The School Institution
by, 11-06-2008 at 03:33 PM (4139 Views)
Ever since the dawn of man, human kind has always yearned to achieve perfection, satisfaction, and superiority through the educational process. The school system aids and prepares many to undertake certain task in life and learn the basics of existence by exploring the many masterpieces that mankind have discovered such as math, art, history, science, and etc...This conjecture is no different to many college students, in which education has always been about reaching desired goals in life. However, men like John Taylor Gatto seem to hypothesize that school is a derogatory institution for handicapping the mind of a “scholar.” This belief is based on the many negative visualization of the school institution including the learning and social aspect. His argument revolves around the treatment and outcome of the student body. According to his “Against School” essay, he divides his theories into 6 functions, adjustive or adaptive, integrating, diagnostic and directive, differentiating, selective, and propaedeutic. Each function has a depreciatory task about the school establishment. For example, the selective function is about the social component of the school institution in which Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection is used to manifest the notion of segregating each student body according to his or her capabilities by implementing the grading system. There are abundant realism to Gatto’s ideals and theoretical statements. However, as a student of higher learning, different experiences and education defines as different visualization to the concept that school is a derogatory institution.The School Institution
Gatto’s arguments are quite exaggerated to the point that they are unbelievable. His view on the educational system visualizes him as an anarchist because when one carefully analysis his ideal setting, he desires an environment congested with mindless criminals, ignorant civilians, and a government system with no administration. As a student of higher education, my notion and experience of school is exceedingly different from his perception. One of Gatto’s 6 function theories (propaedeutic function) states that school is about choosing the elite to lead societies commoners and to “declaw” or in other words, manipulate the mind to halt interferences with government actions. If one researches the history of some of the world’s revolutionary leaders, they can visualize that poor peasants such as Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and etc. went to school and became leaders of a nation. They were not elites, but mere peasants who were not chosen to be leaders. They acquired it by the use of hard work, determination, experience and political intelligence which they obtained from school. These are proof that school institutions do not determine the “elite” to be the leader of a nation. Also, some of these leaders like Fidel Castro, are revolutionary leaders who rebelled against the government. This is another proof that school does not “declaw” students transforming them into mindless brutes.
Another function that I disagree with is Gatto’s “integrating function,” which states that schools institutions are for manipulating students to conform into one kind of group as much as possible so it would be easier to control the population. In countries like China, one may agree with this argument because of the brutal communist government controlling the country and its civilians. But when it comes to the United States of America, the population is very diverse and have their own mindset on the actions they are capable of. For example, there are almost an infinite amount of groups that one can join to fit their ideals, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), Amish, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and etc... School does not necessarily control one’s own ideals, but helps form them. The only ideal that the government in the United States could control is crime.
Though I disagree with many of Gatto’s derogatory arguments of the school institution, I agree with some of his ideals. With 16 years of school experience and an individual pursuing a bachelor’s degree, I have had numerous altercations with the school education system. Pertaining to Gatto’s selective function (explained in my first paragraph), I have been humiliated quite often during my math sessions. My disability to do basic calculus has established conflicts with my inner self and visually concocted a notion to my fellow peers that I am quite lethargic when it comes to math. In some ways, school does humiliate, categorize, and measure the capabilities of the student attending it. However, I believe that school is a great tool for helping the student body to choose the right careers because it helps find special abilities and interest by challenging them with exams.
Ironically, Gatto is a teacher in an institution that he despises so much. Without the education that he received during his years as a student, he would never have been a teacher. To me, John Taylor Gatto is a hypocrite who probably had a bad experience in school while he was a student. In conclusion, school is not an institution for mass producing mindless humans, “declawing” and manipulating students, conforming students, crippling kids, and other derogatory statements that Gatto argues. School is about helping achieve goals, forming friendships, controlling crime, expanding creativity, and most of all getting an education on the world that mankind runs.