When it comes to the traditional education, John Taylor Gatto’s “Against School” questions whether we really need the nine month, drawn out, traditional curriculum. Gatto goes on to name several successful people through history that were not products of a contemporary school system. When I think of Gatto’s theory of forced schooling, a friend of mine named John Smith who goes by the alias of Viper comes to mind. Viper is in his late 20’s, lives in South Philadelphia, and has worked as a Roofer for the past 10 years. Viper went to a public school in South Philadelphia. Viper went to a school where said, “It wasn’t easy. I was scrawny and white and we were poorer than the jigs that went to school wit us, so we caught alota shit.” Viper’s school was extremely underfunded. “Some days there would be trash laid out by the trash cans cause nobody would change the trash bags, the food was shit, and the bathrooms…forget it.” He would walk twelve blocks back to his house just to go to the bathroom. There were no extracurricular activities like book clubs and band and the school was rundown and decrepit. Eventually he started to miss classes regularly. He felt that the teachers did not care. Classes were extremely boring to him. He was actually approached by his biology teacher and told he could cut class everyday as long as he turned in his work and he would receive a D at the end of the year. He was not amused by the offer, he was not even interested in graduating anymore. “I expected to be a laborer for the rest of my life so I felt like education was unimportant.” Viper’s education started taking a back seat to work around his sophomore year of high school. He was the middle child in a family of four, all of whom have dropped out of high school and are laborers today. “My parents made me get a job when I was thirteen, that’s the way it was with all my brothers,” says Viper. Eventually he started to make a...
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