There's a lot more, all of it as breathlessly cynical and astonishingly on target as this. And I cannot read this without thinking about the Iron Law of Bureaucracy:The third lesson I teach kids is indifference. I teach children not to care about anything too much, even though they want to make it appear that they do. How I do this is very subtle. I do it by demanding that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. It's heartwarming when they do that, it impresses everyone, even me. When I'm at my best I plan lessons very carefully in order to produce this show of enthusiasm. But when the bell rings I insist that they stop whatever it is that we've been working on and proceed quickly to the next work station. They must turn on and off like a light switch. Nothing important is ever finished in my class, nor in any other class I know of. Students never have a complete experience except on the installment plan. Indeed, the lesson of the bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Years of bells will condition all but the strongest to a world that can no longer offer important work to do. Bells are the secret logic of schooltime; their argument is inexorable. Bells destroy the past and future, converting every interval into a sameness, as an abstract map makes every living mountain and river the same even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.
How big an Educational Establishment would you need if you only needed 100 hours (or 1000, or even 10,000) to educate the kids to the point where they could learn whatever else they needed on their own. We're told that 10,000 hours is how long it takes to gain a mastery of any subject - rock guitar, carpentry, programming computers.... We had it, but not too much of it and only as much as an individual wanted. People learned to read, write, and do arithmetic just fine anyway, there are some studies which show literacy at the time of the American Revolution, at least on the Eastern seaboard, as close to total. Tom Paine's Common Sense sold 600,000 copies to a population of 2,500,000, 20 percent of which was slave and another 50 percent indentured. Were the colonists geniuses? No, the truth is that reading, writing and arithmetic only take about 100 hours to transmit as long as the audience is eager and willing to learn. The trick is to wait until someone asks and then move fast while the mood is on him. Millions of people teach themselves these things; it really isn't very hard. Pick up a fifth grad textbook in math or rhetoric from 1850 and you'll see that the texts were pitched then on what would today be college level. The continuing cry for "basic skills" practice is a smoke screen behind which schools preempt the time of children for 12 years and teach them the seven lessons I've just taught you.
10,000 hours is about five years, working full time. A cynic might say that's about how much time it takes to turn off a whole bunch of students from education - the very smart, the autistic (a different form of the very smart), and boys in general.
And so the furious resistance to metrics that define what success and failure mean for the Educational Establishment.