18 September 2010
The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher
?????¦The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me). This power lets me separate good kids from bad kids instantly. Good kids do the tasks I appoint with a minimum of conflict and a decent show of enthusiasm. Of the millions of things of value to learn, I decide what few we have time for. The choices are mine. Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity. Bad kids fight against this, of course, trying openly or covertly to make decisions for themselves about what they will learn. How can we allow that and survive as schoolteachers Fortunately there are procedures to break the will of those who resist. This is another way I teach the lesson of dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. This is the most important lesson of all, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives??¦??? (Gatto)
After reading the passage, Ive come to the conclusion that ???Mr. Gatto??? is complaining about the fact that his curriculum is determined by people in a higher level of authority. Because he depends on these people for compensation, he has no choice but to teach the children what authorities have deemed necessary to learn. After teachers are forced to abide by the rules set forth by ???certified??? personnel, the children are expected to learn the material given without hesitation or questioning. A teacher will be considered a successful teacher only after its students have proved that they are knowledgeable on the given material. Their intelligence is proven by a series of standardized tests. According to Gatto, there is no room for children to try and form their own opinions about society or education because that is believed to inevitably lead them to rebel against the school and the government. Students are taught to wait for teachers to tell them what to do and how to do it in order to survive school. Gatto believes that all these rules and tactics are pushed on schools across the United States in order for the government to maintain ???control??? on the next generation that will eventually help run the country.
Having completing twelve years of public schooling, I have come to the conclusion that certain aspects of the school system are completely unnecessary and worthless. I was given a test in the fourth grade to determine if I belonged in a Talented and Gifted class. I assumed that that class was meant for students who thought differently and understood the material more quickly compared to others. After taking the test I was denied entry to the class. After comparing my friend??™s answers, I realized I was denied entry because of the way I answered one question. I was asked again the following year if I wanted to take the test to be a part of the Talented and Gifted program, again I accepted. After changing the way I responded to the one question I answered ???incorrectly??? the previous year, I was admitted into the class. I thought the TAG program was meant for students who were different, who looked at the world through different perspectives. I realized that even then the ???TAG students??? had to ironically think alike in order to be considered different. This again proved Gattos theory that students are not allowed to seek individualism in a public school setting. No matter how much school officials study students or whether or not they are certified, they will never be able to precisely measure a students potential based on their background, test results, and their familys economic background.
After reading the passage, I am forced to question the intentions of the public school system. Do they decide what will be learned based on an areas economic status Are lower class areas forcing their students to completely depend on other people for survival Are bad grades on a report card intended to prepare certain students for failure so that when they wind up at a meaningless dead-end job they can consider themselves lucky to having found a job And are private schooling institutions built only around areas populated by people of the wealthy class I believe that school officials believe that if a childs parents are paying thousands of dollars a year for the education they are receiving, then they are able to decide a little more about what they want and are willing to learn. Since the teachers are offered more compensation, they are constantly building up the confidence of their students and providing more insight on life, this is the foundation that eventually leads to more doctors, lawyers, and engineers from wealthy areas.
John Taylor Gatto obviously approaches this outburst with complete irony and sarcasm. He explains the U.S. school system as you would a disciplinary facility. He describes the actions taken against students that display the smallest amount of individualism; he describes how they are penalized by having certain privileges taken away from them. These include simple, but vital, everyday actions such as taking a restroom break or drinking water. The children are controlled by threats of limiting or completely eliminating these ???privileges,??? his opinions are completely presented in a pure satire form. He uses this passage to persuade the reader to question the government??™s intentions for public schooling.