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Brett Veinotte on Horrors of State-Run Schools and Schooling
With Anthony Wile - April 01, 2012
The Daily Bell is pleased to present this exclusive interview with Brett Veinotte
Introduction: Brett Veinotte has worked in private education for the last 10 years, in a variety of activities. As host of the School Sucks Podcast, every week Brett shares his discoveries about American schooling with thousands of listeners. He is also now the vice president of a tutoring and educational consulting company in New Hampshire.
Brett worked as an Outdoor Education Leader at a boarding school lin Vermont in 2000, then taught at the Great Expectations school in Manchester, Vermont from 2004 to 2006, where he designed new curricula for all classes he taught, including American History, World History, Media Ethics, Film History and a variety of mathematics courses. While teaching at Great Expectations, he completed masters level coursework in educational leadership, and the secondary education certification program at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. After leaving Great Expectations in 2006, Brett began to work exclusively as a private tutor in the greater Boston area. Much of this work was related to standardized test prep but also included providing essay writing support to college applicants, leading training sessions for prospective teachers planning to take state certification exams and serving as a liaison between parents and public schools to address student needs and parent concerns. He also worked as writing consultant to a London School of Economics graduate student, advising on foreign policy issues and Austrian School Economics.
Daily Bell: Give us some background on School Sucks Podcast. How did it start? What does it do now?
Brett Veinotte: School Sucks Podcast began in 2009, and it was intended to be a sharp, comical and pop-culture-friendly exploration into something that most people couldn't care less about. Unfortunately, it's something that significantly affects us, in ways that most folks never even realize.
Our aim is to take the word "education" back from the state. Today that word is a euphemism for compulsory indoctrination funded by threats of force against property owners, designed to serve the needs of the power elite. What education really is: a lifelong pursuit of self-directed, intrinsically motivated and purposeful knowledge acquisition. Public school and education are more antonymous than synonymous.
Daily Bell: Give us some background on yourself and where you were born and grew up.
Brett Veinotte: I was born in Pennsylvania, in a town I later discovered was run by the mafia. I used to really like sharing what I thought was an exciting fact. So imagine my disappointment when I eventually realized that all towns, cities, counties, states and countries are controlled by some form of organized crime.
I grew up near the New Hampshire seacoast. After some moving around for college and career, I came back to NH. I highly recommend it as a place to settle down.
Daily Bell: You had ten years in education. Tell us about that.
Brett Veinotte: I was once on track to be a certified public school teacher in the state of Massachusetts. Despite my original career goals, I managed to avoid teaching in public school. However, I was trained to teach with public school teachers. My student teaching experience was in a public high school, and in even private school I was introduced to the burden of "state standards." When I left private school, I found that the system had followed me into private tutoring (grades, college pressures, student apathy, etc.)
At some point, around 2005, I began exploring the so-called "failure" of the public education system, how and why it "failed" and the subsequent widespread implications. Once I came to understand the history and intentions of government schooling, I realized that it is only a failure for those who believe its purpose was enlightenment. When we come to understand that the intentions were conditioning, handicapping indoctrination and control we have to acknowledge its success.
That being said, not only did I want to stop participating in the problem, I also wanted to find some means of evaluation and action that would be a dramatic departure from any previous educational reform debate. Those desires, after a few failures, eventually manifested in my tutoring company and School Sucks Podcast.
Daily Bell: When did you decide that education wasn't doing what it was supposed to do?
Brett Veinotte: It's an interesting question because what I eventually realized is that government school is doing exactly what is was supposed to do. I think many libertarians reach a point, probably early in their development, where they ask some variation of this question: "Is our society managed by the dumbest and most myopic people on the planet? Or is there just some other agenda we're not being told about?"
Up to this point, human history is basically playing in a loop. It's a continuous story of how a small group of people controls a large group of people, by fear or by force. And this is achieved by keeping most of the large group relatively ignorant and hopelessly dependent on the supposed leadership of the smaller group. It's predators and prey, and government school is just one of the predators' newer tools. And in 21st century America, if people don't believe this applies to them, they are simply the latest dupes in this cycle.
Daily Bell: When did public schools get their start − in Germany?
Brett Veinotte: While there are sparse examples of compulsory schooling going all the way back to ancient Greece, the pre-German-Unification Kingdom of Prussia is probably the most significant step. However, the system in Prussia was simply a new method of perpetuating a practice that was already thousands of years old, and that was the science of turning human beings into controllable and predictable resources. In Prussia, the goals were militaristic; the rulers and elites wanted a reliable fighting force, with soldiers who wouldn't be made less efficient by annoying habits like the exercises of volition and self-preservation.
Daily Bell: Tell us more about the Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck.
Brett Veinotte: Bismarck was a Prussian aristocrat, credited with masterminding the German Unification under Prussian rule in the latter half of the 1800s. He was like a brilliant chess player; he thought way ahead. However, like Hitler many generations later, he was able utilize an already existing momentum of German thought to ultimately achieve his goals.
Key to Bismarck's plan was a popular embrace of nationalism and a strong ethnic identity. At the time Bismarck began to implement his plans, the schools had been building that momentum for at least two generations. The success of his "Blood and Iron" speech speaks to the impact the schools were already having. In this speech, he criticized the ideas of diplomacy and multilateral decision-making, and argued instead for concentrated power and military aggression. And the people, who were ultimately the victims of this agenda, happily embraced it.
Daily Bell: Didn't he plan for Gymnasiums to educate children by grade to bond them for eventual warfare?
Brett Veinotte: Yes. And this is the genesis of the age-based sorting system we still see in schools today. Like I said, he thought way ahead.
Daily Bell: How did Bismarck's horrid system expand around the world?
Brett Veinotte: The Prussian system was imported to the United States in the mid-19th century by a Massachusetts politician named Horace Mann. He praised the system for its efficiency and regimentation but he was also forced to acknowledge the abusive nature of the Prussian model. Amazingly, he simply dismissed this concern by claiming that such a control structure could be used for good ("the perpetuation of republican institutions") in the United States.
Daily Bell: Didn't it get a foothold in America because of Irish prejudice?
Brett Veinotte: As early as the 1860s it was a factor. It was no coincidence that a system formed in Prussia to instill a sense of ethnic superiority and the mystical idea of nationalism would have the same effect in the United States.
Catholics and immigrants were big targets. There was a strong xenophobic desire to stamp out diversity in general, and the school system was even embraced by the KKK for that potential molding function.
From Massachusetts, it expanded quickly around the country. As a simple and general rule, when one government observes another devising a clever and subtle new way to control its subjects, the observer will imitate the doer.
Daily Bell: Give us some insight into John Dewey. What was his impact on modern education?
Brett Veinotte: Dewey was a so-called educational reformer who came along roughly two generations after the system's implementation. In retrospect, we could say that Dewey's reform was actually an acceleration of the existing system's worst features. In a nutshell, Dewey asserted that an individual's mind was essentially property of the larger society.
I believe that he believed he had the best of intentions but the actual results of his ideas were monstrous. Dewey believed in the eventual emergence of what he might have called a 'humanistic society based on the principle of interdependence.' Or state socialism, if you strip out all the euphemisms.
While Dewey helped introduce the look-say method of teaching literacy, or teaching illiteracy if again we strip out the euphemisms, that was not his most significant contribution. Dewey seemed to understand that the schools were a profound power for indoctrination in nationalism and ethnic superiority, and he wanted to use this power for an even 'greater good': the inculcation of collectivism. And to achieve this, individualism had to be significantly downgraded.
John Dewey was all about the greater good. That sounds nice. But what is it, who decides it and how many smaller goods should be sacrificed to achieve or maintain it? He once wrote: "Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth." Okay, so who defines "proper" social "order" and "right" social "growth" for all? Moral, mentally healthy people don't seek that kind of power.
Daily Bell: What is your mission going forward at the podcast?
Brett Veinotte: Simply put...expansion, empowerment and exposure. For the last few months I've been working very hard to tap into YouTube, where I believe there is a huge group of young people ready to embrace our message. In every podcast and video, I try to include a strong message about how demented and philosophically corrupt government schooling actually is. So no matter where a person starts, they get some introduction to this message. I hope that this realization helps rebellious or labeled (ODD, ADHD) students realize that it's the system that is defective. Not them.
Daily Bell: What are some of the big issues you will continue to cover?
Brett Veinotte: That's where the exposure comes in. One of the aims from the beginning of the show was to encourage critical thought. I want young people to have the tools to detect and deflect government and corporate propaganda. And they won't get these tools in school.
We recently began a series on logical fallacies, where we take a critical look at intellectually insulting ruses like Mitt Romney and the viral video, KONY 2012. I want to help young people build their intellectual self-defense, so they can identify and expose dangerous frauds. Between the schools, the mainstream media and politics there is no shortage of new dangerous frauds in need of exposing.
Daily Bell: How should people feel who work in the current system?
Brett Veinotte: That depends on how much they've discovered about it. I remember how I felt at different stages in my career, even in private school. From my own experience, it's a gradual process that begins with denial and rationalization. My only advice for these people is to be honest with themselves. However, they should also be realistic about what they can do.
Daily Bell: What should they do?
Brett Veinotte: People used to tell me: "if you want to change the system, you have to work within the system." And that is the world's worst advice. People who believe in that idea should try the following: Pick a place you really want to visit. Take a picture of that place and put it up on the wall. Set up a treadmill in front of the picture and then get on and start walking towards your destination. Call me when you arrive there and then I'll consider your advice.
First, a government, or government program, really can't change for the better. It simply grows and rots until it collapses on top of its dependents. It is designed to stay the same for the people who are benefiting from its current state – unions, service contractors and politicians in the case of the schools.
Second, considering the powers that such individuals would be up against, they should ask themselves: "How small and non-efficacious do I want to feel?" The whole work-within-the-system suggestion came right out of the system and is designed to make people feel worn down and powerless, so they will eventually give up and begrudgingly accept the status quo.
I can't tell others exactly what they should do but I can say that what I've done has been very rewarding and empowering for me personally. I got out.
Daily Bell: What kind of advice do you give to parents and children?
Brett Veinotte: To young people: Please don't take what I say as the final word on any of these topics. Please do you own research and carefully consider any course of action before you take it. Act in accordance with reason and individual purpose.
However, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. My advice would vary greatly on an individual-to-individual basis. One of the most frustrating encounters is with the people who want to me to talk to them like I'm a politician. They'll ask, "So what's the solution?" as if such a person exists who knows what is right for millions of strangers. People who ask questions like that seem to have absorbed all of school's most destructive messages: obedience to authority, trust for those in power and conformity to a single way of doing or thinking about something.
Here's something that I have in common with Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum: I don't know how to solve complex social problems and I don't know exactly what is best for millions of unique individuals with a wide variety of needs, concerns and desires.
And here's the difference: I won't pretend that I do. I won't lie to you, promise you things, insult your intelligence and delude myself into believing I could have such wisdom or power. I'm not a politician.
Daily Bell: What kind of advisory services are you involved in?
Brett Veinotte: That's the perfect follow-up question. I am the vice president of a company that provides tutoring and college consulting services. In my work, I meet with people one-on-one, analyze needs and then make suggestions or take action based on those unique needs and goals. I try to present a wide spectrum of choices, to show young people that they have a myriad of options.
I have been shying away from college consulting in the last few years, because I was realizing it was more of a service for parents. I feel like a more accurate name would be "Let me present you to my son or daughter as an expert and then I'll pay you to tell them why they have to go to college..." consulting.
Daily Bell: Do you think this growing anti-public school movement you participate in is turning into a full-fledged power?
Brett Veinotte: First, I don't wish to present myself as anti-public school. I try to express my philosophy in the affirmative. I favor and value individualism, curiosity, critical thought and voluntary interactions. And school is a widely accepted institution that honors none of these things, and yes, that needs to be pointed out.
I'm also unsure about the word movement. I have identified many other individuals and projects working with a similar philosophy and towards similar ends. We are allies but we certainly do not speak with one voice.
Daily Bell: Who do you consider your colleagues?
Brett Veinotte: Accessibility is one of my favorite features of the new media; people you once admired from afar can quickly become your friends and collaborators. I have made some really meaningful connections with people like Richard Grove, Wes Bertrand, Gardner Goldsmith, Jason Osborne, Stefan Molyneux and Laurette Lynn. If I needed a cohost for a show, those names would be at the top of my list.
Daily Bell: Are there plans for a larger coalition?
Brett Veinotte: Not specifically. The only purpose of any cohesion would be to spread the message faster, further and more efficiently. However, I accept that any meaningful philosophic and social evolution is a very gradual process.
Whenever I hear the word coalition I picture political action. So I shy away from that because I do not believe the government is in any way legitimate. And according to government school textbooks it would appear that any complex social, economic or cultural problem can be solved quickly and efficiently by simply involving the state. That is fiction. There are zero major problems in this country today that were caused by not-enough-government-involvement.
Daily Bell: How are you making a difference?
Brett Veinotte: Most importantly, what I do makes a major positive difference in my life. That's the number one reason why I do it. Beyond that, I recognize that my impact has been modest as far as its reach. The show has millions of downloads but I know very little about what the results of those downloads are for the individuals on the other end. I have received roughly 1000 emails and comments from people who claim the show had a profound impact on their lives. It might not seem like too many but it's more than I ever could have reached if I had confined myself to a classroom.
Daily Bell: How can parents and children make a difference?
Brett Veinotte: I would suggest focusing on actions that can make a direct difference in their personal lives. For parents, offer your children alternatives to these government indoctrination centers. For students who are stuck there, ask questions. Questions are what can stop ridiculous and corrupt ideas from becoming world religions and political ideologies. Curiosity is very powerful if it's being practiced by enough people simultaneously.
Daily Bell: What kind of education SHOULD children have?
Brett Veinotte: The kind they would have without government school: a natural, intrinsically motivated, personalized and rewarding one. And that would mean a thousand different things for a thousand different learners.
Daily Bell: Where do you stand on home schooling?
Brett Veinotte: It depends. If it is used for the purposes I just described, it's great. That's unschooling. That's natural and respectful to the child. However, if it's used for Rick Santorum purposes – to shield children from reason and reality – I strongly oppose that.
Daily Bell: What do you think of higher education?
Brett Veinotte: I have mixed feelings. It depends on a person's goals. College is not the 13th grade, and it a very expensive place to figure out what you want to do.
In the last two generations, there have also been some hints of a scam. In school and society, we see all of this pressure for students to attend college, regardless of their long-term goals, or lack thereof. In government, we see heavy subsidies being shoveled into higher education – easy money that students who learned nothing about debt can get their hands on. These subsidies send a signal to the colleges that they can raise tuition. So now we have a situation where more graduates are finding themselves $150,000 in debt in an economy with no jobs.
Daily Bell: What is the real function of education? Isn't it to make somebody an autodidact?
Brett Veinotte: Education is a natural process, not a synthetic one; curiosity is the real teacher. We are all autodidacts until institutionalized schooling interferes.
Daily Bell: How does the US as an empire fit into public education?
Brett Veinotte: Everywhere. The schools produce obedient conformists who rarely question authority – the perfect fighting force. The curriculum is stocked with subtle but consistent messages of nationalism (we call it patriotism), just war (making the world safe for democracy) and geopolitical superiority (America is the best) – three rationalizations for military aggression.
Daily Bell: Do you have any thoughts on why education ended up like this?
Brett Veinotte: Because it's run by government. Because it is based on the threat of force. There was no other way for it to end up, and I believe it is exactly what it was intended to be. Education has too much potential a control tool to be left to individuals, families and markets.
Open oppression usually has a very finite life. When prisons are built everywhere and filled with people, revolution becomes inevitable. However, oppression can continue indefinitely when the prisons are built somewhere they can't be seen, like in the minds of people. And that's government school.
Everybody understands that there are aggressive and predatory criminals in this world. Some use myopic brut force to carry out their crimes – guns, knives or fists. But the smartest and most resourceful have always used government. It's the best place to hide criminality in plain sight.
Daily Bell: Is there a power elite pushing the world toward global governance?
Brett Veinotte: I'm not sure if it's one group or several but as a student of history I know what people in power want: more power. And we can certainly see evidence of that push in institutions like The UN, The Council On Foreign Relations, Bilderberg, The EU, IMF and the World Bank.
Daily Bell: Where does public schooling fit into this larger globalist focus? Aren't children being brainwashed into globalism?
Brett Veinotte: Even though there might be some messages that lead to an embrace of globalism, this indoctrination wouldn't have to be so direct. Because public schooling inculcates obedience, intellectual apathy and conformity, most people can be tricked into accepting or even embracing any agenda that powerful elites wish to pursue – welfare, warfare, corporate bailouts, fiat currency, progressive taxation, property seizure, the drug war, Homeland Security, etc. Globalism would just be one example of many.
Daily Bell: Websites and resources you recommend?
- John Taylor Gatto's body of work, especially the Underground History of American Education
- Any John Holt book
Daily Bell: Thanks for your time and keep up the good work.
The Daily Bell
This is a really interesting interview for those who want to confront the horror of public schools squarely. There is probably not a person alive in the Western hemisphere who has not been damaged in some way by state-run education or its ramifications. The segregation of children by grade over a long period of time guarantees certain pathologies.
Increasingly via standard tests and other measurements, the powers-that-be apparently want to cull the "top performers" as soon as possible and send them on alternative tracks, through Harvard, Yale and Oxford, from where they are thence seeded in various globalist institutions around the world.
Those who participate in this program may not actually know they are culled. In fact, that is the beauty of the current system. Those who are participative may rise as high as they want to and come, eventually, to realize the full parameters of what they are involved in ... or they may distance themselves or remove themselves entirely. In this way the current sociopolitical and economic system is self-selecting, with sociopaths who are the most willing to participate rising the fastest and going the farthest.
This gets into the larger issue that we have often discussed regarding the lack of authenticity that modern society inflicts on even its most successful individuals. If one accepts the reality of, say, a dynastic power elite with arms in London's City, Washington DC, the Vatican, Tel Aviv, etc., then one likely also accepts that elite's world-spanning agenda.
The ambition to create a so-called New World Order involves an entire program of destabilization and propaganda. In order to move the mass of people, especially in the West, toward this goal, constant manipulation is required. Almost everybody involved in "mainstream" professions is somehow entangled in this web. Doctors end up dispensing deadly pharmaceutical concoctions; lawyers end up ensnared in the judicial-penitentiary complex; teachers labor in school systems that poison the minds of children and cripple their spirits.
Gradually, we'd like to think, the Internet Reformation is changing all that. Increasingly, as people discover their own manipulation, they seek a way to overcome it. That's just what we think Brett Veinotte is doing. Here's a fellow who has traveled through the indoctrination of the current pedagogy and figured out a way to make a living that doesn't stifle his voice or sense of fair play. That's an accomplishment of itself.
Thus, even though parts of this interview may seem gloomy or unpromising, we'd like to think the overall message is uplifting. Like so many other elite promotions, state-run education is under attack and people like Veinotte are courageously leading the way to a less compulsory future without so much formalized mind control.
This is a big problem for the elites. As people discover they CAN lead authentic lives within the larger matrix of elite domination, they begin to try to do so, and it is highly improbable that they will voluntarily return to their old lives and lies. Again, this is a process, not an episode, and it is one that here at the Daily Bell we spend a good deal of time analyzing.
Veinotte is someone, in our view, who epitomizes this trend and we thank him for the good work he is doing. Every child salvaged from the viciousness of state-run schooling is a victory for decency and the potential of the human spirit.