Gatto’s Against School

“Gatto’s Against School” In John Taylor Gatto’s “Against School”, the author describes our educational system, from a teachers’ point of view, as boring. Not only are the students bored, but the teachers are as well. Gatto asserts that, “Teachers are themselves a product of the same twelve year compulsory school program that so thoroughly bore their students and school personnel…” (683). If the teachers aren’t happy with and are bored of the educational system, the students aren’t going to have the want or drive to learn.
Students want to be engaged by the teachers. If the material they’re teaching isn’t reacting to the students than maybe it’s time for a change? Like Gatto, I believe that most students only want to learn about something that they have a vested interest in. If they don’ have any interest in it, then of course they are going to be bored. Gatto suggests ways of fixing the “boredom” within the student.
The author asserts that, “Instead of receiving schooling that bores them, we encourage the best qualities of youthfulness- curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight-simply by being more flexible on time, texts, and tests, by introducing truly competent adults and giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then” (684). I know from my own experience that if I am challenged, and pushed to take a risk, that you can perform at your very best.

If the students have to take a class with boring or dull material, than the teacher cannot expect the students to want to push themselves to do their best. Although our educational system has served us as a nation very well, the author believes that it has failed to prepare people for what lies ahead after schooling. According to Gatto, there are three main purposes for schooling, “1) To make good people, 2) To make good citizens, 3) To make each person his/her best” (685).
Gatto believes that these values in and of themselves are not wrong, but that we can’t do enough to achieve them. The author adds the point that, “The main functions are to hold back and limit progress of the student”. I feel it is not just the educational system but the teaching as well. If there were more competent teachers that understood that the material they are mandated to teach is boring and ineffective, than they should change it, or at the very least suggest a change in material to the head of the department.
If one of the purposes of our educational system is to make each person achieve his/her best, than the teachers should strive to make sure the students are getting the best possible product out there. In essence, Gatto’s “Against School” asserts that our educational system is boring and fails to allow the student to take risks by subjecting the student to the same material that they either already know, or that the teachers themselves are bored with, and or don’t know enough about.
After reading this essay, it is hard to disagree with what Gatto states. I believe that changing the material once in a while will allow the student to achieve higher expectations and to help the student to reach his/her personal best. Having competent teachers, will ensure the student has the best subject matter expert to be giving out the material. After all, it’s the student who suffers as he or she is there to gain the knowledge from the teacher; shouldn’t the student get the best?

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