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Here we thought it was a 20th century thing. I've been readin Sal Khan's One World Schoolhouse, and apparently the present schooling system with schools broken into grades and learning into subjects started with the Prussians. A few quotes:

From Prussian philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte:

"Addresses to the German Nation (1807), Second Address : "The General Nature of the New Education".

"If you want to influence him at all, you must do more than merely talk to him ; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than you wish him to will."

Another paraphrase of this is: "The schools must fashion the person, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will."

Here's a celebrated teacher's take on this stuff.

John Taylor Gatto (1935 -) is a a retired American school teacher and author of several books on education. Named New York City Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991, he is markedly critical of compulsory schooling. The quote in Khan's book:

"the whole system was built on the premise that isolation from first-hand information and fragmentation of the abstract information presentation by teachers would result in obedient and subordinate graduates."

also that class periods were put in place

"so that self-motivation to learn would be muted by ceaseless interupptions."

Khan's book is really interesting. And it gives me something to do when I wake up at 4 am

arrete - thanks to Dwdonhoff for the heads up on this book
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