The True Purpose of Compulsory Education in American Schools Connie Nollner
University of Alaska Anchorage
Presented to Victoria Sansome
In partial fulfillment of the requirements
For ENGL A111
John Gatto, a school teacher in the Manhattan area, taught for thirty years at a variety of different schools. During these years, he realized that children were frequently bored with classroom activities as a result of how they were being taught. Students were not being challenged and often already knew the concepts behind the materials taught. Jean Anyon further supports and agrees with Gatto’s statements about the public school system. In her article, she specifies that schools in wealthy communities are far better than those of poorer communities, and they better prepare children for desirable jobs. Anyon concluded these finding by investigating schools in four different social classes, ranging from working class to executive elite schools.
The purpose of education in American schools is to prepare children for a specific career, teaching students lifelong values, discipline, and to explore new ideas and to think independently; in other words, education helps to build good citizens. However, as argued by Jean Anyon (Anyon, J., 1980) and John Taylor Gatto (Gatto, J., 2003) in their articles, this is far from the truth. Jean Anyon confirms this by conducting an investigation of the education in different social classes while John Taylor Gatto uses his experience as a teacher. The two authors expressed similar opinions of the outcomes of American schools. Anyon and Gatto both found that in America, the method and extent to which students are educated is entirely based on their social class. In Anyon’s article, “From Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work,” (Anyon, 1980) she specifies that there is no question that schools in wealthy communities are better than those of poorer communities, and that they prepare children for desirable jobs. Gatto’s text, “Against Schools” (Gatto, 2003) examines the modern purposes of compulsory schools. He breaks down these purposes and describes his own opinions of the six basic that functions author Alexander Inglis (1918), had listed as what actually comprised the true purpose of school in his article “Principals of Secondary Education.” Gatto views these functions as ridiculous and a way of crippling our children by preventing critical judgment, making children as alike as possible, and determining the social role of students and only training them within that role. This is meant to improve the “favorite race,” and to target the unfit as a weakness in society. John Gatto, a school teacher in the Manhattan area, taught for thirty years at a variety of different schools. During these years, he realized that children were frequently bored with classroom activities as a result of how they were being taught. Students were not being challenged and often already knew the concepts behind the materials taught. However, the teachers were typically bored also because the children were frequently rude and attentive to their grades only, rather than showing any interest in learning itself.. The question is who is to blame? In searching for possible causes of this problem Gatto examined the modern purposes of compulsory education. In his article, he breaks down these purposes and describes his own opinions of the six basic functions that "Principals of Secondary Education” (Inglis, A., 1918) had listed as the building blocks of the purpose of school. As described by Ingles (1918), the six basic functions are the adjustive or adaptive, the integrating, the diagnostic and directive, the differentiating, the selective, and the propaedeutic functions. These functions were adopted from the Prussian culture, and were a prearranged strategy for creating a barrier designed to prevent the underclass from advancing. The purpose of...
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