Against School: A Corrupted System

The educational systems purpose is to prepare people with the necessary skills and knowledge so that they can excel and function properly in today’s society. John T. Gatto challenges that idea and begs the question is 12 compulsory years of standard schooling consisting of six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year needed? Gatto refers to George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln as they were not formally schooled and yet were very successful.
According to Gatto’s, there are three main purposes to formal schooling, “1) To make good people, 2) To make good citizens, and 3) to make each person his or her best. ” (Gatto 3) Gatto believes that the current educational system actually contradicts these three ideals. He claims that there are six basic yet specific functions that intend to hold back and limit the progress and overall success of a student. Of the six functions there are three serve specifically to limit and hinder a students progress.
The diagnostic and directive functions, the differentiating function, and the propaedeutic function all seemingly serve to cripple a students success but when analyzed some do hold some truth but in the end they are merely irrational and ridiculous accusations made by Gatto. The diagnostic and directive functions are defined as a litmus test to test where a particular student “fits” in society based on grade percentages. These percentages are logged and stored permanently in our student records which are then passed on the post secondary schools to place students in their “proper societal roles” (4).

During my freshman and sophomore years in high school I can not help but remember teachers classifying “ap” students and high academic achievers as those who were going to be “successful”. My math teacher often referred to more difficult questions as the “doctor” or “lawyer” question in an attempt to scale the difficultly of the question. What if one can not do the question? Does that mean that person should be classified as remedial or can not attain the success of a doctor or lawyer?
Of course not, the simple idea of that is completely irrational. However, once reassessing and making them less extreme, Gatto’s diagnostic and directive functions can be found anywhere in the academic system whether it be perquisite knowledge for grade twelve programs or university entrance. While this function may seem absurd, Gatto’s differentiating function is one that can be related to actual everyday life. The differentiating function is a more practical function.
It states that, “once a student’s 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. ” (5) The functions practical use is especially seen in post secondary schooling where a more refined and “specialized training” takes place. We see this in any standard entry test for a specific program such as the SAT, LSAT or MCAT. Based on a students performance on these forms of testing they are then place in their respective programs allow them to focus specifically on areas of study that are important to them.
At my old high school there was a standard entry test, SSAT, that examined various categories of schooling (math, reading, writing etc…) Depending on how you did on the test would determine not only whether or not you are eligible for acceptance but whether or not you qualify to take ap courses, because if u do not posses the proper knowledge taking a more advanced course would be counter-productive and in fact hurt your academic career. Once one has analyzed the differentiating function there is some truth to it but when one looks at the propaedeutic function, it is completely incorrect.
The propaedeutic function is completely incorrect and misleading. According to Gatto, the purpose of the propaedeutic is to create a class of “elite caretakers … taught to manage this project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed” (5) He’s saying that those who already control the population are going to educate children so that when they grow up they can control the population and train more children to do the same. At this point it seems like Gatto is trying to throw something that is completely and utterly irrational out there trying to catch people off guard and hope to attract some followers.
The simple thought that people were training young children to know how to manipulate people in such a way that they simply do not challenge authority and do exactly as their told to is ridiculous. At no point in my life have I ever felt that someone or an organization is trying to limit my personal abilities to comply with this absurd function. Teachers constantly enthuse student to be all they can and achieve as high as they can, not that its ok if u cant because we already got it figured out.
While other of Gatto’s functions may have held some truth this particular function is completely incorrect Gatto believes that those who control the way society runs are trying to create a norm in the educational system. That student’s are pre-destined before they are given the ample chance to excel and achieve. 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 are all fine standards but because of government schools have become prison like even in there cell block style construction. Gatto’s approach is very liberal and has opened my eyes to certain matters especially the way that educational system is poorly constructed (with it being bases on grades) and how it is mismanaged leading to sub-par performance and disappointing “success” rates. It is this poorly constructed system and a corrupted way of running it is what I think Gatto was truly trying to revile.

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