In “Against School”, John Taylor Gatto makes a strong case against the American education system. He argues that schools are designed to produce compliant citizens, rather than independent thinkers.
Gatto begins by pointing out the problems with the typical school day. He argues that the time children spend in school is not conducive to learning. Instead, it forces them to sit still for long periods of time and limits their opportunity to explore their interests.
He also criticizes the way schools teach children. He claims that they are taught to memorize facts instead of being encouraged to think critically. This, he says, leads to a lack of creativity and independent thought.
Gatto concludes by calling for a return to traditional methods of education. He believes that children should be taught in a way that allows them to explore their interests and develop their own unique talents. Only then, he argues, will they be able to reach their full potential as individuals.
John Taylor Gatto’s attempts to persuade his readership from this Article are evident in his arguments that he does not believe in our school system. He feels that the lengthy stay in our educational system has given him every reason to describe it as a juvenile approach. People may see the major issue of education, according to him, as boredom.
In Gatto’s Article, “Against School: How public education cripples our kids, and why,” he states that boredom is not caused by schools but is a direct product of the way our minds work. When we are not challenged, we become bored.
Gatto believes that “the real purpose of schooling was to make young people docile and competitive; to slog them through long hours of rote learning and mindless work; to hold out the promise of upward mobility in exchange for their obedience; and to align their behavior with the interests of business and government” (231). In other words, school does not exist to educate, but rather to control. It is a means by which those in power can maintain control over the populace.
Gatto also believes that the structure of schooling is designed to produce conformists. He argues that schools are “designed on the Prussian model, which was created to produce soldiers for the military machine and factory workers for the industrial machine” (231). This system of schooling, he claims, is not conducive to producing critical thinkers who can question authority. Rather, it produces people who will follow orders and do as they are told.
In his article, Gatto also addresses the issue of Standardized Testing and how it has taken over schools. He states that “the whole point of standardized tests is to force large numbers of kids into academic molds that fit poorly if at all, thereby creating the illusion that most children are academic failures” (232). These tests, he argues, do not measure intelligence or ability. Rather, they measure how well a child can conform to a set of arbitrary standards.
Gatto concludes his article by calling for a revolution in education. He argues that “the individualized study of great books and great ideas, once the province of the wealthy elite, should be available to everyone” (233). He also calls for an end to the “factory model” of schooling, which he believes is designed to produce conformity rather than critical thinking.
Gatto makes a strong case against education, stating that it is not the same as going to school and being “a daily routine in a factory of childishness” to ensure that children do not grow up. Gatto supports his views with evidence from a number of successful Americans who didn’t go through the educational system but nonetheless became productive, such as Abraham Lincoln.
In addition, he states that the true function of schooling is to produce an obedient workforce and not to educate.
Gatto believes that the education system should be reformed so it can benefit students. He advocates for a shorter school day, less homework, and more focus on teaching essential life skills like financial literacy. Gatto also believes that standardized testing penalizes creativity and hurts students’ motivation to learn.
In this short story, “Against School” (2001), Gatto describes his experiences with children who claimed to be bored in school. These students, according to Gatto, were not interested in what was being taught since they frequently stated that the work was stupid and that they already knew it. According to Gatto, these youngsters were only concerned with grades rather than understanding the subject.
Gatto then argues that the structure of schooling is to blame for this. He states that schools are designed to make children into good citizens and workers rather than successful individuals. This is because schools teach students to follow rules and instructions, rather than think for themselves. As a result, Gatto believes that schools are “training” students to be content with following orders and not questioning authority.
In “Against school” Gatto opens his essay by addressing the question of whether the term “boredom” might be used to characterize a student’s experience. Every time he asked students in class why they were bored at school, he claims that they felt their instructors “didn’t appear to know much about their field and didn’t seem interested in learning more” (Gatto 300).
In other words, the students were bored because they were not being challenged. This is a problem that Gatto attributes to the schooling system itself. He goes on to say that “the real reason schools are boring is that they are intended to be” (Gatto 300). The purpose of school, according to Gatto, is not to educate or inspire students, but to train them to be good workers.
He claims that the three-sentence history of public education in America reveals the true purpose of schools: “In 1852 Horace Mann, the father of American public education, said: ‘We must do something to save our children from growing up stupid and ignorant like their parents’” (Gatto 300). Mann’s solution was to create a system of schools that would “streamline” children so that they could be more efficient workers.
Gatto then goes on to discuss the negative effects of this “streamlined” education system. He claims that the schooling system produces “a class of drones” (Gatto 301) who are “taught just enough to make them good factory workers and servants of the state” (Gatto 301). This is harmful because it stifles creativity and independent thought. Gatto argues that the schools are “designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students any sense of personal usefulness” (Gatto 301).
In conclusion, Gatto’s essay is a persuasive argument against the current education system. He believes that it stifles creativity and does not prepare students for the real world. While his solution of shorter school days and less homework may not be realistic, his overall message is clear: the education system needs to be reformed in order to benefit students.