Jonathan Kozol on Vision, Knowledge, and the Blindness and Banality of Bureaucracies

“Oedipus tearing at his eyes, Lear in his demented eloquence upon the moors, Gloucester weeping from those ’empty orbs’—these are the metaphors of cultural self-mutilation in a stumbling colossus. Eyeless at Gaza, Samson struggled to retain the power to pull down the pillars that destroyed him and his enemies together. The U.S. Bureau of the Census meanwhile sends out printed forms to ask illiterate Americans to indicate their reading levels.”

Jonathan Kozol, Illiterate America (1985)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

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