School us to sleep

Here, Bly isn’t the first to express this sort of sentiment at all.

He’s in the middle of recounting a fairy tale (The Maiden Tsar) where an evil stepmother prevents the hero son from escaping to his destiny on the sea.

She gives the tutor a pin, and tells him to slip it into Ivan’s collar as soon as the ships arrive in sight the next day, and that will put him to sleep. The tutor does exactly that; Ivan grows tired, lies down, and does not wake.

This act of the Great Mother, in collusion with the tutor, is more subtle than the father’s curse, and it leaves no mark: as soon as the ships are gone, the tutor pulls the pin out; Ivan wakes up. But the boy’s growth, or initiatory process, stops just before he is able to bring the wild flowers to the Holy Woman; it is stopped dead by the stepmother. During the moments crucial for his next step of consciousness, he was asleep.

I like it that the tutor, nominally male, and the stepmother, nominally female, do this bad-news work together. The story suggests by the word “tutor” that the educational system, which puts boys and girls to sleep for years, right up through graduate school, is in collusion with the dark side of the Great Mother. Essays on deconstruction theory are written by people with pins in their necks. Each of us knows enough about collectivized education to take this idea much father. The colleges call themselves Alma Mater. And the negative matter in materialism puts whole nations to sleep.

-Robert Bly, Iron John, p. 184

Sorry this passage is a bit confusing out of context. Read that last paragraph again though!