The book was written in the first months after John Taylor Gatto left schoolteaching, it is a hard-hitting reflection on the significance of schools and schoolteaching, the difference between networks and communities, and what lies at the heart of being congregationally American as opposed to corporatively American.
These are the main points, what mainstream American (but it can be applied to the UK and most countries I can think of) school does to children:
- It makes the children confused. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorise to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials that programming is similar to the television, it fills almost all the "free" time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
- It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
- It makes them indifferent.
- It makes them emotionally dependent.
- It makes them intellectually dependent.
- It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
- It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised