Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gatto on the Lessons Taught in School

This may be the best article I've read about what schools really teach children:

The Six-Lession Schoolteacher

There's a tendency to downplay the evil he discusses because "well, I went through the system and I turned out okay" or "I know a schoolteacher, and he/she says ..." 

The "turning out okay" comment reminds me of the poor father in Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron", who endures a shock every time he starts thinking too hard.  In his regular state of mind, he must have a vague sense that there could have been something better, that maybe he is not living to his full potential.  However, if someone complained to him about all these damn handicaps and the system that put them on everyone, he'd probably tell the person that he doesn't see the big deal because he "turned out okay".

And with respect to schoolteachers: of course there are individuals within the school system that actually care and make an effort.  Some may even inspire a few students.  But despite the best individual efforts of any number of teachers, the system itself enforces the lessons Gatto describes.  Schoolteachers are almost all going to think the answer for improvement is some tinkering, or curriculum change, or policy changes by the administration; if they saw things as Gatto does, why would they work for the system?

Real improvement is possible when you withdraw your support from the school system.  You may be forced to pay taxes to support the system, but you are free to withdraw your children and let them have a real education.  Without handicaps.

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