wisely on education since as Parent's you are acountable. No spell check so please excuse...

smartknowledgeu's picture

Waiting for Superman  has anyone seen this yet? if so, how was it?

covert's picture

I sure do wish that He would have been my teacher.


BaboonAss's picture

Gatto wrote a fantastic free online book about the US K-12 public education system:

The Underground History of American Education

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture


Could you change it to Masters of Business "Abomination" ? Would be funnier, IMHO.

yipcarl's picture

This article hits the nail directly on the head.  Personally I know ALOT more people who are smarter people that DID NOT go to college than did.  Personally I have 2 MBA's and many of my friends who have ZERO degrees are much more apt than I.  Education although is extremely important, it does not make or break you.  Your parents and upringing are what count the most.

Gully Foyle's picture

Blah, blah, blah.

When do parents take responsibility for actually being involved enough to direct their children to learn some fucking thing.

Yes the system may have gotten dumber and dumber, but parents have decilned even more. %50 of high school graduates are not prepared for college. How the fuck can you be a parent and not know your kid has not learned shit? Or maybe you kid is just plain stupid but you blame it on some fictitious disorder and medicate the turd.

From the comments there seem to be involved parents. But you are NOT the norm. You are the abberration.

Education and critical thinking and morality ALWAYS start at home.

kayl's picture

Education and critical thinking and morality ALWAYS start at home.

Quite true, but you forget. Only 20% or less of the people in society ever were educated. Nothing has changed. Just some kind of rant about no child being left behind.

People rise to their own capabilities with or without school or parents. And vice versa. It's always better to have a leg up though.

Read my take on the deceptions at work: