The Underground History of American Education (Video Series)

A video series based on John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education

"Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges; it should allow you to find values which will be your roadmap through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die."

- John Taylor Gatto

Arranged and edited by Brett Veinotte


    1. Before You Send Your Child to Public School…
    2. This episode examines the concealed aspects of modern schooling. Does the public school system really have anything of value to offer children that could not already be gained elsewhere?

    3. Teacher Resignation: "I Quit. I Think"
    4. “There isn't a right way to become educated, there are as many ways as there are finger prints.” Gatto says. This episode is an excerpt from John Taylor Gatto's article that was published in the Wall Street Journal in 1991 titled, “I Quit, I Think”.

    5. The New Individualism
    6. Here Gatto explores how the United States was once a highly individualized nation that has been steered into a nation of central management. That school has become a tool of the state, and the only voice that matters now is that of the collective.

    7. The New Dumbness
    8. “The New Dumbness” examines the assumption that school is where kids go to become educated. However, Gatto states that modern school teaches dumbness. That school is geared towards creating a workforce that follows orders and not intelligent self-reliant individuals.

    9. The Art of Driving
    10. In “The Art of Driving” Gatto explores the notion that real learning happens quickly. He compares schooling to driving and how a small amount of training prepares someone to wield a dangerous vehicle. Why does it take 15,000 hours to educate a child in public school?

    11. Schooling: Athens vs. Sparta
    12. This episode pulls from two sections comparing the free and voluntary education system of Athens to that of the centrally managed Sparta and how the US system much more closely resembles that of Sparta.

    13. Extending Childhood
    14. “Extending Childhood” reveals the true purpose of modern schooling as a branch of industry, a means of bringing about central management. Gatto examines the very candid writings of the architects of schooling in that time period.

    15. The Scientific Management of America, Part 1
    16. This section of Gatto's work peers into the world of the leaders of science and industry of the early 1900's and their affect on schooling. The move from local education by the community and family to that of “experts.” Part 1

    17. The Scientific Management of America, Part 2
    18. A continuation of the previous episode further looking into how public school was co opted by big business and the lessons children truly learn in school.

    19. The Dumbing Down of America
    20. John Taylor Gatto explores the statistics of schooling from a macro perspective and the steady decline of overall competence in test scores. He examines what this means and what are its causes.

    21. The Land of Frankenstein - The Prussian Connection Part 1
    22. Part 1: This episode explores the origins of modern American schooling, a system that came out of Prussia. A system designed to create a class of humans that would be predictable and order followers.

    23. The Long Reach of the Teutonic Knights - The Prussian Connection Part 2
    24. Part 2: This episode further explores the Prussian system of schooling and State governance and how its effects have traveled through time to our present system of schooling.

    25. The Prussian Reform Movement - The Prussian Connection Part 3
    26. Part 3: This episode examines the Prussian Reform Movement and the three tier system of education in order to educate three different classes of people; an elite tier, a proletariat, and a working class.

    27. The Technology of Subjection - The Prussian Connection Part 4
    28. Part 4: This episode examines the Prussian system as it was adopted in different countries across the world.

    29. Public School: A Conspiracy Against Ourselves
    30. In “A Conspiracy Against Ourselves” Gatto examines the problem of schooling being structural and that it is unable to be reformed, because it has been built to serve a particular function. A function that at its core is anti-human.

The Underground History of American Education

Whether you're just now learning about John Taylor Gatto's work or well versed in it. This video series is a superb and concise resource when it comes to the problem of compulsory schooling and the history of the public education system. These videos consist of well chosen excerpts from The Underground History of American Education, excerpts that strike right at the heart of the issues we see in the US today, the seeming dumbing down of America. It covers criteria from a majority of the book in order to give an overview in an easy to understand format.

These videos are packed with eye opening accounts of Gatto's time as a school teacher, as well as the not so well known history of modern schooling in America. John Taylor Gatto has spent untold hours scouring through the dry and bland writings of the architects of modern schooling and has turned it into a digestible and entertaining read. This series is not only a perfect entry point into the work of John Taylor Gatto but a great resource for those already in the trenches of alternative education. The knowledge held within these videos is of absolute necessity for anyone considering their own education or the education of their children.



A friend gave me a copy of The Underground History of American Education in 2009, after I had gained some recognition for School Sucks Podcast. After just a quick skim, I prioritized the projection of John's work to a new audience. And fortunately I would not be alone in this continued pursuit. Two years later, John was featured in the Tragedy & Hope documentary called The Ultimate History Lesson: A Weekend With John Taylor Gatto. Along with this video series, the documentary serves as a more accessible and immersive version of John's landmark book. The presentation stretches five hours - an absurdly long but also seemingly ideal length - and features a series of clever questions that invite a stream-of-consciousness but highly educational dialog. - Brett

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