Against School by John Taylor Gatto Essay

What is the purpose of the Educational System? Should mankind really be oppressed by the predisposed standards that previous generations have set for the coming ones? Is it logical and fair to give children a set standard of 12 years of school, 6 classes a day, and five days a week? After all, weren’t some of the most successful people throughout history non-graduates of merely secondary schools? According to Gatto’s three-fold purpose of schooling, the main reasons are due to 1) To make good people, 2) To make good citizens, and 3) to make each person his or her best.

These three vague expectations of students as a result of the pre-set educational system are actually seen as contradicting the reality of the educational process. Inglis then goes on to break down the schooling process into six basic functions. Three main functions discussed by Gatto are diagnostic and directive functions. Then there is the differentiating function, and finally there is the propaedeutic function. Some of these three functions listed are true and can be related to my own life experiences, however others seem to be merely out of line and completely irrational propositions made by Gatto.

The diagnostic and directive functions are evident in real life. By definition this particular function serves to indicate the students proper social role, as a result of numerical values logged in permanent records. This section of the educational process can be seen in our own districts grading system. Basically, student’s total grades that he or she has earned throughout their 12-year career are all logged into their permanent record, and eventually colleges and universities will see these grades to fit the students into the best to the worst colleges.

Also I faintly remember in ninth grade when my teacher Ms. Chiavaro commented to our honors Biology class, about how we were all going to grow up to be surgeons, and big time doctors, seeming to fit us in the top societal roles of society based on the mere fact that we were in the top level classes of our grade. The goal of the diagnostic and directive function is to give people their societal roles based upon their numerical averages in their schooling career.

The validity of the diagnostic and directive functions are proven true based upon real life situations, and the current presence of the permanent record system. The differentiating function is also one of Gatto’s six functions that can relate to real life experiences. The differentiating function states that once a students role has been “diagnosed” through standardized testing, they are to be sorted by role, and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits. This function’s impact on schooling can be seen in realistic schooling processes’.

This can be seen when the schooling system causes for people that do better or worse on standardized tests, to only take certain types of classes, resulting, in lack of autonomic pursuit of their personal interests, thus to be able to achieve their personal best. Kids in Lab classes are forced to take the same subjects for longer periods of time, resulting in less classes available, and a strict set of classes mandatory to graduate. At the same time AP students are able to take high level courses, that go in depth, but at the same time are quite interesting. This in turn, decreases boredom.

Because of this fact the validity of the differentiating function is proven true. Now moving onto the propaedeutic function, which in my opinion is completely false. The propaedeutic function serves to create a societal system in which society would be run by an elite group of caretakers, and because of this a small fraction of kids will be taught to manage this continuing project, and how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that the government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

This function seems as though Gatto’s has now become a paranoid, and pro fascist advocate. Before he made this statement, he had at least some semblance of validity to most of his other points, however this particular function seems to have been thought up to rally anarchist rally’s of some sort. Students are thought by their intelligence, and essentially no group of students are separated from the rest of the schooling population. Because of this the propaedeutic, is a crazy and blaintantly incorrect function concerning schooling, or education in general.

To summarize Gatto’s basic purpose in this article, Gatto believes that we live in tumultuous times. Although it may not simply be dumbed down to terms of open revolts of the citizenry, there is currently a certain element of rebellious nature throughout everyone being concerned with the school process. Intellectual capital is now worth more than plant and equipment. Industrial-age management no longer works. Networks are replacing hierarchy. Cycles are more frequent and more volatile. Cooperation edges out competition.

Innovation trumps efficiency. Flexibility beats might. Everything’s global. The past no longer illuminates the future. Yesterday’s solutions won’t solve tomorrow’s problems. We need fresh thinking. Zero-based philosophy. A new page. And that’s why it is sensible to listen to dissidents. Gatto explains that schools traditionally have three purposes: 1) To make good people; 2) To make good citizens; 3) To make each student find some particular talents to develop as best they can. These, of course, are all fine.

But eventually, under anti- government thinking schools became socialization factories which serve a fourth purpose: to make students the servants of corporate and political management. Naturally, he takes issue with this and a great deal of what I think we do in a liberal education college is open students eyes to the ways that they have been socially programmed. Socialization serves many values, but in the wrong hands it can backfire. That mismanagement, I think, is what Gatto is out to unveil.