Shelby Dumersaint
Professor Mosser
English 1101
September 18, 2018
John Taylor Gatto wrote an essay titled Against School in which he agrues that the public education system is failing students. Gatto starts off with a phenomenon, no matter what students and teachers all feel bored. Then he begins to talk about what creates this boredom, our education system. He points out the concept “unschooled” and “uneducated” and demonstrates some examples that people can still be successful with having a formal school education. Afterwards, Gatto explains three major reasons that are accepted by society about why we need school and how the school system builds someone up step by step. However, they are other who opposed this idea and think that school is a factory and destroys our children. Finally, Gatto teaches us how to rightly face the school system and to have an open mind. I agree with Gatto on the fact that the American school system is failing students. There are many problems with the school system such as leadership does not always support second-order change, education budgets aren’t always flexible enough to support the cost or sustainability of innovations, and Current and traditional instructional methods leave students less engaged and less inclined to take ownership of their learning. Thankfully with these problems, there are many solutions to help better the education system.
One of the problems in the education system is that leadership does not always support second-order change. Those in leadership roles, such as teachers and librarians, are not always vested to help effect change. Gatto mentions in his essay that teachers should “encourage the best qualities of youthfulness” but they can’t because they are the same product of schooling. There are cases in which teachers are there just because it is a job and they do not really care for the students and care about making a difference or care for setting an example to children. I have experienced this myself. I’ve had a teacher who did not really teach; all she did was PowerPoints and guided notes that went along with the PowerPoint and if you dared to ask a question you were reprimanded. She is a perfect example for a teacher who does not care to help lead second-order change. She was just there for the teacher discounts and paychecks. But we can help solve this problem by making a agenda, to be used in professional development, that would explain second-order change leadership discussions.
Another issue is that education budgets aren’t always flexible enough to support the cost or sustainability of innovations. I have not experienced this myself, but I know of schools that can not get certain materials that could really benefit their school simply because the money is not there. A solution to this problem could be to build relationships with local businesses and career academies, and to suggest that the companies can hire students, to create an income for schools. This such as sponsorships were a huge factor at my high school it was why we could afford half of things that we had. Building relationships with companies benefits both the company and the school.
Current and traditional instructional methods leave students less engaged and less inclined to take ownership of their learning is a major problem with the education system. Times are changing and so are children. They same methods of teaching that were used a decade are not going to work currently where children’s attention span is much shorter than what was. One my teacher’s senior year really understood this concept because she did not just lecture and have us write on all day long. She went out her way to figure each student out and learn everyone’s leaning style and did lesson that would accommodate each student. She would PowerPoints and videos for those who were visual learners. She would do activities for those who were kinesthetic type learners. She would have us write notes for those that were linguistic type of learners. Variety is very important for children nowadays. Creating work groups that are in educational organizations that strive to advance student learning and help use the internet as a way to create online tools and resources that offer groundbreaking teaching strategies to help involve students are ways to help solve this problem of using out dated teaching methods.
From John Taylor Gatto’s points of view, he believes that the staying in the American schooling system for so long has provided him with every reason to refer to it as a childish program. He believes that he can bring out the best qualities in children by giving them independence to make decisions and take risks from time to time, rather than confining them to schooling. According to him, people may see the key problem of schooling as boredom which he argues as not a problem but a question, “Do we really need schooling to be successful?” I think that we do indeed need school, but we need to change our ways to show that reading, writing and math are not the ways to become successful and stop trying to condition our children to follow the paths we have chosen for them but to let them choose their own paths.
DEVANEY, LAURA. “ESchool News.” ESchool News, 9 May 2014,


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