Graham Glass called this article “thought provoking”. Calling that an understatement is an understatement it and of itself. The article is by John Taylor Gatto, former NY State and NYC teacher of the year. In this article, he completely shreds the modern school system. He describes our education system as “deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens – all in order to render the populace ‘manageable’”.
I’ve long had issues with the education system (I’d say “of this country” but it’s fairly universal) but I couldn’t ever articulate them. I’ve been known to say stuff like “a diploma is evidence of attendance, not intelligence” and “never let school stand in the way of your education”. I got better at understanding the problem after reading The Third Wave. Toffler points out the need for an industrial society to have a mass education system to turn children into factory workers. But Toffler doesn’t really get into the downside of the mass education approach the way Gatto does. Note to self, pick up Gatto’s book The Underground History of American Education.
As I type this, I wonder if I’ll regret blogging this when my kids are in school. I can almost hear the argument now: “Dad, why should I have to go to school if you think it’s designed to produce mediocre intellects?” Frankly, I don’t have a good answer for that now and I doubt I’ll have a good one then. (“I don’t know. Go ask your mother.” Kidding!)
You know, now that I think about it, I’m looking forward to that conversation with my kids. Gatto suggests teaching your own children to be leaders and adventures instead of letting schools train them to be employees and servants. A frank discussion about the value of school sounds much more like leadership than servitude to me.