T Nation

Why American Education Sucks

http://www.wesjones.com/gatto1.htm

Here’s a very good article, originally published in Harper’s by John Gatto. It should be very interesting reading for all teachers and parents of school-age children, as well as for junior high and high school students who have ever thought that skool sux N they’re teechurs R stoopid.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
http://www.wesjones.com/gatto1.htm

Here is a very good article, originally published in Harper’s by John Gatto. It should be very interesting reading for all teachers and parents of school-age children, as well as for junior high and high school students who have ever thought that skool sux N they’re teechurs R stoopid.

[/quote]

Good post!

I’ve always believed that the purpose of how our educational system was designed was NOT enlightment or individual development (John Dewey’s communist-loving minions saw to that). The herd fears the individual, especially the individual who causes change.

As always, humanity advances not because of the herd, but in spite of it.

I knew you would be among the first to post on this thread, Headhunter. And no surprise that you are of a similar opinion, as you’ve probably had to deal with much of the bullshit Gatto describes in his article first-hand.

I wonder how many US presidents, vice-presidents, cabinet members, senators, congressmen and ambassadors have put their own children in public school. It’s probably a pretty low number.

By the way, HH: is that a Spartan on your avatar, or are you just happy to see me? :stuck_out_tongue:

Gatto is right of course, but not very many beyond us homeschooling christians see it.

When the times comes Varq, are you going to homeschool your kids?

Interesting points in the article.

Food for thought for sure.

[quote]Varqanir wrote:
I knew you would be among the first to post on this thread, Headhunter. And no surprise that you are of a similar opinion, as you’ve probably had to deal with much of the bullshit Gatto describes in his article first-hand.

I wonder how many US presidents, vice-presidents, cabinet members, senators, congressmen and ambassadors have put their own children in public school. It’s probably a pretty low number.

By the way, HH: is that a Spartan on your avatar, or are you just happy to see me? :P[/quote]

The only reason I’ve continued teaching is because I love the teaching itself. Watching one of my students finally figure out how to do Mathematical Induction Proofs (we’re doing them now), for ex, makes my day.

The bureaucracy is relatively low at my school and the Headmaster basically leaves us alone to teach. But I have taught in publics and its very different — I used to spend as much time on filling out BS as I did grading work and that was years ago! Yikes!

I’m always happy to see you, Varq!! :smiley:

As somebody who is just getting into the teaching profession, I agree with what the author is saying. However, individual teachers can avoid making school this way (at least for their own students). The set curriculums and textbooks for most levels of public school can be very boring if you just teach straight from the books.

I feel that it is the teachers’ responsibility to make classes fun for the students so that they will enjoy learning, and to relate everything to the students’ lives. I’ve noticed that when I have fun teaching, the students have fun learning.

Another big point in the article was the elimination of critical thinking in public schools. This is very true, and it bothers me a lot. The textbooks do have questions labeled “critical thinking” but they usually are not the type that really inspire thought in the students.

Again, as teachers we need to find our own ways to get students to think critically and actually question the way things work. Personally, I want my students to be creative individuals and to take on challenges.

No Child Left Behind does not do as its title says. Not only that, but it leaves little room for the brighter students to take on increased challenges. Because of that, they often get very bored with school and begin to hate it. A lot of times, these students end up turning to drugs or gangs.

I believe that teachers can go very far in preventing this from happening. While it should be the parents’ responsibility, some students just don’t have the kind of positive example that they need at home. It would be nice if they had more teachers who truly care and provide positive guidance.

Basically, while the overall public school structure is doing very poorly, we can at least make a difference with our own kids. When teachers make the curriculum fun and relevant, the students really do get a lot out of the classes.

I’m going to do my part in making sure my students get the most they can out of school, and don’t end up like mindless drones who never question anything.

Oh, I just woke up right before writing this, so hopefully it makes sense.

[quote]Mr. Chen wrote:
Gatto is right of course, but not very many beyond us homeschooling christians see it.

When the times comes Varq, are you going to homeschool your kids?[/quote]

There’s enough stupid people and nutcases in the world that I can’t believe homeschooling is the answer.

The article does make some interesting points in the usual debate about improving schools. Instead of increased teachers’ pay or more standardized testing, the answer might be better parents. Or less schooling.

Thanks to the OP. That was a good read.

Very good article. I don’t agree with everything, but it did make some very good points. Part of the problem is that the American school system is so enormous and consists of so many different cultures that it is virtually impossible to create an educational system flexible enough to cater to individual needs. Generally speaking, anytime you increase the size of a program, the less flexibility and tailorability there is.

For every old-timer genius cited who did great things with minimal formal education there are hundreds of total dumb-asses who couldn’t read or write or brush their own teeth their entire lives. So, I believe formalized education has greatly improved the overall intelligence of the population.

I think the key here is that parents absolutely have to be involved. DO NOT LEAVE IT UP TO THE SCHOOL TO TEACH YOUR KIDS. Unfortunately, many of the aforementioned dumb-asses are raising equally dumb-assed children.

So, what is the ultimate public education system?

Me fail english? That’s unpossible!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the song “Il Nostro Caro Angelo” by Battisti and Mogol. I’ll give the first stanza, my (free) translation, and explain how it relates.

The song deals with the alienation and invisible constraints of modern consumerism and collective society. What really caught my attention is the idea that being able to opt out of the system is really just a “false slogan,” or that the slogan is a pretense for abuse.

By opting out, we are forced to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and give up social and communal comforts entirely. To some extent, we can create new communities based on new sets of values, but will we be able to construct them without relying on persuasive power that is itself coercive in similar ways to the society we flee?

If it is true that we have been trained from birth to bow to authority and accept a role in society, what is there to do about it?

The ending of il Nostro Caro Angelo implies that violence alone can trace a path to freedom, but for those of us who wish to experience life as free individuals without overturning society around us, can we escape the destiny that has been created for us?

Exceptional individuals will emerge despite societal constraints. As for the rest of us, is there actually a virtue in being taught our role as members of a community?

I don’t worry so much about those who are currently children; after all, they still have hope. But is there hope for those of us who have gone through our formative years accepting uncritically the doctrine that has been laid before us?

Public education as it is today = creating one neck for one leash.

Said by an unbiased private high school teacher. :smiley:

[quote]PGJ wrote:
Very good article. I don’t agree with everything, but it did make some very good points. Part of the problem is that the American school system is so enormous and consists of so many different cultures that it is virtually impossible to create an educational system flexible enough to cater to individual needs. Generally speaking, anytime you increase the size of a program, the less flexibility and tailorability there is.

For every old-timer genius cited who did great things with minimal formal education there are hundreds of total dumb-asses who couldn’t read or write or brush their own teeth their entire lives. So, I believe formalized education has greatly improved the overall intelligence of the population.

I think the key here is that parents absolutely have to be involved. DO NOT LEAVE IT UP TO THE SCHOOL TO TEACH YOUR KIDS. Unfortunately, many of the aforementioned dumb-asses are raising equally dumb-assed children. So, what is the ultimate public education system?[/quote]

Holy shit?! Did you really just say that? Surprisingly, I agree almost entirely with what you said.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that no formalized system teaches individualism.

[quote]MrTangerineSpedo wrote:
There’s enough stupid people and nutcases in the world that I can’t believe homeschooling is the answer.[/quote]

Tens of thousands of families find homeshcooling to be the way to keep their children from being screwed up in the public schools, and the number is growing every year. And, they are not all Christians. Is there any wonder there are a few nutcases among them. I would say there are more in the public schools.

Just my opinion:
American education sucks because people don’t care. (trust me, I’m a high school student) A large minority of the kids care, but everyone else isn’t there to learn.

People go to school because they have to get a grade to get a piece of paper to get a job. If education focused less on how many points you had and what your percent was, and more on how much you learn, we’d be in better shape. For instance, I do ALL of my Spanish work, and know 0 Spanish.

[quote]Mr. Chen wrote:
MrTangerineSpedo wrote:
Tens of thousands of families find homeshcooling to be the way to keep their children from being screwed up in the public schools, and the number is growing every year. And, they are not all Christians. Is there any wonder there are a few nutcases among them. I would say there are more in the public schools.

[/quote]
Homeschooled kids are weird, they don’t have any social skills, homeschooling doesn’t seem very helpful, plus they don’t get exposed to the diversity and having to work with/deal with different people.

[quote]PGJ wrote:
Very good article. I don’t agree with everything, but it did make some very good points. Part of the problem is that the American school system is so enormous and consists of so many different cultures that it is virtually impossible to create an educational system flexible enough to cater to individual needs. Generally speaking, anytime you increase the size of a program, the less flexibility and tailorability there is.

For every old-timer genius cited who did great things with minimal formal education there are hundreds of total dumb-asses who couldn’t read or write or brush their own teeth their entire lives. So, I believe formalized education has greatly improved the overall intelligence of the population.

I think the key here is that parents absolutely have to be involved. DO NOT LEAVE IT UP TO THE SCHOOL TO TEACH YOUR KIDS. Unfortunately, many of the aforementioned dumb-asses are raising equally dumb-assed children.

So, what is the ultimate public education system? [/quote]

I agree 100 percent. Watching my children go through the mill that is public education is hard, but we make sure to take an active role in it and see school times as only a portion of their learning experience.

[quote]Agressive Napkin wrote:
Homeschooled kids are weird, they don’t have any social skills, homeschooling doesn’t seem very helpful, plus they don’t get exposed to the diversity and having to work with/deal with different people.
[/quote]

“Weird”, you mean they’re not like public school kids? The guys don’t run around with their pants falling down? The girls don’t dress like whores? That’s just fine with me.

“Don’t have any social skills”, really? My oldest son was raised outside the US for most of his childhood, and homeschooled all the way. His first job when he left for college in the US at 19 yrs was at a Starbucks. Within his first 2 weeks he received a commendation from his manager for diffusing a situation with a very upset customer. What’s interesting is he stepped into the situation after a more experienced employee lost control of it. Must have been my son’s lack of social skills that caused the result.

During one summer spent in the US when he was 15 yrs, he helped a friend of his start a lawn care business. His friend has since passed that business on to his own younger brother. They are also homeschooled.

Oh, and Napkin, you may want to ask Headhunter to help you rewrite the last half of your sentence. I know it’s just an internet forum and all, but it reflects badly on you.

[quote]Grimnuruk wrote:

I agree 100 percent. Watching my children go through the mill that is public education is hard, but we make sure to take an active role in it and see school times as only a portion of their learning experience.
[/quote]

Agreed, the public schools are only there to raise the lowest portion of the population up closer to average (Flynn Effect). It’s up to parents to and several other convergent factors to take it further.

Unfortunately, the average parent is no better than the average teacher at providing further instruction, part of the premise of public education is that most are actually worse. This is something the article touched on but, rather than portraying it as an unavoidable shortfall, mutated it into a pseudo-communist agenda.

[quote]lucasa wrote:
Grimnuruk wrote:

I agree 100 percent. Watching my children go through the mill that is public education is hard, but we make sure to take an active role in it and see school times as only a portion of their learning experience.

Agreed, the public schools are only there to raise the lowest portion of the population up closer to average (Flynn Effect). It’s up to parents to and several other convergent factors to take it further.

Unfortunately, the average parent is no better than the average teacher at providing further instruction, part of the premise of public education is that most are actually worse. This is something the article touched on but, rather than portraying it as an unavoidable shortfall, mutated it into a pseudo-communist agenda.[/quote]

Dewey’s followers were devout Marxists and developed his theory with the goal of establishing a Soviet-type state here. Teaching is to be designed to facilitate this process.