“Against School” Essay #1 (summary)
In “Against School” by John Taylor Gatto, he bonds boredom, the common condition of having low energy, to schools in the U.S. schooling system. Gatto was a teacher in Manhattan where he taught for thirty years. He retired from teaching in 1991. During his journey as a teacher he was named New York Teacher of the Year for three consecutive years (1989-1991), and honored as New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991. In this short story, “Against School”, Gatto tells his experiences with students that complained they were bored in school. Gatto said these students were not interested in what was being taught because they often said the work was stupid and that they already knew it. According to Gatto, these students were interested only in grades rather than learning the subject.
Gatto asks if our school system is designed to make sure children never really grow up, and if we really need forced schooling. He compares our school system to Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately made to produce mediocre intellects. Gatto states that in this country people sees “success” as synonymous with “schooling”. He articulates that important people like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln never went through the twelve-year schooling system we have now and they still succeeded. Gatto said that according to our cultural traditions schools were made to make good people, good citizens, and each person their personal best.
Gatto brings out Alexander Inglis’s six basic functions of modern schooling, which are;
➢ The adjustive or adapting function; its goal is to establish fixed habits among students.
➢ The integrating function; its intention is to make children as alike as possible.
➢ The diagnostic and directive function; it was meant to determine student’s social role.
➢ The differentiating function; its idea is to sort children by role and trained them only as far as their social position merits.
➢ The selective function; its purpose is to tag the unfit so clearly that their peers will know he/she is inferior.
➢ The propaedeutic function; this function objective is to teach a small portion of this kids how to manage the five functions stated before.
Gatto agrees to Inglis’ statement of our public education system and said that, unfortunately, this is the purpose of public education in this country.
Gatto also agrees with Ellwood P. Cubberley book, public administration, where Cubberley said that schools are factories in which children are to be shaped and fashioned, and the school’s business is to build its students according the program. Gatto supports Cubberley statement by saying that schools train children to be employees and consumers and also to obey reflexively. John Taylor Gatto encourages us to teach our offspring to think critically, to be leaders and adventurers. Finally Gatto bears us up to wake up and see what our schools really are; drill centers that teach the common habits and attitudes in our society, and that school’s real purpose is to turn pupils into servants of this world. John T. Gatto thinks the solution to this matter is to let people manage themselves.